On the Edge of the War Zone - From the Battle of the Marne to the Entrance of the Stars and Stripes
by Mildred Aldrich
Previous Part     1  2  3  4
Home - Random Browse


February 2, 1917

I had hardly sent my last letter to the post when news came that the 23d Dragoons had arrived safely at their new cantonnement, but here is the letter, which will tell the story. Sorry that you insist on having these things in English—they are so very much prettier in French.

With the Army, January 29 Dear Madame,

Bravo for the pretty idea you had in flinging to the winter breezes the tri-colored flag in honor of our departure. All the soldiers marching out of Voisins saw the colors and were deeply touched. Let me bear witness to their gratitude.

How I regret La Creste. One never knows how happy he is until afterward. I am far from comfortably installed here. I am lodged in an old deserted chateau. There are no fires, and we are literally refrigerated. However, we shall not stay long, as I am returning to the trenches in a day or two. It will hardly be warm there, but I shall have less time to remember how much more than comfortable I was at Huiry.

We made a fairly decent trip to this place, but I assure you that, in spite of my "extreme youth," I was near to being frozen en route. We were so cold that finally the whole regiment had to dismount and proceed on foot in the hope of warming up a bit. We were all, in the end, sad, cross, and grumbly. You had spoiled us all at Huiry and Voisins. For my part I longed to curse someone for having ordered such a change of base as this, in such weather. Wasn't I well enough off where I was, toasting myself before your nice fire, and drinking my tea comfortably every afternoon?

However, we are working tremendously for the coming offensive. And I hope it will be the final one, for the Germans are beginning to show signs of fatigue. News comes to us from the interior, from a reliable source, which indicates that the situation on the other side of the Rhine is anything but calm. More than ever now must we hang on, for the victory is almost within our clutch.

Accept, madame, the assurance of my most respectful homage,


So you see, we were all too previous in expecting the offensive. The cavalry is not yet really mounted for action. But we hope all the same.

The 118th is slowly settling down, but I'll tell you about that later.


February 10, 1917

Well, the 118th has settled down to what looks like a long cantonnement. It is surely the liveliest as well as the biggest we ever had here, and every little town and village is crowded between here and Coulommier. Not only are there five thousand infantry billeted along the hills and in the valleys, but there are big divisions of artillery also. The little square in front of our railway station at Couilly is full of grey cannon and ammunition wagons, and there are military kitchens and all sorts of commissary wagons along all the roadsides between here and Crecy-en-Brie, which is the distributing headquarters for all sorts of material.

As the weather has been intolerably cold, though it is dry and often sunny, the soldiers are billeted in big groups of fifty or sixty in a room or grange, where they sleep in straw, rolled in their blankets, packed like sardines to keep warm.

They came in nearly frozen, but they thawed out quickly, and now they don't mind the weather at all.

Hardly had they got thawed out when an epidemic of mumps broke out. They made quick work of evacuating those who had it, and stop its spreading, to the regret, I am afraid, of a good many of the boys. One of them said to me the day after the mumpy ones were taken over to Meaux: "Lucky fellows. I wish I had the mumps. After Verdun it must be jolly to be in the hospital with nothing more dangerous than mumps, and a nice, pretty girl, in a white cap, to pet you. I can't think of a handsomer way to spend a repos than that."

When I tell you that these soldiers say, "Men who have not been at Verdun have not seen the war yet," and then add that the life of the 118th here looks like a long picnic, and that they make play of their work, play of their grenade practice, which they vary with football, play of their twenty miles hikes, I give you leave to laugh at my way of seeing the war, and I'll even laugh with you.

That reminds me that I never see a thousand or so of these boys on the big plain playing what they call football that I don't wish some American chaps were here to teach them the game. All they do here is to throw off their coats and kick the ball as far, and as high, as possible, and run like racers after it, while the crowd, massed on the edge of the field, yells like mad. The yelling they do very well indeed, and they kick well, and run well. But, if they only knew the game— active, and agile, and light as they are—they would enjoy it, and play it well.

I had one of the nicest thrills I have had for many a day soon after the 118th arrived.

It was a sunny afternoon. I was walking in the road, when, just at the turn above my house, two officers rode round the corner, saluted me, and asked if the road led to Quincy. I told them the road to the right at the foot of the hill, through Voisins, would take them to Quincy. They thanked me, wheeled their horses across the road and stood there. I waited to see what was going to happen—small events are interesting here. After a bit one of them said that perhaps I would be wise to step out of the road, which was narrow, as the regiment was coming.

I asked, of course, "What regiment?" and "What are they coming for?" and he answered "The 118th," and that it was simply "taking a walk."

So I sauntered back to my garden, and down to the corner by the hedge, where I was high above the road, and could see in both directions. I had hardly got there when the head of the line came round the corner. In columns of four, knapsacks on their backs, guns on their shoulders, swinging at an easy gait, all looking so brown, so hardy, so clear-eyed, the men from Verdun marched by.

I had thought it cold in spite of the sun, and was well wrapped up, with my hands thrust into my big muff, but these men had beads of perspiration standing on their bronzed faces under their steel helmets.

Before the head of the line reached the turn into Voisins, a long shrill whistle sounded. The line stopped. Someone said: "At last! My, but this has been a hot march," and in a second every man had slipped off his knapsack and had a cigarette in his mouth.

Almost all of them dropped to the ground, or lay down against the bank. A few enterprising ones climbed the bank, to the field in front of my lawn, to get a glimpse of the view, and they all said what everyone says: "I say, this is the best point to see it."

I wondered what they would say to it if they could see it in summer and autumn if they found it fine with its winter haze.

But that is not what gave me my thrill.

The rest was a short one. Two sharp whistles sounded down the hill. Instantly everyone slipped on his sac, shouldered his gun, and at that minute, down at the corner, the military band struck up "Chant du Depart." Every hair on my head stood up. It is the first time I have heard a band since the war broke out, and as the regiment swung down the hill to the blare of brass—well, funnily enough, it seemed less like war than ever. Habit is a deadly thing. I have heard that band—a wonderful one, as such a regiment deserves,—many times since, but it never makes my heart thump as it did when, so unexpectedly, it cut the air that sunny afternoon.

I had so often seen those long lines marching in silence, as the English and the French did to the Battle of the Marne, as all our previous regiments have come and gone on the hillside, and never seen a band or heard military music that I had ceased to associate music with the soldiers, although I knew the bands played in the battles and the bugle calls were a part of it.

We have had all sorts of military shows, which change the atmosphere in which the quiet about us had been for months and months only stirred by the far-off artillery.

One day, we had a review on the broad plain which lies along the watershed between the Marne and the Grande Morin, overlooking the heights on the far side of both valleys, with the Grande Route on one side, and the walls to the wooded park of the handsome Chateau de Quincy on the other. It was an imposing sight, with thousands of steel-helmeted figures sac au dos et bayonnette au canon, marching and counter-marching in the cold sunshine, looking in the distance more like troops of Louis XIII than an evolution from the French conscript of the ante-bellum days of the pantalon rouge.

Two days later we had the most magnificent prise d'armes on the same plain that I have ever seen, much more stirring—though less tear-moving—than the same ceremony in the courtyard of the Invalides at Paris, where most foreigners see it. At the Invalides one sees the mutiles and the ill. Here one only saw the glory. In Paris, the galleries about the court, inside the walls of the Soldiers' Home, are packed with spectators. Here there were almost none. But here the heroes received their decorations in the presence of the comrades among whom they had been won, in the terrible battles of Verdun. It was a long line of officers, and men from the ranks, who stood so steadily before the commander and his staff, inside the hollow square, about the regimental colors, to have their medals and crosses fastened on their faded coats, receive their accolade, and the bravos of their companions as their citations were read. There were seven who received the Legion d'Honneur.

It was a brave-looking ceremony, and it was a lovely day—even the sun shone on them.

There was one amusing episode. These celebrations are always a surprise to the greater part of the community, and, in a little place like this, it is only by accident that anyone sees the ceremony. The children are always at school, and the rest of the world is at work, so, unless the music attracts someone, there are few spectators. On the day of the prise d'armes three old peasants happened to be in a field on the other side of the route nationale, which skirts the big plain on the plateau. They heard the music, dropped their work and ran across the road to gape. They were all men on towards eighty—too old to have ever done their military service. Evidently no one had ever told them that all Frenchmen were expected to uncover when the flag went by. Poor things, they should have known! But they didn't, and you should have seen a colonel ride down on them. I thought he was going to cut the woollen caps off their heads with his sabre, at the risk of decapitating them. But I loved what he said to them.

"Don't you know enough to uncover before the flag for which your fellow citizens are dying every day?"

Isn't that nice? I loved the democratic "fellow citizens"—so pat and oratorically French.

I flung the Stars and Stripes to the French breezes on the 7th in honor of the rupture. It was the first time the flag has been unfurled since Captain Simpson ordered the corporal to take it down two years ago the third of last September. I had a queer sensation as I saw it flying over the gate again, and thought of all that had happened since the little corporal of the King's Own Yorks took it down,—and the Germans still only forty-two miles away.


February 26, 1917

What do you suppose I have done since I last wrote to you?

I have actually been to the theatre for the first time in four years. Would you ever have believed that I could keep out of the theatre such a long time as that? Still, I suppose going to the theatre—to a sort of variety show—seems to you, who probably continue to go once or twice a week, a tame experience. Well, you can go to the opera, which I can't do if I like, but you can't see the heroes of Verdun not only applauding a show, but giving it, and that is what I have been doing not only once but twice since I wrote you.

I am sure that I have told you that our ambulance is in the salle de recreation of the commune, which is a small rectangular room with a stage across one end. It is the only thing approaching a theatre which the commune boasts. It is well lighted, with big windows in the sides, and a top-light over the stage. It is almost new, and the walls and pointed ceiling are veneered with some Canadian wood, which looks like bird's-eye maple, but isn't.

It is in that hall that the matinees, which are given every other Sunday afternoon, take place. They are directed by a lieutenant-colonel, who goes into it with great enthusiasm, and really gets up a first-class programme.

The boys do all the hard work, and the personnel of the ambulance aids and abets with great good humor, though it is very upsetting. But then it is for the army—and what the army wants these days, it must have.

Luckily the men in our ambulance just now are either convalescent, or, at any rate, able to sit up in bed and bear excitement. So the beds of the few who cannot be dressed are pushed close to the stage, and around their cots are the chairs and benches of their convalescent comrades. The rest of the beds are taken out. The big military band is packed into one corner of the room. Chairs are put in for the officers of the staff and their few invited guests—there are rarely more than half a dozen civilians. Behind the reserved seats are a few benches for the captains and lieutenants and the rest of the space is given up to the poilus, who are allowed to rush when the doors are opened.

Of course the room is much too small, but it is the best we have. The wide doors are left open. So are the wide windows, and the boys are even allowed to perch on the wall opposite the entrance, from which place they can see the stage.

The entire programme is given by the poilus; only one performer had a stripe on his sleeve, though many of them wore a decoration. What seems to me the prettiest of all is that all the officers go, and applaud like mad, even the white-haired generals, who are not a bit backward in crying "Bis, bis!" like the rest.

The officers are kind enough to invite me and the card on my chair is marked "Mistress Aldrich." Isn't that Shakesperian? I sit among the officers, usually with a commandant on one side and a colonel on the other, with a General de Division, and a General de Brigade in front of me, and all sorts of gilt stripes about me, which I count with curiosity, now that I have learned what they mean, as I surreptitiously try to discover the marks that war has made on their faces—and don't find them.

The truth is, the salle is fully as interesting to me as the performance, good as that is—with a handsome, delicate-looking young professor of music playing the violin, an actor from the Palais Royale showing a diction altogether remarkable, two well-known gymnasts doing wonderful stunts on horizontal bars, a prize pupil from the Conservatory at Nantes acting, as only the French can, in a well- known little comedy, two clever, comic monologists of the La Scala sort, and as good as I ever heard even there, and a regimental band which plays good music remarkably. There is even a Prix de Rome in the regiment, but he is en conge, so I 've not heard him yet. I wonder if you take it in? Do you realize that these are the soldiers in the ranks of the French defence? Consider what the life in the trenches means to them!

They even have artists among the poilus to paint back drops and make properties. So you see it is one thing to go to the theatre and quite another to see the soldiers from Verdun giving a performance before such a public—the men from the trenches going to the play in the highest of spirits and the greatest good humor.

At the first experience of this sort I did long to have you there. It was such a scene as I could not have believed possible in these days and under these conditions if I had not actually taken part in it.

As soon as the officers had filed in and taken their seats the doors and windows were thrown open to admit "la vague," and we all stood up and faced about to see them come. It was a great sight.

In the aisle down the centre of the hall—there is only one,—between the back row of reserved seats, stood Mlle. Henriette, in her white uniform, white gloved, with the red cross holding her long white veil to the nurse's coiffe which covered her pretty brown hair. Her slight, tall, white figure was the only barrier to prevent "la vague" from sweeping right over the hall to the stage. As they came through the door it did not seem possible that anything could stop them—or even that they could stop themselves—and I expected to see her crushed. Yet two feet from her, the mass stopped—the front line became rigid as steel and held back the rest, and, in a second, the wave had broken into two parts and flowed into the benches at left and right, and, in less time than it takes you to read this, they were packed on the benches, packed in the windows, and hung up on the walls. A queer murmur, half laugh and half applause, ran over the reserved seats, and the tall, thin commandant beside me said softly, "That is the way they came out of the trenches at Verdun." As I turned to sit down I had impressed on my memory forever that sea of smiling, clean-shaven, keen-eyed, wave on wave of French faces, all so young and so gay— yet whose eyes had looked on things which will make a new France.

I am sending you the programme of the second matinee—I lost that of the first.

I do wish, for many reasons, that you could have heard the recitation by Brochard of Jean Bastia's "L'Autre Cortege," in which the poet foresees the day "When Joffre shall return down the Champs Elysees" to the frenzied cries of the populace saluting its victorious army, and greeting with wild applause "Petain, who kept Verdun inviolated," "De Castelnau, who three times in the fray saw a son fall at his side," "Gouraud, the Fearless," "Marchand, who rushed on the Boches brandishing his cane," "Mangin, who retook Douaumont," and "All those brave young officers, modest even in glory, whose deeds the world knows without knowing their names," and the soldier heroes who held the frontier "like a wall of steel from Flanders to Alsace,"—the heroes of Souchez, of Dixmude, of the Maison du Passeur, of Souain, of Notre Dame de Lorette, and of the great retreat. It made a long list and I could feel the thrill running all over the room full of soldiers who, if they live, will be a part of that triumphal procession, of which no one talks yet except a poet.

But when he had pictured that scene the tempo of the verse changed: the music began softly to play a Schumann Reverie to the lines beginning: "But this triumphal cortege is not enough. The return of the army demands another cortege,"—the triumph of the Mutiles— the martyrs of the war who have given more than life to the defence of France—the most glorious heroes of the war.

The picture the poet made of this "other cortege" moved the soldiers strangely. The music, which blended wonderfully with Brochard's beautiful voice, was hardly more than a breath, just audible, but always there, and added greatly to the effect of the recitation. There was a sigh in the silence which followed the last line—and an almost whispered "bravo," before the long shouts of applause broke out.

It is the only number on any programme that has ever touched, even remotely, on war. It came as a surprise—it had not been announced. But the intense, rather painful, feeling which had swept over the audience was instantly removed by a comic monologue, and I need not tell you that these monologues,—intended to amuse the men from the trenches and give them a hearty laugh,—are usually very La Scala—that is to say—rosse. But I do love to hear the boys shout with glee over them.

The scene in the narrow streets of Quincy after the show is very picturesque. The road mounts a little to Moulignon, and to see the blue-grey backs of the boys, quite filling the street between the grey walls of the houses, as they go slowly back to their cantonnements, makes a very pretty picture.

It does seem a far cry from this to war, doesn't it? Yet isn't it lucky to know and to see that these boys can come out of such a battle as Verdun in this condition? This spirit, you see, is the hope of the future. You know, when you train any kind of a dog to fight, you put him through all the hard paces and force him to them, without breaking his spirit. It seems to me that is just what is being done to the men at the front.


March 1, 1917

Well, I have been very busy for some time now receiving the regiment, and all on account of the flag. It had been going up in the "dawn's early light," and coming down "with the twilight's last gleaming" for some weeks when the regiment marched past the gate again. I must tell you the truth,—the first man who attempted to cry "Vivent les Etats-Unis" was hushed by a cry of "Attendez-patience— pas encore," and the line swung by. That was all right. I could afford to smile,—and, at this stage of the game, to wait. You are always telling me what a "patient man" Wilson is. I don't deny it. Still, there are others.

The first caller that the flag brought me was on the morning after the regiment marched by it. I was upstairs. Amelie called up that there was "un petit soldat" at the door. They are all "les petits soldats" to her, even when they are six feet tall. She loves to see them coming into the garden. I heard her say to one of them the other day, when he "did not wish to disturb madame, if she is busy," "Mais, entrez donc. Les soldats ne genent jamais ma maitresse."

I went downstairs and found a mere youngster, with a sergeant's stripe on his sleeve, blushing so hard that I wondered how he had got up the courage to come inside the gate. He stammered a moment. Then he pointed to the flag, and, clearing his throat, said:

"You aire an Americaine?"

I owned it.

"I haf seen the flag—I haf been so surprised—I haf had to come in."

I opened the door wide, and said: "Do," and he did, and almost with tears in his eyes—he was very young, and blonde—he explained that he was a Canadian.

"But," I said, "you are a French Canadian?"

"Breton," he replied, "but I haf live in Canada since sixteen." Then he told me that his sister had gone to New Brunswick to teach French seven years ago, and that he had followed, that, when he was old enough, he had taken out his naturalization papers, and become a British subject in order to take up government land; that he had a wheat farm in Northern Canada—one hundred and sixty acres, all under cultivation; that he was twenty when the war broke out, and that he had enlisted at once; that he had been wounded on the Somme, and came out of the hospital just in season to go through the hard days at Verdun.

As we talked, part of his accent wore away. Before the interview was over he was speaking English really fluently. You see he had been tongue-tied at his own temerity at first. When he was at ease—though he was very modest and scrupulously well-mannered—he talked well.

The incident was interesting to me because I had heard that the French Canadians had not been quick to volunteer, and I could not resist asking him how it happened that he, a British subject, was in the French army.

He reddened, stammered a bit, and finally said: "After all I am French at heart. Had England fought any other nation but France in a war in which France was not concerned it would have been different, but since England and France are fighting together what difference can it make if my heart turned to the land where I was born?"

Isn't the naturalization question delicate?

I could not help asking myself how England looked at the matter. I don't know. She has winked at a lot of things, and a great many more have happened of late about which no one has ever thought. There are any number of officers in the English army today, enrolled as Englishmen, who are American citizens, and who either had no idea of abandoning their country, or were in too much of a hurry to wait for formalities. I am afraid all this matter will take on another color after "this cruel war is over."

This boy looked prosperous, and in no need of anything but kind words in English. He did not even need cigarettes. But I saw him turn his eyes frequently towards the library, and it occurred to me that he might want something to read. I asked him if he did, and you should have seen his eyes shine,—and he wanted English at that, and beamed all over his face at a heap of illustrated magazines. So I was able to send him away happy.

The result was, early the next morning two more of them arrived—a tall six-footer, and a smaller chap. It was Sunday morning, and they had real, smiling Sunday faces on. The smaller one addressed me in very good English, and told me that the sergeant had said that there was an American lady who was willing to lend the soldiers books. So I let them loose in the library, and they bubbled, one in English, and the other in French, while they revelled in the books.

Of course I am always curious about the civil lives of these lads, and it is the privilege of my age to put such questions to them. The one who spoke English told me that his home was in London, that he was the head clerk in the correspondence department of an importing house. I asked him how old he was, and he told me twenty-two; that he was in France doing his military service when the war broke out; that he had been very successful in England, and that his employer had opposed his returning to France, and begged him to take out naturalization papers. He said he could not make up his mind to jump his military service, and had promised his employer to return when his time was up,—then the war came.

I asked him if he was going back when it was over.

He looked at me a moment, shook his head and said, "I don't think so. I had never thought of such a thing as a war. No, I am too French. After this war, if I can get a little capital, I am going into business here. I am only one, but I am afraid France needs us all."

You see there again is that naturalization question. This war has set the world thinking, and it was high time.

One funny thing about this conversation was that every few minutes he turned to his tall companion and explained to him in French what we were talking about, and I thought it so sweet.

Finally I asked the tall boy—he was a corporal and had been watching his English-speaking chum with such admiration—what he did in civil life.

He turned his big brown eyes, on me, and replied: "I, madame? I never had any civil life."

I looked puzzled, and he added: "I come of a military family. I am an orphan, and I am an enfant de troupe."

Now did you know that there were such things today as "Children of the Regiment"? I own I did not. Yet there he stood before me, a smiling twenty-year old corporal, who had been brought up by the regiment, been a soldier boy from his babyhood.

In the meantime they had decided what they wanted for books. The English-speaking French lad wanted either Shakespeare or Milton, and as I laid the books on the table for him, he told his comrade who the two authors were, and promised to explain it all to him, and there wasn't a sign of show-off in it either. As for the Child of the Regiment, he wanted a Balzac, and when I showed him where they were, he picked out "Eugenie Grandet," and they both went away happy.

I don't need to tell you that when the news spread that there were books in the house on the hilltop that could be borrowed for the asking, I had a stream of visitors, and one of these visits was a very different matter.

One afternoon I was sitting before the fire. It was getting towards dusk. There was a knock at the door. I opened it. There stood a handsome soldier, with a corporal's stripes on his sleeve. He saluted me with a smile, as he told me that his comrades had told him that there was an American lady here who did not seem to be bored if the soldiers called on her.

"Alors," he added, "I have come to make you a visit."

I asked him in.

He accepted the invitation. He thrust his fatigue cap into his pocket, took off his topcoat, threw it on the back of a chair, which he drew up to the fire, beside mine, and at a gesture from me he sat down.

"Hmmm," I thought. "This is a new proposition."

The other soldiers never sit down even when invited. They prefer to keep on their feet.

Ever since I began to see so much of the army, I have asked myself more than once, "Where are the fils de famille"? They can't all be officers, or all in the heavy artillery, or all in the cavalry. But I had never seen one, to know him, in the infantry. This man was in every way a new experience, even among the noncommissioned officers I had seen. He was more at his ease. He stayed nearly two hours. We talked politics, art, literature, even religion—he was a good Catholic— just as one talks at a tea-party when one finds a man who is cultivated, and can talk, and he was evidently cultivated, and he talked awfully well.

He examined the library, borrowed a volume of Flaubert, and finally, after he had asked me all sorts of questions—where I came from; how I happened to be here; and even to "explain Mr. Wilson," I responded by asking him what he did in civil life.

He was leaning against the high mantel, saying a wood fire was delicious. He smiled down on me and replied: "Nothing."

"Enfin!" I said to myself. "Here he is—the 'fils de famille' for whom I have been looking." So I smiled back and asked him, in that case, if it were not too indiscreet—what he did to kill time?

"Well," he said, "I have a very pretty, altogether charming wife, and I have three little children. I live part of the time in Paris, and part of the time at Cannes, and I manage to keep busy."

It seemed becoming for me to say "Beg pardon and thank you," and he bowed and smiled an "il n'y a pas de quoi," thanked me for a pleasant afternoon—an "unusual kind of pleasure," he added, "for a soldier in these times," and went away.

It was only when I saw him going that it occurred to me that I ought to have offered him tea—but you know the worth of "esprit d'escalier."

Naturally I was curious about him, so the next time I saw the Canadian I asked him who he was. "Oh," he replied, "he is a nice chap; he is a noble, a vicomte—a millionaire."

So you see I have found the type—not quite in the infantry ranks, but almost, and if I found one there must be plenty more. It consoled me in these days when one hears so often cries against "les embusques."

I began to think there was every type in the world in this famous 118th, and I was not far from wrong.

The very next day I got the most delicious type of all—the French- American—very French to look at, but with New York stamped all over him—especially his speech. Of all these boys, this is the one I wish you could see.

Like all the rest of the English-speaking Frenchmen—the Canadian excepted—he brought a comrade to hear him talk to the lady in English. I really must try to give you a graphic idea of that conversation.

When I opened the door for him, he stared at me, and then he threw up both hands and simply shouted, "My God, it is true! My God, it is an American!!"

Then he thrust out his hand and gave me a hearty shake, simply yelling, "My God, lady, I'm glad to see you. My God, lady, the sight is good for sore eyes."

Then he turned to his comrade and explained, "J'ai dit a la dame, 'Mon Dieu, Madame,'" etc., and in the same breath he turned back to me and continued:

"My God, lady, when I saw them Stars and Stripes floating out there, I said to my comrade, 'If there is an American man or an American lady here, my God, I am going to look at them,' and my God, lady, I'm glad I did. Well, how do you do, anyway?"

I told him that I was very well, and asked him if he wouldn't like to come in.

"My God, lady, you bet your life I do," and he shook my hand again, and came in, remarking, "I'm an American myself—from New York— great city, New York—can't be beat. I wish all my comrades could see Broadway—that would amaze them," and then he turned to his companion to explain, "J'ai dit a Madame que je voudrais bien que tous les copains pouvaient voir Broadway—c'est la plus belle rue de New York—ils seront epates—tous," and he turned to me to ask "N'est-ce pas, Madame?"

I laughed. I had to. I had a vivid picture of his comrades seeing New York for the first time—you know it takes time to get used to the Great White Way, and I remembered the last distinguished Frenchman whom the propaganda took on to the great thoroughfare, and who, at the first sight and sound and feel of it, wanted to lay his head up against Times Square and sob like a baby with fright and amazement. This was one of those flash thoughts. My caller did not give me time for more than that, for he began to cross-examine me— he wanted to know where I lived in America.

It did not seem worth while to tell him I did not live there, so I said "Boston," and he declared it a "nice, pretty slow town," he knew it, and, of course, he added, "But my God, lady, give me New York every time. I've lived there sixteen years—got a nice little wife there— here's her picture—and see here, this is my name," and he laid an envelope before me with a New York postmark.

"Well," I said, "if you are an American citizen, what are you doing here, in a French uniform? The States are not in the war."

His eyes simply snapped.

"My God, lady, I'm a Frenchman just the same. My God, lady, you don't think I'd see France attacked by Germany and not take a hand in the fight, do you? Not on your life!"

Here is your naturalization business again.

I could not help laughing, but I ventured to ask: "Well, my lad, what would you have done if it had been France and the States?" He curled his lip, and brushed the question aside with:

"My God, lady! Don't be stupid. That could never be, never, on your life."

I asked him, when I got a chance to put in a word, what he did in New York, and he told me he was a chauffeur, and that he had a sister who lived "on Riverside Drive, up by 76th Street," but I did not ask him in what capacity, for before I could, he launched into an enthusiastic description of Riverside Drive, and immediately put it all into French for the benefit of his copain, who stood by with his mouth open in amazement at the spirited English of his friend.

When he went away, he shook me again violently by the hand, exclaiming: "Well, lady, of course you'll soon be going back to the States. So shall I. I can't live away from New York. No one ever could who had lived there. Great country the States. I'm a voter—I'm a Democrat—always vote the Democratic ticket—voted for Wilson. Well, goodbye, lady."

As he shook me by the hand again, it seemed suddenly to occur to him that he had forgotten something. He struck a blow on his forehead with his fist, and cried: "My God, lady, did I understand that you have been here ever since the war began? Then you were here during the battle out there? My God, lady, I 'm an American, too, and my God, lady, I 'm proud of you! I am indeed." And he went off down the road, and I heard him explaining to his companion "J'ai dit a madame," etc.

I don't think any comment is necessary on what Broadway does to the French lad of the people.

Last night I saw one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen. For several evenings I have been hearing artillery practice of some sort, but I paid no attention to it. We have no difficulty in distinguishing the far-off guns at Soissons and Rheims, which announce an attack, from the more audible, but quite different, sound of the tir d'exercice. But last night they sounded so very near—almost as if in the garden—that, at about nine, when I was closing up the house, I stepped out on to the terrace to listen. It was a very dark night, quite black. At first I thought they were in the direction of Quincy, and then I discovered, once I was listening carefully, that they were in the direction of the river. I went round to the north side of the house, and I saw the most wonderful display—more beautiful than any fireworks I had ever seen. The artillery was experimenting with signal lights, and firing colored fusees volantes. I had read about them, but never seen one. As near as I could make out, the artillery was on top of the hill of Monthyon—where we saw the battle of the Marne begin,— and the line they were observing was the Iles-les-Villenoy, in the river right at the west of us. When I first saw the exercises, there were half a dozen lovely red and green lights hanging motionless in the sky. I could hear the heavy detonation of the cannon or gun, or whatever they use to throw them, and then see the long arc of light like a chain of gold, which marked the course of the fusee, until it burst into color at the end. I wrapped myself up, took my field-glasses, and stayed out an hour watching the scene, and trying to imagine what exactly the same thing, so far as mere beauty went, meant to the men at the front.

In the morning I found that everyone else had heard the guns, but no one had seen anything, because, as it happens, it was from my lawn only that both Monthyon and the Iles-les-Villenoy could be seen.


March 19, 1917

Such a week of excitement as we have had. But it has been uplifting excitement. I feel as if I had never had an ache or a pain, and Time and Age were not. What with the English advance, the Russian Revolution, and Zeppelins tumbling out of the heavens, every day has been just a little more thrilling than the day before.

I wonder now how "Willie,"—as we used to call him in the days when he was considered a joke,—feels over his latest great success—the democratic conversion, or I suppose I should, to be correct, say the conversion to democracy, of all Russia? It must be a queer sensation to set out to accomplish one thing, and to achieve its exact reverse.

Yesterday—it was Sunday—just capped the week of excitement. It was the third beautiful day in the week,—full of sunshine, air clear, sky blue.

In the morning, the soldiers began to drop in, to bring back books and get more, to talk a little politics, for even the destruction of the Zeppelin at Compiegne, and the news that the English were at Bapaume, was a bit damped by the untimely fall of Briand.

The boys all looked in prime condition, and they all had new uniforms, even new caps and boots. The Canadian, who usually comes alone, had personally conducted three of his comrades, whom he formally introduced, and, as I led the way into the library, I remarked, "Mais, comme nous sommes chic aujourd'hui," and they all laughed, and explained that it was Sunday and they were dressed for a formal call. If any of them guessed that the new equipment meant anything they made no sign. I imagine they did not suspect any more than I did, for they all went down the hill to lunch, each with a book under his arm. Yet four hours later they were preparing to advance.

It was exactly four in the afternoon that news came that the French had pierced the line at Soissons—just in front of us—and that Noyon had been retaken—that the cavalry were a cheval (that means that the 23d Dragoons have advanced in pursuit)—and, only a quarter of an hour after we got the news, the assemblage general was sounded, and the 118th ordered sac au dos at half past six.

For half an hour there was a rush up the hill—boys bringing me back my books, coming to shake hands and present me with little souvenirs, and bring the news that the camions were coming—which meant that the 118th were going right into action again. When a regiment starts in such a hurry that it must take a direct line, and cannot bother with railroads, the boys know what that means.

I know you'll ask me how they took the order, so I tell you without waiting. I saw a few pale faces—but it was only for a moment. A group of them stood in front of me in the library. I had just received from the front, by post, the silk parachute of a fusee volante, on which was written: "A Miss Mildred Aldrich Ramasse sur le champ de bataille a 20 metres des lignes Boches. Souvenir de la patrouille de Fevrier 22, 1917," and the signature of the Aspirant, and that was the only way I knew he had probably been on a dangerous mission.

It was the first time that I had ever seen one any nearer than in the air, during the exercises by night of which I wrote you, and one of the boys was explaining it, and its action, and use, and everyone but me was laughing at the graphic demonstration. I don't know why I didn't laugh. Usually I laugh more than anyone else.

Sometimes I think that I have laughed more in the last two years than in all the rest of my life. The demonstrator looked at me, and asked why I was so grave. I replied that I did not know—perhaps in surprise that they were so gay.

He understood at once. Quite simply he said: "Well, my dear madame, we must be gay. What would we do otherwise? If we thought too often of the comrades who are gone, if we remembered too often that we risked our skins every day, the army would be demoralized. I rarely think of these things except just after an attack. Then I draw a deep breath, look up at the sky, and I laugh, as I say to my soul, 'Well, it was not to be this time, perhaps it never will be.' Life is dear to each of us, in his own way, and for his own reasons. Luckily it is not so dear to any of us as France or honor."

I turned away and looked out of the window a moment—I could not trust myself,—and the next minute they were all shaking hands, and were off down the road to get ready.

The loaded camions began to move just after dark. No one knows the destination, but judging by the direction, they were heading for Soissons. They were moving all night, and the first thing I heard this morning was the bugle in the direction of Quincy, and the news came at breakfast time that the 65th Regiment—the last of the big fighting regiments to go into action at Verdun, and the last to leave, was marching in. The girl from the butcher's brought the news, and "Oh, madame," she added, "the Americans are with them."

"The what?" I exclaimed.

"A big American ambulance corps—any number of ambulance automobiles, and they have put their tents up on the common at Quincy."

You can imagine how excited I was. I sent someone over to Quincy at once to see if it was true, and word came back that Captain Norton's American Corps Sanitaire—forty men who have been with this same division, the 31st Corps—for many months—had arrived from Verdun with the 65th Regiment, and was to follow it into action when it advanced again.

This time the cantonnement does not come up to Huiry—only to the foot of the hill at Voisins.

Of course I have not seen our boys yet, but I probably shall in a few days.


March 28, 1917

Well, all quiet on the hilltop again—all the soldiers gone—no sign of more coming for the present. We are all nervously watching the advance, but controlling our nerves. The German retreat and the organized destruction which accompanies it just strikes one dumb. Of course we all know it is a move meant to break the back of the great offensive, and though we knew, too, that the Allied commanders were prepared for it, it does make you shiver to get a letter from the front telling you that a certain regiment advanced at a certain point thirty kilometres, without seeing a Boche.

As soon as I began to read the account of the destruction, I had a sudden illuminating realization of the meaning of something I saw from the car window the last time I came out from Paris. Perhaps I did not tell you that I was up there for a few days the first of the month?

Of course you don't need to be told that there has been a tremendous amount of work done on the eastern road all through the war. Extra tracks have been laid all the way between Paris and Chelles, the outer line of defenses of the city—and at the stations between Gagny and Chelles the sidings extend so far on the western side of the tracks as to almost reach out of sight. For a long time the work was done by soldiers, but when I went up to Paris, four weeks ago, the work was being done by Annamites in their saffron-colored clothes and queer turbans, and I found the same little people cleaning the streets in Paris. But the surprising thing was the work that was accomplished in the few days that I was in Paris. I came back on March 13, and I was amazed to see all those miles and miles of sidings filled with trucks piled with wood, with great posts, with planks, with steel rails, and what looked the material to build a big city or two. I did not wonder when I saw them that we could not get coal, or other necessities of life, but it was not until I read of the very German-like idea of defending one's self on the property of other people that I realized what all that material meant, and that the Allies were prepared for even this tragic and Boche-like move. I began to get little cards and letters back from the 118th on the twenty-third. The first said simply:

Dear Madame,

Here we are—arrived last night just behind the line,—with our eyes strained towards the front, ready to bound forward and join in the pursuit.

Of course I have seen the Americans—a doctor from Schenectady and forty men, almost all youngsters in their early twenties. In fact twenty-two seems to be the popular age. There are boys from Harvard, boys from Yale, New England boys, Virginia boys, boys from Tennessee, from Kentucky, from Louisiana, and American boys from Oxford. It is a first-line ambulance corps,—the boys who drive their little Ford ambulances right down to the battlefields and receive the wounded from the brancardiers, and who have seen the worst of Verdun, and endured the privations and the cold with the army.

When a Virginia man told me that he had not taken cold this winter, and showed me his little tent on the common, where, from choice, he is still sleeping under canvas, because he "likes it," I could easily believe him. Do you know,—it is absurd—I have not had a cold this winter, either? I, who used to have one tonsilitis per winter, two bronchitis, half a dozen colds in my head, and occasionally a mild specimen of grip. This is some record when you consider that since my coal gave out in February we have had some pretty cold weather, and that I have only had imitation fires, which cheer the imagination by way of the eyes without warming the atmosphere. I could fill a book with stories of "how I made fires in war time," but I spare you because I have more interesting things to tell you.

On the twenty-sixth we were informed that we were to have the 65th Regiment cantoned on the hill for a day and a night. They were to move along a bit to make room for the 35th for a few days. It was going to be pretty close quarters for one night, and the adjutant who arranged the cantonnement was rather put to it to house his men. The Captain was to be in my house, and I was asked, if, for two days —perhaps less—I could have an officers' kitchen in the house and let them have a place to eat. Well,—there the house was—they were welcome to it. So that was arranged, and I put a mattress on the floor in the atelier for the Captain's cook.

We had hardly got that over when the adjutant came back to look over the ground again, and see if it were not possible to canton a demi-section in the granges. I went out with him to show him what there was—a grange on the south side, with a loft, which has already had to be braced up with posts, and which I believe to be dangerous. He examined it, and agreed: a grange on the north side, used for coal, wood, and garden stuff, with a loft above in fair condition, but only accessible by ladder from the outside. He put up the ladder, climbed it, unlocked the door, examined it, and decided that it would do, unless they could find something better.

So soldiers came in the afternoon and swept it out, and brought the straw in which they were to sleep, and that was arranged.

It was about seven the next morning when they began to arrive. I heard the tramp of their feet in the road, as they marched, in sections, to their various cantonnements. I put a clean cap over my tousled hair, slipped into a wadded gown and was ready just as I heard the "Halte," which said that my section had arrived. I heard two growly sounds which I took to be "A droite, marche!"—and by the time I got the window open to welcome my section I looked down into an Indian file of smiling bronzed faces, as they marched along the terrace, knapsacks and guns on their backs, and began mounting the ladder.

Soon after, the Captain's cook arrived with his market baskets and took possession of the kitchen, and he was followed by orderlies and the kits, and by the officer who was to be the Captain's table companion.

As Amelie had half a section cantoned in her courtyard she was busy there, and I simply showed the cook where things were, gave him table cloths and napkins, and left him to follow his own sweet will, free to help himself to anything he needed. If you remember what I told you about my house when I took it, you can guess how small I had to make myself.

I can tell you one thing—on the testimony of Amelie—the officers eat well. But they pay for it themselves, so that is all right. The cook was never idle a minute while he was in the house. I heard him going up to bed, in his felt shoes, at ten o'clock—Amelie said he left the kitchen scrupulously clean—and I heard the kitchen alarm clock, which he carried with him going off at half past five in the morning.

I had asked the Captain when the regiment was to advance, and he said probably the next morning, but that the order had not come. Twice while I was at dinner in the breakfast room, I heard an orderly come in with despatches, but it was not until nine o'clock that the order "sac au dos" at half past ten the next morning—that was yesterday—was official, and it was not until nine in the morning that they knew that they were leaving in camions—which meant that they were really starting in the pursuit, and the American division was to follow them.

The officers had a great breakfast just after nine—half a dozen courses. As they did not know when, if ever, they would sit down to a real meal at a table again they made their possibly last one a feast. As they began just after nine and had to be on the road at half past ten I don't need to tell you that the cook had no time to clear up after himself. He had just time—with his mouth full of food—to throw his apron on the floor, snatch up his gun and his knapsack and buckle himself into shape as he sprinted up the hill to overtake his company.

As for me—I threw on a cape and went across the road to the field, where I could see the Grande Route, and the chemin Madame leading to it. All along the route nationale, as far as I could see with my field-glass, stood the grey camions. On the chemin Madame the regiment was waiting. They had stacked their guns and, in groups, with cigarettes between their lips, they chatted quietly, as they waited. Here and there a bicyclist was sprinting with orders.

Suddenly a whistle sounded. There was a rattle of arms as the men unstacked their guns and fell into line, then hundreds of hobnailed boots marked time on the hard road, and the 65th swung along to the waiting camions, over the same route I had seen Captain Simpson and the Yorkshire boys take, just before sundown, on that hot September day in 1914.

As I stood watching them all the stupendousness of the times rushed over me that you and I, who have rubbed our noses on historical monuments so often, have chased after emotions on the scenes of past heroism, and applauded mock heroics across the footlights, should be living in days like these, days in which heroism is the common act of every hour. I cannot help wondering what the future generations are going to say of it all; how far-off times are going to judge us; what is going to stand out in the strong limelight of history? I know what I think, but that does not help yet.

Do you know that I had a letter from Paris this week which said: "I was looking over your letters written while we were tied up in London, in August, 1914, and was amused to find that in one of them you had written 'the annoying thing is, that, after this is over, Germany will console herself with the reflection that it took the world to beat her.'" It is coming truer than I believed in those days,—and then I went back to dishwashing.

You never saw such a looking kitchen as I found. Leon, the officers' cook—a pastry cook before he was a soldier—was a nice, kindly, hard- working chap, but he lacked the quality dear to all good house- keepers—he had never learned to clean up after himself as he went along. He had used every cooking utensil in the house, and such a pile of plates and glasses! It took Amelie and me until two o'clock to clean up after him, and when it was done I felt that I never wanted to see food again as long as I lived. Of course we did not mind, but Amelie had to say, every now and then, "Vive l'armee!" just to keep her spirits up. Anyway it was consoling to know that they have more to eat than we do.

The American corps had to leave one of their boys behind in our ambulance, very ill with neuritis—that is to say, painfully ill. As the boys of the American corps are ranked by the French army as officers this case is doubly interesting to the personnel of our modest hospital. First he is an American—a tall young Southerner from Tennessee. They never knew an American before. Second, he is not only an honorary officer serving France, he is really a lieutenant in the officers' reserve corps of his own State, and our little ambulance has never sheltered an officer before.

The nurses and the sisters are falling over one another to take care of him—at least, as I always find one or two of them sitting by his bed whenever I go to see him, I imagine they are.

The amusing thing is that he says he can't understand or speak French, and swears that the only words he knows are:

Oui, oui, oui, Non, non, non, Si, si, si, Et voila, Merci!

which he sings, in his musical southern voice, to the delight of his admiring nurses. All the same, whenever it is necessary for an interpreter to explain something important to him, I find that he has usually got the hang of it already, so I've my doubts if he has as little French as he pretends. One thing is sure his discharge will leave a big void in the daily life of the ambulance.

This is growing into a long letter—in the quiet that has settled on us I seem to have plenty of time—and the mood—so, before I close, I must say something in reply to your sad sentence in your last letter—the reply to mine of December regarding our first big cantonnement. You say "Oh! the pity of this terrible sacrifice of the youth of the world!! Why aren't the middle-aged sent first—the men who have partly lived their lives, who leave children to continue the race?" Ah, dear old girl —you are indeed too far off to understand such a war as this. Few men of even forty can stand the life. Only the young can bear the strain. They not only bear it, they thrive on it, and, such of them as survive the actual battles, will come out of it in wonderful physical trim. Of course there are a thousand sides to the question. There are hospitals full of the tuberculous and others with like maladies, but those things existed before the war, only less attention was paid to them. It is also a serious question—? getting more serious the longer the war goes on—as to how all these men will settle into civil life again —how many will stand sedentary pursuits after years in the open, and how they will settle back into the injustices of class distinctions after years of the equality of the same duty—fighting for their country. Still if the victory is decisive, and the army is satisfied with the peace conditions, I imagine all those things will settle themselves.

Well, Congress meets on Monday. There is no doubt in anyone's mind of the final decision. I only hope it won't drag too long. I have taken my flags down just to have the pleasure of putting them up again.

I had this letter closed when I got my first direct news from the front since the advance.

Do you remember how amused I was when I saw the Aspirant equipped for his march in January? I was told afterward that my idea of a light equipment for the cavalry in battle was "theoretically beautiful," but in such a war as this absolutely impracticable. Well I hear today that when the cavalry advanced it advanced in a "theoretically beautiful" manner. It seems that the order was unexpected. It caught the cavalry in the saddle during a manoeuvre, and, just as they were, they wheeled into line and flew off in pursuit of the Boches. They had nothing but what was on their backs—and ammunition, of course. The result was that they had forty-eight hours of real suffering. It was harder on the officers than on the men, and hardest of all on the horses. All the soldiers always have a bidon with something in it to drink, and almost invariably they have a bite or so in their sacks. No officer ever has anything on him, and none of them carries a bidon except on a march. For forty-eight hours in the chase they suffered from hunger, and, what was worse still, from thirst. As the weather was nasty and they were without shelters of any kind—not even tents—they tasted all the hardships of war. This must comfort the foot soldiers, who are eternally grumbling at the cavalry. However, the officer who brought back the news says the men bore it with philosophical gaiety, even those who on the last day had nothing as well as those who in forty-eight hours had a quarter of a biscuit. The horses were not so philosophical—some of them just lay down and died, poor beasts. I assure you I shall never laugh again at a cavalryman's "battle array."


April 8, 1917

The sun shines, and my heart is high. This is a great day. The Stars and Stripes ace flying at my gate, and they are flying over all France. What is more they will soon be flying—if they are not already—over Westminster, for the first time in history. The mighty, unruly child, who never could quite forgive the parent it defied, and never has been wholly pardoned, is to come back to the family table, if only long enough to settle the future manners of the nations about the board, put in, I suppose, a few "don'ts," like "don't grab"; "don't take a bigger mouthful than you can becomingly chew"; "don't jab your knife into your neighbor—it is not for that purpose"; "don't eat out of your neighbor's plate—you have one of your own,"—in fact "Thou shalt not— even though thou art a Kaiser—take the name of the Lord thy God in vain"; "thou shalt not steal"; "thou shalt not kill"; "thou shalt not covet," and so on. Trite, I know, but in thousands of years we have not improved on it.

So the Stars and Stripes are flying over France to greet the long delayed and ardently awaited, long ago inevitable declaration which puts the States shoulder to shoulder with the other great nations in the Defence of the Rights of Man, the Sacredness of Property, the Honor of Humanity, and the news has been received with such enthusiasm as has not been seen in France since war broke over it. Judging by the cables the same enthusiasm which has set the air throbbing here is mounting to the skies on your side of the ocean. We are a strangely lucky nation—we are the first to go into the great fight to the shouts of the populace; to be received like a star performer, with "thunders of applause."


"God's in his heaven, All's right with the world."—and—we are no longer in the war zone. As soon as a few formalities are filled, and I can get a carte d'identite, I shall be once more free to circulate. After sixteen months of a situation but one step removed from being interned, it will be good to be able to move about—even if I don't want to.

To give you some idea how the men at the front welcome the news, here is a letter which has just come,—written before Congress had voted, but when everyone was sure of the final decision.

At the Front, April 4, 1917 Dear Madame:

It has been a long time since I sent you my news. The neglect has not been my fault, but due to the exceptional circumstances of the war.

At last we have advanced, and this time as real cavalry. We have had the satisfaction of pursuing the Boches—keeping on their flying heels until we drove them into St. Quentin. From the 18th to the 28th of March the war became once more a battle in the open, which was a great relief to the soldiers and permitted them to once more demonstrate their real military qualities. I lived through a dozen days filled to overflowing with emotions—sorrow, joy, enthusiasm. At last I have really known what war is—with all its misery and all its beauty. What joy it was for us of the cavalry to pass over the trenches and fly across the plains in the pursuit of the Germans! The first few days everything went off wonderfully. The Boches fled before us, not daring to turn and face us. But our advance was so rapid, our impetuosity such, that, long before they expected us, we overtook the main body of the enemy. They were visibly amazed at being caught before they could cross the canal at St. Quentin, as was their plan, and they were obliged to turn and attempt to check our advance, in order to gain sufficient time to permit their artillery to cross the canal and escape complete disaster.

It was there that we fought, forcing them across the canal to entrench themselves hastily in unprepared positions, from which, at the hour I write, our wonderful infantry and our heavy artillery, in collaboration with the British, are dislodging them.

Alas! The battles were costly, and many of our comrades paid with their lives for our audacious advance. Be sure that we avenged them, and cruel as are our losses they were not in vain. They are more than compensated by the results of the sacrifice—the strip of our native soil snatched from the enemy. They died like heroes, and for a noble cause.

Since then we have been resting, but waiting impatiently to advance and pursue them again, until we can finally push them over their own frontier.

Today's paper brings us great and comforting news. At last, dear madame! At last your marvellous country is going to march beside us in this terrible war. With a full heart I present to you my heartiest congratulations. At last Wilson understands, and the American people—so noble, and always so generous—will no longer hesitate to support us with all their resources. How wonderfully this is going to aid us to obtain the decisive victory we must have, and perhaps to shorten the war.

Here, in the army, the joy is tremendous at the idea that we have behind us the support of a nation so great, and all our admiration, all our gratitude goes out to your compatriots, to the citizens of the great Republic, which is going to enter voluntarily into this Holy War, and so bravely expose itself to its known horrors.

Bravo! et vivent les Etats-Unis!

My greetings to Amelie and Papa: a caress for Khaki and Didine, and a pat for Dick.

Receive, madame, the assurance of my most respectful homage.

I am feeling today as if it were no matter that the winter had been so hard; that we have no fuel but twigs; that the winter wheat was frozen; that we have eaten part of our seed potatoes and that another part of them was frost-bitten; that butter is a dollar a pound (and none to be had, even at that price, for days at a time); that wood alcohol is sixty- five cents a litre, and so on and so forth. I even feel that it is not important that this war came, since it could not be escaped, and that what alone is important is—that the major part of the peoples of the world are standing upright on their feet, lifting their arms with a great shout for Liberty, Justice, and Honor; that a war of brute force for conquest has defeated itself, and set free those who were to have been its victims. It is not, I know, today or tomorrow that it will all end; it is not next year, or in many years, that poor Poland's three mutilated parts can be joined and healed into harmony; and oh! how long it is going to be before all the sorrow and hatred that Germany has brought on the world can be either comforted or forgotten! But at least we are sure now of the course the treatment is going to take—so the sun shines and my heart is high, and I do believe that though joy may lead nowhere, sorrow is never in vain.


Previous Part     1  2  3  4
Home - Random Browse