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true_stories_of_the_great_war_vol._2






TRUE STORIES OF THE GREAT WAR


TRUE STORIES
OF THE
GREAT WAR

TALES OF ADVENTURE—HEROIC DEEDS—EXPLOITS
TOLD BY THE SOLDIERS, OFFICERS, NURSES,
DIPLOMATS, EYE WITNESSES


Collected in Six Volumes
From Official and Authoritative Sources

(See Introductory to Volume I)


VOLUME II


Editor-in-Chief
FRANCIS TREVELYAN MILLER (Litt. D., LL.D.)
Editor of The Search-Light Library


1917
REVIEW OF REVIEWS COMPANY
NEW YORK


Copyright, 1917, by
REVIEW OF REVIEWS COMPANY

CONTENTS

This collection of stories for VOLUME II has been selected by the Board of Editors, according to the plan outlined in "Introductory" to Volume I for preserving the "Best Stories of the War" from the most authentic sources in Europe and America. These pages record 144 personal adventures and episodes told by twenty-four Diplomatists, Attachées, Aviators, Naval Officers, French Mothers, German Spies, Soldiers and Eye-Witnesses. Full credit is given in every instance to the original source.

VOLUME II—TWENTY-FOUR STORY-TELLERS—144 EPISODES

"BEHIND THE SCENES IN WARRING GERMANY"1
Told by Edward Lyell Fox
(Permission of Robert M. McBride and Company)
 
THE "EMDEN"—AN EPIC OF THE GREAT WAR24
EXPERIENCES ABOARD A GALLANT LITTLE FIGHTING SHIP
Told by Kapitanleutnant Hellmuth Von Mücke
(Permission of Ritter and Company)
 
"THE WAY OF THE CROSS"—A TRAGEDY OF THE RUSSIANS45
THE MILLIONS WHO HAVE BECOME BEGGARS
Told by V. Doroshevitch
(Permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons)
 
THE NOTEBOOK OF AN ATTACHÉ IN THE EMBASSY AT PARIS61
A DISPATCH-BEARER IN THE AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC
SERVICE
Told by Eric Fisher Wood
(Permission of The Century Company)
 
'NEATH VERDUN—BEHIND THE CROWN PRINCE'S ARMY79
Told by Lieutenant Maurice Genevoix
(Permission of Frederick A. Stokes Company)
 
ON THE ANZAC TRAIL—WITH THE FIGHTING AUSTRALASIANS101
ADVENTURES OF A NEW ZEALAND SAPPER
Told by "Anzac" (Name Suppressed)
(Permission of J. B. Lippincott Company)
 
WITH BOTHA'S ARMY IN GERMAN SOUTHWEST AFRICA121
ON THE ROAD TO CAPETOWN
Told by J. P. Kay Robinson
(Permission of E. P. Dutton and Company)
 
LAST WORDS OF A "SOLDIER AND DRAMATIST"140
LETTERS OF HAROLD CHAPIN
(Permission of John Lane Company)
THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE—PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF AN
AMERICAN WAR CORRESPONDENT158
Told by Stanley Washburn
(Permission of Doubleday, Page and Company)
 
A FRENCH MOTHER IN WAR TIME170
BEING THE JOURNAL OF MADAME EDOUARD DRUMONT
Translated by Grace E. Bevir
(Permission of Longmans, Green and Company)
 
"THE FALL OF TSINGTAU"—THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST186
WITH THE JAPANESE IN THE ORIENT
Told by Jefferson Jones
(Permission of Houghton, Mifflin and Company)
 
WITH MY REGIMENT—BRITONS ON THE FIELD OF HONOR195
FIGHTING FROM THE AISNE TO LA BASSEE
Told by a "Platoon Commander"
(Permission of J. B. Lippincott Company)
 
THE STORY OF COUNT SEILERN204
A TRAGEDY OF THE HAPSBURGS
(Permission of Wide World)
TURNING HEAVENS INTO HELL—EXPLOITS OF CANADIAN
 
FLYING CORPS228
BATTLE IN AIR WITH ONE HUNDRED AEROPLANES
Told by Officer of Royal Canadian Flying Corps
(Permission of New York Herald)
 
"THE LEGION OF DEATH"—WOMEN SOLDIERS ON THE FIRING-LINE  235
HOW THE RUSSIAN, SERBIAN, AND GERMAN WOMEN GO TO WAR
Told by Officers and Eye-Witnesses from the Battlefields
 
THE TALE OF THE "TARA" OFF THE AFRICAN COAST253
RESCUED BY "TANKS IN THE DESERT"
Told by Survivors, set down by Lewis R. Freeman
(Permission of Wide World)
 
THE WHITE SILENCE—WINTER IN THE CARPATHIANS274
IN THE SNOW-CLAD MOUNTAINS WITH THE AUSTRIANS
Told by Ludwig Bauer
(Permission of New Yorker Staats-Zeitung and New York
Tribune)
 
"MY TEN YEARS OF INTRIGUE IN THE KAISER'S SECRET SERVICE"282
THE PLOT TO DYNAMITE THE WELLAND CANAL
Told by Horst Von Der Goltz
(Permission of Robert M. McBride and Company and New
York World)
 
REAL-LIFE ROMANCES OF THE WAR298
Told by Malcolm Savage Treacher
(Permission of Wide World)
 
THE IRISHMEN OF THE FIGHTING TENTH AT MACEDONIA326
Told by One of the Fighting Irishmen
(Permission of London Weekly Despatch)
 
THE ARTIFICIAL VOLCANO334
AN INCIDENT OF THE ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN THE DOLOMITES
Told by Capitano Z——, of the Royal Italian Engineers
(Permission of Wide World)
 
LAST HOURS OF EDITH CAVELL ON NIGHT OF EXECUTION342
EXPERIENCE OF AMERICAN DIPLOMAT IN EFFORT TO
SAVE LIFE OF ENGLISH NURSE
Told by Hugh Gibson
(Permission of World's Work)
 
A BAYONET CHARGE IN PICARDY353
Told by a British Army Captain
(Permission of Current History)
 
THE SLAUGHTER AT DOUAUMONT359
Told by a French Soldier

British Official Photo, by International Film Service.
BASEBALL PLAYERS AND CRICKETERS MAKE
GOOD GRENADE THROWERS
Position No. 1 in Bombing


THE HELL OF "LIQUID FIRE" WHICH HAS BECOME A REGULAR PART OF WAR


[1]

AN AMERICAN "BEHIND THE SCENES IN WARRING GERMANY"

Told by Edward Lyell Fox, Special Correspondent with the Kaiser's Armies and in Berlin

This vivid and authentic narrative covering five months of thrilling experience with the Kaiser's Armies in France, Belgium, Austria, Russia and Germany, is the first hand impressions of an American writer whose special credentials from the German Government enabled him to go everywhere and see everything through official courtesies not extended to other observers in the field. Mr. Fox has interviewed the Kings of Bavaria and Saxony, the Crown Prince, General von Hindenberg, the Governor General of Belgium, and the President of the Reichstag. He has witnessed the campaigning at close range in the trenches at Arras and Ypres, has lived with the German officers at headquarters, has surveyed the battlefield from an aeroplane and a Zeppelin and has enjoyed the unique sensations of scouting under the sea in a submarine, and as a final unprecedented experience has covered with an official escort the whole length of General von Hindenberg's battle line in Russia. One chapter of his experiences is here recorded from his book: "Behind the Scenes in Warring Germany," by courtesy of his publishers, Robert M. McBride and Company, New York: Copyright 1915.

[1] I—STORY OF A NIGHT ON THE BALTIC SEA

In the lingering twilight, the Baltic's choppy swells turned dark and over the bow I saw a vague gray strip of land—Germany! I was at the gateway of war.

[2]

For two hours the railway ferry had plowed between the mines that strew the way to Denmark with potential death, and as slowly the houses of Warnemunde appeared in shadow against the darkening day, some one touched my arm.

"Safe now."

He was the courier. He had traveled with me from New York to Copenhagen, a bland, reserved young man, with a caution beyond his years. I had come to know he was making the trip as a German courier, and he was an American with no Teutonic blood in his veins! Knowing the ropes, he had suggested that he see me through to Berlin.

"It's good we came over the Baltic," he remarked, "instead of making that long trip through Jutland. We save eight hours."

"Yes," I agreed, "nothing like slipping in the back door."

And being new to it then, and being very conscious of certain letters I carried, and of the power implied in the documents which I knew he carried, I wondered what the frontier guard would do. During the two hours we ferried from the Danish shore the passengers talked in a troubled way of military search given every one at Warnemunde and I smiled to myself in a reassuring way. Yes, they would be searched, poor devils!... But the courier and I? I wondered if the German Lieutenant at Warnemunde would ask us to take coffee with him. I even took out my watch. No, it could hardly be done, for by the time the soldiers had finished searching all these passengers the train would be leaving. Too bad! Coffee and a chat with some other lieutenant, then.

"Yes," the courier was saying as the ferry docked and we caught, under the glint of the sentries' rifles, a glimpse of the Landwehr red and blue, "it will be so easy here—just a formality, whereas if we had taken the other route[3] it no doubt would have been harder. You see," he explained, "when a train crosses the Kiel canal a soldier is posted in every compartment, the window shades are pulled down and the passengers are warned not to look out on penalty of instant death. Of course that is necessary for military reasons. Naturally the whole inspection at that frontier is more severe because of the Kiel canal."

By this time the big boat had been made fast to a long railroad pier and as we crossed the gang plank we made out in the bluish haze of an arc lamp, a line of soldiers who seemed to be herding the passengers into what appeared to be a long wooden shed newly built. Crowds are the same the world over, so no one held back, all pushing, luggage and passports in hand, into the frame structure built, I realized, for purposes of military inspection.

II—STORY OF THE GUARDS AT GATES TO GERMANY

Sluggishly the mass moved forward. Presently I saw it divide half-way down the room, to pause before two openings at which six soldiers waited, like ticket takers in a circus. I was near enough now to observe the lantern light dimly shining upon two crude desk tops, slanting down from the wall which gave entrance through a doorway to a larger room beyond; and everywhere gleamed the glint of gun barrels, the red and blue or gray of military hats, while an increasing flow of German, punctuated with "Donnerwetter!" and "Das ist genug," was heard above the shuffle of feet and the thumping of trunks and bags on the counters in the room beyond. I wondered what two men in civilian clothes were doing among the soldiers; I saw them dart about, notebooks in hand. Later I learned more of these men who[4] seemed to have it in their power to make the passengers they challenged either comfortable or uncomfortable.

And then it was my turn. Having seen the passenger in front throw both hands over his head, unconsciously inviting the kind of search given a criminal, I decided such submissiveness a blunder. As I expected, the soldier was a perfectly sane human being who did not begin punching a revolver against me—which certain printed words I had read in New York implied was the usual prelude to a German searching party—rather this soldier most courteously asked to see my wallet. I gave it to him. I would have given him anything. Our coöperation was perfect. There was no need for me to bring my exhaustive knowledge of the German language into play. Talking fluently with my hands, now and then uttering "danke," I tried to assist his search, meanwhile hopelessly looking about for the courier. I was depending not only upon his fluent German but also upon his superior knowledge of the situation to help me to pass serenely through this ordeal. Alas, the crowd hid him.

Suddenly my soldier grunted something. Until now we had been getting along splendidly and I could not conceal my surprise when he took from my wallet a handful of letters and stared at them in bewilderment. The more he stared the more his regard for me seemed to vanish. Although he could not understand English he could recognize a proper name, for the letters bore the addresses of decidedly influential men in Germany. They challenged his suspicion. Thoroughly puzzled he opened the letters and tried to read them. When he compared my passport with a letter I saw his face light up. I realized that he had recognized my name in the contents. Whereupon, greatly relieved, assured now that everything was all right, I held out my hand for both letters and wallet. Not yet. A rumble of words and the[5] soldier called one of those busy civilians with the notebooks.

This person spoke a little English. The letters interested him. Where had I found them?... My spine began to feel cold. I replied that they had been given me in New York and remembering that I had the courier to rely on, I suggested that they have a word with him. It was then that I heard an excited deluge of words and, glancing over my shoulder, I observed that the courier was thoroughly flanked and surrounded by five Landwehr who apparently were much in earnest about something. Concluding that some cog had slipped I racked my wits to make the best of what was rapidly becoming a difficult situation.

The soldier having turned me over to the civilian I noticed several suspicious glances in my direction, and blessed the luck that had impelled me to go to the American Legation and the German Consulate in Copenhagen for visés. That the civilian who was taking such an interest in me belonged to the secret service, I was certain. I appealed to his sense of discretion.

"Your passport seems all right," he thoughtfully observed, and opened a little book. "Where are you going?"

I told him to Hamburg but could not tell him where I would stay, for the excellent reason that not the name of a single Hamburg hotel was known to me.

"Only for a few days, though," I said, adding hopefully; "after that I go to Berlin to Hotel Adlon."

As fast as his pencil could move he wrote the address in his book.

"These letters," he said reluctantly, tapping them on his hand, "I must take now. If everything is all right, they will be sent to you in Berlin."

"But it is important that I have them," I protested,[6] "they are my introductions. You cannot tell me how long I may have to wait for them? You can see from them that I am a responsible person known to your people."

"I know," he replied, "but they are written in English, and to bring letters written in English into Germany is forbidden. I am sorry."

He was thus politely relieving me of all my credentials when I happened to think that in my inner waistcoat pocket lay a letter I had yet to show them—a communication so important to me that I had kept it separate from the others. Moreover I remembered it was sealed and that properly used it might save the day. It was worth a trial.

Realizing that the thing had to be staged I impressively drew the police spy aside and employing the familiar "stage business" of side glances and exaggerated caution I slowly took the note—it was a mere letter of introduction to the Foreign Office—from my waistcoat. If the soldier's eyes had opened wide at the other addresses, the police agent's now fairly bulged. Handing him the envelope I pointed to what was typed in the upper left-hand corner—Kaiserliche Deutsche Botschaft, Washington, D. C.—and simply said "Verstehen sie?"

He verstehened. Being an underling he understood so well that after a few moments he returned all the letters he had appropriated and instantly changing his manner, he facilitated the rest of the inspection. After my baggage was examined by more soldiers (and those soldiers did their duty, even going through the pockets of clothes in my trunks) I was told I might go.

"Gute reise," the police agent called—"Good journey."

Although treated with all courtesy I was afraid somebody might change his mind, so hurrying out of the last room of the long wooden shed I proceeded down the[7] platform to the train at a pace that must have shown signs of breaking into a run. There in my compartment the thoughts that came to me were in this order:

There must be reason for such a rigid inspection; no doubt spies must have been caught recently trying to enter Germany at Warnemunde.

If I hadn't lost the courier in the crowd there would have been plain sailing.

III—STORY OF THE MYSTERIOUS PAPERS

The minutes passed. It was nearly time for the train to start. Where was the courier? Presently, rather pale, nervous in speech, but as reserved and cool as ever he limply entered the compartment and threw himself on the cushions.

"They took everything," he announced. "All they left me was a pair of pajamas."

"What! You mean they have your papers?"

"All of them," he smiled. "Likewise a trunk full of letters and a valise. Oh, well, they'll send them on. They took my address. Gad, they stripped me through!"

I began laughing. The courier could see no mirth in the situation.

"You," I gasped, "you, who by all rights should have paraded through, from you they take everything while they let me pass."

"Do you mean to say," he exclaimed, "that they didn't take your letters?"

"Not one," I grinned.

"Well, I'll be damned!" he said.

Locked in the compartment we nervously watched the door, half expecting that the police spy would come back for us. We could not have been delayed more than a few minutes, but it seemed hours, before, with German[8] regard for comfort, the train glided out of the shed. It must have been trying on my companion's good humor, but the absurdity of stripping a courier of everything he carried, was irresistible. Perhaps it was our continued laughter that brought the knock on the door.

Pushing aside the curtains we saw outside—for it was one of the new German wagons with a passageway running the entire length of one side of the car—a tall, broad-shouldered, lean man with features and expression both typical and unmistakable.

"An Englishman!"

We saw him smile and shake his head. I hesitatingly let fall the curtain and looked at the courier.

"Let him in," he said. "He's got the brand of an English university boy all over him. We'll have a chat with him. You don't mind, do you?"

"Mind!" In my eagerness I banged back the compartment doors with a crash that brought down the conductor. I saw my companion hastily corrupt that official whose murmured "Bitte schon" implied an un-Teutonic disregard for the fact that he had done something verboten by admitting a second-class passenger into a first-class coupé; and the stranger entered.

We were gazing upon a strikingly handsome, fair-haired man not yet thirty. His eyes twinkled when he said that he supposed we were Americans. His manner and intonation made me stare at him.

"And you?" we finally asked.

"I'm going first to Berlin, then to Petrograd," he said, perhaps avoiding our question. "Business trip."

We chatted on, the obvious thought obsessing me. Of course the man was an English spy. But how absurd! If his face did not give him away to any one who knew—and my word for it, those police spies do know!—he would be betrayed by his mannerisms. His accent would[9] instantly cry out the English in him. Of what could Downing Street be thinking? It was sending this man to certain death. One began to feel sorry for him.

Feeling the intimacy brought by the common experience at Warnemunde, I presently said:

"You certainly have your nerve with you, traveling in Germany with your accent."

"Why?" he laughed. "A neutral is safe."

Expecting he would follow this up by saying that he was an American I looked inquiring and when he sought to turn the subject I asked:

"Neutral? What country?"

"Denmark," he smiled.

"But your accent?" I persisted.

"I do talk a bit English, do I not? I had quite a go at it, though; lived in London a few years, you know."

Nerve? I marveled at it. Stark foolhardy courage, or did a secret commission from Downing Street make this the merest commonplace of duty? Charming company, he hurried along the time with well-told anecdotes of the Russian capital and Paris, in both of which places he said he had been since the war began. As we drew near Lübeck, where a thirty-five minute stop was allowed for dinner in the station, and the stranger showed no signs of going back to his own compartment, I could see that the courier was becoming annoyed. Relapsing into silence he only broke it to reply to the "Dane" in monosyllables; finally, to my surprise, the courier became downright rude. As the stranger, from the start, had been extremely courteous, this rudeness surprised me, more so, as it seemed deliberate. Bludgeoned by obvious hints the stranger excused himself, and as soon as he was gone my companion leaned towards me.

[10]

"You were surprised at my rudeness," he said, and then in an undertone; "it was deliberate."

"I saw that. But why?"

"Because," he explained, "seeing we are Americans that fellow wanted to travel with us all the way through. He must have known that American company is the best to be seen in over here these days. He might have made trouble for us."

"Then you think he's English?"

"Think! Why, they must have let him through at Warnemunde for a reason. He has a Danish passport right enough. I saw it in the inspection room. But I'll bet you anything there's a police spy in this train, undoubtedly in the same compartment with him."

One felt uncomfortable. One thought that those police spies must dislike one even more now.

"That means we may be suspected as being confederates," I gloomily suggested.

Whether he was getting back for my having guyed him about losing his papers I do not know, but the courier said we probably were suspected. Whereupon the book I tried to read became a senseless jumble of words and our compartment door became vastly more interesting. When would it open to admit the police spy?... Confound the luck! Everything breaking wrong.

IV—STORY OF A RIDE FROM LÜBECK TO HAMBURG

But at Lübeck nothing happened&mdamdash;nothing to us. A train load of wounded had just come in and our hearts jumped at the sight of the men in the gray-green coats of the firing line, slowly climbing the long iron steps from the train platforms. Hurrying, we saw them go clumping down a long, airy waiting room and as they approached[11] the street their hobbling steps suddenly quickened to the sharper staccato of the canes upon which they leaned. Hurrying too, we saw there a vague mass of pallid faces in a dense crowd; some one waved a flag;—it stuck up conspicuously above that throng;—some one darted forth;—"Vater!"—"Liebes Mütterchen!"

Past the burly Landsturm, who was trying his utmost to frown his jolly face into threatening lines that would keep back the crowd, a woman was scurrying. One of the big gray-green wounded men caught her in his arm—the other arm hung in a black sling—and she clung to him as though some one might take him away, and because she was a woman, she wept in her moment of happiness. Her Mann had come home....

Forgetting the dinner we were to have eaten in the Lübeck station, we finally heeded a trainman's warning and turned back to our car. There remained etched in my mind the line of pallid, apprehensive faces, the tiny waving flags, the little woman and the big man. It was my first sight of war.

From Lübeck to Hamburg the ride was uneventful. The hour was not late and beyond remarking that the towns through which we passed were not as brilliantly lighted as usual, the courier could from the car window observe no difference between the Germany of peace and of war. Here and there we noticed bridges and trestles patroled by Landwehr and outside our compartment we read the handbill requesting every passenger to aid the government in preventing spies throwing explosives from the car windows. From the conductor we learned that there had been such attempts to delay the passage of troop trains. Whereupon we congratulated ourselves upon buying the conductor, as we had the compartment to ourselves. One thought of what would have happened had there been an excitable German in with us and while[12] the train was crossing a bridge, we had innocently opened a window for air!

It was almost ten when the close, clustered lights of Hamburg closed in against the trackside and we caught our first glimpse of the swarming Bahnhof. Soldiers everywhere. The blue of the Reservists, the gray-green of the Regulars—a shifting tide of color swept the length of the long platforms, rising against the black slopes of countless staircases, overrunning the vast halls above, increasing, as car after car emptied its load. And then, as at Lübeck, we saw white bandages coming down under cloth-covered helmets and caps, or arms slung in black slings; the slightly wounded were coming in from the western front.

All this time we had forgotten the Englishman, and it was with a start that we recalled him.

"If he spots us," advised my companion, "we've got to hand him the cold shoulder. Mark my words, he'll try to trail along to the same hotel and stick like a leech."

Again he was right. At the baggage room the Englishman overtook us, suggesting that we make a party of it—he knew a gay café—first going to the hotel. He suggested the Atlantic. Bluntly he was informed we were visiting friends, but nothing would do then but we must agree to meet him in, say, an hour. Not until he found it an impossibility did he give us up and finally, with marvelous good nature, he said good night. The last I saw of him was his broad back disappearing through a door into a street.

The courier nudged me.

"Quick," he whispered, "look,—the man going out the next door."

Before I could turn I knew whom he meant. I saw only the man's profile before he, too, disappeared into the street; but it was a face difficult to forget, for it had been[13] close to me at Warnemunde; it was the face of the police spy.

"I told you they purposely let him get through," continued my friend. "That police fellow must have come down on the train from Warnemunde. I tell you it's best not to pick up with any one these days. Suppose we had fallen for that Englishman and gone to a café with him to-night—a nice mess!"

It was in a restaurant a few hours later that I saw my first Iron Cross, black against a gray-green coat and dangling from a button. In Bieber's, a typical better class café of the new German type, luxurious with its marble walls and floors, and with little soft rugs underfoot and colored wicker tables and chairs, one felt the new spirit of this miracle of nations. On the broad landing of a wide marble staircase an orchestra played soldier songs and above the musicians, looking down on his people, loomed a bust of Wilhelm II, Von Gottes Gnaden, Kaiser von Deutschland. About him, between the flags of Austria-Hungary and Turkey, blazed the black, white, and red, and there where all might read, hung the proclamation of August to the German people. We had read it through to the last line: "Forward with God who will be with us as he was with our Fathers!"—when we heard an excited inflection in the murmurings from the many tables—"Das Eiserne Kreuz!" And we saw the officer from whose coat dangled the black maltese cross, outlined in silver. His cheeks flushed, proud of a limping, shot-riddled leg, proud of his Emperor's decoration, but prouder still that he was a German; he must have forgotten all of battle and suffering during that brief walk between the tables. Cheers rang out, then a song, and when finally the place quieted everybody stared at that little cross of black as though held by some hypnotic power.

[14]

So! We were Americans, he said when we finally were presented. That was good. We—that is—I had come to write of the war as seen from the German side. Good, sehr gut! He had heard the Allies, especially the English,—Verfluchte Englanderschwein!—were telling many lies in the American newspapers. How could any intelligent man believe them?

In his zeal for the German cause his Iron Cross, his one shattered leg, the consciousness that he was a hero, all were forgotten. Of course I wanted to hear his story—the story of that little piece of metal hanging from the black and white ribbon on his coat—but tenaciously he refused. That surprised me until I knew Prussian officers.

So we left the man with the Iron Cross, marveling not at his modesty but that it embodied the spirit of the German army; whereas I thought I knew that spirit. But not until the next night, when I left Hamburg behind, where every one was pretending to be busy and the nursemaids and visitors were still tossing tiny fish to the wintering gulls in the upper lake; not until the train was bringing me to Berlin did I understand what it meant. At the stations I went out and walked with the passengers and watched the crowds; I talked with a big business man of Hamburg—bound for Berlin because he had nothing to do in Hamburg; then it was I faintly began to grasp the tremendous emotional upheaval rumbling in every Germanic soul.

V—STORY OF THE SOLDIERS IN BERLIN

My first impression of Berlin was the long cement platform gliding by, a dazzling brilliance of great arc lamps and a rumbling chorus of song. Pulling down the compartment window I caught the words "Wir kämpfen[15] Mann für Mann, für Kaiser and Reich!" And leaning out I could see down at the other end of the Friederichstrasse Station a regiment going to the front.

Flowers bloomed from the long black tubes from which lead was soon to pour; wreaths and garlands hung from cloth-covered helmets; cartridge belts and knapsacks were festooned with ferns. The soldiers were all smoking; cigars and cigarettes had been showered upon them with prodigal hand. Most of them held their guns in one hand and packages of delicacies in the other; and they were climbing into the compartments or hanging out of the windows singing, always singing, in the terrific German way. Later I was to learn that they went into battle with the "Wacht am Rhein" on their lips and a wonderful trust in God in their hearts.

I felt that trust now. I saw it in the confident face of the young private who hung far out of the compartment in order to hold his wife's hand. It was not the way a conscript looks. This soldier's blue eyes sparkled as with a holy cause, and as I watched this man and wife I marveled at their sunny cheer. I saw that each was wonderfully proud of the other and that this farewell was but an incident in the sudden complexity of their lives. The Fatherland had been attacked: her man must be a hero. It was all so easy, so brimming with confidence. Of course he would come back to her.... You believed in the Infinite ordering of things that he would.

Walking on down the platform I saw another young man. They were all young, strapping fellows in their new uniforms of field gray. He was standing beside the train; he seemed to want to put off entering the car until the last minute. He was holding a bundle of something white in his arms, something that he hugged to his face and kissed, while the woman in the cheap furs wept, and I wondered if it was because of the baby she cried,[16] while that other childless young wife had smiled.

Back in the crowd I saw a little woman with white hair; she was too feeble to push her way near the train. She was dabbing her eyes and waving to a big, mustached man who filled a compartment door and who shouted jokes to her. And almost before they all could realize it, the train was slipping down the tracks; the car windows filled with singing men, the long gray platform suddenly shuffling to the patter of men's feet, as though they would all run after the train as far as they could go. But the last car slipped away and the last waving hand fell weakly against a woman's side. They seemed suddenly old, even the young wife, as they slowly walked away. Theirs was not the easiest part to play in the days of awful waiting while the young blood of the nation poured out to turn a hostile country red.

I thought I had caught the German spirit at Lübeck and at the café in Hamburg when the hero of the Iron Cross had declined to tell me his tale; but this sensation that had come with my setting foot on the Berlin station—this was something different. Fifteen hundred men going off to what?—God only knows!—fifteen hundred virile types of this nation of virility; and they had laughed and they had sung, and they had kissed their wives and brothers and babies as though these helpless ones should only be proud that their little household was helping their Fatherland and their Emperor. Self? It was utterly submerged. On that station platform I realized that there is but one self in all Germany to-day and that is the soul of the nation. Nothing else matters; a sacrifice is commonplace. Wonderful? Yes. But then we Americans fought that way at Lexington; any nation can fight that way when it is a thing of the heart; and this war is all of the heart in Germany. As we walked through the station gates I understood why three million Socialists[17] who had fought their Emperor in and out of the Reichstag, suddenly rallied to his side, agreeing "I know no parties, only Germans." I felt as I thought of the young faces of the soldiers, cheerfully starting down into the unknown hell of war, that undoubtedly among their number were Socialists. In this national crisis partisan allegiance counted for nothing, they had ceased dealing with the Fatherland in terms of the mind and gave to it only the heart.

Even in Berlin I realized that war stalks down strange by-paths. It forever makes one feel the incongruous. It disorders life in a monstrous way. I have seen it in an instant make pictures that the greatest artist would have given his life to have done. It likes to deal in contrasts; it is jolting....

With General von Loebell I walked across the Doeberitz camp, which is near Berlin. At Doeberitz new troops were being drilled for the front. We walked towards a dense grove of pines above which loomed the sky, threateningly gray. Between the trees I saw the flash of yellow flags; a signal squad was drilling. Skirting the edge of the woods we came to a huge, cleared indentation where twenty dejected English prisoners were leveling the field for a parade ground. On the left I saw an opening in the trees; a wagon trail wound away between the pines. And then above the rattling of the prisoners' rakes I heard the distant strains of a marching song that brought a lump to my throat. Back there in the woods somewhere, some one had started a song; and countless voices took up the chorus; and through the trees I saw a moving line of gray-green and down the road tramped a company of soldiers. They were all singing and their boyish voices blended with forceful beauty. "In the Heimat! In the Heimat!" It was the favorite medley of the German army.

[18]

The prisoners stopped work; unconsciously some of those dispirited figures in British khaki stiffened. And issuing from the woods in squads of fours, all singing, tramped the young German reserves, swinging along not fifteen feet from the prison gang in olive drab—"In the Heimat!" And out across the Doeberitz plains they swung, big and snappy.

"They're ready," remarked General von Loebell. "They've just received their field uniforms."

And then there tramped out of the woods another company, and another, two whole regiments, the last thundering "Die Wacht am Rhein," and we went near enough to see the pride in their faces, the excitement in their eyes; near enough to see the Englishmen, young lads, too, who gazed after the swinging column with a soldier's understanding, but being prisoners and not allowed to talk, they gave no expression to their emotions and began to scrape their rakes over the hard ground....

VI—STORY OF "THE HALL OF AWFUL DOUBT"

I stood on the Dorotheenstrasse looking up at the old red brick building which before the second of August in this year of the world war was the War Academy. I had heard that when tourists come to Berlin they like to watch the gay uniformed officers ascending and descending the long flights of gray steps; for there the cleverest of German military youths are schooled for the General Staff. Like the tourists, I stood across the street to-day and watched the old building and the people ascending or descending the long flights of gray steps. Only I saw civilians, men alone and in groups, women with shawls wrapped around their heads, women with yellow topped[19] boots, whose motors waited beside the curb, and children, clinging to the hands of women, all entering or leaving by the gray gate; some of the faces were happy and others were wet with tears, and still others stumbled along with heavy steps. For this old building on Dorotheenstrasse is no longer the War Academy; it is a place where day after day hundreds assemble to learn the fate of husband, kin or lover. For inside the gray gate sits the Information Bureau of the War Ministry, ready to tell the truth about every soldier in the German army! I, too, went to learn the truth.

I climbed a creaking staircase and went down a creaking hall. I met the Count von Schwerin, who is in charge. I found myself in a big, high-ceilinged room the walls of which were hung with heroic portraits of military dignitaries. My first impression was of a wide arc of desks that circling from wall to wall seemed to be a barrier between a number of gentle-spoken, elderly gentlemen and a vague mass of people that pressed forward. The anxious faces of all these people reminded me of another crowd that I had seen—the crowd outside the White Star offices in New York when the Titanic went down. And I became conscious that the decorations of this room which, the Count was explaining, was the Assembly Hall of the War Academy, were singularly appropriate—the pillars and walls of gray marble, oppressively conveying a sense of coldness, insistent cold, like a tomb, and all around you the subtle presence of death, the death of hopes. It was the Hall of Awful Doubt.

And as I walked behind the circle of desks I learned that these men of tact and sympathy, too old for active service, were doing their part in the war by helping to soften with kindly offices the blow of fate. I stood behind them for some few moments and watched, although I felt like one trespassing upon the privacy of grief. I[20] saw in a segment of the line a fat, plain-looking woman, with a greasy child clinging to her dress, a white-haired man with a black muffler wrapped around his neck, a veiled woman, who from time to time begged one of the elderly clerks to hurry the news of her husband, and then a wisp of a girl in a cheap, rose-colored coat, on whose cheeks two dabs of rouge burned like coals.

Soldiers from the Berlin garrison were used there as runners. At the bidding of the gentle old men they hastened off with the inquiry to one of the many filing rooms and returned with the news. This day there was a new soldier on duty; he was new to the Hall of Awful Doubt.

"I cannot imagine what is keeping him so long," I heard an elderly clerk tell the woman with the veil. "He'll come any minute.... There he is now. Excuse me, please."

And the elderly clerk hurried to meet the soldier, wanting to intercept the news, if it were bad, and break it gently. But as he caught sight of the clerk I saw the soldier click his heels and, as if he were delivering a message to an officer, his voice boomed out: "Tot!" ... Dead!

And the woman with the veil gave a little gasp, a long, low moan, and they carried her to another room; and as I left the gray room, with the drawn, anxious faces pushing forward for their turns at the black-covered desks, I realized the heart-rending sacrifice of the women of France, Belgium, Russia, England, Servia, and Austria, who, like these German mothers, wives, sweethearts, had been stricken down in the moment of hope.

[21]

VII—STORY OF A NIGHT IN BERLIN

That night I went to the Jägerstrasse, to Maxim's. The place is everything the name suggests; one of those Berlin cafés that open when the theaters are coming out and close when the last girl has smiled and gone off with the last man. I sat in a white and gold room with a cynical German surgeon, listening to his comments.

"It is the best in town now," he explained. "All the Palais de Danse girls come here. Don't be in a hurry. I know what you want for your articles. You'll see it soon."

Maxim's, like most places of the sort, was methodically banal. But one by one officers strolled in and soon a piano struck up the notes of a patriotic song. When the music began the girls left the little tables where they had been waiting for some man to smile, and swarmed around the piano, singing one martial song upon another, while officers applauded, drank their healths, and asked them to sing again.

Time passed and the girls sang on, flushed and savage as the music crashed to the cadenzas of war. What were the real emotions of these subjects of Germany; had the war genuine thrills for them? I had talked with decent women of all classes about the war; what of the women whose hectic lives had destroyed real values?

"Get one of those girls over here," I told the surgeon, "and ask her what she thinks of the war."

"Do you really mean it?" he said with a cynical smile.

"Surely. This singing interests me. I wonder what's back of it?"

He called one of them. "Why not sing?" Hilda said with a shrug. "What else? There are few men here now and there are fewer every night. What do I think[22] of this war? My officer's gone to the front without leaving me enough to keep up the apartment. Krieg? Krieg ist schrecklich! War is terrible!"

My German friend was laughing.

"War?" he smiled. "And you thought it was going to change that kind."

But I was thinking of the woman with the veil whom I had seen in the Hall of Awful Doubt; and outside the night air felt cool and clean....

But my symbol of Berlin is not these things—not bustling streets filled with motors, swarming with able-bodied men whom apparently the army did not yet need. Its summation is best expressed by the varied sights and emotions of an afternoon in mid-December.

Lodz has fallen; again Hindenburg has swept back the Russian hordes. Black-shawled women call the extras. Berlin rises out of its calmness and goes mad. Magically the cafés fill.... I am walking down a side street. I see people swarming toward a faded yellow brick church. They seem fired with a zealot's praise. I go in after them and see them fall on their knees.... They are thanking Him for the Russian rout.... Wondering I go out. I come to another church. Its aisles are black with bowed backs; the murmur of prayer drones like bees; a robed minister is intoning:

"Oh, Almighty Father, we thank Thee that Thou art with us in our fight for the right; we thank Thee that——"

It is very quiet in there. War seems a thing incredibly far away. The sincerity of these people grips your heart. I feel as I never felt in church before. Something mysteriously big and reverent stirs all around.... Then outside in the street drums rattle, feet thump. A regiment is going to the front! I hurry to see it go by, but back in the church the bowed forms pray on.

[23]

(This American observer now leaves Berlin to go to the battle-front with the German armies. He continues to narrate his experiences in some of the world's greatest battles. He tells the first complete account of the great battle of Augustowo Wald in which the Russian army of 240,000 men was annihilated, and how he was a guest of honor at the "Feast of Victory.")

FOOTNOTE:

[1] All numerals throughout this volume relate to the stories herein related—not to chapters in the original book.


[24]

THE "EMDEN"—AN EPIC OF THE GREAT WAR

Experiences Aboard a Gallant Little Fighting Ship

By Kapitanleutnant Hellmuth Von Mücke, of His Emperor's Ship, The "Emden"—Translated by Helene S. White

The tale of the Emden is one of the greatest sea stories in all history. Fighting its way through the China Seas, into the Bay of Bengal, and across the Indian Ocean, knowing that sooner or later it must face death, the crew of this gallant ship defeated and captured twenty-four enemy ships, destroying cargoes and property valued at $10,000,000—in two months roving the high seas. The romantic voyage began on September 10th and ended on November 9th, 1914. It was a crew of "jolly good fellows" that sailed under Commander von Müller; their adventures won the admiration not only of their enemies but of the whole world. An authentic story of this epic of the seas is told by Lieutenant Captain von Mücke, of the Emden in a volume relating its exploits. He has also written a book bearing on the adventures of the landing squad in "The Ayesha." There is nothing more sensationally adventuresome in fiction than these voyages. The most improbable romance is outdone by the exploits of the gallant German seamen. Commander von Müller of the Emden is a prisoner of war in England at the time that these accounts are written. Selections are here given from the volume on the Emden, with permission of the publishers, Ritter and Company, Copyright 1917.

[25]

[2] I—STORY OF ADVENTURES ON THE YELLOW SEA

"All hands aft," shrilled the whistles of the boatswain's mate through all the ship's decks. Quickly all the officers and crew assembled on the after deck. Everyone knew what it was for.

It was at two o'clock on the afternoon of the second day of August, 1914, while our ship lay far out in the Yellow Sea, that Captain von Mueller appeared on the poop, holding in his hand a slip of paper such as is used for messages by wireless. In eager expectancy three hundred pairs of eyes were fixed upon the lips of our Commander as he began to speak.

"The following wireless message has just been received from Tsingtao: 'On August first, his Majesty, the Emperor, ordered the mobilization of the entire land and naval forces of the Empire. Russian troops have crossed the border into Germany. As a consequence, the Empire is at war with Russia and with France...."


Three cheers for his Majesty, the Emperor, rang out over the broad surface of the Yellow Sea. Then came the order that sent every man to his post,—"Clear ship for action."

And so it had come to pass—the war was upon us!...


"Guns ready!" "Torpedo service ready!" "Engines and auxiliary engines ready!" "Leak service ready!" "Steering service ready!" "Signal and wireless service ready!"

[26]

Rapidly, one after the other, the reports from all over the ship were now coming in, and demanded my attention to the exclusion of all further thought and reflection. A quick tour of inspection through the ship assured me that all was in readiness, and I could report to our Commander, "The ship is clear for action."

At a speed of fifteen nautical miles we were proceeding toward the Strait of Tchusima. When darkness came on, the war watch was begun on the Emden, which is done in the following manner: Half of the men of the crew remain awake and on duty at their posts,—at the guns, at the searchlights and lookouts, in the torpedo room, in the engine and fire rooms, etc., while the others are allowed to go to sleep with their clothes on, and ready, at a moment's notice, to get to their posts. The commander of the ship takes charge of one of these watches, and the other one is in command of the first officer.

After passing through the Strait of Tchusima, the Emden steered northward. There was no moon, and the night was pitch black. It was too dark to see anything even in our immediate vicinity. We were, of course, traveling with all lights screened. Not a ray of light was allowed to escape from the ship, nor the least bit of smoke from her funnels. There was a moderate sea running, and the water was unusually bright with phosphorescence. The water churned up by our screws stretched away behind the ship in a shimmering wake of light green. The waves dashing high up against the bow, and the water tumbling and breaking against the sides, splashed the whole ship with a phosphorescent glitter, and made her appear as though she had been dipped into molten gold of a greenish hue. Occasionally, there appeared in the water large shining spots of great length,[27] so that a number of times the lookouts reported undersea boats in sight.

At four o'clock in the morning the port war watch, which I commanded, was relieved. The Commander now took charge. The day was just dawning. I had just gone to my cabin, and had lain down to rest, when I was wakened by the shrill call of the alarm bells and the loud noise of many hurrying feet. "Clear ship for action," the order went echoing from room to room. In an instant everyone was at his post. Were we really to be so fortunate as to fall in, on our very first day, with one of the Russian or French ships that had been reported to us as being in the vicinity of Vladivostok?

By the trembling of the ship we could tell that the engine had been put on high speed. In the gray of the early morning we sighted, ahead of us and a little to the right, a vessel somewhat larger than our own, which was also traveling with screened lights, and looked like a man-of-war. Our commander ordered a course toward her at high speed. Hardly had she seen us when she turned hard about, took the contrary course, and ran away from us, the dense column of smoke rising from her funnels indicating that her engines were working at maximum power. The pursued ship took a course directly toward the Japanese Islands, lying about ten miles distant. A black cloud of smoke streamed behind her, rested on the water, and, for a while, hid her from sight entirely. We could see nothing of her but the mast tops, and so found it impossible to discover the nature of the vessel with which we were dealing. That she was not a neutral was evident enough from her behavior. Therefore, after her with full speed!

[28]

II—STORY OF CAPTURE OF THE RUSSIAN "RJESAN"

Meanwhile, daylight had come. The signal: "Stop at once!" was flying at our foremast. When this demand was not complied with after a reasonable time, we fired a blind shell, and when this also failed to have the desired effect, we sent a quick reminder in the form of a couple of sharp shots after her. The fleeing ship could no longer hope to reach the neutral waters of Japan. When our shots fell into the water close beside her, she stopped, turned, and set the Russian colors in all her topmasts. So, on the very first night after the war had begun, we had taken our first prize. It was the Russian volunteer steamer Rjesan. In time of peace she had plied as a passenger steamer between Shanghai and Vladivostok. She was now to be armed with guns and to serve as an auxiliary cruiser. She was a speedy and very new ship, built in the German ship yards of Schichau.

In the sea that was running, the Emden and her prize rolled badly. It was therefore no easy matter to get the cutter, that was to carry the prize crew from the Emden to the Rjesan, into the water. There was danger that it would be pounded to pieces against the sides of the ships. However, everything passed off satisfactorily. In a short time we saw the officer of the prize crew, followed by a number of men, all armed with pistols, climbing up the gangway ladder. The Russian flag was hauled down, and in its place the German colors were run up.

As the steamer was one that could serve our own purposes excellently well—she could be transformed into a very good German auxiliary cruiser—our commander decided not to destroy her, but instead to take her to Tsingtao.[29] At a speed of fifteen miles we made our way southward. Behind us, in our wake, followed the Rjesan. A commanding officer with a prize crew of twelve men remained aboard of her, to make certain that the service of the ship and the engines, etc., would be according to our wishes.


From the newspapers, we had learned that the main body of the French fleet, consisting of the armored cruisers Montcalm and Dupleix, besides a number of torpedo boat destroyers, was lying somewhere off Vladivostok. With these ships the Emden must not be allowed to come in contact by daylight. As we were rounding the southern extremity of Corea, the look-out in the top suddenly sang out, "Seven smoke clouds in sight astern!" To make quite sure of it, the Commander sent me aloft. I, too, could distinctly see seven separate columns of smoke, together with the upper structure of a small vessel, the one nearest to us, just above the horizon. Upon hearing my report, the commander gave orders to change our course. We swept a wide circle, and so avoided the enemy. Without meeting with hindrance of any kind, we arrived at Tsingtao.

On the way we caught up an interesting wireless message. The Reuter Agency, so celebrated for its rigid adherence to facts, was sending a telegram abroad, informing the credulous world that the Emden had been sunk. How many sympathetic people must have shuddered as they read,—and so did we, of course!

During the following night, our prize occasioned us some further trouble. Naturally, her lights, as well as our own, had to be screened. It was a much easier matter to give orders to that effect, however, than to see to it that they were carried out. On the steamer were several women passengers, who, from the outset, were filled[30] with mortal terror as to what the barbarous Germans would do with them. Most of them were fat Russian Jewesses. Every few minutes they would turn on the electric lights in their cabins, so that finally there was nothing left for the officer of the prize crew to do but to have the electric light cable in the engine capped....

III—IN THE HARBOR AT TSINGTAO

At Tsingtao our commander found orders awaiting him from the Admiral of our squadron, Count von Spee, who, with the armored cruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and the small cruiser, Nürnberg, was in the South Pacific, steering northward. The Emden's orders were to join this squadron at a stated point of meeting in the South Pacific.


At sunrise on the following day the Emden left Tsingtao in the company of a large number of German ships, all bound for the south, where they were to join the Admiral's squadron.


With fair weather and a smooth sea the Emden slipped out of the harbor moles. Our band played "The Watch on the Rhine." The entire crew was on deck, singing as the band played. Cheers rang from ship to shore, and back again. Everyone was confident and in high spirits.


Cautiously the Emden made her way between the mines which barred the entrance to the harbor. The sun had just risen. Behind us lay Tsingtao, the gem of the far East, brightened by the golden-red beams of the young day—a picture of peace....

As we gazed, there was not one of us who was not conscious of a strange tugging at his heart. But duty[31] called with an imperative voice. Therefore, farewell to the fair scene we were leaving behind us! For us, it was, "Onward, to the South!"

We were accompanied by the Markomannia, the other ships taking different courses. The Markomannia remained our faithful companion for a number of months.


On our way to the South Pacific we learned, by wireless, of the rupture in the relations between Germany and England, and of the latter's declaration of war.

A few days later we learned of Japan's remarkable ultimatum, without its causing us any special anxiety. It might as well all be done up at one and the same time, was the general feeling among us.


On the twelfth of August, in the evening, we had reached the vicinity of the island where we were to join our cruiser squadron, and soon we fell in with some of the ships that were serving as outposts. As we approached the group of assembled warships, we saw the stanch cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau lying in the midst of them, each with a coal tender alongside, and engaged in coaling. To the left lay the slender Nürnberg, also busy with taking on coal. Distributed about the bay, many larger and smaller auxiliary ships and tenders of the squadron could be seen. The Emden was ordered to an anchorage close beside the flagship, in the right-hand half of the bay. Rousing cheers were sent from deck to deck, as we passed by the other ships, and soon our anchor rattled seaward, and to the bottom,—it was to be the last time for many a long day.

Our commander went aboard the flagship to report to the Admiral of the squadron, and to submit to him the proposal that the Emden be detached from the squadron,[32] and be sent to the Indian Ocean, to raid the enemy's commerce.

On the following day the squadron steered an easterly course, the ships keeping a long line, one behind the other, with all the coal tenders bringing up the rear. The Admiral had, for the present, reserved his decision with regard to our Commander's proposition, and we were all impatient to learn what it would be. At last, toward noon, signal flags were seen running up on the flagship. They read, "Emden detached. Wish you good luck!" Sweeping a wide curve, the Emden withdrew from the long line of warships, a signal conveying her Commander's thanks for the good wishes of the Admiral fluttering at her mast head. There was still another signal from the commanding officer of the squadron, ordering the Markomannia to attend the Emden. Ere long we had lost sight of the other ships of the squadron, which now were steering a course contrary to our own, and we all knew full well that we should never meet again.


These days were strenuous ones for our men, as the war watch was continued without intermission, in order that the ship might be ready at a moment's notice for any emergency. There was no opportunity to give the crew even a short season of rest. For us, there was not one harbor of refuge where we might lie free from danger....

To reach the open sea, our course now led us through a number of narrow water ways. These straits swarmed with fishing boats and other small sea craft. The nights were bright with moonlight, which made it possible to recognize the Emden at a considerable distance. To meet so many boats was a source of anxiety to our Commander, who expressed himself as apprehensive that our[33] presence in these waters, and our probable course also, would be noised about by some of these vessels. All English ships have either two or four funnels, whereas the Emden had three.

The happy thought came to me that much might be gained if the Emden were provided with a fourth funnel....

Out of wooden laths and sail-cloth we soon had constructed a funnel of most elegant appearance, and, when it had been placed in position, the Emden was the exact counterpart of the British cruiser Yarmouth....

IV—STORY OF EXPLOITS ON THE BAY OF BENGAL

In this way, by the end of the first week in September, we had got as far as the Bay of Bengal. For a period of about five days an English man-of-war, most likely the Minotaur, kept a course close beside our own, which we learned from the frequent wireless messages that we caught up. Gradually, her messages became less distinct, and then ceased altogether. At no time had she come within sight of us.

It was not until the night of September tenth that our work began in real earnest. A steamer came in sight, and we approached her very cautiously, so as to give her a closer inspection. Quietly, and with lights screened, we crept up behind our intended victim. Our Commander ordered an approach to within one hundred meters of the steamer, which was peacefully and unsuspectingly proceeding on her course, and, after the manner of merchantmen, was paying little heed to anything except what was ahead of her and showing lights. Suddenly, through the stillness of the perfectly calm night, rang out our challenge through the speaking trumpet:

[34]

"Stop at once! Do not use your wireless! We are sending a boat!"

The steamer did not seem to realize what was meant by this order. Perhaps she did not expect, here in the heart of Indian waters, to run across an enemy's man-of-war. Or she may have thought it the voice of a sea god, and therefore no concern of hers. At any rate, she continued on her way undeterred. So, to explain the situation, we sent a blank shot whizzing past her. This made an impression, and, pell mell, her engines were reversed—we truly regretted the start we had given her dozing engineers—and with her siren she howled out her willingness to obey our order.

One of our cutters, with a prize crew in it, glided swiftly to water, and thence to the steamer, of which we thus took possession. An unpleasant surprise was now in store for us, for soon there came flashing back to us a signal given by one of the men of our prize crew: "This is the Greek steamer, Pontoporros." ...

The Pontoporros was loaded with coal from India, the very dirtiest coal in the world....

I had, in jest, entreated our Commander to capture, as our first prize, a ship loaded with soap, instead of which we now got this cargo of dirty Indian coal. My disappointment was so great that I could not refrain from reproachfully calling our Commander's attention to it, and, with a laugh, he promised to do his best toward providing us with the much-needed soap. And he kept his word.

On the morning of the eleventh of September, only a few hours after we had made the first addition to our squadron, there appeared, forward, a large steamer, which, in the supposition that we were an English man-of-war, manifested her delight at meeting us by promptly running up a large English flag while still a long way off.[35] We could not help wondering what sort of expression her captain's face wore when we ran up the German colors, and politely requested him to remain with us for a while.

The steamer hailed from Calcutta, had been requisitioned to serve as an English transport for carrying troops from Colombo to France, and was fitted out with an abundance of excellent supplies....

We also found aboard the ship a very handsome race horse. By a shot through the head, this noble creature was spared the agony of death by drowning. But our sympathy was hardly sufficient to extend to all the many mounts for artillery, which occupied as many neatly numbered stalls that had been built into the ship. They had to be left to become the prey of sharks a half hour later. The ship's crew was sent aboard our "junkman."...

During the next few days our business flourished. It was carried on in this way: As soon as a steamer came in sight, she was stopped, and one of our officers, accompanied by ten men, was sent aboard her. It was their duty to get the steamer ready to be sunk, and to arrange for the safe transfer of the passengers and crew. As a rule, while we were still occupied with this, the mast head of the next ship would appear above the horizon. There was no need of giving chase. When the next steamer had come near enough to us, the Emden steamed off to meet her, and sent her a friendly signal by which she was induced to join our other previously captured ships. Again an officer and men were sent off, boarded her, got her ready to be sunk, and attended to the transfer of all hands aboard her, etc., and, by the time this was accomplished, the mast head of the third ship had usually come in sight. Again the Emden went to meet her, and so the game went on....

[36]

V—SEA TALES FROM CEYLON TO CALCUTTA

In this way we cleaned up the whole region from Ceylon to Calcutta. In addition to our old companion, the Markomannia, we were now accompanied by the Greek collier Pontoporros, which, in the meanwhile, had relinquished the rôle of "junkman" to the Cabigna. The latter was an English steamer carrying an American cargo, the destruction of which would have resulted in nothing but unnecessary charges.

The Cabigna continued with us for several days, although she, the Markomannia, and the Pontoporros were not the only companions of the Emden during that night. We had captured more prizes, whose destruction, however, was deferred to the following day in consideration of the passengers, because of the darkness, and the high seas running. All told, we had six attendants that night. Three of these disappeared in the sea on the coming morning, and the Cabigna was discharged to land her passengers.

Aboard the Cabigna were the wife and little child of the captain. The position at sea, where the other steamers had been sent to the bottom, was so far distant from the nearest shore that it would have been quite impossible for any boats to have reached land. Before the captain of the Cabigna had been told that he would be allowed to proceed, and in the assumption that his ship also was to be sunk, he begged that he might be allowed to take a revolver with him for the protection of his wife and child....

When the captain was informed that it was not our purpose to destroy his ship, he was overcome with joy. I, myself, was aboard his ship for several hours, and he could not find words sufficient to express his gratitude,[37] begging me to convey his thanks to our Commander, and finally handing me a letter to deliver to him.

I had a long conversation with the captain's wife, also, and she expressed sentiments much like those contained in her husband's letter to our Commander. When she discovered, from something I said, that my oil-skins were going to pieces, she pressed me to accept her husband's. Besides this, upon learning that our supply of smoking tobacco was getting low, she urged us to take as many cigarettes and as much smoking tobacco with us as we could carry. These, she declared, were but trifling gifts in comparison with the gratitude she felt. It is hardly necessary to say that we took with us neither the tobacco nor the oil-skins.

At the time that the Cabigna was discharged, her deck was full of passengers, all people from the steamers we had captured. At our order, "You may proceed!" three cheers—"Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"—rang back to us, one for the Commander, one for the officers, and one for the crew of H. M. S. Emden, in which every person on the crowded deck joined.... There were, at the time, about four hundred persons aboard the ship.

In the further progress of our activities we never failed to get three cheers from our discharged "junkmen," as they departed with their collection of passengers from captured steamers....

This seems a fitting place to speak about the attitude taken by the Englishmen when we captured their ships. Most of them behaved very sensibly. After they had recovered from the first shock of surprise, they usually passed into the stage of unrestrained indignation at their government, at which they swore roundly. With but one exception, they never offered any resistance to the sinking of their ships. We always allowed them time enough to collect and take with them their personal possessions.[38] They usually devoted most of this time to making certain that their precious supply of whiskey was not wasted on the fishes. I can say with truth that seldom did we send off a wholly sober lot of passengers on any one of our "junkmen."


VI—TWO SHELLS AT MADRAS—AND AN EXPLOSION

One captain was especially amusing. His was the unenviable duty of taking a bucket-dredger from England to Australia. No seafaring man can help sympathizing with the unfortunate who has to conduct one of these rolling tubs, with a speed of not more than four nautical miles at best, all the way from Europe down to Australia. And so, from a purely humane standpoint, we could fully appreciate this English captain's joy at being captured. Rarely have I seen anyone jump so high for joy. He must have been a past master in the art of jumping to be able to keep his feet in spite of the terrible rolling of his ship. Tears of gratitude coursed down his weathered cheeks as he exclaimed, "Thank God, that the old tub is gone! The five hundred pounds I was to have for taking her to Australia were paid me in advance."


On the eighteenth of September, in the evening, the Emden entered the harbor. It so happened that this was the day after the one on which the joyful tidings of the Emden's destruction had been officially announced. To celebrate the happy occasion, a large company had assembled for dinner at the Club. As we were not aware of this, it was hardly our fault that the Emden's shells fell into the soup. Had we known of the dinner party, we would, of course, gladly have deferred our attack until[39] another day, as it is the part of wisdom never to exasperate the enemy unnecessarily. A due regard should always be shown for sacred institutions, and dinner is an institution with regard to which the English are always keenly sensitive.

We approached to within 3,000 meters of Madras. The harbor light was shining peacefully. It rendered us good service as we steered toward shore, for which we again take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the British Indian government. A searchlight revealed to us the object of our quest,—the oil tanks, painted white and ornamented with a stripe of red. A couple of shells sent in that direction, a quick upleaping of tongues of bluish-yellow flame, streams of liquid fire pouring out through the holes made by our shots, an enormous black cloud of dense smoke,—and, following the advice of the old adage, "A change is good for everybody," we had sent several millions' worth of the enemy's property up into the air, instead of down into the sea, as heretofore.


Meanwhile the coaling question had come to be a source of annoyance to us. Our faithful Markomannia had no more coal to give us. To be sure, our prize, the Pontoporros, with her cargo of coal from India, was still with us. But this Indian coal is far from being desirable fuel, as it not only clogs the fire kettles with dirt, but, while it gives out a minimum of heat, it sends forth a maximum of smoke, and so our prize was not an unmixed joy to us. However, this vexed coal question was happily solved for us by the English Admiralty in a most satisfactory manner. Before many days had passed, a fine large steamer of 7,000 tonnage, loaded with the best of Welsh coal, en route for Hong Kong, and destined for their own use, was relinquished to us by the English in a most unselfish manner.

[40]

So, for the present, we were most generously supplied with the best of fuel, and all further anxiety on this account was dismissed to the uncertain future. The captain of our new coal-laden prize seemed to have no scruples with regard to transferring himself, together with his ship, into German service. Willingly and faithfully he coöperated with the officer of the prize crew that was, of course, placed in command of his ship, all the while cheerfully whistling "Rule, Britannia."

In the meantime, even the English government itself had become convinced that the destruction of the Emden had, after all, not been accomplished.


VII—STORY OF LIFE ABOARD THE FLYING DUTCHMAN

We knew quite well that sixteen hostile ships were in pursuit of us,—British, French, and Japanese. We never had any information with regard to the position of these ships, nor of their character, which, after all, could matter very little to us, since the Emden was the smallest and least formidable of all the war ships in the Indian Ocean. There was not a hostile cruiser, that she was likely to meet, that was not her superior in strength. That the Emden's career must soon be cut short was therefore a prospect of which everyone aboard her felt certain. Many hounds are certain death to the hare.

Our Commander had set this aspect of affairs before us, sharply and clearly, at the very outset of the Emden's career, pointing out that the only future ahead of the Emden was to inflict as much damage as possible upon the enemy before she herself should be destroyed, which, in any event, could be but a question of time.

The devotion of the Emden's crew to their Commander[41] was touching in the extreme. The men appreciated the high qualities of their leader, were proud of their ship, and gloried in its successful career. If, at any time when they were singing, or were otherwise noisy, the word was passed along, "The Commander is tired," they would become instantly quiet. At a word of encouragement from him the men would accomplish some truly wonderful feats in connection with difficult undertakings, such as coaling at sea under most adverse conditions, and in spite of extreme fatigue.

Of "Emden yarns" ... there was an untold number. On board ship we kept a scrap-book in which they were all preserved, but this, unfortunately, was lost, together with much that was of higher value.

Amusement of a different nature was afforded the officers' mess by our "war cats," as we called them. On the day before we left Tsingtao a cat had come on board, and so had come along with us. In course of time, this cat experienced the joys of motherhood. Lying in my hammock one morning, I opened my eyes upon a charming scene of family life. Just beneath me, a little to one side, on a mattress on the floor of the deck, lay Lieutenant Schall, sleeping the sleep of the just. Close beside him, on the same mattress, lay the cat, with a family of five newly born kittens. After I had quickly wakened the other officers who were sleeping near, so that they might enjoy the sight of this peaceful domesticity, we poked Lieutenant Schall until he, too, opened his eyes upon the scene. At first he did not seem to share our pleasure in it, however, but, with a muttered oath, hurried off to the washroom.

Our kittens were not the only animals that the war had brought aboard our ship. If some one had dropped from the sky, and landed on the Emden on one of these days, he would have opened his eyes in wonderment at[42] sight of this "man-of-war." Forward, in the vicinity of the drain pipe, he would have discovered one or two pigs, grunting with satisfaction. Near by, he would have seen a couple of lambs and a sheep or two, bleating peacefully. By a walk aft he would, in all probability, have scared up a whole flock of pigeons that had been sitting on the rails which served for the transportation of ammunition, and that, at his approach, would take refuge in the pigeon house that had been fastened against one of the funnels. In his further progress he would most likely have frightened up a few dozen hens that would then have run cackling about his heels, the noise they made being only outdone by the still louder cackling of a flock of geese engaged in unsuccessful attempts at swimming in a large half-tub aft, and at the same time trying to drink salt water. We always had a great deal of live stock on board, all of which we had taken from the captured steamers.... We had a less practical, but more ornamental addition to our menagerie in a dwarf antelope, which I came upon one day in the forward battery. How the dainty creature got there has always remained a mystery to me.

VIII—LAST DAYS OF THE GALLANT "EMDEN"

Every afternoon the ship's band gave us quite a long concert. At such times the men all sat cozily about on the forecastle, listening to the music, some joining in with their voices, while others smoked or danced. In the evening, after darkness had set in, the singers aboard usually got together, and then every possible and impossible song was sung by a chorus that was excellent both in volume and quality. The "possible" songs were, to a great extent, our beautiful German national melodies, and these were always well rendered. The "impossible"[43] ones were frequently improvised for the occasion. In these, clearness of enunciation was always a greater feature than either rhyme or rhythm. The singing invariably closed with the "Watch on the Rhine," in which all hands on deck joined.

Distributing the booty we had taken from a captured ship was always an occasion about which centered a great deal of interest. Anything of a useful nature, especially everything in the line of food, was, as a matter of course, taken aboard the Emden. As a result, veritable mountains of canned goods were stored away in a place set apart for them on the forward deck. Casks full of delectable things were there. Hams and sausages dangled down from the engine skylight. There were stacks of chocolate and confectionery, and bottles labelled "Claret" and "Cognac," with three stars....

So as to be able to do justice to all that fortune bestowed upon us, an extra meal or two had to be tucked in between the usual ones. So, with our afternoon coffee we now had chocolate or bonbons. For the smokers there were more than 250,000 cigarettes stored away, and when, in the evening, they had been passed around, the deck looked as though several hundred fireflies were flitting about it.


So we spent the passing days, while certain death lurked round about us. In sixteen ships our enemies were burning their coal, and racking their brains in vain attempt to catch us.

(Here the Lieutenant-Captain of The Flying Dutchman narrates the adventures of those wonderful days; how they kept the enemy seas fraught with danger; how they were hunted through the oceans; how they lived their gay life of "gentlemen buccaneers," knowing that each day brought them nearer to death and the bottom of[44] the seas. He describes vividly "Our Baptism by Fire;" he tells how they torpedoed the Russian destroyer Schemtschuk; how they fought the French gunboat D'Iberville; how they sunk the French destroyer Mousquet; how they wrapped the French dead in the French flag and buried them with naval honors in the sea; until the last fight of the Emden when she met her champion, the Anglo-Australian cruiser Sydney and went down gloriously in the Indian Ocean. The Lieutenant-Captain's description of this last fight is one of the classics of the Great War.)

FOOTNOTE:

[2] All numerals relate to the stories herein told—not to the chapters in the book.


[45]

"THE WAY OF THE CROSS"—A TRAGEDY OF THE RUSSIANS

The Millions Who Have Become Beggars

Told by V. Doroshevitch, Famous Russian Journalist

This is probably the first piece of Russian War literature translated into English. It presents the terrible picture of the Russian and Polish fugitives flying from the German invasion in the autumn of 1915. The narrator is a famous Russian journalist, who first contributed his experiences to the Russkol Slovl. He went from Moscow to meet the incoming flood of refugees and then passed through to the rear of the Russian Army. At first he met the survivors who were forced ahead in the procession; afterwards they came thicker and thicker until they were a moving wall. He tells how they camped in the forests, how they died by the way, how they put up their crosses by the side of the road, how they sold their horses and abandoned their carts, how they starved, how they suffered. His articles have been collected by Stephen Graham and published in book form by G. P. Putnam's Sons: Copyright 1916. These breathless, desperate stories breathe a tender love. The style is typically Slavic and has been preserved in the excellent translations. A single typical story is here told of "The Desolation of Roslavl" by permission of the publishers.

In 1812 Moscow made a funeral pyre for herself, and burned—for Russia's sake. A hundred years have passed. And the red glare of Moscow's fire has paled. The Moscow of those days! A wooden city. The burning of it was appalling. The ground burned under the feet of the Napoleonic soldiers: even the roadways of Moscow were made of wood at that time.

But now! More than ten provinces have been laid waste by the enemy. Millions of people have become[46] beggars. And have fled. From the places of their birth to the far centre of Russia stretches the way of the Cross for these people.

And on this way, as on that other way—of Golgotha, are places, where the people faint under the burden of the Cross: Bobruisk! Dovsk! Roslavl! These are names full of affliction. Especially: The memory of Roslavl is terrible.


[3] I—STORY OF DESOLATION OF ROSLAVL

Roslavl, on the River Oster, is a quiet little town in the province of Smolensk. Ordinarily, when you drive along the high-road coming from the West, in Rogachef, in Cherikof, in Propoisk, in Krichef, they will tell you that Roslavl is the first Russian town. From here to the eastward, Great Russia begins.

When you arrive at Roslavl you will be awakened in the morning by the soft yet powerful baritone of its marvellous bell, sounding from the height of the Transfiguration monastery on the hill.

And you will hear this, like music—for the first time on the whole of your journey from the West up till then.


Now Roslavl is choked and drowned. There is neither sugar nor salt in the town. In the streets fugitives stop you and ask,

"Friend, where can I buy any salt here? I've been trying to get some all day."

"Little father, where can we get any sugar? Even if it's only half a pound or a quarter of a pound."

You go into a baker's shop and ask:

[47]

"Have you any white bread?"

The shopman looks at you in wonder.

"We bake no white. Only black, and even that's all taken for the fugitives."

"The fugitives will eat us up," says Roslavl in terror.

But the wave of fugitives comes on and on, and a stench is given forth from it. Here the great river stops, and its waters turn round and round, like a whirlpool. Roslavl is overwhelmed; the tide rises above its head.

The reason?—the railway. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people will remember with horror the desolation of Roslavl. Here is enacted a dreadful scene: "The completion of the process"—the fugitives giving up their horses. First they were as "gipsies," but now they have turned into a Khitrof market.[4] Numbers of the fugitives, the great majority of them, having exhausted their last strength and reached the railway.

Have the last thing to do as peasants. They sell their horses. And thence go onward—in the train. Waiting in an open-air camp in Roslavl for a week or so, until they are given places. And with what desperation do they cling to the possession of their horses.

II—STORY OF THE PEASANT—AND THREE MOTHERLESS CHILDREN

Here I made the acquaintance of a fugitive—a bitter man. His wife died two weeks before the final ruin and he has three children, two very young, and a baby. He had owned some land and was a farmer. He had paid 12,000 rubles for it. The payment had been spread over seven years and all had been paid. He had only just begun to make a living. And now "this had happened." He had managed to bring away all his cattle. And four horses. He had gone a long way.

[48]

But in Minsk province, where a continuous marsh extends for tens and tens of versts, an order had come to clear the high-road, and the cattle had been driven on to the marsh.

"My little son," said he, "who had gone on in front with the cattle, ran back to meet me at a turn of the road, crying, 'Daddy, Daddy, the cattle are all drowned in the marsh.' I ran to him. The herd of cattle were twisting and writhing in the bog. Bellowing. And among them I saw mine."

He spoke sadly but calmly about the death of his wife, about his land that had "cost so much money."

"But I'd rather have been blinded than see such a sight. A second ruin. All my property perishing in the quagmire, and I stand on the road and become a beggar. Three horses died on the way. One remained. A little shaggy horse, ten years old, but active."

In Roslavl he found a kind man who permitted him to live in his banya, bath-house. A black banya. But that was a palace!

"Day and night I never cease to pray to God for the kind man who saved my children," says he.

He has found a footing at Roslavl and will remain there—drives a cab.

"Two rubles a day shall I earn, think I. One and a half will feed the horse, and the fifty kopecks which remain must suffice for us four."

"Not a large budget. And what if you were to sell the horse and go farther?"

He looked at me straight in the eyes with terror.

"Master!" said he, "I have a horse, and so all the same I remain a man! A human being! But without[49] a horse, what sort of a being should I be? What should I be?"

III—STORY OF THE PROCESSION—AND THE COFFINS

On all sides you hear:

"Well, at least we have a horse! So we can still count ourselves human beings! Still peasants!"

And if the money be all spent, and the peasant cease to be a peasant. What then? The last thing that connects him with the past, the last thing that binds him to life.

Along the main street of Roslavl from earliest morning till the darkness of night without interruption, without ceasing, go two processions, one one way, the other the other. On one side of the road come an endless series of grey carts, one after another endlessly—and pass away towards that stretch of the road where yesterday we saw innumerable camp bonfires. On the other side coming from that place come refugees on horseback, some astride, some sitting sideways, on little worn-out horses. They go to the bazaar. Betwixt the two processions is the long empty alley of the middle of the street.

On both sides there is silence as if funeral processions going in opposite directions were meeting one another. Not even looking at one another, in fact, as if they did not remark one another.

To the town:

—To seek salt?

To know:

—What further orders have been given? Whither should they go now?

No, no, they are carrying coffins through—mostly children's. A peasant is carrying a coffin on his shoulder. Silently after him and without weeping strides his peasant[50] wife. Clinging to her skirts also silently and without weeping come frozen barefooted children.

Look, here comes a large coffin. From the hardly shut lid hang new and bright coloured cottons. It is a girl that has died. Four girls are carrying the coffin. They will bury her in the right way, with the ritual. The little procession went past, simple, beautiful, melancholy. No one stopped to look round, to turn the head. No one meeting the procession crossed himself, nor drew off his hat, nor gave any attention. As if the people had ceased to see with their eyes.

And there stretches, stretches, along the footways, along the margin of the road, without respite, without interval, without interruption, the two processions ever coming towards one another and passing.

Grey carts, carts, carts. Horses, horses, horses, fugitives wandering like shadows, horses, children's coffins, and again horses, horses, horses. The head turns giddy looking at the endless movement. It becomes difficult to breathe because of that which passes before the eyes.

In this little town through which comes such an ocean of people, it is as quiet as if it were all one great funeral. I had hardly come into the market-place before the crowd swirled round me with quick movements and feverish eyes. Whence had they come to Roslavl? Whence had so many come? There were all dialects. Great Russian, Russian and Little Russian accent, with Polish accent.

IV—STORY OF THE PEASANT'S HORSE MARKET

"Panitch! Do you want horses? You can buy them very reasonably. Ah, so reasonably! A horse that cost a hundred rubles, you can buy for twenty-five. Do you wish to buy?"

[51]

"Wait for me, wait for me. I'll take you to the horses."

"Mr. Squire, Mr. Squire, here are horses. Farm horses! And cheap! Cheap! I'll bring them to you."

There's no getting through the horses in the market—no possibility of penetrating through. There stands one great solid crowd. Quick people even slip about under the horses. What the prices are you may judge from separate exclamations.

"If there's such a bargain anywhere else on God's earth I'd like to hear of it!" says a fugitive, turning over and turning over again the dirty notes which he has received.

"Don't get rid of them here. Better sell their skins in Kalutsk."

"Take the twelve rubles now. Take them now. To-morrow you'll be glad to sell at ten."

"By to-morrow she'll drop down dead if you go on!"

"What! Fifteen rubles not good money? Did you say that? You?"

"Ten rubles as they stand! From hand to hand!" says a tall, dark peasant with a long beard, standing beside a cart to which are tied six horses, all skin and bone.

He says in a contemptuous tone:

"You see the horses. A red note for each. Altogether. Take them. It will mean money. Without money there's no doing anything."

I say to a fugitive:

"Don't you know that in Muchin yard, beyond the town, they're buying for the Government. There you would get a fairer price."

The fugitive does not succeed in answering for himself. Once more the crowd of people with quick movements and feverish eyes.

[52]

"The Government? There, you'll never get a turn! It's necessary to stand three days. He's got to hurry for the train. See what a lot of people are coming in. He will be late, and have to wait a month in the open. The autumn rains will start. And cold. All his children will freeze. From Bobruisk another five hundred thousand are coming. Who are you, Mister? Are you someone from the Government or a Relief Committee?"

"Our little children are just freezing to death," says another fugitive.

And at this market where horses and people are crushed in one compact mass where from the heat of bodies and the smell of horses it is difficult to breathe, if any one is cheerful, it is only the purchaser.

The fugitives have not much to say for themselves, and that in a low voice—as if stunned. They sell their horses and stand as if in perplexity. They go away—horseless, peasants no longer, wordless. In appearance so calm and indifferent: as if nothing had happened. No expression of the grief, of the deadly melancholy which is in the soul.

V—STORY OF THE HOMELESS PEASANT WOMEN

A silent land. In the same street as the market-place, by the Petrograd Hotel, from dawn until late evening, the crowd is like stone. There's no getting through. The hotel is occupied by the Committee—of "Northern-Help." Here it is arranged for the fugitives where each has to go.

I attempt to pass through the crowd and get as far as the gateway. Farther is impossible. The stench is such that the head simply goes round. May God give[53] strength to the Relief delegates working in this stench—to remain healthy!

"We've been waiting for days!"—complain the fugitives,—"and standing without a bite of food from morning."

"What's a day! You stand a day and at the end of it go away. To-morrow you come again and have had nothing to eat."

I cast a glance at the Town Hall, where is a crowd of peasant women. In a corner is a table. With the notice:

"Employment Bureau."

A stout lady sitting there says to a peasant woman standing with a child in her arms:

"With us, my dear, the conditions of employment for servants are usually ..."

Tiny Roslavl. How is it possible to find employment here for tens of thousands of people! The peasant women stand in the waiting rooms. They stand patiently, they stand all day. And having obtained nothing whatever, go away.

In the street you are stopped by people, saying:

"Are you not in need of workmen in your village?"

"Are you not hiring people?"

And all in such melancholy, hopeless, gentle voices. I drive back to the place where last night I saw a horde of nomads—an actual horde. From the high bank of the Oster, on that side from which the forest has been cleared, you see for versts and versts a cloud of bluish, half-transparent smoke. That's the evening camping-ground.

I walk farther and farther into the forest over the soft wilted grass. Everywhere are glades, everywhere people, huts of pine-branches, and from all sides is heard the sound of axes. How many thousands of people are[54] there here! People tell you various enormous numbers.... How many drops of water are there in the river?

What a terrible smoke in the forest! Because of the smoke the eyes of all are red and painful.

"It is damp at night, the smoke settles down, and there's no getting out of the wood," says a small farmer to me, "but it's warm in the smoke. Just like sitting in a dark izba. Hot, even. We warm the forest. That's what it's come to for us."

"Perhaps it's just the smoke that saves us," says his neighbour, also a farmer—"everyone is coughing all around, some are spitting blood, but in the smoke every microbe perishes."

VI—STORY OF THE PRIESTS—AND REFUGEES

Going farther into the forest I come upon a crowd. A priest is explaining to them how and where to go that their horses may be properly inspected and priced, how to go to Muchin yard, sell their horses, and receive the money; how to go to the railway station and wait their turn for a seat in the train, how much will be given to each man for food.

"And I will drive ahead and meet you at such and such a station." That's so many versts away. This is a priest from the province of Holm, and he is explaining to his flock. Many of the priests of Holm province accompany their refugees. And the help which they give is colossal. They get some sort of understanding of the situation for themselves and explain everything to their people.

It is asked: "Where are the numberless local officials, the people looking after the village in time of peace, where are they now in the time of terror and calamity, where have they betaken themselves—where, saving[55] themselves, do they receive their former official salary? How they have abandoned this illiterate people who do not even understand the Russian language well, in such a moment."

They looked after them all the time like children, and then, in the difficult moment, abandon the children to the will of Fate! Had they come with their own refugees, had even the least important of them come, there would have been someone to whom to turn for information, to find out things. But abandoned, left entirely to themselves, the fugitives grope about, and feel their way like people with bandaged eyes.


I made acquaintance with a priest. He spoke bitterly. There was desperation in his voice.

"We try to preserve ourselves together. But we are assigned to places! Assigned! One part of the flock to Riazan, another to Kazan, a third to Orenburg!"

Here in the wood are fugitives at the last limit of their strength, making a decision: To deprive themselves of the last thing—to sell their horses. They sell them in the market-place, in Muchin yard, to "Northern-Help," to the Government, fkaznu, as they say. Then they are already not muzhiks; they wander over from this camp to the camp near the railway station. And whilst they are encamped in the wood they go backwards and forwards between the relief points of "Northern-Help" and the "Municipal Alliance."

On the great highway—a promenade—as one of the numerous gendarmes keeping order put it. Not only is it difficult to drive through, but difficult to walk through. The people flock first one way, then the other, with downcast visage, to the forest, from the forest, from one side of the highway to the other side of the highway. At the bonfires they warm their red and chilblained[56] hands. Horses pass through the crowd. With triangular brandings on their hind legs.

Many horses wander about lost. They come to the high-road, to the people, to the other horses. They wander about quietly, somehow helplessly, looking around them with their wise, sad eyes. As if they were seeking their own people. Horses at the last gasp of their strength. But no one pays any attention to them. Neither do the horses pay attention. They stumble upon people.

In the peasant huts occupied as relief points bread is taken in at the back door, cut up there, and handed out from a little window in the front. So from morning to night bread flows in an uninterrupted stream. Sentries keep the order of those who are waiting for bread. In front of the bread windows range endless ranks of fugitives. Thousands and thousands of people. One person moves an inch, another person moves an inch, and from the midst is heard wails.

"You're suffocating me! Oh, suffocating!"

People fall unconscious. Here indeed only the stronger can stand the strain. The hungry crush the hungry in order that they may squeeze into a better place in the line and receive their bit of bread sooner. The women, the children, with wide staring eyes, with deathly pale faces. Quietly and silently the fierce and cruel struggle goes on. All around the people swarm like flies.

A man in a uniform has only to appear, or even a gentleman in civil attire, and the fugitives swarm about him.

"Your high nobility! Show us your official mercy!"

Where have I heard this melancholy, hopeless tone, these very words of humiliation?


"What is it you want?"

[57]

"Give us a certificate!"

Food is only given out to those who have certificates—according to the number of souls in the family. Such certificates ought to have been obtained from the village authorities at the point from which they started.

"They did not give us them! We had not time to get them."

—"Lost!"

—"We shall die of hunger."

—"Your high nobility!"

They come for everything, they come to make complaints.

"Your high nobility! Permit me to explain. The starosta advised me to wait for the Germans and not go away. I did not agree. He got angry and refused to give me a certificate. Decide for yourself! Show God's mercy, and give me one now."

VII—STORY OF THE WANDERING MULTITUDES—AND THEIR PRAYERS

Down below, under the cliff, is an immense marshy meadow, and there, what a wild, what a strange picture.... At that point I thought of the late V. V. Verestchagin. Only he with his gray tones could have painted the gray horror of this life, only he could have painted the dreadful picture in all its horror.

For several acres the whole meadow was covered with abandoned and broken carts. The iron parts had been unloosed and taken away, wheels lay separately, tilts separately. How many were there there? Tens of thousands. The whole plain was gray with carts, with wheels, with shafts and single shafts. Having sold their horses for cash, the fugitives abandoned their carts here, only taking with them the iron parts they could unfasten.

[58]

Among this gray wilderness of ruin fugitives were wandering. These people who preserved their horses and could still go on—in their own carts. They sought here any bits of harness or shafts or wheels that could serve them better than their own. From various separate parts they put together whole carts. Some of the branded horses had come here. Seeking perhaps, by scent or by instinct, the carts to which they had once been harnessed. They wandered and stumbled like shadows, hardly keeping their feet. They fell. There lies one. He breathes heavily, suddenly quivers tremulously. In his round, glassy eyes there is suffering. He tries to raise his head from the ground. He has not strength to hold it up, and lets it fall again. Then suddenly he begins to wail, just like a man. A little farther off lies a horse already stiff, and its long, long, lean legs stretch out.


The crowd does not melt away but increases. Here it is cold, here there is no forest. And the fugitives press together closely, family to family. Only warming themselves in the smoke of their bonfires. There are bonfires day and night. Wandering women go from house to house in the neighbourhood. They stop outside the doors, crying:

"Give, for Christ's sake, give us wood."

And, the heart anguished, they give.

—More still is stolen!


Irritated by fear for themselves, frightened at these "unheard-of people," the little towns and hamlets and the "all-understanding" villages ... one can only express astonishment at the celerity with which man adapts himself to circumstances. Where and when have[59] these peasants of yesterday learnt so quickly to build dens and dwelling-places from any sort of rubbish? It's as if they were born nomads. It simply makes one wonder. Out of what was all this put together? How does it hold? Some slates stolen from one place, a paling broken somewhere else, an armful of hay, rags brought in by the children—and behold, a dwelling-place.

"And, O Lord, how to thank Thee that there is no longer any rain!"

—They freeze, get ill, watch their children die, and wait. It's not possible to breathe. All around is human filth. In certain stinking horrible ponds, the peasant women with feet blue from the cold, are washing clothes. And these ponds also are tainted with filth....

And when I come here in the morning, whilst the ground all around is covered with hoar-frost and the half-expired bonfires glimmer beside the marsh on which the camp is set, the spectacle is dreadful. How reckon up the sufferings? It's no use even thinking of going across the station platform. For passage there is only the merest margin above the rails where one might go along as on a tight-rope, and sideways. The whole platform is occupied by the fortunate ones. By those who have gone through all the trials of the way of affliction, lost their horses, frozen in open camping-grounds for weeks whilst they waited; by the people who have at last obtained:

—Their turn.

And they will travel, no one knows where, no one knows to what end. On immense bundles, on top of mountains of household furniture, lie people, lie or sit, and you can see that no force could prevail on them to abandon their positions. When the bell rings, indicating the arrival of a goods train, wild scenes are enacted.

In the cattle-trucks it will at once become warm, because[60] of the many people, and the fugitives rush to take the train by storm, crushing one another as they push forward. And they lug along their bundles.

And how much of the strangest, most unnecessary rubbish do they pull along with them into the trucks, and heap up in the places which might otherwise be occupied by extra people! Rubbish for us—but the last possessions for them. That is all that remains.


I return to the town. In endless series, meeting one another and passing on, go the two processions up and down the street. They come, they come, they come, without respite, without interruption, the gray carts. They are all like one. One like another. And on the other side of the road come the fugitives on horseback, to sell their horses. And in this whirlpool of the river of human grief, little and dreadful Roslavl has choked and drowned.

Such was the coming of the fugitives into Great Russia.

(The Russian narrator tells many tragic stories of "Meeting the Fugitives;" "Along the Kief Road;" "The Forests of Mogilef," and many other vivid sketches of Russian suffering.)

FOOTNOTES:

[3] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.

[4] A notorious district in Moscow, where beggars, tramps and thieves congregate, and where there are many doss-houses.


[61]

THE ADVENTURES OF AN AMERICAN ATTACHÉ

A Despatch Bearer in the Diplomatic Service

Told by Eric Fisher Wood, Attaché at the American Embassy in Paris

This young American tells of his experience in the Diplomatic Service in Europe during the Great War. Ambassador Herrick placed him in charge of the interned Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in France. He was sent to the front four times where he saw parts of the battles of the Marne and the Aisne and the struggle for Calais. His most interesting adventures, however, was as a despatch bearer between the American Embassies of practically all the European countries. He tells how he carried secret documents between Ambassador Herrick, Ambassador Gerard, Ambassador Page, Ambassador Penfield. This gave him unusual diplomatic opportunities for seeing and hearing things of extraordinary interest and significance. These are related in his book: "The Note Book of an Attaché" (The Century Company: Copyright 1915) which gives sidelights on some of the most stupendous events of the last one hundred years.

[5] I—A STORY OF THE STRANDED AMERICANS IN PARIS

When the war-storm suddenly loomed over Europe at the end of July, 1914, I was quietly studying architecture in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at Paris. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 24th, the atmosphere of the city became so surcharged with excitement that to persist in study was difficult. Within a week I myself had been swept into the vortex of rushing events, from which I did not emerge until seven months later....

[62]

Paris, Tuesday, August 4th. When I arrived to-day the Chancellerie presented an astounding sight. Around the outer door were huddled a compact crowd of Germans, men and women; they pressed about the entrance; they glanced furtively over their shoulders and their blue eyes were filled with dumb apprehension. Inside the Chancellerie was chaos. Hundreds of Americans and Germans crowded together seeking audience and counsel. German women sank down in corners of the halls or on the stairs, weeping for joy to have found a haven of refuge. Scores of Sovereign American Citizens stood in the busiest spots and protested with American vehemence against fate and chance. Each S.A.C. was remonstrating about a separate grievance. Most of them reiterated from time to time their sovereignty, and announced to no one in particular that it was their right to see "their Ambassador" in person. They demanded information! They needed money! They wished to know what to do with letters of credit! What was "the government" going to do about sending them home? Was Paris safe? Would there be immediate attacks by Zeppelins? Could they deposit their jewels in the Embassy vaults? Were passports necessary? WHY were passports necessary? They asked the same questions over and over, and never listened to the answers....

II—IN THE AMERICAN LEGATION AT BERNE

Berne, Saturday, November 28th. Donait and I left Paris at nine last evening for Lyons, Culoz, and Geneva with dispatches for Berlin. For many reasons we are[63] particularly anxious to see Germany and Austria in war time, and look forward keenly to the experience which we face.

We arrived in Geneva at noon. We were very tired, for our train and compartment were overcrowded and we had to sit up all night. The responsibility of the sack of official papers which we carried, and on which one of us had constantly to keep his mind, hand, and eyes, was an additional element of fatigue.


Our legation in Berne has always been the most isolated, humdrum spot on earth. People stationed here nearly died of ennui; nothing ever happened, until all Europe suddenly was plunged into the conflagration of war, and then Berne became, of necessity, the clearing house for the continent for dispatches, mail, telegrams, money, prisoners, and refugees. Every telegram which the American Embassy in Paris sends to the Embassies in Germany, Austria, or Italy is directed: "American Legation, Berne. Repeat to Gerard"—or Penfield or Page, as the case may be....

Donait and I were sent by Minister Stovall to make a verbal report on the situation of the Germans in France to Baron Romberg, the German Minister to Switzerland. I was much impressed in this my first touch with a German official. He is rather small, slim of body, but keen of mind, with excellent repose and control. Like all German diplomats, he speaks faultless English. A startling evidence of the efficiency of the German Information Bureau was furnished by the fact that he already knew to the minutest details nearly as much about my work in Paris in caring for German subjects as did I myself.

Tuesday, December 1st. We reached the Swiss-German[64] frontier at noon to-day. We descended from the train at Basle and drove three miles to the frontier. Here there were two barriers straight across the road, the nearer one guarded by numerous Swiss soldiers; the farther, some twenty yards behind, by soldiers wearing the spiked helmet. Before we were allowed to pass the first barrier our papers and luggage were minutely examined by Swiss military and customs officers. We then walked across the twenty yards to the second, or German, barrier, where we were conducted into a little guard-house. Here some dozen soldiers were sleeping or playing cards on cots in the background along the walls. An efficient sergeant examined our papers and then allowed us to pass the second barrier into Germany, showing marked respect for the Herr Lieutenant and the Herr Attaché....

I was momentarily embarrassed and self-conscious when first I found myself rubbing shoulders with gentlemen in spiked helmets. During the past four months I had seen them only as prisoners or dead men, and their only greetings had been by way of their shells and bombs....

III—AWAKENED BY THE SECRET SERVICE MEN

Mannheim, Wednesday, December 2d. At half-past seven this morning I was awakened from a sound sleep by a pounding at my door. I climbed sleepily out of bed and, in pajamas, opened the door to two extremely polite and suave Secret Service men who, nevertheless, examined my papers with the greatest thoroughness and as carefully cross-questioned me as to my race, color, and previous condition. They asked to see my dispatches, whose seals they studied in order to be certain that I was really carrying some sort of official messages. Having[65] listened with close attention to my story, they asked me out of a clear sky where Donait was and why he had left me. They capped the climax by reminding me that at Leopoldshöhe I had told the sergeant we were bound for Berlin, which was exactly what I had told him, not having considered the brief stop at Mannheim of sufficient importance to be mentioned. When they had received a satisfactory explanation of the discrepancy (the conversation having staggered along in German, of which my knowledge is limited) they thanked me politely and withdrew....

IV—AT THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN BERLIN

Berlin, Thursday, December 3d. Donait and I had a whole compartment to ourselves last night, which shows how normally German railroads are running. We arrived in Berlin at eight o'clock this morning, bathed, dressed, and had breakfast, at eleven o'clock presented ourselves at the American Embassy and delivered our precious dispatch pouch to Mr. Grew, the First Secretary....

The Emperor is in popular estimation not much lower than God Almighty, and the two seem inextricably mingled in the public mind. The world-wide amusement created by "Me und Gott," or by the Emperor's firm conviction that he and he alone is worthy of divine aid and approval, is an amusement not shared by any Germans. If you say to them, "the Emperor seems to think the German people are the one race chosen of God and that He works only for them and their advancement," the Germans will promptly and emphatically reply: "Why, of course; all our past history proves that." The God they appeal to, however, is the God of Battles of the Old Testament and of the ancient Hebrews, who slew His[66] enemies, destroyed nations, and annihilated races, who was cruel and vindictive.


Berlin, Friday, December 4th. In Berlin, restaurants, cafés, theaters, and concerts are going at full blast. Donait, Iselin, and I, who have for months been working like dogs in Paris, which is as dull as a country village and where cafés close at eight and restaurants at nine and no places of amusement are open other than a few poor cinemas, are thoroughly enjoying the contrast....

People who one day read the announcement of the death of a son, a father, or a brother, are seen the next day in the streets or cafés going about quietly, expressing or betraying neither sorrow nor regret. The loved one has died "für Gott, für König, und für Vaterland." That is glory enough, and neither the Emperor nor the people feel that it is appropriate to mourn for one who has died for his country....

Berlin, Sunday, December 6th. About the atrocities in Belgium there is, apparently, no question, but considering the way the Germans controlled themselves in France, some explanation of their brutality farther north in Belgian Flanders is necessary. The Germans say that the cruelties were not all on one side; that the Belgians practised sniping, impeded the German army, and mutilated German wounded. The only one of these charges that seems to have been proved is that of sniping, but even if other cruelties were committed it must be remembered that the moral status of the Belgians was entirely different from that of the Germans. The Belgians were aroused to blind fury by the disregard of their neutrality rights and the unwarranted invasion of their peaceful country....

Recently I had a long conversation with a German statesman of ambassadorial rank, who spoke with intense[67] feeling of the plight of the thousands of German subjects, men, women, and children, who had been caught in France at the opening of the war and interned in detention camps. He said: "It is ridiculous for the French to suspect any of these people of being spies, for German spies are not weak or unprotected, but strong, picked men and women, highly trained to make technical observations."

Tuesday, December 8th. I went to the American Embassy this morning to obtain the necessary paper for my departure to-morrow for Vienna. Mr. Grew called me into his private office and said that Ambassador Gerard was particularly anxious that I should go to London instead as he had dispatches of the utmost importance to send and would feel indebted to me if I could take them. He warned me that the undertaking would not be pleasant or altogether safe. I promptly accepted the mission,—indeed such requests are, in the Army, the Navy, and the Diplomatic Service, made only to be accepted. I am to leave Berlin Thursday morning at 8:59 and go through Germany and Holland to Flushing, where I shall take a boat across the North Sea to Folkestone and thence to our Embassy in London.

V—ON THE WAY TO HOLLAND—SHADOWED BY DETECTIVES

Thursday, December 10th. Soon after the train left Berlin this morning I judged that I was being shadowed. When it pulled out of the station there were four people, including myself, in the six-place compartment, the two middle seats being vacant, one on my left as I sat next the window and the other diagonally facing me. Soon after the train was well started two men came in and occupied these seats. This in itself was suspicious,[68] since people do not seek seats while a train is in motion. Both moreover had the air of being detectives. I, by this time, know the type well, for I have been constantly shadowed ever since my arrival in Germany and am perfectly certain that my rooms have several times been searched while I was absent. I simply continued to behave with the greatest possible circumspection, the two detectives meanwhile staring at me constantly with fixed intensity.

It was a bit unpleasant because I did not certainly know the nature of the dispatches I carried, but realized that they were extremely important. They were in a small leather mail pouch, padlocked and sealed, which I had set on the floor between my feet and knees. Everything went quietly for some two hours. I could not look out of the window in towns and yards because I might have seen troop-trains, factories, etc., and that would have been "indiscreet." The part of Germany from Berlin to Holland is utterly flat and uninteresting, so that there was no pleasure in looking at the countryside between stations. I pretended to doze, or read three German weeklies which I had bought. One of these finally precipitated matters. It was the Fliegende Blätter, a comic paper of about the class of Life or Punch. There was in it a joke in German argot which had been too much for my scant knowledge of the language and the courier who had escorted me from the Embassy had by the merest hazard translated it for me. In my desperate efforts to amuse myself I was looking through this sheet again and encountering this joke thought, "If I don't write down the English I shall forget it." Whereupon I took out a pencil and wrote the translation interlinearly.

Soon afterwards one of the detectives got up, went out into the corridor, and came back with three conductors who, in Germany, of course, are military officials. The[69] three civilians who had shared the compartment left us as if they had been rehearsed. One of the detectives then suddenly burst into a perfect berserker rage, getting quite purple in the face, and snatching up the Fliegende Blätter proceeded carefully to turn over the pages again and again, holding each page against the light. It was altogether melodramatically ridiculous. Taking the paper from me in this way, although inoffensive, was perhaps within his rights since it concerned me only in a personal and not in an official way, and so I sat quite calmly in my seat and, biding my time, made no move of any kind. I paid no attention to the conductors, judging the detective to be the kingpin and the conductors merely dragged in as a matter of routine. None of them could read English and they chose to regard the interlineation (one line of about ten words) as extraordinarily suspicious.

The detective asked me for my passports and did so without going through the customary formality of showing his police card. I demanded as a matter of routine that he do this and began to draw out of my pocket the large envelope in which I keep all my documents in order to take out my Eagle-stamped German courier's paper. Without complying with my request he grabbed for this envelope, while at the same moment someone jerked at the bag which was between my knees. All this was an affair totally different from that of the Fliegende Blätter. I had thoroughly thought out what I would do in an emergency if German officials should attempt to take my pouch from me, and had decided that I should make enough of a resistance so that there should be no possibility of disputing the fact that physical force had been used and an assault committed. This would "let me out," since a dispatch-bearer cannot be expected successfully to defend himself against the whole German army. Incidentally[70] I might add that interference in any way with the dispatch-bearer of a neutral country is a very heinous international and diplomatic sin. I therefore jerked my envelope of papers rudely out of the detective's hand and gave him a vigorous shove, resisting an almost overwhelming temptation to hit him with all my might on his fat, unprotected jaw. I had half risen to my feet, meanwhile keeping a grip on the dispatch bag with my knees, and at the same time I vigorously swung my hips and freed myself from the man below. The detective struck the opposite wall of the compartment and bounced off toward the doorway, where he and the conductors stood jabbering and waving their arms and ever getting more and more purple in the face.

VI—OUTWITTING THE PRUSSIAN SPIES

Finally the detective showed his police card, and I then extended to them my Eagle-stamped courier passport, following it with my Embassy credential and my certificate of identity or personal passport. These three made a complete case and I refused to show anything more, insisting that my status had been adequately established. The officials continued to jabber and argue, having been continuously impolite during the entire episode, a mode of behavior which was a notable divergence from my previous experiences with agents of the Imperial Secret Service. The chief detective, whose name was Werther, continued to hang around, trying to talk with me, evidently determined to get further information about my plans.

I do not pretend to judge whether all this was mere accidental clumsiness and rudeness on the part of stupid detectives or if it was something very much deeper, prompted by someone higher up. One is, however, inclined[71] to doubt inefficiency in the Prussian Secret Service and there may have been reasons why German authorities would count it of great importance to know the contents of my pouch....

I was followed constantly thereafter, as previously, the men being cleverly changed at every opportunity. My every step was dogged. At Wesel a detective sat at the same table in the station restaurant while I ate dinner. Such being the case I was, to say the least, a bit annoyed.

At Essen during a fifteen-minute wait for a change of trains, I withdrew to one end of the platform after having rechecked the two big mail-sacks. I was standing alone, with a detective, as usual, off in the background, when a man who looked a typical raw-boned Englishman drew near and hung around, staring at me. I looked him up and down and then turned my back thinking, "Another detective!" It was impossible to believe that an Englishman could be, of all places, in Essen. He finally approached me, saying in English of a most perfect and pronounced British accent, "Are you an American?" I replied, "Yes, are you a police officer? If so, please show me your card." He replied, "No, I am in a delicate position. I am trying to go to England this evening. I have American papers. You must see me through. I am ——." I cut him short by saying that I regretted, etc., and deliberately walked away. From that time on this man dogged me everywhere, trying to pass through gates with me and to get into the same compartments, even following me to the same hotels and restaurants, and trying to make anything he could out of my presence. I never lost sight of him for long until we finally set foot in England, where he did finally arrive, in spite of some very close shaves. I last saw him giving me a very ugly look as I landed at Folkestone. Whatever[72] his nationality, he certainly was a spy in the German service.

VII—SAFE ARRIVAL AT EMBASSY IN LONDON

London, Saturday, December 12th. We had an exciting trip across the North Sea, taking zigzag courses to avoid mine-fields and sighting numerous destroyers and one sunken ship. We successfully avoided either hitting a mine or running into a torpedo. The boat was packed down with Belgian and French refugees. One Luxembourger had been a whole month getting to Flushing from his home in Belgium. I was much relieved when I arrived at Victoria Station with my pouch and found a clerk from the Embassy waiting for me, and still more relieved when we had deposited all the bags safely at their destination.


Sunday, December 13th. Imagine the face of any British telegraph operator if I were to hand him a cable saying: "I am leaving again for Berlin and Vienna," which is exactly what I am to do. I return immediately with dispatches from England to our Embassies in Germany and Austria. My plans are subject to modification by official orders, but I shall probably remain in Berlin only one day and then go to Vienna and Budapest. The bag I am to take to Berlin contains not only official dispatches, but a large sum of money....

On the North Sea, December 16th. It has been a wonderful stormy day to-day; as an officer said: "a typical North Sea winter day"—a leaden sky, roaring wind, smothers of rain, great black-green waves all flecked and blotched in white, big sea birds and little gulls dipping down the wave valleys and soaring up the wave[73] mountains, and the ship taking the most foolish and impossible angles....

Two hours out a British destroyer came dashing up in our wake, making two feet to our one. She was a most picturesque sight, long, low, and speedy, painted black; her towering knife-prow thrust out in front and the long, low hull strung out behind. She "brought us to" with a shot across the bows, and as we wallowed in the trough of the sea, she went by to starboard fairly shaving our side. The officer on her bridge, over which great waves of spray and water broke at every moment, "looked us over" and then bellowed orders to our captain through a megaphone....

VIII—EXPERIENCES AT THE EMBASSY IN VIENNA

Vienna, Saturday, December 19th. I remained in Berlin only one day and started this morning for Vienna with dispatches, arriving late in the evening after an uneventful fourteen-hour journey.

Sunday, December 20th. I presented myself at the American Embassy this morning and delivered my dispatches....

Monday, December 21st. I had a walk and talk with Ambassador Penfield this morning; took luncheon with Mr. Grant-Smith and went afterward to the Embassy. Later in the afternoon I went with Count Colloredo von Mansfeld to the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office and then called on the Countess Potatka to whom I had brought letters of introduction.

Tuesday, December 22d. After luncheon to-day Mr. Grant-Smith presented me to Wilhelm Prince zu Stollberg Wering Rode, Conseiller of the German Embassy in[74] Vienna, who made an appointment with me for Thursday.

I am meeting many officials, American, German, and Austrian, but at present I cannot, without indiscretion, state just what they discuss....

Thursday, December 24th. I made a verbal report to Prince zu Stollberg this morning on the situation of German subjects in France. After luncheon I had a most interesting talk with Mr. Nelson O'Shaughnessy, of Mexican fame, who is Conseiller at the Embassy. Later I went for a most delightful automobile ride with Ambassador Penfield....


Count Berchtold, whom I have seen on several occasions, is a wiry man of medium height, always grave, intent and all-observing under a mask of stolidity. He never "talks" and seldom speaks. When he does he is terse and speaks out of one corner of his mouth as if reluctant to let the words escape. He is, however, noted for the most unfailing and perfect manners. It is said he can hear perfectly every separate conversation that may be carried on in any room where he happens to be present, and not only hears what is spoken but catches every little motion or hint of important matters. Such is the man whose hand struck the match that lit the long-prepared conflagration in which the total military casualties alone already far exceed five million.


IX—IN A CASTLE AT BUDAPEST

Budapest, Tuesday, December 29th. I left Vienna at nine o'clock this morning and reached Budapest at two. I had tea with Mrs. Gerard, who is in Budapest visiting[75] her sister, Countess Sigray. I called at the home of Count Albert Apponyi to leave my card and letters of introduction. I dined with Mrs. Gerard and the Count and Countess Sigray.


The Austrian Emperor is a little man, slightly stooped, rather shriveled-up and possessed of a pair of keen, shrewd eyes. He is an able follower of the Emperor Ferdinand who once replied to the statement that a certain one of his subjects was a patriot by saying: "I don't care if he's patriotic for the country, but is he patriotic for me?" Franz Josef is cold, pitiless, and does not hesitate to ruin in a moment his most faithful servitor if he is at any time guilty of failure, or commits a blunder. Even when a minister or general is forced to carry out an order in spite of strong protests, he has relentlessly broken him if any catastrophe has resulted. A notable case is that of the general who commanded the Austrian armies in the battle of Sadowa.

At the request of the Countess X. I had written to her mother, the Countess W., before leaving Vienna, and found her answer awaiting me at the Consul's office when I arrived in Budapest. I learn that she also communicated with Count Berchtold, the Prime Minister of the Empire, with Count Szecsen, ex-Ambassador to France, and with the Hungarian Premier, so that in case I missed her letters (she sent me one to Vienna and one to Budapest) these gentlemen would see to it that I went to visit her, as she wished to thank me personally for what I had been able to do for her daughter, and also to hear direct news of her grandchildren.

I left Budapest early this afternoon and arrived after dark at Békéscsaba, which is about half-way to Belgrade. I was met by a major-domo who appropriated my luggage[76] and led me to a private car on a private railroad belonging to the Countess. We started immediately and ran in about twenty minutes to the gate of the estate where she usually resides. Here I was carefully transferred into a waiting carriage and was tenderly tucked into numerous fur rugs by two or three strong men. The two splendid horses turned through the gates for a ten-minute drive across a beautiful park to the castle—and such a castle! It is equal in size and charm to some of the famous French châteaux along the Loire which I studied last spring.

I was carefully unpacked again under a splendid porte-cochère and ushered by numerous flunkies into the presence of the Countess. She received me in a tremendous room with a lofty ceiling, and in a preliminary talk of an hour she took off the first keen edge of her appetite for news.

My bedroom is perfectly huge and has two ante-rooms—for the personal servants whom I do not possess. We dined at eight, there being at the table, besides the Countess, a daughter and her companion, a Frenchwoman. During dinner the Countess mentioned that the war necessitated frequent readjustments in the management of her estates; that the military authorities had recently taken another five hundred of her men for service in the army. She asked me if I enjoyed hunting and, upon receiving an affirmative answer, said that she would send me for an hour or two with the pheasants in the morning. She warned me that the shooting would be poor because no care had been taken of the preserves since her sons departed for the war.

[77]

X—WITH THE HUNGARIAN NOBLEMAN

Saturday, January 9th. Yesterday on my arrival in Budapest I found awaiting me an invitation from Count Albert Apponyi to visit him at his castle at Eberhard, near Pozsony. I left Budapest at eight, reached Pozsony about eleven, and drove to Eberhard, where I was received by the Count.

I was extremely impressed on meeting Count Apponyi. I had anticipated something unusual, but he was quite beyond my expectations. He is about six feet three inches tall, has a splendidly erect carriage, and is a most impressively handsome man. He has a broad, well-shaped forehead sloping back steeply, splendid blue-gray eyes, the biggest, thinnest nose in the world, enormous nostrils, a strong, sensitive mouth, and a grayish, square-cut beard. The "grand old man of Hungary" looked up to his title.

He has been a member of the Hungarian Parliament for forty-two years and has several times held ministerial portfolios....

He has twice been in America. He has several times visited ex-President Roosevelt at the White House and at Sagamore Hill, and the Colonel has been a guest here at Eberhard....

At luncheon there were as guests the Count and Countess Karolyi Hunyadi and two of their sons, and the Countess Herberstein, whose husband is a general in the army.

Sunday, January 10th. I had the honor of a very interesting walk and talk with Count Apponyi this morning. Among other things he said: "I sometimes let my younger daughter (aged 12) play with the children of the peasants on the place. It gives her an understanding[78] of life, and besides, there is no one of her own age and rank in this part of the country." This for a Hungarian nobleman is an extremely democratic remark.

(And so this American Attaché continues to write in his notebook the impressions which he received on his official journeys through the war-ridden countries, which were so soon to become the enemies of his own country. His diary is one of the most interesting records of the war.)

FOOTNOTE:

[5] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.


[79]

'NEATH VERDUN—BEHIND THE CROWN PRINCE'S ARMY

By Lieutenant Maurice Genevoix—Translated by H. Grahame Richards

This extraordinary narrative by a young Lieutenant in the French Army gives the most vivid impression that has been recorded of the Great War. The author was a student at the Ecole Normale, Paris, at the outbreak of the War. He received his baptism of fire in August, 1914—and what a baptism it was! It has been truly said by critics that his narrative is one which will be read and reread and handed on to posterity. He lays bare the soul of the War. Under his magic touch, we stand at Verdun; we see the army at "The Crossing of the Meuse"; we stay with them through "The Days of the Marne"; we march with them "Behind the Crown Prince's Army"; we fight with them "In the Woods." We here reprint portions of his narrative by permission of his American publishers, Frederick A. Stokes Company.

[6] I—STORY OF THE LIEUTENANT AT VERDUN

Half-past one in the morning! Kit bags on the ground, rifles piled, lines in sections of four, at the edge of a little wood of birch trees struggling for life on a stony soil. The night is cold. I place a listening post well forward and return and seat myself near my men. The stillness is palpitating; the passage of time interminably long-drawn. The dawn begins to lighten the sky. I look around me and see the pale and tired faces of my men.

[80]

Four o'clock. A dozen rifle shots to the right cause me to leap to my feet just as I am making myself comfortable. Out of a small neighboring wood a dozen Uhlans are flying at a gallop—they must have passed the night in the covert.

The day breaks clear and fresh. My Nubécourt bed-fellow produces his inexhaustible flask, and we sip a drop of brandy which possesses no bouquet at all and seems like raw alcohol. The Captain joins us at last and explains the situation in a few words:

"A German army corps," he says, "is marching towards the southeast, having for flank-guard a brigade which follows the valley of the Aire. The —th Corps is going to engage the said German corps, while it remains for us to deal with the flanking brigade."

For the first time I am going to experience war in all its reality!


Clac! Clac! Two bullets have struck immediately to my left. The noise at once surprises and slightly amazes me; these bullets seem less dangerous when they sing and whistle. Clac! Clac! Stones, pieces of dried earth, spurts of dust fly into the air; we have been seen and they have got the range of us. Forward! I am leading, seeking a ditch, a slope, a fold in the earth wherein to shelter my men after the first rush—even the hedge of a field, or anything which will render them less visible to the Boches will do. A movement of my right arm shortens the line by half. I hear the tramp of feet, the rustle of the stubble lying in our course. And while we are running forward the detachment in support fires rapidly but steadily. Then when I raise my cap, that detachment in its turn charges at the double, whilst all around me my men's rifles come into play and speak unceasingly.

[81]

A strangled cry to the left. I have scarcely time to see the man sprawl flat on his back, his two legs still moving as though to carry him forward. A second, and all his body stiffens and then relaxes and the man is no more than an inert thing, dead flesh which to-morrow the sun will commence to decompose.

Forward! To remain still would cost us more dearly now than the most furious assault. Forward! The men are falling rapidly, stopped dead in full course, some crashing prone without a word, others halting and staring stupidly, while feeling with their hand for their wound. And they say: "I have got it," or, "Mine has arrived!" Often it is no more than a single expressive word. Almost all of them, even those whose wounds are slight, turn pale at the shock.


"Oh!..." The cry escaped a dozen of us at once. A high explosive burst clean among the Saint Maixenter's platoon. And he, I saw it distinctly with my own eyes, received the shell full in his body. His cap vanished into space, a part of his coat, an arm. And there he is lying on the earth a shapeless mass, white and red pulp, a body stripped well-nigh naked, shattered. His men, finding themselves leaderless, give way and scatter.


We march through an inferno of smoke, from time to time obtaining a glimpse, through momentary clearings, of the village and the river running beneath the trees. But there is no truce to the shells which follow us in hundreds.

I recollect passing one of my sergeants being carried by two of the men on crossed rifles; he pointed out to me speechlessly, his torn and blood-stained shirt and his side terribly lacerated by an explosion. I could see the raw edges of the flesh....

[82]

I march onwards and onwards exhausted and stumbling. I take a long gulp of the water that remains in my flask. Since yesterday evening I have eaten nothing.

When we reach the edge of the stream, the men halt and throw themselves down and commence to lap the muddied waters like dogs.

It must be seven o'clock now; the sun is sinking into a bed of virgin gold. The sky above us is a pale and transparent emerald. The earth darkens, colors vanish. It is quite dark by the time we leave Sommaisne. We become mere shadows trailing along the road.


Not a wink of sleep. The noise of the shells hurtling through the air is constantly in my ears, while the acrid and suffocating fumes of explosives haunt my nostrils. Scarcely yet is it midnight before I receive orders to depart. I emerge from the trusses of wheat and rye among which I had ensconced myself. Bits of stalk have slipped down my collar and up my sleeves, and tickle me all over. The night is so dark that we stumble over the stones and irregularities of the ground. We pass very close to some 120's drawn up behind us; I hear the voices of the artillerymen, but only with difficulty can I distinguish the heavy sleeping guns.


Hallo! The German guns are speaking early this morning! Before us shrapnel is bursting noisily and spitefully. Over the plain they have thrown a barrage. Nevertheless we have to go through it. Our first section detaches itself; in a line, long-drawn and thin, it moves across the fields towards a small wood which the captain has indicated as the objective. Rifles crackle away to the left. Bullets sing and throw up the dust about the marching section. Then shrapnel bursts right over[83] the men. The undulating line becomes still, taking cover behind a ridge of earth shaped like a gigantic caterpillar.

II—STORY OF THE CHARGING GERMANS

"Hurrah! Hurrah! Vorwärts!"

How many thousands of soldiers are surging down upon us then? The moist earth quivers beneath the tramp of their heavy feet. Most surely must we be smashed to pieces, trampled down, broken. For there are not more than sixty of us all told, and how may sixty men extended in single file hope to resist the tremendous pressure of these ranks upon ranks of men rushing down upon us like a herd of maddened buffaloes?

"Rapid fire! Nom de Dieu! Fire!"

The crackling of the rifles rends the air; spurts of flame shatter the darkness. The rifles of my platoon have spoken simultaneously!

And now there is a gap in the very heart of the charging mass. I hear shrill screams of agony as of beasts mortally stricken. The dark figures divide to flow right and left, just as if, before the trench, and extending its whole length, a tempest had raged and laid men to the earth, as the breath of the gale bends down the growing wheat.

Some of the men about me say:

"Look, Lieutenant! See, they are lying down!"

"No, my friend! It is not so. They have fallen down!"

And ... (Censored.)

Once more I repeat:

"Fire! Fire! Let them have it! Put it into them! Fire!"


"Hurrah! Vorwärts!"

[84]

I am surrounded by Boches; it seems impossible that I can escape, separated as I am from all my men. Nevertheless I grasp my revolver in my hand and pray only I may be permitted to give a good account of myself.

Suddenly I am sprawling face downwards, nose to the earth, having stumbled over something hard and metallic. Lying in the mud is the body of a dead German whose helmet has rolled a little away from him. Instantly an idea seizes me. I pick up the helmet and place it on my own head, passing the strap beneath my chin to secure it.

There follows a mad flight for the safety the chasseurs will afford. Without hesitating a second, I rush by groups of Boches who are wandering about doubtfully, their original plans having been rather upset by our fusillade. As I pass them I cry:

"Hurrah! Vorwärts!"

Like them, too, I keep repeating the word to which they seem to attach great importance, which is:

"Heiligtum!"

The rain stings my face: the mud adheres to my soles until only with difficulty can I raise boots which have become enormously big and heavy. Twice I fall on my hands and knees, only to rise again and instantly resume my flight, notwithstanding my aching legs. Singing and whistling bullets pass over me into the darkness beyond.

Out of the blackness at my feet a man rises and the words on his lips are French.

"Is it you, Letty?"

"Yes, Lieutenant; I've got one in the thigh."

"That's all right, old man; we'll get there yet!"

Already there are no more harsh-voiced brawlers around us. Manifestly they must reform before continuing[85] the assault. So I throw away the helmet and replace my cap of which I have taken good care.

Before reaching the chasseurs I overtake four Boches, in each of whom, either in the back or in the head, I put a revolver bullet. Each one drops in his tracks with a long, strangled cry.

(Censored.)


Skirting the base of a steep slope, I pass through a fire zone where the bullets in hundreds, whining and shrilling, tear up the soil all about me. Then I encounter a group of men, standing at the foot of a tree. There is a dying officer in the center, supported against the tree-hole. A glimpse I have of a dark blue tunic wide opened, of a shirt stained with bright blood. The wounded man's head sags heavily down to his shoulder, and in the whitened, tortured face, moist from fearful agony, I recognize my own major.

But I must not stay!


I question a lieutenant who is marking the fall of the shells through his glasses, shaking from head to foot the while from excitement.

"Things going well? Eh?"

He turns towards me. The joy which fills him is plainly legible in his face. He laughs exuberantly:

"I should say they are going well. The Germans are giving way—deserting their positions like rats a sinking ship."

He laughs once more. "Listen to our 75's! They are making them dance like madmen! That is the way to carry on, what? They are being kicked in the sterns now, the swine!"

A staff captain on foot is watching the delighted gunnners.[86] He laughs also and repeats several times in a loud voice: "Good! Very good!"

III—STORIES TOLD AFTER THE BATTLE

Heavily and dreamlessly I sleep, and awake to find myself in precisely the same attitude as that in which I flung myself down the preceding night. The straw wraps me in grateful warmth, rather moist, perhaps, because the water in my saturated clothes has evaporated during the night....

We find that in the night the torrent has well-nigh filled the trenches with liquid mud. Some sappers, however, come to our assistance, and, thanks to them, we are able to shelter ourselves from the worst of the downpour.

The men work easily, flinging jests one to the other. The incidents of the night attack are revived and acquire a totally new force by reason of the simple words in which they are related.

"I was all right at the beginning," says Martigny, one of my men. "But all at once, while I was still firing, down toppled a Boche right on top of me, without so much as a "by your leave!" I was on my knees and he lay across my calves. It's not easy to fire in such a position as that! Little by little the weight forced my knees down into the mud; the water rose almost up to my hands: how was I to refill my magazine? I could not see the animal, but you can take my word for it, he was heavy."

And a second:

"A good job for me that I was once fencing-sergeant in the regulars! Otherwise I should not be here now. Not even time to fix my bayonet before I found one of the ugly pigs on top of me with his skewer. I thought[87] to myself: 'What's all this about? But you are going to find you can joke once too often, my Boche!' And there we were all in and at it. I parried a thrust with the stock of my rifle, but what sort of defence could I put up, seeing that my weapon was much shorter than his? Only he didn't manage to get his bayonet into me!... There wasn't even a cartridge! I tell you that Boche kept me jumping from side to side until I felt like dying from weariness. You know what a job it is to parry, when you can no longer feel your own fingers? Still jumping, I said to myself: 'What in the name of glory are those asses right and left fooling about? Are they going to stand by and see me knocked out?' Oh! but they were there all right, and it was Gillet to the right who put a bullet into him while he was pausing to take a breath. Then I stuck on my bayonet and filled my magazine. There were others still coming up, you understand!"

"Sons of pigs, these Boches!" rasps a miner from the North. "And what mugs they are too, Mon Dieu! When I saw them swarming over towards me, 'Martin,' said I to myself, 'you're done for this time!' And then: 'Hurrah!' they're off! Bang, bang, bang! And I knew no more."

"Martin, you are babbling," grunts a huge Champenois, who is smoking his pipe and listening with eyes atwinkle. "Hammer away at the earth, seeing that is what you were born for; but don't mix yourself up in conversations, because you can't talk."

He spits on his hands, rubs them against each other, and taking up his pick starts digging again with long, steady, powerful strokes.


In the evening we go into the village. I stroll slowly[88] towards the barn where my section is billeted. In the square, a group of noisy soldiers is gathered before a house which has nothing in particular to distinguish it from its neighbours. With much pushing and stretching of necks they are contriving to scan a big placard stuck on the wall....

The first word that encounters my eyes, however, gives me a violent shock. I can see nothing else but that word, which instantly seizes upon my excited imagination and seems to presage things marvellous, superhuman, incredible. The word is:

"Victory!"

It sings in my ears, that word. It echoes through all the streets, it bursts on me like a triumphant fanfare.

"Victory!" Thrills pass through me, enthusiasm seizes upon me and stirs me so violently as to make me feel almost sick. I feel that I am too small to contain the emotion to which the sacred word gives rise.

"The retreat of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd German Armies is becoming pronounced before our left and centre. In its turn, the enemy's 4th Army is beginning to fall back to the north of Vitry and Sermaize."

So that is it, then! We have been progressing everywhere. We have grappled with them, badly torn them, wounded them! Oh! that it may run and run, that German blood, until every particle of strength shall have streamed out of them!...

IV—STORIES OF THE GRAVES—AND CROSSES

Marats-la-Grande. We do not pass through the village. Some mounted batteries are passing and scaling the sloping fields towards the road. The riders are shouting[89] and whipping their horses, already straining at the collar. Poor beasts! So thin that one can count their ribs, sides chafed raw by the harness, heads hanging, they strain and strain until their laboured breathing is audible, while their large bleared eyes speak eloquently of their sufferings.

A grave; two posts have been tied to form a cross! On the horizontal one a deep notch has been made with a knife, revealing the white heart of the wood. Someone has written in pencil the name of the soldier whose body is lying in the earth, his uniform for his shroud. The number of his regiment, his company and the date of his death, the 9th of September, are also inscribed. Four days! Only four days ago that decomposing something lying beneath the mound of earth was a man in the full flood of life, hoping, perhaps, soon to be reunited to the dear ones waiting for him. Four days!... His parents would not have heard yet.

More graves. They are not laid out in any particular order, or even in groups. At irregular intervals, they line the road we are following, which is no more than a trampled-down track over fresh grass between trees in leaf. Everywhere one can see these sad little crosses, on almost all of which a red cap hangs. Without halting, the men read aloud the inscriptions. The 8th of September, the 9th of September, the 10th of September....

And here is one which is not marked with the little cross of branches. A stake has been simply driven into the ground, bearing a burnt-in inscription to tell passersby the name of the dead man; on the newly-turned earth some white stones have been arranged in the form of a cross—they seem to protect him who lies there better and more intimately.

Hastily-made graves, turned out with small trenching[90] tools, how I wish you were much deeper! Your lines suggest the shape of the body you hide from our eyes. The rain must have soaked you these last days and nights! But at least calm and peace are with you. The enemy is far away, never to return. Guard well, then, your poor dead, until the day dawns when the old men and women shall come to demand of you the bodies of their loved ones!

We march onwards a few minutes longer and reach a bare plain studded with shell-craters. The sun is sinking, the rays of its golden light striking obliquely. Mutilated horses are lying about, their stiff legs crossed or thrust up towards the sky.

V—TRAMP! TRAMP! TRAMP! ALONG THE ROAD OF CORPSES

"Fall in!"

New orders have just arrived and we are to move on again.

Before leaving, I pick up a fragment of shell over which I stumbled. It is fifty centimetres long by fifteen wide, with jagged edges like the teeth of a saw. I contemplate this terrible thing lying heavy in my hand. To what kind of a shell, swift and growling, must it have belonged? This fragment must be one of those which cleanly sweep away an arm or leg, tear off a head, or cut a man completely in two. And holding it thus in my hand, heavy and cold, I remember a poor little cyclist who was killed close to us in Septsarges Wood—one leg taken away at the hip and the lower part of his abdomen laid open.

Trees and a shimmer of green on a wide road, away to the north. Night is falling. Suddenly through the grayness[91] we find ourselves looking upon some ruins—we have reached Erize-la-Petite.


Another road skirting the line which links Rembercourt with Vauxmarie and Beuzée. In the ditches, hunched up or stretched at full length, are human corpses. A single corpse is a rare spectacle. As a rule they are lying huddled together as if seeking to warm each other. The failing light reveals blue coats and red trousers; Frenchmen; more Frenchmen, in fact nothing but Frenchmen! Judge my enthusiasm on finding some Boches among them! I fall out several times to make sure that these really are Boches. The foe cannot have had the time to hide away that lot!

The night becomes black and corpses are no longer visible. But they are always there, at the bottom of the ditches, on the slopes at the very edge of the road. We realize their presence even in the dark. By shielding the eyes and peering hard, it is possible to see the eerie heaps which have lost all resemblance to that of which they are made....

Not a word in the ranks; nothing but the regular tramp, tramp, before and behind me; occasionally someone coughs, a little dryly, or a man spits. That is all. It must be cold, yet my head and hands are burning, and my will struggles to subdue an uncontrollable inclination to turn to my right where the cool waters of the Aire, flowing by the roadside, are betrayed by the stagnant pools under the trees.

An unexpected halt! The men bump their noses against the packs of the file in front. Confusion and much swearing. Then quick commands:

"Quartermasters prepare rations for distribution."

It is the best of all signs. The day's march is ended.

[92]


Come! Head erect and fists clenched! No more of that weakness that a moment ago assailed me. We must look unmoved on these poor dead and seek from them the inspiration of hate. It was the Boche in his flight who dragged these sorry things to the side of the road, who arranged this horrid spectacle for our express benefit, and we must never rest until the brute has drunk our cup of vengeance to the dregs.

Impotent and childish is the fury that only inspires us with rage and the passion for vengeance instead of fear, as our foe hopes and believes.

Besides, every step forward now presents us with eloquent testimony of the completeness of the defeat they have suffered—helmets torn and pierced by our bullets, crushed and shattered by our shells; rusty bayonets; broken cartridge-belts, still full. To the left of the road in the fields are some overturned ammunition wagons and gun-carriages in pieces, the horses lying dead in a heap. In the ditch is the carriage of a shattered machine-gun; one can see the hole made by the shell—a 75. What a state the gun on that carriage must have been in! And the machine-gunners? At the bottom of the hole! Ammunition belts of coarse white canvas lie coiled in puddles.

We pick up some boots full of rain-water. I wonder whether the men from whom we took them walked barefooted through the mud merely for pleasure? In another hole we find the men themselves. Further on again we encounter crosses bearing German inscriptions. Here then are the Ottos, the Friedrichs, the Karls, and the Hermans! Each cross bears four, five and even six names. The Germans were in a hurry; they buried their men in bunches.

A cross higher than the others attracts and holds our[93] attention; it bears no more than three words deeply carved in big capitals:

ZWEI DEUTSCHES KRIEGER

Is there still another challenge hidden behind this? If so, it is obscure. For who killed you, you two German soldiers?

VI—TALES OF THE NIGHTMARE DAYS

Over the trampled roadway, newspapers, post-cards and letters flutter. I pick up a photograph on the back of which a woman has written a few lines:

"My Peter, it is a long time since we received any news from you and we are naturally very anxious. I think, however, that very shortly you will be able to tell us of still further victories and that you will return in glory to Toelz. What a fête you shall have then...." And then further on: "The little one has grown and is becoming quite strong. You could never imagine what a little treasure he is. Do not be too long in returning, or he will not be able to recognize you."

Sad enough, indeed, is it not? Whose, however, is the fault? Remember our dead of a short while ago; remember the captain flung almost across the road. What has he done, of what is he capable, this Peter, this German whose photograph shows him with lowered face, cold eyes, heavy-jawed, resting his hand on the back of a chair on which his wife is seated, smiling but negligible? Pity at such a moment would shame us. Let us harden our hearts and keep them hard until the end comes.

[94]


And so in memory I live again through bad days, nightmare days—the réveil in the furious, stinging rain; the arrival at Louvemont, that indescribable village little better than a sewer. I had gone over to the quarters of the adjoining section because before their barn a little chimney-piece had been erected with some paving stones. There had been a fire of flaming logs, hissing and spluttering. We had stripped ourselves to the waist to let the grateful warmth of the flames play on our chests and backs and shoulders. Sitting on a bundle of straw we had found an old, white-bearded soldier, dreaming. I had gone up to him and said:

"Hallo, M——! So you are better! Beginning to feel alive once again, eh?"

"Oh, yes, Lieutenant. But it has been a hard pull, a very hard pull!..."

And he had repeated in a low voice, as though experiencing again hardships still recent: "Very hard!"

Poor old man! He had gone through the campaign of '70 as a volunteer, and since those days had lived outside France. For thirty years, I believe, he acted as a notary in California, until the very day, in fact, which had brought this war upon us. Then, when France was once more attacked and menaced, he had flung everything aside and had come back to shoulder his rifle. He had described himself as being robust, smart and well able to endure any hardships. They had accepted his statement and sent him up to face the Boches with the first batch of reinforcements. He had joined up with us in the woods at the very moment we were setting out for those nightmarish advance posts; those two succeeding days were the first of his service. Poor old man!—and he was sixty-four years of age!


We had crossed the line from Verdun to Conflans,[95] marching ankle-deep in wet coal-dust. Before a smoke-blackened house at the barrier some enormous girasols thrust forth their yellow and black corollæ, their colours rendered more brilliant by the recent rain. We passed some quads of territorials with their tools on their shoulders, artillerymen from the big fortresses, slow-moving country wagons laden with forage, tree-trunks and wine casks. Wooden huts had been erected along the roadside, each of which had a name inscribed on it, such as: Happy Villa; The Good Children's Castle; Villa Piccolo, etc. Verses adorned some of them, not of high poetical attainment, but something after this fashion:

"You never see us weeping here—
Often you'll see us drinking beer.
War may not be the best of fun,
But we'll stick it till we've smashed the Hun!"

An interruption. A woman appears, thin and dirty, pushing before her a little yellow-haired girl, whose eyes are red-rimmed and tear-stained. The doctor having been consulted, prescribes for colic.

"And what do I owe you for that, doctor?" asks the woman.

"Nothing at all, madam."

But she draws from beneath her apron a dusty bottle. "I must 'recompinse' you somehow. There is not very much in it, but what there is tastes good. It is good: oh, but indeed it is!"

It is Toul wine, dry, thin and somewhat sharp. A brawn, turned out on to a plate, gives us an excellent lunch.

In the afternoon we pass to the observation trench. We overtake a group of lame men, without weapons, coats open, almost all of them limping along with a stick. Among them I recognize a friend of pre-war days. We[96] shake hands and speak eagerly and with pleasure of common memories, before approaching the inevitable regrets. As he belonged to a regiment which was compelled to give way before the Boches, I asked him how it had come about. He shrugged his shoulders despondently.

"Masses of infantry; an endless hail of shell; not a gun to support us ... don't let's talk about it, old man."


The thunder of the 75's almost splits our ears. Occasionally a German shell flies past us with a shrill whistle and peppers the trees with a volley of shrapnel. Into the midst of this tumult we march and take up position. My section occupies about fifty yards of a trench already full of corpses.

"Out with your tools," I say to my men, "and dig for all you are worth."

VII—THE DEATH WAILS OF THE WOUNDED

Night falls. The cold increases. It is that hour when, the battle ended, the wounded who have not yet been brought in, cry aloud in their suffering and distress. And those calls, those appealings, those moanings, awaken anguish in all those compelled to listen to them; an anguish the crueler for the fighters who are chained to their posts by stern duty yet who long to rush out to their gasping comrades, to dress their wounds, to speak words of comfort to them, and to carry them to safety where fires burn brightly and warm. Yet we must not do so; we are chained to the spot, our hearts wrung, our nerves quivering, shivering at the sound of soul-stricken cries brought to us unceasingly by the night.

"A drink!..."

"Are you going to leave me to die here?..."

[97]

"Stretcher-bearers!..."

"Drink!..."

"Ah!..."

"Stretcher-bearers!..."

I hear some of my men say:

"Where the devil are the stretcher-bearers!"

... (Censored.) ...

"They are like fleas—you can never find them when you look for them."

And before us the whole plain wrapped in darkness seems to shiver from the agony of those undressed wounds.

Voices soft, weary from having cried so long:

"... (Censored.) ...

....?"

"Mother, oh, mother!"

"Jeanne, little Jeanne.... Oh! say that you hear me, my Jeanne!"

"I am thirsty.... I am thirsty.... I am thirsty.... I am thirsty...."

Voices in anguish, panting and gasping:

"I won't die here like a rat!"

"Stretcher-bearers! Stretcher-bearers!... Stretcher-bearers!!!"

"... (Censored.) ...

....?"

"You fellows, finish me off, for God's sake! Ah!..."

A German not more than twenty yards away, cries out incessantly:

"Kamerad! Franzose! Kamerad! Kamerad! Franzose!"

And in a lower voice:

"Hilfe! Hilfe!"

His voice wavers and breaks into a wailing as of a[98] crying child; then his teeth snap fiercely; then he shatters the night stillness with a beast's cry, like the howling of a dog baying at the moon.

Terrible beyond the power of words, that night. Every minute either Porchon or myself were jumping to our feet. The whole time we were under fire and the cold was truly cursed.

The nearer we approach the village, the more numerous become the wounded men returning from the fight. They come in groups, carefully selecting the shorter grass to walk over, seeking the shade to avoid the burning sun, which makes their wounds smart intolerably. There are a few Germans mingled with our men; one big-built man, fair, ruddy and with blue eyes, is assisting a little French infantryman, who limps along jesting and laughing and displaying all his teeth. With a wicked glance towards us, he cries aloud to the Boche:

"Is it not true, you pig, that you are a good pig?"

"I understand," exclaims the German gutturally. "Pig, good pig! I understand!"

And an unctuous laugh spreads all over his greasy face, happy at this display of camaraderie which promises so well for him, as vile and loathsome as are all Boches when at the mercy of a conqueror....

In the clear, cool night, to the accompaniment of many voices, the sections assemble and line up, and the companies are reformed. How attenuated, how mutilated they look!

My poor battalion! To-day's fight has once again cost us dearly. The 5th, which was so terribly cut up two weeks ago in the trenches at Vauxmarie, has also suffered cruelly again.

As for my own men, I know only too well those who are missing. Lauche, my sergeant, the only one left to me since Vauxmarie—it is always Vauxmarie!—I had[99] seen him, as Vauthier put it, clawing the grass at the bottom of the ditch; I knew he was gone already. There was big Brunet also, and several others struck down at my side. And when I told the corporals to step forward and call out the rolls of their squads, voices responded which were not theirs. In each case a man of the "first class" or old soldier stepped forward to say:

"Corporal Regnard, wounded."

Or:

"Corporal Henry, killed."

"And Morand?"

"Corporal Morand, wounded," said an old soldier.


Not one sergeant! Not even a corporal! All those squads which become after a time a well-beloved family to those in charge of them, a family not to be parted from without sorrow and regret—here they are deprived of their leaders, to whom they look up constantly, who watch over them, who sustain them through long and difficult hours by the mere magic of their presence. I had known each one of them so well, those I had lost to-day! They were the men of my choice, men for whom a single word from me was sufficient, men who had never sought to shirk their duties, accepting their task whatever it was, and fulfilling it to the very best of their powers.


Through the field behind us men are moving. We can hear the rustling of the dried leaves they are gathering; the falling flakes of earth from the roots they pull up; they have discovered some turnips. We remember then that so far we have eaten nothing.

It is cold. We shiver. We remain silent.

(The young French Lieutenant continues in his book, "'Neath Verdun" these tremendous experiences in which he shows the self-abnegation of the French soldiers. His[100] comrade, Porchon, was killed at Les Eparges on February 20th, 1915. M. Genevoix himself was wounded—but his love for France and his spirit of exaltation lives on. The last chapter in his book, "The Armies Go to Earth" is a vision of the reality of these days when the world is being reconstructed.)

FOOTNOTE:

[6] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.


[101]

ON THE ANZAC TRAIL—WITH THE FIGHTING AUSTRALASIANS

Adventures of a New Zealand Sapper

Told by "Anzac" (Name Suppressed)

This is the story of the Anzacs. It is told by one of the New Zealanders who was with them in Egypt. He was present at the Landing and did his best to uphold the honor of Maoriland in the long and grim battle of the trenches. Throughout these adventurous days, he kept a diary which has been published under title "On the Anzac Trail." This diary tells the tales of a man in the ranks; it is told without gloss or varnish. A few anecdotes are here retold by permission of his American publishers, J. B. Lippincott Company, of Philadelphia.

[7] I—STORY OF THE NEW ZEALANDER

When the Great War struck Europe I was living with my people in Ireland. I had served in the South African campaign, so, of course, I realized that it was up to me to roll up again and do my bit towards keeping the old flag flying. It's a queer thing, but let a man once go on the war-path and it's all the odds to a strap ring he's off again, full cry, to the sound of the bugle. I reckon it's in the Britisher's blood; he kind of imbibes it along with his mother's milk. When all's said and done we are a fighting breed....

[102]

When England took off the gloves to Germany I knew the Colonies wouldn't hang back long. They breed men on the fringes of our Empire. Hence I wasn't surprised when I saw a notice in the papers, calling on all New Zealanders, or men who had seen service with the Maorilanders in South Africa, to roll up at the High Commissioner's office in London, to be trained for service with the "Down Under" contingents. Well, I had lived for years in New Zealand, and had fought Boers time and again side by side with New Zealand troops, so I sent in my name right away.


... I fancy this "history" of the doings of the Anzacs is going to be more of a diary than anything else. I kept a rough note of things as they happened day by day. For one thing the diary style pins the various events down to a kind of sequence and insures their being told in the order in which they happened; for another it saves the author a deal of labor. This by way of explanation and apology. Here goes, then——

II—DANISH SKIPPER AND GREEK CREW—ON WAY TO ALEXANDRIA

April 17, 1915.—Sailed from Alexandria in transport A26, otherwise the S. S. Goslar, a captured German prize. We had a Danish skipper and a Greek crew—a poor lot as seamen go. We were quartered in the forepeak, the quarters being rough, but on the whole fairly comfortable. We shared them with a healthy and mightily lively lot of brown bugs. The tucker wasn't too bad.

The weather was fine and the sea calm all the way to Lemnos Island. Had a pow-wow with the O.C., who read out aloud the General's orders, informing us that we should land under cover of the warships' guns, that we were to drive the Turks back, secure a footing, and hold it at all costs. Anticipated heavy losses. When dismissed went and made our wills.

[103]

Were met on the 19th by the cruiser Dartmouth and escorted by her till the evening, when a destroyer took us in charge and saw us safely into Mudros Harbor. The Dartmouth informed us by semaphore that transport B12, steaming one hour ahead of us, had been attacked by an enemy torpedo boat, three torpedoes being fired at her, all of which missed. A number of soldiers jumped overboard, thinking the transport was doomed, and were drowned. The torpedo boat was engaged by our ships, driven ashore and destroyed.

We arrived in Mudros Harbor, in Lemnos, on the night of the 19th. It was just crowded with shipping, and looked for all the world like a big floating town. Were informed that there were over 200 transports and 60 warships gathered in the harbor. Had a splendid view of the Queen Elizabeth as she lay quite close to our old hooker. The anchorage was simply alive with destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, etc., both French and English. The French craft struck me as being a bit mouldy-looking, not so up-to-date as the British. You could always tell a French destroyer, she was so crowded up with all kinds of deck gear, and had a general Back of Beyond look about her—like a chap who had stopped washing and shaving for a longish spell.

During our stay at Lemnos we amused ourselves by practising boat drill, landing of troops, etc. It was no joke swarming down a rope ladder loaded up in full marching order—and it was just as bad climbing up again. One of our chaps let go his rifle; the rest contented themselves with language. No one was drowned.

It was while lying here we had our first solid day and night's rain, the first really heavy fall since leaving home. The temperature rapidly dropped in consequence till it became like early summer in England. Were told that we should find no firewood where we were going, and[104] orders issued that each man was to carry a bundle of kindling wood strapped on top of his pack. We shall look like a mob of walking Christmas Trees when we get all on. Living on bully beef and biscuits now; no bread.

April 23.—Had a rather pleasant sail in one of the ship's boats to-day. Landed on a small island in the harbor and cut a big supply of green fodder for the horses we had on board. Found the formation of the island to be volcanic in character, as all the land round about these parts seems to be. Not much sign of water, yet the sole of grass was good, and the color a vivid green. Plenty of white clover, some of what looked like English cocksfoot, and a plant that struck me as Italian rye-grass. Heard the cuckoo and the lark, and noticed some small green lizards scurrying over the outcropping rocks. Thought I saw a tarantula spider, but wouldn't swear to it.

Coming back to ship we found we had to beat against a head wind. Our craft was lug-rigged, the sail something like a dirty pocket-handkerchief. She had no use for beating; there wasn't a beat in her. Tried to ram an outward bound mine-sweeper which refused to get out of our way. Mine-sweeper's captain called us names that may have been true but didn't sound nice. Doused the sail and rowed back. In the evening we watched the French and English transports and warships leaving the harbor. Rumors fill the air—the latest that we leave for the Dardenelles to-morrow (24th).

April 24.—Preparations for the big event. Told that the staff were prepared to lose 80 per cent of the forces to effect a landing; also, that the fleet could see us ashore but that it couldn't take us off again; once ashore we'd got to look after ourselves. The fellows stroked their chins and looked thoughtful for a spell; I reckon they were thinking of the pie that mother used to make—or[105] of their latest girls. We were also told that as like as not all the wells on Gallipoli would be poisoned, and that we should have to do on our water-bottles for three days. Three days on about a pint and a half! And biscuits ditto! We began to cotton on to it that it wasn't a picnic or mothers' meeting we were out to take a hand in. Were served out with a 2-oz. tin of tobacco between four men, and three packets each of cigarettes. Handed in our blankets and waterproof sheets, so will be going ashore as we stand. Very stiff fight expected, as it is fairly sure that the Turks will do all that is in them to beat us back. Wonder how many of the boys will go under?

Later.—Under way. All lights out and general air of suppressed excitement on all hands. Some of the chaps making a book on the event, and laying odds on the chances of the takers getting through the slather-up unharmed. Others tossing up to see if certain of their mates will finish up in heaven or hell! No one the least downhearted; all determined to at least give the enemy the time of his life when they come to grips. They are certainly as tough a crowd as ever got into uniform.

Landing expected to take place just at daybreak or slightly earlier. Creeping along like a "mob of thieves in the night," as one of the chaps put it. Distance from Lemnos about 45 miles, I hear, so will be there in whips of time. Funny thing to think that one's folks will be lying in bed sound asleep at the moment we go into the enemy, and never dreaming of what their men will be taking on. Just as well, too, come to think of it. Weather A1. Sea calm; nothing to complain of in that line, anyway.

[106]

III—STORY OF "HELL LET LOOSE" AT ANZAC

April 28.—First chance of scribbling anything for three days. Been through hell—just that. War! It wasn't war; it was just cold-blooded butchery. How the position has been held beats me. But held it has been—and it's going to be held—at a cost! I wonder what the price of crêpe will rise to out in Australia and New Zealand! Here goes for a shy at describing our amusement of the past three days.

It was dark when we left the transports off Gaba Tepe and crept in towards the denser blackness that represented the shore. The night—or early morning, rather—was still; everything seemed in our favor; not a sound welled out seaward, not a light twinkled in the murk ahead. Could it be that we had taken the Turks by surprise? Or were they simply lying low and playing a waiting game? Soon we were to know.

On—on crept the boats loaded to the gunwales with the citizen soldiers from the Dominions. Every jaw was set hard as agate, every eye was fixed on the forbidding-looking heights now taking form dimly as the east reddened and the sky became shot with lengthening spears of greenish-yellow. Minutes passed—minutes that seemed as hours—while ever shoreward crawled the fleet of boats, and even plainer and gloomier loomed the frowning cliffs that dominated the Bay of Anzac. Back of the flotilla, away to seaward, lay the British warships, their gray hulls floating ghostlike in the first of the dawn—like couchant lions scenting blood. A sense of protection, modified to some extent by the stretch of intervening water and the ghostliness of their outlines, emanated from those cruisers and battleships squatting like watch-dogs on the chain, alert and eager. Our gaze[107] wandered ever and anon from the forbidding shore ahead to where those uncouth gray hulls broke the sea-line. Would they never give tongue!

... We were close to the land. The wouff! of a gentle surf breaking on a sloping shingle beach, followed by the soughing of the undertow, came plainly to our straining ears. Back of the crescent-shaped strand, now dimly outlined in a flatted monotint of leaden gray, rose the darker, scrub-clothed slope, its breast seamed and gashed by dongas and water-courses, that stretched to the foot of the sheer bluff whose summit cut the sky-line 400 feet above our heads. As the minutes passed the scene changed. Sand and shingle took form and color in the rapidly growing half-tones. The blackness of the slope beyond merged into a velvet green. The serrated crest of the ridge grew roseate as the first of the sun-rays stretched forth athwart the fields of Troy and touched it with gold-tipped fingers. A new-born day begotten of early summer had sprung from the womb of an Eastern night—a day fraught with much of suffering, much of mutilation and death, but surely a day that shall live in the history of the British Empire so long as that Empire stands....

Was it the surprise we all hoped for, after all?—the surprise that seemed beyond the bounds of possibility. Were there any Turks there waiting to oppose us at all? And if so, where were they hidden? In trenches cut on the beach? In the scrub? Behind the crest of the cliff? God! were they never going to show themselves——?

Crash! Bang! Z-z-z-z-z-ip! It was hell let loose—hell with the bottom out! The whole beach belched flame and spat bullets. The scrub behind burst forth into a sheet of fire. Maxims—maxims everywhere! The place seemed alive with them. It was as if we had received a blizzard of lead in our faces. The physical shock was[108] almost more than flesh and blood could bear. For a moment it seemed as if the whole flotilla was doomed—a moment in which whole boatloads of brave men were absolutely cut to pieces and mangled out of all recognition—in which boats were blown from the water, smashed into matchwood and riddled from stem to stern by the high explosive and shrapnel fire that came over the crest of the cliff hot on the heels of the rifle and machine-gun fire. Just a moment! Then the men from the bush, the plains, and the cities of Australasia showed the stuff they were made of. In dashed the boats—in anyhow, no matter how, so long as they touched Turkish soil—some bow on, some stern on, some broadside. All higgledy-piggledy, a confused mass like a huge dismembered raft tossed on a sea that hissed and spouted as its surface was torn by the never-ceasing rain of lead and iron.

IV—HEROIC CHARGE OF THE AUSTRALASIANS

Over the sides of the boats dived and rolled those splendid infantrymen, their bayonets already fixed. They knew what to do; no need to give them orders. No time to form—no time to think. The cold steel—nothing but the steel! Off fell their packs; down dropped their bayonet points, and with a wild yell that rose even above the awful battle roar that made day hideous they hurled themselves straight as their rifles at the unseen enemy. In sixes and sevens, in tens and twenties, in platoons, in half-companies—just as they tumbled out of the boats—those great-hearted fellows dashed up the beach and into that sickening inferno. They didn't fire a shot; they didn't waste a single second. They just flung their heavy packs from their shoulders, bent their heads to the storm, and with every inch of pace at their command they[109] charged the Turkish trenches, some fifty yards distant. Charge! I never saw a charge like it. It was a wild, breakneck rush, regardless of losses. Nothing short of killing every man of that magnificent soldiery could have stopped their onslaught. The machine-guns and rifles took their toll—but they utterly failed to beat down that desperate assault delivered by those iron-nerved men—those men who openly boasted that they feared "neither God, man, nor devil." In a moment they were into the enemy's front line of trench, machine-guns were captured, and the Turks got a taste of the bayonet that will never be forgotten by those who escaped. And they were few. Just a minute of hacking, slashing, and stabbing—one minute of sickening yet exhilarating butchery in which no quarter was given; when to kill! and kill! was joy unspeakable—and those long, lean, brown-faced men with the square jaws and fierce eyes were up again, their bayonets, smoking, and charging the second line of trenches with the same dare-devil recklessness. What power on earth could stop such men? Not the Turks, anyway. With imploring cries of "Allah!—Allah!" they abandoned their trenches and scurried up through the scrub, the panting Colonials straining every nerve to overtake them.

It is difficult to understand the Australasian character. He will joke even in the midst of danger, nay, death. He is, as a rule, a "hard doer;" and even his best friends must admit that he is often a hard, and fairly original swearer. Nothing is safe from him when looking for a butt; very little is sacred, I fear, and his humor takes a queer bent sometimes: which accounted for the behavior of the landing force on this occasion, dear reader—that and the desire to inflict all the Arabic he knew (picked up in Egypt) on the fleeing Turk.

[110]

"Imshi! Yalla!" yelled the now laughing Colonials, as they followed hard on the heels of the enemy.

"Allah! Allah!" continued the Turks, and they put on an extra spurt.

"Allah be d——d! Clean 'em boots! Eggs is cook! Three for a l'arf! Imshi, you all-fired illegitimates!"

Such, with the addition of ear-splitting coo-ees, wild bush oaths, and a running fire of blasphemy and unearthly cat-calls were the battle cries of the men from Down Under as they drove the enemy out of his trenches and up the hill, through the scrub, over dongas and gullies, right to the base of the sheer cliff itself, up which finally, all mixed together and sliding, crawling, and clinging like monkeys, scrambled pursuer and pursued in one loosely strung mob of panting, war-drunken men. It was the personification of grandeur: it was the apotheosis of the ludicrous. In a word it was the old reckless, dare-devil spirit of their ancestors—the men who carved out the British Empire—re-born in those virile youths and young men from that bigger and fresher and brighter Britain overseas.

Meantime the guns of the fleet were pouring in a terrific fire, their shells screaming overhead and bursting well beyond the ridge. It was difficult at first to see what execution they were doing, and at this stage of the fight I don't think many of the enemy were bagged. As our chaps advanced farther inland the shells from the ships began to pitch amongst them, so their elevation was raised and their fire concentrated on the Turkish communications and on the dominating hills that lay on our flanks. They also tried hard to locate and silence the enemy's big guns, but they were so well concealed that it was almost impossible to silence them.

[111]

V—"ALLAH! ALLAH!" AN OPEN BATTLE WITH THE TURKS

Once on top of the ridge our fellows paused for a minute or two to get their breath, then, as full of fight as ever, they doubled into the scrub and pursued the retreating Turks with unabated ardour. It was now an open battle, and except for the fact that the Anzacs were exposed to a heavy shrapnel fire, Jack was as good as his master. In threes and fours at a time the shells burst over and swept through the lines of advancing men, taking their toll all the time. The Turks took full advantage of the plentiful cover; they knew the country and we didn't. Now and then one caught a glimpse of a fleeing figure or two; that was all. We had no field artillery to cover our advance, and the consequence was we suffered heavily, our guns not coming into action till the evening, and then only one or two had been landed. Add to this the natural difficulties of a broken and rugged country which we had never seen before, and the reader will have some conception of the task that faced the Dominion troops. It was next to impossible to keep in touch with each other, let alone preserve something approaching an unbroken line. Thus the fight resolved itself largely into one of units. Here and there isolated bodies of infantry pushed far ahead, then lying down they held on grimly until the main force came up and eased the pressure.

One or two lots got caught in the beds of deep gullies, were opened on by concealed enfilade fire from machine-guns and rifles, and died to a man. But they died fighting. One party at least fought its way almost to the Narrows, and then disappeared: not a single man returned. The rest pushed on and on, trusting to the reserves[112] coming up and enabling them to hold the captured ground—those reserves that came in driblets only. The fact was that the men could not be thrown ashore quickly enough to reinforce in the strength required. Where battalions landed there should have been brigades; where brigades, divisions. It was just sheer bad luck. No blame attached to the fleet—every man worked like a Trojan, worked on without paying the slightest attention to the hail of projectiles falling around. They were white right through, those boys from the warships, from the plucky little middies and the jolly "Jacks" right up to the senior officers. I pity the chap who ever says a word against them if any of the Anzacs happen to be within coo-ee of him! Come to think it over, I don't see that blame could be fixed on any one. The country was just made for defensive purposes; it would have required division after division to have been thrown in on each other's heels in order to reduce it, or to seize the ground to the Narrows and hang on. We simply hadn't the men. And the natural difficulties in the way of getting up such reinforcements as we had, not to speak of supplies, ammunition, etc., were nigh insurmountable. There were no tracks, much less roads; the guns that were landed that first evening had to be pulled by hand through the standing scrub; the landing parties on the beach were open to continuous shell fire, not to mention snipers—altogether I don't think there was ever such a daring or hazardous enterprise attempted in the world's history.

VI—STORY OF THE BAYONET CHARGE AGAINST THE MOHAMMEDANS

And now strong Turkish reinforcements appeared on the scene. Battalion after battalion of fresh troops[113] joined the enemy firing line. It stiffened up: we failed to break it. Our men were falling fast; half our strength seemed to be down, killed or wounded, while the remainder were beginning to feel the effects of their tremendous gruelling in the fierce heat of a sub-tropic sun. Still on came the masses of Turkish reserves. The naval guns, especially those of the Lizzie, cut them up, but didn't stagger them. They took the offensive. For a time it was charge and counter-charge, give and take. But it couldn't last; the odds were too great. We retired fighting—and in that retirement our losses were something cruel. Machine-guns and shrapnel did the damage mostly, but the Mausers took their share. Only in one thing had we the advantage—the bayonet. When we got to hand grips with them the Turks couldn't stand up to our chaps, who went for them with the cold steel like devils red-hot from hell.

No man who took part in that retirement will ever forget it. Overhead burst the shells, underfoot the dust rose and the twigs snapped as the unending rain of rifle, machine-gun, and shrapnel bullets zipped! and spattered around. Men fell fast, killed and wounded; every temporary stand we made was marked by little groups of grotesquely postured khaki-clad forms still with the stillness of death. Here and there one saw a sorely wounded man feebly raise his head and gaze pathetically after the retiring line of hard-pressed men; others (and these were many) limped and hobbled painfully along in the wake of the retreating infantry, till in many cases another bullet laid them low. Most of our wounded fell into the hands of the enemy. It was hard to leave them, but what could we do?

Time after time we tried to dig ourselves in. In vain! The line had to be shortened, else we should be outflanked by the enormously superior forces opposed to us.[114] There was nothing for it but to retire right back to the ridge and hold the crest—or try to! Back then we went, retiring by companies and half-companies. There was no running, no panic at any time. When the Turks pressed us too closely we gave them a shake-up with the bayonet. In many cases men had to rely on the steel alone, their ammunition giving out. Time after time the enemy drew back while his big guns and maxims wrought their will on us. He didn't half like the steel.

We reached the ridge, and, exhausted as we were, started to dig ourselves in. Our throats were parched, for we dare not broach our water-bottles lest we should be tempted to finish them straight away. Once a man begins to drink he will keep on. In many cases bottles had been shot through and the contents drained away. Others had left them with wounded comrades. For food we munched a biscuit—when we had time! There weren't many biscuits eaten until after nightfall.

We dug a line of holes, scratching fiercely with our trenching tools, all the while subjected to a withering shrapnel fire. The naval gunners seemed quite unable to locate and silence the Turkish artillery, so cleverly was it concealed. Lying down as flat as possible we scraped away, working frantically for the much-needed cover that should enable us to hold the position, if it were possible to hold it. At times we dropped the trenching tools—to lift our rifles and beat back the oncoming enemy. Yet it was evident that the Turks were beginning to feel the strain too. Perhaps they thought they had us anyhow, for their assaults began to lose a lot of their sting, and we were enabled to get a half chance to dig. As the day waned and nightfall approached they came again, and we were hard put to it for a time to hang on. Charge and counter-charge followed rapidly on each other's heels, and all the time a deafening fire was kept up along the[115] whole position. Then the brief twilight changed into night; the fire slackened off; the moon rose, and for the first time since early morning we were enabled to obtain a few minutes' rest before going on digging again.

We stuck to it hard all through the night, grafting away for all we were worth. It was our only chance. Yet at times we were absolutely forced by sheer fatigue to drop our tools and stretch out for a spell. Sixteen hours of hard, solid fighting through a broken and hilly country, followed by a whole night's digging; then stand-to before daybreak, and all the succeeding hours of the second day hold the trenches against intermittent attacks. At night go on working at strengthening the trenches; stand-to again before daylight the third day—and from before dawn till well on in the evening of that day do your bit at beating off the enemy's attack in force with a fresh army that outnumbers you by five to one—the attack by which he means to seize your position at all costs! Just do the foregoing, dear reader, and you will realise what those Australasian troops endured. And do it (as they did) on a pint and a half of water and a few biscuits.

VII—OVER THE RIDGE—INTO THE SEA

It was on Tuesday, April 27, that Enver Pasha launched the attack against our lines that was to drive us into the sea. All through Monday and Monday night our transports were landing fresh troops under heavy and constant shelling from the Turkish big guns; under cover of the darkness these troops were marched up and placed, some in the fire trenches to fill up the many gaps caused by the enemy's shrapnel and machine-guns, others massed in reserve at the base of the cliff. Yet not a man of those who had stormed the position the first[116] day, and who had been hard at it ever since, could be spared from the front line. Come to think, I don't fancy a single one would have left it. The feeling had got abroad that the change was going to be taken out of the Turks this time (it had leaked out that the big attack would certainly take place on Monday night or Tuesday morning), and the chaps were fair mad to get a bit of their own back. They did, too.

Our position as finally formed extended along the very crest, or rim, of the cliff for a distance of about two miles, or rather better. Here and there deep gullies, or cañons, ran into and cut the line, or caused the line itself to "bulge" considerably towards the enemy position. Such was "Shrapnel Gully," at the head of which lay "Quinn's Post," where our trenches had to be pushed perilously forward owing to the configuration of the ground. "Quinn's Post," in fact, formed the key to the whole position; it lay right in the centre of the line, and had it been carried the whole bag of tricks would, in my opinion, have crumpled up badly, and a big disaster might have occurred. When your centre is pierced it's no picnic. To the left of "Quinn's" was "Dead Man's Ridge," held by the Turks, and from which they were able to snipe right down "Shrapnel Gully"—and, incidentally, our camps and dug-outs. It was from "Dead Man's Ridge" that General Bridges was shot close to Brigade Headquarters down in the "Gully." No man was safe from those snipers; they seemed to be everywhere—before, alongside, and behind our lines even. Hence no supplies could be brought up in daylight; everything had to be done at night when there was only shell-fire to worry about. Afterwards we got those snipers fossicked out (they met strange deaths sometimes!), but in the meantime our life wasn't anything to hanker after.

[117]

Now had the enemy only succeeded in pushing us over the rim of the ridge, nothing would have saved us. Below lay the open beach. We couldn't possibly have been taken off with the heights in the hands of the Turks. I guess it would have been one of the biggest and finest wipe-outs in history. Old Enver Pasha thought it would look jolly well in the morning papers, I expect. Anyway he had no end of a hard try—and to give him and his men their due I don't mind admitting that they weren't so very far from succeeding.

VIII—STORY OF THE BATTLE OF THE GIANTS

I don't pretend to describe that struggle. No man could. It was grit, tenacity, and gameness opposed to overwhelming numbers. A battle of giants. It was sickening; brutal—and yet splendid. Men fought that day stripped to the waist; fought till their rifles jammed, picked up another—and went on fighting. Men with broken legs refused to leave the trench, cursing those who would have assisted them—went on firing until a second bullet crippled their rifle arm. Yet still they clung on, handing up clips of cartridges to their mates, all the time imploring them to "give the sons of —— hell!" They weren't Sunday-school models, those big-hearted, happy-go-lucky toughs from the Back of Beyond. But they knew how to fight—and die. They were men right through, not kid-glove soldiers. They lived hard, fought hard, and died hard. And what if they did die with curses on their lips! Who shall dare to judge them, dying as they died? And it may be that the Big Padre up aloft turned a deaf ear to those oaths begotten of the life they had lived—or perhaps He failed to hear them in the noise of battle!

The Turks attacked gamely, like the big, brave soldiers[118] they are and always were. Led by their splendid officers, they came on in masses, shoulder to shoulder, and did all that in them lay to rush our trenches. They were met by a storm of bullets that would have staggered anything born of woman. It did stagger them: they recoiled before that leaden blast that piled their dead and wounded up in ghastly heaps and ridges like broken-down walls—before that smashing fire delivered at twenty yards range. They recoiled—yes. But run—no! They charged, charged right through that hurricane of machine-gun and rifle fire—charged right up to our parapets.

And now it was our turn. Like one man the colonial infantry leaped from their cover. Crash! They were into the Turks. Followed a wild hurly-burly of hacking and stabbing while one might count twenty slowly; then the enemy were beaten back, and the defenders ran, limped, and crawled back to their trenches and took to their rifles again.

Thus it went on from before dawn till towards evening. Charge and counter-charge, till men reeled from sheer exhaustion, and their blood-clotted weapons slipped from hands sticky with the same red paint. I am not exaggerating! those who were present on that awful Tuesday will bear me out.

We were hard pressed. The strongest men in the world are only human. Loss of sleep, insufficient food, and practically no water, combined with the exertions we had already gone through, began to tell their tale. Our losses were also very heavy; and owing to the slippery state of the clay soil, following on an all-night of rain, our reserves could not get up quickly enough. Thus yards and yards of trench were at times empty of all save dead and wounded men, and in some cases the Turks effected a footing in them; they were always driven out again, however, or bayoneted to a man. Our[119] fellows were simply magnificent; budge they would not. To capture those trenches meant the killing of the men who held them; you couldn't drive them out. And the officers were just the same.

But it was cruel to hear the continual cries of——

"Stretcher-bearers!—Stretcher-bearers to the right!"

"Stretcher-bearers to the left!"

"Ammunition! Send up ammunition—we haven't a——round here!"

"Reinforce! For God's sake reinforce! They're into No. 8! Christ! boys, get a move on!"

At this time we had neither support trenches nor communications—just one thin line, which, if broken, meant the loss of the ridge with all that that meant. We were also so clogged up with dead in our trenches that to make room for the living we had to throw the bodies over the back. In many cases where our line was cut on the edge of the ridge these bodies rolled right down to the foot of the cliff. At "Quinn's Post" things were about as bad as they could be. There was only the merest apology for a track from the "Gully" up to the trenches situated on the very lip of the crest, and at one time when reinforcements were making their way in single file up this track they had to scramble in and out through and over dead men lying tossed about anyhow, while all the way, right down to the valley the wounded were lying "heads and tails" awaiting transport to the beach. It wasn't the most encouraging sight in the world for the fellows coming up straight off the transports.

In one place quite a little stack of bodies had been huddled together to one side of the track; there might have been eighteen or twenty in the lot. Owing to the water running down this stack began to move, and kept on moving till it blocked the track up altogether. I don't know how many chaps tumbled into that heap[120] and got tied up in it, but eventually a fatigue party had to be told off to build up the bodies as you would build sheaves on a wagon. We had no time to bury our dead for the first few days—and in that climate you don't want to keep them above ground for many hours.

As the day wore on it became evident that the Turks had shot their bolt. The attack died down, then ceased altogether, and save for the heavy rifle and artillery fire they kept up on our trenches, we weren't troubled by them for some time. They had lost tremendously; the ground along our front looked like a heavy crop of wheat after the binder had been through it—either 4000 or 7000 dead lay there. (And they lay there unburied for three weeks.) At last we were able to get a little sorely needed rest. We had been pushed to the extremest limit of human endurance.

FOOTNOTE:

[7] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.


[121]

WITH BOTHA'S ARMY IN GERMAN SOUTHWEST AFRICA

On the Road to Capetown

Told by J. P. Kay Robinson, with the British Army

These experiences of an English soldier in South Africa form most interesting stories of the brilliant campaigns under General Botha. They have been gathered into a book under title "With Botha's Army," with an indorsement by General Botha in which he says: "It contains an able and good description of the fine spirit which animates our Army in German South West Africa, and of the good humor which kept our men cheerful under most trying conditions." The narrator tells about "The Occupation of Luderitzbucht"; "Sandstorms and Ceremonies"; "War's Grim Jests and Morals," with numberless anecdotes of human interest. The few selections here given are by permission of his American publishers, E. P. Dutton and Company, of New York; all rights reserved.

[8] I—STORY OF THE CARBINEERS IN AFRICA

The story of the campaign of German Southwest Africa is written, plain for all time, across the sands of that amazing country, and an empty bully-beef tin, half-buried in the flank of a tawny sand-dune, is eloquent of most of its detail.


The week that followed upon our second taking of Fort Grasplatz brought us a passing interest in new arrivals: the Natal Carbineers, the Pretoria Regiment, the Kaffrarian Rifles, a battery of the Natal Field Artillery, the Eastern Rifles, the 1st Kimberley Regiment, and—it was whispered—a brand-new Brigadier with a brand-new Staff to match.

[122]

A bare note in my diary states simply that they came. Of the order of their coming is no mention, but then, not even official records, I believe, could have lucidly sustained the sandstorm that snarled over Luderitzbucht throughout the whole of that infernal week. Through it were caught glimpses, here and there, of herds of baggage-laden infantry being driven to allotted camping-grounds; of spick-and-span Carbineers striving desperately to maintain the dignity of their spurs—and almost succeeding; of kicking mules and cursing drivers; strings of horses, wagons, guns, more drivers (still cursing), native scouts, poultice-wallopers (courtesy title of the S.A.M.C.), and all the rag-tag and bobtail of our amateur army.

A hard-bitten company of the Veterinary Corps drifted down upon us, and asked if there was beer: they had heard——. We told them, Yes; there was beer, but there was none now. We were sorry. Whereupon, and without enthusiasm, they said that it didn't matter, and drifted away, still searching. Others, but these were of the infantry, forlorn units blown from all knowledge of their whereabouts, we found huddled under the lee of buildings. They bleated at us joylessly, and asked many questions. Was this a sandstorm? Were there many Germans about? and—but this was inevitable and unvaried—had we found many diamonds?

We would usually tell them that our kit-bags could hold no more, whereupon they would break down and beg to be taken back to their regiments. We did not, of course, entertain the slightest knowledge of their regiments' whereabouts, but, as something was obviously expected of us, we would indicate variously all four points[123] of the compass, and they would thank us effusively and merge away, one by one, into the muffled landscape.

Sandstorms, however, do not last for ever, and there came at last a day when the unchanged hills looked down upon neat acres of canvas and a new and startling activity. All of our immediate world was become a geometric pattern. Wagons, scores upon scores of them, stood axle to axle in a faultless precision that led the eye along ruled lines to ordered rows of water-carts and tethered mules. A group of these last had broken loose, and half a dozen mathematicians with long-handled whips were chasing them back into equational order. Beyond, again, right-angled horse lines and a criss-cross pattern of tents which was the Natal Carbineers' camp played with the Natal Field Artillery's 15-pounders at being an Euclidic proposition. Which, of course, was absurd.

It has somewhere been said that an Army represents the only true democracy. This is not true. Nowhere is there so nice a class distinction as in the Army, and nowhere, perhaps, is that nicety so candidly maintained. We, the I.L.H., would not at that time have even dreamed of visiting the infantry, but we called upon the Carbineers because, simply, they were "mounted men," and as such our equals. Later, months later, out of the common thirst and the sandstorms—all men are alike in a sandstorm—there grew the reluctant conviction that active service brings to pass a sort of socialistic millennium in which regiments are judged only by their performances, and in which officers may at times speak quite respectfully to their men, and men almost respectfully of their officers. That the moral of the mounted man is usually superior to that of the "foot-slogger" may be attributed solely to the superior moral of the horse that he rides. This last is an epigram, but true.

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II—TALES OF THE NATAL FIELD ARTILLERY

The Natal Field Artillery, too, were on our visiting list, and we found them to be excellent fellows. We swapped lies with them; we pronounced their guns to be the loot of some museum—they were not, certainly, of the newest type—and we greedily borrowed all the newspapers that they had brought with them.

It was in the N.F.A. lines, by the way, one white-hot noon, that I almost tripped over the super-philosopher. He was Irish, which perhaps makes his philosophy the less remarkable, and he sat upon an upturned soap-box and toyed with a dish of something that sounded like camp stew.

There was a sudden noise, the sort of noise that makes a grown-up say to a child: "You should put your hand before your mouth when you do that!" and I heard, rather than saw, the super-philosopher clear his mouth of some objectionable morsel. I looked round, and his pale eye closed with mine. "Praise th' saints!" he said, "thim ants have no bones into thim!"

Our interest in the arrivals did not last long. A new sandstorm blew up and swallowed them, and when, weeks later, it spat them out again, they had all but lost their identity as far as we were concerned. The infantry became known to us simply as "foot-sloggers;" the Carbineers, from a weakness for polishing their riding-boots, became "the Cherry Blossom Brigade;" and we, the I.L.H., were known to all and sundry as the "Illicit Liquor Hunters." I do not think, however, that we should have minded so much if there had been any liquor left to hunt.

We were kept hard at work, too, and we soon learned that the "in-betweens" were more profitably to be spent in what we called "blanket-drill," and what our N.C.O.'s,[125] when they were not indulging in it themselves, called "darned laziness," than in afternoon calls upon strangers who had so thoroughly taken upon themselves the color of their surroundings as to have become as supremely uninteresting as ourselves.

The deep groaning noise that a trumpet makes at dawn, and which field-officers and poets call "réveillé," and turn over again and snore at, when by some rare chance, they hear it, was to us the first note in a symphony of labor that was to last all day. Who has heard the howls of execration that uprise from a sleeping camp at its first note will appreciate the truth of what I say. The utter hopelessness of any resistance to its summons is, perhaps, what galls most. Turn you never so deaf an ear, you will still have the chilling conviction that some N.C.O., with more liver than bowels of compassion, is waiting "outside" to mark you down as an absentee from roll-call.

Réveillé, roll-call, arms inspection, morning stables, alleged breakfast, stable fatigue, mounted squadron drill, watering and feeding horses, and musketry instruction took us by gentle stages as far as lunch-time. After lunch (save the mark! but is sand, disguised as Irish stew, lunch?), Swedish drill, sectional skirmishing on foot, and an odd quarter-master's fatigue or so thrown in, would lead us on to evening stables. That accomplished, we were at liberty—those, at least, of us who were not on guard for the night—to prepare our evening meal and to retire to our blankets, where, masters of ourselves at last, we could—the writer certainly did on one occasion—dream that one-eyed camels of malevolent aspect chased us through interminable leagues of sandstorm, and finally drove us into seas of greasy Irish stew, wherefrom emerged horrid shapes that lectured us on the care of rifles and the virtues of discipline.

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How we longed for war, if only for its comparative peace!

Not all our days were gray days, however. There came a period when each morning saw us, clad mainly in pipes and towels, taking our horses down to a landlocked arm of the sea, where the hills stood up in their glory around us, and where flamingoes, in their stately phalanxes, waded the still shallows or flung in broad-pinioned ease to some further sand-bank; where black seals bobbed greeting to us from the dipping waters, and where we could forget the sandstorms of yesterday and to-morrow.

Horses, we found, made excellent diving boards, and lent themselves, besides, to a type of chariot-racing that I have not met elsewhere. For this form of sport it is essential to have two horses, and it usually became one's painful duty, therefore, to borrow the mount of some other man, preferably a non-swimmer, when he was not looking, and then to make for deep water—where he could not follow—with as little delay as possible. Remained then only to so contrive oneself as to stand with a foot on the back of each animal, and to keep them swimming sufficiently near together to allow one to retain some sort of balance. Sometimes one would succeed, but usually, and in spite of extreme efforts, the contrary beasts would swim more and more widely apart, until overtaxed powers of doing the splits would end in a ducking as ignominious as inevitable.

I remember an occasion when, after a long and tiring patrol, we had ridden our horses into the shallows to cool their legs, a school of ground-sharks suddenly appeared, almost literally, under their very noses. The White Knight in "Alice in Wonderland," who made his horse wear spiked anklets against the danger of shark-bite, must have foreseen some such contingency; but then, had[127] he been with us, he would have fallen off, I feel sure, in the smother of spray and panic which the experience cost us.

III—WILD RIDE OF THE WATER PATROL

One of our duties at this time was the providing of an escort to the water ration that left Luderitzbucht each morning for Kolmanskoppe.

The water was taken in mule-drawn trolleys along the railway line (we possessed no other "rolling stock" at that time) and as it was the sole supply of the two infantry regiments stationed there, extreme care had to be taken to prevent its being intercepted by a stray German patrol.

On October 7, No. 3 Troop had supplied the convoy, and we, whose turn it was to do so on the morrow, had spent the greater part of the day in the sweet frame of mind that is bred by camp fatigues, and at four o'clock in the afternoon were waiting for the order to "break away" from a squadron drill that seemed as if it would never end. The other troops had dismissed long ago, and we asked ourselves with some bitterness why we should be kept out in the heat and sand playing at circuses, and all the while the sharp words of command stabbed through the curtain of dust that followed us, and punctuated our grumbling. "On the left fo-orm troop!" Some one, hand-jostled by a section in rear, cursed aloud, and we laughed as we went forward at the picturesque phrase he had used. "Sections right!" The sand-fog rose more thickly about us. Was this farce never going to end? "Ha-alt!" Ah! This was the order for which we had been waiting. The "dismiss" would follow, and there was still time if we hurried for a bathe before evening stables.

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But our O.C. had apparently forgotten us. He was gazing with something of an air of abstraction at a soldierly horseman making towards us from the direction of the camp.

There was nothing really extraordinary in the sight of that figure (we could recognize him, by the big, upstanding gray that he rode, as the Colonel's orderly), yet something—his obvious hurry perhaps—made us forget our anxiety to be dismissed.

A minute later he had pulled up before our troop leader. "Colonel D——n's compliments, sir! and you are to report to him at once!" And then, in the confidential tone that orderlies learn from their constant association with the higher ranks: "Water guard, sir!" I could just catch the words: "... German patrol ... one ... chap wounded.... What's that, sir?... Yes, one of our fellows."

"Sections right! Wa-alk 'arch! Tr-r-ot!" There was life in the order this time, and there was life, too, in our quick response. The horses even seemed to be infected, and we had to hold them a little as we pounded along in the wake of the news-bringer.

"Steady, there! Ye don't want to ride the sentries down, do ye?" The camp buildings had leaped out at us from the yellow haze of our own progress, and the corporal of the guard had flattened himself against a wall—just in time. We pulled up and rode in soberly. Men of other troops dashed at us and held our horses. "Lucky devils!" they said, and bade us get our bandoliers and rifles. From them we learned that a German patrol had lain in wait for the water convoy at a point some three miles up the line, had potted one of our men through the thigh, and had retired without our fellows being able to fire a shot in exchange, and now, we—"lucky 4," they called us—were going out to hunt them. "And I don't[129] suppose they've gone far," one informed me. "I expect they'll be waiting for you, an' p'raps they'll shoot one of you. I know I hope they will—you lucky, lucky devils!"

Into the press of chaff and counter-chaff, and the excitement of straps and buckles, rode one, speaking with the large voice of small authority, and hung about with "the complete campaigner's outfit." Not a detail—if we except the camp-stretcher and the cork-mattress—was missing. Water-bottle, haversack, prismatic compass, field-glasses, first-aid outfit, and sand goggles—the White Knight again!

As a quick-change artist he should have commanded our ready admiration. As it was, he provided just that sobering touch of humor that we needed. "Goin' to take all week to get ready?" he queried with that heavy urbanity which N.C.O.'s and stage managers mistake for satire, "... passel o' ladies' maids!"

"Oh! you—you May queen!" I heard some one say, and the troop giggled helplessly as we swung into our saddles. "Number off from the right!" the order was barked at us.

"One"—"two"—"three"——. The fourth man was having trouble with his pony and was far too busy to think of mere numbers, and the White Knight glared down the line of us as if, in some way, just outside his comprehension, we were all to blame. "As you were!" he snapped—it sounded like "Zwear!" "Number off from the ri——" "No time for that now, Sergeant!" spoke the crisp voice of the O.C. from somewhere behind us. "Sections left! Walk! march! Tr-r-ot!" and the quick dust rose to the forward surge of horses and men, and we were off.

Five minutes later we had passed the outlying pickets of the Transvaal Scottish, and were kicking up the sand at a good hand-canter along the hill-girt railway line to[130] Kolmanskuppe. There is a peculiar exhilaration in this form of sport (I cannot easily use the term "warfare" in regard to a game wherein all that is ordinarily known as "patriotism" is swallowed up and lost in a wholesome, primal, man's desire to hunt man—the royalist of royal game—for the sake, only, of the game's lust), and if in G.S.W. we were rather like the famous American hunter who had never been known to kill anything, but who "just hunted"—well, such little killing as did come our way proved conclusively that "just hunting" held all the breathless joy of the thing and left no—aftertaste.

For some miles we held our pace, and the heavy, springless sand through which we rode flung its yellow veil about us. There was the sound of wind in our ears, and the creaking of saddle-leather, a vague surging noise, as of a heavy ground-swell sucking through rocks, and, over all, the choking, blinding pall of dust. An oath, back-flung from a leading section where a horse had stumbled, sounded smothered and unreal. Now and again an outcrop of bare granite would leap out to meet us, and the brief thunder of our passing would shout back from the echoing hills; then sand again, and its muffled tumult.

IV—STORY OF THE TROOPERS ON TRAIL OF THE AMBUSHERS

The valley became narrower, and a hint of coolness stole down the sudden shadows. All on a moment a swift hand plucked the sunlight from us, and the jaws of the hills closed suddenly about our path—closed, closed, until the ribbon of steel that we knew to be the railway line looked like a tongue lolling from the cleft grin before us. There was a silence in that place, and our horses pricked quick, apprehensive ears to it. "What[131] a place for an ambush!" said some one of my section, and the angry "Don't be a fool!" of the man to whom he had spoken showed that three of us, at least, were thinking of the same thing. The click of a steel-shod hoof striking against stone, and—"click!" back would come the answer of the rocks; just the sort of noise that the bolt of a Mauser rifle makes when it is drawn back to ——. Well, speaking personally, I do not suppose that I should have noticed it if my horse hadn't jumped so.

It was here, or hereabouts, that our patrol had been fired on only a few hours before, and we had received no particular assurance that ours was not likely to be a similar experience. On the contrary, every breathing instant was pregnant with possibility, and, be it said, a sort of half-shrinking hope.

A barrier of great boulders, through which the line won a bare clearance, stood suddenly up against us. Just the place for an ambush; but nothing happened save, perhaps, that one was conscious more of one's own breathing after it was passed. A hundred yards or so farther on the hills to our right fell away in a great curve, and sheeted sunlight lay on all the place; orange, streaked with silver of drift-sand on the shining plain, while beyond, and high above all, white-faced crags swam on an opal-hearted mist. To our right a mad sunset flared above the purple-footed hills, and pointed long, scornful, shadow-fingers at us. Sunset? or drunken magic? Saffron there was, and duck's-egg green lying on amber; amber that dripped molten gold, and tipped with splendid color the peaks which stood up blackly against it; amber, shot with blush-rose and slashed with fierce scarlet: a breathless wonder that changed while we watched it—changed and deepened until all the painted sky was a blood-clotted glory.

Night had stepped into the valley in which we rode, and[132] I was not sorry when my section was picked out for "flanking work," and we were sent at a sharp trot to the foot-hills and the sunlight. We were told to keep slightly in advance of the troop, and, as the broken nature of the ground allowed, about three hundred yards distant from the railway line, the idea being, of course, that should an enemy patrol be waiting for us among the rocks, we—"the advance screen"—would draw their fire, and so secure some measure of safety for our main body. A leading section was sent off to the shadow-land on the right of the line, and, looking back when we had ridden some hundred yards or so, I saw two other sections detach themselves from the main body, and drop back, to the right and left respectively, as a sort of extended rearguard.

"As the nature of the ground allowed!" The words were the letter of our instructions; the exclamation mark, as Punch might say, was ours when the first gentle slope that we negotiated jumped suddenly up into a hog-backed "krantz," that looked as if it might strain even a klipspringer. It had to be done, however, and we laid ourselves on our horses' necks and let them go at it. What a breathless scramble it was! Loose shale avalanched about us, and steel-shod hoofs slipped and struck, and struck and slipped again on the crisp granite, and just when it seemed to me that nothing was left but to dismount and pull my horse up after me, there was a last, furious straining of willing muscles, a plunge that shook my hat over my eyes, and the four of us were landed in a hard-breathing bunch on a sort of shelf of rock. A girth had slipped, and we paused while it was tightened, and looked back. The troop was halted—while we attained our position, I supposed—and as we watched, a figure rode clear of the others and signaled agitatedly to us to advance.

[133]

It was comparatively easy, from our elevation, to select a route that conformed measurably to our instructions and to the opposing factor of our own instinct of self-preservation. Only comparatively easy, however, because distances that looked flat, or, at the most, but gently tilted, proved on closer inspection to be almost worth the serious consideration of an Alpine Club. But we managed to scramble along somehow. When possible, we even went farther into the spirit of our instructions, and rode in extended formation, but, although our horses displayed an amazing aptitude for rock-work, we usually found ourselves progressing in single file. Once, I remember, when a flat surface of rock tempted us to something approaching a trot, we pulled up only a few yards short of where the hill ended abruptly, and lay, piled about its own foot, hundreds of feet below. It was from there, too, that we first caught sight of the white buildings of Kolmanskuppe, some two or three miles away, but although it was a cheering sight, we went on from that place with much sedateness and circumspection. All serious thought of meeting the enemy patrol had vanished, of course, with that first glimpse of "civilization." Only one ordeal now remained: to get ourselves down, out of that region of sunlight and breathlessness, to where, with the lesser hills, began the last phase of our journey.

One attempt landed us in a cul-de-sac of tumbled granite, another on a tongue of rock that would have proved perfectly negotiable if the tongue had not been bitten short, or if there had been a bridge across the forty-foot chasm that grinned up at us; but, eventually, by winding in single file round a spur of rock where a false step meant—as one of us said and giggled so much at, that he all but put his assertion to the proof—"more than a bad cold" for the man who slipped, we found a steep slope wheredown we tobogganed with safety and some amusement[134] to ourselves, but not a little detriment, I think, to the tails of our horses.

V—SCOUTING ON THE EDGE OF THE DESERT

The troop, we found, had taken courage of the less imposing scenery, and were just visible in a cloud of dust some half a mile ahead of us. Just outside Kolmanskuppe the railway line takes a sharp bend to the left, and as half a mile in the rear does not exactly correspond with the M.I. hand-book's definition of an advance guard's position, we kicked up our tired animals and made a desperate effort, by cutting across the angle of the line, to regain some measure of dignity. What the troop thought when, some ten minutes later, we reappeared in advance of them, I do not know. They looked rather indifferent, I thought, and when, soon afterwards, a ragged fringe of infantry appeared on the sky-line above us—Kolmanskuppe is on the edge of the desert proper, and looks as if it had been washed up by the sea of mountainous sand-dunes—and the troop, realizing apparently that there was really no need to follow its meticulous course along the railway metals, wheeled sharply to the right, we cantered down and, with all humility, tied ourselves on to its tail.

In the number of its houses, Kolmanskuppe is not a large place; in the extent covered by such buildings as there are it is quite considerable. An average distance of about one hundred yards between the houses, and the glaring monotony of their design stifles any desire on the part of the visitor unduly to prolong his tour of inspection.

In the ordinary sense we were not, of course, visitors, and besides, we had "done" Kolmanskuppe, more thoroughly than an American tourist does Rome, on a previous[135] occasion. Then, we had been actuated by other than guide-book motives, and now, its interest gone, the place was become an eyesore, and we wanted to go home. That, we supposed, was why we got the order to off-saddle.

The one picturesque touch in the picture was supplied by our three camels. They were there on some water-carrying pretext, and they recognized us from afar off, and came and stood to windward of us so that there could be no remote possibility of our not recognizing them.

We never seemed, somehow, to be able to get away from those three gaunt beasts. No matter the direction of our journeyings, we always met them sooner or later. We should not, of course, have minded if they had shown any signs of awakening affection for us, but they didn't. It was their sneering indifference to our presence that galled us most, I think. Had we been in the habit of thrusting ourselves upon them, this attitude would have been understandable, even commendable; but we didn't thrust ourselves upon them. They hatched deliberate plots to meet us in unexpected places, and when we met they sneered at us, and besides, as I have said elsewhere, they smelt abominably. In very truth, Tartarin of Tarascon was not more haunted by his own camel than were we by our three.

The corporal who was in charge of them slouched to us from somewhere out of the desert—he was borrowing habits right and left from his camels, we often told him—and gave us the cheerful information that we were to convoy some wagons back to Luderitzbucht, which wagons, he added, were only then being off-loaded. Dusk was spreading like a gray blanket across the face of the sands, and the prospect of a night ride at the tail of a string of creaking wagons was not enticing. We asked[136] him how he knew, and he retired into his newly acquired camelism, and went off to his uncouth beasts.

But he was right, and an hour later saw us—or heard us rather, for it was pitch dark—starting on such a ride as I hope never again to suffer. The road from Kolmanskuppe to Luderitzbucht is rendered distinct from the country through which it runs by means of white-painted paraffin tins placed at irregular intervals along its alleged sides. That it does not otherwise differ to any marked extent from the surrounding country is due less, I think, to the surveyor than to the country, which is mainly precipices and small but very knobby hills. I have since traveled that road in the daytime, and its unrelieved roughness—unless an occasional wallow in deep sand can be called relief—makes of it a thing to be remembered; but of that night, when our nostrils, and our throats, and our eyes were filled with the dust kicked up by close upon a hundred mules and half as many horses, and our ears were deafened by the harsh thunder of empty wagons bouncing into and out of deep holes and over fire-spitting granite boulders, recollection is a mere headache.

For the first half-mile or so—my section had now become the rearguard—we rode at some fifty yards behind the last wagon. We did this for several reasons: firstly, because the air was less full of dust at that distance; secondly, because we could more or less select our own pace instead of having, every now and then, to pull our horses back upon their haunches to avoid spitting them on the brake handle of a wagon stopped suddenly in its drunken career by virtue of collision with some more than usually imposing obstruction; and thirdly—but this I do not think was a real reason—because we had been ordered to do so.

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VI—THE FRIGHTENED HORSES—AND THE CAMELS

We were going down some unseen slope, I remember, when the change occurred. My horse was plunging a good deal, and I had to use both hands to prevent his getting away from me. The man on my right seemed to be having similar difficulty with his animal. Strange! they were all quiet enough a minute ago, and now——"Look out!" The words were shot at me by No. 3 of the section as, with his horse completely out of control, he raced past me into the darkness and the dust. "Rummy," said the man on my right, "I don't know what's the matter with the beasts. They're scared out of their lives, that I'll swear—Good Lord!" His ejaculation was spoken away from me, for his pony had swung suddenly about with a quick, frightened movement, and was now staring into the blackness from whence we had come. A moment later and my own beast had spun around. We waited in silence.

"Where's T——?" said the other man suddenly. (T—— was of my section, and I seemed vaguely to remember that he had been riding behind us.) If my memory was right, then T—— was somewhere out there in the blackness, and the—the—whatever it was that was frightening our horses was out there with him. It was not a nice thought. We waited again, and I found myself wondering what it would sound like to call out T——'s name, when out of the darkness came the sound of a snort, followed by what seemed like the frenzied plunging of some heavy beast. Then a voice uplifted itself in earnest supplication, and the voice was the voice of T——.

He seemed to be calling upon the name of a god not[138] altogether orthodox. I caught, here and there, strong expressions of his disapproval of some person or thing. The voice was growing louder and clearer, and it became obvious that T—— was being borne towards us at a high rate of speed. The pale sheet of the sky held him in silhouette for an instant, and then he flung down upon us in a perfect flood of invective.

I had never heard him talk quite like that before. It was really, and almost literally, illuminating, and we reined aside in a sort of reverential awe to let him pass. He did so on the wings of some of the most golden eloquence that it has ever been my lot to hear. "Goddam!" I heard distinctly, followed by a string of words which I do not know how to spell; and then some fine but strictly censorable phrases, out of which I collected fragments that made a disconnected yet interesting whole. In this way I was puzzled for some moments by the many variations of the word camel. "Camel!" I found myself saying, "camel!" when "Look!" said the other man suddenly, and I looked, and saw striding down upon us from the same pale sheet of sky that had held T—— only a few minutes before three gaunt, long-legged shadows.

"The camels!" said the other man, and I looked at him, and he looked at me, and what there was in that shrouding darkness to tell each other what the other thought I do not know; but, as our frenzied horses waltzed and plunged away from the acrid fear behind them, we clung to our saddles with both hands, and rocked and choked with insane laughter. Later, when we met T——, leading a dead-lame pony out of the rocks, we broke out afresh, and between paroxysms, told him something of our admiring respect. Indeed, a man who could steer a madly racing pony through pitch darkness and over and between rocks, and at the same time[139] conduct ably a rhetorical discourse on the (presumed) illegitimacy of camels and the moral degeneracy of men who ride upon them, well deserved some more tangible expression of merit than was held in mere words. Iron crosses have been given for less.

The remainder of that ride left to us only recurring fits of laughter, dust, and noise and darkness, and when the camels came too near, which, in spite of concise injunctions to them to go "to another place," they often did, spasms of wrathful and sulphurous abuse.

A note in my diary says of our return to Luderitzbucht: "Surprised to find myself looking on the beastly place as 'home!'"

But was there real cause for surprise?

(The narrator here begins to tell about "Alarums and Excursions" along the African deserts; a wild night ride; hunting the Germans like big game; and numberless anecdotes that put the African fever into one's blood.)

FOOTNOTE:

[8] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.


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LAST WORDS OF A "SOLDIER AND DRAMATIST"

Letters of Harold Chapin

An American Who Died for England at Loos, on September 26, 1915

The story of Harold Chapin's life and death is a glorious page in the annals of the Great War. This brilliant, young dramatist was born in Brooklyn in 1888. His mother is an actress and when the boy was seven years old, he made his first appearance on the stage in the Memorial Theater, Stratford-on-Avon, England, where his mother was engaged to play during a Shakespeare festival. From this youthful beginning, he developed into an actor, producer, and dramatist of great ability, gaining a reputation on both continents. When war was declared on August 4th, 1914, Harold Chapin found that "he could not act, he could not write" he could think only of the war and the world bowed in tragedy. Finally, on September 2, 1914, he enlisted in the R. A. M. C. The artist and dreamer became an enthusiastic soldier. While fighting at the battle of Loos, he was killed on Sunday, September 26, 1915. He was only 29 years of age but "he had lived worthily and he died gloriously." The letters which Harold Chapin wrote to his mother, his wife, and his little son have been published in this country in book form by the John Lane Company, under the title "Soldier and Dramatist." They form a notable contribution to the war's literature. Several of the letters are here reprinted by permission of the publishers from the hundred or more in the published collection: Copyright 1916.

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[9] I—STORY OF HOW HAROLD CHAPIN DIED

The following letter from Mr. Richard Capell one of Harold Chapin's comrades, was the first intimation Mrs. Chapin received of her husband's death. It was, of course, written hurriedly and under trying conditions, but it gives so touching and dramatic an account of Harold Chapin's last days, that it is felt that it must be included in this book exactly as it was received.

October 3rd, 1915.

My Dear Mrs. Chapin,

I beg you to accept my heartfelt condolences. I would not so much as hint at the word consolation to you after this unutterably cruel blow,—even to us, his chance friends of less than a year, it seems too cruel to be realisable,—were it not that I can give you some account, at first hand, of the splendid work of your husband on those days, September 25th and 26th. It must surely be, eventually, a consolation to you to think that he died no mean, casual death, but that he was shot down (on the afternoon of Sunday a week ago) when actually on an errand of help, and after giving himself up for hour after hour to heavy and perilous toil for the wounded. I have been at some pains to get for you some details of that fatal afternoon, but I cannot—the reason will be obvious—now tell you quite all there is. The essential is that on Sunday morning an appeal came to our station for stretcher-bearers to assist a battalion, seven of whose bearers were out of action. Your husband and two other men set out for the trenches in question, which were to the south-west of Loos. The journey, itself, had its perils. Over the distance of two miles or thereabouts, the Germans, who were rallying after their defeat of the day before, could enfilade our ground. One day I will explain the position with precision. The three of them eventually reached the series of trenches at a moment when the Germans were counter-attacking, and were told by an officer that stretcher-work was impossible at such a moment. It was suicide to show one's head above the parapet. This was, of course, one of the old German trenches, and the enemy fire came both from front and right flank. Chapin consequently told the two others to wait for him while he reported to the medical officer who had appealed in the morning, his intention being to return to collect the wounded after dark, as we did during the week as a matter of routine. The two never saw him again.

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Our line that afternoon wavered for a moment, before the counter-attack. There was a short period of confusion, and some of our men were caught in the open by German rifle and machine-gun fire. You may possibly one day get an exact account from an actual eye-witness, but from what I can piece together, your husband went over the parapet to fetch in some wounded man. He was certainly shot in the foot. It appears that he persisted and was then killed outright by a shot through the head.

Our work was so exacting at that moment, that hours passed before Chapin's absence was noticed at our station, and it was not till the following morning that we felt anxious.

I pass over a series of extravagant adventures that befell me as I made my way, then, to your husband's destination of the day before, with the idea of getting first-hand information. I found myself on the scene when the English were making a further attack. It was[143] impossible, in daylight, to go into the open, but I found from a medical officer that a lance-corporal of the R.A.M.C. had, the night before, been seen dead over the parapet. The English attack, that afternoon, improved the position. The next morning, we had a run out there; your husband had been buried in the night near where he fell. I went down on Wednesday to the trenches, saw the officer who had been in charge of the burial party, and eventually got the papers, watch, etc., which were found on his body. These you will have received by now, I suppose. There can be no harm in telling you that he lies with six other London Territorials, within a few hundred yards of Loos cemetery.

If I have the pleasure of seeing you again, when this ghastly business is over, I will tell you something of Chapin's fine work on the Saturday, collecting wounded on the wire before the first captured German trench. For many hours I was out there with him;—heart-breaking conditions, twenty appeals for help where one could only heed one; rain for hour after hour, and no little annoyance from cross-fire. On one journey, three of us (your husband was one) came in for a tempest of fire. Two of us lay low with the laden stretcher on the grass, while your husband volunteered to go ahead into the village, using a communication trench to bring back the "wheels," by which we get stretchers along at a good pace over roads. Eventually the tempest ended, and the whole day ended without casualties for us. We went to bed at midnight for two hours. Before daybreak I joined a party that was going to Loos, and so began the fatal Sunday.

If, dear Mrs. Chapin, you succeed in getting more detailed information of your husband's death it will be from some one or another in the 17th Battalion London Regiment.

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I feel that I am intruding on your grief. Excuse me, and believe me, with profound sympathy,

Yours very sincerely,
Richard Capell.

II—LETTER TO HIS SON ON HIS BIRTHDAY

St. Albans, Dec. 21st, 1914.

My Darling,

This is your birthday! The day I'm writing on I mean, of course you won't get the letter till to-morrow so what you will have to say is "yesterday was my Birthday and Doody wrote on the evening of my Birthday."

I'm not sending you any present for your Birthday because I can't afford to send two presents in one week. I am sending you a present for Xmas instead.

I am coming home to see you again soon and we'll have an awfully good time together. We might go to the Zoo together if I can get Sunday tickets.

Good night my little boy—I'm very tired and I've got to shave and have a good wash before I go to bed on the floor next to your friend Ex Corporal Willson on one side of me and with Galton and Fisher (you have met Fisher but not Galton—he is a Scotchman and likes whiskey hot before going to sleep)—with Galton and Fisher kicking me on the other side.

God bless you my dearest little man. Please please be very good to dear Mummy and your newest Nanny and please please don't ever spit. I should hate to hear that you had been spitting when I come back.

Your Doody.

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III—LETTER TO HIS WIFE ON CHRISTMAS

St. Albans, Dec. 26th, 1914.

Dearest,

We have had a terrific Xmas ... tremendous work and plenty of fun. Went to Midnight Service on Xmas Eve (special leave being granted from 11 P.M. to 2 A.M. to those wanting to go, and of course I was after anything going). I know you will forgive me for not writing more often. We have really been up to our necks in work—and an alarum warned us as likely to occur on Boxing Day ... we were all packed up and ready—and indeed one battalion was entrained and another paraded for entrainment before the "warning" was withdrawn to us of the 6th Field Ambulance. Perhaps you won't understand this: it means that the fighting section of the brigade—the battalions—(which of course move off ahead of us) were not only warned but ordered—in other words we were all ordered but our order was countermanded before taking effect. Hard luck on the Battalions wasn't it? The 21st had to march 12½ miles and back for nothing, having been roused at 4 in the morning to begin with. That is the advantage of belonging to a unit that travels by "train no. 57" as we do, instead of one of the first units to go out.

I'm going to turn in. God bless you and my baby—do write soon and at length. I know posts are responsible for it but I haven't had a letter since the one containing the photos—for which many thanks—now four days ago and I am longing for one.

Bless you! Bless you!

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IV—LETTER TO HIS WIFE ON LANDING IN FRANCE

France, March 18th, 1915.

Here we are in France—journey not finished yet. We had an ideal crossing—and a most amazing one. I believe every square yard of the Channel has its own British T.B. Destroyer—queer black shapes with rectangular outlines, hard and well drawn against the dark sky or the streams of light from more distant warships. I never saw one in detail with the light upon it—always in silhouette against the light. We steamed with lights out nearly all the way. I slept on deck—not over warm—but I kept getting up to see the latest sight as one or other called me and so kept warm.

We are fed on Bully Beef (ordinary Fray Bentos, you know the brand) and lovely hard biscuits which I adore. Last night I added to my menu a bloater and some bread and marmalade, "duff" and coffee—having scraped an acquaintance with some of the engine room artificers who invited me to sup in the fo'castle. It was very hot in there but we supped in low neck. Great fun!

Bye bye—Love to my blessed boy—Try to read him as much of my letters as he will understand. I do miss him so and I want him to hear about me all he can so's we shan't be strangers when we meet next. Rubbish I know, but still I'm not quite joking. He's growing so fast.

An unfortunate officer has got to read this and a hundred more letters, so I'll cut it short. Bless you.

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V—LETTER TO HIS SON AT THE BATTLE-FRONT

France, March 30th, 1915.

Hullo Vallie! I'm in France at the war at last. How are you? We are having such a funny time all sleeping on straw on the floor—think of that when you get into your little cribbie-cot to-night.

I am sitting writing this on a sack on the ground with my back against Jack's. You remember Jack the cook? In front of me are all the horses in rows and rows tied to pegs driven into the ground. They are tied by the head—the way Modestine used to be—to one peg and by the hind foot to another peg to prevent them turning round and kicking each other. They don't like having their hind foots tied and pull at them and swear with their ears and top lips. You remember how your Modestine used to swear with her ears. They try to kick too, just as she used to do.

There are soldiers all about here, all busy shoving the Germans back and shoving the Germans back and SHOVING the Germans back, and sooner or later we shall shove the whole lot of them right back into Germany over the Rhine—which is a big river—bigger than the river at Maidenhead—RIGHT back into Germany and off their feet, and then we shall sit on their heads severely until they have had enough, and then the war will be over, and we shall just have to tidy up and come home and I shall come home to you my Darling and the Blessed Mummy and the nice flat at St. John's Wood, and oh, I do hope it will be soon because I want to see you and Mummy most awfully.

Good bye my precious, please give my love to Gram and tell her I wish I could have some English Turkey.[148] And please Vallie send everybody you can out here to help shove, because the sooner the Germans are shoved over and the more of us there are to sit on their heads, the sooner I shall see you all again.

Your Doody.

VI—LETTER TO HIS WIFE ON NIGHT REVERIES

April 30th, 1915.

My Darling,

Curious situations abound. Behold me sitting in Lieut. Dickenson's chair by Lieut. Dickenson's fire in the midst of Lieut. Dickenson's deserted patience (a game unknown to me: five rows and aces out) Lieut. D. having gone forth to the Regimental Aid Post on our L. Front to see a man afflicted suddenly with peritonitis. We are a party forming an Advance Dressing Station here at ——. We have just sent our first case (Sergeant shot through chin, tongue and neck—quite conscious—hit at three, remained in trench till seven, left us 8.15—in Hospital by now) into —— together with a request for two pounds of soda for the Bat. M.O. on our R. Front. (Thus our Motor Ambulances fetch and carry). I am waiting up to take the soda when it arrives up to the M.O. at his aid post behind the trenches. Why soda in the middle of the night? Gas, my dear. Les Bosches are now throwing chunks of gas at us. Nasty smelly trick, isn't it? We are replying in our nice clean British way with soda—at least so I thought at first, but the truth is that partially asphyxiated Tommies thrive on Sodium Bi—not the washing variety. I am going to rouse out Fisher (now sleeping peacefully in the billet in spite of a battery) to walk up with me when the stuff arrives. Lieut. Dickenson won't let me go alone. It is a[149] lovely night—high moon almost full and a low mist over the firing line through which star shells (otherwise rockets) twinkle up occasionally. The battery near here "bings" out a shell every ten minutes or so. It is a noisy brute but some naval guns over a mile away are quite deafening even at that distance. The expression "tearing the atmosphere" really applies to the scream of their shells as they pass overhead. They do sound like tearing silk heard through a stethoscope. The prettiest sound of the night is a machine-gun a mile or so to our right firing short tap tap tap tap taps like an over-grown woodpecker. Understand that these sounds are only occasional only the scattered rifle fire being anything like continuous, and that so scattered that it is a mere background. Bing! from the near battery—five minutes elapse—tap tap tap tap, another four or five—tap tap tap again—a slight increase in the rifle fire—Bahang Wheeeee! from the naval gun—ten minutes perfect calm but for rifles very faint and intermittent, tap tap tap—tap tap tap. This time from further off: the woodpecker's mate. Sh Sh Sh—Sh—Sh a German shell coming to look for our Battery. Sh Sh Sh! Whap! Missed it by about half a mile—five or six minutes peace. Bing from ours. Bing again after a minute and two more bings rapid. Peace once more, the rifles a trifle fainter, one crack a trifle louder. Tap tap tap tap tap——

That's half an hour not taken down of course but typified. I am looking forward to the walk.

VII—LETTER TO HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW ON HIS BOY'S FUTURE

May 28th, 1915, Empty Hospital.

Dear Gram,

Thanks very much for your letter. It is now nearly[150] three weeks since it reached me but you will, I am sure, forgive tardiness in replying: those three weeks have been so very full of work.

Of course I have no objection to your teaching Vallie a prayer. Why should I have? Only please teach him one thing: that his prayer may not be answered and that if it isn't, he must not think that God is cruel or unmindful. "Thy will be done" is the safety valve in all prayer and a believer in God must surely think—if they do not say—those words as a part of every prayer. In the case of a child I think they should be said.

I would be grateful if you would not muddle his little brain with trinitarian dogma. I have nothing against the trinity idea except that it is puzzling and quite unnecessary. It's all right for an artist or a mystic—it can have a symbolic meaning which is most grateful but I think it should not be taught. One can be a lover of God without going into the matters of the definition of Christ; and all such difficulties. If Vallie grows up a poet or a mystic, he will fight into those problems for himself. I would rather he had the chance to do so unguided. If he is going to grow up an engineer or a farmer, he will be no poorer for never having been troubled with them.

If I don't come home you may—I mean: Please will you—teach him the Sermon on the Mount and "The Lord is my Shepherd" etc., but I have always looked forward to teaching him these myself and still hope to do so—this coming winter too.

VIII—LETTER TO HIS SON ON "SWANKING"

Vallie you villain what's this I hear about your visit to Brighton? Swanking in the Hotel about having cut the Kaiser into little bits and put him down the dust[151] shoot. Swank Sir, you never did nothink of the sort. He's still bossing Germany and giving us no end of trouble. You must have cut up somebody else by mistake. You really should look before you chop.

Bye bye, my darling little man. I love you most muchly much. How do you like me?

Your
Doody.

IV—LETTER TO HIS DOG—HEART TO HEART

July 6th, 1915.

My Dear Emma,

Do you realise that I haven't written to you once in four months away? Do you? If you don't, I am hurt, if you do and don't mind realising it I am still more hurt. Taken either way you are a heartless little dog and you don't deserve a letter.

There is only one hope for you. You may be too proud to enquire with suitable asperity, why I have not written. I leave it to you, are you proud?

If so what of? Your ears?—I beg your pardon; I forgot Firstie. Of course you've a right to be proud after all, but I don't see your point. Why should your natural pride in Firstie be too great for you to complain of my remissness. You are illogical Emma, as well as heartless. I don't see what you're getting at.

If you see that son of mine, you might give him my love and tell him to get his hair cut. If it hasn't been cut since the photo it must be too long by now—unless it grows backwards: in which case he must have a knot tied in each hair close to his blessed little scalp to prevent it growing in too far and coming out of his chin as whiskers. Will you see to this? I don't want to come[152] back and find my little boy sprouting a beard: he's too young for such things.

Please give my love to Mrs. Chapin with this, letter enclo. It's a silly sort of letter—a great mistake I know—but—entre nous—(that's French) I'm a silly sort of person and subject to quite idiotic moods when I start thinking about all my darlings at home in England.

Bless you all.

X—LETTER TO HIS WIFE ON WAR'S HORRORS

July 22nd, 1915.

Dearest,

I am quite incapable of doing justice to this morning's entertainment. "They" have been shelling the most thickly—and poorly—populated part of this little mining town. Some of us went up into it getting the wounded out. Houses, men, women, and children blown to pieces by huge high explosives—and more shells coming over every few minutes, all within a couple of hundred yards of the hospital. I want to tell you all I see—all that happens to me out here, but I must fail to convey it—and I don't want you quite to share my feelings. Amazing, ironic contrasts abounded: within five minutes of each other came in a self-possessed young woman of about ten to have the remains of her arm cut off—perfectly calm—walked in—never cried or showed the least excitement—and a man of fifty on a stretcher with a mangled leg who roared out in an enormous mad voice for his "Maman" over and over again till he was anæsthetised. Could any creation of the imagination equal this? Or this scene in a squalid kitchen:—a huge woman dead on her face across the threshold, a little child also dead at her feet, the legs of her men folk (husband and son?) straggling across the foot way outside (I am keeping back all the[153] hundreds of horrible details, hard though it may be to believe it) and her remaining daughter a child of about twelve—leaping back and forth over the bodies struggling to get a chain from the neck of the body. "Souvenir!" I tried to get her away—she was half mad—but was assailed fiercely by neighbours on her behalf, who seemed to regard her desire for a memento of her mother under the circumstances, most natural and commendable. While I was being suppressed another shell came over and we went to earth in a heap, the hundred yards away crash bringing down plaster and crockery on to our heads and the flying pieces of "case" buzzing past the windows like enormous bees or small aeroplanes. When they had settled the child returned to the chain—armed now with a carving knife—and I left her to it.

XI—LAST LETTER TO HIS SON—AT THE TRENCHES

Sept. 18th, 1915.

My Son-bird, how are you? I'm quite well but a little stiff in the joints. We've been doing a lot of digging: making a trench to carry wounded people up and down, and we've walked miles and miles back from the place where we did the digging and we are tired.

We are not very near the Germans here, but we can hear them banging away in the distance sometimes, and last night all the sky was lit up in their direction by a big fire—houses burning. Yesterday—too—while we were up digging near to them some Germans climbed up a tower behind their lines, and we had to bob down into the holes we were digging to prevent them seeing us and then our cannons banged at them and they came down from the tower in a hurry.

I do hope you are a good little boy. It's so much nicer[154] to have a good little boy at home than to have a regular little pickle. Please write and tell me if you are a good little boy—I shall be so pleased to hear it.

Love from your Doody.

XII—LAST LETTER TO HIS WIFE—AT DEATH'S DOOR

Sept. 24th, 1915.

Sweetheart Mine:

This is my ideal of happiness: (under war conditions) to arrive back, after a hard day's navvying among the nice big bangs (I really do like the noise of guns—unhealthy taste, eh?) to come back to camp and tea healthily tired, to come back by the first batch of cars thereby ensuring a wash unhurried and evading the wait by the roadside at "——" and to find a letter from you waiting for me. I am sure you think my effusions over your letters mere civil romance but they are not. I cannot exaggerate the pleasure I feel when I wade into a letter from you.

I am so very glad that you are to have the blessed with you again. I hate to think of you and him apart. It makes me feel altogether too "scattered" (compris?) to have a son here, a wife there, a mother somewhere else, a sister elsewhere. Keep him with you all you can and talk to him about me a lot. I do so want to come home to you both.

We are launching forth in many directions: beds (for patients of course) and a young drug store under a roof of its own; no longer housed with the Quarter Master's store. At present I and some score of others are going up to the line daily doing the most glorious navvying: knocking cellars into each other and whitewashing the whole into operating rooms and waiting rooms, and bearers'[155] billets; digging special R.A.M.C. stretcher trenches to connect them (A) with the general communicating trenches and (B) with each other and filling billions of sandbags to protect the entrances to these cellar-stations. I love the work, three days I slaved at a part of the trench where it traverses a mine-yard and came back a Frank Tinney at night. Yesterday I was housebreaking with hammer and chisel or pick connecting up cellars by holes knocked in walls and making bolting holes to get in and out through. Also we go investigating the rows and rows of empty houses (the line where we work passes almost through a mining townlet now deserted) bagging chairs, mirrors—there are many quite good ones unbroken in the midst of the chaos of bent girders, scattered walls, roofs, pavements even.

Everybody seems very high-spirited out here and grumbling is a thing of the past. I suspect that the weather is reason. Day after day is glorious—though night after night is cold.

As the weather grows colder my appetite increases, cake most acceptable.

Posting this the morning after writing it. Was called away to interview M. Le Directeur des Mines apropos d'une affaire forte difficile, je vous dis.

Love to the dear—I wish I were going to see you both again soon. Wanted!—

[The above was the last letter ever received from Harold Chapin. The following unfinished letter was found in his pocket-book after his death. It was written some days before the preceding letter.]

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XIII—LAST LETTER TO HIS MOTHER—AS HE DIES

Dearest Mater:

I dunno if I did or did not write to you the day after that letter to Calypso. We've had a good few days lately when 6 o'clock parade (6 o'clock a.m. you understand) and dusk were linked up by a day's work and march so that no letters were written, and I dare swear the censor was correspondingly rejoiced.

Our days spent trench digging (special communication trenches we dig, pour chercher les blessées not for wicked men with arms or what would the Geneva convention say?), our days spent trench digging are a great source of enjoyment—curious, because they involve a bolted breakfast—a seven o'clock start, an hour's jog in a hard, springless, G.S. waggon, a halting, single-file march of a couple of miles and a day of back breaking work at pick and shovel followed sometimes by march and G.S. waggon back, sometimes by a long march and no G.S. waggon. The secret of their charm is the feeling of doing something actual compared with the messing about cleaning waggons for inspection and everlastingly tidying up camp to get it dirty again. Those trenches may never be used but if ever it is necessary to bring in wounded from the fire trenches to the aid posts under anything of a bombardment they will mean endless lives saved. It's a pleasant thought. I haven't seen the Lloyd George speech you mention.—I didn't know he'd written anything lately. Do you know—coeval with his rise in popularity I am getting a bit sick of him. He strikes me as being all enthusiasm and no judgment—no sense of fitness. On the tide and with the tide of universal approval is not the best place for a Welshman.[157] I prefer the "brave man struggling with adversity" to this popular idol playing with his admirers, being rude to them just to show how well he can apologise, etc., etc.

Books—yes, I want a pocket Browning mit everything in it! Is such a thing to be had, I wonder? Of course I've got sizable pockets. Still it's a tall order.

Anyway I want "Paracelsus" and "Men and Women" particularly. I am on guard and writing letters for the next two or three days (I may only send off one a day). Our supply of corporals is not quite adequate to the demands made upon it and this will be my fourth night on guard in a fortnight.—Rather fatiguing work, involving a night of cat naps fully dressed and booted and a final rise at a little after 4 a.m. to call the cooks and "duties," hoist the flag and remove the lamps and finally (at 5 a.m.) to call the camp in general.

Later

(Sunday in fact)

Oh, my dear, I wish you could see your golden-haired laddie sitting by the roadside waiting for a waggon,—time 5 p.m.

I have been for two days digging through the slag heap of a mine! A mine! Our trench happens to go that way. I am as black as a coal heaver.

FOOTNOTE:

[9] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.


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"THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE"—AN AMERICAN WITH THE SLAVS

Experiences With the Russian Generals

Told by Stanley Washburn, Special Correspondent of the "London Times" with the Russian Armies

Mr. Washburn was the only American (with the exception of the American Military Attaché, Lieut. Sherman Miles, and Robert R. McCormick) to have access to the Russian fighting lines at the time this was written. He met on friendly terms the Czar, Grand Duke Nicholas, and all the Russians in high authority in the War. He was decorated by the Czar with the Cross of St. Anne. He has described the anguish of Warsaw and the Russian retreat in his book entitled: "Victory in Defeat," an authoritative account of his experiences in the campaign of Galicia and the retreat through Poland. In his second book, called "The Russian Advance," he tells how Russia, when overwhelmingly defeated, managed her colossal offensive drive. The chapters here given are by permission of his publishers, Doubleday, Page and Company.

[10] I—STORY OF THE RUSSIAN GENERAL STAFF

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One hears a lot in war about the "man behind the gun," but there is another individual, and a lot of them just as important, and that is the "man behind" the "man behind the gun," or, more briefly stated, the one higher up. I have known scores of Russian generals since the beginning of the war, and have written a good deal about the men at the greater staffs who play the intellectual end of the game in their distant offices, but, I think, far too little of the generals who sit in rough peasant cottages at the front, just behind the lines where the roar of the artillery and the rattle of the machine gun tells them of their troops in action even before the field telephone buzzes through its raucous message from the trenches. I spent June 23d (1915) with a division commander who may be taken as the type of scores of others who are directing the tactics of the war to-day. And when I write of General Monkevitch I write, I think, of many more who are almost identical in character and mould. This General I call my "Russian godfather," because he was the first one I met when I came to Russia, and it was he who, sitting in a luxurious office in Petrograd in September, 1914, arranged the first permits that enabled me to join the army in the field. In those days he was an important member of the Petrograd General Staff and with his smart uniform and silver aiguillettes with his resplendent shoulder straps he was a picture of a city officer. Even in that early day he bemoaned his fate at being detained on staff work at the distant capital when the real work was going on at the front. When I came back from my first trip I was told that my friend had gone to the front "somewhere in Bukovina," and gradually the recollection of his kindly features drifted back among the memories of the past.

That afternoon I was ushered into the low-ceilinged room of a humble peasant's cottage, where a tired-looking man in war-worn uniform, tarnished shoulder straps, and muddy boots, was leaning over a hand-hewn table strewn with maps. He looked up as we entered, and I discovered in the commander of the division my erstwhile friend of Petrograd. Half of the house was still occupied by the peasants, while the General's sleeping apartment was in a rough shack outside, where he slept[160] on a camp bed, with hardly any adornment in the room save a low bench on which was placed a battered old tin basin, if one may call it an ornament.

"The luxurious establishment of a Russian General of Division," he told me laughingly as he showed me over his place of residence. In the trellised vestibule of the cottage were the telephones and telegraphs, while from all directions came the field wires from the positions six versts beyond.

Sitting round the rough table, we listened to the General's account of his divisions fighting against the advance, an achievement that I have already alluded to in a previous chapter, and then, at his advice, we paid a visit to the front, as I have also mentioned elsewhere. The generals higher up are so far away that it is only by chance that they see their men or come in actual contact with their wounded. These divisional commanders are the ones that stand between the intellectual end of the game and the men in the trenches. The moment a shot is fired unexpectedly, their telephone from the trenches tells them what is the cause. An hour after a fight starts, the wounded (if the positions be near) begin to drift back here. In this headquarters the General could look out of the window and see the price in human suffering that the plans he made on the map before him were costing Russia....

After dinner I accompanied General Monkevitch on a walk about the town. With a long, swinging gait he paced down the primitive little street, with a nod and a word for every soldier that he passed. With scrupulous courtesy he returned the bows of the peasants who smilingly greeted him, for it was easy to see that he was a favourite in the village. Even the little children came in for a pleasant word and a bit of chaff, and several times he stopped with his officers about him to joke with the[161] kiddies, and the littler they were the more happily they responded to his pleasant words.

A bit down the street we turned into the great shed where first come the wounded from the smaller units of the divisions. Yesterday, the General told us, his face suddenly going very sad, had resulted in heavy losses. For a moment he stood in a reverie, and then, throwing off his mood of melancholy, shrugged his shoulders and said: "Well, let us look at those within."

II—TALES OF THE WOUNDED RUSSIAN SOLDIERS

The great wooden shed was divided into a series of rooms where clean, sweet-smelling hay and new-cut clover was piled deeply on the floor, and here lay those too heavily wounded to be moved immediately to the rear. All told, there remained but a few hundred, the great bulk, as the General told me, having been cleared within eight hours after their arrival, to be sent to the greater bases where more comforts awaited them. Between the double rows of haggard creatures slowly strode the General, stopping every few paces to speak to the wounded. The relation of the Russian peasant to his superiors is extraordinary. Never is there the slightest degree of self-consciousness or embarrassment on the part of the soldiers, no matter how high or exalted be the rank of the officer who addresses him.

Again and again soldiers whose haggard features and glazing eyes denoted the serious nature of their wounds called to him in faltering voices: "How goes the fight, Excellency?" or "Did we take the trench, my General?" And always he would stop and reply, "All goes well, my children. You have done superbly. I am proud of you. Go back now to the rear and get well. You have behaved like heroes."

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Another groaned audibly as he raised himself to ask: "Have more of my brothers fallen than of the Austrians?" The General replied quickly, raising his voice that all might hear: "For each one of you here, my children, there are five Austrians to pay for it, so rest contented that you have done your duty well."

One mere stripling, shot through the stomach, called to his Chief: "I did my best, Excellency. I killed all I could," and then sank back, groaning, on his bed of straw. And thus it went as we entered building after building where lay the price of victory. One heavily wounded lad called to the General, who immediately went to his side and listened to the high, feverish voice tell of the assault, of capture, escape, and a bullet through the abdomen. With the quick compassion characteristic of the Russians, the General reached for his cigarette case and turned its contents out into the hands of the soldier.

Among the wounded were numbers of Austrians, with pallid features, lying side by side with the Russians, receiving the same kind words and gentle treatment that are accorded to the Russians themselves.

During these assaults many of the wounds are from machine-gun bullets, and a large portion of such are through the stomach or abdomen. Many, I think, of such must die on the battlefield, for of those that die in the hospitals later the bulk are of such a nature. Certainly they are hideously painful, and the little murmuring sobs of the soldiers trying to stifle their anguish are sad indeed to hear.

Outside under the trees was a row of stretchers, each reverently covered with a white sheet. The General halted for a moment, as he uncovered his head. "Our dead," he murmured reverently, and then briskly, "Shall we move on?"

And thus, in the wonderful afterglow of a hot summer[163] day, we strolled with him and beheld the man in his changing moods—General, father of his soldiers, mourner for his dead—each phase merging and emerging from the other as the different sights we saw brought them out. As we wandered casually homeward toward his quarters we passed a house before which stood a sentry. It appeared that he was guarding an Austrian captive officer. Instantly the General turned in and, entering the tiny peasant room, greeted the officer, who proved to be a mere boy, in the uniform of the lowest grade of commissioned officer. The General shook him by the hand, chatted with him for a minute or two, and then again shaking hands and saluting, said in German: "Wohl, auf wiedersehen, mein Freund. Glücklicher Reise," and left the Austrian standing in the dim twilight, with a look of wonder on his face. I daresay the Germans never told him that the Russian officers were like this.

III—ALONG THE BATTLE ROAD—WITH THE VICTORIOUS

The first dull gray tinge of a misty morning was in our cottage room when we rolled out of our straw beds next day. A plodding soldier sleepily rubbing his eyes gave us a bit of bread and some hot soup, and we were ready for the day's work. Around at the staff of the corps we met the Chief of Staff in slippers and without collar, standing in the door looking dreamily across the hazy landscape. He smiled genially when he saw us as he announced that our infantry had already attacked and carried the first line of the Austrian trenches on the front of his corps. Away to the west came the heavy booming of guns, muffled as in cotton by the moisture that still hung in the air.

[164]

As we talked the General in command stepped out of his room as brisk and dapper as though he had had a night's sleep (which he hadn't). His face was wreathed in smiles as he pulled on his gloves and, lighting a cigarette, stepped out onto the verandah before which stood his motor. A moment later we started, and winding our way out of the little muddy village, we were soon in among the rolling billows of hills that stretch in great sweeps in this section of the country.... Though the hour was early the whole countryside, now saturated with the life of the army, was beginning to move. In every grove artillery ammunition parks were packing up, and already caissons were pulling out on to the roads to overtake their parent batteries which already had left their positions of the night before and were pushing closer to the retiring Austrians, who had succeeded in escaping from their first line of trenches.

Every village through which we passed was crowded with reserves getting on the march to be within easy call of the front, in case the enemy made a counter-attack against the troops that had been fighting and winning during the night. With each mile of our advance the signs of life and activity became more numerous. But as we pushed with our motors through the mud we soon began to encounter the back-wash from the battlefield.

First one met a weary, mud-stained soldier with a red, dripping bandage around one hand which he nursed tenderly with his other. He was the vanguard of the column that from now on we passed for an hour. Next came groups of those wounded so slightly that they could still walk to the rear. That is, those with minor head and arm hits, which represent but a few weeks or even days out of the firing line. Behind these came the creaking peasant carts, each with its pair of tiny horses tugging along through the mud and ruts of the roads, and each[165] loaded with wounded. Some held six or eight men that were able to sit up. All had only the first-aid bandages and most of them were deep-stained with the blood that oozed through the hastily bound dressing. The attack had been made in the pouring rain, through a marsh, and every soldier was saturated with mud, and their faces, what with dirt and the pain of their wounds, looked in the early morning light to be the shade of putty.

Next, one began to encounter the carts of heavily wounded, two in a cart lying on the straw, their eyes staring up into the misty morning sky, their expressions indifferent, stolid, and unemotional. Some clung to the sides of the carts to ease the jolting caused by the inequality of the way. Others lay as though dead, with blankets thrown over their faces. These sights, however, have become as common now as the mud of the road itself and hardly warrant description.

Now, intermingled among the carts, began to appear a sprinkling of the blue-coated Austrians, wandering aimlessly along in the general direction of the flow of traffic. Sometimes a Russian guard plodded along behind them, but more often they came quite alone. Some that were slightly wounded sat beside the road, looking at us with stupid, heavy eyes as we passed in the motor. All, even as the Russian soldiers, were plastered with mud and many saturated with gore, either their own or that of comrades they had tried to help.

IV—CAISSONS! HORSES! MEN!—DRAMA OF THE BATTLEFIELD

With every verst we moved forward the denser became the traffic, and now the flow to the rear was as heavy in volume as that going forward. Caissons that had sat beside their guns all night feeding them the shells[166] that had breached the Austrian lines came toiling back through the deep-cut roads, the horses steaming and sweating with their exertions and the mud-plastered drivers giving them the leash and forcing them into a trot whenever it was possible to get the empty caissons over the road more speedily.

One never realized what a number of characters it takes to make up the great drama behind a battlefield. It would be possible to sit beside the way for an hour and write a volume of the strange and curious things one sees. Here a cartload of peasants that are still pushing to the rear, unconscious, perhaps, that the battle has already gone in the opposite direction. Just beyond lie the smoking embers of the village we saw blazing last night. There is hardly a chimney standing, and soon the roads will obliterate even the site of a group of what but last night was a dozen thatched peasant cottages. I noticed in the throng a Russian soldier leading a pack horse still in the Austrian harness with the quaint blinkers that the enemy use on many of their transport horses. The poor patient beast had been shot through the nose, and little rivulets of blood streamed down his velvety cheek as with plodding steps he followed the soldier who was leading him. No doubt he would be patched up again. Certainly that was the intention of the kindly peasant who now and anon looked back with a gently murmured word of encouragement to his dumb and stricken friend and prisoner. The road is narrow at that part, and we slowed down or took the side again and again to let ambulances or carts of wounded pass us.

The General called out to the passersby, wishing them good morning, or occasionally stopped to inquire of a soldier where he was during the night or how he received his wound. There is an extraordinary spirit of comradeship between them, all these Russians, as I have[167] mentioned many times in my records of this front.

The General stopped his car and in a few minutes was receiving news of the action from his Chief of Staff, whom we left back at ——. He listened intently, and then snapped back some directions, and we pushed on out of the village on to another crest. Here we met a general of cavalry with an orderly at his heels, both incrusted with mud and dripping with wet from the brush through which they had been riding across country. Spurring his hesitant horse up to the side of the motor, he shook hands with his commander and told him gleefully that the prisoners would run into the thousands and that already six guns were in our hands. As he backed away, saluting, he narrowly escaped collision with four stolid soldiers carrying a dead man on a stretcher elevated above their shoulders. "Why this pains with a dead man?" one wondered. "War is for the living and not the dead. Most of them lie where they fall, until buried." But we were on the move again, coming nearer and ever nearer to the guns.... We are now surrounded by columns of unwounded Austrian prisoners winding back in droves that take up a mile at a time on the road. Turning a bit off the narrow ribbon we have been following, we motor up on to another crest, where is the Commander of the Division and his staff. Here is the observation point of a battalion, neatly dug out of the ridge, and men now stroll about casually in the place where it would have been instant death to show one's head four hours ago....

V—HIGH SPIRITS OF THE RUSSIAN TROOPS

The Commander of the Division, whom I knew last year at Warsaw, told gleefully of the prowess of his[168] troops and pointed with riding-crop to the point beneath us where his men forced the river and broke the Austrian line. Everybody was in high spirits and congratulations were exchanged between the General and his officers. In a near-by wheat field were a couple of hundred blue-coated prisoners, waiting for guides to take them to the rear, while a hundred yards away were fifty sour-looking Germans, also waiting developments....

An approaching shell sang through the air and a big six-inch German shell landed in the field a few hundred yards away, throwing up clouds of dirt and heavy volumes of the greasy black smoke of the German high-explosive shell. Every one was surprised, but no one even mentioned it. I suppose it is bad taste to allude to such things.... I must say, however, that these events do not bother the Russians in the least. Nowadays generals in high command are constantly going to the positions and studying out the situation personally, regardless of risks.

After a dozen shells the firing ceased, but suddenly broke out again on a farther ridge where I suppose some observer thought he saw something moving. The General himself sat quietly down on the crest of the trench and with map spread out on his lap began to dictate orders to an orderly who, crouching at his feet, transmitted them through the field telephone. Here one saw the real control of a battle. Over the ridge there our infantry was pushing forward, each regiment unrolling behind it its field wire and every unit constantly in touch with this man lying in the wheat field who with finger on map was directing the following up of the retreating enemy. Wherever one could see a road it was black with traffic moving forward, and wherever one looked over the ridges beyond us one saw the puff of shrapnel[169] and heard the boom and reverberations of our heavy guns and the sullen report of bursting German shells. The map with its many blue and red lines was the key to the puzzle of sound, and the streams of men and horses moving in every direction. This one individual quietly smoking his cigarette on the hilltop, quite unperturbed by bursting shells, could by a single word divert or halt all of those endless columns that we saw. Truly is war a great and fascinating game for those whose post is not in the trenches. As for them—well, war is war.

(This American War Correspondent describes in his stories: "The Fall of Warsaw"; "The Escape from Villna"; "The Defense of Petrograd"; "The Lemberg Front," and the other Russian battle lines, with his visits to the "village of horrors," and summaries of the Russian campaigns.)

FOOTNOTE:

[10] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.


[170]

A FRENCH MOTHER IN WAR TIME

Being the Journal of Madame Edouard Drumont, Wife of the Well-Known Editor of the Libre Parole

Translated by Grace E. Bevir

This journal reveals the magnificent character and the inspired souls of the French women. Its translation will give American readers a new insight into the mentality and spirituality of the French while they are passing through their Calvary. The husband of Madam Drumont is an Imperialist in politics, while Paul, who figures largely in the journal, is her son by a former marriage. It is a beautiful tribute to mothers, showing how they rise to heights of stoical heroism: "God gives to each century the heroines it needs." These selections from the narrative are published by permission of Longmans, Green and Company, who represent the English publishers in America.

[11] I—PARIS—ON THE EVE OF "INEVITABLE WAR"

July, 1914.—I have just spent a week in Paris waiting for my son, who has been doing his three weeks' training on the frontier at Belfort. I am horrified at the rumors of war which are in the air. Not that I shrink from pain, for both my father and brother were soldiers. On my father's side I am of Lorraine. Every reason, therefore, to be vigorous, and love my country with all my might; but I am so afraid that my son will not have time to finish his military training before the crisis comes, and that I shall not see him again before the war—if there is a war. This idea preys on me day and night.

[171]

And yet they say that this war which everyone loathes is inevitable! Are butchery, frightfulness, pillage, and destruction inevitable?

It is incredible that well on in the twentieth century, with civilization at its height, such monstrous iniquity should be considered "inevitable."

I have spent this week of waiting in Paris, where the feeling of feverish agitation which precedes great disasters pervades everything. The shops refuse to sell anything because they are afraid of not being able to get in fresh stock later on, everyone refuses notes, and will only take cash. The banks will give no change, and one rushes wildly about all over the place with notes for a thousand or a hundred francs in one's pocket, without being able to buy a single thing. During all this week I have been conscious of the mutterings of panic like the first rumbling of the thunder which precedes a great storm. I stay at home the whole time waiting for a wire to tell me that Paul was returning.

II—A MOTHER—AND HER SOLDIER SON

July.—I was on the balcony about two o'clock when a car stopped in front of the house. A sapper got out of it. I uttered a cry of jubilation—it was Paul! He came up and threw himself into my arms. I remained riveted to the spot, speechless and in tears.

"Oh, Mother, Mother, I did so want to see you before the great upheaval. What luck! Well, I've seen you, and now I am ready to go when the bugle calls."

I could not speak; I was choking. I looked at this dear, big, handsome boy who is my only child, my whole life, whom I must give to France, must sacrifice perhaps[172] to the inexorable laws of war. I felt my heart rise in revolt. I did not say anything, however, for he would have scolded me and it would have depressed him.


July.—Yesterday, when we were dining together, the telephone-bell rang. We both ran to it. It was a call from the Maison B.

"Is F. there?"

"Yes."

"Ask him to come to the telephone at once."

I handed the receiver to my son, and saw that he was listening gravely and attentively. Then his face lighted up; he answered, and I guessed part of what was being said to him. I asked him:

"Is that B.?"

"Yes, Mother; he is asking me to join a squadron of the Flying Corps. Six aeroplanes are to be taken to D.; when I get there I shall be given a commission. You see, I can't refuse."

"Yes, but before that what did he say to you—when you looked so serious? There is going to be war, isn't there?"

He pursed up his mouth, which is a familiar trick of his when he wishes to hide something from me.

"My dear Mother, you think everything points to war. It is quite possible that there will be war, in fact it's almost certain, but as long as they are not actually on the frontier and it is not declared, don't take such a jaundiced view of things, for goodness' sake. B. asks me to go to Douai to make some trial flights, that's all. I gave up flying because there were no openings for civilians, and I had met with endless disappointments and mortifications at the hands of those who should have helped and encouraged me. Now these same people have sent for[173] me; my country needs me, I'm going into the Flying Corps, and I'm off. Cheer up! be pleased about it. I am so pleased to be going to be a bird again! Pack up my things, because I must be at Douai by three o'clock to-morrow. And don't worry—the English and the Russians are in with us. What a lark!"

And I thought: Alas! a poor sort of lark.

III—TO-MORROW—WAR WILL BE DECLARED

July.—Paul has gone, and I had scarcely time to dry my eyes when I received his call to the colors, ordering him to go to Belfort as a member of the Flying Corps.


And I thought of Drumont, whom I had left at Les Sablons and was to have rejoined that evening. Could I leave him alone any longer? What a torture it was to be divided between one's husband and one's child!

The telephone-bell rang. It was a friend ringing up from Paris who said:

"Go off at once to join your husband. To-morrow war will be declared...."

I was in despair and did not know what to do. I felt that my son might arrive at any minute, and that I might have gone and not be there to say good-bye to him. And this time I should be leaving Paris for good and all.

To have to leave Paris, the center of everything, and not to see Paul again because duty calls me back to the country—my God, how cruel it is! The car will take me back to Les Sablons to-night.

IV—VISION OF A FRENCH WOMAN'S HEART

August.—The mobilization order came out yesterday, just as I was leaving Paris to join D. at Les Sablons.

[174]

The sight of the excitement in the villages, the women in tears standing spellbound before the tricolor notices, the mobilized men trudging off with their knapsacks and any sort of uniform, and young fellows singing the Marseillaise, upset me terribly.

On this scene of desolation the sun shone gloriously, indifferent to the troubles of earth, and his rays even penetrated into the car and reached me as I sat huddled up in the corner, crying bitterly.


August.—The torture has begun. Yesterday evening D. was waiting for me when I arrived—knowing how upset I should be after parting with my son, he was anxious and sympathetic. We were both crying when we kissed each other.

Already we are without papers and without news. We rush after people who pass reading odd sheets, bought in neighboring towns and full of vague rumors which are generally contradicted next day. My chauffeur has gone, and my staff of servants is reduced to my Hindu and a charwoman. We often have a good cry together when we think of the beautiful country we lived in of yore, and are terrified at the thought of what may be in store for us here.

V—THE STREAM TOWARD DEATH

I am still without any news of Paul, and enduring the misery of not knowing where he is.

I particularly asked a soldier who was starting for Dijon to find out if F., the airman, was there. But will he do it?

The road to Fontainebleau passes this house, and all day long troops and horses go by, and men who have[175] been called up and are joining their regiments, and cars bringing back others from their holidays to go to the front.

And already there is fighting on the frontier. Germany, like an octopus, has put out her tentacles to wrest from us our sons, our husbands, and our country. How monstrous a thing is war! I could not, if I would, describe my thoughts and feelings, and who would dare to do so in the midst of such desolation!


The continuous stream flows out towards death—soldiers pass singing and shouting, "To Berlin!" Others go by in silence, fierce-looking, and determined.

The women make superhuman efforts not to cry as they accompany them to the stations. Everything is well organized. Yesterday thirty trains went through at intervals of five minutes, all full of young men. Fontainebleau is in a ferment, so is Paris; they say that the principal hospital will be at Fontainebleau, and a whole nursing staff is being organized to attend to the first wounded who come in. A great many officers' wives have volunteered as nurses. They have put up hospital tents all round the station at Moret.

This morning I at last received news of my darling son. Alas! he has apparently been sent to Belfort. It seems the irony of fate that he who is so madly keen on aeroplanes should be sent to look after balloons, in which he takes no interest. However, Paul is brave and energetic, he is also fortunately devoid of the sort of recklessness which leads people to expose themselves uselessly. Drumont said to me the other day: "The sound common sense he inherits from you will be worth a fortune to him."

My dear boy's letter has stirred me to the very depths of my being. Day or night I will never part with the[176] lock of his hair which we cut off just as he was going.

Since six o'clock this morning there has been an unending stream of horses and carts which have been mobilized. With incredible insolence the Germans have crossed the frontier before declaring war. Near Belfort they have rounded up all the cattle. Their plan seems to be a sudden shattering attack which will cause a panic and bring the half-finished mobilization to a standstill.

I sat in a brown study brooding over all this news, whilst poor old Black, upset by his young master's absence, wandered forlornly round me.


August.—An anxious letter from Muncho—what an affectionate little thing she is, and she really does love my son, "our Paul," as she calls him. He has written to her, and she is delighted, though it is a delight largely mingled with pain.

I find on analyzing my feelings for my future daughter-in-law that I am not at all jealous of her, or afraid of any paltry rivalry between us in my son's affections. On the contrary, it seems to me that when there are two people to love him so much it should be a sort of protection to him.


August.—Belgium is putting up a heroic defence—what a debt we shall owe to her! What a hero her King is, and what a fine race of men! They are amazing us by their serenity under the most crushing and undeserved misfortunes, and the way in which, at a word from their sovereign, they are sacrificing themselves for the cause they believe to be right. Our gratitude must be as great as our admiration, and we shall not forget Mr. Asquith's pledge on behalf of the Allies never to sheathe the sword[177] while a German remains in Belgium. We, the mothers of France, offer to their noble Queen, who does her duty with such dignity and simplicity, our homage and our boundless gratitude, a gratitude proportionate to the greatness of her sacrifice.

VI—A SOLDIER'S SOUL—THE SPIRIT OF FRANCE

August.—I have had a letter from Belfort from my son telling me that it had taken him seventeen hours to get from Paris to Belfort. There was indescribable enthusiasm in every place he passed through. The women were crying and laughing at the same time, as if they were mad, climbing up to the doors and decorating them with flowers, kissing the soldiers and filling the carriages with food and cigarettes. On all sides there were cheering and bravoes and cries of "à bas l'Allemagne," and "Vive la France"—in fact such scenes of enthusiasm as stimulate courage and awaken patriotism in hearts in which they seemed to be numb.

And now, after this long, exciting journey, Paul is alone in Belfort, with nothing to do but to guard the balloons, when all the time he is dying to be in the fighting round the town. He says, "Sometimes the thought of you and of Her seems to hover over me like two great white birds on a dark plain. It is painful but exquisitely sweet, and I drive away these two birds because they unman me."

Ah! my dear son, what a sorrow parting with you is!


Yesterday evening, as I was leaning out of my window, I heard a train passing, and soldiers shouting "To Berlin." Ah! God grant that they may get there! and I[178] cried as I thought of my son: Where is he? Why can't he write to me? Is he still at the aerodrome?

This morning the butcher said to me, "There is no more beef or mutton, we have only got veal." All the better; I wish we did not have to eat at all.


Yesterday, as I was going to bed, about ten o'clock, one of these trains was passing down the valley. The effect was striking: I could scarcely see the carriages, there were so few lights in the train, but a plaintive sort of melody was issuing from one of them. The unending line of vans full of soldiers playing the tunes of their country as they go to their death, above them a blood-red crescent moon—it was a terrible and unforgetable sight. I shall never forget that phantom train.

Oh, my son! where are you?


We spent the day at the station serving out food and drink to the soldiers traveling to Paris and then on North. They were all so happy, singing and laughing and promising to bring us the Kaiser's head.

VII—STORIES OF REFUGEES—FLEEING FROM THE SAVAGE HORDE

August.—Four days have gone by without anything interesting happening. The great battle is still impending. The Germans are as savage as ever, and news of my son comes very seldom. Fortunately his little fiancée writes to me, and her letters reach me, as they have not so far to come. These dear children lavish so much affection on me and are always assuring me how certain they are that we shall win.


M. C. saw at Dinant a lieutenant who had got hold[179] of a machine-gun, and was mowing down the Germans who were appearing in fours on the summit of a hill. It required an order from a superior officer to bring that lieutenant back. He remained there alone, without thinking of the danger, and only retired when, tired of arguing, they told him, "Well, if you don't care about your life, we do care about the loss of a machine-gun."

Every moment one comes across similar acts of heroism.


August.—Paul has written to me; I have his letter here. It is just like him, brave boy! Oh, I am sure that he will come back to me!


Old prophecies are being re-published proclaiming the fall of the German Empire. People gather together to read them aloud, and pass them on to their neighbors, like so many thirsty travelers happening on a spring of fresh water.

"Oh, yes! To see the last Prussian at his last gasp, and all due to us. What a glorious sight!" That is what we are all saying to each other in France.

These hordes of barbarians who rob the dead, kill the wounded, and fire on our ambulances; who shoot old men, women, and children, and girls when they have violated them; who cut off little boys' hands, so that they shall not fight against them later on—these monsters who have escaped from Hell will return thither or else there is no Divine justice.

The news of the atrocities committed in Belgium by the Kaiser's monsters emptied the villages in the North in a single night, and one can imagine nothing more dismal than the stream of fugitives along the roads of France. We saw them passing by our houses, coming[180] from goodness knows where, piled up on carts with their animals, their bedding, their old men and their children, and all their household goods.

They had come through Paris, their horses almost dropping with fatigue, to seek a refuge in some friendly district, but where that would be they knew not. For the moment their only idea was to go a long, long way off to the other ends of the earth, in order to escape from the blood-thirsty hordes.

From the North right down to the South of France the roads were covered with thousands of panic-stricken refugees, in carts, in cars, in carriages, in trains, all in the wildest confusion. Many of them camped out all night, in their carts, and quite near the house there were some whom we tried to help a little. The stories they told led us also to think of flight.

One night the soldiers from the depot at Fontainebleau passed under our windows, going in the direction of Provins. An officer who is a great friend of ours had said to us, "When you see the soldiers from the depot going—go too." It was terrible.

It was a beautiful moonlight night, the regiment in extended formation marched along the Avenue des Sablons. Their measured tread purposely muffled, the slight rattling of their mess-tins against their haversacks, and from time to time a curt command given in a low voice, threw us into an agony of fear. We could not sleep: and hidden behind the Venetian blinds we and our maid spent the night in watching them.

We had tried to give the soldiers drinks, but the officers objected. I thought of all the mothers whose sons were marching through that tragic night to death, while they, poor women, were sleeping or peacefully praying for them in some far-off corner of France. I thought of my own boy, and my heart was wrung with anguish.

[181]

When day came I went to lie down, feeling crushed, all my courage gone.

The next day the Mayor sent to say that we ought to go; an enemy force was at Provins; the Germans were advancing rapidly; communications would be cut by them, and it would be wisest to be off.

I could not make up my mind to it, although all these stories filled me with terror, and Paul said in every letter, "For Heaven's sake—go!" I still shrank from the pang of leaving my house and all that was in it, and especially my animals, my dogs, my mementoes, all the links that bind one to one's home.

VIII—STORY OF THE FLIGHT BEFORE THE INVADERS

The journey, which generally takes two hours, lasted for ten. We were packed like sardines. There were all sorts of things in our carriage, from a baby's bath to a birdcage. Oh! how often we stopped between the stations! (We heard afterwards that there had been an accident on a side line, which accounted for the block and the impossibility of getting on.) The passengers kept getting out and sitting on the banks, and the children played about and amused themselves.

Trains full of soldiers, and even of wounded, were hung up like us on parallel lines. All this confusion brought home to one the panic and terror of this herd of human beings who, in order to escape from the enemy, were rushing headlong into inconceivable troubles.

On the edge of the forest of Orleans we stopped for more than an hour. By this time it was night, but the moon was shining. Another train had also drawn up, and in the moonlight, the two trains looked like long funeral processions.

[182]

The Master had not spoken since we left. With my face in my hands I was crying, and there was complete silence in the compartment. All of a sudden the most exquisite song rose on the tragic night. The voice came from the other train which had been stopped like ours near the forest. It was a man's voice, and he sang the serenade from "La Damnation de Faust"—"Vous qui faites l'endormie," etc., and this song, rendered with feeling by a musical and charming voice, lifted my spirits from gloom and my soul from despair.

How I listened to this song, which bore from the train-load of wounded the sweet message of a loving thought to some far-away sweetheart. In the moonlight in the midst of all this human misery and distress it was sublime.

Oh! love, thou art within the reach of all, and like the great sea sheddest thy glamor even within the lowliest dwelling.

I shall long remember that man's song, and his warm and vibrant southern voice.

These poetic impressions were soon obliterated at Orleans. Never shall I forget the hell that station was.... It seemed impossible to walk through that station without treading upon something or somebody. Hundreds of human beings were stretched on seats and on the ground; children were sleeping amongst bits of orange-peel and dirty pieces of paper, their mothers were squatting down beside them. Stretcher-bearers were going round with their stretchers.

All of us conceal from our neighbors our inmost thoughts, our secret wounds, our hidden dreams, our cherished illusions, and our unknown longings. And the part of us which we hide so jealously is the most real, the most essential, the most enduring. That which we[183] offer to the outer world is only the husk and the mask!

Ah! what we mothers hide!

Yesterday at Lamballe we met a convoy of Prussian prisoners. They were going, under a strong guard, to work on the railway. At the sight of the gang my heart leapt within me. Standing up in the car I lost all control of myself, and shouted: "Bandits, savages, assassins, down with the Kaiser!" I was trembling with rage and emotion to think that here I had before my eyes those brutes who had killed women and children, girls and old men, for no reason at all—simply for the pleasure of killing.

My friends were as much moved as I was, and even after the prisoners had passed we kept on shouting, "A bas l'Allemagne," and "Vive la France!"

They marched by, unmoved, with a contemptuous and disdainful expression on their brutal faces. Only a very few of them looked as if they came from a decent class—the rest were savages. Really, when one is near them, one feels a regular surge of hate.

IX—THE BREAKING HEARTS OF THE MOTHERS OF FRANCE

December 31.—The wintry wind is blowing keenly and violently. The year is dying, and I am thinking of those out there in the trenches who are playing at "Qui perd gagne." How sorrowfully they must be thinking of their loved ones! and I am thinking also of the unutterable sadness of everything around my son.

The pagans used to sprinkle lustral waters on towns defiled by inexpiable wars, to appease the anger of the gods. Who can tell us what ritual we can perform to allay the anger of God and wipe out the traces of so much blood?

[184]

What is my son doing on this last evening of the year, on this December 31st which soon will be torn from this year's calendar like the last leaf from a tree that thenceforward remains black and withered.


The papers are full of stories of German atrocities. The naked bodies of some women were found stripped and empaled on German bayonets near a farm, their breasts had been cut in pieces, and other unspeakable details revealed the Sadism which prevails among the Kaiser's soldiers. Is his madness infectious? and has it spread to his Army?—or are these massacres due to the brutes being drunk? A Red Cross nurse who had looked after a wounded prisoner, an officer, was warmly thanked by him several times. His thanks were charmingly expressed in excellent French. He even went so far as to promise to send her a little souvenir when he went back to his country. Soon afterwards, when he had recovered, he did go back, and the nurse thought no more about it, until one day she received a parcel from the German officer.

Rather surprised at so much politeness she eagerly undid the parcel, and nearly fainted with horror on discovering, wrapped up in tissue-papers, two baby's hands cut off at the wrist. Such monstrous behavior seems inconceivable on the part of a man of a certain class, and therefore better educated than the mass of common soldiers. A story like this sets one thinking of the mother who must have been present when her child was mutilated....

Who will ever know all the sufferings endured by Frenchwomen in these hours of terror and death brought upon them by the German war? They, too, have trodden the road to Calvary.

[185]

Surely this Kaiser must be the Anti-Christ, for he has destroyed the foundations of the old world and overthrown the pillars of modern society, and all the laws of humanity and of Christian morality. Surely the hand of God will weigh heavy upon him!

(This French mother describes heroically her experiences in Paris and at Les Sablons, with her flight to Val André, and then thanks God from the bottom of her heart that she is the "mother of Paul" and has lived in these heroic days.)

FOOTNOTE:

[11] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the book.


[186]

"THE FALL OF TSINGTAU"—THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST

With the Japanese in the Orient

Told by Jefferson Jones, an American Civilian Eye Witness

This American witnessed the epoch-making events in the Far East, within the lines of the Japanese Army, through a permit granted by General Kamio, Commander of the Allied Forces at Tsingtau. He describes the events with the understanding of one who has resided for many years in Japan and China, asserting that "one of the most remarkable changes to be wrought in Christendom by the greatest of wars will be found, not in Europe or in Europe's dependencies, but in the Far East"; recalling the words of Napoleon, "There lies a sleeping China. Let him sleep: for when he moves he will move the world." He has recorded his observations in a volume entitled: "The Fall of Tsingtau," in which he describes the advance of the Japanese Army; the beginning of the siege; the fleet bombarding the city; the surrender. He also discusses analytically the political and economic situations. His description of Tsingtau "After the City's Fall" is here retold by arrangement with his publishers, Houghton, Mifflin and Company: Copyright 1915, by Jefferson Jones.

I—STORY OF THE CONQUERED TEUTON FORT

Scenes of havoc met the eyes of the Japanese staff officers when they entered the fallen forts of Tsingtau. With dynamite and nitro-glycerine the German defenders had destroyed the guns and demolished all that might be taken by the captors as trophies of war. Along the casemate walls of the forts still lay the German and Japanese soldiers who had been killed in the final assault,[187] while the concrete forts themselves were just a mass of shale and twisted steel rods where dynamite or falling shells had done their work.

Into the forts the Japanese filed and, collecting all the German soldiers together in lots, marched them to the barbed-wire entanglements in the rear of the city and after a short rest took them to the foot of Prince Heinrich Berg, where a prison camp had been improvised. The German officers, however, through the courtesy of the Japanese commander, were allowed to remain in Tsingtau.

The courtesy of the Japanese, for which the Orient is already famous, received an excellent demonstration in the surrender of Tsingtau. General Kamio, commander-in-chief, realizing that to march his victorious troops through the city of Tsingtau would throw the residents into much confusion and disorder, made the direct surrender appear like a capitulation on terms. All German officers, including Governor-General Meyer-Waldeck, were allowed to go about Tsingtau at their freedom after the surrender, and General Kamio at once posted orders that only the Japanese staff officers would be allowed to enter the city for several days. Japanese pickets were placed along the roads outside of the city to see that this regulation was enforced.

For several days, then, while the Japanese troops were quartered in Moltke and Bismarck Barracks in the rear of Tsingtau, and the British force was also in German barracks, the residents of Tsingtau were given free opportunity to recover from their besieged life without being ruffled by the sight of marching and quartered troops.

During that period between the surrender of the Tsingtau forts and November 16, when the British and Japanese expeditionary forces made their triumphal entry into the city, the Japanese officers busied themselves in the[188] final preparations for the transfer of the German possessions into the hands of Dai Nippon. The rest of the troops spent the days in examining the Tsingtau forts and gradually the "whyfore" of their surrender was answered.

On Iltis Fort were mounted six twelve-centimeter guns, two of which had been captured from the French in the siege of Paris in 1871. On the left of this battery and toward the rear of the fort had been placed four twenty-eight-centimeter mortars, while two 10.5-centimeter guns cast in 1889, which had seen service in the siege of Taku in 1900, made up the remainder of the fort's equipment.

Bismarck Fort, to the left of Iltis, seemed to be the most strongly fortified of any of the Tsingtau defenses. Besides four twenty-eight-centimeter howitzers and two twenty-one-centimeter guns, it contained the Tsingtau battery of four fifteen-centimeter guns.

At Moltke Fort, on the bay side of the city, the German garrison had mounted two fifteen-centimeter guns stripped from the Austrian cruiser Kaiserin Elisabeth, a field battery of ten pieces, three field howitzers, and several small guns taken from the second-class German gunboats and cruisers that had been allowed to be bottled up in the Bay of Kiaochow.

The two German forts which commanded the sea approaches were Huit-chien-huk and Tscha-nui-va. The first was equipped with two twenty-four-centimeter guns and three fifteen-centimeter guns, while the latter's equipment consisted of two twenty-one-centimeter guns which had been taken from the Chinese Taku forts in 1900.

The German garrison at Tsingtau at the opening of the war, knowing that their surrender was inevitable, had made all plans to keep as far as possible all trophies of war from falling into the enemy's hands after surrender. The result was that early on the morning of the 7th, after[189] the Japanese infantry had gained the redoubt walls, all preparations were made by the garrison for destroying the guns.

The breech-block of each was wound with nitro-glycerine and dynamite was placed in the cannons up to the muzzle edge. The white flag was the signal. A few minutes later, when the Japanese forces swarmed the forts, they found the place a mass of wreckage. Big twenty-four-centimeter guns were split in two as evenly and neatly as if they had been cut by a jack-knife, while one hundred or more yards distant could be found all that remained of the breech-block. The four twenty-eight-centimeter mortars on Iltis had been dynamited and just a mass of twisted steel and splintered plates remained.

On Bismarck and Moltke Forts, many of the guns had been backed in against the sandbag walls and dynamited on their carriages. The discharge had left the place scattered with the broken pieces of the carriages and split sandbags. The guns in the majority of cases had fallen down to the foot of the casemate walls. The explosions of the dynamite also appeared to have wrecked adjacent walls, for the concrete work about the gun-stands seemed to be so much shale. Exposed to sight were the steel pipes and wire used in the construction of the forts, all twisted and broken.

This desire to keep trophies of war from the hands of the enemy was not confined alone to guns. From the various post-offices German officials gathered the colony's issue of postage stamps and all were burned. Men had evidently been detailed to handle the storehouses, for all about them I found large cans of corned beef, sausages, milk, saurkraut and German delicacies opened and lying in heaps, their contents untouched.

All valuable papers in the vaults of Government buildings that contained military secrets or maps of fortifications[190] throughout the Far East, were also made way with; in fact the German garrison left little that the Japanese could boast about, except the city of Tsingtau itself.

As officially given out by the War Office, the Japanese forces had a total of 142 guns on the firing line. They consisted of six 28-centimeter howitzers, 72 other siege guns of 15-and 24-centimeters, 18 mountain guns, 36 field pieces, and eight 4.7 and 6-inch guns of the marine detachment.

According to figures given me by General Kamio, the total active fighting force of the Japanese during the siege was 20,000 men, while the British expedition force consisted of 925 regulars, with a regiment of 300 Sikhs.

Opposing them was the German force of 4,500 men, more than 700 of whom were sick or wounded or captured before the actual siege started.

Among the criticisms directed against the defenders of Tsingtau, which I heard after the surrender, especially in the British camp, was that the Germans fired away great quantities of ammunition at the beginning of the bombardment of the fortifications so that, with their supply exhausted, an excuse for the surrender could be made. In proof of this they referred to the large number of shells which fell daily about the Japanese forces while they were getting the big siege guns into position. The estimate of "more than two thousand German shells in twelve hours' firing with no casualties to the Japanese or British forces," was further evidence given.

II—THE GERMAN OFFICER'S TALE OF THE SIEGE

On my first trip into Tsingtau I met a German officer in the Prince Heinrich Hotel, who had taken part in the[191] siege, and questioned him as to the truth of the statement.

"Maybe that is what they say, but the facts are the garrison had expected Tsingtau to fall sooner than it did. Our heavy artillery fire was not kept up for the purpose of throwing away our shells,—it would have been less dangerous to have dropped them in the bay,—but solely to do as much damage to the Japanese as possible before the assault on the fortifications could be made. We regulated our fire with the one purpose of covering the country with shells before they had a chance to get under cover. When they attempted to mount their siege guns at the start of the bombardment their forces were exposed to us. We could see their ammunition columns and supply wagons rolling up on open roads and, by spreading our fire about the valley, we were attempting solely to postpone the fall of Tsingtau as much as possible by hindering the allied forces in their work."

The officer then went on to tell me of the ruse Lieutenant Trendel, manager of the Wagonlits Hotel at Peking, who took part in the siege, played on the Japanese. Trendel was in command of a battery of six old nine-centimeter ships' guns which were in an exposed position on a ridge near Iltis Fort. This battery received a fire from both the ship and land guns, and the men could be seen on the first day of the bombardment building bomb-proofs in the dust and smoke from exploding shells.

In the night Lieutenant Trendel put up wooden guns, roughly shaped from beams, at a distance of two hundred yards from his own guns. In the morning, he exploded powder near them to give an appearance of firing from them. By this ruse he diverted the Japanese fire and saved all his men, dynamiting his guns before the surrender.

Governor-General Waldeck, after the surrender, made[192] the following statement as to the bombardment:—

The combatant force at Tsingtau did not amount to more than forty-five hundred. The permanent garrison consisted of eighteen hundred men nominally, but was, in reality, about two hundred short. Some of those under arms were mere boys. Each fort was defended by about two hundred men.

The Tsingtau guns were mostly weapons captured from the Boxers during their rebellion, or trophies of the Franco-German War, and were no match for modern arms. The Huichuan and Bismarck Forts, however, had some modern pieces. Altogether there were, for the defense, about sixty guns and a hundred machine guns.

The Iltis fort was guarded by sixty men. The Japanese in their assault charged up under a hot fire as if unconscious of their danger, and gained the position before the defenders could call reinforcements.

The Bismarck and Moltke Forts were also taken by a charge, but for the most part the Japanese conducted their attack under cover of their trenches, and concealed themselves so well that the most searching German fire could not stop their advance. At length the supply of ammunition ran out, and further defense was futile. I thought the Japanese casualties would be very heavy, as they fought bravely and charged desperately, and I estimated their loss at five to six thousand. I have been astonished to learn that the loss in killed and wounded amounts to only seventeen hundred. They certainly showed remarkable skill in taking cover.

Tsingtau was not an ideal fortification, such as Antwerp. Strictly speaking, it was merely a defended position. As possible enemies in the Far East, Germany had calculated only on England, France and Russia. It was quite unexpected that the blow would come from so good a friend as Japan.

[193]

The fire from the Japanese squadron was not so furious as to cause any great inconvenience, except once when a shell landed in the Huichan Point Fort, killed thirteen and severely wounded three. In respect of accuracy of range the fire of the British cruiser Triumph was inferior to that of Japanese ships. The land fire, however, was terrible. A perfect rain of shells fell on the Bismarck, Iltis, and Hsiaochau Forts, and the central batteries suffered severely. One of them received as many as a hundred shells, and it was death to leave the trenches for an instant.

Two days after the surrender I was able to get through the picket line thrown about the rear of the city of Tsingtau, and could observe better just what damage had been done to the city during the seven days of bombardment.

III—WAR'S TYPHOON IN THE CITY

The city appeared as if a typhoon had passed through it. Its wide asphalt and macadamized streets, fronted by beautiful four- and five-story buildings of German architecture, were vacant. Giant shells, some three feet long and a foot in diameter, were lying about on sidewalk and street still unexploded. Trees, splintered at their bases, lay toppled over in the avenues. Windows in the houses were shattered, while gaunt holes in the sides of buildings, where shells had torn their way, made the residence blocks appear to be gasping for air.

Out in the harbor could be seen the spars of the Rickmers and two or three other German freighters, which had been sunk at the opening of hostilities about the city, while farther out in the channel was the grave of the Austrian cruiser, Kaiserin Elisabeth, which had been sunk by the Germans.

[194]

The whole scene seemed one of devastation. Streets deserted of people, show-fronts of stores completely gone, as was also the merchandise, harbors deserted of ships, and not even a sign of a ricksha to remind you of the Orient.

Such was Tsingtau as I first saw it two days after its surrender. But for the continual sight of the Rising Sun flag flapping from every peak in the rear of the city, as well as from every Government building, and its message of "occupied," one would have thought Tsingtau a city deserted.


[195]

WITH MY REGIMENT—BRITONS ON THE FIELD OF HONOR

Fighting from the Aisne to La Bassée

Told by a "Platoon Commander"

This is the inspiring story of a typical British soldier. "I was staying in a large house by the banks of the Thames when we heard the news of the War," he relates. "My hostess was the mother of soldiers. She took the news calmly, as the mother of soldiers do; said good-bye to her eldest boy, who was to go with the first troops who left England, arranged for the outfit of her two second sons, and sent for her baby from Eton, who she saw dispatched to the Royal Military College. It was a great house to be in on the outbreak of War—a house whose sons to the third and fourth generation had built up the British Empire, and which now, when the Empire was called upon to fight for its life, stood firm and undismayed." This platoon commander tells his experiences in a book entitled "With My Regiment." Many of his stories have appeared in the Westminster Gazette, The English Review, and The London Standard. Some of them are reproduced here by permission of his American publishers, J. B. Lippincott Company, of Philadelphia.

I—STORY OF THE OLD WOMAN AT THE AISNE

We were moved to the village very suddenly. There was no reason that we could see for the move. However, this transpired later. It was getting dusk when we reached the village. A and C Companies were sent at once up to the firing-line, and B and D Companies were lined along a ditch in support. The ditch had been prepared for habitation by the regiment who had held it before. At one point they had thrown some boards across the ditch and made a house underneath. This[196] proved a very welcome shelter when later it came on to rain. We lay in the ditch for an hour or two listening to the last shells before nightfall, from one of our heavy batteries, singing overhead. The shells were sent in groups of three, and we could plainly hear each, whizz-whizz-whizz, chasing each other through the air, perhaps not more than twenty yards apart. We were comfortable enough where we were, and idly speculated on what errand of destruction the shells were bent. They sounded nasty great things to have coming in the wrong direction, and we wished the Germans joy of them.

About eight I felt hungry, and got out of the trench to have a look round. I had two tins of Mc'Conochie in my haversack, which I put in a pan of boiling water. Across a field to the front I saw a farm, and decided to go over and explore. In the field there were two or three curious heaps of straw, which proved to be the burial piles of dead cows, killed by shell fire, and covered over by the farmer in this rather ineffective fashion. The cows were getting smelly, and I did not stay long looking at them. I found the farm occupied by two old men and an old woman. One of the old men, over eighty, they told me, had taken to his bed and lain there with the shutters up for three days. He was half-dead from fright, and could not be induced to move. The old woman said they had had Germans billeted in the farm a week before. They had treated her and her old husband none too gently, driving them out of the house while they made soup in her cauldron. She had managed to hide one or two little bits of bread, and was making supper off a crust and some coffee. She put the fire at my disposal for getting supper ready for Goyle and the other officers in the company. They all came across a quarter of an hour later, Evans with a great possession—a tin of cocoa. There was plenty of milk to be had from the[197] farm—indeed, it was a godsend to the old people to get a man to milk their cows—and we soon had a beautiful jug of thick, steaming cocoa. We then prepared the Mc'Conochie, and what proved to be our last meal all together was a good one.

II—WOUNDED—SCENES IN A NIGHT ATTACK

It was getting late when we had finished, and we had to hurry back to the support trench. On the way, as I was going along at a quick trot, I came head over heels over a big object and nearly impaled myself on a spike. Apart from the smell of the cow, it was really most dangerous lying out there at night-time, and I sent a party of men back to bury it.

The trenches we were to take over lay just beyond the village along the crest of a slope. The section my company was responsible for ran just in front of three haystacks. A company extended away to our right, and the Dorchester Regiment continued the line to our left. The officer of the regiment we were relieving said to me: "You see those stacks—well, I should keep clear of them; the enemy have them set." I nodded, very tired at finding myself back in the firing-line, where we had been almost continuously for ten days, and not particularly interested in what the enemy had set or what they had not. In fact, as soon as I had seen the men distributed along the trench, and had given one or two orders about its improvement, I made straight for the centre stack, pulled as much hay as I could out of the side of it, rolled myself up, and went to sleep.

I was awakened by a sharp blow in the back. Looking up I saw Evans drawing his foot back to give me a second and harder kick.

"Get up, you blithering fool," he said; "your men are out all over the place."

[198]

I jumped to my feet, and, fastening my belt as I ran, dashed for the trench. I owed a lot to Evans for waking me. As Evans said, the men were all walking about outside the trench. I got them in immediately, and was preparing to follow when I thought of my bed, and went off to fetch it. One never knew when the next chance of leaving the trench might come. I was bending down, gathering a good armful of hay, when there was a report, a sensation like red-hot iron running through one, followed by acute pain, and I pitched head-forward into the hay. I had been hit. Very frightened and hurt, I crawled as fast as I could round to the side farthest from the enemy and sat down. I examined my wounds—a bullet through each leg. The shots were low down and did not look very serious. They hurt infernally, and I made a mental note to call the next man who said he never noticed he had been hit in the heat of an action a liar. I examined the wounds. Were they serious enough to warrant a visit to the field-dressing station and a possible return to England? I hoped devoutly they were. An attempt to stand soon satisfied me, and I fell down again, much relieved. All these thoughts were a matter of seconds; in the meanwhile there was a good deal going on round the stack. An enemy battery was playing round it with high-explosive shrapnel. The shells burst first one side, then the other, in front, behind, in all directions. The noise was deafening, and the lead in the air was just like a hailstorm; however, it was a stout stack, and kept me dry, though I confess I doubted getting away alive. After a few minutes the firing stopped, and, throwing myself on my side, I rolled as fast as I could for a support trench. I pitched head-first into the trench and landed on the top of two privates who were sheltering in the bottom expecting more shrapnel over at any minute. They were not expecting me, and thought their[199] last hour had come when I fell on top of them. Getting our breath, we all three cursed each other. Then, seeing I was an officer, they became respectful. I explained I was wounded, and they helped me off with my puttees and bound up the wounds with the first-aid bandage which I ripped from my coat. In the meanwhile word was sent back for stretcher-bearers. As the firing had stopped these came up immediately, lifted me out of the trench, put me on a stretcher, and started off with me. We had to go down a road in full view of the enemy. For some providential reason they never fired at us, though I was about the last wounded man to be brought down that road. Halfway down the road the stretcher-bearers began to show signs of feeling my weight. I coaxed them on a few more yards, but when they came to the lee of a cottage they put me down and shook their heads; another bearer came to the rescue, and with the extra help the party proceeded. A hundred yards more brought us to a cottage which was being used as a field-dressing station. The cottage was beginning to fill, and wounded men lay about all over the floor.

"Oh, Gawd! Oh—! ——ooh!!"

"Shut up, can't yer?" a man shouted from the far corner of the room.

"I've got a 'ole in me big enough to put yer 'and in," the sufferer explained, and began again to groan and swear.

"Got a cigarette, mate?" A man deathly pale on a stretcher held out his hand to a comrade who was slightly wounded and standing beside him. The latter extricated a Woodbine from a crumpled packet and passed it down. The man on the stretcher lit the cigarette and puffed at it phlegmatically. It was doubtful whether he would live, and though he did not know this, he knew he must not have anything to eat or drink for many hours.

[200]

III—THE DOCTORS AND THE STRETCHER BEARERS

About fifteen or twenty of us were lying on the floor of a cottage. Outside, four or five hundred yards up the street, a lively fight was in progress for the possession of the village. After the firing-line the cottage seemed a haven of peace and safety.

"Hullo, they've got you."

"Morning, Doctor."

A young fellow, fresh from his training at a hospital, was standing beside me. He was our regimental doctor, and I'd always thought of him as a lucky fellow who rode on a horse when we were on the march, and got his rations regularly at all times, and during a scrap enjoyed the security of the extra few hundred yards which he was supposed to have between his dressing-station and the firing-line. Well, here he was to look after me, anyhow.

"Got a bit of work to do to-day, Doctor," I said as he bound me up.

"Yes," he answered, adjusting a blanket as a pad under me, "there, just keep in that position and the bleeding will soon stop." He turned to the man next me.

"I've got some across the way, too," he said, as the orderly handed him fresh bandages. "They've been shelling the poor beggars, knocking all the slates off the roof."

As he spoke some shrapnel crashed against the roof of our cottage, sending a few tiles rattling to the ground. The doctor looked up.

"I think we're all right here," he said. "We've got a double roof. I always try to pick a cottage with a double roof. But those poor devils over the way are getting awful scared; I think I'll slip across to them."

[201]

The bit of road he had to "slip across" was catching most of the shells which the cottage did not, and was also the channel for a steady stream of rifle and machine-gun fire. I began to see there wasn't much in it, whether one was a doctor or a platoon commander.

More especially did I realize a doctor's difficulties when, later in the day, just as our doctor had finished looking at my dressings, a message came that the field-dressing station belonging to the regiment on our left had been set alight by a shell. He hastily organized a party of stretcher-bearers and orderlies and went off at once. Later he came back. He said it had been terrible to see the wounded lying helpless in the barn waiting for the flames, but somehow they had managed to rescue all and move them to a safer place, though the whole operation had to be carried out under rifle and shell fire. Each time a regiment is seriously engaged with the enemy at least 100 men are hit, often four times the number. The regimental doctor is supposed to bind up each one of these, and often when times are slack and a stray man here or there gets hit he will be sent for to come up to the trenches.

"'Allo, Jock," loud greetings were shouted by every one in the room to a little man standing in the doorway with a bandolier across his chest and rifle with bayonet still fixed. He was a grubby little fellow, with blood and mud caked all down his cheek, ragged clothes, and—as I had seen as he came up the cottage steps—a pronounced limp. It was Private Mutton, scallawag, humorist, and well-known character in the regiment.

"Yus, they got me," he said in answer to inquiries, "fro' me calf," he pointed to his leg, "and right acrost the top of me 'ead"—he raised his cap and showed where a bullet had parted his hair, grazing the scalp. "But I give the bloke somethink what did it." Private Mutton[202] grinned at his bayonet. "Got 'im fair, right fro' 'is stomick."

I could not help feeling delighted, for I recognized in the muddy, gory, highly-pleased-with-himself little man the original of Thomas Atkins, of whose doings along the Indian frontier I had read thrilling accounts by Mr. Kipling, and whose quaint mannerisms I had often laughed at as represented on the stage of music-halls at home....

At 9 P.M. the ambulances came up.

The doctor went round quickly attending to each man. He bound up my wounds afresh and had me carried into an inner room. I lay there all day, and never shall I forget the experience. I could see nothing except a bit of the wall on the opposite side of the street. But I could hear. Just after I had been brought in fresh firing broke out. Rifle fire this time, sharp and insistent. Then there was a sound of stamping feet, and I heard an officer rallying the men at the corner of the street. The firing continued all day and sometimes seemed to rage almost at the door of the cottage. I gathered that the Germans were attacking the village in masses, and that it was touch-and-go whether we could hold out. Sometimes there would be a rush of men outside the window, and I would look to see if the pale grey uniform was there or if khaki still held the place. Every now and then a shower of shrapnel struck the roof of the cottage, and tiles went rattling to the road. All the while a section of our artillery fired incessantly. How gallant those guns of ours sound—Boom-boom-boom. They were fighting to their last shell. If the village went, they went with it. No horses could be brought up to draw them away in such an inferno. The doctor worked on quietly. His work extended now to houses on the left and right. He said it was terrible to see the fear of death on the faces[203] of men shot through the stomach. He found time once to have a cup of tea with me and smoke a cigarette. Night began to fall and the room grew dark. I was glad of his company for five minutes. We were in the same boat, he told me—if the Germans got the village he was going to stay behind with the wounded.

At half-past five Evans came in with a smashed arm.

"Goyle has gone," he said. "He was hit twice before during the day. He was holding out with a few men there and got a third through the chest which did him. Edwards was shot through the knee, and we had to leave him. All the company officers are down. A company has been surrounded and cut off. Whew! you can't live out there." As he spoke the firing swelled to a din unequalled through the day. We heard shouts and curses. The Germans were making a final tremendous effort to break through.

"Our boys may do it," said Evans, "but there are not many left." I lay back against the wall, pulled out a cigarette, and threw one to Evans. We could only wait. Suddenly outside we heard a stamp of feet, a hoarsely yelled order, "Fix bayonets!" another word of command, and a mass of men rushed past the window up the street, cheering madly.

"That's the ——s," cried a stretcher-bearer, who came in excitedly. "They have been sent up from the reserve."

The doctor came in. "We've got two more regiments up; we shall be all right now," he said.

For a moment the firing continued, then died down. Night came and found us still holding the village, and at ten o'clock the ambulance took us away.


[204]

THE STORY OF COUNT SEILERN

A Tragedy of the Hapsburgs

Assassinations, abductions, and scandals of every kind loom large in the records of the reigning Austrian house, and many of its crimes have not yet come to light, as this amazing story proves. But for the confession of an Austrian prisoner of war, anxious to relieve his mind of the burden that oppressed it, this latest instance of Hapsburg treachery would never have been heard of beyond the precincts of the Hofburg. "Le Matin," the well-known French newspaper, first drew attention to this officer's extraordinary story, which is here set forth in full, and as nearly as possible in his own words. It is a tragic tale indeed, a tale of love and duplicity in high places, which he told to the Wide World Magazine.

I—STORY OF THE VENETIAN NOBLEMAN

The first time I met Count Seilern and became acquainted with the anteccedents of this brilliant young officer, the heir of a noble Viennese family, was during the summer of 1914, whilst I was undergoing a cure at one of the Austrian spas, which, owing to my desire to remain as anonymous as possible, I will leave unnamed. We were both members of an international club, run by an American, who offered his patrons "all the usual casino attractions to be found elsewhere." True, there was neither roulette nor trente-et-quarante, but, under the cloak of a long list of subsidiary and innocent beguilements, such as golf, tennis, and pigeon-shooting, the game of baccarat flourished in a manner that bore a very respectable similarity to the famous allurements of the great French Riviera resort.

It was here—one evening in mid-June—that I was introduced[205] to Count Seilern, and that he offered to introduce me as a member of the inner cercle.

Nothing is so revelatory of a man's character as his attitude under the temptations of the gaming-table. I have gambled many times, but have always known when to respond to the promptings of the spirit of prudence and leave off. I gambled at C——, but only until the moment when I considered I had paid a sufficiently high entrance-fee for the privilege of studying my fellow-clubmen in general and Count Seilern in particular.

This new acquaintance of mine attracted me from the very first. In spite of the weakness of his character, which was evident all the more clearly the longer he played, it was impossible for anyone of education and refinement not to like him. There was something even in the manner in which he coquetted with the Goddess of Chance which compelled one's admiration.

A little less than a week later I was in a position to judge the character of my new friend infinitely better. Personal observation had taught me that he could be both chivalrous and generous. I noted more than once that, however reckless he might be at times, there were moments when he could give himself up to day-dreams and calm reflection. This was to me a puzzling problem of his personality until, almost simultaneously with these early days of our acquaintanceship, fresh light came from certain brother officers, who volunteered to put me au courant with details concerning his private life which were known only to the innermost circle of Viennese society.

These new facts, which explained so much that had hitherto been vague or unintelligible, were as fuel added to the fire of my imagination. Count Seilern suddenly became, in my eyes, a hero of romance. Yet I cannot say that it was wholly admiration which now filled me.[206] An indescribable feeling of pity, mingled with fear, came over me whilst I was listening, strolling one afternoon under the trees in the admirable park of C——, after drinking the regulation number of glasses of water from my favourite spring, to the first of those startling disclosures.

"There goes the man who is playing with fire," said my companion, as Count Seilern's well-known olive-green car, with himself at the wheel, glided past us and disappeared round a curve of the road leading to the golf-links.

"Has he been losing heavily again?" I asked.

"Possibly. But I'm not referring to his proclivity to waste time and money at the International. There are far more ways than that by which a man may play with fire, and if gaming were the Count's only little diversion, many a mind in his family—one of the oldest in Austria, you know—would be set at rest. Whatever losses he may have, the means to meet them will always be more than sufficient, for the Seilerns possess untold wealth. It is for that reason, I suppose, that the Count aspires so high. No, the particular danger which threatens him is of a wholly different order to the one you have in mind. It is a case, my friend, of 'cherchez la femme.' But surely you know of that last winter's affair of his?"

"Not a word reached my ears. I was away from Vienna, on a mission, the whole of last winter."

"I see. Well, now I come to think about it, you might not have heard anything if you'd been there, for the affair was kept very quiet, and those in the secret were pledged not to mention the lady's real name. When I tell you that she is a young Archduchess, closely related to the Archduchess Maria Theresa, and the victim of a most unfortunate marriage, you will understand what I mean by referring to Seilern playing with fire."

[207]

"Oh, ho! so that's it? And you are certain he is still infatuated with the lady?"

"Absolutely, unfortunately for him. But let me tell you all about it from the beginning."

II—TRAGEDY OF THE AUSTRIAN ARCHDUCHESS

The story of the young Archduchess Valeria—to give her the fictitious name my informant used, and which is now doubly necessary—is one that has been encountered before in the annals of the Royal Family of Austria.

When the time came for her marriage, those who jealously watch over the conservation of the so-called purity of the Royal blood, carefully chose a husband and—naturally, against her will—united her to a man fully twelve years her senior. Had this been his only disqualification to be the husband of so young and charming a creature as the Archduchess Valeria, she would have had less reason to complain.

Alas! it was not long before she found he was one of the most abject personages who ever crawled within the shadow of the throne of the Hapsburgs. He was a degenerate, in every sense of the word, and possessed a most unenviable reputation.

Into the details of his career I will not enter, as my outspoken informant did, but enough has been said to enable you to form an idea of the married life of the Archduchess Valeria—if, indeed, that adjective can be applied to an existence in which cruelty, drink, and debauchery played so large a part on the husband's side.

Is it surprising that, childless as she happily was, and still sufficiently young and unbroken in spirit to hope for happier days, the Archduchess turned her eyes longingly elsewhere and encountered those of Count Seilern? There[208] are some who contend that the idyll dated from the days before her marriage, and a tale went the rounds of aristocratic circles that the young Count first made the Archduchess's acquaintance when he was a military student and she little more than a schoolgirl. But that may well be the embroidery which is often added to undoubted facts, and these, for which the speaker said he could personally vouch, were briefly as follows:

Count Seilern, whose family relations gave him many opportunities of seeing the Archduchess, had entered on a sentimental and clandestine intrigue with her. They had corresponded for some time and seen each other repeatedly before their attachment was discovered. Suspicions having been aroused, the Archduchess's correspondence had been intercepted and the truth made known not only to the husband but to the Emperor Francis Joseph himself. The aged ruler, who had helped to plan the marriage, fell into a fit of anger on hearing of this "fresh attempt to smirch the honour of his family"—an outburst so violent that fears were entertained that it might have a bad effect on his precarious health. It would undoubtedly have gone ill with Count Seilern but for two considerations: a knowledge of the disreputable character of the Archduchess Valeria's husband, whose escapades could only be kept hidden from the public by suppressing the scandal, and the powerful influence which the Count possessed, not only in his own family and society milieu, but even in certain sacrosanct circles of the Court itself. So the terrible old man, raging in his heart over the ever-recurring evidence of the moral laxity of his own flesh and blood, decided to let Count Seilern off with a simple warning, dexterously brought to his notice, and to give orders that the Archduchess and her correspondence should in future be kept under strict supervision.

[209]

A means was found of separating the lovers. Count Seilern's military superiors sent him off on a mission lasting several months—a mission whose real object was self-evident to the young officer; the Archduchess's husband suddenly developed a desire for Italian travel and dragged his wife with him. Thus were the lovers' hopes crushed. But only for a time. Once more, through mutual friends, they found a means of occasional correspondence, and thus kept alive the hope that, some day, an odious marriage would be brought to an end—by death or otherwise, they cared not which—and that then their union would be made possible.

"That is the stage," continued my friend, "at which we find Count Seilern to-day. He and she are simply waiting. But they are, as it were, prisoners, whose movements are watched, whose correspondence is liable to be read by the 'Cabinet Noir' of Vienna, and concerning whom anything suspicious may be reported to headquarters. As regards the consequences of any indiscretion, the Archduchess, owing to her rank, has less to fear than the Count. Had the rôles been reversed, Francis Joseph might have set things straight, as he did in the case of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, by granting permission, under certain conditions, for a morganatic marriage. But this is a case in which a male 'outsider' dares to aspire to set the rigourous 'family law' of the reigning house at defiance—and the very idea of such a thing is, you know, abhorrent to the Emperor. Hence the danger which continually hangs over the head of this really splendid man. It is devoutly to be hoped that he will exercise extreme prudence and avoid the snares which our police are capable of setting for him at the instigation of the crafty and fanatical man who rules over us. But I fear that Seilern's headstrong nature will some day play him false."

[210]

The premonitory signs of the whirlwind which was to sweep us all off our feet towards the end of the following month completely threw this conversation into the background of my mind. Everything in the social world of C—— suffered an eclipse through the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his morganatic wife.

III—FIRST RUMBLES OF GREAT WAR IN VIENNA

We military men, acquainted with the aspirations of the Austrian General Staff, knew only too well the far-reaching effect the crime of Sarajevo was likely to have. Our sole interest became the crisis, our sole topic of conversation from morning until night the probability of war. The baccarat rooms of the International Club were deserted, and it was the same with all other amusements and recreations. Only a few English and American enthusiasts continued to frequent the golf-links and the tennis-courts, apparently oblivious of the volcano on which they were dallying. The arrival of the whirlwind itself—the mobilization order and the certainty that the first shots in the great war would soon be fired—speedily aroused them from their apparent indifference. Then came the sudden emptying of the hotels, the rush of panic-stricken visitors to the station, and our own precipitate departure for Vienna and the Staff headquarters. Can one be astonished at the fact that the petty private affairs of Count Seilern and the Archduchess Valeria were momentarily obliterated by the great world-drama in which we were to play our respective parts?

More than four months had elapsed since the outbreak of war. The approach of Christmas found us on the battlefield and, alas! as far from our goal as on the[211] occasion when we officers of the General Staff, assembled on the eve of our departure for the Front, raised our glasses and drank to the day of victory. All hope of a short campaign had gone for ever. Being now a prisoner of war, I can confess to my feelings of those days without the slightest compunction, and frankly admit that, despite our undoubted military successes, I was a disappointed man. How could my mental attitude be otherwise when I sat down and calmly compared the early weeks of the war with the existing situation?

Candidly, I was full of disillusionments, and to add still more to my wretchedness in the little Hungarian village where we were stationed, certain personal grievances weighed heavily upon me. Picture a soldier of my active and imaginative temperament, who had lived for weeks in the hope of participating in the glory of battle, being forced to live that quasi-military life somewhere at the back of the Front.

I was not the only one who felt the monotony of that existence, made up of receiving and transmitting reports, coding and deciphering messages, poring over maps, and otherwise taking part in the office work of the General Staff. Some of my brother-officers were perhaps more patient and philosophic than I was, but I am convinced there was not one of them who, at the bottom of his heart, was not heartily sick of this vegetating life at the end of the telegraph wires, far from the actual scenes of operations.

But I am wandering a little from my story, and mentioning my brother-officers brings me back to the main theme. Whom do you think—to the infinite satisfaction of a man yearning for congenial society, no less than to his great surprise—they included? Of all people in the world, no other than Count Seilern!

Retrospection—backed up by a nature essentially fatalistic—forces[212] me to the conclusion that I was destined to meet this man again and to play a prominent part in his life. How can one set down to a mere coincidence that second meeting and the blossoming of our acquaintanceship of the International Club of C—— into a close friendship, any more than one can think that it was due to mere chance that I should then have learnt so much (for my future guidance) relating to his private history, in which, again, I was to be, in such strange circumstances, both actor and historian?

Since Fate, then, has made me the historian of this tragic tale, let me come at once to the facts and so relieve my mind of some part of the burden which I fear will always oppress it.

Count Seilern held the rank of first lieutenant of cavalry. Being the bearer of one of the noblest names in Austria, he benefited by a certain amount of protection. His duties were much less onerous than ours, but on that account the monotony of his existence must have been all the greater. More than once, indeed, he confessed to me how much he felt it. Coupling certain remarks of his with information which came to me from a sure source, I saw clearly the principal reason which, as Christmas drew near, made him sadder and sadder. It was evident that he was filled with an ardent desire to see the Archduchess Valeria once more. Taking advantage of the unsettled state of the nation's affairs, the lovers had found a means of once more corresponding with each other freely, and, as was shortly to be proved to us, of concocting one of the most daring of plans.

It was undoubtedly the fertile brain of the Archduchess Valeria which conceived a means of putting the much-relaxed vigilance of the Court authorities off the scent. All difficulties were removed by her patience and veritable genius for intrigue. On the plea of taking an active[213] part in war work, she succeeded in severing all relations with her ignoble consort, and—having obtained a first-class training as a nurse—secured an engagement in a Red Cross hospital train circulating in the very sector, at the rear of the armies, where we were stationed.

IV—THE DRAMATIC LOVERS' MEETING IN THE HOSPITAL TRAIN

At last the day arrived when a meeting between the lovers was possible. It was but a week to Christmas (according to the eye-witness who related these dramatic incidents to me) when, one morning, the hospital train stopped at the nearest station to the headquarters of the Army of the Carpathians. Count Seilern was waiting on the platform. He mounted into one of the compartments. The train, naturally, contained neither sick nor wounded men—only her Royal Highness, accompanied by a small and discreet suite. Nobody had been told of her presence, not even the Chief of Staff himself, General Conrad von Hoetzendorf.

The interview lasted a long time, and it was, doubtless, whilst the lovers were forgetting the fleeting hours that some diligent spy went to inform the General. Before the train continued on its journey, the Archduchess Valeria descended on to the platform to spend the last few minutes with the Count. Suddenly Conrad von Hoetzendorf appeared on the scene and immediately recognized her Royal Highness, in spite of the simplicity of her Red Cross nurse's uniform.

"I shall never forget that scene as long as I live," said my informant; "a scene rendered all the more dramatic owing to the fact that its opening passed without a word being spoken. General Conrad von Hoetzendorf, in the presence of a scandal for which he might be rendered[214] responsible, went white with anger. After making a well-nigh imperceptible bow to the Archduchess Valeria—who almost at once bade the Count adieu, and mounted into her compartment—he fixed his cold, grey eyes upon Seilern and kept them there until the train moved out of the station. As he stood there, like a statue, we who were around him could see the nervous twitching of the fingers of his clenched fists, and could interpret the thoughts passing through his brain. His heart was raging—first of all at the idea that his authority as the military chief had been set at naught; secondly, because he saw a danger to himself in the incident; and thirdly, on account of being placed, as it were, in a position of inferiority as regards the man whom he had detected in what he regarded as a flagrant breach of discipline. In brief, belonging, as he does, to the new nobility, he was jealous of the good fortune of his subordinate—this simple first lieutenant, who turned not a hair, caught, though he was, in the act. But, like a wise courtier, Hoetzendorf refrained from giving verbal expression to these feelings, and it was not until the train—with the Princess waving her handkerchief to her lover from one of the windows, and Seilern replying with a salute—passed out of sight, that he opened his lips. Even then, it was merely to order Count Seilern, in the iciest of tones, to come to see him at headquarters. In the presence of his entourage it was necessary for him to make an example of the offender—if only for the purpose of ridding himself of responsibility. With the words, 'Lieutenant Count Seilern, you will come to see me this evening at five, without fail,' he turned on his heels and strode away in the direction of his car."

From that time onwards, the action of the drama in which Count Seilern became involved quickened with bewildering rapidity. The incidents which immediately[215] followed I can describe from personal knowledge, for it was my painful privilege to be present at the interview which took place between General Conrad von Hoetzendorf and the man whom I had by this time determined to support through thick and thin.

With the exception of the General's secretary, who had brought him some letters to be signed, I was the only person present when Count Seilern, punctual to the minute, was announced and ushered into the room of the Commander-in-Chief, situated in a small schloss on the outskirts of the village.

A steely look came into Hoetzendorf's eyes as the young officer entered and, with an apology for a salute, stood before him. The General continued to sign his letters, unperturbed, and without omitting a single flourish after his signature. Having come to the last one, the secretary seized the batch of correspondence and hastened to retire. I was about to do the same, having practically come to the end of my own business, when the General motioned to me to remain, saying:—

"Captain ——, I wish you to stay here. You are, if I mistake not, the lieutenant's friend, so there is no reason, it seems to me, why you should not be present while I make a few friendly observations to Count Seilern. They relate to a little affair which, as I dare say you know, occurred this morning."

Uneasy at being retained as a witness of a scene which I instinctively felt would be of the most painful character, I glanced at my friend with the object of catching his eye, and expressing to him by a look my uncomfortable state of mind.

To a certain extent, he relieved my feelings. At least, I interpreted an almost imperceptible nod of his haughtily-raised head to mean that he was rather pleased than otherwise I was there. I noted—not without anxiety—a[216] certain arrogance in his bearing, as though he were still intoxicated by the declarations and promises which, presumably, had been made to him in the course of his tête-à-tête with the Archduchess. On hearing Hoetzendorf speak of "friendly observations," he perceptibly bridled and coldly, almost insolently, replied:—

"And what may they be, General?"

"Lieutenant Count Seilern," began Conrad von Hoetzendorf, nervously toying with his pen, and evidently making a great effort both to keep his temper and choose his words carefully, "it is almost needless to say that it gives me very great pain to have had to summon you here. But I was in duty bound to do so. You, as a soldier, will surely appreciate my position—the very difficult position in which your conduct, which it was impossible for me to regard otherwise than as reprehensible, has placed me——"

"Reprehensible? Opinions differ, General von Hoetzendorf," interjected Count Seilern.

"Allow me to inform you, once for all, Lieutenant Seilern," replied the General, omitting my friend's title and laying a slight emphasis on his rank, "that as regards a question of military discipline, I can permit of no two opinions. It is your duty to remember that we are on campaign, and that this is no time for society play."

"I am of the opinion, General von Hoetzendorf, that my time is my own when off duty, as was the case this morning," rapped out Count Seilern, white to the eyes.

"Your time is Austria's—by which I mean that, even when off duty, you should remember that this is no time for the amusements to which members of your class are unfortunately addicted in days of peace. I repeat that the dalliance of which you have been guilty is highly reprehensible, so long as you are under my command, and I have reason to believe that my Imperial master[217] would support me in this view. Understand, therefore——"

V—IMPERIAL MANDATE—THE SOLDIER'S ARREST

But the General's further "friendly observations" were never completed. His veiled reference to the Archduchess and the displeasure of the Emperor Francis Joseph, indicating, as it did, that he had received instructions on the subject, had the most disastrous effect on Count Seilern, who, in a paroxysm of rage, exclaimed:—

"That is a private matter which concerns only another and myself! Your Imperial mandate extends to my military duties, which I have always carried out with precision, and no further."

"Silence!" cried Hoetzendorf, springing to his feet and stretching out his hand to touch the button of an electric bell on his table. "We will very soon see about that!"

It was then that the irreparable happened. Count Seilern, either through interpreting the General's gesture as a menace to his personal safety, or because he was carried away by anger, brought his hand to the hilt of his sword, and, at the very moment that an aide-de-camp, in reply to the summons, appeared in the doorway, partly drew the weapon from its scabbard.

"I order you to disarm Lieutenant Count Seilern and place him under arrest," said the General, drawing himself up to his full height as he instinctively stepped back a few paces. "Call the guard immediately. Captain ——," turning his head in my direction, "you are a witness of this inexcusable act of insubordination. I shall require you shortly to give evidence, so you may as well draw up a report of what you have heard and seen without[218] delay. Soldiers, remove the prisoner to the guard-room."

As Count Seilern was led away, proud and defiant, I saw clearly that the danger of which I had been informed at C—— was still hanging over his head. Moreover, the conviction suddenly came to me that Conrad von Hoetzendorf was acting as an agent for those who were attempting to counter the plans of this over-ambitious man. An inkling of this was given me by the Count himself during the confrontation, by the expression of his face and his manner, no less than by the indignant words, "Your Imperial mandate extends to my military duties—and no further." I seemed to read therein the Count's recognition that he was the victim of a cabal, which was drawing a net ever closer and closer around him.

General von Hoetzendorf might have judged and condemned Count Seilern there and then, but postponed this disagreeable duty; and I have a very good idea why. When, an hour later, I handed in my report (the most obnoxious piece of work I have ever done in my life) I found him in deep thought. All he said, ere I withdrew, was:—

"Very good, Captain ——, I will read what you have written later. The affair can stand over for a while, until I call a court-martial."

It was evident (thought I) that the General was considering what the effects of all this was going to be on himself. He was torn between his allegiance to his Imperial master and a desire to avoid the enmity of the powerful families with whom the Seilerns were allied. A soldier by profession, he had an instinctive hatred of being connected in the slightest degree with Court intrigues, and especially at such a time as that, when the whole of his mental power ought to have been concentrated on the business of war. For these reasons (I[219] was convinced) he had contented himself with placing Count Seilern, for the time being, under arrest in a small house—used as a guard-room—in the village, with two sentinels at the door.

But what were my unfortunate friend's thoughts in this prison? Some of them I learnt within the next few days; others, which enable me to complete the picture of Count Seilern's meditations, which few of us imagined were to lead, within a week, to such a startling complication of his life drama, came with later knowledge.

He thought at first, but only for a moment, of committing suicide, in order to avoid a dishonouring sentence. On reflection he came to the conclusion that there was a chance of the General hesitating to be too severe on him, through a desire to remain on good terms with all parties concerned. It was then that certain so-called friends called on the prisoner and made a most extraordinary proposal to him—that he should allow himself to be represented at his forthcoming trial as irresponsible! But he was too well acquainted with the scandalous chronicles of the Hapsburgs not to know what such a "favour" meant. He called to mind the fate of the unhappy Louise of Belgium, who spent seven years in asylums to satisfy the rancour of Philip of Coburg.[12] How thoroughly in accordance with tradition was this suspicious proposal—made, he had not the slightest doubt, at the suggestion of Conrad Von Hoetzendorf! He also thought of the tragic end of Rudolf of Hapsburg, and the many other crimes committed with the tacit approbation of the Hofburg.

VI—THE LOVER'S FLIGHT FROM THE HAPSBURG PRISON

[220]

As a result of these reflections he at last came to a definite conclusion. He determined, encouraged by certain friends, to make a bold bid for liberty and effect his escape, even though he might have to resort to violence, hoping that, once in Vienna, the Archduchess and her friends would protect him.

Working in conjunction with two or three devoted friends, whom this ever-popular man never lacked wherever he might be, he succeeded in inspiring confidence in the two soldiers who guarded him, and who, moreover, watched over him with the consideration due to his rank.

One morning the door of the little Hungarian house in which Count Seilern had been imprisoned for a little less than a week was found open, and there, before the entrance, was the evidence of the means which the prisoner's friends had adopted to rescue him. Stretched on the ground were the unconscious bodies of the two sentinels, heavily drugged by Seiler's accomplices.

Shortly before this occurrence, which, though it naturally created a great sensation in the immediate circle of the Staff, was thrown into the background by military events of considerable importance and the consequent long-desired removal of headquarters to a place nearer the Front, there occurred an event which I cannot but regard as connected with it. A certain Baron A——, one of Seilern's intimate friends, found the means of obtaining permission to return to Vienna. The alleged reason for his departure was urgent family business—some sudden illness or similar call for his presence at home; but I am convinced that its real object was to prepare a sure hiding-place for the fugitive Count. It matters not what my reasons may be for so thinking; suffice it to say that information received from a sure source led me not only to that conclusion but to many other inferences. I learnt, for instance, that the particulars of what was now known as the "Seilern Affair" had[221] leaked out, that the hiding-place of the Count was already known to the police of the Austrian capital, but that no attempt was being made to arrest him. It was evident, indeed, that powerful influences were at work, and that every possible means was being taken to hush up the scandal.

Later, I learnt that recourse was had to the advice of the aged Princess M——, the oracle of the higher society circles of Vienna, whose wisdom has been brought to bear on every "good" scandal at the Court of the Hapsburgs during more than the half-century she has made the laws of the fashionable world there.

Whilst Princess M—— was setting her acute wits to work, the Archduchess Valeria, more and more determined never to return to her ignoble husband, and realizing that the great crisis in her life had at last come, took refuge at the house of some faithful family retainers. The outcome of Princess M——'s ingenious reflections was that Baron A—— was found a further useful mission in conjunction with the affair. This trusted emissary was sent to Berne as a diplomatic messenger, the alleged bearer of confidential documents for Count von G——, a high Austro-Hungarian official and the representative of our Government with the Swiss Confederation.

Holding the opinions I do in regard to the policy which is bringing my poor country to the brink of ruin, I have no hesitation in speaking my mind about some of the men who compose its diplomatic corps. Let me explain, then, that von G——, a former head of the Cabinet of Count Aerenthal, is one of the most equivocal figures in the diplomacy of the Ballplatz. Frigid in his courtesy, scrupulously careful not to offend anyone of importance, pitiless to the weak and servile to the powerful, he was[222] the mere tool of the Minister who first brought Austro-Hungary under the dominations of Berlin.

You can easily imagine the unctuous politeness with which this Machiavellian diplomatist received the man who called upon him with a letter from Princess M——, asking him, in the cordial and guarded terms which her pen can so well indite, to favour the love affair of Count Seilern and hush up a scandal which, "if generally known, would do incalculable harm, at a time when we have more and more need of enlisting the respect of the subjects of His Most Gracious and Imperial Majesty."

"What would I not do to oblige Princess M——?" exclaimed the Count von G——, on coming to the end of the letter and turning his heavily-whiskered face to Baron A—— (who related the interview to me). "Will you transmit that expression of my devotion to her Royal Highness, and say that I live in the hope of accomplishing much, much more than this truly insignificant service? You will, of course, understand, my dear Baron, that this is strictly entre nous. No documentary evidence of my connection with this affair must exist, and—je vous en prie!—not a word about this interview. See, I carry out her Royal Highness's request this very minute and destroy her letter"—tearing it in pieces and throwing them into his waste-paper basket. "I will leave you to acknowledge its receipt. It is always best to transact little affairs of this sort strictly by word of mouth. You will call upon me once or twice and we will arrange—verbally, mark you—for the accommodation of these turtle-doves of the dear Princess. And, once on this free Helvetian soil, we will assist them—as in the story-books, ha, ha!—to live happily ever afterwards."

A few days later, Count Seilern himself, provided, thanks to Princess M——'s influence, backed up by the collaboration of Count von G——and Baron A——,[223] with passports, crossed the frontier. He had shaved off his moustache and had all the appearance of a young man little more than twenty. His extremely youthful physiognomy enabled him to pass as the secretary of the Archduchess Valeria, who, when she heard that Princess M—— was disposed to facilitate the escape of her lover to Switzerland and thence to the United States, where he could remain until after the war, when things would have blown over, insisted on accompanying him into exile. It was at Zurich that the romantic couple found their first hiding-place, arranged with Count von G——'s usual genius for intrigue.

But the Austrian Court was on the watch.

The plan so astutely arranged by Princess M—— had saved Count Seilern from the condemnation which hung over his head. Unfortunately, the hatred of the Hapsburgs and the vengeance of Conrad von Hoetzendorf followed him to Switzerland.

Whilst at Zurich, Count Seilern frequently received messages from Princess M——, who, with her love for adventures of this sort, began to take more and more interest in the welfare of the couple, who had come to be known by Count von G——'s cynical phrase of "the turtle-doves." There was hardly an occasion on which the Imperial messenger left Vienna with diplomatic correspondence for that cunning official but he carried confidential letters for both the Count and the Archduchess.

I have often wondered whether Seilern, living happily in his retirement at Zurich and looking forward to the still more free life of the United States, ever realized the tremendous hatred he had aroused against him. Probably not, judging by his trustful attitude and what followed. He appears, as far as I have been able to learn, to have been so wrapped up in himself and his Archduchess that he had not the slightest suspicion of the[224] snare which the Austrian Court had determined to set for him.

This, then, was what happened, according to Baron A——, to whom I owe the rest of this narrative.

VII—THE HYPOCRITICAL DIPLOMATIST SETS DEATH TRAP

Von G——, in spite of his scrupulous care to avoid incriminating evidence of complicity with Princess M——, soon discovered the danger of "running with the hare and hunting with the hounds," and accordingly made his choice. I strongly suspect that pressure was brought to bear upon him and that, in order not to lose his post, and at the same time to gain favour at Court, he was obliged to give his assistance to the Hapsburg and Hoetzendorf parties, which had made up their minds to punish severely the man who had dared to turn an Archduchess from her duties and to set military laws at defiance. So he entered without delay on his double game.

On the one hand, as the friend of Princess M——, he assured Seilern, through Baron A——, of his earnest desire to assist him in high flight by procuring him the means of leaving for America. But, on the other, this hypocritical diplomatist set to work to devise a plan for enticing him on to Austrian soil—that is to say, on to premises which, having been rented at Lucerne by the Austrian Legation, would be considered as benefiting, in the eyes of the Swiss authorities, by the valuable privilege of ex-territoriality. A plan of this duplicity was truly after the heart of such a man. If successfully carried out, he knew it would inevitably lead to him being regarded as an Austrian diplomat de la meilleure race—as he himself would have expressed it.

I must now introduce to you a new character, a sincere[225] friend of Count Seilern—an Englishman, Professor S——, who, in ignorance of Count von G——'s duplicity, and responding solely to the generosity of his heart, unknowingly lent himself to the plot which was on foot. Before he is actually brought upon the scene, however, let me explain that von G—— had rented, at Lucerne, the annex of an hotel, where, a short time afterwards, Count von Bülow was to install his offices. Coinciding with this, the Archduchess Valeria's brother, who, by the way, is completely under the influence of the Court, arrived and took up his quarters at the hotel in question.

Von G——, still professing to be the friend of all parties, then transmitted to Count Seilern, through his English friend and professor, an invitation to come to Lucerne for a short time, so as to receive the passports necessary for traveling without let or hindrance to the United States.

Thereupon the Archduchess Valeria, Count Seilern, and their friend and counsellor, Baron A——, left for that resort, and took up their residence at an hotel. The morning after their arrival, Seilern was requested to come to the annex rented by the Austro-Hungarian Legation. He was received there by the Minister Plenipotentiary, Count von G——, the Archduchess Valeria's brother, the military attaché von E——, and a number of other unknown individuals, who, in reality, were members of the secret police of Vienna.

What happened? You may judge from what follows.

The same day, his English friend, Professor S——, quietly continuing his work at Zurich, and under the impression that he would be hearing in a few days of the safe departure of the Count and Archduchess for the United States, thanks to the "noble support" of the Austro-Hungarian Minister, received a telegram worded as follows: "Come to Lucerne immediately."

[226]

At the railway station of the celebrated resort he was met by two agents of the Austrian secret police, who begged him, on behalf of Count von G——, to accompany them to the annex of the hotel rented by the Legation. On the way they explained that Count von G—— had sent for him "to see his friend, who had had an accident." That was all the information he could extract from them.

Mounting to the first floor, a door was thrown open before him. In the middle of the room he saw a bed and on it a body—that of the hapless Count Seilern, who had been condemned to death and executed (though his decease was attributed in the newspapers to suicide) for having loved an Austrian Princess and threatened General von Hoetzendorf!

As in the case of the Archduke Rudolf of Hapsburg, at Mayerling, the body of the man who dared to "play with fire" was covered up to the neck with white cloth, with flowers strewn all over his deathbed.

This was in January, 1915.

Thus, the tradition of assassination is perpetuated from one end to the other of the reign of the sinister Emperor who sold the independence of his kingdom to William II. of Germany. The victims change, but the methods remain the same. Whosoever is considered guilty of an offence against the "dignity" or "honour" of the Hapsburgs must die, unless he or she consents to be declared insane. Crime follows crime, and the family which, in the eyes of the aged Emperor Francis Joseph himself, is "doomed to be tracked by tragedy" knows, as in the Middle Ages, but one argument against its enemies—the knife and the bullet.

But what of the Archduchess Valeria? The last news I heard of her was to the effect that, half-demented by the shock she sustained, she lay for months between life[227] and death. On recovering, she turned her back for ever on the fashionable life of Vienna, and withdrew to one of her estates in the country, where she seeks what consolation she can find in charitable work in her religion.

FOOTNOTE:

[12] Brother of Ferdinand, the treacherous Czar of Bulgaria.


[228]

TURNING HEAVENS INTO HELL—EXPLOITS OF CANADIAN FLYING CORPS

Battle in Air With One Hundred Aeroplanes

Told by Officer of Royal Canadian Flying Corps

The heroism of the Canadians is one of the immortal epics of the War. The great dominion sent across the seas her strongest sons. Their valor in trench and field "saved the British army" on many critical moments. The feats of daring of these Canadians would fill many volumes, but here is one story typical of their sublime courage—a tale of the air.

I—WITH THE CANADIANS IN THE CLOUDS

There were one hundred of us—fifty on a side—but we turned the heavens into a hell, up in the air there, more terrible than ten thousand devils could have made running rampant in the pit.

The sky blazed and crackled with bursting time bombs, and the machine guns spitted out their steel venom, while underneath us hung what seemed like a net of fire, where shells from the Archies, vainly trying to reach us, were bursting.

We had gone out early in the morning, fifty of us, from the Royal Canadian Flying Corps barracks, back of the lines, when the sun was low and my courage lower, to bomb the Prussian trenches before the infantry should attack.

Our machines were stretched out across a flat tableland. Here and there in little groups the pilots were[229] receiving instructions from their commander and consulting maps and photographs.

At last we all climbed into our machines. All along the line engines began to roar and sputter. Here was a 300 horsepower Rolls-Royce, with a mighty, throbbing voice; over there a $10,000 Larone rotary engine vieing with the others in making a noise. Then there were the little fellows humming and spitting the "vipers" or "maggots," as they are known in the service.

At last the squadron commander took his place in his machine and rose with a whirr. The rest of us rose and circled round, getting our formation.

Crack! At the signal from the commander's pistol we darted forward, going ever higher and higher, while the cheers of the mechanicians and riggers grew fainter.

Across our own trenches we sailed and out over No Man's Land, like a huge, eyeless, pock-scarred earth face staring up at us.

There was another signal from the commander. Down we swooped. The bomb racks rattled as hundreds of bombs were let loose, and a second later came the crackle of their explosions over the heads of the Boches in their trenches.

Lower and lower we flew. We skimmed the trenches and sprayed bullets from our machine guns. The crashing of the weapons drowned the roar of the engines.

I saw ahead of me a column of flame shoot up from one of our machines, and I caught a momentary glance at the pilot's face. It was greenish-ash color. His petrol tank had been hit. I hope the fall killed him and that he did not burn to death.

II—THE VULTURES OVER THE TRENCHES

Away in the distance a number of specks had risen, like vultures scenting the carrion that had already been[230] made. It was a German squadron. The Archies had not bothered us much while we were spraying the Prussian trenches, but now we had that other squadron to take care of. Our orders were to bomb the trenches. We could not spare a bomb or a cartridge from the task of putting the fear of Britain into the hearts of the infantry below before our own "Tommies" should start over the top.

I don't know what it was, but suddenly, just after my partner had let go a rack of bombs, there was a terrific explosion just beneath us. My machine leaped upward, twisted, then dropped suddenly. Death himself was trying to wrench the control levers from my grip, but I clung to them madly and we righted. A few inches more and I couldn't have told you about this.

There was no longer any chance to worry about flying position. There were too many things occupying my attention—that line of gray down there that we were trying to erase and the Boche squadron thrumming down on us.

One drum of our ammunition was already used up. My partner whirled around on his stool—a sort of piano stool, which always made me think of the tuneless, tinpanny instrument back in quarters—grabbed another drum and slammed it into the machine gun. It was to be a parting message for the Prussians, for the commander was just signalling to retire.

My partner lurched forward. He was hit. A thin red stream trickled down his face.

I raced westward, the air whistling through the bullet holes in the wings of the machine and my partner leaning against the empty bomb rack, silent.

As we sailed over the foremost Prussian trench some Scotch were just leaping into it. The "ladies from hell" the Germans call them, because of their kilts.

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Several machines had landed before I took the ground. Ambulances were dashing back and forth across the flying field.

They lifted my partner out of the aeroplane, but they did not put him into an ambulance. He had answered another recall. I walked to quarters ill—ill at heart, at stomach, at mind. I'll never know a better pal than was Tom.

On the way I managed to help with a machine that had just landed. A big Rolls-Royce it was, and the radiator had been hit by a bit of shrapnel. The pilot and observer were both terribly scalded.

Just by the aerodrome another biplane fluttered down. The observer was dead. The pilot was hit in a dozen places. Somehow he brought the machine in, switched off his engine and slopped forward in his seat, stone dead.

Ten minutes later I was sound asleep. The next day we were at it again.

In battles of this kind it is more or less a matter of good fortune if you escape with your life. Flying ability and trickiness can play but little part. It is in the lone adventure that stunt flying helps.

III—THE MYSTERIOUS MAJOR AND THE UHLANS

One of the most versatile flyers in the corps was the "Mysterious Major." Condon was his name, but to all the men, both sides of No Man's Land, he was the "Mysterious Major."

He was forced to glide to earth one day, back of the Prussian lines, with his big motor stalled. He leaped out hastily, adjusted a bit of machinery and spun the propellers. A gentle purr, then silence, was the response.

Once more he flashed the blades around, with no better result.

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It wasn't a healthy neighborhood to be in. With a short, crisp oath, the "Mysterious Major" set to work in dead earnest. Down the road to the right of the field a cloud of dust, flying high, appeared. It meant cavalry. The major's ears caught the sound of hoofbeats.

It was tradition that he would never be killed in the air, but here he was on earth, with cavalry galloping toward him. His descent had probably been spotted and the Uhlans sent to get him.

At last he got a roar from the engine that sounded like business, but it petered out.

Closer came the hoof beats. The Uhlans rode over a fence and came galloping across the field. A shot punctuated his exhortations to the motor and slit one of the planes.

Pulling and tugging, he got his machine turned so that he could use his machine gun. Br-r-rang! He let drive a drum of ammunition from his machine gun. He saw several horses and riders go down in sprawling, rolling heaps, then turned to his motor again.

Eight or ten Uhlans who had escaped his murderous fire withdrew. He knew what they would do. They would return from every side at once, and his single machine gun could never stop them.

If he could only get into the air he would feel safe. Once more he twisted the propeller. As though nothing had ever been wrong, the engine started to thrum and roar. He leaped into the seat.

Quickly the machine rose. The Uhlans saw it. I suppose they knew he had not loaded the machine gun again, and they galloped on to the field, firing at him.

He was so low that there was every chance for them to hit his petrol tank or even the major himself. So he went even lower. Straight at the heads of the horses he drove. The animals, scared at the great, white-winged,[233] roaring machine, reared and plunged, throwing some of the riders to the ground. The others were too busy with their mounts to shoot straight.

The major waved goodby, fired a couple of parting shots from his service revolver and climbed to where the bullets could not reach him. It was not his fate to die in the air, he thought, but only a few weeks after he told me this story he was killed by a shrapnel burst from an Archie, which wrecked his machine while he was flying with an air patrol.

I do not think they ever should have sent him on such work. He was too valuable alone. The Prussians feared him so much that a price was upon his head.

Scarcely a day went by that some new feat of daring was not accredited to this almost phantom-like flier. Perhaps he did not perform them all, but the effect was cumulative.

I have known the "Mysterious Major" to side slip three thousand feet at a time. He used to skim so close to the Boche trenches that they say men ducked their heads, and all the time he was pouring six hundred shots a minute from his machine gun.

Many said the "Mysterious Major" was crazy, but if we all were suffering from the same dementia the Boches wouldn't be able to show their heads. He was of inestimable value to the secret service, but those stories will have to wait until after the war, if they are ever told.

IV—THE BIRDMAN WHO PLAYED 'POSSUM

One of the most thrilling encounters I can recall is that of Captain Woodhouse, who, accompanied by another pilot, was out over the Prussian lines. One of the Prussians gave chase and opened fire. Woodhouse made believe that he had been hit, and his companion brought[234] the machine down in a field. Immediately the Prussian, in one of the latest type battle planes, made his landing and went over to the other machine without bothering to cover the pilot with his revolver, Woodhouse meanwhile lying as if dead. Suddenly he leaped up, jammed his revolver under the Boche's nose and marched him over to the big battle plane, got in after him and with the gun against his ribs took him back to our lines, a prisoner. Later he returned and got the Prussian machine. Besides the machine there were some valuable papers taken, which proved very useful later.

In the Royal Naval Air Service there is a young lieutenant, Murray Galbraith by name, with whom I once trained at the school at Dayton, Ohio. Murray is a great big fellow who gave up a splendid future—his father is one of the Canadian silver kings—to go into the flying service. He was sent to Dunkirk to do patrol work for one of the monitors lying off the coast. Over at Ostend the Prussians had made their staff headquarters in a certain hotel. Galbraith spotted this hotel and directed the shell-fire of the monitor with such accuracy that the Prussian staff barely escaped annihilation.

On one of his flights over the Prussian lines he encountered five machines, one of which he disposed of. He got away from the rest and, coming on toward the Somme, ran into another group of Boches. Two of these he put out of business with a withering fire from his Lewis gun and then executed a loop and started earthward. His engine gave out, but he was just high enough to glide back over their lines and then to a point of safety near our lines.

When he landed his machine was literally shot to pieces. He received the D. S. O. for this and, I believe, has since been decorated again. (Retold from New York Herald.)


[235]

"THE LEGION OF DEATH"—WOMEN SOLDIERS ON THE FIRING-LINE

How the Russian, Serbian, and German Women Go to War

Told by Officers and Eye-Witnesses from the Battlefields

Tales of the Great War bring stories of thousands of women fighting as soldiers in men's uniforms on all the battle-lines—in the trenches, in the artillery and cavalry, and going "over the top" in the bayonet charges. "The Legion of Death"—a battalion of Russian women, under command of Vera Butchkaroff, has fought many hard battles with the Russian Army. They are pledged to take their own lives rather than become prisoners of the Germans, who have ravished and attacked them. Each woman soldier carries a ration of cyanide of potassium to be swallowed in case of capture. Mme. Colonel Koudasheva commands the Sixth Ural Cossacks, of which one-fourth of the soldiers are women. The Serbian, German and Austrian women are in the ranks. Official dispatches mention them for orders of bravery. A few of these stories are told in these pages from the following sources: I—War Correspondent of New York American; II—William G. Shepherd, War Correspondent for United Press; III—War Correspondent for Salt Lake Tribune; IV—War Correspondent for New York World; V—War Correspondent for St. Louis Post-Dispatch; VI—London Daily Telegraph.

(Many are the tales that will be told of these women soldiers in the "New Russia," but this is sufficient to prove that womanhood the world over always rises to the emergency, when home and country are in danger—Editor.)

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I—STORIES OF MADAM COLONEL KOUDASHEVA

It did not seem possible that women could undergo the hardships, the complete reversal of all their habits and the primitive manners that necessarily accompany trench life. Incredulity has, however, given way before actual official reports of women decorated and promoted for bravery on the battlefields. It seems now that in Europe the women actually do put on the uniform of the men, fight not only in trenches, but in the cavalry, and in every way measure up to the standard of a soldier.

Indeed, they are harder to conquer, it seems, than the men. A recent semi-official report from Petrograd mentioned that the Russians were surprised, when they captured a line of trenches along the Bzura River in Poland, to find a number of German women among their captives. These women were found in the very first line, with hot rifles still in their hands.

"There was much more difficulty in making these women prisoners than the men," reported the officer in charge of the victors. "They would not surrender until after all their men comrades had thrown down their arms, and they taunted the men with cowardice. These women were not at all heavy, unsexed peasants. Some of them showed the marks of refinement. Inquiry developed that only a few had donned the uniform because some loved one was in their company. The majority had enlisted because of pure patriotism.

"I was told that the German authorities," said the officer in charge of the victors, "do not openly encourage enlistment by women, but they do wink at it. The men in the trenches, the officers know perfectly well that this and that soldier is a woman, but they pretend not to know it officially."

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The Russians could not have been surprised at seeing women soldiers, however, because hundreds of women are apparently fighting in the armies of the Czar.

Mme. Alexandra Koudasheva is the most distinguished woman soldier in the Russian army. She commands the Sixth Ural Cossack Regiment, which has covered itself with honors in many battles in East Prussia. Wounded twice, Mme. Koudasheva bears the Cross of St. George, that is given only for exceptional bravery, and many orders of inferior significance. She is back again to her regiment which consists of many Cossack woman volunteers, though the majority of the soldiers are men. A few more successful battles and Mme. Koudasheva will be promoted to a general.

When the war began Mme. Koudasheva entered the army as a volunteer. She distinguished herself in daring raids on the German Uhlans, and was made a lieutenant, and soon thereafter a colonel of the same regiment in which her husband had served two years ago. During the two months that she has acted as a commander of the regiment she has given proof of exceptional strategic gifts and courage. She has never stood behind, but always in front, of her men. Naturally, no man likes to be surpassed by a woman, and this has given her company a reputation for unusual bravery.

Colonel Koudasheva is by no means a semi-barbaric adventurer or a Salome who revels in bloodshed. She is a lady of highest culture and refinement. Besides being a talented poet and brilliant writer, she is a fine musician and a passionate lover of sports. She has made twice a trip on horseback from China, through Manchuria, Siberia and European Russia to Petrograd. She made the trip alone, and passed the most dangerous deserts of the two continents without having had any great difficulties.

"I have felt just as safe in the wildest deserts of[238] Siberia, as I do in the streets of Moscow or Petrograd, simply because I have absolute confidence in my ability to command the man, regardless do I meet him in a fashionable society of a big city, or as a highway robber in the wildest wilds. A woman—if she only knows her feminine powers—can conquer any man," thus writes Mme. Koudasheva in her "Diary of Ride Through Siberia."

This is how she writes in a letter to a friend in New York of one of her adventures while she was still a lieutenant and was out to ascertain the strength of the enemy at night:

"It was a ghastly moonlight night of the Fall. A bleak wind whistled and howled around the ruins of the village, in which there had been so much human joy before and so much misery after. I was riding with a company of twenty-five men to trace the retreating enemy. Though the amphitheatric hills that rose before us seemed dead and bare, yet mysterious flashes of light appeared here and there, like magic signals. They warned us of the hidden batteries of the enemy. As we galloped on, I could see the road strewn with broken boxes, knapsacks, household implements, dead horses and men which the enemy had left behind in his hurried retreat.

"'Excellency,' whispered my orderly, I see there beyond the hill a moving dot. It's probably the head of a "dady"' (as we called the Germans). As we were in the shadow of the ruins, we could discern distinctly the bare field in the moonlight. Before us was the first line of the trenches of the enemy. I pulled my rifle and aimed. A shot. The dot became a black figure that rose and staggered and fell. It was a distance of 150 steps, and I could see how a gray ribbon of trenches stretched in both directions before us—a ribbon that always fascinates and yet frightens because it is the home of death.[239] More black dots were visible, moving in the direction where the one before had fallen.

"Little by little I could see dots in every direction beyond the ribbon. A few figures climbed out and started running toward us. 'One, two, three!' I whispered and then followed a salvo from my men. The figures either fell or ran back behind the ribbon. From behind a hill flashed a light and then the battery of the enemy opened fire at the village where we were. It was the machine guns. 'Nu-ka, Misha, tickle the dadies, quick!' was the humorous remark of one of my soldiers to me. We must have killed and wounded a hundred or more. Then we turned around and rode away, without having lost a single man and without having any men wounded."

Mme. Koudasheva is a student of soldier psychology on the battlefield, as is shown in another letter.

"When you feel the invisible fingers of fate so close to your life, as on the battlefield, the problems that interest you before and the feelings that you experience in a peaceful feminine activity die out and a new view opens. It is not the feeling of sport, it is not the feeling of being killed, that takes hold of the mind of the battlefield, but it is a queer, dramatic hypnose, like an actor feels before opening a play.

"It all seems a huge cosmic play—a stern tragic panorama of life—but still a play. The whole human organism seems to work against all laws of nature, for, though you stay in the cold and rain day and night, yet you catch no cold, no ailments that are usual in everyday life."

Mme. Colonel Koudasheva may require a strict discipline of her inferiors, but she never applies any punitive measures. She commands with the most polite words. "Gentlemen, please, would you do me the favor" is her usual command to the soldiers. "My boys and girls go to any fire without any forcible measures," she[240] writes. "I just need to hint at an instruction, and already it is carried out. I have taught them not to shoot with hate, but to love the man they shoot. And they do love, which is proven by an incident when once we chased the enemy into river and when we saw that they would be drowned we all went to pull them out, and thus saved a whole company."

Another Russian heroine is Natalie Tychnini, a high school girl of Kier, who has received the decoration of the Order of St. George for distinguished service at the front. She had arrived at Opatow among a detachment of volunteers for the campaign against the Austrians. She was dressed like a man, and passed for a remarkably handsome boy. She was detailed to carry ammunition to the trenches. She was in the hottest fire and was wounded twice. The Russians were forced to retire, and she was left lying on the field.

The Austrian Red Cross workers found her.

"Why, this is a woman!" exclaimed the Austrian surgeon who examined her. The Austrians nursed her. When the Russians again took Opatow she was still in a hospital. She was recaptured by them and sent back to Kier, where she was given her honors.

Austrian women are also fighting. Stefa Falica is a young Croatian who enlisted with her husband in the same regiment. In this case her sex was well-known, and she was not forced to use men's clothes. She has already been made a corporal for her bravery in the field.

A similar case is that of Stanislawa Ordinska, who enlisted, masquerading as a man, in the Polish Legion of Austria. She was made a sergeant for bravery shown at the front before it was discovered she was a woman. Then she was allowed to keep her rank and her gun.

One of the most interesting bodies of women soldiers[241] is the Serbian organization called the "Legia Smirti," or Legion of Death.

The Legion of Death is composed of women who have been trained in the use of firearms and in the science of war. In the Balkan States, where women frequently follow their husbands throughout military campaigns, acting as pack-carriers, camp-attendants, and even as trench-diggers and sappers when necessary, it is not unusual for them to take their places beside their husbands or their lovers on the firing line. There are many expert rifle shots among them, many indeed who are capable of taking men's places under necessity. Accustomed to attack in solitary places, and more or less inured to bereavement, a kind of grim quiet follows them wherever they are seen.

The Legion of Death is recruited from all classes of women, from the wives of rich merchants to the wives and daughters of peasants. This Amazon corps had its origin in the patriotic enthusiasm of a woman sixty-two years old, whose husband died for Serbia in the war for liberty against the Turks. The women handle the regulation rifles and are held in deadly fear by the Austrians and Germans.

Indeed, it seems that on both sides the soldiers dread the women soldiers more than they do those of their own sex.

Kipling's "The female of the species is more deadly than the male," recalls itself, of course. Dr. Hans Hulduckson, writing of this same phenomenon, said:

"Women are not natural combatants. They do not rush into war for war's sake. They are without the blood lust that makes fighting a joy for fighting's sake. They will fight only in desperate straits, and then only for their honor, their children or the existence of their country. Standing at one of these last ditches, however,[242] they fight with the ferocity of tigers. They do battle without rule or reason and to the death. An Englishwoman, who is endeavoring to organize a company of women for military training, said that she did not fear that they would not fight, but the fear was that they might fight too fiercely. They are the most cruel of combatants when they so far overcome their native womanly gentleness as to enter into combat.

"A soldier of experience said that he would rather fight a company of male soldiers than one woman soldier. He explained that woman is too resourceful in the matter of weapons. War transforms woman for the time into a beast."

II—STORY OF THE "POTASSIUM BRIGADE"

Russia's women soldiers have pledged themselves to take their own lives rather than become German war prisoners. Each woman soldier carries a ration of cyanide of potassium to be swallowed in case of capture.

The members of the women regiments, now constantly increasing, agreed that death was to be preferred to the fate they would probably meet at the hands of the Germans.

The "Legion of Death" fighters are "good killers." I learned this to-day, when I talked to five of them now in a hospital near here, suffering from shell shock. From a woman's lips I heard how she had run a German through with her bayonet, firing the rifle at the same time. From others I heard how these women and girls, fresh from comfortable homes and universities, went leaping over mangled bodies in the charge with enemy shells bursting all about them.

But these harrowing experiences of the women fighters have steeled them and hundreds of other girls to a[243] new determination to see it through. Girl soldiers drilling in the streets are now a common sight in Petrograd. Huge crowds gather daily about the Engineers' School, where 1,000 girls are drilling preparing to go to the front. In Moscow 1,000 men are training, while Kieff and Odessa have smaller bands. Premier Kerensky has also authorized the formation of women marine detachments and has promised to assign them to ships. The new women commands attempt no sort of decoration. Their heads are shaved and they wear the regulation uniform, including the heavy, ugly army boots.

The five women fighters I visited at the hospital were partially paralyzed by shell shock. One of them, a peasant girl, smiled joyously as she pointed to a German helmet on the bed beside her. It was the first war prize of a Russian woman.

"I saw a German in front of me as I ran forward with the others in the charge," she told me. "It was his life or mine. I raised my rifle. I plunged with all my strength. I stabbed him. The bayonet went deep into his body. At the same moment I pulled the trigger. He dropped dead. Then I took his hat as a souvenir."

The girl soldier smiled with delight.

"What was the battle like?" I asked another of the legionnaires.

"I was very nervous just before the charge," she replied. "We knew the order was coming and naturally we were just a little scared. But as soon as the orders to go forward came we forgot everything else in the advance.

"I could hear our girls yelling and shouting throughout the march forward. None of us were afraid once we got started. We were in the midst of a great fusillade of shots. Then terrific big shells began breaking all around us.

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"We were again frightened a little when we first saw dead men about, but before very long we were jumping over the dead, and quickly forgot all about them."

"We couldn't tell what was going on anywhere," said a third girl in describing the final stages of the battle.

"Commander Bochkoreva was everywhere, urging us to fight and die like real Russian soldiers."

Then the girl told how the legion took its first prisoners.

"As we ran forward we suddenly came upon a bunch of Germans immediately ahead of us. It was only a second until we were all around them.

"They saw they were caught and threw down their rifles, holding up their hands. They were terribly frightened.

"Good God! Women!" they exclaimed.

"We saw wounded German soldiers raising themselves on their elbows and shooting," interjected another wounded girl. "We just forgot ourselves entirely. We were simply Russia, fighting for her life.

"The loss of Lena, the most popular member of our company, was keenly felt by all of us," she added soberly. "During the battle Lena heard that Commander Bochkoreva had been killed. She hurried forward into the shell and fire, saying she was going to find her. We saw her go through one space literally strewn with exploding shells. Then, through the smoke and flames, we saw her blown to fragments.

"We also lost Sonia. She used to be a musician with the Romanoff concert organization. She was killed by machine gun fire."

Petrograd has not yet seen the full casualty list of the Legion of Death. From what the girls say, however, it appears that at least a dozen big shells struck square in their midst, killing perhaps twelve girls and wounding twice as many more.

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Five of the German prisoners the girls captured were women, wearing the German soldier's uniform. The number of women in all armies on the eastern front is believed to be growing steadily.

As I returned from the hospital where I saw these paralyzed girls I met a new company of women marching briskly through the street. They were ready for the firing line, ready to give their lives in battle, and with their little ration of cyanide ready to take their own lives to avoid worse than death at the hands of the enemy.

III—STORIES OF WOUNDED GIRLS IN "COMMAND OF DEATH"

When the Russian women's battalion, known officially as the "Command of Death," went into action against the Germans near Smorgon, July 25, they captured a number of German women who also were fighting on the battle front in western Russia.

Ten wounded heroines of the women's battalion arrived in Petrograd leaving their commander, Vera Butchkareff and Marya Skrydloff, a daughter of Admiral Skrydloff, former commander of the Baltic fleet, and minister of marine, in a hospital at Vitebsk.

The women said it was reported that of the 200 of the command who reached the front only fifty remained. Twenty were killed, eight were taken prisoners and all the rest were wounded.

"Several times," said one wounded girl, "we attacked the Germans. Especially memorable was our attack at Novospassky wood, near Smorgon, where the enemy, hearing the voices of girls, lost their nerve. The result was that the prisoners were a few women, from whom we learned for the first time that German women also were fighting.

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"We did not feel the slightest fear for our personal safety. Our passion was to serve the fatherland. We advanced gaily against the foe with laughter and song, our only unpleasant sentiments being when we first came to the corpses. Once when replying to the enemy's severe rifle and machine gun fire, we discovered to our amazement that all our men comrades in the neighboring trenches had treacherously fled, leaving us—a handful of women—to face the enemy alone."

The Russian women's battalion underwent the greatest hardships, not only in the actual fighting, but on their way to the front, according to stories told by wounded girls who have been brought back from the fighting lines to be placed in hospitals. Their heroism under fire was wonderful. Their dash and elan and their fearlessness under fire make a new chapter of the war.

The girls were sent to the front after they had demanded of Premier Kerensky that they be allowed to go.

They had boarded a train of long striped cars. The wooden bunks had been placed along the walls. The journey had been long and tiresome. Word of the women soldiers' coming had preceded them and they were greeted by jeering and hooting crowds at every station along the route.

The girls had their answers ready to the cries of the station crowds.

"What do you think you're going to do?" the jeers would go.

"Why are you fighting?"

Back would come the answer hot with scorn:

"Because you men are afraid to fight. All Russians are not cowards."

The women were sent to a camp back of the lines on the northern front. On their arrival there they were hooted by the male soldiers, who later tried to force[247] themselves into the women's camp. It was plain that the men had no idea the women really expected to fight; they believed them to be merely camp followers and their cries showed as much. It was only when a band of male soldiers had been driven from the women's quarters at the bayonet point that they changed their view.

The girls drilled every day, rain or shine, and bathed in a river near the camp. While half of the battalion bathed the others had to maintain a strict guard to keep the male soldiers away.

Then came weary days of waiting. The commanders would not let the girls go to the front. It was only after great influence had been used that the order sending them to the trenches was given. They greeted the order with cheers and in their first action advanced singing songs of home. Their voices reached the German trenches and the sound of women singing so surprised the defenders that they were beaten back before they could regain their composure. As a result a number of prisoners were taken.

The women of the "Command of Death" came from every branch and class of society. University students, girls from some of the most noted families of Russia, professional women, working women and peasants, all were included in the membership.

"All we wanted was to help save the fatherland," said a wounded girl. "Women have as much right at the front as men. It is our country, too."

IV—STORIES TOLD BY WOMEN AFTER THE BATTLE

Only fifty of the whole battalion of women in Russia's Legion of Death came through their first battle unscathed. But the wounded as well as those who escaped are going back to the front.

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Vera Butchkareff, commander of the Legion, suffering from shell shock in a hospital, so declared as she proudly told the heroic story of her unit's fighting. Half a dozen other wounded women in the same hospital gave instant corroboration.

"We have fought with men and with women," Commander Butchkareff declared, "and one is as good as the other if he or she loves the fatherland.

"My girls have been divided before the battle. One half remained a unit under my command and the other half were distributed in small detachments of six or ten to various companies. These small units were to act as ammunition carriers only. My half was an active fighting force. I led them into the charge myself."

"We are all going back to the front," one of the girls declared. The whole roomful of wounded Legionnaires chorused instant approval.

"The German girls we captured carried a sign 'Send us your women; we will pay you well,'" declared one of the girl soldiers.

"They sent us—but we carried bayonets," she added.

The girls are for the most part between eighteen and thirty years of age. Some of the force are married women with children and a few are of middle age. Among these latter a striking figure is Mme. Sofie Vansa, widow of a colonel killed in battle and whose two sons are now lying wounded.

Mary Goloubyova, the eighteen-year-old high-school girl who was wounded, tells this story:

"We went into action a fortnight after our arrival at the front under heavy German cannon fire. Given the order to advance, we rushed out of our trench. Feeling no sense of danger, we dashed toward the enemy in the wood. The machine guns began knocking over my companions. We were ordered to lie down. I noticed those[249] at the front with me were all women. The men were further back.

"I began shooting, the gun kicking my shoulder so hard that it is still blue and stiff. I was glad when we were ordered to charge the machine guns in the woods. We paid dearly, but we held on, and by night our scouts discovered the machine gunners and we shelled them out.

"After the first attack I was attached to a machine gun, carrying ammunition to an advanced position under the fire of hidden German machine guns. We were advancing and constantly in danger of capture by the Germans. On one trip over newly captured ground I saw what I considered a wounded German officer lying on the ground. I went to help him with my gun in my right hand and the machine-gun ammunition in my left.

"Seeing this, he jumped to his knees and pulled out his revolver, but before he could shoot I dropped the ammunition and killed him. How did I feel on taking a human life? I had no sensation except to rid my country of an enemy. There was no sentimentality. We were trying to kill them and they were trying to kill us—that is all. Any Russian girl or any American girl in the same position would have the same feeling."

V—VISIT TO THE WOMEN SOLDIERS' BARRACKS

In the history of new Russia, as it will be written for posterity, will stand out one bright, flaming spot—the gallant stand of the Women's Regiment—the "Command of Death"—in the midst of an ebbing wave of cowardly, panic-stricken men units. For pure courage and coolness the action of the Butchkareff detachment near Vilna on that terrible July day has seldom been equaled....

The barracks of the command is in Torgvay Street.[250] Posted at the gate was a little blue-eyed sentry in a soldier's khaki blouse, short breeches, green forage-cap, woman's ordinary black stockings, and neat, heavily soled shoes. The sentry was Miss Mary Skrydloff, daughter of the former commander of the Baltic Fleet and Minister of Marine. The Skrydloff family is one of the oldest and most distinguished in Russia.

Inside there were four large dormitories, the beds without bedding and heavy overcoats flung over them. In the courtyard 300 girls were at drill, mostly between eighteen and twenty-five years of age and of good physique and most of them pretty and refined in appearance. They wore their hair short or their heads entirely shaved. They were being drilled under the direction of a male sergeant of the Volynsky Regiment, a famous Russian military organization, and were marching in an exaggerated goose step.

Commander Vera Butchkareff explained that most of the recruits were from the higher educational academies and secondary schools, with a few peasants, factory girls, and servants. The commander said:

"We apply the rigid system of the army before the days of the revolution, rejecting the new principle of soldier self-government. Having no time to inure the girls gradually to hardships, we impose a Spartan régime from the first. They sleep on boards, without bed-clothes, thus immediately eliminating the weak and those who require comforts. The smallest breach of discipline is punished with immediate and dishonorable discharge.

"The ordinary food of the soldier is furnished by the guards equipage corps. We arise at four and drill daily from five to eleven and from one to six. The girls carry the cavalry carbine, which is five pounds lighter than the regulation infantry rifle. On our first parade I requested those whose motives were frivolous to step aside. Only[251] one did so. Later on, however, many who were unable to stand the privations of a soldier-life left us.

"We are fully official and are already entered on the lists of Russia's regiments. Uniforms and supplies are received from the Ministry of War, to which we render accounts and present reports. Yesterday the commander of the Petrograd district reviewed us and expressed great satisfaction. I am convinced that we will excel the male fighters, once we get into action."

Commander Butchkareff said that only the Volynsky, which had provided the drill-sergeant, was really favorable. The Volynsky Regiment was the unit which led the Russian revolution. The regimental clerk is Mme. Barbara Bukovishkoff, the author of several admirable short stories.

VI—STORY OF COMMANDER VERA BUTCHKAREFF

Mme. Butchkareff is of peasant origin. Vera Butchkareff, or simply Yashka, as she has been christened by the men of the regiment to which she belonged, got much of her warlike spirit from her father, who fought through the whole of the Turkish war and was left a cripple for life. Her mother was a hard-working woman, with five children, of whom Yashka was the eldest, and she had to go out washing and cooking to earn enough to clothe and feed this flock.

At the age of five Yashka was sent out as nurse to a baby of three. And from that time she has never stopped working. She looks none the worse for it. Finely yet strongly built, with broad shoulders and healthy complexion, she can lift 200 pounds with the greatest of ease. She has never known what fear is.

Not long ago she remarked that during the last two years she had lived through so much that there remained[252] but one danger yet to experience, that of flying. Just as she was saying that an aviator came up and offered to take her for a flight, and before the day was out she had exhausted her list of perils.

When she was sixteen years old her parents seized the first opportunity of getting her married. She never knew the man, but luckily as time wore on they grew very fond of each other, and were very happy. At first they both served in a shop, and thanks to their perseverance and frugality they were soon able to open a small shop of their own. But just as they began to prosper the war broke out, and he was one of the first to be called up.

She was very keen on accompanying him as a soldier, but he begged her to stay behind and work for her parents, whom they had been keeping.

She was always ready for any daring venture, and it was with great reluctance that she stayed at home in compliance with her husband's wish. Time passed, and after long waiting she got the news that he had been killed in action on May 28, 1915. At once she went to her parents, and said: "I have decided to go to the front, and you will either hear of my death or I shall return to you in honor and glory. I trust in God." And no persuasions were of any use.

For two years she has lived in the trenches and fought like a man. She has been wounded three times—in her arm, leg, and back. In the Lake Naroch battles there was a time when all the officers were killed and the men lost courage and lay down, too frightened to attack. Then she rose up and dashed forward calling on them to follow her. Every one obeyed her.

(Many are the tales that will be told of these women soldiers in the "New Russia," but this is sufficient to prove that womanhood the world over always rises to the emergency when home or country are in danger.)


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THE TALE OF THE "TARA" OFF THE AFRICAN COAST

Rescued by "Tanks in the Desert"

As told by survivors, set down by Lewis R. Freeman

The adventures of the crew of the auxiliary cruiser, Tara, torpedoed off the North African coast, form one of the most exciting and romantic chapters in the annals of the Great War. Handed over as prisoners to the fanatical Senussi Arabs, they were taken out into the heart of the desert, where for many weary months they were on the brink of starvation, eking out their scanty ration of rice with snails and roots. The captain escaped and tried to bring help, but was captured and brought back to be lashed and kept without food. Just when things were at their worst a squadron of British armored cars, commanded by the Duke of Westminster, appeared as though by magic, drove off the Arabs, and rescued the survivors of the sorely-tried crew. By courtesy of the Admiralty the author interviewed Captain Gwatkin-Williams, the Tara's commander; Lieutenant Tanner, R.N.R., and several members of the ship's company, and their stories give a vivid idea of the terrible experience they underwent, as told in the Wide World Magazine.

I—STORY OF THE BRITISH PACKET

When England took over something like half of her twenty million tons of merchant shipping for war service, among the transports, colliers, hospital ships, and the like were a number of small but swift packets which were armed and employed as auxiliary cruisers or patrols. One of these was the Tara, which, under the name Hibernia, had plied in the Irish service of the London and North-Western Railway. Commanded by an officer of the Royal Navy, but still worked by her old crew, the[254] Tara was sent to the bleak Cyrenaican coast of the Mediterranean to keep a look-out for submarines and prevent the smuggling of arms and supplies to the small but dangerous Turkish forces which were operating in Eastern Tripolitana with the object of inciting the Arabs to move against the then lightly-held western frontier of Egypt.

On November 5th the Tara was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Gulf of Sollum, and sank with the loss of eleven of her crew of something over one hundred. The ninety-two survivors were towed by the submarine to Port Sulieman and handed over to the Turks. The latter, in turn, passed the party on to the Senussi, who, as shortly transpired, were getting ready to launch a "holy war" against the Italians and English. The Arabs, short of food already, started marching their prisoners about the desert, and after several weeks established them in a sort of permanent camp at an old Roman well in the interior. Here, ekeing out with snails and roots such scanty rations as their captors were able to provide, the unfortunate Britons, racked by disease, and only half sheltered from the capricious winter weather, existed for three months and a half. The trickle of food, now from one oasis, now from another, became thinner and thinner as time went on, and by the middle of March the failure of supplies had become so complete that absolute starvation in the course of the next few days appeared inevitable. But on the seventeenth of that month, as suddenly as though dropped from the sky, a squadron of armored automobiles appeared on the horizon, and a few moments later the Arab guards had fallen before the fire of machine-guns, and the half-delirious prisoners, clutching hastily-broached jam and condensed milk tins, were being bundled into Red Cross ambulances for the return journey. A couple of days more, and they were in the hospitals of Alexandria, and[255] a month later the bulk of them were back in England reporting for duty.

Through the courtesy of the British Admiralty the writer was granted an extended interview with Captain Gwatkin-Williams—the only one, indeed, that that distinguished officer gave before going to his new command in the North Atlantic. Later I journeyed to Wales and Ireland, to talk with Lieutenant Tanner, R.N.R., and several of the surviving members of the Tara's crew. The narrative that follows is the result of these conversations.

I recognized Captain Gwatkin-Williams the instant his broad shoulders filled the door of the room. I knew at once that he had all the characteristics, as he had all the appearance, of the typical British naval officer, and that among these was a distinct disinclination to tell of his own experiences. Knowing from past failures the futility of trying to "draw" a man of his kind by frontal attack, I wasted no effort in that direction, but asked him pointblank if he had been able to preserve any souvenirs of his desert sojourn, and it is by piecing together the things he told me over a brine-blotched naval uniform, a dented jam tin, a handful of snail-shells and dried roots, three or four camel-bone needles, and a blood-stained whip of hippo hide, that I was able to construct the connected story which follows.


It was about ten-thirty in the forenoon of the fifth of last November that I saw a torpedo heading straight for us at a distance of not over three hundred feet. It was painted a bright red, and therefore, in the clear water, even more conspicuous than the wake from its propellers and air exhaust. It struck the ship fairly amidships on the starboard side, and my first order was to lower away the boats to port. I was not even thrown from my feet[256] by the shock, nor was there any sharp explosion audible. Had I not seen the torpedo, I should for the moment have been in some doubt as to what had actually happened.

My men were already standing by their gun, and the instant the submarine put up its "eye" we took its range and opened fire. At least one shell cracked right over the periscope, causing it to disappear at once, and we did not see it again until salt water had stopped the mouth of our little rapid-firer.

The Tara, her engines still running, continued for some distance on a perfectly even keel, the boats meanwhile being safely launched with the surviving members of the crew. Eleven had been killed by the explosion. Then, all of a sudden, she began settling aft, and finally went down like a sounding-lead, throwing her bows high in the air. My gun crew and I were caught beneath the for'ard awning, and owed our lives to the fact that we had no lifebelts on, and were therefore able to dive and clamber clear.

The submarine—the U35—rose to the surface and came nosing into the wreckage before we had all been picked up by our boats, but the fellows on the deck of it contented themselves with covering us with their revolvers—a precautionary measure, doubtless—and not interfering with the work of rescue. I asked the commander of the submarine if we might be allowed to proceed to X——, an Egyptian port at which a small British force was stationed, and which we should have had no trouble in making in a few hours. He replied, in excellent English, that this would be impossible, as it was necessary for him to deliver us to the Turks as prisoners.

The submarine then took our three boats in tow, and headed for Port Sulieman, where we were landed at about three in the afternoon. I made a part of the passage on the deck of the U boat, and had some little chat[257] with its commander. He admitted that we had nearly put his "eye" out with one of our shells. He said that he had been often to England before the war, and even confessed to a visit to the Isle of Wight. He could not, of course, be blamed for wanting to prevent our getting back to a British port to report the probable existence of a German submarine base on the Cyrenaican coast; the callousness of his action only transpired later, when it became evident that neither the Turks nor the Arabs were able to house or feed us.

II—HELD PRISONERS BY THE ARABS

The Turkish officers at Port Sulieman were very courteous, especially Nouri Pasha, who is a brother of Enver Pasha, but palpably perturbed at the prospect of caring for us. They were short of food themselves apparently, and that region, like all the rest of Eastern Tripolitana, is an almost absolute desert. Since their German masters had decreed the thing, however, there was nothing more to be said, and so, in the true Oriental fashion of following the line of least resistance, they passed us on to the Senussi. Since the Senussi had no one else to pass us along to, they had to shoulder the burden themselves and trudge on with it as best they might.

The ship's cook, who had died from his wounds in one of the boats, we buried soon after landing, breaking an oar to form a rude cross above his grave. That night, still in our wet garments, we spent huddled together upon some rocks by the shore. The next morning we were given a small quantity of rice, which we had to cook as best we could in some beef tins and eat with our fingers. There was less than a handful of the tasteless, unsalted mixture to each man. We were terribly cold, hungry, and thirsty; indeed, for the next four months and a half, there was hardly an hour in which we were not suffering[258] a good deal from one, and usually all three, of these causes.

After a couple of days we were moved back from the coast to a primitive village where the people and animals alike lived in dug-outs in the rocks. A "stable" which had been occupied by goats, donkeys, and pigs was cleared for us, and there, living in indescribable filth, we were kept for four days. We had been forced to carry with us on a stretcher, a quartermaster of the Tara who had sustained a double fracture of one of his legs. At this juncture, between filth and vermin, infection set in, and the only chance of saving his life appeared to be amputation. This—I will spare you the harrowing details—was finally accomplished with no other instruments than a pair of old scissors and a drop of whisky—our last—to steady the poor fellow's nerves. Of course, he died.

The Arabs now told us that they were going to take us to a beautiful oasis, where there were water and dates in plenty, and flocks of sheep and goats, and warm houses to shelter us in. Why they told us this I have never been able to make out. Possibly to make us forget our ever-empty stomachs; more likely because Arabs are incapable of telling the truth even when they want to. At any rate, we never reached the paradise that our captors persistently dangled before us like the carrot on a donkey's nose.

But march we did, marched endlessly, and most of the time on less than a pint of vile water and a dozen ounces of cooked rice a day. The country was one endless stretch of small round pebbles that ground the soles from our boots and the skin from our feet. We were always hungry, always thirsty, always footsore. The sun at noonday scorched us, the cold of the night chilled us. One day, to make matters worse, a man who was off his head from suffering ran away and evaded capture. Following[259] the Oriental practice, our guards must needs punish the birds in the hand for the sins of the one in the bush. For two days we were marched without a drop of water or a morsel of food. The second day they goaded us forward from daybreak to sunset. It seemed as though we must have gone a hundred miles, and I learned later that it was actually twenty. Even that was an awful distance for starving men, who hadn't the strength to walk in a straight line, to be driven.

For three long weeks they herded us on. At the end of that time we arrived at what appeared to be our destination, some half-ruined Roman wells called Bir-Hakkim, the "Red Doctor" and the "White Doctor." It was not an oasis in the true sense, but only three or four caved-in cisterns, partially filled with reeking rain-water, which served as a caravan halt. There were no houses, no palms, no cultivation; only rocks and the crumbling copings of the ancient wells broke the awful monotony of the desert. Most of us arrived barefooted, all of us half-naked; but it is due to our guards to say that they were in scarcely better plight themselves, and that as opportunity offered to get old boots and rags from passing caravans they gave them to us.

One day I found a bit of broken glass, and with this managed to scrape down some slivers of camel's bone to the form of clumsy needles. Yarn we made by rolling tufts of camels' hair, picked up along the way, between our palms. The resulting strand was seldom less than an eighth of an inch in diameter, and always lumpy and prone to pull apart at the joints; yet, by dint of patience and care, we were able to stitch fragments of rags together to form hats and long Arab shirts. Those of us who still had any parts of our socks and trousers left, patched and darned them as best we could with our bunchy yarn.

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Our daily ration, diminutive from the first, became smaller and smaller as the days went by, and finally, to stave off actual starvation, we began eating snails and the roots of a small plant, with spreading leaves like the arms of an octopus, which grew here and there among the rocks. The roots had a pleasant, nutty flavour—I could eat these few I have kept with the greatest zest at this moment—but snails, roasted in their shells on a camel-dung fire and eaten without salt, were, to say the least, hardly up to that delicacy as served at the Maison Riche. Most of us had a hard time in bringing ourselves to eat them at all, and a few ever came really to like them. One chap, however, a Welsh quartermaster, developed an almost uncanny taste for the things, eating several hundred every day, and actually waxing fat on them. Ever since we have called him the "Snail King."

A few days after our arrival at Bir-Hakkim an Arab woman came to our camp with some goats and sheep to sell, but our guards either could not or would not buy them for us. That night, however, a wolf killed one of the sheep, and some of the men, out foraging for snails, found and brought in the half-eaten carcass. Neither the wolf himself, nor the waiting vultures, could have tackled that flesh more voraciously than those half-famished sailors did.

III—THE STRANGE TRICK OF FATE

It was about this time that we first learned the true reason for the terrible scarcity of food, a scarcity that affected the Arabs as well as ourselves. The Turks, it appeared, had been successful in their intrigues with the Senussi, and the sheikhs of this powerful Arab confederation had declared war upon England and thrown their forces against the Egyptian frontier. Sollum, but lightly[261] held at that time, had been taken, and the Arabs assured us that their armies were marching on Alexandria and Cairo. In retaliation for this treachery, the British Fleet had extended its blockade to the Senussi coast, and the hinterland, barren and almost entirely dependent for food upon Egypt, was already in the grip of famine. The impetuous Arabs were learning their lesson on the "influence of sea-power" by being slowly starved into repentance, and by a strange trick of fate we British sailors, who otherwise would ourselves have been helping to drive the lesson home, were being starved with them.

For some reason the guards made us draw our water from the fouler of the two wells, the one from which the animals were watered. We boiled the noisome green liquid, and did our best to render it potable. It was all to little purpose, however, for dysentery soon developed and spread rapidly through the camp. As there were no medicines of any kind whatever available, there was little to do but let the disease run its course. This accentuated the weakening influence of the starvation, and the wonder is that we left no more than four graves behind us in the accursed spot.

About December 20th a little flour, tea, and sugar were given us, and we were told that this was the last of such dainties that we might expect to receive. We decided unanimously to keep on our diet of rice, snails, and roots for four days longer, and save these luxuries for a Christmas "spread." Here is our menu for that glad occasion, as recorded in my diary:—

"Christmas Day, 1915.—Breakfast, rice boiled with a little salt. Dinner, two ounces of boiled goat flesh and 'pudding.' Tea, one small pancake, with weak tea."

By New Year's Day we were practically on an "all-snail" diet, and the epidemic of dysentery appeared to grow worse as a consequence. Two or three times in[262] the succeeding weeks camels came in with food, but never in sufficient quantity to allow any increase in our tiny ration. This continued to be rice, with an occasional goat or sheep divided among five score of us. Without the roots and snails it would not have been enough to keep us alive.

Early in February I came to the conclusion that our only chance of rescue lay in getting word of our whereabouts through to some point in Egypt still occupied by our forces. Figuring that one man would have a better chance of escaping observation than two or three, I finally decided to make the attempt alone. The nights would be moonless, I calculated, for a week or more following February 20th. For a fortnight preceding that date I began saving a half of my daily ration of rice, and as the news of my plan was gradually confided to other men of the camp, these also began laying by a share of their already pitifully small allowance. Thus about twenty pounds of cooked rice were saved up, and this I tied up in the legs of a pair of Turkish trousers given me by one of the guards. To keep the soft mass from settling down in one end, I tied the legs at frequent intervals with bits of yarn, so that my novel knapsack finally had much the appearance of a double string of German sausages. My goat-skin water-bag held just two and a half kettlefuls of water—forty-eight of the little jam-tins with which I had to fill it.

The cordon round our camp was never tightly drawn, and I had no difficulty in slipping through it on the night of the 20th. I had kept mental note of the roundabout route by which the Arabs had brought us to Bir-Hakkim, and felt sure that I should be able to strike the coast at some point near the Egyptian boundary. I held to my pre-determined course by the stars, and stumbled on over the stones till daybreak. I had met no one, and there[263] were no signs of pursuit, but in the steady leaking of my water through the semi-porous bag and the frightful way in which the new Arab shoes I was wearing were rubbing the skin from my toes, I forsaw thus early the almost certain defeat of my hopes.

Lying down in as sheltered a place as I could find, I rested till nightfall before setting off again on my way. By morning my water, my toe-nails, and my strength were gone, on top of which I stumbled straight into a camp of nomad Arabs. Flight was out of the question, so I made the best of a bad situation by trying to induce them, in my fragmentary Arabic, to take me to the coast. They understood me all right, and appeared not a little tempted by the prospect of the double handful of gold I promised them. They debated the question for a while, but in the end their fear of the Turk was too strong, and they decided I must be delivered to the nearest Ottoman post.

My captors were not unkind to me; indeed, they treated me rather as a prized animal pet, a sort of dancing bear, than a dangerous captive. They exhibited me to everyone they met along the way, even made a point of travelling circuitously in order to show their strange find to some encampments that would otherwise have missed the treat. They never ceased to marvel at my ability to tell the direction without a compass and the time without a watch—simple tricks for a sailor—and seeing it kept them good-natured, I made a point of going through my tricks whenever they wanted them.

The Turks to whom I was finally brought were just as courteous and sympathetic as those to whom we had been delivered on landing, and they cannot be blamed for deciding that I should be returned to the camp at Bir-Hakkim. They were probably hard up for food themselves.

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IV—HORRORS OF THE DESERT MARCH

I hardly care to go into details about that return journey. Except that it was two or three days of horrible nightmare, my memory of it is a good deal confused, and I am rather thankful that such is the case. I am afraid there were some things I shouldn't care to remember too clearly. A fanatical old Senussi priest had come to fetch me, and he rode on a camel and drove me ahead of him with a long hippo-hide whip all the way. They gave me no food and no water for two days, and my one clear recollection of the whole time is of gulping down the nearly-hatched eggs from a lark's nest I stumbled upon, and of the horrible revulsion of my outraged stomach as the nauseous mess entered it. But I'd really rather not speak about that little interval at all.

Something of the nature of what Captain Gwatkin-Williams had to go through on this journey may be inferred from this entry in the diary of one of the Tara men, under date of February 29th:—

"About 3 p.m. we suddenly heard rifle-shots to the northward. A few minutes later there appeared over the brow of a small hill some men and camels, and there, walking apart from the rest, was our brave captain. We were now witness of one of the most degrading and brutal sights it has ever been my lot to see. He was lashed with an elephant thong whip, and the guard punched him violently in the face. Then the women came up and pelted him with the largest stones they could find."

As a punishment for running away I was put in solitary confinement in a goat-pen, where, for a day or two, the old priest and some of the more temperamental of the Arab ladies—the one with his hippo-hide whip and the others with filth and stones—spent most of their idle hours in trying to bring me round to a state of true repentance[265] for my truancy. This treatment raised such a protest from my comrades, however, that finally the guards, on Lieutenant Tanner's undertaking full responsibility for my docility in the future, restored me to full camp privileges. That is to say, I was allowed my fistful of daily rice again, and liberty to hunt my own snails and dig my own roots.

Things grew rapidly worse during the next fortnight, and by the middle of March it seemed that the end we had feared and fought against for so long—slow starvation—could not be much longer postponed. No more food was coming in, the snails were breeding and absolutely unfit to eat, and all the roots within a radius that any of us still had the strength to walk to gather were exhausted. Indeed, the strongest of us were by now so weak that we could no longer keep our balance in stooping to pull the roots, but had to kneel and worry them out by digging and tugging.

The stock of rice was entirely exhausted early in March, and from that time we lived on practically nothing but a few ounces of goat-meat per man as a daily ration. Famished as we were, even these tiny portions of unsalted meat seemed to nauseate rather than nourish, and in my own case the repulsion for meat engendered during this period has persisted to this day. I am now practically a vegetarian.

The plight of our guards was little better than our own, except, of course, that when worst came to worst, they could always abandon us and make their way across the desert to some place where at least subsistence would be obtainable. For ourselves, we were now quite incapable of undertaking any kind of a march at all. Help would have to come to us; it was quite out of the question for us to search for it, even if our guards had been willing to allow us to try.

[266]

The last two or three days I do not like to think about. We were too weak to venture far afield, and there was little to do but sit about and brood over the fact that even such almost negligible rations as we still had were nearly at an end. We avoided each other as much as possible, and when we did come together tried to speak of anything but the thing that occupied all our minds. And then, from the one quarter concerning which we had long ago given up all hope, help came.

You see, we had written a good many letters from time to time on the assurance of our guards that they would be handed to the Turks for forwarding to England. Most of these were probably thrown away or deliberately destroyed, but, by a kind trick of fate, one written by myself was taken by the Turks to Sollum when the Senussi occupied that port. In this letter—no matter how—I managed to indicate that we were held captive and in danger of starvation at Bir-Hakkim. When the British retook Sollum this letter, by a second lucky coincidence, was left behind in the hastily-evacuated quarters of a Turkish officer.

V—THE RESCUE AND THE RETURN TO ENGLAND

Once definitely located, our rescue was only the matter of assembling the requisite strength in armoured cars and finding a competent guide. This done, our deliverance was but a question of hours. But of how they would have found things had anything delayed them for even a few days I do not care to think.

It was about three in the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day—we had celebrated it in the morning by making a feeble attempt to kill off a few of the snakes that had recently begun to infest the camp—that the first car was sighted, and before we had finished pinching ourselves[267] to prove we were not dreaming the whole force of forty-one were thundering down upon us. The ambulances pulled up, and the attendants, as soon as they could free themselves from the embraces of the men, began to shower food about. Meanwhile, the armoured cars, spreading out like a "fan," swept by in pursuit of our fleeing guards.

Except for the Senussi priest, whom the sailors had dubbed "The Old Black Devil," and who had departed a couple of days previously, we had no special grounds for complaint against the men upon whom the care of our party had fallen. They had, for the most part, done the best they could for us, and we had no reason to believe that they had fared much better than their prisoners. We would gladly have interceded for them if there had been any chance. Taking it for granted, apparently, that they would receive no quarter, they had taken to their heels the moment the first cars came into sight, and a panicky sort of resistance on a part of a few of them when they were overtaken sealed the fate of the lot. Save for a few women and children, all the Arabs about the place succumbed to the fire of the machine-guns, and a score or so of graves were added to the four of the Tara men we had already buried at Bir-Hakkim.

We lost one more man in a hospital at Alexandria, but the rest of us, thanks to good food and careful nursing, were soon quite our old selves again. Practically every man of us is back, or about to go back, on duty. Word of my own new command comes only this morning.

Lieutenant Tanner, R.N.R., captain of the Tara in her merchant marine days, I found in his home at Holyhead. Through the window of his cosy library, where he spun his yarn, I could look out across the rocky coast of Anglesea to where the slate-coloured patrol-boats kept guard in St. George's Channel.

[268]

"Lieutenant Tanner," I asked him, "what did the men of the Tara talk about and think about, once the excitement of the sinking, and the landing, and the march was over and you were all settled down to the routine of 'prison life'?"

"First and always—food," he replied, promptly. "We were famishing for the whole four months and more. For a while we thought and talked a good deal of the possibility of rescue; but as the weeks went by that hope gradually died out, and our speculations—perhaps more in thought than in word—were of how the end would come. It was only during the last couple of months that the men came to speak often on this subject, and they were, not unnaturally, most prone to discuss it in the intervals of deeper depression following the death of one of their mates. We seemed to divide into two sharply differentiated parties on this issue, the optimists holding that our heritage of civilization and our discipline would enable us to meet the worst bravely and resignedly, while the pessimists maintained that we would gradually slough off our civilized restraint—just as our clothes and our conventions had gone already—and end by fighting for life like a pack of wolves. The rate at which the bickerings and petty quarrels over trivialities increased as the days went by inclined more and more of the men to the latter theory, but a few of us never wavered in our belief, but it would be the man in us, and not the beast, that would be supreme at the last.

"We—the officers—made a point of imposing no discipline whatever upon the men, this extending even to non-interference in their increasingly frequent disputes. We held—and rightly, I am convinced—that anything calculated to give an outlet to their feelings would make them less likely to become a prey to gloomy thought. Sullen,[269] silent brooding was what we feared more than anything else. Consequently, therefore, we rather welcomed the occasional bouts of fisticuffs that marked the later stages of our imprisonment. They unquestionably acted as safety-valves to prevent more dangerous explosions.

"I also made what effort I could to keep the minds of the men occupied. Every Sunday evening we met and sang hymns, and on these occasions I usually read from my Prayer Book and invited discussion on some text I had given out the previous Sunday. Here"—turning to his diary—"are some of the things we debated in our weekly desert 'forums' by the old Roman wells:—

"'More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.'—From 'The Passing of Arthur.'

"'Love took up the glass of time.'—From 'Locksley Hall.'

"'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.'

"'Does the end justify the means?'

"As you may well imagine, strange theses were developed, and I am afraid that many a sore head resulted from the preliminary discussions. It didn't take much to start them going in that last fortnight after the snails failed us; but the diversion was good for them, and, besides, poor chaps, they were far too weak to be able to hurt one another in the least. Their fights were like the tussles of a couple of puppies. When you see some of the boys on the steamer to-night, by the way, I can suggest no more promising line of inquiry for you to pursue than to ask them to tell you some of the things they used to fight about in the desert."

Wireless Operator Birkby and Stewards Barton and Fenton, who were among the Tara survivors, had, on their return to England, been put to work on the Tara's sister-ship, the Greenore, and it was behind the darkened[270] windows of the smoking-room of this smart little packet, as she bore into the snoring sou'wester which swept St. George's Channel, that I contrived to gather the three of them together to talk of their adventures.

"All I want to know," I said, "is a few of the things you fellows used to punch each other's heads about in the desert. I've got all the rest of the story."

They rose to that cast with a rush. All three commenced talking at once, but the two stewards quickly fell silent out of deference to the superior rank of the wireless operator.

VI—THE WIRELESS OPERATOR'S TALE

"Easier to tell you, sir, what we didn't fight about," laughed Birkby. "At first it was mostly food. We didn't have any 'pothecary's scales to divide it exactly with, and when one lad got a few grains of rice more than another, it wasn't in human nature not to make some bit of a mention of it."

"That was wot you an' me 'ad our first tiff over, matey," cut in Fenton. "It was the day after Captain Tanner gave out the text 'love thy neighbour like thyself' for us to ponder ower. You dipped into the pot ahead of me, an' I said, 'How's a bloke goin' to love his neighbour when that neighbour pinches half his rice?' You filled your mouth with one hand an' clipped me one in the jaw wi' t'other; an' as I went reelin' back I put my foot into Bill's pile of toasted snails, squashing 'em flat. So over he rolls an' starts to beat me afore I cud get up. W'en at last I gets up the rice was all gone an' Bill had copped all my snails to pay for the ones I squashed. All I had to put down me gullet that night was some of the squashed snails I salvaged from the sand, an' the grit I ate with 'em started my dysentery going again fer a week."

[271]

Birkby smiled, and nodded confirmatively. "Yes," he resumed, "most of our fights were about food, but my first one was about my trousers. You see, I was off watch and turned in asleep when the torpedo struck the Tara, and only just managed to get away in my pajamas. The lower part of these I kicked out of in the water, and one of the sailors of the submarine gave me a spare pair of his German naval breeches. It was glad indeed I was to have them. At first no one remarked them, but finally, at the end of a hard day's march, one of the Welsh lads passed some observation in his own language about me accepting the bounty of the Hun. I didn't understand exactly what he said, but to be on the safe side I clouted him one then and there. But all the same," he concluded after a pause, "I traded the Hun trousers to one of the guards for a long Arab shirt, and got on without any breeches for the rest of the time."

"An' not a bit worse off than most of the rest of us," added Fenton. "His 'burnoose' was a good foot longer than mine."

"But it was X—-, the 'Snail King,'" continued Birkby, "who was oftenest in trouble. We were all jealous of his appetite for the wriggling things, jealous of the quick way he had of spying and picking them up, and, most of all, jealous of the way he was getting fat on them while all the rest of us were wasting away to skeletons. First and last, though, I think we were about quits with him. You see, the way we cooked the snails was to throw them on the coals till the blow-off of steam made a sort of whistle to announce that they were done to a proper turn. Well, little old Barton here, by dint of long practising alone in the desert, developed a bit of a whistle of his own which even the 'Snail King' himself couldn't tell from the real thing. By tooting up at the proper moments, old Barty had the 'King' setting his teeth in[272] half-cooked snails for nearly a week before he twigged the thing. Then, of course, he jumped on our little friend here with both feet, and it took two of us half-fed ones to drag him off."

"Aye, matey," Barton chipped in, "an' it took three o' ye to hold him the week after when we planted the loaded shells on him. I pinched a cartridge from one o' a dozen snail-shells wi' powder. On top o' this I rammed in the upper half—the 'orned half—of a snail, an' scattered the shells where 'His Highness' cu'd find 'em, but for not 'avin' put 'em all on the coals at onct. After the first ones began to blow up a post-mortem on the remainin' ones revealed some of my infernal machines, and then I laughed and gave the whole game away."

And so they ran on. Fenton confessed to having had to "clout" one of the quartermasters, because the latter had been so "swanky" as to maintain that the torpedo that sank the Tara was scarlet "when the bally thing was only red"; and Birkby admitted to having closed his argument for the negative on one of Lieutenant Tanner's Sunday texts with, "And if you still think that 'Love is the greatest thing in the world'—take that!" And as we slid up the Liffey in the drizzle of the Irish dawn, Barton just finished telling me how someone accused the first man to sight the rescuing motors with eating the "Arabs' hemp and 'seeing' things,'" adding that the two were circling each other on tottering legs, looking for an opening, when the bout was interrupted by the arrival of the Red Cross ambulances. "Half a minute later," he concluded, "the two of 'em was both guzzlin' over the same jam-tin."

There had, it appears, been some kind of a dispute over everything, from the sand beneath their feet to the sky above their heads, and, except for the higher officers, just about every man of them had had some kind of a[273] set-to with every other one. And yet not even the fine optimism of Captain Gwatkin-Williams and Lieutenant Tanner convinced me so thoroughly as these off-hand recitals of the ancient British spirit of give-and-take in which they settled their petty troubles that, had the worst come to the worst—had, for instance, the Duke of Westminister's rescue party gone astray, as it nearly did—it would have been the man, not the beast, in the Tara sailors that would have triumphed in the end.


[274]

THE WHITE SILENCE—WINTER IN THE CARPATHIANS

In the Snow-Clad Mountains with the Austrians Told by Ludwig Bauer, of Vienna

This war has set new standards of endurance for the soldier. They have been compelled to keep the field—to march, to fight or to carry on siege warfare in the trenches—regardless of weather conditions. Battles have frequently been fought while a blizzard raged or while the thermometer stood below zero. War in the solitary, snow-clad wastes of a mountain range is war stripped of all its glamor. It is the repellant, savage struggle of wild beasts or of primitive men stalking one another and at the same time engaging in a life-and-death struggle with the destructive forces of nature. Something of the extraordinary physical and mental strain of service in the Carpathians in the winter of 1915-'16 is conveyed in the following story by Ludwig Bauer, the well known Viennese writer. It was published originally in the New Yorker Staats Zeitung, with whose permission it is here translated by William L. McPherson with editorial note for the New York Tribune.

I—STORY OF THE SNOWBOUND REGIMENT

The 3d company of the —st Regiment sits up there in the snow and waits. It doesn't know what for, or for how long. It may be that the next moment the field marshal will come. It may be that they must squat there another week.

About 300 meters below them runs the road. At least, it runs there on the map. It cannot be recognized now; it is just as white and smooth as the rest of the snow-covered world around them.

That is the road over which they are to advance. But just now no advance is possible. For the Russian artillery[275] stands there on the mountain rising 700 feet high above them and commands the way. So they must wait until their artillery succeeds in locating the enemy's batteries. That is a hard job, since the Russians have naturally hidden themselves in the woods, and the tall, dark trees seem impenetrable; they betray nothing.

Slowly and measuredly the flakes fall, as if they were considering whether they should fall or not. The sky is leaden and lowering. The men gaze at it stolidly. This endless white has something deadening and stupefying about it. They say little. They have already exhausted their conversation, and nothing happens any longer to start new talk.

With their snow mantles and snow caps they, too, look completely whitened, as though they were a lean, haggard collection of snow-men. They may not smoke, they may not cook; the least flame or smoke would betray them. They are not allowed to dig out trenches, for the brown earth would be visible for miles, a dark spot on the brilliant snow cover.

So there is apparently nothing to do but to stare into the whiteness until the eyes smart, to keep silence and to indulge in memories—to remember some past existence which was not so white, so lifeless, so absolutely passive. In the long run that is not very entertaining, but beggars cannot be choosers.

The soldiers press the snow with their well-protected fists until it is quite hard—almost solid. Then they lie down on it as on a bed. When one gets used to it, it furnishes a sort of warmth. But one must be careful lest the hands, the nose and the ears freeze. The ears are covered; one sticks his hands in his armpits, which are the best stoves hereabouts. But the most difficult thing is to protect the nose.

They have no fear—less fear certainly than anywhere[276] else. Through the influence of this endless white shroud of hills, mountains and valleys they have become calmer, quieter, more thoughtful than ever. What it was a sacrifice to give up in Galicia every one accepts here as a matter of routine. For here they are clear out of the accustomed world of villages or cities, even if those settlements on the plain were settlements burned, ravaged or deserted. They at least recalled the world of ordinary experience and reminded the men of their former life, with its desires or necessities. But here every civilized tie is broken. Here they are alone—alone with the enemy.

It is just as if foresters and poachers encountered each other in the mountains.

They sleep, but that sleep is troubled by a sense of the mystery which surrounds them, which conceals the Russians from them and them from the Russians.

Carefully, measuredly, they eat at night their cold conserves; it may be a long time before another fresh supply comes to them over the meter-deep mountain snows; and in the morning they wash themselves in the snow, which here suffices for all uses—soap, drink, roadway, bed and shroud. So another day comes, which may bring an advance, an assault, perhaps a victory, if the Russians show themselves. Instinctively they look out into the white silence.


The under officer was a Pole, but a Pole who spoke German. He had a hatchet nose, very black, glowing eyes and a pallid face. It seemed to me that he always kept moving his hands uneasily. I noticed also the golden medal for valor which he wore. I had milk chocolate with me, and so he told me the story of how he got the decoration. It was this:

[277]

II—TALE OF THE POLISH OFFICER

"We knew at last where the Russians stood. But they were three companies strong, and we were only one, so we couldn't well attack them. Besides, they stood near a little wood and had machine guns. But we had to get ahead. They were across our path, and there were other reasons which my lieutenant explained to me, but which I couldn't understand.

"So we decided to try to take them by surprise. But that is very difficult, for on this accursed snow in the Carpathians you can see everything. It would be almost necessary to dip one's self into a barrel of flour. Fortunately, a mist came in the mountains, and that night we resolved to make the attempt.

"We knew exactly the direction; the first lieutenant had made a drawing on which everything was clear and plain. Two men were to be chosen who should steal ahead and overpower the sentinels. Many volunteered. Ignatz and I were selected.

"Everything depended on our not being discovered. The company crawled behind us. It was compelled to stop behind the last snow ridge; otherwise its presence would have been detected. It was a bold enough stroke to have gone that far; and except for the fog and the snow even this could not have been accomplished. Two hundred men always make some noise, however much they try to avoid it. So they stayed behind the ridge, about a hundred paces from the trees where the two Russian sentinels were posted. Then it was for us to do our work.

"The night was dark and the fog thick, but the snow gave off a certain light. We did not see the two Russians, but we thought we saw the shadows of the pine trees under which they stood. We crawled along slowly over[278] the snow, each for himself. We had plenty of time. The point was not to be quick, but to make no sound.

"We had taken off our shoes and wrapped our feet in white woollen cloths. The ridge there was pretty steep; but one couldn't tumble down it, for the snow would have crackled. Ordinarily they would not have heard it, nor would I have heard it. But on such a night a sentinel could hear everything—it was so frightfully still.

"Yet we got ahead. And then we could crawl further on the level surface. I was very careful, and now and then shovelled with my hands a little snow bank, so that I could have some shelter if they discovered me.

"We couldn't see the sentinels yet; that is, I couldn't see them. About Ignatz I know nothing, and nobody will ever know whether or not he found them. There may have been a deep hole somewhere in the snow cover, or maybe he grew weak and fainted.

"About that I don't know. I crawled forward without looking for him. Suddenly I heard the two Russians talking, and quite near me. It couldn't be more than twenty paces away.

"I held up. I had to wait till one of them went away or till Ignatz came.

"They had been careless. But I was already so near, and it is a wonder to me that they didn't notice me.

"I could have shot them; but that would have given the alarm. I didn't want to attack them with the bayonet, for they would have cried out and would have awakened the vedettes, who were somewhere behind them, and then the whole three companies would have been warned.

"I decided to strangle one of them. Ignatz would have to make way with the other.

"The fog had become thinner; it broke into streaks here and there. The sentinels were looking in my direction.[279] I believed that they must see me. If I only could catch the expression on their faces!

"But I would not move; that was bound to betray me. If they had shot at me then I should never have seen them raising their rifles.

"Very slowly I moved my head. Then I noticed that they turned toward each other and talked. They talked continually, and that angered me. A sentinel ought not to talk.

"Then a third man came along—an officer. He inspected them, showed them something, looked sharply about, particularly toward me. But I had already sunk in the snow and did not move. Then he went his way. I did not see him again.

"Scarcely had the officer gone when the two Russians began to quarrel. At first I didn't understand why, but it soon became clear to me, because one of them, the smaller, went about thirty paces to the side, laid himself under a tree and wrapped himself in his cloak, as if he intended to sleep until the Judgment Day.

"It was plain that they were wrangling over which of them should go to sleep.

"I was so glad. Now I didn't need to wait for Ignatz, but could carry through the plan by myself."

III—THE PRIMITIVE SAVAGERY OF WAR

"Yet I had to get so near the Russian that I could seize him by the throat at one jump. He must not be able to cry out.

"And that was the hardest part of my task; compared to it, all the rest was only child's play. For when one man is so near another man, the other must either see or hear him. I breathed as softly as a dying man, but kept pushing forward.

[280]

"And when one is so impatient he imagines everything possible. It seemed to me as if each movement I made caused a frightful disturbance. But that was only the hot beating of my blood.

"At last there was nothing which should have hidden me from the vision of the Russian. I saw him distinctly when he came in my direction. The snow beat in my eyes, but I could not turn my gaze away from him.

"He was a tall Siberian and wore a snow cap. His cheek bones stood out like those of a heathen, which he probably was. He was thinking of nothing; sleeping as he stood, like a rabbit with open eyes.

"That was my luck and his misfortune. That made me bold. I ventured a quicker movement, sliding a whole pace forward. He stood there, half turned toward the wood. He must suddenly have sensed my presence, for he became at once more wide awake and uneasy, walking quickly to and fro with a restless movement, like a hen when she sees a hawk above her.

"He lifted his gun as though to shoot; but not at me, for I was almost at his feet. I think that he did not dare to look ahead—at me—for the fright would have been too great for him; he would have died of it.

"Then he turned to the other side to see whether an enemy might be creeping up from that direction. That was my moment—my time to do what I intended to do.

"Like a flash I started for his yellow, pock-marked face. It seemed to me that I already had my hands about his throat. The way I did it did not surprise me—I had thought it out so carefully beforehand.

"It is frightfully hard to spring up after one has crawled or lain so long motionless on the snow. I had thought—I knew—that I must cause him no pain, that it must happen in a second, in order that he might not recover from his surprise and cry out. Therefore it[281] was a frightful moment for me. Surely death itself is not so frightful. Every muscle in my body was strained and broken, it seemed to me. I cannot tell all that I suffered, thought, felt, in that tiny space of time.

"He had turned around toward me, and in his face was already the presentiment that he was going to die. Never have I seen anything so grewsome as his horrified look, even before I got my hands on his throat.

"He was, as it were, paralyzed. He did not think of defending himself. He was too weak even to raise a cry. I held him fast; that you can believe, for he sank slowly in the snow without a sound.

"The other one under the trees slept soundly and his throat rattled in his sleep. I went at him with the bayonet.

"Afterward I hurried back and gave the sign agreed upon. Ten minutes later the three companies surrendered. Thus I won my medal."


As I shook the hand of this hero in parting I felt that there remained in his own eyes something of the terror of the Siberian whom he had throttled, and that that look of terror would never leave his face.


[282]

"MY TEN YEARS OF INTRIGUE IN THE KAISER'S SECRET SERVICE"

The Plot to Dynamite the Welland Canal

Related by Horst Von Der Goltz, alias Bridgeman Taylor, Welland Canal Dynamite Plotter

Horst Von Der Goltz claims to be a secret agent of the German Empire. He stated in court that his real name is Wachendorf. In the trial of the so-called Welland Canal conspiracy in the United States Court he was proved to have been the emissary of Capt. von Papen, German military attaché, who seems to have entrusted him with a mission to blow up the canal locks with dynamite. From Buffalo Von der Goltz returned to New York, and on Oct. 3 sailed for Genoa under a passport issued on behalf of Bridgeman Henry Taylor. His next appearance, according to the endorsements on his passports and other documents, was in Berlin. He entered England from Holland in November, 1914, and was imprisoned under suspicion as a German spy. Among the papers taken from Capt. von Papen in January, 1916, a check was found for $200 in favor of Bridgeman Henry Taylor, and confronted with this, Von der Goltz confessed complicity in the canal plot and was subsequently requisitioned by the United States Government to give evidence at the trial of Hans Tauscher, American representative of the Krupps, and others indicted for plotting against the peace of the United States. Further, confirmatory of Von der Goltz's relations with the German Government, are documents set forth in the British Government's official report of April, 1916—a letter from Capt. von Papen requesting Consuls in Baltimore and St. Paul to give Bridgeman Henry Taylor "all the assistance he may ask for," and a letter signed Dr. Kraske, German Vice-Consul in New York and addressed to Baron von der Goltz, mentioning having called on him at the Holland House and inviting him to call next day at the German Consulate to meet a gentleman "who is interested in you." At the trial of Tauscher, which involved international issues of the most serious nature, [283]the defense bitterly attacked the character of Von der Goltz, who appeared as chief witness against the accused. Witnesses they brought from New Mexico and El Paso assailed his personal character and integrity and the proceedings ended in Tauscher's acquittal. In a series of articles published in the New York World, Von der Goltz tells what purport to be his adventures as a German secret agent. These confessions have further been preserved in a book published by Robert M. McBride and Co.

I—CONFESSION OF THE TEUTON SECRET AGENT

The 3d of August, 1914, Gen. Raul Madero, my commanding officer in the Constitutionalist army, granted me six months' leave, with the privilege of extension, and I left at once for El Paso, Tex., where I met Consul Kueck at the Del Norte Hotel. I was informed that Capt. von Papen would be in New York two weeks later.

On the 8th of August I left El Paso for Washington, D. C., where I stopped only one day, having learned there that von Papen would see me in New York in about a fortnight. Aug. 10 I left Washington and went to Asbury Park, N. J., spending about a week there on a visit to relatives of Raul Madero's, and reaching New York about the middle of August. I put up at the Holland House.

Although I surmised, to say the least, that I was again to be employed on service which must be secret, I had taken no steps to conceal my identity. All the way up from the border I had been a loose-tongued, hotly enthusiastic German, full of bombastic enthusiasm. I kept it up in New York. Interviews with me can be found in the papers of that period in which I predicted the speedy downfall of the Allies and Germany's sure triumph.

My reason for wearing this cloak of simple obviousness should be apparent. It was my only sure disguise. Too[284] many people knew me or knew of me as a former servant of the German Government to let me hope I could escape their scrutiny. The only way to hoodwink them was to make myself seem such a fool that I could not possibly be a spy.

So I made myself very apparent. I spent a great deal of money in very foolish ways. I talked a great deal. Result: All those interested said to themselves: "This young idiot has picked up a bit of money in Mexico. It is burning his pockets, and among other things has caused him to imagine himself a person of importance. He a German agent! Germany's far too clever to choose such agents as he—who cannot even keep his mouth shut."

So I got the results I wanted. I have never flattered myself on being exceptionally astute. My only claim to cleverness must lie in the fact that I have generally realized that the people I was dealing with were even greater simpletons than I.

In the midst of all my strutting and gabbling, however, I found early opportunity to report at the Imperial German Consulate General, No. 11 Broadway. Two or three days later, Aug. 21, 1914, the Vice-Consul, Dr. Kraske, wrote me a letter, in his own hand, telling me that "a gentleman who is interested in you"—Capt. von Papen, to wit—would meet me next morning at the consulate. It may be worth remarking that Dr. Kraske, of his own volition, addressed the letter to "Baron von der Goltz." I had used merely my Mexican military title in registering at the Holland House.

I met Von Papen next day at the consulate. The conversation at first touched on prevailing conditions in Mexico, to which country, as well as to the United States, you may remember, Capt. von Papen was jointly accredited as Military Attaché. Attention was next devoted to a scheme proposed to the German Embassy by a man who[285] had a plan for raiding Canadian towns on the Great Lakes, using motor boats armed with machine guns. In consequence of unfavorable information concerning the writer this scheme was rejected, as were several other tentative ones for various reasons. Among them was a plan to invade Canada with armed forces composed of German reservists in the United States, aided by German warships then in the Pacific. Another, for a time considered rather more feasible, was to seize the Island of Jamaica, in the British West Indies, also with naval aid. This plan, indeed, went so far that my Mexican rank of captain received German ratification, in order to give me military status should I be captured on British soil with arms in my hands. But this, too, was given up.

The activity finally decided on was a plan to blow up the locks of the canals connecting the Great Lakes, the main railway junctions of Canada and the largest grain elevators, with the double purpose of destroying one of England's chief sources of food supply and of throwing the Dominion into such a panic of suspicion that public opinion would demand the retention at home of the Canadian contingent of troops then mobilized for transportation to England.

Our conferences led me to believe the plan was fairly feasible and Capt. von Papen thereupon put entire responsibility for the details of execution into my hands.

So the Welland Canal plot—the obvious part of it, and the only part any outsider till now has heard a breath of—was hatched and began to grow up under my protection. Why it was permitted to be quite so obvious I must reserve the explanation for a few paragraphs. The one fact to note now is that it was almost transparent, and that I took no precautions to make it otherwise. Instead, I even talked and boasted of it and my important part in its execution.

[286]

Two things were needed—men and explosives. The first I got by going to Baltimore and asking for volunteers from among the crews of the German merchant ships laid up there. There were plenty of them. I selected the ones I wanted, and their captain promised to pay them off at the Baltimore Consulate and send them to New York under charge of a ship's officer. In Baltimore I was also supplied with a revolver, my own being out of order, and with a passport for one Bridgeman Henry Taylor—a passport issued by your American State Department, supposedly to an American citizen. But he, it merely happened, did not exist.

Back in New York, I reported to Capt. von Papen, and, as I needed money for the sailors who were coming, he gave me a check for two hundred dollars, drawn by himself and payable to Bridgeman Taylor. I got it cashed through the kindly offices of an acquaintance, Mr. Stallford, a member of the German Club on Central Park South. The sailors arrived in New York, were quartered in various places and were immediately put under the surveillance of detectives, just as I had expected and indeed hoped. The explanation of my cherishing such a seemingly absurd hope I must again momentarily defer.

II—A TALE OF DIABOLICAL CUNNING

Coming at the explosives was a more complicated matter. How it was done is best explained by the documents held by your secret service, which were part of the evidence at the trial of Hans Tauscher in the Federal Court here on a charge of plotting against the peace of the United States. Tauscher testified that he had no knowledge of the Welland Canal plot and that he sold the dynamite believing it was to be used for mining in Mexico. The jury believed him or gave him the benefit of a doubt, for they acquitted him.

[287]

These documents, and others in the possession of The World Magazine, show:

First, that Sept. 5, 1914, Mr. Tauscher, American representative of Krupp's, No. 320 Broadway, New York, asked the du Pont Powder Company to deliver to Bridgeman Taylor 300 pounds of 60 per cent. dynamite and send the bill to him.

Second, that on Sept. 11 the du Pont Company sent to Tauscher a bill for 300 pounds of dynamite delivered to Bridgeman Taylor, New York City, on Sept. 5; and on Sept. 16 sent him a second bill for 45 feet of fuse delivered to Bridgeman Taylor on Sept. 12, the total of the two bills amounting to $31.13.

Third, that on Dec. 29, 1914, Tauscher sent a bill to Capt. von Papen for a total of $503.24, the third item of which, dated Sept. 11, amounted to $31.13.

Fourth, that on Jan. 5, 1915, von Papen requested some one to draw a check for $503.24 to the order of Tauscher.

I went and got the dynamite myself from the du Pont Company's dynamite barges lying off the Jersey shore near the Statue of Liberty. I had hired a motor boat near the foot of West One Hundred and Forty-Sixth Street and I carried the stuff in suitcases. I took the whole 300 pounds in a taxicab to the German Club, and met von Papen there. He told me to call later and he would supply me with automatic pistols, batteries, detonators and wire for exploding the dynamite. He kept his promise.

All these things I took, and part of them I stored in the rooms I had taken in an obscure street and house in Harlem. For by this time the boastful, talkative Major von der Goltz was slipping down in the world. He could no longer afford the amenities of the Holland House. It must have been quite obvious to all interested that the money he had brought from Mexico was almost spent.[288] There are certain advantages in looking impecunious, if one knows how to use them. The furtive, secretive poor man who does no work yet has what money he needs is open to suspicion. But the broken spendthrift in his seedy clothes who cannot pay his bills and yet does nothing but talk of his own importance—he is manifestly a fool.

So toward the middle of September the fool von der Goltz and four companions—Fritzen, Tucker, Busse and Covani—armed with automatic pistols and carrying suitcases crammed with high explosives, were permitted to leave New York, from the Grand Central Station, and to go to Buffalo, where they took rooms at No. 198 Delaware Avenue and were supplied with funds by wire from New York on Sept. 16, being identified by a Buffalo lawyer, John T. Ryan.

After that we went on to Niagara Falls, where, within twelve miles, lay the locks of the Welland Canal, our first and most important objective. While waiting for further orders we fell victims to impatience.

For sitting and waiting was all we ever did. While my superiors were hesitating to give the decisive word the first Canadian contingent had left for England, and it had been decided to postpone the attempt till another crucial moment for Canada.

So the affair ended tamely, and the authorities of the United States never guessed how close they had come to being plunged into a complication which might have made the Trent affair or the Alabama affair of Civil War days seem small by comparison.

I have told you I was obviously in New York with a purpose, and hoped to be unable to escape the attentions of detectives and Federal Secret Service agents. They could have stopped us at any moment, and they did not. Why? Because they thought me an impractical fool, a[289] theatrical plotter, harmless, and wanted to let me thoroughly compromise myself before they stopped me. If the true circumstances had been like the seeming ones, that would have been thoroughly sound policy, in accordance with the best detective tradition. But——

The real circumstances were very different. My men and I were a blind. We had our explosives and meant to use them if we could. But the serious dynamiting was not assigned to us at all, but to men already in Canada, men thoroughly organized, men whose names in no way suggested German sympathies and who were not at all suspected, and never would be as long as we made-to-order German plotters were at hand.

Imagine, then, what the effect would have been on public opinion if those orders had not been countermanded. The Welland Canal and others would have gone up, and we would have seemed to be the perpetrators—we, whom the United States Government might so easily have stopped if it had cared to. I have been concerned in various plots in my time, but never in one of a more devilish ingenuity than this one that failed, or failed in part.

III—THE MACHINATIONS OF THE GERMAN WAR OFFICE

I have tried, in writing here, not to speak with too much awe of myself and my doings. But now I crave your indulgence for a moment to call your attention to a very serious aspect of the affair. This plot of mine that seemed to fail, Werner Horn's attempt against the bridge at Vanceboro, the talk of German wireless stations in the woods of Maine, all the rumors of invasions of Canada planned by German reservists in the United States, were not so harmless and fruitless as they seemed. They served to stir up talk. They were meant to stir up talk and create the belief that some men of German descent,[290] living in America, were less American in their loyalty than they were German.

Who made that talk? The German press agencies, under Franz von Papen. And why? To set all German-Americans apart from their neighbors by rendering their loyalty suspicious; to band all German-Americans together for self-protection, and so to dyke Germany from the rising tide of world-wide disapproval. It was the most coolly calculated betrayal I have ever come in contact with.

But it was not my part to register disapproval, as the film directors say. I came back to New York, reported to Capt. von Papen and received instructions to go to Germany, on the Bridgeman Taylor passport, and report in Berlin to Department III. B of the General Staff. Oct. 8, 1914, I sailed for Italy, carrying a letter of introduction from Capt. von Papen recommending me to the German Consul General at Genoa. He also gave me $200 to pay for my passage.

After the abandonment, at the last moment, of the plot to blow up the locks of the Welland Canal with dynamite paid for by Capt. Franz von Papen, at the time German Military Attaché at Washington, I sailed from New York for Genoa, Italy, whence the German Consul General sent me on to the Prussian Consulate in Munich. From there I went to Berlin, arriving Oct. 17, 1914. By order, I reported to the General Staff, Department III., B, to the Foreign Office and to the Colonial Office, being questioned at each place regarding my impressions of affairs on the North American Continent.

Then I was ordered to report in person to the Emperor, which I did at Coblentz, and was questioned in great detail about the state of affairs in Mexico. After being granted an opportunity to visit both the western and eastern fronts, I was sent back to Berlin and given[291] the choice of going to Turkey or going back to Mexico. I chose Mexico, and accordingly was sent to England, via Holland, traveling on the American passport issued to Bridgeman Henry Taylor.

I arrived in London Nov. 4, 1914. England was then in the first and most feverish stages of the German-spy-phobia which followed the outbreak of the war, and for four days I thoroughly enjoyed the sensation of tickling the Lion's whiskers, so to speak. Then the Lion suddenly clapped a paw down and I was caught under it.

Nov. 8, 1914, I had gone down to the Horse Guards to watch guard mounting. A crowd had assembled for the spectacular ceremony. In the press a boy stepped heavily on my foot. I had a corn there, it happened, and promptly cursed him in round Mexican fashion, though in English. Recollecting where I was, I was feeling in my pocket for a penny to salve his feelings, when out of the crowd I saw a face turned steadily toward me.

I knew the man at once. He was the friend of a very celebrated Russian dancer, and I had once been instrumental in exposing him, in Germany, as a Russian agent. And he assuredly knew my face as well as I knew his. I forgot the penny I was going to give the boy.

What should I do? The man had recognized me and would undoubtedly report his discovery to the proper quarter. But they would have no further proof of anything against me. According to the papers in my pocket-book I was a Mexican officer returning from leave of absence. True, I was traveling on a false passport. But why not? Constitutionalist Mexico had no officials to issue passports just then, and German names on passports were not convenient. Such a deception might have been practised innocently enough, if I could only make the English believe that I was not in German pay and was not in England as a spy.

[292]

In a parliamentary White Paper (Miscellaneous No. 13, Series of 1916), you can find this statement:

"Horst von der Goltz arrived in England from Holland on the 4th of November, 1914. He offered information upon projected air raids, the source where the Emden derived her information as to British shipping and how the Leipzig was obtaining her coal supplies. He offered to go back to Germany to obtain the information, and all he asked for in the first instance was his traveling expenses."

This is how it happened. In that brief moment of cogitation in front of the Horse Guards, I saw that my one safe method was audacity and directness, my only hope to tell some sort of a story before my accuser could tell his. So I went direct to Downing Street and the Foreign Office, which was walking into the Lion's jaws with a vengeance. I asked for Mr. Campbell of the Secret Intelligence Department and told him I wished to enter his service. What, he asked, did I claim to have information about? Zeppelin raids, I told him, that being the least harmful subject I could think of, in case my "traitorous" offer should ever come to German ears. No topic was more closely guarded, so I knew I could trust Berlin to realize I was bluffing when I claimed any knowledge of it. Also, it was a topic which vastly interested the English.

The bluff went through to this extent: It left the British authorities thoroughly at sea. My apparent good intent, combined with my Mexican commission and American passport, provided them with a puzzle which would take a good long time solving. The only provable charge they could bring against me was that of being an alien enemy who had failed to register.

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IV—IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH IN A BRITISH PRISON

So, on the 13th of November, I found myself arraigned in police court on that charge. You may be sure I did not complain. It would have been so very easy for me to be standing before a court-martial, on a charge that carried the penalty of death.

On the 26th of November I was sentenced to six months at hard labor at Pentonville Prison, with a recommendation for deportation at its expiration. I served five months at Pentonville, and then my good conduct let me out. Home Secretary MacKenna signed the order for my deportation. But I was not deported.

Instead, I was thrust into Brixton Prison. In Brixton, though I was not sentenced on any charge, I was kept in solitary confinement until January, 1916, when I was transferred to Reading Jail. At Reading—locale of Oscar Wilde's ballade—conditions were less disagreeable than they had been at Brixton. I was allowed to have newspapers and magazines and to talk and exercise with my fellow prisoners.

All this time, you may be sure, attempts were made to secure further information from me, and especially to solve the enigma of my personal identity. But I stuck steadfastly to my story. By that time it had crystallized to this: I was Horst von der Goltz, born in Gautemala of German parents, but not a German citizen. I was an officer on leave from the Mexican army and had used the Bridgeman Taylor passport from necessity. From necessity, too, I had concocted the fable of wishing to sell information to the British Government, in the natural hope of avoiding the predicament in which I found myself.

Try as they would, the authorities could find no evidence to knock holes in that story. And it was then I[294] conceived a deep personal liking for British sportsmanship. They were deeply suspicious, but they compelled themselves to play fair and give me every chance.

You recall that in December, 1915, on President Wilson's request, the German Government recalled Capts. Boy-Ed and von Papen, its Naval and Military Attachés. They traveled home on personal safe-conducts from the British and French Governments. You may remember also that Capt. von Papen took along with him a number of personal papers, and that when the ship which bore him touched at Falmouth, England, these documents were seized. Complaining, he was reminded that his safe-conduct covered only his body, and that he wore his clothing merely by the British Navy's courtesy. That seizure of his papers happened on Jan. 2, 1916.

Being now permitted to read the daily papers, I heard of it, even in Reading, and at first was greatly alarmed. But nothing happened. The documents were published and made a great deal of sensation in England. But my name did not appear. It had been deleted by the censor, so it later appeared.

Ten days of false hope that deletion gave me, and then, on the night of Jan. 30, 1916, the Governor of Reading told me I was to go up to London next day. Where to? Scotland Yard.

Any moment more dramatic than that of my entrance, next morning, into the Commissioner's room at Scotland Yard I do not wish to live through. Some one else may have that excitement.

V—THE TALE OF THE LITTLE PINK CHECK

There were several men in the room—Capt. William Hall of the Admiralty's Intelligence Department, Mr. Nathan, Capt. Carter of the War Office and Mr. Basil Thompson, Assistant Commissioner of Police. They all[295] looked very grave. There was one big table in the center of the room, and on it was one little oblong piece of paper—pink paper.

One of them picked it up and held it where I could read it. A reproduction of it was printed in the preceding installment of this series.

"Washington, D. C., Sept. 1, 1914.

"The Riggs National Bank:
"Pay to the order of Mr. Bridgeman Taylor two hundred dollars.

F. von Papen."

When I had read that he turned it over for me to see the indorsement: "Mr. Bridgeman Taylor."

"Sign your name, please—'B. H. Taylor.' Do you know that check?"

"Yes," I admitted.

"Why was it issued?"

"Von Papen gave me the money to go to Europe and join the army."

"Ah! Von Papen gave it you——"

I was doing quick thinking. That little pink check might easily be my death warrant. In that trunkful of documents, it seemed more than likely, were reports and instructions with my name sprinkled through them, since that check had been there. My last chance was gone, after all those months of bluffing.

I have sense enough to know a game is up. If people have positive proof that you have done a thing it's no use saying you have not. I saw one chance—and one chance only—of extricating myself. I must make a confession. But it must be a peculiar sort of confession. To carry conviction it must admit everything material contained in Capt. von Papen's seized papers where my name was implicated. And, not to be disloyal, it must admit nothing more—nothing, in other words, that England was not already cognizant of from other sources.[296] How to do that—to bluff them once more, to a finish.

I swung round on them.

"Are you the executioners of the German Government?" I asked abruptly. "Are you so fond of von Papen that you want to do him a favor? You will be doing just that if you try and shoot me."

"We are going to prosecute you on this evidence," was the only answer.

"You English pride yourselves on not being taken in," I said. "Von Papen is a very clever man—are you going to let him take you in? Do you think he was fool enough not to realize that those papers would be seized? Do you think"—this part of it was a random shot, and lucky—"do you think it is an accident that the only papers among them referring to a live, free, unsentenced man in England refer to me? Just look! Von Papen has been recalled. The United States can investigate his doings now without embarrassment. And he, knowing me to be the connecting link of the chain of his activities, and knowing me to be a prisoner liable to extradition, would ask nothing better than to get permanently rid of me. And in the papers he carried he very obligingly furnished you all the proofs you need before you shoot me. You can choose for yourselves. Do him this favor if you want to. But I think I'm worth more to you alive than dead. Especially now that I see how very willing my own Government is to have me dead."

They got the point and the veiled promise and were willing to give me immunity in return for a confession and revelation of the workings of German secret agencies. So much ground was gained. The hardest stretch still remained to gain—to get some inkling of what I must tell and what I must keep silent about. That knowledge was very hard to come at. But from one of them, who had known me all through my fifteen months' fight[297] for life and liberty, and had sympathized, I managed to get, without arousing his suspicions, a sketchy notion of what ground the seized documents covered.

It sufficed to put the bluff through. That night they lodged me in Brixton Prison, with a supply of stationery, and I wrote down my "voluntary statement," taking care to incorporate in its closing paragraphs the promise already made me verbally, "I have made these statements on the distinct understanding that the statements I have made, or should make in the future, will not be used against me; that I am not to be prosecuted for participation in any enterprise directed against the United Kingdom or her Allies I engaged in at the direction of Capt. von Papen or other representatives of the German Government, and that the promise made to me by Capt. William Hall, Chief of the Intelligence Department of the Admiralty, in the presence of Mr. Basil Thompson, former Governor of Tonga and Assistant Commissioner of Police, and in the presence of Supt. Quinn, political branch of Scotland Yard, that I am not to be extradited or sent to any country where I am liable to punishment for political offenses, is made on behalf of His Majesty's Government."

On Feb. 2 I was asked whether I was willing to swear to the truth of my statements. They were true, as far as they went, and I swore so.

So by sheer bluffing I got out from between the Lion's paws. They sent me to Lewes Prison then. With its baths and lawns for tennis, it hardly seemed a prison, and I was content there until last spring, the United States Department of Justice needed me as a witness in its Grand Jury proceedings.

I came over, gave my testimony—and now here I am. One volume of my life's history apparently is written to a Finis. What will the next one be, I wonder?


[298]

REAL-LIFE ROMANCES OF THE WAR

Told by Malcolm Savage Treacher

The author is a sergeant in a famous regiment, and has been invalided to England after an exciting time in the Near East. In these unusual articles he sets down a number of little stories—cameos of the Great War—told to him by soldiers during his seven months' sojourn in various hospitals. The incidents are authenticated by the names and regiments of the men concerned. "All the stories are related exactly as I heard them," he writes in the Wide World Magazine.

I—TALE OF MYSTERY OF THE ABANDONED CHATEAU

During the early months of the war, Corporal R. J. Mullins, of the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade, was among those who helped to stem the flood of Germans advancing on Paris. He is a slight, boyish figure, with merry, laughing eyes, and in spite of two serious wounds from shell-fire manages to-day to cram as much vitality into his life as any six ordinary men. I met him in hospital, where he related to me the following curious experiences.

One evening his regiment was ordered to attack a château which the German General Staff was known to have occupied the previous night. No enemy soldier, however, was found there when the British arrived—nothing except signs of a hasty evacuation. On the table were the remains of an interrupted meal, some of the pictures had been removed, and everything of value in the mansion had been taken away.

Mullins and his companions had been marching for several[299] days in rough campaigning conditions, and almost the first thing the corporal did on entering the fine salle à manger was to fling himself into an arm-chair beside the gas fire of imitation logs.

"Everything's been cleared out," exclaimed one of his comrades. "The Germans have left nothing."

"And what if they had?" asked the corporal.

"We've strict orders not to loot, and I'm going to see them carried out."

"But there's orders and orders," responded the other.

"Anyhow, it's all the same," returned Mullins. "There's going to be no looting if I can help it."

Thereupon the rifleman sat down beside his companion, and for several minutes they smoked together. Then, all of a sudden, they heard the whistle sounding the fall-in outside, and both prepared to go. Mullins snatched his cap hastily from a Louis XV. sideboard that covered half the length of the room, and to his amazement several secret drawers opened. In some curious manner his cap had touched a knob, thereby releasing a concealed spring. The drawers were full of wondrous treasures of early French art—vases and cups of silver-gilt or gold, studded with precious stones and other valuables. Before him lay wealth and treasure enough, probably for a King's ransom.

Very thoughtfully the corporal closed the drawers again, leaving everything exactly in order as he had found it. After all, orders were orders—but what a chance for the German Crown Prince!

By this time his comrades had all fallen in, and already he could hear the steady tramp, tramp of their footsteps marching away in the distance.

As he scrambled hastily out of the door of the château, Mullins realized that he was alone, and that in his hurry he had somehow taken the wrong road. There was no[300] one to be seen anywhere, and he could no longer hear the regiment. A few minutes later he was stumbling along through the grounds of the house, groping his way in the darkness, trying to find the highway. Presently he discerned that he was in a field enclosed by a high wooden fence, and went hurrying across it. Right out in the open he collided with some heavy object, only to recoil in horror as the thing moved and snorted. Its back was wet—wet with what the corporal later discovered to be blood. The animal, wounded probably by malevolent design, rose to its feet, its long horns and huge bulk shaping through the darkness as the form of a bull. Conceiving Mullins to be one of its tormentors, the bull first lashed its tail angrily against its sides and then galloped full pelt after him. By this time Mullins had reached the side of the corral, and crouched there, hoping that the darkness would cover him. But he was mistaken. The bull charged down upon him with lowered head, and drove its horns deep into the fencing on each side of the horrified man's head. There it remained fixed just long enough to give Corporal Mullins time to crawl out and scramble over the corral, glad to find himself still alive and uninjured. An hour afterwards he rejoined his regiment.

II—STORY OF WOMAN WHO WALKED IN THE NIGHT

Yet another queer experience befell the corporal a short time later. It occurred when he was on "listening-post" between the trenches—one of the most arduous and dangerous jobs the war has to offer. Corporal Mullins, with a couple of comrades, was on duty in a listening-post hard by Armentières. On the previous day the Germans had attacked and been beaten off, and our troops were expecting a further assault that evening. Already the big[301] guns were battering away at the entrenchments. The three men lay in front of a shallow stream, on the other side of which rose grimly the high banks of the German earthworks. Suddenly the noise of the cannonade ceased. Very intently the watchers listened, for the silence was ominous and foreshadowed an assault. After a few moments' suspense, Mullin's arm was touched by one of his companions. From across the stream the wind wafted to them the unmistakable sound of someone walking through the water. The three gripped their rifles in alarm. The Germans were coming! But nothing happened. They heard men breathing hard and straining at their work, and gradually the explanation dawned upon them. The disturbing noise was nothing worse than the enemy bailing water from their trenches into the stream! The three laughed silently, greatly relieved at the discovery.

The bailing continued for some hours, when the sound was supplemented by another. This time there was no room for doubt; stealthy footsteps were approaching them, plash, plash through the water. Probably it was a spy. Right into their waiting arms the crouching figure walked. A hand promptly covered its mouth, and it was pulled down. Then the trio gasped, for they discovered from the soft cheeks and long, dishevelled hair that their captive was a—woman!

One of the men thrust her into a hole burrowed by an enemy howitzer, and they flashed an electric torch into her face. Despair, shame, horror—all the elements of a more terrible tragedy than ever Euripides made immortal were written in the poor girl's features. Disgraced she was for ever in the eyes of her kith and kin, one of the hapless victims of the Huns. She had escaped from her captors, it appeared, and had come to the British lines to seek refuge.

[302]

The three men laughed again, as silently as before; but this time their mirth was full of terrible meaning, pregnant with thoughts of vengeance.

III—THE VENDETTA—AN EYE-FOR-AN-EYE

From Flanders we will turn to Gallipoli. A man had just been shot in the first line trench at Anzac by a sniper. Private Roy Scotton, the 5th Field Ambulance, A.I.F., had been hurried along with a stretcher to bear him away for burial.

"Who is it?" asked one of the bearers as they picked up the soldier. The sergeant of the section, his head bent to avoid hostile bullets, came hastening along the trench.

"Who's down this time?" he asked in turn. But there came no response from the bystanders. Some busied themselves with the breeches of their rifles; some, who had commenced a smoke, put aside their tobacco. The dead soldier's face had been covered with a blanket.

"Who is it?" asked the sergeant once more, sick with apprehension. He was a brave man, a man inured to campaigning of all kinds, cunning in battle against the Turk, crafty in his fight against Nature in the Australian bush, wily in his dealings with political antagonists at his home in New South Wales. For this was "Paddy" Larkin, a popular Australian M.P. Pulling aside the blanket covering the dead man's face, he gave a cry of horror. It was his own brother!

He bowed his head reverently for a moment over the cold, set features; then, snatching a rifle and bayonet from the man nearest him, he scrambled quickly across the trench. Before any man present suspected his intention, "Paddy" Larkin was leaping towards the enemy to avenge his brother's death. A storm of bullets opened on him. They lashed the sand around him: they tore into his[303] clothes, into his body. Still he went on. Over the wire entanglements, over the parapet he leapt, his bayonet thrusting savagely at the Turks. Very short and fierce was the fight, but "Paddy" Larkin died happy. His brother's death was avenged.

IV—"HE SHOT MY CHUM!"

Of a somewhat similar nature is the following story, also related to me by Private Scotton. A Turkish prisoner had been caught. He was an officer, a brilliantly-educated man, accomplished in several modern tongues. After examining him the company captain resolved to dispatch the prisoner to Brigade Headquarters, where he would have proved very useful. A corporal was told off to escort the prisoner, and on arrival at "H.Q." handed to a staff captain the official document containing full particulars of his prisoner. Having read through the report, the officer ordered the prisoner to be brought to him.

"It's not possible," responded the corporal.

"How not possible?" demanded the other angrily. "Has he escaped?" News of the Turk had already been telephoned through to Headquarters, and the staff there had resolved to take full advantage of the man's knowledge.

"No; he's not escaped exactly," commenced the corporal, slowly. "He spoke English, and on the way here we talked of different things. He spoke of his home in Syria, and then we got talking about prisoners——"

"But what's all this to do with me?" asked the officer, sharply. "Why have you arrived here without the prisoner?"

"We spoke of prisoners," repeated the man, stolidly, "and I asked him what had become of my 'cobber,'[13] who was captured in a sap-head a week ago. The officer remembered him. 'He was spying on us,' said he. 'My men brought him in to me.'

[304]

"'And what became of him?' I asked.

"'Oh, I had him shot,' he told me.

"You see, sir," concluded the corporal, "he shot my chum. That's all, sir."

"But I don't understand," exclaimed the staff captain.

"He shot my chum," repeated the corporal, "so there was only one thing to do."

"So you shot him?" asked the officer, drumming his fingers on the table.

The soldier nodded. Then he saluted smartly and marched out.

V—THE STERN CALL OF DUTY

No embroidery is required to elaborate the following episode: it is a bit of grim reality. The Prussian Guard had just delivered an attack around Ypres. For days they had been paving the road to Calais with their own corpses. At that time, you will remember, we had no high explosive to spare to beat off these assaults; only shrapnel, and none too much of that. In an advanced trench before the British lines were the Northumberland Fusiliers, firing with another regiment. Commanding a fraction of the latter regiment was a young lieutenant, whose greatest chum happened to be directing the fire of our batteries. In those days each shot had to tell, and it was resolved that when the enemy rallied again for another attack, fire was to be held until the Germans were immediately in front of our trenches. Among the "Fighting Fifth," as the Northumberland Fusiliers are affectionately called, was Corporal R. J. Glasgow, of the 2nd Battalion. Many of his comrades had fallen that morning,[305] and as he crouched in the ill-sheltered trench, an old "pal," who as a boy had worked with him on the Elswick Shipbuilding Yard on the Tyne, talked with him of old times. He offered the corporal a cigarette, and, as Glasgow felt through his pockets for a match, said:—

"I want to enjoy this smoke. It'll be our last together."

"You think the Germans are getting through this time?" asked the other.

"No, I don't think they'll get through. But, anyhow, I've a kind of presentiment that this is our last smoke together."

During the day they lay together, smoking and yarning. Hard by the artillery major was preparing busily for the attack everyone knew was to be delivered that evening. At length the day waned, the red disc of the sun silhouetted in sharp relief against the battered tower of Ypres Cathedral. Night fell, and at last the German guns belched a furious cannonade against the poor earthworks held by our fellows. When they had done their work the Prussian Guard poured out of their holes and mounds and stormed towards the British.

Until they were almost upon our lines the British guns were silent. Then, when the enemy were practically at hand-grips with those holding the advanced trenches, a terrible fusillade opened upon the Prussians. By some unfortunate mistake, however, the range had not been accurately calculated; our shrapnel was bursting too far behind the attacking enemy. There was but little time to think; immediate action was imperative. Desperate cases are cured only by desperate remedies. Either that little handful of men in the front trench must be sacrificed, or the enemy would burst through the British lines.

The major directing the artillery fire was in a terrible quandary, for among the men who would be sacrificed was his dear friend.

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Yet he knew his duty as a soldier, and he did not hesitate. He directed the range of the batteries to be shortened until the shells were bursting over the trench, and his chum fell, pierced with bullets. That same evening the major himself was found—dead by his own hand, a revolver by his side. Corporal Glasgow was carried to a dressing-station with sixteen bullets from British shrapnel in his leg, and his friend of the cigarette episode had been shot through the brain. That terrible night furnished a long list of casualties for the British, but Ypres had been saved, and the road to Calais was still guarded by the thin khaki line.

VI—THE BRITISH SERGEANT'S UNCONSCIOUS FIGHT FOR LOVE

Lance-Corporal W. Bird, of the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment, who was also wounded at Ypres, recounted the following incident to me. Its central figure is a sergeant of his own regiment, and it commences in those first vivid days of the war, when the Germans were swarming over the border. A company of ragged Chasseurs d'Afrique had burst through a village. Some limped and were blood-stained; all breathed heavily in great gasps, and they were plastered with mud and haggard for want of food and sleep.

"It's all up, Mother Vinot," shouted the corporal, a burly Alsatian, to a shivering old creature outside the village débit. "The Boches are upon us."

Hobbling into the wine-shop, the old woman bade her grandson hasten the loading of the bullock wagon. He was a tall, weedy lad fresh from school. "They won't hurt us, petite gran'mère," said he. He lifted his belt, displaying the thick butt of a revolver he had taken from a dead hussar lying under his horse on the roadside. "I[307] will protect both you and the English milady, nom de pipe. These are great times for men."

The English milady huddled closer to the fire. She had only left Brussels on the previous day; the wagon on which she had travelled had broken down in the mud. While his grandmother hid their last barrel of cognac under the flooring, Jean busied himself with the bullock wagon. It was soon loaded, for their household effects were not extensive. Clambering into the vehicle, they sat their bullocks ambling through the deserted street. Here and there lay groups of dead soldiers; over the bodies the bullocks picked their way carefully. The roar of the cannon and the ear-splitting crack of the rifles had now ceased. The Germans were advancing cautiously upon the village.

The boy urged the unwilling beasts with his goad. Inside the wagon, the English milady shuddered in horror at the spectacle of the stark bodies around them, and at last she broke into sobs. The crone, who sat at the shafts of the vehicle telling her beads, looked curiously at her. The lady was speaking.

"Last night I dreamed he was dead," she cried, in French. "I fear to look at these poor creatures; I fear I may find him among them."

At that moment there was a rustle in the hedge bordering the road. The boy caught glimpse of rifles levelled at his companions.

"They're spies!" shouted a voice in English. "Shoot the wretches down. It's another of the German dodges."

"Let the poor devils go," cried another voice. "I've seen the old woman in the village before, and the boy ties a good trout fly. I know them both. Don't shoot."

But one of the soldiers had levelled his rifle and fired. "There's one of their dirty officers huddling in the wagon behind the old woman," cried he. Already, however, Jean[308] had the wagon turned, and the bullet missed its mark. Thrusting his goad deeply into the bullocks, Jean speedily made the maddened animals trot forward. There was no more firing. Very soon the little party had turned by the curé's house at the bend of the road, and were in the village again.

"The Germans have us both ways," said Jean, entering the tiny courtyard of the curé. "We'd best leave our load here and hide. There is a famous place in Père Vincent's hayloft." Bidding them climb the ladder to the loft, Jean stood on guard behind the open gates.

There was a clatter of hoofs along the road, the glint of lances, and a number of Uhlans dashed at a mad gallop through the village. At the bend of the road they halted. Something had aroused their suspicion. One of them dismounted and began to examine his horse's shoes. His three companions, meanwhile, trotted back to the wine-shop and proceeded to batter the door down. Jean glanced first at the men entering his home; then at the dismounted soldier. His mind was soon made up. There were only four of them, and of those he could give good account. Taking careful aim with his weapon, he pressed the trigger. Like a stone the Uhlan dropped beside his horse. Hearing the firing, his comrades rushed from the wine-shop, mounted their horses, and clattered down the street towards the boy. Jean stepped out from his hiding-place and stood full in front of them. His first shot struck the leading man's horse. The animal stumbled and flung its rider white and still on the road. Following hard at his heels, the second horseman came down with a crash, the legs of his steed tangled in the reins of the first. Jean pointed his weapon for the third time. But there was no report—he had fired his last cartridge! The remaining Uhlan, with a fierce curse, lowered his lance and charged towards the lad.

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Jean never knew exactly what happened after that. He remembered hearing men hard by cheering in a strange tongue; he remembered, too, the firing of rifles behind him; but after that he could recollect no more. Milady, who had been a governess in Brussels, crouched in the hay with the old woman and shuddered. They heard the galloping of the horses, the curses of the soldiers, and the firing, but they understood nothing of its significance. Then came the thunder of a shell bursting beneath the loft. The place took fire and the loose straw sent up clouds of smoke which helped make the terrified women and their position more terrible. They heard one sharp crackle of musketry; then dead silence. This was broken at length by footsteps advancing over the courtyard. They halted cautiously at the threshold of the barn, and then made a bold dash. Seeing nobody, the men halted again.

"I heard voices here," the first man shouted to a comrade. "Somebody is hiding hereabouts—some of the Huns."

Seizing the rungs of the ladder in one hand, he clambered like a cat towards the loft.

"Let the pigs burn," growled his comrade after him.

The women were hidden in the straw, but the soldier saw it move, and poised his bayonet over milady's breast.

"Come out of that," he shouted. In astonishment at hearing the sound of her own tongue, the Englishwoman moved her hands from her eyes.

"Save me!" she implored, and held her hands appealingly towards the soldier. And then Mme. Vinot was the witness of a strange scene. For the soldier, with a startled exclamation, flung down his rifle, seized the woman in his arms, kissed her, and spoke her name in endearing terms. It was her sweetheart, and twice that day, all unknowingly, he had saved her life! Lance-Corporal[310] Bird was present at the sergeant's wedding some months afterwards, and vouches for the happy ending of the story.

VII—TALE OF THE MOHAMMODAN WOMAN SNIPER

When the war broke out, plain John Gallinshaw, a graduate of Harvard University, was earning the hardest of all livings as a journalist by the sweat of his pen. His home being in Newfoundland, he hurried back there, enlisted, came to England with the draft in the 1st Battalion N.R., and spent an arduous winter's training in Stevenson's favourite Edinburgh. Then selections for active service were made, and Corporal Gallinshaw's name was not among them. The men sailed from England late in the spring; and shortly after leaving port a stowaway was found. It was Gallinshaw. He wanted experience, and not even the fear of martial law prevented him from getting what he considered his share of the fun. The Megantic landed her troops, and for the first few weeks on Turkish soil, the preliminary baptism of fire once over, things went on in the old round of dullness, for life in the trenches at Gallipoli became very monotonous, as stereotyped as life at any popular seaside resort.

Then snipers began to make themselves all agreeable. One of them, in particular, gave our fellows a good deal of trouble. This sniper, armed with an old German needle-gun, rarely missed his aim. One day Corporal Gallinshaw, on duty in the trench, had occasion in the early hours of dawn to repair some wire entanglements that had been badly wrecked by shell-fire. He had not been long at his work when the crack of the deadly needle-gun reminded him of the close proximity of the sniper. A bullet flung up a rain of stones in his face.[311] Altering his position, he set to work again, this time more warily, but not warily enough for the sniper. Another report rang out, and this time a bullet penetrated his lungs. While he lay bleeding in front of the trench, some of the Newfoundlanders took it into their heads to go out and bring in the sniper. They returned before the sun was up with a gagged and bound figure. It was the sniper. Now, Newfoundlanders are notoriously democratic, and they wanted to take the law into their own hands and hang the captive.

"It's the rule with snipers," said one. "They expect no mercy."

"String him up," said another. "He's been caught red-handed."

"Give the poor devil a chance," exclaimed Gallinshaw, whose wounds were being bound up.

"As much chance as he gave you," responded one of his companions, ironically. Apparently, however, Gallinshaw's words were heeded, for nothing drastic was done until an officer came along and examined the prisoner. Then, to everyone's astonishment, the captive was found to be a woman. She was a young woman, too, and of prepossessing appearance. The officer decided she should be sent to Egypt. Learning this decision, the captive was full of gratitude towards the corporal for his intercession. But neither the man nor the woman could make themselves understood. And thus this romance of real life ended. But who knows what might have happened, had the affair been properly conducted—say by Seton Merriman, Stanley Weyman, or some other romantic novelist?


At the 3rd London General Hospital recently I was shown two X-ray photographs, illustrating what may be considered a miracle of modern surgery. The first plate[312] depicted Private Coleheart's leg, shattered by Turkish gunfire; the second picture, taken after the smashed bone had been welded to a silver plate, showed the leg practically as good as ever. When I saw Coleheart his thin, pinched face glowed with happiness over the skill of the surgeon, and for the first time during our hospital acquaintance of many months he was inclined to talk.

VIII—THE TRAGEDY OF THE YOUNG BRIDE

In Egypt, while the 8th Battalion A.I.F. was under training, the men worked very hard indeed. Marches over the desert for fourteen hours at a stretch were not uncommon. When the troops returned at night they were too tired for any other relaxation than sleep. One evening, however, it was rumored that the fiancée of a corporal in Private Coleheart's platoon had come into Mena Camp. She had landed at Suez from Melbourne the previous day and had journeyed direct to Cairo. She had been unable to endure the long separation from her lover.

The corporal, obtaining three days' leave, married her. On the second day of the honeymoon, however, he was wired for to return immediately to Mena. The regiment was proceeding to Alexandria to embark for the Dardanelles.

Husband and wife said good-bye, and the corporal sailed from Egypt with a heavy heart. During the voyage out he was sick, lying in his bunk the whole time until the ship arrived at Anzac. When his men fell in on deck he was too ill to make more than a perfunctory examination of their kits. From the sergeant, however, he learned that two men from a draft had been dispatched to the regiment at the last moment to complete its war establishment. One of them looked curiously familiar,[313] but the corporal was too unwell to bother about trifles at that moment.

They were all sent almost at once to the trenches, where—unlike the troops in France, who often spend no more than four days in their burrows—three weeks and even longer was the customary time for soldiers to be entrenched at a stretch.

One of the two new hands, a slight little fellow named Whitening, found considerable difficulty in fetching up the supplies of water for his comrades. He seemed to have no grit in him, too, when the bullets were whizzing round, and appeared to have neither strength of frame nor strength of mind. Coleheart often saw him crying softly to himself at night. At last, in the early summer of last year, the Turks made their great onslaught on our trenches. They peppered the ground first with their great guns, and charged with fierce Oriental bravery, despising death as much as they seemed to despise our own preparations for driving them off. They came on in droves, and they were beaten down in herds, for our quick-firers and machine-guns never had a better target.

At length, when they were almost over our trenches, their hearts failed them. They broke and turned tail in headlong flight. It was then that Coleheart and his companions were ordered out to disperse the flying enemy. But the Turkish guns had already opened on both friend and foe. Within a few yards of the trench Coleheart fell, his leg mangled horribly. Now it is well known that during a charge soldiers must leave their wounded comrades bleeding on the ground and await the final decision of arms before the injured may be tended. This latter duty is the care of the Red Cross men and the stretcher-bearers of a regiment.

To Coleheart's surprise, however, he was picked up and helped along by one of his comrades to a first-line[314] dressing-station. Coleheart saw that his companion was Whitening.

"You'll get into trouble," he said, feebly. "You're not supposed to fall out. You'll be court-martialled."

"I don't care!" responded the other, fiercely. "My husband's just been killed. He was Corporal——"

And before the astonished Coleheart could respond, "Whitening" had snatched up the rifle, which had previously formed a rough splint around Coleheart's leg, and was dashing back to the trenches.

The surgeon in the dressing-station decided to amputate the injured leg, but Coleheart was obdurate. He was born with that leg, he said, and he would die with it. Patched up, he was soon afterwards put on a hospital ship, and finally arrived in London.

"But what became of 'Whitening'?" I asked, curious to learn the end of the history.

"Killed the same day," responded Coleheart. "It never got into the papers. The whole business was hushed up."

VIII—STORY OF THE HERMIT OF YPRES

All readers of Sir Walter Scott's novels will recollect Old Mortality, the itinerant antiquary, whose craze it was to clean the moss from gravestones and keep their letters and effigies in good condition. Private R. Walker, of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, told me the following story concerning a very similar character.

You have probably heard how the Canadians have brought the spirit of the trapper to the trenches; of their patience in marking down their prey. The enemy never know what the Canadians will be about next, and for a wealth of reasons one imagines that to be opposite the[315] Canadian trenches in Flanders must be a nerve-racking experience.

The boys from the land of the Maple Leaf are particularly patient in sapping and mining. They burrow vertical shafts far under the depths at which they estimate the Germans will counter-mine; they destroy the enemy's galleries and, creating a series of craters, occupy them and connect them up with the nearest Canadian trenches.

In these mining operations the Canadians have obtained a good deal of information concerning the enemy's moves from an old fellow they call "Gravestones." His chief occupation is the preservation of the rows of wooden crosses denoting the last resting place of the fallen. The old man's history is passing strange. He is a Belgian. His daughter, prior to the war, had taken the veil, but when the country was invaded the cloisters of most of the convents and monasteries of Belgium were deserted. The men took up arms; the women helped in the hospitals.

"Gravestones" lived at Genappe, in Brabant. When his daughter joined him, from her convent, he took flight to Gembroux, hoping to reach the French border, but the party was intercepted by the Germans. The old man, pretending to lose the power of articulate speech, was set free. Meanwhile the daughter, during the cross-examination of her father, had taken shelter in the old church of the village. Thither she was pursued by some of the German soldiers.

When they entered the church the girl was hiding by the altar; but in alarm, as the soldiers advanced towards her, she seized the great gilt cross surmounting the altar itself and threatened to hurl it down upon the first man who approached her.

Thereupon one of the sergeants ordered his men to open fire upon her, as an example to certain of the villagers[316] who had also taken refuge in the building. Perhaps the men felt the influence of the sacred precincts they had violated; perhaps they respected the girl's bravery. Anyway, they fired low. The girl was not killed, but fell under the altar, both her legs riddled with bullets.

To-day she is believed to be in hospital at Namur, though no accurate information is obtainable. Meanwhile, her father, once a prosperous fabricant of paper at Genappe, works out a slow and terrible scheme of revenge. Lovingly he plants flowers and shrubs on the graves of those who have helped to defeat the Huns, and incidentally he supplies the living with information of the utmost value. Living among some ruins outside Ypres, the bent old fellow is known to all but the Canadians as the "Hermit of Ypres."

IX—TALE OF THE LOVERS' TREACHERY

When the Germans first poured over France, trenches were dug at frequent intervals behind Paris and right down towards the great seaport of Havre. Later on these earthworks were strengthened and completed by the labour section of the Army Service Corps. A member of the Corps, Private Ronald Barrow, tells the following experience in connection with the work round Etretat. This village lies in a rock-bound valley, at the end of which is an old Gothic church named St. Vallery.

The ruins of this church were at first ordered to be destroyed in order to give a clear sweep for the guns, but the colonel of Engineers in charge decided not to proceed with this demolition. Hard by the ruins was a tiny auberge, and it was here that Private Barrow encountered Chrysale Duigin.

Barrow had been a school-teacher; and his knowledge of French gave him the opportunity of making the young[317] woman's acquaintance. Witty, shrewd, spiteful, she was nevertheless a most interesting personage, for she was beautiful, possessed means, and was full of little touches of wisdom.

Chrysale had two lovers; one a fisherman, a rough, strong fellow, the other a puny little conscript, who, in happier days, collected taxes. Hervé, the conscript, had been invalided home from Verdun, having lost his right arm. Galen, the fisherman, was exempt from military service. Between the two there was naturally a great rivalry. Hervé said much, and did nothing; Galen said nothing, and brooded.

Thus matters stood, until one evening Galen embarked on an armed trawler that had been fitted out at the port to seek for mines floating down the Channel towards Havre. He had become a matelot in the French navy. One morning at dawn the vessel was struck by a mine outside the very roads of Etretat. Putting out, the lifeboat saved only one man—Galen, the fisherman. In rescuing him one man was lost overboard. That man was Hervé, Chrysale's lover, and Galen's rival in her affections. Nothing more was seen of him. A heavy sea was running, and he must have been carried away by the tide.

When Galen was brought ashore he was still unconscious. On his head was a deep wound, where he had been struck by a boat-hook handled by one of the rescuers. Taken to his house, Galen lay at death's door for some days, but his great physical strength pulled him through. They saved his life, but not his reason; his brain had become hopelessly deranged.

A fortnight later Barrow, who knew the principal actors in the pitiful tale, saw one of the crew of the lifeboat. In the meantime, Barrow had been employed on the docks at Havre.

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"It's a sad enough story," said the fisherman, in response to Barrow's questioning. "It's a pity we ever took young Hervé aboard with us."

"But Hervé did his best," responded Barrow. "He gave his life for Galen."

"He gave his life, sure enough," grunted the fisherman; "but he gave it unconsciously, unwillingly. It was Hervé that struck Galen the blow with the boat-hook. Every man of the crew saw it was done with purpose."

Barrow understood it all. Hervé had struck at his rival, and Galen had pulled his man overboard to perish. Thus love and jealousy flourish just as lustily in wartime as in the piping days of peace.

X—STORY OF THE MAN WHO DISAPPEARED

I met Manech Argouarch for the second time at Brest some six years ago. My friend who keeps the Civette Nantaise in the Rue de Siam—probably the only place in Brest where cigars are sold in smokable condition—has kept me informed from time to time concerning interesting items of local history. From his letters I have put together the story of Manech. When I knew the man he was a wild, dissolute fellow, but, like many vagabonds, fortune had endowed him with a charming mate. Ten years younger than Manech, she was a tiny wisp of a woman. As far as I could judge, the pair were happy together in their own way.

When the war had run its course for some months Argouarch found his fishing-boat sadly short-handed, for the crews of most of the fishing-vessels were taken as conscripts. At this juncture Elène, his wife, went aboard, and did what she could to help.

It chanced that one day in the spring of last year a[319] gale sprang up suddenly when they were a long way out at sea. A terrific sea got up, and Manech had to heave-to as best he could, and endeavour to ride out the storm. Early in the morning the gale broke. The wind moderated sensibly, but the swell was still exceedingly heavy. Meanwhile the little boat was in a sorry plight, with one of the masts down and the rigging lying tangled over the deck.

Soon after nine o'clock in the morning Manech saw the periscope of a submarine away on the port bow. Emerging from the water, the sinister craft drew alongside, and a young German lieutenant came aboard. He wanted provisions and fresh water. Realizing the futility of resistance Manech and the boy Becsalé brought up on deck the whole of their available supplies. The German, however, was not satisfied. He said he would search the craft himself.

Elène had been instructed to hide herself in the tiny cabin, and when the German climbed down the hatchway, thinking he would probably seek to do her harm, she took up a big clasp-knife from the table and hid it in the folds of her dress. The German's search proved without avail, but he was more than interested in the pretty Elène. He seized her hand, and attempted to kiss it, but Elène wrenched herself from his grasp, and in a second stood in a corner of the cabin, holding the knife to her breast, and threatening to plunge it into her bosom if he attempted to approach. She was too terrified to scream.

Meanwhile Argouarch, who had been aloft furling a small storm stay-sail, descended into the cabin, wondering what had become of the German. When he saw his wife with the knife at her breast he hurled himself on the German in mad rage. The fight was short and fierce. Hearing the scuffle, three German sailors who were on[320] deck hurried down, overpowered the unfortunate Manech and bore him, more dead than alive, into the submarine. Then one of their look-out men reported a vessel away on the lee bow, steaming hard towards them. It was a French destroyer. Within a few moments the submarine submerged again, and speedily disappeared from sight.

Elène came into harbour soon afterwards, a French sailor being put aboard to navigate the crippled fishing-boat to safety. For days after her arrival in Brest there were stories about as to an enemy submarine having been sunk by a French torpedo craft, but nothing definite is known.

As to the fate of Manech, nothing whatever has been heard. But every day Elène is out early upon the highest cliff, peering through the sea mist across Brest Roads. Her companions are lonely women whose husbands and lovers have been swallowed up by the sea. They strain their eyes over the waters, hoping against hope, but their search is always in vain.

XI—TALE OF THE RESCUE FROM THE AIR

For the dashing exploit next described, Lieutenant Pétri, of the French Aerial Service, received the Military Cross. It was during the tragic period when the British Naval Division had evacuated Antwerp. Somewhere near Bruges a large party of cavalry, which included the Royal Horse Guards, met the fugitives. Above them a French biplane hovered. A splinter of shell had killed the observer. Lieutenant Pétri piloted the machine. Hard by the town of Eecloo he perceived a score of tiny ant-men fleeing along the road towards Waerschoot. These would have attracted Pétri's attention before had not his engine commenced miss-firing. For a time it seemed on the point of refusing action altogether, but at last he got it going again.

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It was then, when the biplane had come quite close to the earth, that he became aware of an exciting chase beneath. The cape of a woman first caught his eye. She was mounted on a horse, and was galloping away at breakneck speed from half-a-dozen Uhlans, who, with lances poised, were pursuing her. In a flash Pétri had manœuvred his machine over the horsemen. A lever was pulled, and the roar of an explosion right among the Uhlans told of the success of his aim. As he descended Pétri observed that one of the soldiers had managed to make good his escape. In all probability he had gone for reinforcements. There was no time to lose. The machine came to earth near the woman, who had dismounted.

"You have come to make me a prisoner?" she cried, in French. She was very beautiful, with dark curls of chestnut hair floating in the wind.

"I have come to take you," answered Pétri, touching his cap, "but not as a prisoner—as a passenger, if mam'selle will permit."

In horror she pointed to the observer, whose head hung loosely on his breast.

"Poor Fanchon has been shot," answered the lieutenant. Tearing away the straps that held the poor fellow securely in his seat, Pétri laid him reverently on a mound of grass by the roadside.

This was no occasion for ceremony. Very soon the girl's horse was cantering riderless along the road, and the engine was roaring again as the plane rose up towards the clouds.

When they had mounted some five hundred feet into the air the passenger pointed with almost fearful interest at another group proceeding along the road they had just quitted. The Uhlan was returning, with probably a score of companions. They promptly opened fire on the[322] machine, but by this time the biplane was out of their reach.

When Pétri regained the French lines it was found that the woman was the bearer of important despatches. There was no more to relate, for Horace tells us that romance ends with marriage, and Pétri was already a married man when our story opens.

XII—ROMANCE IN THE BRITISH NAVY

Some years ago Henry Lawe joined the Royal Navy as a carpenter's mate. While on the Australian Station he deserted, but was arrested, homeward bound, at Malta. Here, while waiting for a ship to return him to Australia, he made the acquaintance of a young woman, a lady's companion. A warm friendship quickly ensued, which developed into something more romantic, and before long there was an "understanding" between the pair. At this juncture, however, a light cruiser bound for the Antipodes put into the harbour, and the deserter Lawe was sent back to Sydney.

Life in His Majesty's ships on the Australian Station was quite uncongenial to him, so he deserted for the second time. He worked at his old trade in an assumed name, and prospered. Meanwhile letters were passing between himself and his lady of Malta. Before anything definite had been settled war broke out, and—a free pardon being granted to all deserters—Lawe joined the Australian Army Corps as a private in the 15th Battalion. In due course he reached the Dardanelles, where he was wounded in the knee. By a stroke of good luck the hospital ship on which he sailed for home, instead of putting her wounded ashore at Alexandria, steamed straight through the Mediterranean. Nearing Malta, wireless signals were picked up which instructed the vessel to land[323] her wounded on the island, as it was dangerous for ships to proceed up the English Channel on account of drifting mines.

Private Lawe was put ashore at Malta, and lost no time in endeavoring to get into communication with his fair correspondent. She had, however, left her situation, and to his grief he was unable to trace her whereabouts.

It happened a few days later that an admiral's daughter visited the hospital and, hearing part of Lawe's story, took an interest in him. Finding that the crutches he was using were hurting his arms, she purchased a specially comfortable pair for him at her own expense. These she sent to the hospital by her companion.

The sequel? Well, you have, no doubt, guessed it. The young lady's maid was Lawe's little maid, and so the lovers were united again.

XIII—THE TRAGEDY OF RANNOU COLBERT

Less fortunate is the sequel of Rannou Colbert's adventure. He was a bellringer at Quimper Cathedral before the war. Exempt from military service, he joined the Colonial Infantry, a corps of paid professional soldiers, entirely distinct from conscripts. Originally equivalent to our marines, these regiments no longer serve aboard ship, but garrison the overseas possessions of France. The company in which Colbert was serving fought by the side of our Ghurkas at the Dardanelles. There Private J. Threadgold, of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, made Colbert's acquaintance. Our men exchanged some of their bully-beef ration with the French against cigarettes, and Colbert understood enough English to act as interpreter in many small international bargains. Colbert's name is scratched on a silver match-box in Threadgold's possession.

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On the night that Threadgold was wounded an attack had been made on our trenches by the Turks. The enemy was beaten off. Early the next morning a party of the Turks crawled between our sentries in the Indian lines and slew two Ghurkas. Only one of the enemy was wounded, and he was taken prisoner. From him it was learnt that the attacking party was eighteen strong. That day the Ghurkas became tremendously excited. They sharpened their curved knives and talked closely together. They were plotting, and it was spread along the line from mouth to mouth that an adventure was afoot. That same evening after sunset exactly eighteen Ghurkas crept from the entrenchments, and they were joined by a man from the French regiment of Colonial Infantry, Rannou Colbert. The party wound their way through the scrub towards the Turkish trenches. They were gone an hour; then, chattering and gesticulating in intense joy, they all returned in safety except one man. They had killed eighteen Turks. The one man missing was Rannou Colbert, who had been taken prisoner.

No more was heard of Colbert until some months later, when a poignant little history appeared in the Matin. It is unknown whether Colbert escaped from the Turks, or whether he was an exchanged prisoner. During his imprisonment he was, for some reason, not allowed to write home, and as his name was not furnished by the Turkish authorities to the French he was posted as missing.

At Bordeaux, whence he arrived from Lemnos, he landed without money, and consequently could not telegraph to his wife. During the whole of the journey to Quimper, however, he relished keenly the thought of the pleasure he would see on her face when she saw him. Of his two children, too, he thought, anticipating gleefully the welcome they would give him. He sailed on a[325] coasting vessel, one of those that bring the red wine from Bordeaux to Brittany. Into the River Odet at last they came, and its banks became narrower and steeper until Quimper hove in sight, the twin towers of St. Corenten showing warm and venerable in the waning light. His home was in the Rue Kéréron, a mediæval street of old mansions. Trembling with excitement, Colbert lifted the latch. There was nobody in the passage, but from the kitchen he heard the merry laugh of a happy family circle. He recognized Babette's laugh—and another man's. Listening, he distinguished the latter as that of his friend, Maurice, a potter who turned lumps of clay into Quimper faience.

It is a sad little story, the rest of it. Her husband being given up as dead, Babette, with scarcely sufficient money to buy bread for her children, had married Maurice. Rannou did not chide her; in the circumstances he considered she had done the obvious thing. She was broken-hearted and so was he. That night he left for Concarneau. He saw that his wife and Maurice had sufficient money to live on; and he, a cripple, did not wish to burden her. He determined to earn what he could and live his own life.

He managed to secure a berth at Concarneau, where he had relations, and was employed on the quays, checking the giant mackerel unloaded from the tunny-boats. Some time later, hearing that Maurice had fallen out of work, Rannou sent to his old home as much as he could spare from his scanty earnings. Truly the ways of men are passing strange! One day, perhaps, Maurice will die; and Rannou will return to Quimper and to the Babette who loves him still.

FOOTNOTE:

[13] Australian slang for "chum."


[326]

THE IRISHMEN OF THE FIGHTING TENTH AT MACEDONIA

Told by One of the Fighting Irishmen

This is a spirited story of how the heroic Tenth (Irish) Division saved the situation for the Allies in retreat from Macedonia to Salonica. It is told for the first time by the London Weekly Despatch.

I—TALES OF THE IRISHMEN AND THE BULGARS

On December 3, which was a Friday, the British outposts brought in six Bulgar deserters who had much of interest to tell. They said that the Bulgars not only had suffered very heavily in their engagements with the Serbians but were losing men rapidly owing to sickness and frostbite.

What is more to the point, they warned the officers that a big attack against our line was impending, that it had been arranged to take place that day but that the severe snowstorm had caused them to put it off to another day which would not be long delayed.

March, 1916.

These opportune tidings which as events proved were thoroughly reliable, were communicated to headquarters and the necessary precautions for battle taken. The outposts were drawn in and finishing touches given to the trenches.

The night before the great Bulgar attack began one of the battalions held a pow-wow in their dug-outs, which they had covered in with a big tarpaulin that hid the smoke of a matchwood fire, lit for cheerfulness as much[327] as for warmth. There was little in their surroundings to make them happy, but their own lively spirits allowed them to triumph over their environment and the night passed pleasantly in song.

In that bleak corner of the Balkans thousands of miles from home Englishmen sang themselves happy with sentimental and topical ditties. If a program had been printed it would have run like this:

Song, "My Little Gray Home in the West."

Mouth organ solo, "Who Were You With Last Night?"

Song, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

Whistling solo, "Stop Your Tickling, Jock."

Interval for refreshments (tea, bully beef and biscuit sandwiches, jam sandwiches, etc.)

Song, "Yiddle on Your Fiddle."

Mouth organ solo, "Tipperary."

Song, "Are We All Here?"

Note.—Smoking allowed in all parts of the house.

Though the West Kents thus amused themselves and put many a shy comrade who refused to sing "in the oven," there was a feeling that danger was near. Instinct proved unerring.

The Tenth Division stood to all night, so that if the enemy came in the morning they would not find their hosts unprepared. In the first trenches were the Connaughts, the Munsters, the Dublin Fusiliers, the Hampshires and the Inniskillings, the latter to a large extent Ulster men holding the extreme right wing.

Dawn had scarcely broken when the enemy made his expected attack. The conditions wholly favored him, for a fairly dense fog prevailed, and under its cover the Bulgars were able to get within 300 yards of parts of our line without being observed. The Inniskillings were the first to be attacked; about 5 A. M. their outposts were[328] driven in and then a great mass of the enemy swooped down on the trenches, but were driven back by the fire of our Maxim guns and by the steady magazine fire that came from the trenches.

Scarcely had the attack on the extreme right of our line had time to develop when the main body of Bulgars were seen running down a defile leading to the center of our front. They were perceived as a long, interminable stretch of men—a mass of shadowy figures revealed half distinctly in the mist. As they reached the end of the defile they spread out as from a bottle neck, and with wild cheers flung themselves on our line. But before they had got so far our guns smashed and battered the thick procession of men leaping out of the narrow gorge. It was impossible to miss them. British artillery had never had such a target since the first battle of Ypres, when the guns literally mowed down the half-trained German troops who attacked on the Yser.

The slaughter of the guns was magnified by the slaughter of the rapid magazine fire at short range. Wave after wave of the enemy came on, each broken as it swept out of the defile, but the Bulgars were not to be denied. Though their comrades fell thick and fast they came on, and by sheer impetus of numbers reached our trenches, where awful work was wrought. It was hand to hand fighting then—terrible to witness, terrible to think of. The short bayonet of the Bulgar, however, was of little use in these trench combats, and man for man the British won, but the Bulgars had the numbers and temporarily the first line of the Twelfth Division was overborne. The British were driven out.

The British artillery had been doing splendid work, but by now the enemy artillery was in full blast, and they poured a devastating and withering hail of fire on our positions, which through faulty ranging put out of[329] action more of the Bulgars than it did of us. The Munsters and the Connaughts and the Dublins quickly rallied, and with a wonderful bayonet charge drove the enemy out of their trenches again. The enemy, massed in close formation, swarmed in once more, but against the deadly fire poured into them they could make no headway for some time. The brave Irish regiments were pouring lead into them as fast as they could load their rifles. They poured into the oncoming masses as much as 175 rounds at pointblank range. This will give an idea of the slaughter that went on this December morning, as the dawn slowly beat the mists away.

II—CRIES OF HALF-MADDENED BULGARS

Mingling with the roar of the artillery and the clitter-clatter of the machine guns and the sharp snap of the rifles were the hoarse cries of the half maddened Bulgars, whose officers ever drove them on to the death that came quick and hot from the British trenches. Men of splendid physique they were that faced our hail of lead, cheering in a sort of wild euthanasia of battle, with bugles and trumpets blowing defiant challenge as in the knightly days of the tourney. They did not know, many of them, whether they were attacking French, British or Turk, but unquestioning, unthinking, they came on with a fearlessness of life deserving of a better cause, leaping into our trenches and falling back dead with a bullet in the throat or a bayonet wound in the breast or with head blown off by one of our shells.

But it was, "for all our grim resistance," a hopeless kind of struggle. Sooner or later that unceasing stream of men issuing out of the narrow defile must sweep us back. Always the enemy returned to the charge, undeterred by heavy losses, undismayed by our deadly gun[330] and magazine fire. The line held, and to their cheers we answered with our own cheers, and to their cries we gave back answer with our own cries, and if sometimes the thin line faltered the shouts of officers and men, "Stick it, jolly boys! Give 'em hell, Connaughts!" brought new life and new strength.

In the end we gave the enemy his dearly bought line of trenches and slowly fell back to our second line of positions, where the remainder of the divison joined up and helped us to beat off the sustained attacks, which lacked naught in violence. All day the Bulgars alternately bombarded and charged us. There seemed to be thousands and thousands of them. They gave us no rest at night. Wherever we stood they rained an unceasing fusillade of shell upon us and followed each rafale up with a determined infantry attack.

Outnumbering the Tenth Division in the proportion of at least eight to one, they were obstinately bent on its destruction at whatever cost to themselves. Their artillery far exceeded ours in weight of metal, but in effectiveness there was no comparison. Almost all our shells told, while many of theirs did no more than splinter the rocks yards away. So Monday, December 6, was passed with the Tenth Division mightily pressed but still well able to hold its own. Tuesday the 7th was an exact replica of the previous day.

The Bulgars heavily bombarded our line; then sent forward strong storming parties before whom we recoiled a little, but no more. The division never lost its cohesion, and it gave ground only at the rate of two miles a day, which is a proof, if any were needed, of the splendid rearguard action that this much outnumbered force fought. Our artillery kept them in sufficient check to give us all the respite we needed, and the rifle fire of the different regiments bit gaping wounds in the enemy[331] mass that helped to throw them into temporary confusion.

Teodorow, the Bulgarian General, is a great believer in the German method of attack. He reckons no loss in men is too great if the objective be gained. The objective in this case was the decimation of the Tenth Division, and under his orders the Bulgars charged and charged until the snowdrifts over which the battle was fought were black with the recumbent forms of his men.

III—"WE OUTLIVED THE HORRORS OF SULVA"

We fought as at Mons. The arrowhead of the division consisting of two or three regiments, the Dublins, the Munsters and the Connaughts, took the shock of the enemy attacks, while the sides made good their retirement, then the arrowhead rapidly fell back and joined us with the main body, while other regiments received the shock in turn.

In the two days we drew four miles nearer to the Greek frontier. If we could continue to maintain this deliberate rate of retirement with our formations still intact we could hope for salvation, for we knew that re-enforcements were due.

The night of the 7th the Bulgars made a final attempt to smash our resistance. They redoubled the force of their bombardment; they increased still more the momentum of their infantry attacks. They came very near to achieving their purpose, and there were hours when one would have asked prayers for the Tenth Division, but British bulldog courage and obstinacy withstood all the fury of the enemy's onset, and our mountain artillery always found an easy target. By the 8th the force[332] of the Bulgar attacks had spent itself.... In the two days' battle the Tenth Division inflicted on the enemy at least four times their own number of casualties and, what is possibly of equal importance, they taught him the temper and morale of British infantry....

The Tenth Division outlived the horrors of Sulva; it outlived the days and nights of biting cold on the Serbian frontier ranges, and it finished the miracle, to quote the official phrase, by "sustaining violent attacks delivered by the enemy in overwhelming numbers." The slow, punishing, rearguard action it fought allowed the Allies to withdraw all their accumulated stores and munitions and to fall back without congestion into Greek territory again.

The Tenth Division saved the situation by a display of courage and dogged heroism that cannot be too highly praised. One of these days we shall be told what the general said to the thinned units when he met them again at Salonica....

You ask the most talkative of them to give you a picture of the oncoming Bulgar masses.

"A mad, swearing mob, they were," he says, "on us as thick as ants. I suppose they were swearing. Anyhow, we couldn't understand their lingo, and they didn't say much after we had let them have five rounds of rapid fire." You ask another what he said when the Bulgars stormed the trench. "Said?" is the reply, "said? I never said anything. I was too busy pumping hell into them to say anything. But my pal was shouting hard enough for me and him as well." Get men with that spirit and neither Bulgar nor German shall best them.

It is hard to explain how the Tenth Division, encompassed as it was, won through, and perhaps the most satisfactory thing to do is to fall back on the explanation of a Munster Fanger, whose only grumble is that he was[333] kept twelve hours in those terrible forty-eight hours' fighting without food.

"They beat us with numbers. We couldn't hope to hold up against the crowd they sent against us, a daft, clumsy gang of men. We gave 'em hell, but their numbers beat us. But two days wasn't much of a time to give theirselves to make us see we were beaten, and so we got away with them still coming after us. You'd got to be there to see what happened." It sounds very much like an anti-climax, but it is really what happened. The Tenth Division escaped because it hadn't time to know that by all the rules it was beaten.


[334]

THE ARTIFICIAL VOLCANO

An incident of the Italian Campaign in the Dolomites

Related by Capitano Z——, of the Royal Italian Engineers

No more spectacular feat has been accomplished in the present war than the taking of the Col di Lana, a great peak whose summit, towering above the Upper Cordevole Valley and commanding the main highway through the Dolomites, was for many months held by the Austrians. How the steel-clad crest of the Col was wrested from the enemy is here set forth in detail. The narrator's name is suppressed at his own request in his reminiscences in the Wide World Magazine.

I—STORY OF THE ROYAL ENGINEERS

It was Christmas Eve, 1915, and we officers of the Royal Italian Engineers were huddled together in a trench, doing our best, at that chilly elevation of some seven thousand eight hundred feet, to keep ourselves warm. Not a word had been spoken for fully a quarter of an hour. We were all intent, in the semi-darkness of our subterranean refuge, on the smoking of our pipes, turning over and over in our minds meanwhile the problem which had faced us for months past.

Entrusted with the task, amidst that wilderness of mountains known as the Dolomite Alps, of driving back the Austrians, we had been fighting our way forward week after week, month after month. You say that you have never done any climbing in the Dolomites? Then[335] you can have but a faint idea of how formidable our work was.

Imagine, since you have never been there, a seemingly endless succession of ranges and peaks which have assumed the most extraordinary and fantastic forms. The mountains are broken up into every imaginable shape. Here and there they rise at a bound in the form of slender peaks; elsewhere they assume the form of gigantic steps or pyramids or indented crests, sometimes like a saw, at others like a trident.

Through this land of towering, snow-clad summits, mighty gorges, rugged precipices, and apparently bottomless abysses, into which the unwary scout might at any moment find himself precipitated, we soldiers and engineers of the Italian army had steadily fought our way. No one, gazing on these summits held by our enemies, would ever have thought it possible to dislodge them. And yet, one by one, they fell into our hands—with the single exception of the Col di Lana, a supreme peak and pass in the Upper Cordevole Valley which, at the altitude I have named, commands the great highway through the Dolomites.

On this topmost peak the Austrians had found a last refuge. Daily—almost hourly, indeed—they sent down upon us an avalanche of boulders and hand-grenades. In spite of this we managed on one occasion to gain a foothold, but only for a short time. A withering fire from artillery and machine-guns, placed on the encircling heights, forced us back to the security of our own trenches, some fifty yards below; and there we had been, at the time my story opens, for many weeks, faced with the eternal problem—how to dislodge the enemy from the steel-clad crest of the mountain. Suddenly the meditative silence into which we had fallen was broken by Don Gelasio Caetani, a young engineer who is the son of the[336] Duca di Sermoneta and an English lady. Well known for his patriotism and professional ability, we knew that anything he might have to say would be well worth listening to, so at the sound of his voice we all looked up.

"Ho un idéa!" ("An idea occurs to me!") he said, slowly and impressively. "I was day-dreaming of my native Naples and Vesuvius," he added. "To a Neapolitan, Vesuvius is everything. He regards it as possessing almost a personality, endowed with life and thought. He watches it, year after year, as I have done, and notes the changes its form has undergone through successive eruptions. The thought of Vesuvius gave me my idea. What do you say, amici, if we try and convert the Col di Lana into an artificial volcano?"

Had Don Gelasio been other than what we knew he was—a man noted for extreme fertility of invention and resource—we might have been inclined to laugh at him. But we were all too well aware of his seriousness of mind to treat his idea as an idle fancy, and as one man we voiced a request for an explanation of the ways and means towards the proposed end.

Don Gelasio's pencil and notebook were out in a trice and, crowding round him, we were soon buried in the study of a sectional drawing of the Col di Lana, with the respective positions of the invading and invaded forces and the distance of one from the other accurately marked. Lines and figures and calculations, as he explained the scheme in detail, quickly covered the sides of the sketch, showing theoretically and mathematically, whatever practice might prove, that the scheme was feasible.

"It will be a long task," I ventured to remark, when he had come to the end of his explanations and seemed to be waiting for our observations; "but if it takes four months I'm your man. How long do you estimate this tunnelling will take?"

[337]

"Not far short of the time you've named. If we can do it quicker by putting a few extra men on to the job, all the better; but I calculate there are three thousand feet of solid rock to be bored before we can bring off our little surprise on the enemy. Well, my friend, then I take it the scheme is agreed upon? We will begin to-morrow—Christmas Day; 'the better the day the better the deed.'"

At an early hour on Christmas morning Don Gelasio Caetani and our corps of engineers, numbering in all twenty-five, set to work to imitate Nature—to make the long preliminary preparations for supplying the bowels of the earth under the Col di Lana with a power similar to the pent-up forces of an eruption.

II—PLANTING DEATH ON THE IRON-CRESTED PEAK

As soon as the bold and dangerous plan became known there was no lack of volunteers. We had no difficulty in forming a band of experienced miners, who worked in two shifts, never stopping day or night. A powerful perforator (drill) was got to work under most ingenious conditions—in deference to the higher military authorities I cannot be more precise—lest its strident voice should give away the secret of the fate which awaited the enemy forces on the iron-crested peak.

During the month of January we made excellent progress with our tunnel into the heart of the mountains, and were able to form some idea of how long we should be over the work. Roughly speaking, we found we were able to bore about seven hundred feet a month. During February we put on speed, and did considerably over that length—not bad work when you consider that each of our galleria was sufficiently big to allow two men to pass each other comfortably, and that we were working all the time[338] in bitter winter weather. But, in spite of our hardships, all went as merry as a marriage bell until we reached the early days of March. Up to then the Austrians had suspected nothing. They showed by what they said during the occasional truces, which were not uncommon between the rival trenches, that they considered themselves in perfect safety. We often heard ironical voices chanting such taunts as this:—

"Perhaps you may take Trento,
Perhaps you may take Trieste,
But the Col di Lana—never!"

And the chorus of arrogant, cock-sure Austrian soldiers would vociferate:—

"But the Col di Lana—never!"

When March came in, however, we discovered that the enemy were becoming suspicious. The steady burrowing noise of our drills and the thud of our pickaxes awoke them, as we drew nearer and nearer to their positions, to the reality of the situation. Soon we became aware that they had started excavating a counter-mine. Don Gelasio brought the news to the day-squad with words of encouragement:—

"Go ahead, boys!" he said. "Put on speed as much as you can. It's now a matter of a race for life."

We were now boring slightly upwards, to get as near as possible to the summit of the Col di Lana, and the turn matters had taken necessitated an earlier date for the eruption of our artificial volcano than we had contemplated. So, after we had been working with feverish haste for another three weeks, our chief held a council of war and announced that the fateful day was near.

"To-morrow or the day after we must place the explosive,"[339] he said. "We shall need ten tons of gelatine and dynamite. I'm having the extreme end of the galleria, which cannot be far away now from the enemy's positions, blocked with a shield of thick armoured steel, in order to turn the force of the explosion upward, and at the same time save the remaining portion of the main tunnel from destruction. I'm counting on that as an open pathway when the moment comes for rushing the enemy trenches—or all that will be left of them. Ah! in spite of all their tardy attempts to counter-mine us, they little suspect on what a volcano they are sitting!"

For the dangerous task of leading the way through the tunnel, directly after the explosion, forty of our bravest alpini came forward, being promised a fortnight's leave if the attempt succeeded.

At last everything was ready and the hour fixed—half-past eleven on a Tuesday night—for the firing of the mine. How the time hung on our hands all that afternoon and evening!

All the while we wondered what progress the enemy had made with his boring, asking ourselves whether we should forestall him or not. More anxious hours I never passed in my life.

What a relief it was when the hour struck for testing the efficiency of our work. I can still see Don Gelasio Caetani as he stood at the wheel of his little electric generator, ready to give the couple of turns which would set free the destructive spark. We surrounded him in his little dugout, waiting with bated breath, for the sound of the explosion.

III—"A HELLISH ROAR BURST FORTH"

At last Caetani spun the wheel. Heavens! what a din ensued! The mountain seemed to be shaken to its very[340] base. A hellish roar burst forth and rolled like thunder over the vast wastes of the Dolomites, and a terrific blast of air smote upon us even in our shelter.

Out we rushed, to find that the gallant forty, marshalled at the entrance to the main gallery, had been struck full in the face by a mighty ice-cold blast, due to the displacement of air, and that for a few moments they were held up by a series of after-explosions, caused by the ignition of the mines which the hapless Austrians had prepared.

One of the men, describing the explosion to me the next day, said:—

"A huge tongue of flame, followed by a mighty column of smoke, shot into the air, blowing the entire top of the mountain into the sky. Ah! capitano, it resembled nothing so much as the eruption of a volcano; and if it is true, as I am told, that Don Gelasio spoke of imitating Vesuvius, he could not have chosen a happier image or succeeded better."

But let me tell you the sequel.

At length the men were able to bound forward in the darkness towards the enemy trenches. Just at that moment the moon suddenly beamed forth behind the clouds, revealing the shattered summit of the Col, heaps of mutilated bodies, and groups of dumfounded, trembling survivors, with arms upraised in token of surrender. All this time our artillery was raining a shower of shells on the mountain saddle between the Col di Lana and Monte Sief, with the double object of preventing the flight of the enemy and their reinforcement. But they were all glad to give in, being thoroughly unnerved and dazed, and well aware of the fact that both telegraphic and telephonic communication with their main forces had been completely destroyed by the explosion.

It seems that at the fateful hour they happened to have an extra force on the Col, a company sent specially from[341] Sief to relieve the soldiery in the trenches; hence the large number of victims. Considerably over two hundred must have been blown to atoms or killed by falling débris.

But we had no time that night to bother about the dead and wounded. Our whole attention was directed towards the prisoners, a first batch of whom, including four officers, was soon being taken down the mountain by ten of our brave volunteers. A second batch of five officers and a hundred and ten men followed soon afterwards. In addition we took possession of a shattered mountain gun, cleverly mounted in a cavern and half-a-dozen equally useless mitrailleuses. Five others, with two hundred rifles, were intact. Stores of food sufficient to have lasted the entire garrison for another month completed our booty.

So ended the affair of the Col di Lana, which will ever be linked in the Italian annals of the war with the name of Don Gelasio Caetani, to whom is due a good deal of the credit of the great advance which, immediately afterwards, we made along the main highway through the Dolomites.


[342]

LAST HOURS OF EDITH CAVELL ON NIGHT OF EXECUTION

Experience of American Diplomat in Effort to Save Life of English Nurse

Told by Hugh Gibson, Secretary of American Legation at Brussels

This is the official story of the events on the midnight just before the execution of Edith Cavell, the English nurse, who became the first woman martyr of the Great War. Hugh Gibson here relates how, with the Spanish Minister and a Belgian counsellor, he went to the house of the German Governor at Brussels late at night and pleaded with Baron von der Lancken and the German officers for a stay of execution. The American Minister, Brand Whitlock, too ill to make the journey himself, waited at the American Embassy for the results of the mission. The story is told in the official report to Minister Whitlock, which was forwarded to the British Government. The narrative given herewith is from Mr. Gibson's statement in the World's Work, with introductory reports from other sources.

[14]I—STORY OF THE EXECUTION OF EDITH CAVELL

Edith Cavell was an English nurse, daughter of the late Rev. Frederick Cavell, former Vicar of Swardeston, Norfolk. The charge against her was aiding Belgians to escape to England. It is stated she hid them in her house and provided them with money and addresses in England and helped to smuggle them across the frontier.

Miss Cavell was confined in prison ten weeks. Her trial before the military court of Brussels lasted two days. M. De Leval, Belgian Counsellor for the American Legation, tells this story:

"Herr Kirschon assured me repeatedly that the Military[343] Court always was perfectly fair and that he would keep me informed of all developments in the case, but he failed to give me any information and after the trial I learned from other sources the following:

"Miss Cavell was prosecuted for having helped English and French soldiers, as well as Belgian young men, to cross the frontier and go to England. She admitted by signing a statement before the day of the trial and by public acknowledgment in court that she was guilty of the charges, not only that she had helped these soldiers to cross the frontier, but also that some of them had thanked her in writing when arriving in England.

"This last admission made her case more serious, because if it had only been proved she had helped soldiers to traverse the Dutch frontier and no proof was produced that those soldiers had reached a country at war with Germany, she could have only been sentenced for an attempt to commit the crime, and not for the crime being duly accomplished.

"Miss Cavell, in her oral statement before the court, disclosed almost all the facts of the prosecution. She spoke without trembling and showed a clear mind, and often added some greater precision to her previous depositions.

"When she was asked why she helped these soldiers to go to England she replied that she thought if she had not done so they would have been shot by the Germans. Therefore she thought she only did her duty to her country in saving their lives.

"The military prosecutor said the argument might be good for English soldiers, but that it did not apply to Belgian young men, who would have been perfectly free to remain in the country without danger to their lives. The German military court found her guilty and sentenced her to death by shooting."

[344]

The execution took place at 2 o'clock in the morning (October 12, 1915) immediately after the American and Spanish diplomats left the house of the German Governor, who refused their appeals.

The execution ground was a garden or yard in Brussels surrounded by a wall. A German firing party of six men and an officer was drawn up in the garden and awaited its victim. She was led in by soldiers from a house near-by, blindfolded with a black scarf. Up to this minute the woman, though deadly white, had stepped out bravely to meet her fate, but before the rifle party her strength at last gave out and she tottered and fell to the ground thirty yards or more from the spot where she was to have been shot.

The officer in charge of the execution walked to her. She lay prone on the ground, motionless. The officer then drew a large service revolver from his belt, took steady aim from his knee and shot the woman through the head as she lay on the floor (this version is denied by the German authorities). The firing party looked on. The officer quietly returned his revolver to its case and ordered the soldiers to carry the body to the house, where charge was taken of it by a Belgian woman, acting under the instructions of the Spanish Minister, who had undertaken the responsibility for the body pending arrangements for the burial.


M. De Leval, a Belgian counsellor, makes this statement of Edith Cavell's last message:

"This morning Mr. Gahan, an English clergyman, told me that he had seen Miss Cavell in her cell yesterday night at 10 o'clock and that he had given her the Holy Communion and had found her admirably strong and calm. I asked Mr. Gahan whether she had made any[345] remarks about anything concerning the legal side of her case, and whether the confession she made before trial and in court was in his opinion perfectly free and sincere. Mr. Gahan said she told him she was perfectly well and knew what she had done; that, according to the law, of course she was guilty, and admitted her guilt, but that she was happy to die for her country."[14]

II—STORY OF HUGH GIBSON, AMERICAN DIPLOMAT

When we got to the Political Department we found that Baron von der Lancken and all the members of his staff had gone out to spend the evening at one of the disreputable little theatres that have sprung up here for the entertainment of the Germans. At first we were unable to find where he had gone, as the orderly on duty evidently had orders not to tell, but by dint of some blustering and impressing on him the fact that Lancken would have cause to regret not having seen us, he agreed to have him notified. We put the orderly into the motor and sent him off. The Marquis de Villalobar De Leval and I settled down to wait, and we waited long, for Lancken, evidently knowing the purpose of our visit, declined to budge until the end of an act that seemed to appeal to him.

He came in about 10:30, followed shortly by Count Harrach and Baron von Falkenhausen, members of his staff. I briefly explained to him the situation as we understood it, and presented the note from the minister transmitting the appeal for clemency. Lancken read the note aloud in our presence, showing no feeling aside from cynical annoyance at something—probably our having discovered the intentions of the German authorities.

[346]

When he had finished reading the note Lancken said that he knew nothing of the case, but was sure in any event that no sentence would be executed so soon as we had said. He manifested some surprise, not to say annoyance, that we should give credence to any report in regard to the case which did not come from his department, that being the only official channel. Leval and I insisted, however, that we had reason to believe our reports were correct and urged him to make inquiries. He then tried to find out the exact source of our information, and became insistent. I did not propose, however, to enlighten him on this point, and said that I did not feel at liberty to divulge our source of information.

Lancken then became persuasive—said that it was most improbable that any sentence had been pronounced; that even if it had, it could not be put into effect within so short a time, and that in any event all government offices were closed and that it was impossible for him to take any action before morning. He suggested that we all go home "reasonably," sleep quietly, and come back in the morning to talk about the case. It was very clear that if the facts were as we believed them to be the next morning would be too late, and we pressed for immediate inquiry. I had to be rather insistent on this point, and De Leval, in his anxiety, became so emphatic that I feared he might bring down the wrath of the Germans on his own head, and tried to quiet him. There was something splendid about the way De Leval, a Belgian, with nothing to gain and everything to lose, stood up for what he believed to be right and chivalrous, regardless of consequences to himself.

Finally, Lancken agreed to inquire as to the facts, telephoned from his office to the presiding judge of the court-martial,[347] and returned in a short time to say that sentence had indeed been passed and that Miss Cavell was to be shot during the night.

We then presented with all the earnestness at our command the plea for clemency. We pointed out to Lancken that Miss Cavell's offences were a matter of the past; that she had been in prison for some weeks, thus effectually ending her power for harm; that there was nothing to be gained by shooting her, and, on the contrary, this would do Germany much more harm than good and England much more good than harm. We pointed out to him that the whole case was a very bad one from Germany's point of view; that the sentence of death had heretofore been imposed only for cases of espionage, and that Miss Cavell was not even accused by the German authorities of anything so serious. At the time there was no intimation that Miss Cavell was guilty of espionage. It was only when public opinion had been aroused by her execution that the German government began to refer to her as "the spy Cavell." According to the German statement of the case, there is no possible ground for calling her a spy. We reminded him that Miss Cavell, as directress of a large nursing home, had, since the beginning of the war, cared for large numbers of German soldiers in a way that should make her life sacred to them. I further called his attention to the manifest failure of the Political Department to comply with its repeated promises to keep us informed as to the progress of the trial and the passing of the sentence. The deliberate policy of subterfuge and prevarication by which they had sought to deceive us as to the progress of the case was so raw as to require little comment. We all pointed out to Lancken the horror of shooting a woman, no matter what her offence, and endeavored to impress upon him the frightful effect that such an execution[348] would have throughout the civilized world. With a sneer he replied that, on the contrary, he was confident that the effect would be excellent.

When everything else had failed we asked Lancken to look at the case from the point of view solely of German interests, assuring him that the execution of Miss Cavell would do Germany infinite harm. We reminded him of the burning of Louvain and the sinking of the Lusitania, and told him that this murder would rank with those two affairs and would stir all civilized countries with horror and disgust. Count Harrach broke in at this with the rather irrelevant remark that he would rather see Miss Cavell shot than have harm come to the humblest German soldier, and his only regret was that they had not "three or four old English women to shoot."

The Spanish Minister and I tried to prevail upon Lancken to call Great Headquarters, at Charleville, on the telephone and have the case laid before the Emperor for his decision. Lancken stiffened perceptibly at this suggestion and refused, frankly—saying that he could not do anything of the sort. Turning to Villalobar, he said, "I can't do that sort of thing. I am not a friend of my sovereign as you are of yours," to which a rejoinder was made that in order to be a good friend one must be loyal and ready to incur displeasure in case of need. However, our arguments along this line came to the point of saying that the military governor of Brussels was the supreme authority (Gerichtsherr) in matters of this sort, and that even the Governor General had no power to intervene. After further argument he agreed to get General von Sauberschweig, the military governor, out of bed to learn whether he had already ratified the sentence and whether there was any chance for clemency.

Lancken was gone about half an hour, during which time the three of us labored with Harrach and Falkenhausen,[349] without, I am sorry to say, the slightest success. When Lancken returned he reported that the military governor had acted in this case only after mature deliberation; that the circumstances of Miss Cavell's offence were of such a character that he considered infliction of the death penalty imperative. Lancken further explained that under the provisions of German military law the Gerichtsherr had discretionary power to accept or to refuse to accept an appeal for clemency; that in this case the Governor regretted that he must decline to accept the appeal for clemency or any representations in regard to the matter.

We then brought up again the question of having the Emperor called on the telephone, but Lancken replied very definitely that the matter had gone too far; that the sentence had been ratified by the military governor, and that when matters had gone that far "even the Emperor himself could not intervene." (Although accepted at the time as true, this statement was later found to be entirely false and is understood to have displeased the Emperor. The Emperor could have stopped the execution at any moment.)

Despite Lancken's very positive statements as to the futility of our errand, we continued to appeal to every sentiment to secure delay and time for reconsideration of the case. The Spanish Minister led Lancken aside and said some things to him that he would have hesitated to say in the presence of Harrach, Falkenhausen and De Leval, a Belgian subject. Lancken squirmed and blustered by turns, but stuck to his refusal. In the meantime, I went after Harrach and Falkenhausen again. This time, throwing modesty to the winds, I reminded them of some of the things we had done for German interests at the outbreak of the war; how we had repatriated thousands of German subjects and cared for their[350] interests; how during the siege of Antwerp I had repeatedly crossed the lines during actual fighting at the request of Field Marshal von der Goltz to look after German interests; how all this service had been rendered gladly and without thought of reward; that since the beginning of the war we had never asked a favor of the German authorities, and it seemed incredible that they should now decline to grant us even a day's delay to discuss the case of a poor woman who was, by her imprisonment, prevented from doing further harm, and whose execution in the middle of the night at the conclusion of a course of trickery and deception was nothing short of an affront to civilization. Even when I was ready to abandon all hope, De Leval was unable to believe that the German authorities would persist in their decision, and appealed most touchingly and feelingly to the sense of pity for which we looked in vain.

Our efforts were perfectly useless, however, as the three men with whom we had to deal were so completely callous and indifferent that they were in no way moved by anything that we could say.

We did not stop until after midnight, when it was only too clear that there was no hope.

It was a bitter business leaving the place feeling that we had failed and that the little woman was to be led out before a firing squad within a few hours. But it was worse to go back to the legation to the little group of English women who were waiting in my office to learn the result of our visit. They had been there for nearly four hours while Mrs. Whitlock and Miss Larner sat with them and tried to sustain them through the hours of waiting. There were Mrs. Gahan, wife of the English chaplain; Miss B. and several nurses from Miss Cavell's school. One was a little wisp of a thing who had been mothered by Miss Cavell, and was nearly beside herself[351] with grief. There was no way of breaking the news to them gently, for they could read the answer in our faces when we came in. All we could do was to give them each a stiff drink of sherry and send them home. De Leval was white as death, and I took him back to his house. I had a splitting headache myself and could not face the idea of going to bed. I went home and read for awhile, but that was no good, so I went out and walked the streets, much to the annoyance of German patrols. I rang the bells of several houses in a desperate desire to talk to somebody, but could not find a soul—only sleepy and disgruntled servants. It was a night I should not like to go through again, but it wore through somehow, and I braced up with a cold bath and went to the legation for the day's work.

The day brought forth another loathsome fact in connection with the case. It seems the sentence on Miss Cavell was not pronounced in open court. Her executioners, apparently in the hope of concealing their intentions from us, went into her cell, and there, behind locked door, pronounced sentence upon her. It's all of a piece with the other things they have done.

On October 11 Mr. Gahan got a pass and was admitted to see Miss Cavell shortly before she was taken out and shot. He said she was calm and prepared, and faced the ordeal without a tremor. She was a tiny thing that looked as though she could be blown away with a breath, but she had a great spirit. She told Mr. Gahan that soldiers had come to her and asked her to be helped to the frontier; that, knowing the risks they ran and the risks she took, she had helped them. She said she had nothing to regret, no complaint to make, and that if she had it all to do over again she would change nothing.

They partook together of the Holy Communion, and she who had so little need of preparation was prepared[352] for death. She was free from resentment and said: "I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward any one."

She was taken out and shot before daybreak.

She was denied the support of her own clergyman at the end, but a German military chaplain stayed with her and gave her burial within the precincts of the prison. He did not conceal his admiration, and said: "She was courageous to the end. She professed her Christian faith and said that she was glad to die for her country. She died like a heroine."

FOOTNOTE:

[14] This is the report as given in England—it is not Mr. Gibson's statement.


[353]

A BAYONET CHARGE IN PICARDY

Told by a British Army Captain

A racy bit of battle description, hot from the guns, as spoken by a wounded Captain who led one of the first rushes against the German trenches in the great British drive in 1916. Recorded in Current History.

I—HOW OUR ENGLISH COUSIN TELLS ABOUT THE BATTLE

Eh? Oh, just an ordinary front-line trench, you know; rather chipped about, of course, by the Boche heavies, you know; but—oh, hang it, you know what the ordinary fire trench looks like; along the north side of the Mametz Wood we were. What? Oh, yes, we were packed pretty close, of course, while we were waiting; only got there a little before midnight. My chaps were all in splendid heart, and keen as mustard to get the word "Go!" I was lucky; met my friend ——, almost directly we got in.

The weather was jolly then; but there'd been a lot of rain, and the trench was in a beastly state. You know what it's like, after a lot of strafing, when you get heavy rains on the churned-up ground. It was like porridge with syrup over it; and we were all absolutely plastered—hair and mustaches and everything—before we'd been half an hour in the place. The Boche was crumping us pretty heavy all the time, but it didn't really matter, because, for some reason, he didn't seem to have got our range just right, and nearly all his big stuff was landing in front or behind, and giving us very little but the mud of it.

[354]

What did worry me a bit was his machine guns. His snipers, too, seemed fairly on the spot, though how the devil they could be, with our artillery as busy as it was, I can't think. But I know several of my sentries were laid out by rifle bullets. I particularly wanted to let the others get a smoke when they could, seeing we'd be there three or four hours; helps to keep 'em steady in the waiting, you know; but we had to be mighty careful about matches, the Boche being no more than a hundred yards off.

Just before 3 I got my position, right in the middle of my company. We were going over at 3:25, you know. The trench was deep there, with a hell of a lot of mud and water; but there was no set parapet left; just a gradual slope of muck, as though cartloads of it had been dropped from the sky by giants—spilt porridge. I wanted to be first out, if I could—good effect on the men, you know—but I couldn't trust myself in all that muck, so I'd collared a rum-case from ——'s dugout, and was nursing the blooming thing, so that when the time came I could plant it in the mud and get a bit of a spring from that. Glad I did, too.

I passed the word along at a quarter past to be ready for my whistle; but it was all you could do to make a fellow hear by shouting in his ear. Our heavies were giving it lip then, I can tell you. I was in a devil of a stew lest some of my chaps should get over too soon. They kept wriggling up and forward in the mud. They were frightfully keen to get moving. I gathered from my Sergeant their one fear was that if we couldn't get going our artillery would have left no strafing for us to do. Little they knew their Boche, if they thought that.

I thought I could just make out our artillery lift, about a minute and a half before the twenty-five, but I wouldn't[355] swear to it. On the stroke of the twenty-five I got a good jump from my rum-box, and fell head first into a little pool—whizz-bang hole, I suppose; something small. It loosened two of my front teeth pretty much. I'd my whistle in my teeth, you see. But I blew like blazes directly I got my head up. Never made a sound. Whistle full of mud. But it didn't matter a bit. They all saw me take my dive, and a lot were in front of me when I got going. But I overhauled 'em, and got in front.

II—"DOWN 'EM, BOYS—STICK 'EM"

I believe we must have got nearly fifty yards without a casualty. But it's hard to say. It wasn't light, you know; just a glimmering kind of grayness. Not easy to spot casualties. The row, of course, was deafening, and we were running like lamplighters. You remember our practice stunts at home? Short rushes, and taking cover in folds of the ground. "Remember your file of direction, Sir; dressin' by the right," and all that. Oh, the boys remembered it right enough. But, good Lord, it wasn't much like Salisbury Plain, you know. We were going hell for leather. You think you're going strong, and—Woosh! You've got your face deep in porridge. Fallen in a shell hole. You trip over some blame thing, and you turn a complete somersault, and you're on again, wondering where your second wind is. Lord, you haven't a notion whether you're hit or not.

I felt that smack on my left wrist, along with a dozen other smacks of one sort and another, but I didn't know it was a wound for an hour or more. All you thought about was trying to keep your rifle muzzle up, and I guess the fellows behind must've thought a bit about not stickin' us with their bayonets more'n they could[356] help. I was shouting ——, the local name of the regiment, you know. The boys like it. But my Sergeant, who was close to me, was just yelling, "Down 'em, boys!" and "Stick 'em! Stick 'em!" for all he was worth.

My lot were bound for the second line, you see. My No. 12 Platoon, with thirteen of "D," were to look after cleaning up the Boche first line.

There was no real parapet left in that Boche front line. Their trench was just a sort of gash, a ragged crack in the porridge. Where I was, there was quite a bit of their wire left; but, do you know, one didn't feel it a bit. You can judge a bit from my rags what it was like. We went at it like fellows in a race charge the tape; and it didn't hurt us any more. Only thing that worried us was the porridge and the holes. Your feet sinking down make you feel you're crawling; making no headway. I wish I could have seen a bit better. It was all a muddy blur to me. But I made out a line of faces in the Boche ditch; and I know I gave a devil of a yell as we jumped for those faces. Lost my rifle there.

'Fraid I didn't stick my man, really, because my bayonet struck solid earth. I just smashed my fellow. We went down into the muck together, and another chap trod on my neck for a moment. Makes you think quick, I tell you. I pulled that chap down on top of my other Boche, and just took one good look to make sure he was a Boche; and then I gave him two rounds from my revolver, with the barrel in his face. I think I killed the under one too, but can't be sure.

III—"I GOT MY KNOCK-OUT"

Next thing I knew we were scrambling on to the second line. It was in the wire of the second line that I[357] got my knockout; this shoulder and some splinters in my head. Yes; bomb. I was out of business, then; but as the light grew I could see my chaps having the time of their lives inside that second line. One of 'em hauled me in after a bit, and I got a drink of beer in a big Boche dugout down two separate flights of steps. My hat! That beer was good, though it was German. But, look here, I'm in No. 5 train, that that chap's calling. I must get ashore. Just want to tell you about that dugout of ——'s in our own line, you know. It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and we'd got the Bazentin Wood all right then, when my orderly, who never got a scratch, was helping me back, making for our dressing station. We crawled into what had been a trench, and while we were taking a breather I sort of looked around, and made out a bit here and a bend there. Begad, it was the trench we started from.

Seems nothing, but you've no idea how odd it was to me; like dropping into a bit of England after about a century and a half in—in some special kind of hell, you know. Seemed so devilish odd that any mortal thing should be the same anywhere after that day. Not that it was the same, really. My rum case was in splinters, sticking up out of the porridge, and I found my map case there, torn off my belt as we got over at 3:25. "Won't be much left of that dugout," I thought, and I got my orderly to help me along to see. Couldn't find the blessed thing, anyhow. Went backward and forward three or four times. Then I spotted the head of a long trench stick that —— had carried, sticking out through soft earth at the back of the trench. The orderly worked that stick about a little, and the earth fell away. It was just loose, dry stuff blown in off the front part of the roof of the dugout, and blocking the little entrance. Came away at a touch, almost, and there was[358] the little hole you got in by. I worried through, somehow. I was really curious to see. If you'll believe me, the inside of that dugout—it looked like a drawing room to me, after the outside, you know—it was just exactly the same as when we'd left it the night before. There was the fine stove we made the café-au-lait on, with a half-empty box of matches balanced on the side of it, and the last empty tin of the coffee stuff we'd used, with the broken-handled spoon standing up in it, just as I'd left it; and ——'s notebook lying open and face down on an air pillow in his bunk—most extraordinarily homey. There I was looking at his notebook, and his hold-all, and poor —— dead. Yes, I'd seen his body. And the rats, too; the rats were cavorting around on the felt of the roof, happy as sandboys. They didn't know anything about the Push, I suppose. By the way, we found only dead rats in the Boche trenches. They say it was our gas. I don't know; but there were thousands of dead rats there, and millions of live fleas. Very live they were. I must get. Cheero.


[359]

THE SLAUGHTER AT DOUAUMONT

Told by a French Soldier

Despite the horror of it, despite the ceaseless flow of blood, one wants to see. One's soul wants to feed on the sight of the brute Boches falling. I stopped on the ground for hours, and when I closed my eyes I saw the whole picture again. The guns are firing at 200 and 300 yards, and shrapnel is exploding with a crash, scything them down. Our men hold their ground; our machine guns keep to their work, and yet they advance.

Near me, as I lie in the mud, there is a giant wrapped in one of our uniforms with a steel helmet on his head. He seems to be dead, he is so absolutely still. At a given moment the Boches are quite close to us. Despite the noise of the guns one can hear their oaths and their shouts as they strike. Then the giant next to me jumps up, and with a voice like a stentor shouts "Hier da! Hier da!" Mechanically some of us get up. (My wound, which had been dressed, left me free and I had forgotten.) I was unarmed and so I struck him with my steel helmet and he dropped, with his head broken. An officer who was passing sees the incident and takes off the man's coat. Below is a German uniform. Where had the spy come from and how had he got there?

But the Boches are returning again massed to the assault, and they are being killed in bulk. It makes one think that in declaring the war the Kaiser had sworn the destruction of his race, and he would have shown good taste in doing so. Their gunfire is slackening now, and ours redoubles. The fort has gone, and if under its ruins[360] there are left a few guns and gunners the bulk of the guns are firing from outside. The machine guns are coming up and getting in position, and our men are moving on in numerous waves. I find a rifle belonging to a comrade who has fallen and join the Chasseurs with the fifty cartridges that I have left. What a fight it is, and what troops! From time to time a man falls, rises, shoots, runs, shoots again, keeps on firing, fights with his bayonet, and then, worn out, falls, to be tramped on without raising a cry. The storm of fire continues. Everything is on fire—the wood near by, the village of Douaumont, Verdun, the front of Bezonvaux, and the back of Thiaumont. There is fire everywhere. The acrid smell of carbonic acid and blood catches at our throats, but the battle goes on.

They are brave, but one of our men is worth two of theirs, especially in hand-to-hand fighting. They bend and fall back, and the sound of the song they sing to order, "Heil dir im Siegerkranz," only reaches us in hiccoughs. Our reinforcements continue to arrive. We are the masters. Our officers, with wonderful coolness, control the ardor of the troops. The infantry action is over. By its tirs de barrage the artillery is holding that of the enemy, and we keep awaiting the fresh order for action in silence.


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