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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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We, on the contrary—that is to say, Philip and his two guests—were taken to a furnished house over-looking the Marmora—the house, as it presently appeared, from the pictures of Waterloo on the walls and the English novels in a bookcase up-stairs, lately occupied by the British consular agent. To his excellency a room to himself up-stairs, with a real bed, was given; the historians were made perhaps even more comfortable on mattresses on the dining-room floor. We were all sleepy enough to drop on them at once, but another diplomatic dinner had been planned, it appeared, and Turkish politeness can no more be hurried nor overcome than can that curious impassive resistance which a Turk can maintain against something he does not wish done. It was nine o'clock before we sat down with the mutessarif, his secretary, and the voluble journalist to a whole roast kid, a rather terrifying but exceedingly palatable dish, stuffed with nuts, rice, and currants, and accompanied by some of the wine of Lapsaki, rice pudding, and a huge bowl of raw eggs, which were eaten by cracking the shell, elevating one's head, and tossing them down like oysters.

The dinner was served by one Dimitri, a brawny, slow-moving Greek. Dimitri was dressed in a home-spun braided jacket and homespun Turkish trousers, shaped like baggy riding-breeches, and his complete impenetrability to new ideas was only equalled by the solemnity and touching willingness with which he received them. It was after he had served us in the ignoble capacity of dish-washer and burden-carrier for several days that we were informed one evening by the governor's secretary, in his vague way, that Dimitri was an "architect."

"Architecte naturel," suggested the urbane Philip, and the governor's secretary assented. Slow Dimitri might be, but once he grasped an idea, no power could drag it from him. When one asked him where he learned to build houses of a certain style, he always replied that so they were built by Pappadopoulos—Pappadopoulos being dead these twenty or thirty years. Dimitri, the secretary ventured, had been architect of the mosque on the water-front, and when he found that we were pleased with this idea, everything else in Gallipoli became Dimitri's. The lighthouse, the hospital, the three white houses by the quay—we had but to mention a building and he would promptly murmur, in his dreamy, half-quizzical way;

"Oui-i-i ... c'est Dimitri!"

Early next morning, just after we had discovered that under the cliff was water like liquid lapis lazuli and flat-topped rocks rising just above it on which you would not have been in the least surprised to find mermaids combing their hair, or sirens sitting, and that it was a simple matter to climb down and be mermen, the clergyman-volunteer arrived with reports of the first night. It had been dismal, there were one or two intransigent kickers, and the aesthetic young Frenchman who spent his idle time drawing pictures of fashion-plate young ladies, had become so unstrung that he had regularly "thrown a fit" and been unconscious for half an hour until they could massage him back to life again. Humor was quite gone out of them, and when the clergyman suggested that it was a compliment to be sent out to be shot at—flattering, at any rate, to the prowess of the Allies—a Frenchman emphatically denied it. "Pas du tout!" he exploded. While we talked there was a knock at the front door, and through the grating we saw the red fez and vaguely smiling visage of the mutessarif's secretary. It was the first of a series of visits, which, before we left Gallipoli, were renewed almost every hour, of dialogues deserving a better immortalization than can be given here.

You must imagine, on one side of the dining-room table, the plump little bey, with his fez and glasses, quick little salutes each time he took a match or cigarette; facing him the tall, urbane Philip, in ineffable flannels or riding-clothes—for the embassy secretary is one of those who believe that clothes should express rather than blot out the inner man. Cigarettes—coffee—assurances to his excellency that the house is his, to Monsieur Le Directeur of our pleasure and profound consideration. Minutes pass, an hour—the bey knows no such thing as time, the other is as unhurried as he. The talk, in somewhat halting French, is of war, weather, French culture, marriage, those dreadful Russians, punctuated by delicate but persistently recurring references, on one side, to mattresses and food for the hostages, by the little bey's deep sighs and his "Mais ... que fairef"

That "But what can be done?" like the Mexican's "Who knows?" fell like a curtain on every pause, it was the bey's answer to all life's riddles— the plight of the hostages, the horrors of war, his own dream of being governor of a province close to Constantinople. One can hear him now through that cloud of cigarette smoke, "Mais—" with a pause and scarcely perceptible lifting of the shoulders—"que faire..."

We went across to Lapsaki again that day to get blankets and buy or order mattresses, and found it much what Gallipoli must have been a few days before—sunshine and soldiers, camels loaded with stretchers and Red Cross supplies, the hot little twisting streets, noisy with traders and refugees.

You can imagine the excitement over this mysterious stranger with an unlimited supply of gold lire and big silver medjidies, asking not what kind of blankets, but how many did they have, how long would it take them to make not one, but fifty mattresses! Greek traders, Jews from the Dardanelles, one or two hybrid youths in fez and American clothes, with recommendations from American Y. M. C. A.'s—it was a great afternoon for Lapsaki!

A round-faced, jolly German nurse, dropped all alone in the little town by the chance of war, met us in the street, and later we went to her hospital. It had been started only a fortnight before, there were no beds, and the wounded lay on narrow mattresses on the floor. One man, whose face was a mere eyes and nose poking through patches of plaster, had been burned at Gallipoli. Another, up from the Dardanelles, had a hideous wound in his cheek, discharging constantly into his mouth. In spite of it he took Philip's cigarette and smoked it. He was dead when we came back three days later. On another mattress was a poor little brown bundle, a boy of twelve or thirteen, hit in the spine and paralyzed by a fragment of shell at Gallipoli and now delirious. Philip later took him back to Constantinople, to the X-ray and care that might save his life.

It was sundown when we got back to the hostages with our spoils. The thing had begun to get on their nerves. The English said little, determined evidently to remain Britons to the last, but some of the Levantines let themselves go completely. A pale gentleman with a poetic beard, a barber by profession, was among the most eloquent. It was not a jail, it was a mad-house, he cried. Another declared that without bedding, doctor, or medicines, shut up here until the end of the war, probably, they must at least have food—that was a need "primordial!"

Another stood apart, whacking his chest and addressing the empty air, "C'est moi, c'est moi, qui n'a pas d'argent!"—it was he who had no money and nothing to cover him, and what did they want him to do? If he had come down to be shot at, well and good, but if he was to be frozen and starved by inches...

Philip smoothed them down as best he could and returned to invite the governor's secretary to stay for dinner, a repast for which Hassan, the embassy khavass who accompanied the expedition, had procured, as he put it, "some fresh eggies from a nice little man."

The bey, who, that morning, had leaned toward the French, now warmed to America. The French were enlightened, he said, but without morals, the English civilized but jealous; if he had any sons he would send them to America, the only place where young men were both civilized and properly "serieux." In the midst of these amiable speculations it was suggested that, in view of the difficulty of getting mattresses, the government might even requisition them. The suggestion drew a regretful sigh from the bey, for Turkey was a constitutional country, he said, the shops and houses were closed and their owners gone, and there was no way in which such a thing could be done.

In addition to Hassan's eggies, Philip's Man Friday, the incomparable Levy, had constructed some rice puddings, and it was in despair that he announced, just before they were to be served, that two had "gone by the cats"! We had, indeed, by this time attracted most of the cats in Gallipoli. They streaked through the rooms like chain lightning, and in the dead of night went galloping over the piano keyboard with sounds so blood-curdling that Suydam put his mattress on the sofa and his sleeping-bag on top of that, and, shutting himself in, defied them. The incomparable Levy was Italian by his birth and cheerfulness, Jewish on his father's side, Turkish by the fez he wore and a life spent in guiding strangers about Constantinople. He had the face of a dean of a diplomatic corps or one of those comfortable old gentlemen in spats who have become fixtures in some city club.

It was his employer's humor to befriend and defend him in private, but to his face assume, with the most delicate irony, that this marvel among men was always late, forgetful, rattle-brained, and credulous. And it was Levy's gift to play up to this assumption, to hang on his employer's words with breathless anxiety, to relax into a paternal smile when safe, and to support his omelets and his delays with oaths and circumlocutions stranger even than the dishes themselves. They were odd enough, those dinners, sitting in our little oasis of light in that deserted town, not knowing what the next hour might bring.

Next day we again went to Lapsaki, and, although the entire industrial resources of the place had apparently been cornered in the meantime by a Dardanelles Jew, returned with several more mattresses and the promise of the remainder. We found the hostages more cheerful. With the relief money Philip had distributed the day before, and the food they had been able to buy, they had shaken themselves together, gifted cooks had turned up, they had made a baseball out of rags, painted humorous signs on the doorways of their rooms—they had actually begun to sing.

And now, with that curious subsequentness with which things sometimes happen in Turkey, the mutesarif discovered half a dozen mattresses himself, and announced that to-morrow there would be enough for all. Nay, more—the government would allow each hostage four piasters a day for food, a cook would be brought down from Constantinople and meals served in a restaurant, that they might be saved, as his secretary observed, from the unlovely "odeurs de'cuisine."

Then it was discovered that the men might stroll about town, provided they were in groups. They went to the beach and discussed the feasibility of swimming, they even demurred against the Constantinople cook as limiting their means of amusing themselves; the aesthetic young man recovered now, polished his shoes and put a lavender handkerchief in his breast pocket. The hostages were in a fair way to annex the deserted village, when a bombshell burst in the shape of a despatch from the American ambassador that permission had been obtained for all to come home.

The changing wind now swung full upon us. Scarcely had the message arrived ere the mutessarifs secretary followed it, lamenting that we must go. A peacock reposing majestically in the arms of a patient hamal appeared at the front door, a souvenir for "his excellency."

Appeared also, out of thin air, a neat little horse and phaeton, and a trooper perched on a high Turkish saddle, with a rifle slung rakishly across his back, and the bey himself, glasses, fez, and all, astride an Arab steed. We were to be taken for a drive. Toward the end of it we reached the flour-mill, the only modern edifice in this ancient town, and were ushered into the office to sit in a constrained circle, with the slightly ironical-looking young proprietor—accustomed, perhaps, to such visits—and his associates, while coffee and cigarettes were brought. The engineer, an Italian, welcomed us in French; the proprietor, who spoke nothing but Turkish, smiled inscrutably, and overhead, in several brass cages, canaries sang.

Philip, gazing upward, admired their song, whereat the bey at once announced that they were his. The American protested that, much as the gift delighted his taste and roused his gratitude, it was impossible to think of carrying a canary back to Constantinople.

"If you please..." insisted the imperturbable bey. "It is yours!" Scarcely had we returned, indeed, before another patient hamal knocked, lugging the hapless bird.

The hostages, not to be outdone, invited Philip, the bey, and ourselves to lunch. There was chicken soup and chicken, and salad and native wine, and, for the corner of the improvised table, where the guests were seated, the hospitable young men had actually procured several bottles of Gallipoli champagne. The barber with the poetic beard leaped to his feet, as fluent in welcoming us as he had been in protestations a few evenings before, while the aesthetic young man smiled pensively down at a long-stemmed fleur-de-lis which he slowly twirled in his fingers. The cashier of a Constantinople department store sang from "Tosca."

With him as leader they all sang—a song of the Pyrenees mountaineers, then a waltz from the cafes chantants: "Bien gentiment l'on se balade. C'est la premiere promenade—"

In another week we should have had a Gallipoli Glee Club.

And so ended the adventure of the fifty hostages, who went out to be shot at—the end of the comedy, which had its climax at the beginning. The next morning we were up at daylight, and after several hours' delay the mutessarif and his lieutenant came down to permit us to leave. There were cigarettes and salutes, the secretary scribbled in Turkish characters on his knee, the governor signed the permit, and we said good-by to Gallipoli. Next morning we again threaded the shipping in the Golden Horn.

The ten policemen who had looked so formidable a week before, expressed a wish for what was left of the tinned corned beef. And with hackmen yelling from the street and caique men shouting from the water, the fifty hostages were swallowed up in the sunshine and smells and clatter of Constantinople.



Chapter XI

With The Turks At The Dardanelles



The little side-wheeler—she had been built in Glasgow in 1892, and done duty as a Bosporus ferry-boat until the war began—was supposed to sail at four, but night shut down and she still lay at the wharf in Stamboul. We contrived to get some black bread, hard-boiled eggs, oranges, and helva from one of the little hole-in-the-wall shops near by, watched Pera and its ascending roofs turn to purple, and the purple to gray and black, until Constantinople was but a string of lights across Galata Bridge, and a lamp here and there on the hills. Then, toward midnight, with lights doused and life-belts strung along the rail—for English submarines were in the Marmora—we churned quietly round the corner of Stamboul and into the cool sea.

The side-wheeler was bound for the Dardanelles with provisions for the army—bread in bags, big hampers of green beans, and cigarettes—and among them we were admitted by grace of the minister of war, and papers covered with seals and Turkish characters, which neither of us could read. We tried to curl up on top of the beans (for the Marmora is cold at night, and the beans still held some of the warmth of the fields), but in the end took to blankets and the bare decks.

All night we went chunking southward—it is well over a hundred miles from Constantinople to the upper entrance to the straits—and shook ourselves out of our blankets and the cinders into another of those blue-and-gold mornings which belong to this part of the world. You must imagine it behind all this strange fighting at the Dardanelles—sunshine and blue water, a glare which makes the Westerner squint; moons that shine like those in the tropics. One cannot send a photograph of it home any more than I could photograph the view from my hotel window here on Pera Hill of Stamboul and the Golden Horn. You would have the silhouette, but you could not see the sunshine blazing on white mosques and minarets, the white mosques blazing against terra-cotta roofs and dusty green cedars and cypresses, the cypresses lifting dark and pensive shafts against the blue—all that splendid, exquisite radiance which bursts through one's window shutters every morning and makes it seem enough to look and a waste of time to try to think.

It is the air the gods and heroes used to breathe; they fought and played, indeed, over these very waters and wind-swept hills. Leander swam the Dardanelles (or Hellespont) close to where the Irresistible and Bouvet were sunk; the wind that blew in our faces that morning was the same that rippled the drapery of the Winged Victory. As we went chunking southward with our beans and cigarettes, we could see the snows of Olympus—the Mysian Olympus, at any rate, if not the one where Jove, the cloud-compelling, used to live, and white-armed Juno, and Pallas, Blue-Eyed Maid. If only our passports had taken us to Troy we could have looked down the plains of Ilium to the English and French ships, and Australian and French colonials fighting up the hillside across the bay. We got tea from the galley, and-with bread and helva (an insinuating combination of sugar and oil of sesame, which tastes of peanuts and is at once a candy and a sort of substitute for butter or meat) made out a breakfast.

A Turkish soldier, the only other occupant of the deck, surveyed these preparations impassively; then, taking off his boots, climbed on a settee and stood there in his big bare feet, with folded hands, facing, as he thought, toward Mecca. The boat was headed southwest, and he looked to starboard, so that he faced, as a matter of fact, nearly due west. He had knelt and touched his forehead twice to the bench, and was going on with the Mussulman prayer when the captain, a rather elegant young man who had served in the navy, murmured something as he passed. The soldier looked round thoughtfully; without embarrassment, surprise, or hurry stepped from the settee, pointed it toward the Asiatic shore, and, stepping up again, resumed his devotions.

Five times that day, as the faithful are commanded, he said his prayer— a sight that followed us everywhere that week. One evening after dusk, on another boat, a fireman came up from below, climbed on a settee, and began his prayer. Several passengers, who had not seen him in the dark, walked in front of him. He broke off, reviled them in true fire-room style, then with a wide gesture, as though sweeping the air clear ahead of him all the way to the holy city, began at the beginning again. Soldiers up in the Gallipoli hills, the captain on the bridge, a stevedore working on a lighter in the blaze of noon with the winch engines squealing round him—you turn round to find a man, busy the moment before, standing like a statue, hands folded in front of him, facing the east. Nothing stops him; no one seems to see him; he stands invisible in the visible world—in a world apart, 'indeed, to which the curious, self-conscious Westerner is not admitted, where, doubtless, he is no more than the dust which the other shakes from his feet before he is fit to address his God.

The Marmora narrowed, we passed Gallipoli on the European side, where the English and French hostages had had their curious adventure the week before, and on into the Dardanelles proper and the zone of war. It was some forty miles down this salt-water river (four miles wide at its widest, and between the forts of Chanak Kale and Kilid Bahr, near its lower end, a fraction over a mile) from the Marmora gateway to the Aegean. On the left were Lapsaki and the green hills of Asia, cultivated to their very tops; on the right Europe and the brown hills of the peninsula, now filled with guns and horses and men.

Over there, up that narrow strip of Europe, running down between the Dardanelles and the Aegean, the Allies had been trying for weeks to force their way to Constantinople. They had begun in February, you will recall, when they bombarded the forts at the outer entrance to the Dardanelles—Sedd ul Bahron the European side, at the tip of the peninsula, and Kum Kale, across the bay on the Asiatic shore.. These forts occupy somewhat the relation to Constantinople that Sandy Hook does to New York, although much farther away—they face, that is to say, the open sea, and the guns of the fleet, heavier than those of the old forts, could stand off at a safe distance and demolish them.

When the ships pushed on up the strait toward Kilid Bahr and Chanak Kale—somewhat like trying to run the Narrows at New York—there was a different story. They were now within range of shore batteries and there were anchored mines and mines sent down on the tide. On March 18 the Irresistible, Ocean, and Bouvet were sunk, and it began to be apparent that the Dardanelles could not be forced without the help of a powerful land force. So in April landing parties were sent ashore: at Kum Kale and Sedd ul Bahr, at Kaba Tepe and Art Burnu, some twelve or fourteen miles farther north on the Aegean side of the peninsula, and at another point a few miles farther up. At Sedd ul Bahr and along the beach between Kaba Tepe and Art Bumu the Allies made their landing good, dug themselves in, and, reinforced by the fire of the ships, began a trench warfare not unlike that which has dragged on in the west.

The peninsula is but ten or twelve miles wide at its widest, and the Dardanelles side is within range of the fleet's great guns, firing clear overland from the Aegean. It was by this indirect fire that Maidos was destroyed and Gallipoli partly smashed and emptied of its people. There were places toward the end of the peninsula where Turkish infantrymen had to huddle in their trenches under fire of this sort coming from three directions. Whenever the invaders had it behind they were naturally at an advantage; whenever it ceased they were likely to be driven back. The Turks, on the other hand, had the advantage of numbers, of fighting on an "inside line," and of a country, one hill rising behind another, on the defense of which depended their existence as a nation in Europe.

Under these conditions the fighting had been going on for weeks, the English and French holding their ground at Sedd ul Bahr and Ari Burnu, but getting no nearer Constantinople. And as we went chunking down the strait that night and into Ak-Bash in the dark, two new forces were coming in. The next day a German submarine—come all the way round through the Mediterranean—was to sink the Triumph and the Majestic, while another American correspondent, who had intended to come with us but took the transport Nagara instead, saw the head of an English submarine poke through the Marmora. A blond young man in overalls and white jersey climbed out of the conning-tower. "Will you give us time to get off?" cried the American, the only one on board who could speak English.

"Yes," said the young man, "and be damned quick about it." Ten minutes later, from the boats into which they had tumbled, the passengers saw a cloud of yellow smoke, and the Nagara simply disintegrated and sank, and with her the heavy siege-gun she was taking to the Dardanelles.

Pleasantly unaware of what might as well have happened to the bread and beans, we drew up to a hill-side speckled with lights, a wharf, and a hospital boat smelling of iodoform, through a cabin window of which a doctor was peacefully eating dinner. Boxes and sacks were piled near the wharf, and from over behind the hills, with startling nearness, came the nervous Crack... crack... crack-crack-crack! of rifle and machine-gun fire.

We went to sleep to the tune of it, moved a few miles down the coast in the night, and crawled out into a world of dusty brown—brown hillsides and camels and soldiers and sacks of wheat piled on the flat, immersed in an amber dawn. This was the destination of the side-wheeler, and by sunup we were loaded into a machine with a horse, several goats, three or four passengers, and four barefooted boatmen, who pushed us over the strait to Chanak Kale.

We were now at the narrowest part of the Dardanelles, behind us, on the European side, the old round tower of Kilid Bahr and Medjidie Fort, in front Fort Hamidie, and on the horizon to the south, where the strait opened into the sea, the tiny silhouettes of several of the Allies' ships. Chanak was smashed like the towns in west Belgium, and, but for the garrison and the Turkish and German commandants tucked away in the trees, all but deserted, except by flies and half-starved cats. These unhappy creatures, left behind in the flight, were everywhere, and in front of the bake shop they crowded in literal scores—gaunt, mangy, clawed and battered from constant fights. It was hot, there was little to eat, and after hours of wrangling it appeared that our precious scratches of Turkish took us to the Gallipoli instead of the Asiatic side.

The two were under different jurisdictions; though the fault was not ours, the local commandant had the right to ship us back to Constantinople, and after a sort of delirium of flies, cats, gendarmes, muggy heat, and debates, night descended to find us going to sleep in the middle of a vegetable farm, in a house lately inhabited by whirling dervishes, with two lynx-eyed police-men in gray lamb's-wool caps seated at the gate. By them we were marched next day to the wharf and suddenly there translated into the upper ether by the German admiral and his thoughtful aid, who, on their way to the headquarters of the land forces across the strait, whirled us over in style in a torpedo-boat.

We landed at the same place at which we had touched in the dark two nights before—busy and blazing now in the afternoon sun, with gangs of stevedores shuffling to and from the ships at the brand-new wharfs, Turkish officers galloping about on their thick-necked, bobtailed, fiery little stallions, and the dusty flat, half a mile across, perhaps, between its encircling hills, crowded with ox and horse carts, camel trains, and piles of ammunition-boxes and sacks of food.

The admiral and his aid were greeted by a smart young German officer with a monocle, and galloped off into the hills, while we fell into the hospitable hands of another German, a civilian volunteer in red fez and the blue and brass buttons of the merchant marine, cast here by the chance of war. He was a Hamburg-American captain, lately sailing between Buenos Aires and Hamburg, and before that on an Atlas Line boat between the Caribbean and New York. He talked English and seemed more than half American, indeed, and when he spoke of the old Chelsea Hotel, just across the street from the Y. M. C. A. gymnasium in which I had played hand-ball, we were almost back in Twenty-third Street. He took us up to his tent on the hill, overlooking the men and stores, and, he explained, reasonably safe from the aeroplanes which flew over several times a day. Over his cigarettes and tea and bottled beer we talked of war and the world.

It was the captain's delicate and arduous duty to impose his tight German habits of work and ship-shapeness on camel drivers, stevedores, and officials used to the looser, more leisurely methods of the East.

He could not speak Turkish, was helpless without his interpreter, at best a civilian among soldiers—men have got Iron Crosses for easier jobs than that! He talked of the news—great news for his side—of the Triumph, and, opening his navy list, made a pencil mark.

"She's off!" he said. The book was full of marks. In methodical sailor fashion he had been crossing them off since the war began: British and German—Blucher, Scharnhorst, Irresistible, Goliath, and the rest— millions of dollars and hundreds of men at a stroke.

"Where's it going to end?" he demanded. "There's seven hundred good men gone, maybe—how many did the Triumph carry? And we think it's good news! If a man should invent something that would kill a hundred thousand men at once, he'd be a great man... Now, what is that?"

The English were hanging on to Sedd ul Bahr—they might try to make another Gibraltar of it. Their aeroplanes came up every day. There was a French-man with a long tail—he only came to the edge of the camp, and as soon as the batteries opened up turned back, but the Englishman didn't stop for anything. He dropped a bomb or two every time he passed—one man must have been square under one, for they found pieces of him, but never did find his head. It wasn't so much the bomb that did the damage; it was the stones blown out by the explosion. If you were standing anywhere within sixty feet when it went off, you were likely to be killed. The captain had had trenches dug all over camp into which they could jump—had one for himself just outside the tent. All you hoped for when one of those fellows was overhead and the shrapnel chasing after him was that the next one would take him fair and square and bring him down. Yet that fellow took his life in his hands every time he flew over. "He's fighting for his country, too!" the captain sighed.

It was our first duty to present ourselves to the commandant of the peninsular forces, Field-Marshal Liman von Sanders—Liman Pasha, as he is generally called in Turkey—and the captain found a carriage, presently, and sent us away with a soldier guard. Our carriage was a talika, one of those little gondola-like covered wagons common in the country. There is a seat for the driver; the occupants lie on the floor and adjust themselves as best they can to the bumpings of the hilly roads.

The country reminded one of parts of our own West—brown hills, with sparse pines and scrub-oaks, meadows ablaze with scarlet poppies, and over all blue sky, sunshine, and the breeze from the near-by sea. We passed camel trains, mule trains, horses, and tents masked with brush. Here evidently were the men we had seen marching day after day through the Constantinople streets—marching away to war in the silent Eastern fashion, without a waving handkerchief, a girl to say good-by to, or a cheer. Here they were and yet here they weren't, for the brush and tangled hills swallowed them up as thoroughly as armies are swallowed up in the villages of Belgium and France.

We passed even these signs of war and came into pines and open meadows— we might have been driving to somebody's trout preserve. The wagon stopped near a sign tacked to a tree, and we walked down a winding path into a thicket of pines. There were tents set in the bank and covered with boughs, and out of one came a tall, square-jawed German officer, buttoning his coat. He waved aside our passports with the air of one not concerned with such details, asked if we spoke German—or perhaps we would prefer French?—and, motioning down the path to a sort of summer-house with a table and chairs, told an orderly to bring tea.

This was the headquarters of the Fifth Army, and this the commander-in- chief. A bird-man might have flown over the neighborhood a dozen times without guessing that they were there. We were hidden in the pines, and only an occasional far-off Br-r-rum-m! from the cannons in the south broke the stillness. Some one had brought up a cask of native claret from Chanak, and the field-marshal's staff were helping to put it into the bank in front of the arbor. A professor of chemistry—until the war called him back to the colors—was shovelling and showing the Turkish soldiers how the cask should be slanted; another of the superintendents had lived for ten years in America, and was enthusiastic over the charms and future of Davenport, Iowa. Presently tea came, and thin little sandwiches and cigars, and over these the commander-in-chief spoke with complete cheerfulness of the general situation.

The English and French could not force the Dardanelles; no more could they advance on land, and now that the submarines had arrived, the fleet, which had been bothersome, would be taken care of. He spoke with becoming sorrow of the behavior of Italy, and did not mar this charming little fete champetre with any remarks about American shipments of arms. The ex-banker from Davenport also spoke of the Italians, and with a rather disconcerting vigor, considering that they were recent allies. The young aide-de-camp whom we had seen at the wharf declared that the Turkish soldier was the best in the world. It was a very different army from that which had been defeated in the Balkan War, and the endurance and tenacity of the individual soldier were beyond anything he had ever seen. A man would see a dozen of his comrades killed alongside him by a high-explosive shell and only shrug his shoulders and say that now, at any rate, they were all in paradise.

One continually hears similar comments, and there can be no doubt of the Turkish soldier's bravery, and his unusual ability to endure hardship. No one who has wrangled with a minor Turkish official, and experienced the impassive resistance he is able to interpose to anything he doesn't want to do, will underestimate what this quality might become, translated into the rugged physique and impassivity of the common soldier.

Westerners have heard so long of the Sick Man of Europe and his imminent decease that they are likely to associate political with physical weakness, and think that the pale, brooding, official type, familiar in photographs, is the every-day Turk. As a matter of fact, the every-day Turk is tough-bodied and tough-spirited, used to hard living and hard work. The soldiers you see swinging up Pera Hill or in from a practice march, dust-covered and sweating, and sending out through the dusty cedars a wailing sort of chant as they come—these are as splendid- looking fellows as you will see in any army in Europe.

They are dressed in businesslike fashion in dust-colored woollen tunics and snug breeches with puttees, and wear a rather rakish-looking folded cap—a sort of conventionalized turban not unlike the soldier hats children make by folding newspapers. This protects the eyes and the back of the neck from the sun. They are strong and well made, with broad, high cheek-bones, a black mustache generally, and hawk eyes. Some look as the Tartar warriors who swept over eastern Europe must have looked; some, with their good-natured faces and vigorous compactness, remind one of Japanese infantrymen.

During the early fighting on the peninsula the wounded came up to Constantinople, after days on the way, in wagons, perhaps, over horrible roads, in commandeered ferry-boats and freighters, yet one scarcely heard a sound, a murmur of complaint. Gray and gaunt, with the mud of the trenches still on them, they would be helped into ambulances and driven off to the hospitals, silent themselves and through crowds as silent as those which had watched them march away a few weeks before.

From that little oasis in the pines we drove with a pass, signed by the field-marshal himself, taking us to the heights above Ari Burnu, to a point near the south front, a hill in the centre of the peninsula, from which we could see both the Dardanelles and the Aegean, and to a camp beneath it, where we were to spend the night.

It was dark when our wagon lurched into this camp, and a full hour passed before the baffled Turks could convince themselves that our pass and we were all that they should be, and put us into a tent. Nevertheless, an orderly poked his head in good-naturedly enough at seven next morning with tea and goat's cheese and brown bread, and our captain host, a rather wildish-looking young man from the Asiatic interior, came to say he had telephoned for permission to take us to the heights above Kaba Tepe and Ari Burnu.

The camp was the office, so to speak, of the division commander, with his clerks, telephone operator, commissary machinery, and so on, the commander himself living at the immediate front. It was like scores of other camps hidden away in the hills—brush-covered tents dug into the hillsides, looking like rather faded summer-houses; arbor-like horse-sheds, covered with branches, hidden in ravines; every wagon, gun, or piece of material that might offer a target to an aeroplane covered with brush. They were even painting gray horses that morning with a brown dye. A big 38-centimeter unexploded shell, dropped into a near-by village by the Queen Elizabeth, and with difficulty pushed up on end now by a dozen men, was shown us, and presently we climbed into the carriage with the captain, and went rocking over the rough road toward the Aegean.

The country reminded one of the California foot-hills in the dry season, and me, particularly, of Honduras and the road from the Pacific up to Tegucigalpa—gravelly brown hills and tangled valleys with sparse pines and scrub-oaks; rocky slopes down which tinkled brown and white flocks of sheep and goats; sunshine and scarlet poppies and fresh wind; and over all a curious, quiet, busy web of war; a long shoulder, sharp against the blue, with a brown camel train ambling down it; a ravine with its arbor-like shelters for cavalry; wounded soldiers in carts, or riding when they were able to ride; now and then an officer on his cranky little stallion—the whole countryside bristling with defense.

Up one of the hot little valleys we climbed, left the carriage, and, walking up a trail, cut into the bank, past men and horses hidden away like bandits, and came at last to the top and several tents dug into the rim of the hill. It was the headquarters of Essad Pasha, defender of Janina in the last war, and division commander in this sector of the front. He received us in his tent beside a table littered with maps and papers—a grizzled, good-natured soldier, who addressed us in German, and might indeed have passed for a German. He apologized for the cramped quarters, explaining that they were likely at any time to be bombarded, and had to live in what was practically a trench, and then at once, in the Turkish fashion, appeared an orderly with tiny cups of sweet coffee.

Things were quiet at the moment, he said. There was nothing but the desultory crack-crack of snipers, coming from one knew not just where, the every-day voice of the trenches—possibly the enemy were dismayed by the loss of the Triumph. He had seen it all, he said, from this very spot—a sight one was not likely to see more than once in a lifetime. The great ship had rolled over like a stricken whale. Her torpedo-nets were out, and as she turned over these nets closed down on the men struggling in the water, and swept them under. He, too, expressed entire confidence in the Turk's ability to stop any farther advance and, calling an aid, sent us to the periscope, which poked its two eyes through a screen of pine branches a few yards away, and looked over the parapet and down on the first-line trenches and the sea.

We were high above the Aegean and opposite the island of Imbros, which lifted its hazy blue on the western horizon, and was used as a base by part of the fleet. To the south rose the promontory of Kaba Tepe, cleared of the enemy now, our Turkish major said, and, stretching northward from it past us and Ari Burnu, the curving rim of beach held by the English.

More than a month had passed since the landing, and the heavy fighting of the next few days, in which the Australians and New Zealanders, under a hail of shrapnel churning up the water between ships and shore, succeeded in getting a foothold; a month and more had passed, and, though they still held their ground, apparently they could do no more. The yellow line of their first trench twisted along the rim of the hill below us, perhaps a quarter of a mile away, and directly behind it lay the blue sea. How much elbow-room they might have between their trenches and the water one could not tell, so completely foreshortened was the space between. Cliffs rise from a narrow strip of foreshore here, however, and apparently they had pushed just over the cliff rim— the first hill above the sea. Their tents, stores and landing-places were out of sight.

Directly in front of the English trenches were the first-line Turkish trenches, in some places not more than fifteen or twenty feet away, so close, indeed, that when there was fighting they must have fought with revolvers, hand-grenades, shovels, anything they could lay their hands on. At the moment it was quiet but for the constant Crack... crack-crack! of snipers.

We could look down on the backs and heads of the Turkish soldiers; except for a wisp of smoke rising here and there from some hidden camp cook-stove, there was not a sign of life in the English trenches. Snipers were attending to that. Even here, in the second-line trenches on top of the second hill, no one was allowed to show his head, and it was all the more curious to see a squad of Turkish soldiers digging away below as calmly as so many market-gardeners in a potato-field. They were running another trench behind the several that already lined the slope, and must have been hidden by a rise of ground, though looking down from above they seemed to be out in the open.

The position of the English did not seem enviable. They had trenches directly in front of them, and several hundred feet above them a second line (from which we were looking) dominating the whole neighborhood. The first-line Turkish trenches were too close to their own to be bombarded from the ships, so that that preliminary advantage was cut off; the second-line defenses, in the twisting gullies over the hill, could stand bombardment about as well as could trenches anywhere—and behind them was the water. They were very literally between the devil and the deep sea.

With the periscope we worked from Kaba Tepe on the left clear across the ground in front of us to the north. Over in the west, by hazy Imbros, were five or six ships; there was another fleet in the north to-ward the Gulf of Saros, and little black beetles of destroyers crawled here and there across the blue sea floor. The major took us into his tent for cigarettes and another thimbleful of the coffee. He, too, had been educated in Germany, spoke German and French, and with his quick, bright eyes and soft smile, would easily have passed for a Frenchman or Italian.

They had just had a seven hours' armistice to bury the dead and bring in the wounded, some of whom had been lying between the trenches for a week. The English had proposed the armistice; an officer had come out from each side, and they had had a long pow-wow and drawn up a written agreement with meticulous care lest there should be a misunderstanding or danger of breaking the truce. Everything, the major said, had been most good-natured and correct. The English had sent a "diplomat" in addition to their military delegate, a civilian whom he had known well in Constantinople. It was altogether quaint and interesting, meeting and talking with this man, with whom he might, so to speak, have been playing bridge the night before—"Sehr nett! Sehr nett!" he said. With his soft smile.

While he was waiting to receive the English delegate, five shrapnel- shells had been fired at him, he said; but he understood that it was a mistake and made no protest, and during the truce a wounded Turk had refused to take the water an English officer had tried to give him, firing at the Englishman instead. A little fanatical, perhaps, but then—and again the major smiled in his charming way—"a little fanaticism in one's soldiers is a good thing!"

No, one didn't care to be hanging on to that strip of beach with those Australians and New Zealanders. We drove back to camp for lunch, which we had in the captain's little brush-covered balcony, set into the hill. He did not eat, but showed us his photograph, very smooth and dapper, compared with his bristling service face, taken with his two children, one a little girl and the other a grave little boy, with a face like a miniature pasha. The captain came from the Asiatic side, near Broussa, on the slopes of Olympus, and was all Turk, without any foreign frills or a word of English, German, or French. He took no lunch, but ate some of the helva left over from Stamboul, and then started with us up the hill behind the camp.

This was about midway in the peninsula, and, facing south from the summit, we looked down over the twisting hills, pockmarked with holes from shells and aeroplane bombs, to the Marmora on the left, and on the right to the Aegean and hazy Imbros, and, in front, almost to the end of the peninsula. The sun was down in the west, and in its track a cruiser steamed a mile or two out from the coast, while from under Ari Burnu, where we had been that morning, a transport put out, rather recklessly it seemed, and went straight across the open water. From the south and west there was the continual Br-r-umr-m... br-r-um-m! of big guns, and over Kaba Tepe way we could see shells bursting. We sat there for an hour or so, waiting for one of the little specks out on the blue sea floor to fire or sink, and then, as nothing happened, returned to camp.

An orderly brought us supper that night—mutton, bread and cheese, haricots, stewed fruit, and coffee—and we dined on a little table outside the tent, with the twilight turning to moonlight and the sheep-bells tinkling against the opposite hill. Soldiers were carrying their suppers from the cook tent—not at all the bread-and-cigarette diet with which one is always being told the hardy Turk is content. He may be content, but whenever I saw him eating he had meat and rice, and often stewed fresh beans or fruit—certainly better food than most Turkish peasants or artisans are accustomed to at home.

I sat outside watching the moon rise and listening to the distant Crack... crack-crack! of rifle and machine-gun fire from over Ari Bumu way. Evidently they were fighting in the trenches we had seen that morning. The orderly who had served us, withdrawn a little way, was standing like a statue in the dusk, hands folded in front of him, saying his last prayer of the evening. Beyond, from a bush-covered tent, came the jingle of a telephone and 'the singsong voice of the young Turkish operator relaying messages in German—"Ja!... Ja!... Kaba Tepe... Ousedom Pasha... Morgen frith... Hier Multepe!... Ja!... Ja!"

And to this and the distant rattle of battle we went to sleep.



Chapter XII

Soghan-Dere And The Flier Of Ak-Bash



Next morning, after news had been telephoned in that the submarines had got another battleship, the Majestic, we climbed again into the covered wagon and started for the south front. We drove down to the sea and along the beach road through Maidos—bombarded several weeks before, cross-country from the Aegean, and nothing now but bare, burnt walls—on to Kilid Bahr, jammed with camels and ox-carts and soldiers, and then on toward the end of the peninsula.

We were now beyond the Narrows and the Dardanelles. To the left, a bit farther out, were the waters in which the Irresistible, Ocean, and Bouvet were sunk, and even now, off the point, ten or twelve miles away, hung the smoke of sister ships. We drove past the big guns of the forts, past field-guns covering the shore, past masked batteries and search-lights. Beside us, along the shore road, mule trains and ox-carts and camel trains were toiling along in the blaze and dust with provisions and ammunition for the front. Once we passed four soldiers carrying a comrade, badly wounded, on a stretcher padded with leaves. After an hour or so of bumping we turned into a transverse valley, as level almost as if it had been made for a parade-ground.

High hills protected it north and south; a little stream ran down the centre—it might have been made for a storage base and camp. More brush-covered tents and arbors for horses were strung along the hillside, one above the other sometimes, in half a dozen terraces. We drove into the valley, got out and followed the orderly to a brush-covered arbor, closed on every side but one, out of which came a well set-up, bronzed, bright-eyed man of fifty or thereabout who welcomed us like long-lost friends.

It was Colonel Shukri Bey, commander of the Fifteenth Division. We were the first correspondents who had pushed thus far, and as novel to him apparently as he was charming to us. He invited us into the little arbor; coffee was brought and then tea, and, speaking German to Suydam and French to me, he talked of the war in general and the operations at the end of the peninsula with the greatest good humor and apparent confidence in the ultimate result.

Our talk was continually punctuated by the rumble of the big guns over the plateau to the south. "That's ours"... "That's theirs," he would explain; and presently, with a young aide-de-camp as guide, we climbed out of the valley and started down the plateau toward Sedd ul Bahr. The Allies' foothold here was much wider than that at An Burnu. In the general landing operations of April 25 and 26 (one force was sent ashore in a large collier, from which, after she was beached, the men poured across anchored lighters to the shore) the English and French had established themselves in Sedd ul Bahr itself and along the cliffs on either side. This position was strengthened during the weeks of fighting which followed until they appeared to be pretty firmly fixed on the end of the peninsula, with a front running clear across it in a general northwest line, several kilometres in from the point. The valley we had just left was Soghan-Dere, about seven miles from Sedd ul Bahr, and the plateau across which we were walking led, on the right, up to a ridge from which one could look down on the whole battle-field, or, to the left, straight down into the battle itself.

The sun was getting down in the west by this time, down the road from camp men were carrying kettles of soup and rice pilaf to their comrades in the trenches, and from the end of the plateau came continuous thundering and the Crack... crack... crack! of infantry fire. The road was strewn with fragments of shells from previous bombardments, and our solicitous young lieutenant, fearing we might draw fire, pulled us behind a bush for a minute or two, whenever the aeroplane, flying back and forth in the west, seemed to be squinting at us. The enemy could see so little, he said, that whenever they saw anything at all they fired twenty shots at it on principle.

For two miles, perhaps, we walked, until from the innocent-looking chaparral behind us there was a roar, and a shell wailed away over our heads out into the distance.

We could see the end of the peninsula, where the coast curves round from Eski Hissariik toward Sedd ul Bahr, and two of the enemy's cruisers steaming slowly back and forth under the cliffs, firing, presumably, as they steamed. Now they were hidden under the shore, now they came in view, and opposite Eski Hissarlik swung round and steamed west again. In front of us, just over the edge of the plateau which there began to slope downward, were the trenches of the Turks' left wing, now under bombardment. The ridge just hid the shells as they struck, but we could see the smoke from each, now a tall black column, like the "Jack Johnsons" of the west, now a yellowish cloud that hung long afterward like fog—and with it the continuous rattle of infantry fire. Several fliers were creeping about far up against the 'blue, looking for just such hidden batteries as that which kept barking behind us, and out in front and to the right came the low Br—r—um—m! of heavy guns.

Fighting like this had been going on for weeks, the ships having the advantage of their big guns by day, the Turks recovering themselves, apparently, at night. They were on their own ground—a succession of ridges, one behind the other—and they could not only always see, but generally looked down on, an enemy who could not, generally, see them. And the enemy's men, supplies, perhaps even his water—for this is a dry country at all times, and after June there are almost no rains—must come from his ships. If English submarines were in the Marmora, so, too, were German submarines off the Dardanelles, and if the Turks were losing transports the English were losing battleships.

The situation held too many possibilities to make prophecy safe—I merely record the fact that on the afternoon of May 27 I stood on the plateau above Sedd ul Bahr, and perhaps five miles from it in an air line, and still found myself a regrettable distance from the Allies' front.

The sun was shining level down the road as we returned to camp, and soldiers were still tramping peacefully up to the front with their kettles of food. Meanwhile the colonel had prepared a little exhibition for us. Six or eight soldiers stood in line, each with a dish and spoon, and in the dish a sample of the food for that night. We started at the top and tasted each: soup, mutton, stewed green beans, new-baked bread, stewed plums, and a particularly appetizing pilaf, made out of boiled whole wheat and raisins. Everything was good, and the beaming colonel declared that the first thing in war was to keep your soldiers well fed. We dined with him in his tent: soup and several meat courses, and cherry compote, and at the end various kinds of nuts, including the cracked hazelnuts, commoner in Turkey than bananas and peanuts at home.

He hoped to come to America some day, and thought we must soon develop the military strength to back our desires for peace, unless there were to be continual wars. New York's climate, the cost of fruit in Germany, and other peaceful subjects were touched on, and the colonel said that it was an honor to have us with him—ours we brilliantly responded—and a pleasant change from the constant talk and thought of war.

He had been six years in the field now, what with the Italian and Balkan campaigns, and that was a good deal of war at a stretch.

After excusing ourselves, though the amiable Turk said that he was in no hurry, we were led to a sort of tent de luxe, lined in scarlet with snaky decorations in white, and when the young aid discovered that we had brought no beds with us, he sent out and in a moment had not only cots and blankets, but mattresses and sheets and pillows and pillow-cases. He asked if we had fathers and mothers alive at home, and brothers and sisters, and if we, too, had been soldiers. It surprised and puzzled him that we had not, and that our army was so small. He was only twenty-two and a lieutenant, and he had a brother and father also in the army. With a great air of mystery he had his orderly dig a bottle of cognac out from his camp chest, and after we had drunk each other's health, he gave us his card with his name in Turkish and French. He brought a table and put on it a night candle in a saucer of water, a carafe of drinking water, and gave me a pair of slippers—in short, he did for us in that brush-covered camp in the Gallipoli hills everything that could be done for a guest in one's own house.

You can scarcely know what this meant without having known the difficulties of mere existence once you left Constantinople and got into the war zone, and Colonel Shukri Bey and Lieutenant Ahmed Akif will be remembered by at least two Americans when any one talks of the terrible Turk.

I awoke shortly after daylight, thinking I heard an aeroplane strumming in the distance, and was drowsily wondering whether or not it was fancy, when a crash echoed up the valley. We both hurried out. It was sunup, a delicious morning, and far up against the southern sky the little speck was sailing back toward the west. There was a flash of silver just under the flier—it was an English biplane—and a moment later another crash farther away. Neither did any damage. A few minutes later we were looking at the remains of the bomb and propeller-like wings, whose whirling, as it falls, opens a valve that permits it to explode on striking its mark. Until it had fallen a certain number of metres, we were told, mere striking the ground would not explode it—a device to protect the airman in case of accident to his machine or if he is forced to make a quick landing. In the fresh, still morning, with the camp just waking up and the curious Turkish currycombs clinking away over by the tethered horses, our aerial visitor added only a pleasant excitement to this life in the open, and we went on with our dressing with great satisfaction, little dreaming how soon we were to look at one of those little flying specks quite differently.

We breakfasted with the colonel in his arbor on bread and ripe olives and tea, and walked with him round the camp, through a hospital and into an old farmhouse yard, where the gunsmiths were going over stacks of captured guns and the damaged rifles of the wounded, while the bees left behind in some clumsy old box hives buzzed away as of yore. Wiser than men, the colonel observed. There were English Enfields and French rifles of the early nineties, and a mitrailleuse to which the Turks had fitted a new wooden base. There were rifles with smashed barrels, with stocks bored through by bullets, clean-cut holes that must have gone on through the men who held them—live men like ourselves; quick choking instants of terror the ghosts of —— which we were poking and peering into there in the warm sunshine!

We said good-by to the colonel, for our passes took us but to the valley, and he had stretched a point in sending us down the plateau the evening before, and I bumped back to Kilid Bahr. We did not want to leave this part of the world without a sight of Troy, and as we had duly presented ourselves in Gallipoli, and were now by way of coming from it rather than Constantinople, and the Turkish official to whom the orderly took us wrote, without question, a permission to cross to Chanak Kale, we sailed with no misgivings. Alas for Troy and looking down on a modern battle from the heights of Ilium! A truculent major of gendarmes hurried us from the Asiatic shore as if we had come to capture it. We might not land, we might not write a note to the commandant to see if the permission to stop in Chanak, for which we had wired to Constantinople the day before, had arrived; we might not telephone—we must go back to Europe, and write or telephone from there.

So back to Europe, and after consultation and telephoning, back to Asia again, and this time we succeeded in effecting a landing and an audience with the commander of the defenses of the Dardanelles, Djevad Pasha. He was sitting under a tree in a garden looking out over the sea gate, which, with the aid of his two German colleagues, Ousedom Pasha and Merten Pasha, it was his task to keep shut—a trim Young Turk, more polished and "European" than the major of gendarmes, but no less firm. An American's wish to see the Troy he might never be so near again bored him excessively. We could not stay—we might not even spend the night. There was a boat that evening, and on it we must go.

Gendarmes guarded us while we waited—we who the night before had slept in a scarlet-lined tent!—and gendarmes hung at our heels as we and three patient hamals with the baggage tramped ignominiously through Chanak Kale's ruined streets. The boat we went by was the same little side-wheeler we had come down on, crowded with wounded now, mud-stained, blood-stained, just as they had come from the trenches across the water, with no place to lie but the bare deck. The stifling hold was packed with them; they curled up about the engine-room gratings—for it was cold that night—yet there was no complaint. A tired sigh now and then, a moan of weariness, and the soldier wrapped his army overcoat a little closer about him, curled up like a dog on a door-mat, and left the rest to fate. A big, round, yellow moon climbed up out of Asia and poured its silver down on them and on the black hills and water, still as some inland lake.

The side-wheeler tied up at Ak-Bash for the night, and it was not until the middle of the next morning that it was decided that she should cross and leave her wounded at Lapsaki instead of going on up to Constantinople. We lugged our baggage off and hunted up our old friend, the Hamburg-American captain, to see what might be done till some other craft appeared. He finally put us aboard a sort of enlarged tug which might be going up that afternoon or evening.

It was about midday. The sun blazing down on the crowded fiat; on boxes, sacks, stevedores wrapped up in all the variegated rags of the East shuffling in and out of the ships; on gangs digging, piling lumber, boiling water, cooking soup; on officers in brown uniforms and brown lamb's-wool caps; on horses, ox-teams, and a vast herd of sheep, which had just poured out of a transport and spread over the plain, when from the hill came two shots of warning. An enemy aeroplane was coming!

The gangs scattered like water-bugs when a stone is thrown into the water. They ran for the hill, dropped into trenches; to the beach and threw themselves flat on the sand; into the water—all, as they ran, looking up over their shoulders to where, far overhead, whirred steadily nearer that tiny, terrible hawk.

A hidden battery roared and—pop!—a little puff of cotton floated in the sky under the approaching flier. Another and another—all the nervous little batteries in the hills round about were coming to our rescue. The bird-man, safely above them, drew on without flinching. We had looked up at aeroplanes many times before and watched the pretty chase of the shrapnel, and we leaned out from under the awning to keep the thing in view. "Look," I said to Suydam; "she's coming right over us!" And then, all at once, there was a crash, a concussion that hit the ear like a blow, a geyser of smoke and dust and stones out on the flat in front of us. Through the smoke I saw a horse with its pack undone and flopping under its belly, trotting round with the wild aimlessness of horses in the bull-ring after they have been gored. Men were running, and, in a tangle of wagons, half a dozen oxen, on the ground, were giving a few spasmodic kicks.

Men streaked up from the engine-room and across the wharf—after all, the wharf would be the thing he'd try for—and I found myself out on the flat with them just as there came another crash, but this time over by the Barbarossa across the bay. Black smoke was pouring from the Turkish cruiser as she got under way, and, with the shrapnel puffs chasing hopelessly after, the flier swung to the southward and out of right.

Officers were galloping about yelling orders; over in the dust where the bomb had struck, a man was sawing furiously away at the throats of the oxen (there were seven of them, and there would be plenty of beef in camp that night at any rate); there was a dead horse, two badly wounded men and a hundred feet away a man lying on his face, hatless, just as he had been blown there: dead, or as good as dead. It appeared that two fliers had come from opposite directions and most of the crowd had seen but the one, while the other dropped the bomb. It had struck just outside the busiest part of the camp, aimed very likely at the stores piled there. It had made a hole only five or six feet wide and two or three feet deep, but it had blown everything in the neighborhood out from it, as the captain had said. Holes you could put your fist in were torn in the flanks of the oxen by flying stones and chunks of metal, and the tires of some of the wagons, sixty or seventy feet away, had been cut through like wax.

The ground was cleared, the men returned to work, and we even went in swimming, but at every unexpected noise one looked upward, and when about five o'clock the crowd scattered again, I will confess that I watched that little speck buzzing nearer, on a line that would bring him straight overhead, with an interest considerably less casual than any I had bestowed on these birds before. There we were, confined in our little amphitheatre; there was that diabolical bird peering down at us, and in another minute, somewhere in that space, would come that earth-shaking explosion—a mingling of crash and vohou'! There was no escaping it, no dodging it, nothing to get under but empty air.

I had decided that the beach, about a hundred yards away from the wharfs, was the safest place and hurried there; but the speck overhead, as if anticipating me, seemed to be aiming for the precise spot. It is difficult under such circumstances to sit tight, reasoning calmly that, after all, the chances of the bomb's not landing exactly there are a good many to one—you demand at least the ostrich-like satisfaction of having something overhead. So I scurried over to the left to get out from under what seemed his line of flight, when what should he do but begin to turn!

This was really rubbing it in a bit. To fly across as he had that morning was one thing, but to pen one up in a nice little pocket in the hills, and then on a vertical radius of three or four thousand feet, to circle round over one's head—anything yet devised by the human nightmare was crude and immature to this. But was it overhead? If behind, and travelling at fifty or sixty miles an hour, the bomb would carry forward—just enough probably to bring it over; and if apparently over, still the bomb would have been several seconds in falling—it might be right on top of us now! Should we run backward or forward: Here was a place, in between some grain-bags. But the grain-bags were open toward the wharf, and the wharf was what he was aiming at, and a plank blown through you—No, the trench was the thing, but—Quick, he is overhead!

The beach, the bags, the ditch, all the way round the camp, and Suydam galloping after. Somewhere in the middle of it a hideous whiffling wail came down the sky: Trrou... trrou... trou!—and then a crash! The bomb had hit the water just off the end of the pier. I kept on running. There was another Trrou... trrou! another geyser of water, and the bird had flown on.

I was on the edge of the camp by this time and that strange afternoon ended, when one of a gang of ditch-diggers, swathed in bright-colored rags, addressed me in English, a Greek-Turk from the island of Marmora, who, climbing out of the trench in which he and his gang had been hiding, announced that he had lived in New York for five years, in Fortieth Street, and worked for the Morgan Line, and begged that I get, him out of this nerve-racking place and where he belonged, somewhere on board ship. There were crowds like him—Greeks, Armenians, Turks, not wanted as soldiers but impressed for this sort of work. They were unloading fire-wood long after dark that night, when our boat at last got under way. We paused till sunup at Lapsaki, crept close to shore through the Marmora, and once through floating wreckage—boards and a galvanized-iron gasolene tank—apparently from some transport sunk by a submarine, and after dark, with lights out as we had started, round the corner of Stamboul.



Chapter XIII

A War Correspondents' Village



The press department of the Foreign Office in Vienna duly presented the application to the press bureau of the Ministry of War; the latter conveyed it to the "Kaiserliche und Konigliche Armee-Oberkommando Kriegs-Presse-Quartier," a day's railroad journey nearer the front; the commandant made his recommendation to the chief of the General Staff. The permission itself percolated back to Vienna presently, and early next morning I took the Teschen express.

It was one of those semi-military trains which run into this region behind the front—officers and couriers, civilians with military passes, just before we started a young officer and his orderly saying good-by to their wives. He was one of those amiable, blue-eyed young Austrians who seem a sort of cross between German and French, and the orderly was much such another man, only less neatly made and sensitive, and there were the same differences in their wives and their good-bys.

The orderly saluted his officer, turned, clicked his heels, and saluted his officer's lady before he embraced his solid wife. The latter, rather proud to be in such company, beamed like a stove as the two men looked down from the car steps, but the girlish wife of the captain bit her lips, looked nervously from side to side, winked faster and faster until the tears began to roll down her cheeks. Then the train started, the orderly waving his hand, but the young officer, leaning quickly forward, drew his wife toward him and kissed her on one of the wet eyelids.

We crossed into Hungary, rolled northeastward for five or six hours into the Vag valley, with its green hills and vineyards and ruined castles, and finally came to a little place consisting almost entirely of consonants, in the Tatra foot-hills. Two blond soldiers in blue-gray saluted, took my luggage, showed me to a carriage, and drove to a village about a mile away—a little white village with a factory chimney for the new days, a dingy chateau for the old, and a brook running diagonally across the square, with geese quacking in it and women pounding clothes.

It was mid-afternoon, yet lunch had been kept waiting, and the officer who received me said he was sorry I had bothered to eat on the train. He told me where lodgings had been made ready, and that an orderly would take me there and look after my personal needs. They dined at eight, and at five, if I felt like it, I would probably find some of them in the coffee-house by the chateau. Meanwhile the first thing to do was to take one's cholera vaccination—for no one could go to the Galician front without being geimpft—and just as soon as I could take the second, a week later, we should start for the Russian front. In this fashion were strangers welcomed to the "Presse-Quartier," or rather to that part of it—this little Hungarian village—in which correspondents lived during the intervals of their trips to the front. The Austrians have pleasant manners. Their court is, next to that of Spain, the most formal in Europe, and ordinary life still retains many of the older courtesies. Every time I came into my hotel in Vienna the two little boys at the door jumped up and extended their caps at arm's length; an assistant porter, farther in, did the same; the head porter behind the desk often followed, and occasionally all four executed the manoeuvre at once, so that it was like a musical comedy but for the music.

The ordinary salutation in Vienna, as common as our "hello!" is "I have the honor" (Ich habe die Ehre!). In Hungary—of course one mustn't tell a Hungarian that he is "Austrian"—people tell you that they are your humble servants before they say good morning, and those who really are humble servants not only say "Kiss the hands," but every now and then do it. It was natural, therefore, perhaps, that the Austro-Hungarians should treat war correspondents—often, in these days, supposed to be extinct—not only seriously but with a certain air. They had not only the air but indeed a more elaborate organization than any of the other belligerents.

At the beginning of the war England permitted no correspondents at all at the front. France was less rigid, yet it was months before groups of observers began to be taken to the trenches.

Germany took correspondents to the front from the first, but these excursions came at irregular intervals, and admission to them involved a good deal of competitive wire-pulling between the correspondents themselves. The Austro-Hungarians, on the other hand, prepared from the first for a large number of civilian observers, including news and special writers, photographers, illustrators, and painters, and, to handle them satisfactorily, organized a special department of the army, this Presse-Quartier, once admitted to which—the fakirs and fly-by-nights were supposed to be weeded out by the preliminary red tape —they were assumed to be serious workmen and treated as the army's guests.

The Presse-Quartier was divided into two sections: an executive section, with a commandant responsible for the arrangement of trips to the various fronts, and the general business of censorship and publicity; and an entertainment section, so to speak, also with its commandant, whose business it was to board, lodge, and otherwise look after correspondents when they were not on trips to the front. At the time I visited the Presse-Quartier, the executive section was in Teschen; the correspondents lived in Nagybiesce, two or three hours' railroad journey away.

It was to this village—the most novel part of the scheme—that I had come that afternoon, and here some thirty or forty correspondents were living, writing past adventures, setting forth on new ones, or merely inviting their souls for the moment under a regime which combined the functions of tourists' bureau, rest-cure, and a sort of military club.

For the time being they were part of the army—fed, lodged, and transported at the army's expense, and unable to leave without formal military permission. They were supposed to "enlist for the whole war," so to speak, and most of the Austro-Hungarian and German correspondents had so remained—some had even written books there—but observers from neutral countries were permitted to leave when they felt they had seen enough.

Isolated thus in the country, the only mail the military field post, the only telegrams those that passed the military censor, correspondents were as "safe" as in Siberia. They, on the other hand, had the advantage of an established position, of living inexpensively in pleasant surroundings, where their relations with the censor and the army were less those of policemen and of suspicious character than of host and guest. To be welcomed here, after the usual fretful dangling and wire-pulling in War Office anterooms and city hotels—with hills and ruined castles to walk to, a brook rippling under one's bedroom window, and all the time in the world—seemed idyllic enough.

We were quartered in private houses, and as there was one man to a family generally, he was put in the villager's room of honor, with a tall porcelain stove in the corner, a feather bed under him, and another on top. Each man had a soldier servant who looked after boots and luggage, kept him supplied with cigars and cigarettes from the Quartier commissariat—for a paternal government included even tobacco!—and charmed the simple republican heart by whacking his heels together whenever spoken to and flinging back "Jawohl!"

We breakfasted separately, whenever we felt like it, on the rolls with the glass of whipped cream and coffee usual in this part of the world; lunched and dined—officers and correspondents—together. There were soldier waiters who with military precision told how many pieces one might take, and on every table big carafes of Hungarian white wine, drunk generally instead of water. For beer one paid extra.

The commandant and his staff, including a doctor, and the officer guides not on excursions at the moment, sat at the head of the long U-shaped table. Any one who came in or went out after the commandant was seated was supposed to advance a bit into this "U," catch his eye, bow, and receive his returning nod. The silver click of spurs, of course, accompanied this salute when an officer left the room, and the Austro-Hungarian and German correspondents generally snapped their heels together in semi-military fashion. All our goings and comings, indeed, were accompanied by a good deal of manner. People who had seen each other at breakfast shook hands formally half an hour later in the village square, and one bowed and was bowed to and heard the singsong... "'habe die Ehre!" a dozen times a day.

Nagybiesce is in northern Hungary, and the peasants round about were Slovaks—sturdy, solid, blond people with legs the same size all the way down. Many of them still reaped with scythes and thrashed on the barn floor with old-fashioned flails, and one afternoon there was a curious plaintive singing under my window—a party of harvesters, oldish men and brown, barefooted peasant girls, who had finished their work on a neighboring farm, and were crossing our village on their way to their own.

The Quartier naturally stirred things up a good deal in Nagybiesce. There was one week when we could not go into the street without being surrounded by little girls with pencils and cards asking for our "autogram." The candy shop kept by two girl wives whose husbands were at the front did a vast business, and the young women had somebody to talk to all day long. The evening the news came that Warsaw had fallen, candles were lighted in all the windows on the square, and the band with the villagers behind it came to serenade us as we were at dinner. The commandant bowed from the window, but a young Hungarian journalist leaned out and without a moment's hesitation poured forth a torrent for fully fifteen minutes with scarce a pause for breath. I told him that such impromptu oratory seemed marvellous, but he dismissed it as nothing. "I'm politiker!" he explained, with a wave of his hand.

One day a man came into lunch with the news that he was off on the best trip he'd had yet—he was going back to Vienna for his skis, to go down into the Tyrol and work along the glaciers to the battery positions. Another man, a Budapest painter, started off for an indefinite stay with an army corps in Bessarabia. He was to be, indeed, part of the army for the time being, and all his work belonged to the army first. As this is being written a number of painters sent out on similar expeditions have been giving an exhibition in Vienna—portraits and pencil sketches much like those Frederic Remington used to make. Foreigners not intending to remain in Austria-Hungary could not expect such privileges, naturally; but if they were admitted to the Quartier at all they were sent on the ordinary group excursions like the home correspondents themselves. Indeed, the wonder was—in view of the comparative ease with which neutral correspondents drifted about Europe: the naivete, to put it mildly, with which the wildest romances had been printed in American newspapers, that we were permitted to see as much as we did.

When a group started for the front, it left Nagybiesce in its own car, which, except when the itinerary included some large city—Lemberg, for instance—served as a little hotel until they came back again. The car was a clean, second-class coach, of the usual European compartment kind, two men to a compartment, and at night they bunked on the long transverse seats comfortably enough. We took one long trip of a thousand miles or so in this way, taking our own motor, on a separate flat car, and even an orderly servant for each man. Each of these groups was, of course, accompanied by an officer guide—several were detailed at the Quartier for this special duty—whose complex and nerve-racking task it was to answer all questions, make all arrangements, report to each local commandant, pass sentries, and comfortably waft his flock of civilians through the maze of barriers which cover every foot, so to speak, of the region near the front.

The things correspondents were permitted to see differed from those seen on the other fronts less in kind than in quantity. More trips were made, but there is and can be little place for a civilian on a "front," any spot in which, over a strip several miles wide, from the heavy artillery positions of one side to the heavy artillery of the other, may be in absolute quiet one minute and the next the centre of fire. There is no time to bother with civilians during an offensive, and, if a retreat is likely, no commander wishes to have country described which may presently be in the hands of the enemy. Hidden batteries in action, reserves moving up, wounded coming back, fliers, trenches quiet for the moment—this is about as close to actual fighting as the outsider, under ordinary circumstances, can expect to get on any front. The difference in Austria-Hungary was that correspondents saw these things, and the battle-fields and captured cities, not as mere outsiders, picked up from a hotel and presently to be dropped there again, but as, in a sense, a part of the army itself. They had their commandant to report to, their "camp" and "uniform"—the gold-and-black Presse-Quartier arm band—and when they had finished one excursion they returned to headquarters with the reasonable certainty that in another ten days or so they would start out again.



Chapter XIV

Cannon Fodder



At the head of each iron bed hung the nurse's chart and a few words of "history." These histories had been taken down as the wounded came in, after their muddy uniforms had been removed, they had been bathed, and could sink, at last, into the blessed peace and cleanness of the hospital bed. And through them, as through the large end of a telescope, one looked across the hot summer and the Hungarian fields, now dusty and yellow, to the winter fighting and freezing in the Carpathians.

"Possibly," the doctor said, "you would like to see one of these cases." The young fellow was scarce twenty, a strapping boy with fine teeth and intelligent eyes. He looked quite well; you could imagine him pitching hay or dancing the czardas, with his hands on his girl's waist and her hands on his, as these Hungarian peasants dance, round and round, for hours together. But he would not dance again, as both his feet had been amputated at the ankle and it was from the stumps that the doctor was unwrapping the bandages. The history read: While doing sentry duty on the mountains on March 28, we were left twenty-four hours without being relieved and during that time my feet were frozen.

The doctor spoke with professional briskness. He himself would not have tried to save any of the foot—better amputate at once at the line of demarcation, get a good flap of healthy tissue and make a proper stump. "That scar tissue'll never heal—it'll always be tender and break when he tries to use it; he has been here four months now, and you can see how tender it is."

The boy scowled and grinned as the doctor touched the scar. For our English and those things under the sheet he seemed to have much the same feeling of strangeness: both were something foreign, rather uncomfortable. He looked relieved when the bandages were on again and the white sheet drawn up. "We had dozens of them during the winter—one hundred and sixty-three frozen feet and one hundred frozen hands in this hospital alone. They had to be driven back from the front in carts, for days sometimes. When they got here their feet were black—literally rotting away. Nothing to do but let the flesh slough off and then amputate."

We strolled on down the sunny, clean-smelling wards. The windows were open. They were playing tennis in the yard below; on a bench under a tree a young Hungarian soldier, one arm in a sling, and a girl were reading the same book. Sunday is a very genial day in Budapest. The cafe tables are crowded, orchestras playing everywhere, and in dozens of pavilions and on the grass and gravel outside them peasants and the humbler sort of people are dancing. The Danube—beautiful if not blue —flows through the town.

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