Lady Harriet Jephson

Altheim, Germany

Altheim, Germany

A chauffeur at the Bellevue was arrested to-day and taken to Frankfort. He is only twenty, a Glasgow lad, and absolutely harmless.

I am so sick of “Heil Dir im Sieger Kranz” that as the children pass my villa shouting it or “Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?” I go out on my balcony and retaliate by singing “Rule Britannia.” Small children with flags and paper cocked hats, toy swords and tiny drums march through the streets, day after day, singing patriotic songs, whilst (poor dears!) their fathers are being slaughtered in thousands. No reverses are ever reported in the German papers, nothing but victories appear, and Germans are treated like children. If it were not for the “Corriere della Sera” we should be tempted to believe the Allies in a bad way. The “beehrte gäste” departed this morning. At the station a band played, flags were waved, and every American man and woman was presented with a small white book which contained the telegrams which passed between the belligerent nations at the beginning of the war. Again we hear that Copenhagen is to be our destination.

Paul Lintier

Remoiville, France

I was awakened by the sun, and stretched myself.

“A good night at last, eh, Hutin?”

Hutin, still asleep, made no answer. Deprez called out :

“Now then, oats!”

Nobody was in a hurry. Two men, a confused mass of dark blue cloth, quietly went on snoring amid the straw strewn under the chase of the gun. Suddenly I thought I heard a familiar sound, and instinctively turned to see whence it came.

“Down!” cried some one.

The men threw themselves down where they stood. In mid-air, above the camp, a shell burst. In the still atmosphere the compact cloud of smoke floated motionless among the thin grey mists.

“It’s that aeroplane we saw yesterday we’ve got to thank for that,” said Hutin, who had been fully awakened by the explosion.

“Yes, but it was too high.”

“That’s only a trial round to find the range. We shall get it hot in a few minutes, you’ll see!”

“Now then, bridle! Hook in! Quick!”

The camp at once became full of movement, the gunners hurrying to their horses and limbers. In the twinkling of an eye the picketlines were wound round the hooks behind the limbers, and the teams were ready to start. Again came the whistling of an approaching projectile. The men merely rounded their backs without interrupting their work. High-explosive shells now began to fall on Marville,
and others, hurtling over our heads, swooped down on the neighbouring hills which the enemy doubtless believed manned by French
artillery. The drivers, leaning over their horses’ necks, whipped up the teams, and the column made off at a trot to take up position
on the hills to the west of the town, which dominated the Othain valley and the uplands on the other side of the river, whence the
enemy was approaching. A veritable hail of lead, steel, and fire was raining upon Marville.

One of the first shells struck the steeple. The town was not visible from our position, but large black columns of smoke were rising
perpendicularly into the sky, and there was no doubt that the place was in flames. Amid the roar of the cannonade, which had now become an incessant thunder which rose, fell, echoed, and rolled without intermission, it was difficult to distinguish between shots
coming from the enemy’s guns and those fired from ours. After a time, however, we were able to recognize the short sharp barks
of the .75’s in action.

“Attention! Gun-layers, forward!”

The men hurried up to the Captain.

“That tree like a brush … in front. . . .”

“We see it, sir ! ”

” That’s your aiming-point. Plate 0, dial 150.”

The men ran to the guns and layed them, the breeches coming to rest as they closed on the shells. The gun-layers raised their hands.

“Ready 1”

“First round,” ordered the gun-commander.

The detachment stood by outside the wheels of the gun, the firing number bending down to seize the lanyard.

“Fire!”

The gun reared like a frightened horse. I was shaken from head to foot, my skull throbbing and my ears tingling as though with the jangle of enormous bells which had been rung close to them. A long tongue of fire had darted out of the muzzle, and the wind caused by the round raised a cloud of dust round us. The ground quaked. I noticed an unpleasant taste in my mouth — musty at first, and acrid after a few seconds. That was the powder. I hardly knew whether I tasted it or whether I smelled it. We continued firing, rapidly, without stopping, the movements of the men co-ordinated, precise, and quick. There was no talking, gestures sufficing to control the manoeuvre. The only words audible were the range orders given by the Captain and repeated by the Nos. 1.

“Two thousand five hundred!”

“Fire !”

“Two thousand five hundred and twenty-five !”

“Fire!”

After the first round the gun was firmly settled, and the gun-layer and the firing number now installed themselves on their
seats behind the shield. On firing, the steel barrel of the .75 mm. gun recoils on the guides of the hydraulic buffer, and then quietly and gently returns to battery, ready for the next round. Behind the gun there was soon a heap of blackened cartridge-cases, still smoking.

“Cease firing!”

The gunners stretched themselves out on the grass, and some began to roll cigarettes.

Another aeroplane; the same black hawk silhouetted against the pale blue sky which at every moment was getting brighter.

The men swore and shook their fists. What tyranny! It was marking us down!

Suddenly the enemy’s heavy artillery opened fire on the hills we were occupying as well as on a neighbouring wood. It was time to
change position, since for us the most perilous moment is when the teams come up to join the guns. A battery is then extremely vulnerable.

Before the enemy could correct his range the Major gave an order and we moved off to take up a fresh position in a hollow on the plain. The wide fields around us were bristling with stubble, and on the left a few poplars, bordering a road, traced a green line on the bare countryside. In front of us and behind stretched empty trenches. Marville was still burning, the smoke blackening the whole of the eastern sky. The sun was now high in the heavens, and poured a dazzling light on the stubble-fields. We were suffering badly from hunger and thirst. The din of the battle seemed continually to grow louder.

At the foot of some distant hills, still blue in the mist on the south-eastern horizon, the Captain had perceived a column of artillery or a convoy and large masses of men on the march. Were they French troops, or was it the enemy? He was not sure. The mist and the distance made it impossible to recognize the uniforms.

” We can’t fire if those are French troops,” said he.

Standing on an ammunition wagon he scanned the threatening horizon through his field-glasses.

“If it’s the enemy, they are outflanking us . . . outflanking us ! They’ll be in the woods in a moment. . . . We shan’t be able
to see them. … Go and ask the Major.”

The Major was no better informed than the Captain, the orders he had received saying nothing about these hills. He also was using
his field-glasses, but could not distinguish the uniforms of the moving masses. In his turn he muttered :

“If it’s the enemy they’re surrounding us!”

A mounted scout was hastily dispatched. We remained in suspense, a prey to nervous excitement.

A single foot-soldier had stopped near the fourth gun. He had neither pack nor rifle. We questioned him :

“Wounded?”

“No.”

“Where have you come from?”

The Captain signalled for the man to be taken to him. The soldier, who had thrown away his arms, did not hurry to obey.

“What are those troops down there?” asked the Captain. “French?”

“I don’t know!”

“Well, where do you come from?”

The soldier waved his arm with a vague, comprehensive gesture which embraced half the horizon.

“From over there!”

The Captain shrugged his shoulders.

“Yes, but where are the Germans ? Do you know whether they have turned Marville on the south?”

” No, sir. . . . You see, I was in a trench. . . . And the shells began to come along — great big black ones. . . . First they burst
behind us, a hundred yards or more. . . . Then, of course, we didn’t mind ’em. But soon some of them fell right on us . . . and
then we ran ! ”

“But your officers?”

The man made a sign of ignorance. Nothing more could be got out of him. Just at that moment a shell came hissing through the air,
and he at once made off at full speed, crouching as he ran. A few dislocated words came back to us over his shoulder:

” h I Bon Dieu de bon Dieu!”

The shell burst on the other side of the road, and the moment after three others exploded nearer still. The Captain had not ceased to follow through his glasses the doubtful troops which, by now, had nearly reached the woods. We waited anxiously, standing in a circle round him.

” I believe they’re French,” said he. ” Here, Lintier, have a look! You’ve got good eyes.”

Through the glasses I was able to distinguish the red of the breeches.

” Yes, they’re French, sir. But where are they going to?”

The Captain made no reply, and I understood that once again our army was in retreat.

A shower of shells poured down on the field behind us.

The enemy’s fire, too much to the left and too high at first, was getting nearer, and was now corrected as far as training went. Our
lives depended on the whim of a Prussian Captain and a slight correction for elevation.

Just at that moment some sections of infantry suddenly appeared on the edge of the plateau and hurriedly fell back. A company of the I Gist had come to man the trenches behind our guns.

The air began to vibrate again, and more shells fell, this time right on the top of us. A splinter brushed by my head and clanged on
the armour of the ammunition wagon. Another shell plumped down in the trench full of infantry. One, two, three seconds passed; then came a groan and a cry. A man got up and fled, then another, and, finally, the whole company. Their heads held low, and with bent knees, they scurried off. Behind them a wounded man hastily unstrapped his pack, threw both it and his gun to one side, and limped rapidly away.

A road orderly arrived with an envelope for the Major. Orders to retire. We limbered up, and moved off at a walking pace. Under the bright sun the stubble-field, with its entrails of black earth laid bare by the gashes torn by the high-explosive shells, seemed to
possess something of the horror of a corpse mutilated with gaping wounds. Near the points of burst clods of earth had been blown
to a distance, and, round the edge of the hole, the soil was raised in a circular embankment. We were still threatened by sudden death.
Some one asked:

“Why don’t we go quicker ? . . . We shall get done in!”

But I fancy that all of us were conscious that fatalism — which is, I believe, the beginning of courage — had got a grip on us. The
enemy was firing without seeing us, and his shells seemed like the blows of Fate descending from heaven. Why here rather than there?
We did not know, and the enemy assuredly did not know either. In that case, what was the good of hurrying? Death might as easily
overtake us a little farther on. Useless to hurry, then ; absolutely useless. … In front, our officers, heel by heel, rode on, talking.

In the trench in which the shell had just burst a single soldier remained behind. He was stretched out face downwards on a heap of straw which he had gathered under him for greater comfort. Blood was oozing from a wound in his back, making large black stains on the cloth, and the straw underneath him was dyed crimson. Another splinter had hit him in the back of the neck; his kepi had fallen
off and his face was buried in the straw. All eyes were turned on him as we passed, but not a word was said. What can one say about a
burst shell or a dead man?

Another defeat! Just as in 1870! . . . Just as in 1870! We were all obsessed by the same paralysing thought.

“They are devilish strong! Look at that!” said Deprez, pointing towards the plateau where, as for as the eye could reach, swarms of French infantry could be seen retreating, Latour, six hours’ fighting; to-day, hardly more. Beaten again! Oh, God!

We felt a blind rage against those who had fallen back. We did not retreat last Saturday when we were in action by the willow-tree.

In the distance, towards Marville, columns of artillery were trailing over the bare fields. A blue and red squadron was raising clouds of dust. Waves of infantry, diminishing but still noticeable, dust-covered cavalry, and black lines of artillery could be seen as far as the horizon, moving under the scorching sun. The guns had ceased to roar and there was absolute silence. The earth, parched and hot, exhaled a vapour which seemed to follow the movements of the men. It was almost as if the entire plateau had begun to march.

At Remoiville we came upon a beautiful chateau of the Early Renaissance period, with severe Hnes of long terraces and lofty turrets
over which floated a white flag with a red cross. In the village not a soul was to be seen. Doors and windows were all closed.
A few hens were scratching about on a manure heap, and a pig, which two gunners were killing in a little sty black with refuse, raised
piercing and discordant squeals. And yet, on the threshold of one of the last houses, a wretched ruin in the shadowy interior of
which we caught a glimpse of a varnished wardrobe, two old women, bent with age, watched us as we passed with eyes which were hardly perceptible under their furrowed eyelids. Only their fingers moved. Their silent and fixed stare, as keen as a steel blade, followed us like a reproach. Oh, we know it well, the bitter remorse of a retreat ! A deep sense of shame oppressed us as we filed through these villages which we were powerless to protect, which we were abandoning to the fury of the enemy. Things in them assumed an almost human expression; the fronts of the forsaken dwellings wore an air of dejected suffering. Fancy, no doubt ! Just imagination — but poignant and vivid imagination, nevertheless, for to-morrow all these villages might be burning and we, from our camp on the hills, should see the crops and cottages flaming when the sun went down.

It seems that the Allies have beaten the Germans in the north and in Alsace. At any rate the Communal and Army Bulletins, which are given us sometimes, say so. Then how is it that we are saddled with this terrible reproach by things and people whom we cannot defend against an enemy too superior in numbers ?

We waited some time at Remoiville, and then set off across the river, which boasted a single bridge. The crossing was carried out in good order. Then, by the only road, across the valleyed country where dark green forests alternated with fresh pasture-land, the retreat of the 4th Army Corps began.

The western horizon was limited by a long range of blue hills of magnificent outlines. It was doubtless upon these that the French
intended to stop and entrench themselves.

On the right of the road the interminable procession of artillery and convoys continued: guns of all calibres, ammunition wagons, forage wagons, carts, supply and store vehicles, division and corps ambulances, and peasants’ carts full of bleeding wounded, their heads sometimes enveloped in lint turbans red with gore.

Keeping to the left the infantry marched abreast in good order down the road, which was already badly cut up. In front of us rolled a 120 mm. battery. One of the corporals had half a sheep hanging from his saddle.

The l0th Battery had lost all its guns, for when, about one o’clock, the infantry gave up all resistance, the gunners could not limber up, the enemy’s fire having almost completely destroyed the teams. Captain Jamain had been hit in the thigh by a shell splinter. We
caught sight of him as he lay stretched on a hay-cart among the wounded foot-soldiers.

The forest, very dense and very dark in spite of the blazing sun, deadened the tramp of the infantry on the march and the rumble of the wheels.

In the ditches some foundered horses were standing with drooping heads and half-closed eyes glassy with fatigue. Occasionally a wheel fouled them, but they did not budge an inch. They would only He down to die.

As it turned out, however, the 4th Army Corps was not going to await the enemy on the hills which, in a series of ridges, commanded the plain and the forest. Some one told me that the whole of Ruffey’s Army was falling back behind the Meuse. The general retreat continued along the highway, but our Group turned aside down a by-road which led first to a village swarming with troops, and then zigzagged up the wooded hill-side.

We began the ascent. The sky had suddenly clouded over and the air became sultry. A few drops of rain fell. The main road below, over which the tide of retreating troops ebbed ceaselessly on between the poplars bordering it on either side, looked like a canal filled with black water and moved by a slow current.

The column halted, and we carefully wedged the wheels. The men were tired, and hardly any words were spoken. The silence was only broken by the jingling of the curb-chains as the horses stretched their necks, and by the patter of the rain on the leaves.

We advanced another hundred yards or so, and at the next turn of the road stopped again. A peasant’s cart, filled with bedding,
upon which were sitting a woman — obviously pregnant — and an old lady, both sheltering under a large umbrella, tried to pass the
column. But several of the ammunition wagons, of which the wheels had been badly secured, had slid backwards and barred the way. A girl was driving the heavy cart, which was being laboriously dragged up the hill by a mare in foal between the shafts, and a colt in front, the latter pulling in all directions. Both the girl and the animals stuck pluckily to their job.

“Now then, come up!”

The mare threw herself into the collar, and, with our aid, they eventually reached the head of the column, after which the way was clear. The girl stopped the cart for a moment and caressed the nose of the heavy animal, from whose haunches steam arose in clouds.

We exchanged a few words.

“Where are you going to?”

” We don’t know. At any rate we must cross the Meuse. . . . We’re late, too. All those who had to go went this morning, when we first heard the guns. But we didn’t; we thought we would wait a little longer and see what happened. But after all we had to go too. Best to go, isn’t it ? ”

“Yes,” we told them, “you’d better go.”

“And the Germans are perfect savages, aren’t they ? ”

“Yes.”

“They’ll burn our houses … we shan’t find anything when we come back — nothing but ashes. Oh, it’s awful! . . . Can’t you kill them all?”

“If only we could! . . .”

“Now then, come up, old girl!”

The cart moved on.

“Good luck!” cried the girl over her shoulder.

“Thanks— good luck!”

Near the top of the hill was a large clearing in the woods, from which the forest appeared like a magnificent mantle thrown over the shoulders of the neighbouring crests, rounding their edges and softening their outlines. From this point we could see the whole of the Woevre plain we had just crossed as well as Remoiville and the plateau of Marville, where, standing sharply out against the bare ields, was the dark line of poplars near which we had been in action in the morning.

Here, in a field where the oats were only half cut, we prepared to wait for the enemy. Our mission was to cover the retreat of the
4th Army Corps, which still continued below on the main road over which an interminable procession of Paris motor-omnibuses was now
passing. The sky had become overcast, and the heavy clouds banking up behind us, to the west, threatened to shorten the daylight.

Advancing round the edge of the wood, in order not to reveal our presence, the battery finally came to a halt on the outskirts of the
sloping forest, behind some clumps of trees which afforded good cover. We unharnessed and placed the horses and limbers against the
background of foliage of which, from a long distance, they would seem to form part. We hoped to have a quiet evening, especially as
the next day would probably be a very strenuous one. The two batteries which at present formed the Group, that is to say only seven guns, would have to hold up the enemy a sufficient time to ensure the retreat of the Army Corps. But we hardly gave any heed to the morrow, being too tired to think or reason.

We had still to take the horses to the pond in the village at the foot of the hill, and started off down a steep and narrow path through the wood. The only street of the hamlet was still crowded with troops. Through the open window of the mayor’s house I saw
General Boelle. He looked grave but not worried, and I searched in vain for a sign of uneasiness in his expression.

Infantrymen had piled arms on both sides of the road in front of the houses. A flag in its case was lying across two piles. At the door of the vicarage at least two hundred men were crowded together holding out their water-bottles. The cure, it appeared, was giving them all his wine. Some Chasseurs, their reins slung over their arms, stood waiting for orders, smoking, their backs to the wall of the church. I overheard some of their talk.

“So Mortier’s dead, is he ? ”

“Yes. Got a bullet in the stomach.”

“What did he say?”

“Nothing much. … He said, ‘They’ve got me!’ and he lay down clutching his stomach with both hands. He rolled from side to side and said : ‘Ah-a-a-ah! They’ve got me!’ His horse, Balthazar, was snifhng at him. He hadn’t let go of the reins . . . still held ’em just like I’m holding these, over his arm. I heard him say, ‘ Poor old boy ! ‘ He was all doubled up, and groaned and panted ‘ ouf- ouf ! ‘ and then all of a sudden he stretched himself right out at full length. . . . One more Chasseur less! His face wasn’t a pretty sight, and I shut his eyes for him. Then I broke off a branch from a tree and covered his face with it, as I should like some one to do
to me if I went under. . . . Must cover up the dead somehow. . . . After that I came back with Balthazar.”

When we had climbed back up the hill and regained our clearing many of the foot-soldiers had already left, while others were strapping
on their packs and unpiling arms. We were informed that only one battalion was to stay there and support us. I wondered what awful attack the next day might hold in store.

A Captain of infantry accosted Astruc, who was astride Lieutenant Heiy d’Oisseys big horse.

“Hallo there, gunner ! ”

“Sir?”

“Well i’m shot if it isn’t Tortue!”

“Tortue, sir? Who’s Tortue?”

“Why, the horse I lost. That’s him! There can’t be any mistake. Dismount now, quick, and hand him over!”

Astruc protested:

“But, sir, this horse belongs to our Lieutenant! I must take him back to him. What would he say to me!”

“Well, I tell you to dismount. I suppose I know my own saddle, don’t I ? And Tortue . . . why, she knows me. . . . There! You see there’s no doubt about it. It’s Tortue all right, my mare which I lost at Ethe.”

” But, sir, this is a horse, not a mare.”

The officer examined the animal more closely.

“Oh! ah ! Why yes, it’s true! Now that’s odd . . . most extraordinary! I could have sworn it was Tortue. …”

Night fell, the mist enveloping the trees round the clearing. Under the black clouds passed yet another aeroplane, blacker even than they. Could the pilot see us at that hour? If so we might expect a shower of shells at daybreak. The machine pitched and tossed in the sky above the clearing, for the wind had risen and was blowing in gusts from the west.

We had strewn some cut oats round the guns, as the night was chilly, and it looked like rain. The wind, freshening into a gale, wrapped our cloaks tightly round us and almost seemed to move the men themselves. No light of any kind was to be seen on the plain over which our guns were pointing, and which soon became shrouded in the impenetrable darkness ahead. In one corner the clearing cut into the forest, and here, where the thick brushwood rose like a black wall on either side, we were allowed to light a fire. The wind blew in gusts on the flames, which it first nearly extinguished and then rekindled, making the shadows of the men flicker fantastically on the ground.

I was tired out — artillery fire creates an irresistible desire to sleep — and I Was also rather hungry. Not feeHng possessed of sufficient courage to wait for the meat to be cooked and the coffee brewed, I devoured my ration of beef raw and stretched myself out in the oats behind the ammunition wagon, where I was sheltered from the wind.

 

Eugáene Emmanuel Lemercier

Northern France

Northern France

This letter will barely precede our own departure. The terrible conflict calls for our presence close to those who are already in the midst of the struggle. I leave you, grandmother and you, with the hope of seeing you again, and the certainty that you will approve of my doing all that seems to me my duty.

Nothing is hopeless, and, above all, nothing has changed our idea of the part we have to play.

Tell all those who love me a little that I think of them. I have no time to write to any one. My health is of the best.

. . . After such an upheaval we may say that our former life is dead. Dear mother, let us, you and I, with all our courage adapt ourselves to an existence entirely different, however long it may last.

Be very sure that I won’t go out of my way to do anything that endangers our happiness, but that I’ll try to satisfy my conscience, and yours. Up till now I am without cause for self-reproach, and so I hope to remain.

August 25 (2nd letter).

A second letter to tell you that, instead of our regiment, it was Pierre’s that went. I had the joy of seeing him pass in front of me when I was on guard in the town. I accompanied him for a hundred yards, then we said good-bye. I had a feeling that we should meet again.

It is the gravest of hours; the country will not die, but her deliverance will be snatched only at the price of frightful efforts.

Pierre’s regiment went covered with flowers, and singing. It was a deep consolation to be together till the end.

It is fine of André to have saved his drowning comrade. We don’t realise the reserve of heroism there is in France, and among the young intellectual Parisians.

In regard to our losses, I may tell you that whole divisions have been wiped out. Certain regiments have not an officer left.

As for my state of mind, my first letter will perhaps tell you better what I believe to be my duty. Know that it would be shameful to think for one instant of holding back when the race demands the sacrifice. My only part is to carry an undefiled conscience as far as my feet may lead.

Kate Luard

Le Havre, France

Le Havre, France

We bide here. No.— G.H., which is also here, has been chopped in half, and divided between us and No.— General, the permanent Base Hospital already established here. So we shall be two base hospitals, each with 750 beds.

The place is full of rumours of all sorts of horrors,—that the Germans have landed in Scotland, that they are driving the Allies back on all sides, and that the casualties are in thousands. So far there are 200 sick, minor cases, at No.—, but no wounded except two Germans. We have no beds open yet; the hospital is still being got on with; our site is said to be on a swamp between a Remount Camp and a Veterinary Camp, so we shall do well in horse-flies.

It is a fortnight to-morrow since we mobilised, and we have had no work yet except our own fatigue duty in the Convent; it was our turn this morning, and I scrubbed the lavatories out with creosol.

I’ve had an interesting day to-day, motoring round with the C.O. of No.— and the No.— Matron. We visited each of their three palatial buildings in turn, huge wards of 60 beds each, in ball-rooms, and a central camp of 500 on a hill outside. They have their work cut out having it so divided up, but they are running it magnificently.

Lady Harriet Jephson

Altheim, Germany

Altheim, Germany

The clouds are lifting, thank God! Cheering news has come that we are to be allowed to leave this delightful country in eight days’ time; most likely we shall have to travel either by way of Switzerland or Denmark. Those sagacious personages in Berlin seem to imagine that the secrets of the Rhine fortresses will reveal themselves to us as we go by! What a compliment to our powers of clairvoyance!

Fraulein G—— has just been in to see me. Usually she is a most pleasant, gentle little woman, kind and charming; now she is full of scorn and hatred of England. She says the Englishmen were arrested because they were heard to say that German papers were “full of lies.” “So they are,” said I, “and you can go now and get me arrested too.” “Oh, no,” said she, “I would not tell on you!” In spite of her magnanimity I cannot think our interview was a success. We argued until I said, “If we are to remain friends, we must not discuss the war. I cannot think England wrong, and as a loyal German you think Germany right. Don’t let us talk about it any more.”

The “Frankfurter Zeitung” declares that no workmen in England will fight for their country, only the “mercenaries” who are well paid to risk their lives. Oh, this life is hard to bear! Such intense, frightful hatred speaks in every look, in every action of our enemies. It is consoling to remember that their own Nietzsche says: “One does not hate as long as one dis-esteems, and only when one esteems an equal or superior.”

Paul Lintier

Marville, France

Marville, France

It was still night when I was awakened and saw a dark shadow standing over me.

“Up you get!”

“What time is it?”

“Don’t know,” answered the sentry who had roused me. The villages were still burning. Feeling our way, and almost noiselessly, we harnessed our teams, and the limbers came up. A steep decline . . . the stones rolled. In the darkness the horses might stumble at any moment. The brakes acted badly, and we hung on to the vehicles, letting ourselves be dragged along in order to relieve the wheelers, which were almost being run over by the heavy ammunition wagon.

At early dawn we passed through a slumbering village. Stretched on the ground under the lee of the high wall surrounding the church five Chasseurs were sleeping. Twisted round one arm they held the reins of their horses, which, standing motionless beside them, were also asleep. A pale, cold light was breaking through the fog, which had collected at the bottom of the valley. It was very cold as we marched along in silence, the men snoring on the limber-boxes. We were going westwards — retiring, that is to say. Why? Were we not in a good position to wait for the enemy? Suddenly a silver sun shone through the mist, surrounded by a halo of light.

After a long halt in a lucerne-field manured with stable refuse, the smell of which remained in our nostrils, we took up position on a hill near Flassigny. But hardly had we done so when fresh orders arrived, and we started off again, always towards the west. In the space between two hills we caught sight of a distant town — doubtless Montmedy.

About midday we halted in a valley near the river.

“Dismount ! Unharness the off-horses. Stand easy!”

The sun was burning hot, and not a breath stirred in the heavy air. Our bottles only contained a little of the Othain water, brackish and tepid, but at any rate it served to wash in. The men went to sleep in the ditches, the horses standing motionless, exhausted by the heat.

The evening was already advanced when our Group received instructions to push on to Marville, presumably to camp there.

I recognized the place, for we had passed through Marville on our way to Torgny. At that time it was a pretty little town with flowerygardens and river-side villas surrounded by dahlias. Now, however, the place was deserted. Large carts belonging to the Meuse
peasantry were waiting, ready to start, piled high with bedding, boxes, and baskets. In one of them I caught sight of a canary-cage side by side with a perambulator and a cradle. Women, surrounded by children, were sitting on the heterogeneous heap, crying bitterly, while the little ones hid their heads in their skirts. Some dogs, impatient to be off, were nosing uneasily round the wheels of the carts. We asked these poor people where they were going.

“We don’t know ! They say we’ve got to go. . . . And so we’re going . . . and with babies like these!”

And they questioned us in their turn:

“Which way do you think we’d better go? We don’t know!”

Nor did we. Nevertheless, we pointed out a direction.

“Go that way! Over there!”

“Over there” was towards the west. . . . Oh, what misery ! . . .

We bivouacked on the outskirts of the town. Near-by flowed a river, on the opposite side of which two dead horses were lying in a stubble-field.

The Captain of the 10th Battery, which we had believed lost, arrived on horseback at the camp. He told the Major that in the Gueville woods he had managed to save his four guns, but had had to leave the ammunition wagons behind. His battery had taken up position somewhere on the hills surrounding Marville on the south-east, and he had come to get orders.

The rent made by a shell-splinter two days previously in the seat of my breeches was causing me great discomfort. Divided between the wish to patch it up and the fear lest the order might come to break up the camp before I had finished, I let the quiet hours of the evening pass without doing this very necessary work.

Mildred Aldrich

Huiry, France

Huiry, France

I seem to be able to get my letters off to you much more regularly than I dared to hope.

I went up to Paris on the 19th, and had to stay over one night. The trip up was long and tedious, but interesting. There were soldiers everywhere. It amused me almost to tears to see the guards all along the line. We hear so much of the wonderful equipment of the German army. Germany has been spending fortunes for years on its equipment. French taxpayers have kicked for years against spending public moneys on war preparations. The guards all along the railroad were not a jot better got up than those in our little commune. There they stand all along the track in their patched trousers and blouses and sabots, with a band round the left arm, a broken soldier cap, and a gun on the shoulder. Luckily the uniform and shaved head do not make the soldier.

Just before we reached Chelles we saw the first signs of actual war preparations, as there we ran inside the wire entanglements that protect the approach to the outer fortifications at Paris, and at Pantin we saw the first concentration of trains—miles and miles of made-up trains all carrying the Red Cross on their doors, and line after line of trucks with gray ammunition wagons, and cannons. We were being constantly held up to let trainloads of soldiers and horses pass. In the station we saw a long train being made up of men going to some point on the line to join their regiments. It was a crowd of men who looked the lower laboring class. They were in their working clothes, many of them almost in rags, each carrying in a bundle, or a twine bag, his few belongings, and some of them with a loaf of bread under the arm. It looked as little martial as possible but for the stern look in the eyes of even the commonest of them. I waited on the platform to see the train pull out. There was no one to see these men off. They all seemed to realize. I hope they did. I remembered the remark of the woman regarding her husband when she saw him go: “After all, I am only his wife. France is his mother”; and I hoped these poor men, to whom Fate seemed not to have been very kind, had at least that thought in the back of their minds.

I found Paris quiet, and every one calm—that is to say, every one but the foreigners, struggling like people in a panic to escape. In spite of the sad news—Brussels occupied Thursday, Namur fallen Monday—there is no sign of discouragement, and no sign of defeat. If it were not for the excitement around the steamship offices the city would be almost as still as death. But all the foreigners, caught here by the unexpectedness of the war, seemed to be fighting to get off by the same train and the same day to catch the first ship, and they seemed to have little realization that, first of all, France must move her troops and war material. I heard it said—it may not be true—that some of the consular officers were to blame for this, and that there was a rumor abroad among foreigners that Paris was sure to be invested, and that foreigners had been advised to get out, so that there should be as few people inside the fortifications as possible. This rumor, however, was prevalent only among foreigners. No French people that I saw seemed to have any such feeling. Apart from the excitement which prevailed in the vicinity of the steamship offices and banks the city had a deserted look. The Paris that you knew exists no longer. Compared with it this Paris is a dead city. Almost every shop is closed, and must be until the great number of men gone to the front can be replaced in some way. There are streets in which every closed front bears, under a paper flag pasted on shutter or door, a sign saying, “Closed on account of the mobilization”; or, “All the men with the colors.”

There are almost no men in the streets. There are no busses or tramways, and cabs and automobiles are rare. Some branches of the underground are running at certain hours, and the irregular service must continue until women, and men unfit for military service, replace the men so suddenly called to the flag, and that will take time, especially as so many of the organizers as well as conductors and engineers have gone. It is the same with the big shops. However, that is not important. No one is in the humor to buy anything except food.

It took me a long time to get about. I had to walk everywhere and my friends live a long way apart, and I am a miserable walker. I found it impossible to get back that night, so I took refuge with one of my friends who is sailing on Saturday. Every one seems to be sailing on that day, and most of them don’t seem to care much how they get away—”ameliorated steerage,” as they call it, seems to be the fate of many of them. I can assure you that I was glad enough to get back the next day. Silent as it is here, it is no more so than Paris, and not nearly so sad, for the change is not so great. Paris is no longer our Paris, lovely as it still is.

I do not feel in the mood to do much. I work in my garden intermittently, and the harvest bug (bete rouge we call him here) gets in his work unintermittently on me. If things were normal this introduction to the bete rouge would have seemed to me a tragedy. As it is, it is unpleasantly unimportant. I clean house intermittently; read intermittently; write letters intermittently. That reminds me, do read Leon Daudet’s “Fantomes et Vivantes”—the first volumes of his memoirs. He is a terrible example of “Le fils a papa.” I don’t know why it is that a vicious writer, absolutely lacking in reverence, can hold one’s attention so much better than a kindly one can. In this book Daudet simply smashes idols, tears down illusions, dances gleefully on sacred traditions, and I lay awake half the night reading him,—and forgot the advancing Germans. The book comes down only to 1880, so most of the men he writes about are dead, and most of them, like Victor Hugo, for example, come off very sadly.

Well, I am reconciled to living a long time now,—much longer than I wanted to before this awful thing came to pass,—just to see all the mighty good that will result from the struggle. I am convinced, no matter what happens, of the final result. I am sure even now, when the Germans have actually crossed the frontier, that France will not be crushed this time, even if she be beaten down to Bordeaux, with her back against the Bay of Biscay. Besides, did you ever know the English bulldog to let go? But it is the horror of such a war in our times that bears so heavily on my soul. After all, “civilization” is a word we have invented, and its meaning is hardly more than relative, just as is the word “religion.”

There are problems in the events that the logical spirit finds it hard to face. In every Protestant church the laws of Moses are printed on tablets on either side of the pulpit. On those laws our civil code is founded. “Thou shalt not kill,” says the law. For thousands of years the law has punished the individual who settled his private quarrels with his fists or any more effective weapon, and reserved to itself the right to exact “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” And here we are today, in the twentieth century, when intelligent people have long been striving after a spiritual explanation of the meaning of life, trying to prove its upward trend, trying to beat out of it materialism, endeavoring to find in altruism a road to happiness, and governments can still find no better way to settle their disputes than wholesale slaughter, and that with weapons no so-called civilized man should ever have invented nor any so-called civilized government ever permitted to be made. The theory that the death penalty was a preventive of murder has long ago been exploded. The theory that by making war horrible, war could be prevented, is being exploded to-day.

And yet—I KNOW that if the thought be taken out of life that it is worth while to die for an idea a great factor in the making of national spirit will be gone. I KNOW that a long peace makes for weakness in a race. I KNOW that without war there is still death. To me this last fact is the consolation. It is finer to die voluntarily for an idea deliberately faced, than to die of old age in one’s bed; and the grief of parting no one ever born can escape. Still it is puzzling to us simple folk—the feeling that fundamental things do not change: that the balance of good and evil has not changed. We change our fashions, we change our habits, we discover now and then another of the secrets Nature has hidden, that delving man may be kept busy and interested. We pride ourselves that science at least has progressed, that we are cleaner than our progenitors. Yet we are no cleaner than the Greeks and Romans in the days when Athens and Rome ruled the world, nor do we know in what cycle all we know to-day was known and lost. Oh, I can hear you claiming more happiness for the masses! I wonder. There is no actual buying and selling in open slave markets, it is true, but the men who built the Pyramids and dragged the stone for Hadrian’s Villa, were they any worse off really than the workers in the mines today? Upon my soul, I don’t know. Life is only a span between the Unknown and the Unknowable. Living is made up in all centuries of just so many emotions. We have never, so far as I know, invented any new one. It is too bad to throw these things at you on paper which can’t answer back as you would, and right sharply I know.

Nothing going on here except the passing now and then of a long line of Paris street busses on the way to the front. They are all mobilized and going as heroically to the front as if they were human, and going to get smashed up just the same. It does give me a queer sensation to see them climbing this hill. The little Montmartre-Saint-Pierre bus, that climbs up the hill to the funicular in front of Sacre-Coeur, came up the hill bravely. It was built to climb a hill. But the Bastille-Madeleine and the Ternes-Fille de Calvaine, and Saint-Sulpice-Villette just groaned and panted and had to have their traction changed every few steps. I thought they would never get up, but they did.

Another day it was the automobile delivery wagons of the Louvre, the Bon Marche, the Printemps, Petit-Saint-Thomas, La Belle Jardiniere, Potin—all the automobiles with which you are so familiar in the streets of Paris. Of course those are much lighter, and came up bravely. As a rule they are all loaded. It is as easy to take men to the front, and material, that way as by railroad, since the cars go. Only once have I seen any attempt at pleasantry on these occasions. One procession went out the other day with all sorts of funny inscriptions, some not at all pretty, many blackguarding the Kaiser, and of course one with the inevitable “A Berlin” the first battle-cry of 1870. This time there has been very little of that. I confess it gave me a kind of shiver to see “A Berlin—pour notre plaisir” all over the bus. “On to Berlin!” I don’t see that that can be hoped for unless the Germans are beaten to a finish on the Rhine and the allied armies cross Germany as conquerors, unopposed. If they only could! It would only be what is due to Belgium that King Albert should lead the procession “Under the Lindens.” But I doubt if the maddest war optimist hopes for anything so well deserved as that. I don’t dare to, sure as I am of seeing Germany beaten to her knees before the war is closed.

Lady Harriet Jephson

Altheim, Germany

Altheim, Germany

A terrible day! First of all Käthchen announced with complacency and obvious triumph, that there had been a great victory “ganz herrlich!” and that an English Cavalry Brigade had been cut to pieces at Lunéville, and that those who were not killed had “run away”! Of course I did not believe this, but it made one terribly anxious. Then in came Miss H—— saying that two men of our little colony had been arrested and taken to the police-station, whence after examination they were to be sent to Frankfurt. At the Polizei Amt the Officials exhibited the results of their Kultur by being rude and rough to the unfortunate people arrested. A Polish woman whose son had been made prisoner sobbed and cried, whereupon the grim old inspector came into the room and said sternly: “Kein Frauen Jammer hier!” ordering her out of the room. I was in the Park Strasse and heard some Germans chuckling and saying: “Zwei Engländer sind verhaftet” (two Englishmen are arrested), looked round, and saw two of our little community, both service men, following each other in Einspänners, each surrounded by soldiers and fixed bayonets. It was anything but a pleasing sight to me!

Paul Lintier

Torgny, Belgium

Torgny, Belgium

This morning they let us sleep until past eight o’clock. After getting up we at once led our horses down to the big stone trough in the middle of the village. The church bells were ringing. So there were still Sundays! Somehow that seemed strange! I was still sleepy and my numbed limbs ached abominably, so that it was torture to get into the saddle. How I longed for a day’s rest!

As I was returning to the camp, Deprez at my side, we met Mademoiselle Aline, in a light pink dress of flowery pattern, and very daintily shod. She was doubtless going to Mass. She recognized us and waved her hand, smiling. At the camp we found them waiting for us.

“Hurry up now!”

“Bridle! . . . Hook in!”

“What? Are we going into action again?”

“Seems like it. . . . I don’t know,” answered Brejard. “Now then!”

The two batteries now forming the Group, our own and the 12th (the 10th had been taken by the enemy in the Gueville woods), started off along the Virton road. It seemed that we were never to get a moment’s respite.

But almost immediately we halted in double column on the grass by the side of the road. On the hill-side were strong forces of French artillery in position, the motionless batteries showing up like black squares on the green slope.

The roll was called. One or two were missing from my battery. Baton, the centre driver of the gun-team, had been wounded in the head, and had been left behind in the hospital at Torgny. Hubert, our gun-commander, had disappeared, and so had Homo, another of the drivers. The last time that I had seen Homo he was wandering across a field swept by the German guns, a wild look in his eyes.

Lucas, the Captain’s cyclist, was also missing, and this worried me especially. He is always so cheerful, open-hearted, and amusing, and is
one of my best friends.

There was no news at all of our entire first line, conducted by Lieutenant Couturier. Standing in a circle round the Captain the detachments were reorganized. The battery had only three guns left, and it was necessary to send to the rear the one with the broken hydraulic buffer.

How tired I was! As soon as I stayed still I began to fall asleep.

Hutin opened a box of bully-beef for the two of us.

“Hungry, Lintier?”

“Not a bit. . . . And yet I’ve not eaten anything since the day before yesterday!”

“Same here. Do you think we shall have any more fighting today?”

“I suppose we shall. . . .”

Hutin thought a little.

“There’s only one thing I love,” said he, “and that is to be there.”

“Yes, it’s splendid.”

“It’s odd that we don’t hear the guns to-day.”

“They don’t seem to have taken advantage of their victory yesterday in order to advance.”

“Well,” said our gun-layer, ” in my opinion we’ve fallen into an ambuscade. They were waiting for us there, and they had got all the ridges nicely registered. That’s how they had us! But all that will change!”

“I hope so ! Oh, Lord, how tired I am! And you?”

” So am I ! ”

We each ate without much relish four mouthfuls of bully-beef and shut the box again. Besides, the column was already beginning to move. Striking across country we reached Lamorteau, a large village on the banks of the Chiers, where we encamped near the river and waited for orders.

The scene was soon brightened by smoke rising straight up in the still air of the morning, which was already hot. The men made their soup and the drivers went off to draw water for the horses, which were not unharnessed.

Suddenly, on the bridge spanning the Chiers, Lieutenant Couturier appeared at the head of his column, accompanied by Lucas. The latter ran up to me.

“There you are!”

“There you are!”

“You devil! You did give us a fright!”

We grasped each other’s hands, and that was all. But I felt immensely relieved.

Hubert was also with them. Conversation became lively round the camp-kettles, in which the soup was already steaming. Afterwards, no orders having arrived, we slept, and at nightfall returned to Torgny to camp there once more.

The Major ordered the horses to be unharnessed and, supposing therefore that no danger threatened, I stretched myself and gave a yawn of satisfaction. Then we bivouacked. What work! The guns are placed about twenty yards apart. Between the wheels of two guns are stretched the picket lines, and, when the horses have been tethered to them, and the harness arranged on the limber draught-poles, the park ought to form a regular square.

We took off our vests, for it was still hot. Deprez was distributing oats among the drivers who stood holding out the nosebags.

Somebody suddenly cried out:

“An aeroplane!”

“A German aeroplane!”

Right overhead, like a big black hawk with a forked tail, an aeroplane was circling round and round. There was an immediate rush for rifles. Lying on their backs in order to shoulder their guns, and half undressed, their open shirts showing hairy chests, the men opened a brisk fire on the German bird of prey, which was flying low. The startled horses neighed, reared, and pulled this way and that, many breaking loose and galloping off across the fields. The aeroplane seemed to be in difficulties.

“She’s hit!”

“She’s coming down!”

“No! She’s only going off!”

The men still continued firing, although the machine had been out of range for some minutes.

At the drinking-place in the only street of the village there was always the same crowd of men taking their horses to be watered, some mounted bareback, others led; the same shouting and swearing to get room at the trough, greetings from those who recognized each other, oaths from others leading their animals who were hustled by the men on horseback — in short, all the life and movement of an artillery camp. A Chasseur, shouting profanely, forced his way through the throng. He was assailed with cries.

“Here, you aren’t in a bigger hurry than any one else!”

“Yes, I am! Get back to camp quick! I’ve got orders!”

“What’s the matter now?”

” All you chaps have got to clear off! No time for amusement, this, you know; the Germans are coming up. There’ll be some more fun in a minute!”

He spurred forward, and we hurried back to our guns. Was it a surprise? We limbered up at full speed, and before we had even had time to button our shirts the first gun left the park.

“Forward! March. . . . Trot!”

We had thrown the nosebags, still half full of oats, on the ammunition wagons and gun-carriages, and once on the way it was necessary to lash them so that they should not be shaken off. Hastily throwing on their clothing, the men jumped on to the limbers as best they could, while the battery moved forward at a brisk pace on the uneven road.

We kept continually looking over our shoulders, towards the hills on the east dominated by Torgny, from which direction we expected to see the heads of the enemy’s column emerge at any minute. I momentarily awaited the crackling of a machine-gun or the scream of a shell.

The road in the distance, as it wound through the valley, was black with horses and ammunition wagons advancing at a trot and raising thick clouds of dust. Batteries were also to be seen rolling across country. What was the meaning of this sudden retreat?

The whole day long we had only heard the guns from far off, towards the north. We had now even ceased to hear them altogether. Had we been surprised, then, or nearly surprised? But one never knows what has really happened on such occasions!

We took up our position on the ridge between the Chiers and the Othain, where the whole country, its contours and colours continually changing in the bright sunshine, had seemed to smile at us upon our arrival. It seemed to me as though the memories awakened by the majesty and stillness of the scene were deeply rooted in the past. I felt as though I had aged ten years in one day — a strange and painful impression.

Our guns were pointing towards Torgny and the plateau above it. At any moment the order might come to bombard the unfortunate village. Possibly, even, a shell from my gun might blow to bits the very house which had given us shelter, and kill the woman whose hospitality had meant so much to us! That was an awful thought! Oh, this ghastly war!

But night fell, and as yet the Captain had seen no signs of movement on the plateau. Behind us the narrow valley of the Othain was slowly becoming shrouded in shadows. The limbers were stationed 200 yards from the battery. All fires were forbidden — even lanterns might not be lit, as our safety on the morrow might depend upon our remaining undiscovered. The night was clear, but a thin mist partially veiled the light of the stars, and there was no moon. Motionless, and clustered together in dark groups, the horses quietly munched their oats. A far-
reaching reddish glow lit up the eastern horizon — doubtless La Malmaison on fire — and as the darkness deepened other lights appeared
on the right and left of the main conflagration.

On every side the villages were burning. Against the fiery sky the haunches of the horses, their heads and twitching ears, and the heavy masses of the guns and limbers stood out like silhouettes.

Standing side by side with our arms folded, Hutin and I watched the flaming countryside.

“Oh, the brutes, the savages!”

“So that’s war, is it?”

And we both lapsed into silence, struck dumb by the same feeling of futile horror, and filled with the same rage. I saw a yellow gleam pass across the dark eyes of my friend — a reflection of the holocaust.

“And to think we can’t prevent it! . . . That we’re the weaker! Oh, Lord!”

“That’ll come in time.”

“Yes, that’ll come . . . and then they’ll pay for it!”

We threw ourselves down on the straw heaped up behind the guns. A searchlight from Verdun swept the country at regular intervals, and the inky sky was lit up by the visual signalling. Huddled together we gradually fell asleep, a single sentry, wrapped in his cloak, standing motionless on guard.