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Antwerp to Gallipoli - A Year of the War on Many Fronts—and Behind Them
by Arthur Ruhl
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Meanwhile the flight of shells continued, a dozen or more fires could be seen from the upper windows of the hotel, and billows of red flame from the burning petrol-tanks rolled up the southern sky. It had been what might be called a rather full day, and the wail of approaching projectiles began to get on one's nerves. One started at the slamming of a door, took every dull thump for a distant explosion; and when we finally turned in I carried the mattress from my room, which faced the south, over to the other side of the building, and laid it on the floor beside another man's bed. Before a shell could reach me it would have to traverse at least three partitions and possibly him as well.

After midnight the bombardment quieted, but shells continued to visit us from time to time all night. All night the Belgians were retreating across the pontoon bridge, and once—it must have been about two or three o'clock—I heard a sound which meant that all was over. It was the crisp tramp—different from the Belgian shuffle—of British soldiers, and up from the street came an English voice, "Best foot forward, boys!" and a little farther on: "Look alive, men; they've just picked up our range!"

I went to the window and watched them tramp by—the same men we had seen that morning. The petrol fire was still flaming across the south, a steamer of some sort was burning at her wharf beside the bridge— Napoleon's veterans retreating from Moscow could scarcely have left behind a more complete picture of war than did those young recruits.

Morning came dragging up out of that dreadful night, smoky, damp, and chill. It was almost a London fog that lay over the abandoned town. I had just packed up and was walking through one of the upper halls when there was a crash that shook the whole building, the sound of falling glass, and out in the river a geyser of water shot up, timbers and boards flew from the bridge, and there were dozens of smaller splashes as if from a shower of shot. I thought that the hotel was hit at last and that the Germans, having let civilians escape over the bridge, were turning everything loose, determined to make an end of the business. It was, as a matter of fact, the Belgians blowing up the bridge to cover their retreat. In any case it seemed useless to stay longer, and within an hour, on a tug jammed with the last refugees, we were starting down-stream.

Behind us, up the river, a vast curtain of lead-colored smoke from the petrol-tanks had climbed up the sky and spread out mushroomwise, as smoke and ashes sometimes spread out from a volcano. This smoke, merging with the fog and the smoke from the Antwerp fires, seemed to cover the whole sky. And under that sullen mantle the dark flames of the petrol still glowed; to the right, as we looked back, was the blazing skeleton of the ship, and on the left Antwerp itself, the rich, old, beautiful, comfortable city, all but hidden, and now and then sending forth the boom of an exploding shell like a groan.

A large empty German steamer, the Gneisenau, marooned here since the war, came swinging slowly out into the river, pushed by two or three nervous little tugs—to be sunk there, apparently, in midstream. From the pontoon bridge, which stubbornly refused to yield, came explosion after explosion, and up and down the river fires sprang up, and there were other explosions, as the crushed Belgians, in a sort of rage of devastation, became their own destroyers.

By following the adventures of one individual I have endeavored to suggest what the bombardment of a modern city was like—what you might expect if an invading army came to-morrow to New York or Chicago or San Francisco. I have only coasted along the edges of Belgium's tragedy, and the rest of the story, of which we were a part for the next two days—the flight of those hundreds of thousands of homeless people—is something that can scarcely be told—you must follow it out in imagination into its countless uprooted, disorganized lives. You must imagine old people struggling along over miles and miles of country roads; young girls, under burdens a man might not care to bear, tramping until they had to carry their shoes in their hands and go barefoot to rest their unaccustomed feet. You must imagine the pathetic efforts of hundreds of people to keep clean by washing in wayside streams or ditches; imagine babies going without milk because there was no milk to be had; families shivering in damp hedgerows or against haystacks where darkness overtook them; and you must imagine this not on one road, but on every road, for mile after mile over a whole countryside. What was to become of these people when their little supply of food was exhausted? Where could they go? Even if back to their homes, it would be but to lift their hats to their conquerors, never knowing but that the next week or month would sweep the tide of war back over them again.

Never in modern times, not in our generation at least, had Europe seen anything like that flight—nothing so strange, so overwhelming, so pitiful. And when I say pitiful, you must not think of hysterical women, desperate, trampling men, tears and screams. In all those miles one saw neither complaining nor protestation—at times one might almost have thought it some vast, eccentric picnic. No, it was their orderliness, their thrift and kindness, their unmistakable usefulness, which made the waste and irony of it all so colossal and hideous. Each family had its big, round loaves of bread and its pile of hay for the horses, the bags of pears and potatoes; the children had their little dolls, and you would see some tired mother with her big bundle under one arm and some fluffy little puppy in the other. You could not associate them with forty-centimetre shells or burned churches and libraries or anything but quiet homes and peaceable, helpful lives. You could not be swept along by that endless stream of exiles and retain at the end of the day any particular enthusiasm for the red glory of war. And when we crossed the Dutch border that afternoon and came on a village street full of Belgian soldiers cut off and forced to cross the line, to be interned here, presumably until the war was over, one could not mourn very deeply their lost chances of martial glory as they unslung their rifles and turned them over to the good-natured Dutch guard. They had held back that avalanche long enough, these Belgians, and one felt as one would to see lost children get home again or some one dragged from under the wheels.



Chapter V

Paris Again—And Bordeaux: Journal of a Flight from a London Fogs



These notes began in a London fog and ended in the south of France. I had hoped, on reaching Calais, to work in toward the fighting along the Yser, but, finding it impossible, decided to turn about and travel away from the front instead of toward it—down to see Bordeaux while it was still the temporary capital, and to see what life might be like in the French provincial towns in war time.

It was not, so the young woman at the hotel desk in London said, what you would call a fog, because she could still see the porter at the street-door—yet day after day the same rain, smoky mist, and unbroken gloom.

One breakfasted and tramped the streets by lamplight, as if there were no such thing as sun—-recalled vaguely a world in which it used to be— woods with the leaves turning, New York on a bright autumn morning, enchanted tropical dawns.

Through this viscous envelope—a sort of fungi thrown off by it— newspapers kept appearing—slaughter and more slaughter, hatred, the hunt for spies, more hysterical and shrill. One looked for fairness almost as for the sun, and, merely by blackguarding long enough men who could not answer back and, after all, were flinging their lives away bravely over there in France, one ended by giving them the very qualities they were denied.

They faded out as one picture on a stereopticon screen fades into another—even as one read "Huns" for the thousandth time the Huns turned into kindly burghers smoking pipes and singing songs. In the same way the England of tradition—Shakespeare, Dickens, Meredith, jolly old rumbling London, rides 'cross country, rows on the river—faded into this nightmare of hate and smoky lamplight. The psychology was very simple, but too much, it seems, for censors and even editors. And, unfortunately, at a time like this not the light-hearted, sportsmanlike fighting men at the front, nor sober people left behind in homes, but newspapers are likely to be an outsider's most constant companions.

A sort of spiritual asphyxiation overtook one at last, in which the mere stony Briticism of the London hotel seemed to have a part. If you awoke again into that taste of soft-coal smoke, went down to another of those staggering lamp-lit breakfasts. But why staggering? "Can you not take coffee and rolls in London as well as in some Paris cafe"? It would seem so, yet it cannot be done. The mere sight and sound—or lack of sound— of that warm, softly carpeted breakfast-room, moving like some gloomy, inevitable mechanism as it has moved for countless years, attacks the already weakened will like an opiate. At the first bewildering '"Q?" from that steely-fronted maid the ritual overpowers you and you bow before porridge, kippers, bacon and eggs, stewed fruit, marmalade, toast, more toast, more marmalade, as helpless as the rabbit before the proverbial boa—except that in this case the rabbit swallows its own asphyxiator.

Another breakfast like this, another day of rain and fog, another '"Q?" —it was in some such state of mind as this that I packed up one night and took the early train for Folkestone.

Folkestone, Friday.

Sunshine at last—a delicious autumn afternoon—clean air, quiet, and the sea. Far below the cliff walk, trawlers crawling slowly in; along the horizon a streak of smoke from some patrolling destroyer or battleship. And all along this cliff walk, Belgians—strolling with their children, sitting on the benches, looking out to sea. Just beyond that hazy white wall to the east—the cliffs of France—the fight for Calais is being fought—they can almost hear the cannon.

In the stillness, as they drift by, you catch bits of their talk:

"It was two o'clock in the morning when we left Antwerp."

"And imagine—it was not three metres from our doorstep that the shell burst."

"We walked forty kilometres that night and in the morning———-"

On the balcony of some one's summer-house, now turned into a hospital, four Belgian soldiers, one with his head bandaged, are playing cards— jolly, blond youngsters, caps rakishly tipped over one ear, slamming the cards down as if that were the only thing in the world. In the garden others taking the sunshine, some with their wheel-chairs pushed through the shrubbery close to the high iron fence, to be petted by nurse-maids and children as if they were animals in a sort of zoo.

The Belgians strolling by on the cliff walk smile at this quaint picture, for sun and space and quiet seem to have wiped out their terror—that passed through is as far away as that now hidden in the east. Is it merely quiet and sun? Perhaps it is the look of a "nice little people" who know that now they have a history. "Refugees," to be sure, yet one can fancy them looking back some day from their tight little villages, canals, and beet-fields, on afternoons like this, as on the days of their great adventure—when they could sit in the sun above the sea at Folkestone and look across the Channel to the haze under which their sons and husbands and brothers and King were fighting for the last corner of their country.

Calais, Saturday.

Belgian officers, parks of Belgian military automobiles; up-country a little way the Germans going down in tens of thousands to win their "gate to England"—yet we came across on the Channel boat last evening as usual and had little trouble finding a room. There were tons of Red Cross supplies on board—cotton, chloroform, peroxide; Belgian soldiers patched up and going back to fight; and various volunteer nurses, including two handsome young Englishwomen of the very modern aviatrix type—coming over to drive motor-cycle ambulances—and so smartly gotten up in boots and khaki that a little way off you might have taken them for British officers. At the wharf were other nurses, some of whom I had last seen that Thursday afternoon in Antwerp as they and their wounded rolled away in London buses from the hospital in the Boulevard Leopold.

This morning, strolling round the town, I ran into a couple of English correspondents. There were yet several hours before they need address themselves to the arduous task of describing fighting they had not seen, and they talked, with a good humor one sometimes misses in their correspondence, of German collectivism and similar things. One had spent a good deal of time in Germany.

"They're the only people who have solved the problem of industrial cities without slums—you must say that for them. Of course, in those model towns of theirs, you've got to brush your teeth at six minutes past eight and sleep on your left side if the police say so—they're astonishing people for doing what they're told.

"One day in Dresden I walked across a bit of grass the public weren't supposed to cross. An old gentleman fairly roared the instant he saw me. He was ready to explode at the mere suggestion that any one could think of disobeying a rule made for all of them.

"'Das kann man nicht thun! Es ist verboten!'"

The other quoted the answer of an English factory-owner to some of his employees who did not want to enlist. "They've done a lot for working men over there," the man said. "Accident-insurance, old-age pensions, and all that—what do we want to fight the Kaiser for? We'd just about as soon be under Billy as George." And X———said to them: "If you were under Kaiser Billy, you'd enlist right enough, there's no doubt of that!"

Boulogne, Saturday.

He sat in the corner of our compartment coming down from Calais this afternoon, an old Algerian soldier, homeward bound, with a big, round loaf of bread and a military pass. He had a blue robe, bright-red, soft boots, a white turban wound with a sort of scarf of brown cord and baggy corduroy underneath, concealing various mysterious pockets.

"Paris? To-night?" he grunted in his queer French. The big Frenchman next him, who had served in Africa in his youth and understood the dialect, shook his head. "To-morrow morning!" he said. He laid his head on his hand to suggest a man sleeping, and held up three fingers. "Three days—Marseilles!" The old goumier's dark eyes blazed curiously, and he opened and shut his mouth in a dry yawn—like a tiger yawning.

Wounded? No—he pointed to his eyes, which were bloodshot, patted his forehead to suggest that it was throbbing, rubbed his legs, and scowled. "Rheumatism!" said the Frenchman. The Algerian pressed his palms together six times, then held up two fingers. "He's sixty-two years old!" said the Frenchman, and the old warrior obligingly opened his jaws and pointed to two or three lone brown fangs to prove it. They talked for a moment in the vernacular, and the Frenchman explained again, "Volunteer!" and then, "Scout!"

The old Arab made the motion of sighting along a rifle, then of brushing something over, and tapped himself on the chest.

"Deux!" he said. "Two Germans—me!" Evidently he was going back to the desert satisfied.

Train after train passed us, northward bound, some from Boulogne, some from the trenches north of Paris evidently, bringing artillery caked with mud—all packed with British soldiers leaning from doors of their cattle-cars, hats pushed back, pipes in their faces, singing and joking. At the end of each train, in passenger-coaches, their officers—tall, slim-legged young Olympians in leather puttees and short tan greatcoats, with their air of elegant amateurs embarking on some rather superior sort of sport.

The same cars filled with French soldiers equally brave, efficient, light-hearted would be as different as Corneille and Shakespeare, as Dickens and Dumas—and in the same ways!

An Englishman had been telling me in a London club a few nights before of the "extraordinary detachment" of Tommy Atkins.

"Take almost any of those little French soldiers—they've got a pretty good idea what the war is about—at any rate, they've got a sentiment about it perfectly clear and conscious, and they'll go to their death shouting for la patrie. Now, Tommy Atkins isn't the least like that. He doesn't fight—and you know how he does fight—for patriotism or glory, at least not in the same conscious way. He'd fight just as well against another of his own regiments—if you know what I mean. He's just—well, look at the soldiers' letters. The Germans are sentimental —they are all martyrs. The Frenchmen are all heroes. But Tommy Atkins —well, he's just playing football!"

The idea this Englishman was trying to express was put in another way by a British sailor at the time of the sinking of the Aboukir, Cressy, and Rogue.

Imagine, for a moment, that scene—the three great ships going over like stricken whales, men slipping down their slimy flanks into the sea, boats overturned and smashed, in the thick of it the wet nose of the German submarine coming up for a look round, and then, out of that hideous welter, the voice of a sailor, the unalterable Briton in the face of all this modern science and sea magic, grabbing an anchor or whatever it was he saw first, and bellowing:

"Smash the blighter's head!"

There are phrases like these which could only have been said by the people who say them; they are like windows suddenly opening down cycles of racial history and difference. At a Regent Street moving-picture show a few evenings ago two young Frenchwomen sat behind us, girls driven off the Paris boulevards by the same impartial force which has driven grubbing peasant women from the Belgian beet-fields. One spoke a little English, and as the pictures changed she translated for her companion.

There were pictures of the silk industry in Japan—moths emerging from cocoons, the breeding process, the hatching of the eggs, the life history of these anonymous little specks magnified until for the moment they almost had a sort of personality. And one murmured:

"Comme c'est drole, la nature!"

Sunday.

It was dusk when we reached Boulogne last night—frosty dusk, with the distant moan of a fog-horn, and under the mist hilly streets busy with soldiers and bright with lights. It made one think of a college town at home on the eve of the great game, so keen and happy seemed all these fit young men—officers swinging by with their walking-sticks, soldiers spinning yarns in smoky cafes—for the great game of war.

The hotels were full of wounded or officers—to Boulogne comes the steady procession of British transports—but an amiable porter led me to a little side street and a place kept by a retired English merchant-marine officer who had married a Frenchwoman. Paintings, such as sailor-artists make, of the ships he had served in were on the walls, a photograph of himself and his mates taken in the sunshine of some tropical port; and with its cheerful hot stove, the place combined the air of a French cafe with the cosiness of an English inn.

Very comfortable, indeed, I leaned over one of the tables that ran along the wall, while two British soldiers alongside gossiped and sipped their beer, and ran over the columns of La Boulonnaise. Here, too, war seemed a jolly man's game, and I came to "Military Court Sitting at Boulogne," and beneath it the following:

Seventh, eighth, and ninth cases. Thefts by German prisoners of war. The accused are Antoine Michels, twenty-five years, native of Treves, Twenty-seventh German Chasseurs, made prisoner at Lens. Henriede Falk, twenty-seven years, native of Landenheissen (Grand Duchy of Hesse), Fourth Regiment Dragoons, made prisoner at Lille. Max Benninghoven, twenty-two years, Seventh German Chasseurs, made prisoner at Bailleul.

"The three had in their possession at the moment of their capture: Michels, two pairs of earrings, a steel watch, two medals representing the town of Arras, and a cigar-holder; Falk, a woman's watch and chain in addition to his own; Benninghoven, a pocketbook, a pack of cards, and money that did not belong to him.

"All were subjected to a severe examination and condemned: Michels, to five years in prison and a fine of five hundred francs; Falk, to twenty years at forced labor..."

And these few words of newspaper type, which nobody else seemed to be noticing, somehow—as if one had stubbed one's toe—disturbed the picture. They did not fit in with the rakish gray motor-car, labelled "Australia," I saw after dinner, nor the young infantryman I ran across on a street corner who had been in the fighting ever since Mons and was but down "for a rest" before jumping in again, nor the busy streets and buzzing cafes. But across them, for some reason, all evening, one couldn't help seeing Henriede Falk, twenty-seven years old, of Landenheissen, starting down toward Paris last August, singing "Deutschland uber Alles!" and wondering what he might be thinking about the great game of war fifteen years from now.

While I was taking coffee this morning my mariner-host walked up and down the cafe, delivering himself on the subject of mines in the North Sea. The Germans began it, now the English must take it up; but as for him, speaking as one who had followed the sea, it was poor business. Why couldn't people knock each other out in a stand-up fight like men in a ring, instead of strewing the open road with explosives?

Walking about town after breakfast, I ran into a young man whom I had last seen in a white linen uniform, waiting patiently on the orderlies' bench of the American Ambulance at Neuilly. The ambulance is as hard to get into as an exclusive club, for the woods are full these days of volunteers who, leading rather decorative lives in times of peace, have been shaken awake by the war into helping out overtaxed embassies, making beds in hospitals, doing whatever comes along with a childlike delight in the novelty of work. This young man wore a Red Cross button now and paused long enough to impart the following—characteristic of the things we non-combatants hear daily, and which, authentic or not, help to "make life interesting":

1. An English general just down from the front had told him that four thousand soldiers had been sent out as a burial party after the fighting along the Yser, and had buried, by actual count, thirty-nine thousand Germans.

2. In a temporary hospital near the front some fifty German and Indian wounded were put in the same ward. In the night the Indians got up and cut the Germans' throats.

I climbed up through narrow, cobblestoned streets to the higher part of the town. It was pleasant up here in the frosty morning—old houses, archways, and courts, and the bells tolling people to church.

Up the long hill, as I went down, came three hearses in black and silver, after the French fashion, with drivers in black coats and black-and-silver cocked hats. People stopped as they passed, a woman crossed herself, men took off their hats—farther up the hill a French sentry suddenly straightened and presented arms.

The three caskets were draped in flags—not the tricolor, but the Union Jack. No mourners followed them, and as the ancient vehicles climbed over the brow of the hill the people kept looking, feeling, perhaps, that something was lacking, wondering who the strangers might be who had given their lives to France.

Monday.

Paris again—a gray Paris, with bare tree-trunks, dead leaves on the sidewalk, and in the air the chill of approaching winter.

Across the gray distances one fancies now and then to have seen the first stray flakes of snow, and in some old street, between tall, gray houses leaning backward, sidewise, each after its fashion—as some girl, pale, with shawl wrapped about her shoulders, hurries past with a quick upcasting of dark eyes, one thinks of Mimi and the third act of "La Boheme."

Old sentiments, old songs and verses return in this strange, gray stillness—that spirit so gracious, delicate, penetrating, and personal, which has drawn so many through the years, becomes more moving and real. There is more animation in the streets now: shops are opening, cabs tooting down the Avenue de l'Opera the greater part of the night; but most of the house-fronts are still shuttered and still. Tourists, pleasure-seekers, and the banalities they bring are gone—every thought and energy is with the men fighting on that long line across the north. It is a Paris of the French—of a France united as never before, perhaps, purified by fire, ardent, resolute, defending her life and her precious inheritance.



The Temporary Capital



Tuesday.

A journalist actually protests in print against the big loaves of coarse bread, long as half a stick of cord-wood and almost as hard—remember the almost carnivorous joy with which a Frenchman devours bread!—to which the military government, at the beginning of the war, condemned Paris.

The explanation was that rolls and fancy bread took too much time and there were not enough bakers left to do the work—and inspectors see that the law is obeyed, whether amiable bakers think they have time or not. And people want light bread, curly rolls, "pain de fantaisie." All very well for General Gallieni! says the journalist; he likes hard bread; but why must several million people go on cracking their teeth because of that idiosyncrasy?

The government is obdurate. If fancy bread were made, only the big bakers would have time to make it, little ones would be without clients, and that this highly centralized, paternal government cannot allow. Hard bread it is, then, for another while at least—"C'est la guerre!"

Thursday.

We have a dining-car on our Bordeaux express to-day, the first since war was declared. To-morrow night sleeping-cars go back again—more significant than one might think who had not seen the France of a few months ago, when everything was turned over to the army and people sat up all night in day coaches to cover the usual three hours from Dieppe to Paris.

Down through the heart of France—Tours, Poitiers, Angouleme—past trim little French rivers, narrow, winding, still, and deep, with rows of poplars close to the water's edge, and still a certain air of coquetry, in spite of bare branches and fallen leaves—past brown fields across which teams of oxen, one sedate old farm horse in the lead, are drawing the furrow for next spring's wheat. It's the old men who are ploughing —except for those in uniform, there is scarce a young man in sight. And everywhere soldiers—wounded ones bound for southern France, reserves not yet sent up.

Vines begin to appear, low brown lines across stony fields; then, just after dark, across the Garonne and into Bordeaux, where the civil government obligingly fled when the enemy was rolling down on Paris in the first week of September.

Bordeaux, Monday.

Bordeaux is a day's railroad ride from Paris—twelve hours away from the German cannon, which even now are only fifty miles north of the boulevards, twelve hours nearer Spain and Africa. And you feel both these things.

All about you is the wine country—the names of towns and villages round about read like a wine-card—and, as you are lunching in some little side-street restaurant, a table is moved away, a trap-door opens, and monsieur the proprietor looks on while the big casks of claret are rolled in from the street and lowered to the cellar and the old casks hauled up again. You are close to the wine country and close to the sea—to oysters and crabs and ships—and to the hot sun and more exuberant spirits of the Midi. The pretty, black-eyed Bordelaise—there are pretty girls in Bordeaux—often seems closer to Madrid than to Paris; even the Bordelais accent has a touch of the Mediterranean, and the crisp words of Paris are broken up and even an extra vowel added now and then, until they ripple like Spanish or Italian. "Pe-tite-a ma- dame-a !" rattles some little newsboy, ingratiating himself with an indifferent lady of uncertain age; and the porter will bring your boots in no time-in "une-a pe-tite-a mi-nute-a."

The war is in everybody's mind, of course—no one in France thinks of anything else—but there is none of that silence and tenseness, that emotional tremor, one feels in Paris. The Germans will never come here, one feels, no matter what happens, and as you read the communiques in La Petite Gironde and La Liberte du Sud-Ouest the war seems farther away, I feel pretty sure, than it does in front of the newspaper bill-boards in New York.

In fact, one of the first and abiding impressions of Bordeaux is that it is a great place for things to eat—oysters from Marennes, lobsters and langoustes, pears big as cantaloupes, pomegranates, mushrooms—the little ones and the big cepes of Bordeaux—yellow dates just up from Tunis. The fruiterers' shops not only make you hungry, but into some of them you may enter and find a quiet little room up-stairs, where the proprietor and his wife and daughter, in the genial French fashion, will serve you with a cosey little dinner with wine for three francs, in front of the family grate fire, and the privilege of ordering up anything you want from the shop-window below.

There are attractive little chocolate and pastry shops and cheerful semi-pension restaurants where whole families, including, in these days, minor politicians with axes to grind and occasional young women from the boulevards, all dine together in a warm bustle of talk, smoke, the gurgle of claret, and tear off chunks of hard French bread, while madame the proprietress, a handsome, dark-eyed, rather Spanish-looking Bordelaise, sails round, subduing the impatient, smiling at those who wish to be smiled at, and ordering her faithful waiters about like a drill-sergeant.

And then there is the Chapon fin. When you speak to some elderly gentleman with fastidious gastronomical tastes and an acquaintance with southern France of your intention of going to Bordeaux, he murmurs reminiscently: "Ah, yes! There is a restaurant there..." He means the Chapon fin. It was famous in '70 when the government came here before, and to-day when the young King of Spain motors over from Biarritz he dines there. Coming down on the train, I read in the Revue des Deux Mondes the recollections of a gentleman who was here in '70-'71 and is here again now. He was inclined to be sarcastic about the present Chapon fin. In his day one had good food and did not pay exorbitantly; now "one needs a quasi-official introduction to penetrate, and the stylish servants, guarding the door like impassable dragons, ask with a discreet air if monsieur has taken care to warn the management of his intention of taking lunch."

We penetrated without apparent difficulty—possibly owing to the exalted position of the two amiable young attaches who entertained me—and the food was very good. There were diplomats of all sorts to be seen, a meridional head waiter, and an interesting restaurant cat. One end of the room is an artificial grotto, and into and out of the canvas rocks this enormous cat kept creeping, thrusting his round face and blazing eyes out of unexpected holes in the manner of the true carnivora, as if he had been trained by the management as an entertainer. The head waiter would have lured an anchorite into temporary abandon. Toward the end of the evening we discussed the probable character of a certain dessert, suggesting some doubt of taking it. You might as well have doubted his honor. "Mais, monsieur!" He waved his arms. "C'est delicieux! ... C'est merveilleux! ... C'est quelque chose"—slowly, with thumb and first finger pressed together—"de r-r-raf-fi-we!"...

It is to this genial provincial city that the President and his ministers have come. They distributed themselves about town in various public and private buildings; the Senate chose one theatre for its future meeting-place and the Chamber of Deputies another. And from these places, sometimes the most incongruous—one hears, for instance, of M. Delcasse maintaining his dignity in a bedroom now used as the office for the minister of foreign affairs—the red tape is unwound which eventually sends the life-blood of the remotest province flowing up to its appointed place at the front.

There must be plenty of real work, for an army like that of France, stretching clear across the country from Switzerland to the Channel, could not live unless it had a smoothly running civil machine in the quiet country behind. Neither of the chambers is in session, and except that the main streets are busy—one is told that one hundred thousand extra people are in town—you might almost never know that anything out of the ordinary had occurred. Things must be very different, of course, from '71, when, beaten to her knees and threatened with revolution, France had to decide between surrendering Alsace and Lorraine and going on with the war.

The theatres are closed, but there are moving-picture shows, an occasional concert, and twice a week, under the auspices of one of the newspapers, a conference. I went to one of these, given by a French professor of English literature in the University of Bordeaux, on the timely subject: "Kipling and Greater England."

You can imagine the piquant interest of the scene—the polite matinee audience, the row of erudite Frenchmen sitting behind the speaker, the table, the shaded lamp, and the professor himself, a slender, dark gentleman with a fine, grave face, pointed black beard, and penetrating eyes—suggesting vaguely a prestidigitateur—trying, by sheer intelligence and delicate, critical skill, to bridge the gaps of race and instinctive thought and feeling and make his audience understand Kipling.

Said the reporter of one of the Bordeaux papers next day: "Through the Kipling evoked by M. Cestre we admired the English and those who fight, in the great winds of the North Sea, that combat rude and brave. We admired the faithful indigenes, gathering from all her dominions, to put their muscular arms at the service of the empire..."

It would, indeed, have been difficult to pay a more graceful compliment to the entente cordiale than to try to run the author of "Soldiers Three" and the "Barrack Room Ballads," and with him the nation behind him, into the smooth mould of a conference—that mixture, so curiously French, of clear thinking and graceful expression, of sensitive definition and personal charm, all blended into a whole so intellectually neat and modulated that an audience like this may take it with the same sense of being cheered, yet not inebriated, with which their allies across the Channel take their afternoon tea.

A Frenchman of a generation ago would scarcely have recognized the England pictured by the amiable Bordeaux professor, and I am not sure that in this entirely altruistic big brother of little nations the English would have recognized themselves. But, at any rate, polite flutters of applause punctuated the talk, and at the end M. Cestre asked his audience to rise as he paid his final tribute to the people now fighting the common battle with France. They all stood up and, smiling up at the left-hand proscenium-box, saluted the British ambassador, Sir Francis Bertie, with long and enthusiastic applause. A man in the gallery even ventured a "Heep! heep!" and every one drifted out very content, indeed.

In the foyer I saw one lady carefully spelling out with her lorgnette one of the words on the list posted there of the subjects for conferences.

"Ah!" she said, considerably reassured apparently, "Keepling!" But then she may have come in late.

Thursday.

The war has been hard on the main business of the neighborhood, of course—Germany was the heaviest buyer of Bordeaux wine, Russia next, and not as much as usual is going to England. The vintage this year, like that of 70, is said to be good, however, and, though the young men have gone, and the wine-making was not as gay as usual, there were enough old men and women left to do the work. I visited one of the older wine houses—nearly two centuries old—and tramped through cellars which burrow on two levels under a whole city block. There were some two million bottles down there in the dark and dust.

There is something patriarchal and princely about such a house, almost unknown in our businesses at home—from the portraits of the founders, from the caskmakers, at lunch-time, broiling their own fish over a huge fireplace and drawing wine from the common cask as they have done for generations; the stencils in the shipping-room—"Baltimore," "Bogota," "Buenos Aires," "Chicago," "Calcutta," "Christiania," "Caracas"—from things like these to the personality and point of view of the men who have the business in charge.

"Now, wine," began the charming gentleman who showed us round, "is a living thing." And though you could see that he had showed many people about in his day—and was not unaware of what might interest them—that he was, in short, an advertiser of the most accomplished kind, yet one could also see that he liked his work and believed in it, and grew wine as an amateur grows fancy tulips and not as a mere salesman.

To be sure, he was inclined to slur over the importance of white wine, while champagne and its perfidious makers didn't interest him in the least; but of the red wine of Bordeaux, its lightness, bouquet, and general beneficence, and the delicate and affectionate care with which it was handled, one could have heard him talk all day. Now and then younger houses discovered things that were going to revolutionize the wine trade.

"Of course," he said, "we examine such things. We look in our books, where records of all our experiments are kept, and there we find that we tried that new thing in 1856—or 1756, perhaps."

Far underground we came on some of the huge majorums, big as nine ordinary bottles. "The King of Spain ran over to Bordeaux one day, and came to us and said: 'I've got two hours; what can you show me?' We said: 'We can show you our cellars.' 'Very well,' said he; 'go ahead.' When he came to the majorums he said: 'What on earth do you do with those ?' 'They are used when there is a christening or a wedding or some great event, and when a king visits us we give him two.'"

So they sent the majorums to the young King, and the King sent back a polite note, just as if he were anybody else, and that is all of that story.

Most of the newspapers which followed the government to Bordeaux have returned to the capital, but that intransigeant government-baiter, the venerable Georges Clemenceau, still continues his bombardment from close range. His paper was formerly L'Homme Libre—The Free Man—but on being suppressed this fall by the censor its octogenarian editor gayly changed its name to The Chained Man—L'Homme Enchaine—and continued fire.

The mayor of a Paris commune in '71, prime minister from 1906-9, the editor of various papers, and senator now, Clemenceau is properly feared; and he was offered, it is said, a place in the present government, but would accept no post but the highest. He preferred his role of political realist and critical privateer, a sort of Mr. Shaw of French politics, hitting a head wherever he sees one.

The imperfections of the French army sanitary service, the censorship, and the demoralization of the postal service since the war have been favorite targets recently. There has been much complaint of the difficulty of getting news from men at the front. M. Viviani, the premier, in an address at Reims, ventured to say that it was his duty to "organize, administer, and intensify the national defense." On this innocent phrase the eye of M. Clemenceau fell the other day, and he now flings off a characteristic three-and-a-half-column front-page salvo so adroitly combining the premier's remark with the actual, pitiful facts that the reader almost feels that "intensifying" the suffering of parents and friends of men fighting for their country is something in which the present government takes delight.

I wish there was space to quote the editorial. I may, at any rate, quote from one or two of the letters written to M. Clemenceau, to suggest a stay-at-home aspect of the war of which we do not hear much. This is from the mayor of Pont-en-Royans:

"Officially," he writes, "on September 29 I was asked to notify the family of the soldier Regnier of his death. In the midst of their cries and tears, the family showed me the last letter, received that very morning, and dated the 27th September, two days before. Now, the notice of his death was dated September 7, and I said to the father:

"'I would not give you too much hope; your son probably died the 27th, suddenly, perhaps, and the secretary charged with writing the letter I have received forgot a figure—instead of 27 he put 7. Meanwhile, as a doubt exists, I will do what I can to clear the matter up.'

"The Administrative Counsel replied to me: 'There has been no error. The notice of decease is dated September 27. If, then, the soldier wrote the 27th, he is not dead. We shall inform the ministry, and you, on your side, should write to the hospital where he is being treated.'

"I wrote to the chief doctor at Besancon. No response. I sent him a telegram with the reply prepaid. No response. I wrote him a third letter, this time a trifle sarcastic. I received finally a despatch: 'Regnier is not known at this hospital.'

"I still had the telegram in my hand when to my house came the sister of the dead soldier, in mourning, and beaming, and gave me a letter. 'It is my brother who has written us.' So there was no mistake. The dead man wrote on the 2d October.

"'Very well,' said I to the family. 'Are you sufficiently reassured now?'

"Some days after I received from the Red Cross hospital at Besancon a letter giving me news of Regnier and explaining that there were several hospitals in the town, that they had only just received my letter, etc., etc.

"I did not think more of the matter until October 23, when I received a circular from the prefecture of Isere, asking me to advise the Regnier family that the soldier Regnier, wounded, was being treated at the hospital of Besancon.

"At last I thought the affair was closed, when, to-day, October 30, I received the enclosed despatch, sent by I know not whom, informing me that the soldier Regnier is unknown in the hospital of Besancon!

"Oh, my head, my head!"

You can imagine what this slashing old privateer would do with a letter like this. The censor will not permit him to make any comment. Very well—he wishes to make none. "You see, Mr. Viviani, it isn't one of those execrable parliamentarians who makes these complaints. It is a mayor, a humble mayor, officially designated by you to transmit to his people the striking results of your 'organization,' of your 'administration,' of your 'intensification' in the cruelly delicate matter of giving news to families. He supplies the picture, and you see in plain daylight your 'intensification' at work. What do you think of it? What can you say about it? Do you believe that because you have given to your censor the right—pardon me, the power—to make white spaces in the columns of newspapers that that is going to suppress the fact? Do you believe," etc., etc.

In the same editorial was a letter from a father whose two sons, on the firing-line, had received none of the family letters since the beginning of the war and wrote pathetically asking if their parents and little sister were ill, or how they had offended. A wife enclosed a letter from her husband, telling how he was suffering from the cold because of insufficient clothing; a doctor wrote protesting because there was not a single bottle of antitetanic serum in his field-hospital.

We found M. Clemenceau in his lodgings late one afternoon—a leonine old gentleman bundled up in cap and overcoat before a little grate fire, while a secretary ran through the big heap of letters piled on the bed. In the corner of the room was a roll-top desk—the sanctum, evidently, of The Chained Man.

As M. Clemenceau was insistent that he should not be interviewed, I may not repeat the exceedingly lively talk on all sorts of people and things with which he regaled us once—and it didn't take long—he "got going."

One purely personal little bit of information may be passed on, however, in the hope that it may be as interesting to other practitioners of a laborious trade as it was to me.

We were talking of the facility with which he reeled off, day after day, columns of lively, finished prose, and I asked whether he wrote in longhand, dictated, or used a typewriter.

This question seemed to amuse and interest the old war-horse greatly. He went to his desk and brought back a sheet of paper, half of which was covered with a small, firm handwriting. It was his next day's broadside, not yet finished.

"There is nothing mysterious about it," he said. "I get up at half past three every morning. I am at that desk most of the day; I go to bed at nine o'clock. If I had to write a banal note, it might take time, but there are certain ideas which I have worked with all my life. I worked a good many years without expressing them; they are all in my head, and when I want them I've only got to take them out. I am eighty-three years old, and if I couldn't express myself by this time"—the old gentleman lifted his eyebrows, smiled whimsically, and, with a quick movement of shoulders and hands, concluded—"it would be a public calamity—a malheur public!"

I thought of the padded lives of some of our literary charlatans and editorial gold bricks at home, of the clever young artists ruined as painters by becoming popular illustrators, the young writers content to substitute overpaid banality and bathos for honest work, and I must confess that the sight of this indomitable old fighter, who had known great men and held high place in his day, and now at eighty-three got up before daylight to pound out in longhand his columns of vivid prose, stirred every drop of what you might call one's intellectual sporting blood. Of his opinions I know little, of the justice of his attacks less, and, to be quite frank, I suspect he is something of a trouble-maker. But as he stood there, bundled up in his overcoat and cap, in that chilly lodging-house room, witty, unsubdued, full of fight and of charm, he seemed to stand for that wonderful French spirit—for its ardor and penetration, its fusion of sense and sensibility, its tireless intelligence and unquenchable fire.

Monday.

The consul of Cognac! It sounded like a musical comedy when we met on the steamer last August; not quite so odd when we bumped into each other in Bordeaux; and now it turns out to mean, in addition to being a young University of Virginia man, thoroughly acquainted with the people he has to deal with, living in a town where the towers of Francis I's castle still stand, rowing on a charming old river in the summer, and in these days hearing a charming old French gentleman, vice-consul, tell how he fought against the Prussians in '70. Cognac is a real place, it appears—an old town of twenty thousand people or so, and it is really where cognac comes from, all other brandies being, of course, as one will learn here, mere upstart eaux-de-vie. We went through some of the cellars to-day, as venerable and vast as the claret cellars in Bordeaux, although not quite as interesting, perhaps, because not so "alive." For wine is a living thing, as the man said in Bordeaux, and it must be ignobly boiled and destroyed before turning into a distilled spirit. To some this pale spiritual essence may possess a finer poetry—the cellars are more fragrant, at any rate.

All the young men had gone to the front—their wages continued as usual —and the work was carried on by women and old servitors, scarcely one of the latter under seventy. They were pointed out as examples of the beneficent effect of the true cognac—these old boys who had inhaled the slightly pungent fragrance of the cellars and bottling-rooms all their lives. You get this perfume all over Cognac. It comes wandering down old alleyways, out from under dark arches, people live literally in a fine mist of it. The very stones are turned black by the faint fumes.

There must be scores of towns south of Paris which look more or less like this—the young men gone or drilling in the neighborhood, the schools turned into hospitals, the little old provincial hotels sheltering families fled from Paris. There are several such at our hotel, nice, comfortable people—you might think you were in some semi-summer-resort hotel at home—Ridgefield, Conn., for instance, in winter time.

The making of cognac occupies nearly every one, one way or another, and it has made the place next to the richest town of its size in France. They make the cognac, and they make the bottles for it in a glass factory on a hill overlooking the town—about as airy and pleasant a place for a factory as one could imagine. The molten glass is poured into moulds, the moulds closed—psst! a stream of compressed air turned in, the bottles blown, and there you are—a score or so of them turned out every minute. As we came out of the furnace-room into the chilly afternoon a regiment of reservists tramped in from a practise march in the country. Some were young fellows, wearing uniforms for the first time, apparently; some looked like convalescents drafted back into the army. They took one road and we another, and half an hour later swung down the main street of Cognac behind a chorus of shrilling bugles. All over France, south of Paris, they must be marching like this these frosty afternoons.

Coming up from Bordeaux the other night we missed the regular connection and had to spend the night at Saintes. The tall, quizzical, rather grim old landlady of the neat little Hotel de la Gare—characteristic of that rugged France which tourists who only see a few streets in Paris know little about—was plainly puzzled. There we were, two able-bodied men, and P———, saying nothing about being consul, merely remarked that he lived in Cognac. "In Cognac!" the old woman repeated, looking from one to the other, and then added, as one putting an unanswerable question: "But you are not soldiers?"

We went out for a walk in the frosty air before turning in. There was scarce a soul in the streets, but at the other end of the town a handful of young fellows passed on the other side singing. They were boys of the 1915 class who had been called out and in a few days would be getting ready for war. In Paris you will see young fellows just like them, decorated with flags and feathers, driving round town in rattle-trap wagons like picnic parties returning on a summer night at home. Arm in arm and keeping step, these boys of Saintes were singing as they marched:

"Il est rouge et noir et blanc, Et fendu au derriere—d."

"He's red, white, and black, And split up the back!"

They saw themselves, doubtless, marching down the streets of Berlin as now they were marching down the streets of Saintes—and they kept flinging back through the frosty dark:

"Il est rouge—et noir—et blanc—Et fendu—au derriere—d..."



Chapter VI

"The Great Days"



They were playing "The Categorical Imperative" that evening at the Little Theatre in Unter den Linden. It is an old-fashioned comedy laid in the Vienna of 1815—two love-stories, lightly and quaintly told, across which, through the chatter of a little Viennese salon, we dimly see Napoleon return from Elba and hear the thunder of Waterloo. A young cub of a Saxon schoolmaster, full of simple-hearted enthusiasm and philosophy, comes down to the Austrian capital, and, taken up by a kindly, coquettish young countess, becomes the tutor of her cousin, a girl as simple as he. The older woman with her knowing charm, the younger with her freshness, present a dualism more bewildering than any he has ever read about in his philosophy books, and part of the fun consists in seeing him fall in love with the younger in terms of pure reason, and finally, when the motherly young countess has quietly got him a professorship at Konigsberg, present to his delighted Elise his "categorical imperative."

You can imagine that thoroughly German mixture of sentiment and philosophy, the quaint references to a Prussia not yet, in its present sense, begun to exist; how to that audience—nearly every one of whom had a son or husband or brother at the front—the century suddenly seemed to close up and the Napoleonic days became part of their own "grosse Zeit." You can imagine the young schoolmaster and the frivolous older man going off to war, and the two women consoling each other, and with what strange eloquence the words of that girl of 1815, watching them from the window, come down across the years:

"Why is it that from time to time men must go and kill each other? There it stands in the paper—two thousand more men—it writes itself so easily! But that every one of them has a wife or mother or sister or a— ... And when they cry their eyes out that means that it is a victory, and when some brave young fellow has fallen, he is only one of the 'forces'—so and so many men—and nobody even knows his name..."

You must imagine them coming back from the war, and pale, benign, leaning on their canes as returning heroes do in plays, talk across the footlights to real young soldiers you have just seen limping in with real wounds—pink-cheeked boys with heads and feet bandaged and Iron Crosses on black-and-white ribbons tucked into their coats, home from East Prussia or the Aisne. Then between the acts you must imagine them pouring out to the refreshment-room for a look at each other and something to eat—will they never stop eating?—fathers and mothers and daughters with their Butterbrod and Schinken and big glasses of beer in the genial German fashion, beaming on the young heroes limping by or, with heads bandaged like schoolboys with mumps, grinning in spite of their scars.

And when they drift out into the street at last, softened and brought together by the play—the street with its lights and flags, officers in long, blue-gray overcoats and soldiers everywhere, and a military automobile shooting by, perhaps, with its gay "Ta-tee! Ta-td!"—the extras are out with another Russian army smashed and two more ships sunk in the Channel. The old newspaper woman at the Friedrichsstrasse corner is chanting it hoarsely, "Zwei englische Dampfer gesunken!"—and they read that "the sands have run, the prologue is spoken, the curtain risen on the tragedy of England's destiny."

Great days, indeed! Days of achievement, of utter sacrifice, and flinging all into the common cause. Round the corner from Unter den Linden, under the dark windows of the Information Bureau, you may see part of the price. It is still and deserted there, except for a lone woman with a shawl over her head, trying to read, by the light of the street-lamp, the casualty lists. You must imagine a building like the Post Office in New York, for instance, or the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago, with a band of white paper, like newspapers, spread out and pasted end to end, running along one side, round the corner, and down the other. Not inches, but yards, rods, two city blocks almost, of microscopic type; columns of names, arranged in the systematic German way—lightly wounded, badly wounded—schwer verwundet—gefallen. Some have died of wounds—tot—some dead in the enemy's country—in Feindesland gefallen. Rank on rank, blurring off into nothingness, endless files of type, pale as if the souls of the dead were crowding here.

One tried to think of the "Categorical Imperative" in a New York playhouse—of the desperate endeavor to make the young schoolmaster really look simple and boyish, and yet as if he might have heard of Kant, and of convincing the two ladies that they lost their sweet comfortableness by dressing like professional manikins; how the piece might succeed with luck, or if it could somehow be made fashionable; and how here, with all the unaffected and affectionate intelligence with which it was played—and watched—it was but part of the week's work.

And, in spite of the desperation of the time, you might have seen a dozen such audiences in Berlin, that night—and yet tourists generally speak of Berlin, compared with some of the German provincial cities, as a rather graceless, new sort of place, full of bad sculpture and Prussian arrogance. You might have seen them at the opera or symphony concerts, at Shakespeare, Strindberg, or the German classics we used to read in college, or standing in line at six o'clock, sandwiches in hand, so that they might sit through a performance of "Peer Gynt," with the Grieg music, beginning at seven and lasting till after eleven. A wonderful night, with poetry and music and splendid scenes and acting, and a man's very soul developing before you all the time—sandwiches and beer and more music and poetry, until that tragedy of the egoist is no longer a play but a part of you, so many years of living, almost, added to one's life. Yes, it is all here, along with the forty-two-centimetre shells—good music and good beer and good love of both; simplicity, homely kindness, and Gemutlichkeit.

Mere talk about plays would not be much encouraged in Germany nowadays. In one of the Cologne papers the other day there were two imaginary letters—one signed "One Who Means Well," asking that there be a little relief from war poems, war articles, and the like; and the other signed "One Who Means Better," demanding if it were possible for any German to waste time in artistic hair-splitting when the Germanic peoples, in greater danger than in their entire history, stood with their back to the wall, facing and holding back the world. A Berlin dramatic critic, going through the motions of reviewing a new performance of "Hedda Gabler" the other morning, finally dismissed the matter as "Women's troubles—if anybody can be interested in that nowadays!" Yet a woman, asking at the same time that the "finer and sweeter voices of peaceful society" be not forgotten, concluded her letter with "East and west the cannon thunder, but in men's souls sound many bells, and it is not necessary that they should always and forever be drowned out."

I mention the theatre only as an easy illustration of that many-sided vitality one feels at once on entering Germany, that development of all a people's capabilities, material and spiritual, which is summed up, I suppose, in that hapless word Kultur.

You may not like German learning or German art, and consider the one pedantic and the other heavy and uninspired. A Frenchman wrote very feelingly the other day, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, about a return to the old French culture, an escape from what he described as the German habit of accumulating mere facts to something that, in addition to feeding the brain, nourished the taste as well—carried with it, so to speak, a certain spiritual fragrance.

You may be of this persuasion. The thing one cannot escape, however, in Germany, whether one likes its manifestations or not, is the vitality, the moral and intellectual force, everywhere apparent, whether it be applied to smashing forts or staging a play. When a people can hold back England and France with one hand and the Russian avalanche with the other, and, cut off from oversea trade and living on rations almost, yet, to take but one of the first examples, maintain the art of the theatre at a level which makes that of New York or London in the most spacious time of peace seem crude and infantile, one is confronted with a fact which a reporter in his travels must record—a force which, as the saying goes, "must be reckoned with."

So far as the special business of keeping the war going is concerned, this vitality, after seven months of fighting, in spite of those lists in Dorotheenstrasse, seems ample. Here in Berlin, which is an all day's express journey from either front, you see thousands of fit young men marching through the streets, singing and whistling; you are told of millions ready and waiting to go. Every one seems confident that Germany will win—indeed, with a unity and resolution which could scarcely be more complete if they were defending their last foot of territory, determined that Germany must win.

When I was in London in the autumn a man who had made a flying trip to Berlin said that the German capital made him think of a man with his feet on the table smoking a cigar and pretending to be unconcerned although he knew all the time in his heart that he was doomed. I find little to suggest such a picture. The thing that at once impresses the stranger, along with the apparent reserve strength, is the moral earnestness behind that strength, the passionate conviction that they are fighting a defensive fight, that they are right. I shall not attempt to explain this here, but merely record it as a fact. Possibly all people in all great wars believe they are right—and that is why there are great wars.

Crossing the frontier from Rotterdam, I stopped for a day or two at Cologne. The proprietor of the hotel, a typical, big, hearty German of the commercial class, such as you might expect to find running a brewery at home or a bank or coffee plantation in South America, came out of his office when he heard English spoken. There are no "loose Englishmen" in Germany nowadays.

"I suppose you are surprised to see the Dom, yes?" he laughed, pointing toward the cathedral towers in whose shadow we stood. And then—"What do you think about the war?" I asked him what he thought.

"Well," he said, and with the air of brushing aside what was taken for granted before considering more doubtful issues, "of course we win!"

He showed me a photograph of his son, just made an officer. "In a few weeks," he said, "maybe I volunteer myself." He was fifty-five years old, but thoroughly fit. He doubled up a big right arm and laughingly gripped it. "Like iron!" he boomed. "And there are five million men like me. Not men—soldiers!"

I found myself the other evening, after zigzagging all over Berlin with an address given me at a typewriter agency, in a little apartment on the outskirts of the town. The woman who lived there had been a stenographer in the city until the war cut off her business, and she was now supporting herself with the six marks (one dollar and fifty cents) weekly war benefit given by the municipality and by making soldiers' shirts for the War Department at fifty pfennigs (twelve and one-half cents) a shirt. She was glad to get typewriting, and without words on either side at once got to work. So we proceeded for a page or two until something was said about an Iron Cross stuck inside a soldier's coat.

"That is the Iron Cross of the second class," she interrupted; "they put that inside. The first class they wear outside," and, as if she could keep still no longer, she suddenly flung out, almost without a pause:

"My brother has the Iron Cross. I have seven brothers in the army. Three are in the east and three are in the west, and one is in the hospital. He was shot three times in the leg—here—and here—and here. They hope to save his leg, but he will always be lame. He got the Iron Cross. He was at Dixmude. They marched up singing 'Deutschland ueber Alles.' They were all shot down. There were three hundred of them, and every one fell. They knew they must all be shot, but they marched on just the same, singing 'Deutschland ueber Alles.' They knew they were going against the English, and nothing could stop them."

Her brother would go back if he had to crawl back—if only she could go and not have to sit here and wait!

"I told you," she said, "when you first came in, that I was German. And I asked you if you were an American, because I know that dreadful things have been said in America about our Kaiser, and I will not have such things said to me. Our Kaiser did not want the war—he did everything he could to prevent the war—no ruler in the world ever did more for his people than our Kaiser has done, and there is not a man, woman, or child in Germany who would not fight for him." And this, you must remember, was from a woman whose support was cut off by the war and who was making a living by sewing shirts at twelve and a half cents a shirt.

I walked down the busy High Street that night in Cologne, and the bright shop-windows with their chocolates and fruit—apples from Canada and Hood River—crowded cafes, people overflowing sidewalks into the narrow streets somehow reminded me of the cheerful Bordeaux I tramped through in November. There are, indeed, many French suggestions in Cologne, and in the shops they still sometimes call an umbrella a parapluie.

An American who lives in Cologne told me that the decrease in the number of young men was noticeable, and that eleven sons of his friends had been killed. To a stranger the city looked normal, with the usual crowds. One did notice the people about the war bulletin-boards. They were not boys and street loungers, but grave-looking citizens and their wives and daughters, people who looked as if they might have sons or brothers at the front.

The express from Cologne to Berlin passed through Essen, where the Krupp guns are made, the coal and iron country of Westphalia, and the plains of the west. It is a country of large cities whose borders often almost touch, where some tall factory chimney is almost always on the horizon. All these chimneys were pouring out smoke; there is a reason, of course, why iron-works should be busy and manufacturing going on—if not as usual, at any rate going on.

The muddy plains between the factory towns were green with winter wheat, the crop which is to carry the country through another year. Meanwhile, one was told, the railroad rights of way would be planted, and land not needed for beets—for with no sugar going out Germany can produce more now than she needs—also be seeded to wheat.

Here in Berlin we are, it seems, being starved out, but in the complex web of a modern city it is rather hard to tell just what that means: In ordinary times, for instance, Germany imports thirty-five million dollars' worth of butter and eggs from Russia, which, of course, is not coming in now, yet butter seems to appear, and at a central place like the Victoria Cafe, at the corner of Unter den Linden and Friedrichsstrasse, two soft-boiled eggs cost fifty pfennigs, or twelve and a half cents, which is but two and a half cents more than they cost before the war, and that includes a morning paper and a window from which to see Berlin going by. Even were Berlin, in a journalistic sense, "starving," one presumes the cosmopolitans in the tea-rooms of the Kaiserhof or Adlon or Esplanade would still have their trays of fancy cakes to choose from and find no difficulty in getting plenty to eat at a—for them—not unreasonable price.

For weeks white bread has had to contain a certain amount of rye flour and rye bread a certain amount of potato—the so-called war bread—and, except in the better hotels, one was served, unless one ordered specially, with only two or three little wisps of this "Kriegsbrod." For Frenchmen this would mean a real privation, but Germans eat so little bread, comparatively speaking, that one believes the average person scarcely noticed the difference. Every one must have his bread-card now, with coupons entitling him to so many grams a day—about four pounds a week—which the waiter or baker tears off when the customer gets his bread. Without these cards not so much as a crumb can be had for love or money. Yet with all this stiff and not unamusing red tape your morning coffee and bread and butter costs from thirty pfennigs (seven and one-half cents) in one of the Berlin "automats" to one mark fifty pfennigs (thirty-seven cents) in the quiet of the best hotels.

Meat is plentiful and cheap, particularly beef, and in any of the big, popular "beer restaurants," so common in Berlin, an ordinary steak for one person costs from thirty-five to fifty cents. Pork, the mainstay of the poorer people, is comparatively expensive, because hogs have been made into durable hard sausages for the army, and potatoes, also expensive, have been bought up in large quantities by the government, to be sold in the public markets to the poor, a few pounds to each person, at a moderate price. There are said to be eight hundred thousand prisoners now in Germany, and the not entirely frivolous suggestion has been made that the hordes of hungry Russians captured in the east are more dangerous now than they were with guns in their hands. Yet there are no visible signs of such poverty as one will see in certain parts of London or Chicago in times of peace, and a woman in charge of one of the soup-kitchens where people pinched by the war get one substantial meal a day at ten pfennigs told me there was no reason for any one in Berlin going hungry. Meanwhile, the scarcity of flour only adds fuel to the people's patriotism, and they are told everywhere on red placards that England never can starve them out if every German does his economical duty. Where so much thinking is done for the people, and done so efficiently, it is difficult not to feel that everything is somehow "arranged," and one finds it difficult to become acutely anxious while the hundreds of crowded cafes are running full blast until one o'clock every morning and the seal in the Tiergarten has the bottom of his tank covered with fresh fish he is too indolent to eat.

"Society," in its more visible, decorative sense, is as forgotten as it is in France, as it must be in such a time. There are no dances or formal parties; every one who is not going about his civil business has in one way or another "gone to the war." The gay young men are at the front, the idle young women knitting or nursing or helping the poor, and it is an adventure uncommon enough to be remembered to meet on the street a pretty young lady merely out to take the air, with hands in her muff and trotting in front of her the timorous dachshund, muzzled like a ravening tiger and looking at the world askance with his rueful eyes.

The apparent quietness and gravity is partially due to the lack of a "yellow" or, in the British or American sense of the word, popular press. There is none of that noisy hate continually dinned into one's ears in London by papers which, to be sure, represent neither the better-class English civilians nor the light-hearted fighting man at the front, yet which are entertainingly written, do contain the news, and get themselves read.

The German papers print comparatively little of what we call "news." They hide unpleasant truths and accent pleasant ones, and are working all the time to create a definite public opinion; but their partisanship is that of official proclamation rather than that of overworked and underpaid reporters striving to please their employers with all the desperation of servants working for a tip. The yelping after spies, the heaping of adjectives on every trifling achievement of British arms, the ill-timed talk of snatching the enemy's trade in a war theoretically fought for a high principle, all that journalistic vulgarity—which might be as characteristic of our own papers under similar circumstances—one is mercifully spared.

This taciturnity is astonishing toward the work of the men at the front. A few days ago flags were flung out all over Berlin at the news of Hindenburg's victory; military attaches were saying that there had been nothing like this since Napoleon; up and down the streets the newswomen were croaking: "Sechsund-zwanzig tausend Russen gefangen... Hindenburg zahlt noch immer..." ("Twenty-six thousand Russians captured... and Hindenburg's still counting..."). And all you could find in the papers was the General Staff report that "at one place the fighting has been very severe; up to the present we have made some twenty-six thousand prisoners," etc., and even this laconic sentence lost in the middle of the regular communique beginning: "Yesterday on the Belgian coast, after a period of inactivity..."

The picturesqueness and personalities of the war are left to the stage and the innumerable weeklies and humorous papers, yet even here there is little or no tendency to group achievements around individual commanders—it is "our army," not the man, although even German collectivism cannot keep Hindenburg's dependable old face off the post-cards nor regiments of young ladies from sending him letters and Liebesgaben.

In the theatre you see the Feldgrau heroes in dugouts in Flanders or in Galician trenches; see the audience weep when the German mother sends off her seven sons or the bearded father meets his youngest boy, schwer verwundet, on the battle-field; or cheer when the curtain goes down on noble blond giants in spiked helmets dangling miniature Frenchmen by the scruff of the neck and forcing craven Highlanders to bite the dust.

You may even see a submarine dive down into green water, see the torpedo slid into the tube, breech-block closed, and—"Now—for Kaiser and fatherland!"—by means of an image thrown on a screen from the periscope, see the English cruiser go up in a tower of water and founder.

In all this comment there is a very different feeling for each of the three allies. The Russians "don't count," so to speak. They are dangerous because of their numbers and must be flung back, but the feeling toward them is not unlike that toward a herd of stampeded range cattle.

Toward the French there is no bitterness either, rather a sort of pity and the wish to be thought well of. One is reminded now and then of the German captain quartered at Sedan, in Zola's "Debacle," who, while conscious of the strength behind him, yet wanted his involuntary hosts to know that he, too, had been to Paris and knew how to be a galant homme. Men tell you "they've put up a mighty good fight, say!" or speaking of the young French sculptor allowed to go on with his work in the prison camp at Zossen, or the flower-beds in front of the French barracks there—"but, of course, the French are an artistic people. You can allow them liberties like that." Every now and then in the papers one runs across some anecdote from France in which the Frenchman is permitted to make the retort at the expense of the English.

Toward John Bull there is no mercy. He is shown naked, trying to hide himself with neutral flags; he is sprawled in his mill with a river of French blood flowing by from the battle-fields of France, while the cartoonist asks France if she cannot see that she is doing his grinding for him; he is hobnobbing cheek by jowl with cannibals and black men, and he is seriously discussed as a traitor to the Germanic peoples and the white race.

A German woman told me the other day that in her house it was the custom to fine everybody in the family ten pfennigs if they came down to breakfast without saying: "Gott strafe die Englander!" ("God punish the English!") In a recent Ulk there is a cartoon of a young mother holding up her baby to his proud father with the announcement that he has spoken his first words. "And what did he say?" "Gott strafe England!"

America is criticised for supplying the Allies with arms—shades of South American revolutions and the old "Ypiranga"!—while permitting itself, without sufficient protest, to be shut off from sending food to Germany. Yet, in spite of this and the extremely difficult situation created by the submarine blockade, the individual American is not embarrassed unless mistaken for an Englishman or unless he finds some supersensitive patriot in a restaurant or theatre who objects even to hearing English.

At the frontier the honest customs inspector landed, first thing, on a copy of "Tartarin sur les Alpes," which I had picked up at the railroad news-stand in the Hague.

"Franzosisch!" he declared, flapping over the pages. Next it was a bundle of letters of introduction, the top one of which happened to be in English. "Englische Briefe!" and forthwith he bellowed for help. A young officer sauntered out from the near-by office, saluted, and said, "Good morning!" glanced at "Tartarin" with a smile, and tossed it back into the bag, at letters and passport, said it must be very interesting to see both sides, and so, after a question or two, to the train for Koln.

On the way to Berlin from Koln, that rainy afternoon, I went into the dining-car toward five o'clock attired in a pepper-and-salt tweed suit and heavy tan boots, and, speaking German with evident pain, tactfully asked—everybody else drinking beer—for tea. The man across the way whispered to his companion and stared; a middle-aged man farther up the aisle stood stock-still and stared; a young woman at the other end of the car turned round and, gazing over the back of her chair, whispered aghast to her companion: "Englaender!"

Not particularly enlivened by the cup that cheers, I regained my compartment presently and glared out at the sodden landscape, with now and then a shot at the other occupant who had got on at Essen or one of the western stations and sat the day out without a word. One of those disagreeable Prussians evidently—until, actually needing to know, I broke the silence by asking which station we arrived at in Berlin. He answered with perfect good humor, and we began to talk. I mentioned the tea incident.

"Ignorant people!" he said, dismissing them with a wave of the hand. They ought to have seen my little flag—he had—and, anyhow, a gentleman was a gentleman, and they were fighting England, not individual Englishmen. Then, reverting to my apologies for my German, he amiably shifted into French, and so we talked until reaching Berlin, when, hoping that I would get what I came for, he shook hands and wished me "Bon voyage!" So you never can tell.

The militarism which any man in the street-car at home can tell you all about, and which Cramb and Bernhardi make so interesting and understandable, is here on the spot not so easy to put one's finger on. Apparently nobody ever heard of Bernhardi, and you might talk with every man you meet for a fortnight without finding any one who could tell you —as any young girl who happens to sit next you at dinner can tell you at home—about the German belief in war as a great blessing, because it is the only way of asserting your own superior ideas over the other man's inferior ideas, and thus getting a world ahead.

People want to smash England, of course, because, as they explain, she brought on the war and is trying to starve them, and they roar with the applause when the lightning-change man at the Wintergarten impersonates Hindenburg, because Hindenburg is a grand old scout who is keeping those millions of slovenly Russians from overrunning our tidy, busy, well-ordered Germany. But Treitschke—who was he?

And then, of course, it is not always easy to put one's finger on just what people mean by militarism. Some have objected to militarism because they didn't like the manners of the German waiters at the Savoy, and some because—"Well, those people somehow rub you the wrong way!" It is not universal conscription, because many nations have that, nor the amount spent per capita on soldiers and ships, for we ourselves spend almost as much as the Germans, and the French even more.

One of our old-school cattlemen, used to shooting all the game, cutting all the timber, and using all the water he wanted to, would doubtless say, without seeing a soldier, that it was "their damned police!" No, when people think they are talking about German militarism, they are quite as likely to be talking about the way German faces are made or about German collectivism—the uncanny ability Germans have for taking orders, for team-work, for turning every individual energy into the common end.

One may, however, run across a certain feeling toward war, quite local and unconscious, yet very different from the French love of "gloire" and the English keenness for war as a sort of superior fox-hunting or football. You are, let us say, watching one of the musical comedies which the war has inspired.

The curtain rises on a darkened stage, through whose blackness you presently discover, twinkling far below, as if you were looking down from an aeroplane, the lights of Paris, the silver thread of the Seine and its bridges. There is a faint whirring, and two faces emerge vaguely from the dark—the hero and heroine swinging along in a Taube. And as they fly they sing a wistful little waltz song, a sort of cradle song:

"Ich glau-u-be... Ich glau-u-be Da oben fliegt... 'ne Taube..."

They are thinking, so the song runs, that there is a Taube overhead; it has flown here out of its German nest, and let's hope it will not let anything fall on them. And, as they sing, the young man makes a motion with his hand, there is a sort of glowworm flash, and a few seconds later, away down there among the Paris roofs a puff of red smoke and fire. The illusion is perfect, and the audience is enchanted—that ride through the velvet night, so still, so quaint, so roguish in its way, and the flash far below, that has flung some unsuspecting citizen on the cobblestones like a bundle of old rags.

And, whirring gently, the Taube sails on through the night:

'Ich glaube.. Da oben fliegt Ich glaube.. 'ne Taube'

Again the glowworm flash, and a moment later, over on the left bank, not far from the Luxembourg, apparently, another of those eloquent little puffs of fire. The crowd is as delighted as children would be with bursting soap-bubbles.

Or we are, let us say, at "Woran Wir Denken" ("What We're Thinking Of") with delightful music and such verses as we rarely enough hear in musical comedies at home. In the spotlight there is a square young man dressed in a metallic coat and conical helmet, so as to suggest the famous forty-two-centimetre shell—the shell which makes a hole like a cellar and smashed the Belgian forts as if an earthquake had struck them. And singing with him an exquisite, nun-like creature in a dove-colored robe, typifying the Taube. They are singing to each other:

"I am delicate and slender And made for the salon..." "And I am the biggest smasher In all the present season..." "High up above the clouds I fly at heart's desire..." "And I'm a child of Krupp's, Whom nobody knew about..." "I fly, trackless as a breath..." "I slash on with smoke and roar..."

They are in love with each other, you see, the Taube and the forty-two-centimetre shell, the "Brummer," or "Grumbler," as they call it in Germany—could anything be more piquant? You should hear them—the chaste, chic, nun-like Taube and the thick-chested old Brummer, singing that he is her dear old Grumbler and she his soft, swift Dove:

"Suesser, dicker Brummer... Du mein Taubchen, zart und flink..."

There is a sort of poetry about this—a new sort of poetry about a new sort of war. And it might possibly be proved that such poetry could only come from a people so bred to arms that they do not shrink, even in imagination, from the uses to which arms must be put—a people in love with war, having a mystical feeling for its instruments, such as their remote ancestors had for their battle-axes and double-edged swords.

I shall not attempt to do this—heaven preserve Americans from being judged by their musical comedies !—and doubtless the children even of our most devoted advocates of universal peace have played with lead cannon and toy soldiers. I merely speak of it, this curious mixture of refinement and brutality, as something which, it struck me, we Americans—who always do everything exactly right—would not have thought of doing in just that way.

Many of the ways of this people are not our ways. You have heard, let us say, of the German parade step, sometimes laughed at as the "goose step" in England and at home. I was lunching the other day with an American military observer, and he spoke of the parade step and the effect it had on him.

"Did you ever see it?" he demanded. "Have you any idea of the moral effect of that step? You see those men marching by, every muscle in their bodies taut and tingling as steel wire, every eye on the Emperor, and when they bring those feet down—bing! bang!—the physical fitness it stands for, the unity, determination—why, it's the whole German idea—nothing can stop 'em!"

"Did you ever see one of these soldiers salute?" Yes, I had seen hundreds of them, and I had been made extremely ill at ease one day in my hotel when a young officer with whom I had started, in the American fashion, comfortably to shake hands suddenly whacked his heels together like a couple of Indian clubs and, stiff as a ramrod, snapped his hand to his cap.

"Did you ever see them salute? They don't do it like a baggage porter— there's nothing servile about it. They square off and bring that hand to their heads and look that officer square in the eyes as if to say: 'Now, damn you, salute me!' And he gets his salute, too—like a man!"

You may not like this salute or you may not like the parade step, but you can be very sure of one thing—that it is not the militarism that pushes civilians off the sidewalk nor permits an officer to strike his subordinate—though these things have happened in Germany—that is holding back England and France and driving the Russian millions out of East Prussia. It is something bigger than that. Peasants and princes, these men are dying gladly, backed up by fitness, discipline, and a passionate unity such as the world has not often seen. This, and not the futile nurses' tales with which the American public permitted itself to be diverted during the early weeks of the war, is what strikes one in Germany. It is a fact, like the Germans being in Belgium, which you have got to face and think about, whether you like it or not. Berlin, February, 1915.



Chapter VII

Two German Prison Camps



Visiting a prison camp is somewhat like touching at an island in the night—one of those tropical islands, for instance, whose curious and crowded life shows for an instant as your steamer leaves the mail or takes on a load of deck-hands, and then fades away into a few twinkling lights and the sound of a bell across the water. You may get permission to see a prison camp, but may not stay there, and you are not expected, generally, to talk to the prisoners. You can but walk past those rows of eyes, with all their untold stories, much as you might go into a theatre in the midst of a performance, tramp through the audience and out again.

It is a strange experience and leaves one hoping that somebody—some German shut away in the south of France, one of those quick-eyed Frenchmen in the human zoo at Zossen—is keeping a diary. For while there have always been prison camps, have there ever been—at least, since Rome—such menageries as these! Behind the barbed-wire fence at Zossen—Zossen is one of the prisons near Berlin—there are some fifteen thousand men. The greater number are Frenchmen, droves of those long blue turned-back overcoats and red trousers, flowing sluggishly between the rows of low barracks, Frenchmen of every sort of training and temperament, swept here like dust by the war into common anonymity. I do not remember any picture of the war more curious, and, as it were, uncanny than the first sight of Zossen as our motor came lurching down the muddy road from Berlin—that huge, forgotten eddy, that slough of idle, aimless human beings against the gray March sky, milling slowly round and round in the mud.

But the French are only part of Zossen. There are Russians—shaggy peasants such as we see in cartoons or plays at home, and Mongol Russians with flat faces and almond eyes, who might pass for Chinamen. There are wild-eyed "Turcos" from the French African provinces, chattering untamed Arabs playing leap-frog in front of their German commandant as impudently as street boys back in their native bazaars. There are all the tribes and castes of British Indians—"I've got twenty different kinds of people in my Mohammedan camp," said the lieutenant who was showing me about—squat Gurkhas from the Himalayas, minus their famous knives—tall, black-bearded Sikhs, with the faces of princes. There are even a few lone Englishmen, though most of the British soldiers in this part of Germany are at Doberitz. Whether or not Zossen could be called a "show" camp, it seemed, at any rate, about as well managed as such a place could be. The prisoners were housed in new, clean, one-story barracks; well fed, so far as one could tell from their appearance and that of the kitchens and storerooms; they could write and be written to, and they were compelled to take exercise. The Roman Catholics had one chapel and the Greek Catholics another, and there was an effort to permit Indian prisoners to observe their rules of caste.

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