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Title: Out To Win - The Story of America in France
Author: Dawson, Coningsby, 1883-1959
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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OUT TO WIN

THE STORY OF AMERICA IN FRANCE

BY

CONINGSBY DAWSON

AUTHOR OF "THE GLORY OF THE TRENCHES," "CARRY ON: LETTERS IN WARTIME,"
ETC.


NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD
MCMXVIII


Copyright, 1918, BY JOHN LANE COMPANY

Press of J.J. Little & Ives Company New York, U.S.A.



TO

MY AMERICAN FRIENDS AND BROTHERS-IN-ARMS THIS FRANK APPRECIATION OF
THEIR EFFORT IN FRANCE IS DEDICATED



CONTENTS

                           PAGE

  A PREFACE FOR FOOLS ONLY   9

  "WE'VE GOT FOUR YEARS"    29

  WAR AS A JOB              61

  THE WAR OF COMPASSION    109

  THE LAST WAR             196



A PREFACE FOR FOOLS ONLY


I am not writing this preface for the conscious fool, but for his
self-deceived brother who considers himself a very wise person. My
hope is that some persons may recognise themselves and be provided
with food for thought. They will usually be people who have
contributed little to this war, except mean views and endless talk.
Had they shared the sacrifice of it, they would have developed within
themselves the faculty for a wider generosity. The extraordinary thing
about generosity is its eagerness to recognise itself in others.

You find these untravelled critics and mischief-makers on both sides
of the Atlantic. In most cases they have no definite desire to work
harm, but they have inherited cantankerous prejudices which date back
to the American Revolution, and they lack the vision to perceive that
this war, despite its horror and tragedy, is the God-given chance of
centuries to re-unite the great Anglo-Saxon races of the world in
a truer bond of kindness and kinship. If we miss this chance we are
flinging in God's face His splendid recompense for our common heroism.

It is an unfortunate fact that the merely foolish person constitutes
as grave a danger as the deliberate plotter. His words, if they are
acid enough, are quoted and re-quoted. They pass from mouth to mouth,
gaining in authority. By the time they reach the friendly country
at which they are directed, they have taken on the appearance of an
opinion representative of a nation. The Hun is well aware of the value
of gossip for the encouraging of divided counsels among his enemies.
He invents a slander, pins it to some racial grievance, confides it
to the fools among the Allies and leaves them to do the rest. Some
of them wander about in a merely private capacity, nagging without
knowledge, depositing poison, breeding doubts as to integrity, and
all the while pretending to maintain a mildly impartial and judicial
mental attitude. Their souls never rise from the ground. Their
brains are gangrenous with memories of cancelled malice. They suspect
hero-worship; it smacks to them of sentiment. They examine, but
never praise. Being incapable of sacrifice, they find something
meretriciously melodramatic about men and nations who are capable. Had
they lived nineteen hundred years ago, they would have haunted Calvary
to discover fraud.

Then, there are others, by far more dangerous. These make their
appearance daily in the morning press, thrusting their pessimisms
across our breakfast tables, beleaguering our faith with ill-natured
judgements and querulous warnings. One of our London Dailies, for
instance, specializes in annoying America; it works as effectively to
breed distrust as if its policy were dictated from Berlin.

I have just returned from a prolonged tour of America's activities in
France. Wherever I went I heard nothing but unstinted appreciation
of Great Britain's surpassing gallantry: "We never knew that you
Britishers were what you are; you never told us. We had to come over
here to find out." When that had been said I always waited, for I
guessed the qualifying statement that would follow: "There's only
one thing that makes us mad. Why the devil does your censor allow the
P---- to sneer at us every morning? Your army doesn't feel that way
towards us; at least, if it ever did, it doesn't now. Are there really
people in England who--?"

At this point I would cut my questioner short: "There are men so
short-sighted in every country that, to warm their hands, they would
burn the crown of thorns. You have them in America. Such men are not
representative."

The purpose of this book is to tell what America has done, is doing,
and, on the strength of her splendid and accomplished facts, to plead
for a closer friendship between my two countries. As an Englishman who
has lived in the States for ten years and is serving with the
Canadian Forces, I feel that I have a sympathetic understanding of
the affections and aloofnesses of both nations; as a member of both
families I claim the domestic right of indulging in a little plain
speaking to each in turn.

In my appeal I leave the fighting men out of the question. Death is
a universal teacher of charity. At the end of the war the men who
survive will acknowledge no kinship save the kinship of courage. To
have answered the call of duty and to have played the man, will make
a closer bond than having been born of the same mother. At a New York
theatre last October I met some French officers who had fought on the
right of the Canadian Corps frontage at the Somme. We got to talking,
commenced remembering, missed the entire performance and parted as old
friends. In France I stayed with an American-Irish Division. They were
for the most part American citizens in the second generation: few of
them had been to Ireland. As frequently happens, they were more Irish
than the Irish. They had learned from their parents the abuses which
had driven them to emigrate, but had no knowledge of the reciprocal
provocations which had caused the abuses. Consequently, when they
sailed on their troop-ships for France they were anti-British almost
to a man--many of them were theoretically Sinn Feiners. They were
coming to fight for France and for Lafayette, who had helped to lick
Britain--but not for the British. By the time I met them they were
marvellously changed. They were going into the line almost any day
and--this was what had worked the change--they had been trained for
their ordeal by British N.C.O.'s and officers. They had swamped their
hatred and inherited bitterness in admiration. Their highest hope
was that they might do as well as the British. "They're men if you
like," they said. In the imminence of death, their feeling for these
old-timers, who had faced death so often, amounted to hero-worship. It
was good to hear them deriding the caricature of the typical Briton,
which had served in their mental galleries as an exact likeness for
so many years. It was proof to me that men who have endured the same
hell in a common cause will be nearer in spirit, when the war is
ended, than they are to their own civilian populations. For in all
belligerent countries there are two armies fighting--the military
and the civilian; either can let the other down. If the civilian army
loses its _morale_, its vision, its unselfishness, and allows itself
to be out-bluffed by the civilian army of Germany, it as surely
betrays its soldiers as if it joined forces with the Hun. We execute
soldiers for cowardice; it's a pity that the same law does not govern
the civilian army. There would be a rapid revision in the tone of
more than one English and American newspaper. A soldier is shot
for cowardice because his example is contagious. What can be more
contagious than a panic statement or a doubt daily reiterated? Already
there are many of us who have a kindlier feeling and certainly
more respect for a Boche who fights gamely, than for a Britisher
or American who bickers and sulks in comfort. Only one doubt as
to ultimate victory ever assails the Western Front: that it may be
attacked in the rear by the premature peace negotiations of the
civil populations it defends. Should that ever happen, the Western
Front would cease to be a mixture of French, Americans, Canadians,
Australians, British and Belgians; it would become a nation by itself,
pledged to fight on till the ideals for which it set out to fight are
definitely established.

We get rather tired of reading speeches in which civilians presume
that the making of peace is in their hands. The making may be, but the
acceptance is in ours. I do not mean that we love war for war's sake.
We love it rather less than the civilian does. When an honourable
peace has been confirmed, there will be no stauncher pacifist than
the soldier; but we reserve our pacifism till the war is won. We
shall be the last people in Europe to get war-weary. We started with
a vision--the achieving of justice; we shall not grow weary till that
vision has become a reality. When one has faced up to an ultimate
self-denial, giving becomes a habit. One becomes eager to be allowed
to give all--to keep none of life's small change. The fury of an
ideal enfevers us. We become fanatical to outdo our own best record
in self-surrender. Many of us, if we are alive when peace is declared,
will feel an uneasy reproach that perhaps we did not give enough.

This being the spirit of our soldiers, it is easy to understand their
contempt for those civilians who go on strike, prate of weariness,
scream their terror when a few Hun planes sail over London, devote
columns in their papers to pin-prick tragedies of food-shortage, and
cloud the growing generosity between England and America by cavilling
criticisms and mean reflections. Their contempt is not that of the
fighter for the man of peace; but the scorn of the man who is doing
his duty for the shirker.

A Tommy is reading a paper in a muddy trench. Suddenly he scowls,
laughs rather fiercely and calls to his pal, jerking his head as a
sign to him to hurry. "'Ere Bill, listen to wot this 'ere cry-baby
says. 'E thinks we're losin' the bloomin' war 'cause 'e didn't get an
egg for breakfast. Losin' the war! A lot 'e knows abart it. A blinkin'
lot 'e's done either to win or lose it. Yus, I don't think! Thank
Gawd, we've none of 'is sort up front."

To men who have gazed for months with the eyes of visionaries on
sudden death, it comes as a shock to discover that back there, where
life is so sweetly certain, fear still strides unabashed. They had
thought that fear was dead--stifled by heroism. They had believed that
personal littleness had given way before the magnanimity of martyrdom.

In this plea, then, for a firmer Anglo-American friendship I address
the civilian populations of both countries. The fate of such a
friendship is in their hands. In the Eden of national destinies God
is walking; yet there are those who bray their ancient grievances so
loudly that they all but drown the sound of His footsteps.

Being an Englishman it will be more courteous to commence with the
fools of my own flesh and blood. Let me paint a contrast.

Last October I sailed back from New York with a company of American
officers; they consisted in the main of trained airmen, Navy experts
and engineers. Before my departure the extraordinary sternness of
America, her keenness to rival her allies in self-denial, her willing
mobilisation of all her resources, had confirmed my optimism gained in
the trenches, that the Allies must win; the mere thought of compromise
was impossible and blasphemous. This optimism was enhanced on the
voyage by the conduct of the officers who were my companions. They
carried their spirit of dedication to an excess that was almost
irksome. They refused to play cards. They were determined not
to relax. Every minute they could snatch was spent in studying
text-books. Their country had come into the war so late that they
resented any moment lost from making themselves proficient. When
expostulated with they explained themselves by saying, "When we've
done our bit it will be time to amuse ourselves." They were dull
company, but, in a time of war, inspiring. All their talk was of when
they reached England. Their enthusiasm for the Britisher was such
that they expected to be swept into a rarer atmosphere by the closer
contact with heroism.

We had an Englishman with us--obviously a consumptive. He typified for
them the doggedness of British pluck. He had been through the entire
song and dance of the Mexican Revolution; a dozen times he had been
lined up against a wall to be shot. From Mexico he had escaped to New
York, hoping to be accepted by the British military authorities. Not
unnaturally he had been rejected. The purpose of his voyage to the Old
Country was to try his luck with the Navy. He held his certificate as
a highly qualified marine engineer. No one could persuade him that
he was not wanted. "I could last six months," he said, "it would be
something. Heaps of chaps don't last as long."

This man, a crock in every sense, hurrying back to help his country,
symbolised for every American aboard the unconquerable courage of
Great Britain. If you hadn't the full measure of years to give, give
what was left, even though it were but six months. I may add that
in England his services were accepted. His persistence refused to be
disregarded. When red-tape stopped his progress, he used back-stairs
strategy. No one could bar him from his chance of serving.

In believing that he represented the Empire at its best, my Americans
were not mistaken. There are thousands fighting to-day who share his
example. One is an ex-champion sculler of Oxford; even in those days
he was blind as a bat. His subsequent performance is consistent with
his record; we always knew that he had guts. At the start of the war,
he tried to enlist and was turned down on the score of eyesight. He
tried four times with no better result. The fifth time he presented
himself he was fool-proof; he had learnt the eyesight tests by heart.
He went out a year ago as a "one pip artist"--a second lieutenant.
Within ten months he had become a captain and was acting
lieutenant-colonel of his battalion, all the other officers having
been killed or wounded. At Cambrai he did such gallant work that he
was personally congratulated by the general of his division. These
American officers had heard such stories; they regarded England with a
kind of worship. As men who hoped to be brave but were untested, they
found something mystic and well-nigh incredible in such utter courage.
The consumptive racing across the Atlantic that he might do something
for England before death took him, made this spirit real to them.

We travelled to London as a party and there for a time we held
together. The night before several set out for France, we had a
farewell gathering. The consumptive, who had just obtained his
commission, was in particularly high feather; he brought with him a
friend, a civilian official in the Foreign Office. Please picture the
group: all men who had come from distant parts of the world to do one
job; men in the army, navy, and flying service; every one in uniform
except the stranger.

Talk developed along the line of our absolute certainty as to complete
and final victory. The civilian stranger commenced to raise his voice
in dissent. We disputed his statements. He then set to work to run
through the entire argument of pessimism: America was too far away to
be effective; Russia was collapsing; France was exhausted; England had
reached the zenith of her endeavour; Italy was not united in purpose.
On every front he saw a black cloud rising and took a dyspeptic's
delight in describing it as a little blacker than he saw it. There was
an apostolic zeal about the man's dreary earnestness. He spoke with
that air of authority which is not uncommon with civilian Government
officials. The Americans stared rather than listened; this was not
the mystic and utter courage which they had expected to find well-nigh
incredible. Their own passion far out-topped it.

The argument reached a sudden climax. There were wounded officers
present. One of them said, "You wouldn't speak that way if you had the
foggiest conception of the kind of chaps we have in the trenches."

"It makes no difference what kind they are," the pessimist replied
intolerantly. "I'm asking you to face facts. Because you've succeeded
in an attack, you soldiers seem to think that the war is ended. You
base your arguments all the time on your little local knowledge of
your own particular front."

The discussion ceased abruptly. Every one sprang up. Voices strove
together in advising this "facer of facts" to get into khaki and
to go to where he could obtain precisely the same kind of little
local knowledge--perhaps, a few wounds as well. His presence was
dishonourable--contaminating. We filed out and left him sitting humped
in a chair, looking puzzled and pathetic, murmuring, "But I thought I
was among friends."

My last clear-cut recollection is of a chubby young American
Naval Airman standing over him, with clenched fists, passionately
instructing him in the spiritual geography of America. That's one
type of fool; the type who specialises in catastrophe; the type who in
eternally facing up to facts, takes no account of that magic quality,
courage, which can make one man more terrible than an army; the type
who is so profoundly well-informed, about externals, that he ignores
the mightiness of soul that can remould externals to spiritual
purposes. Were I a German, the spectacle of that solitary consumptive
leaving the climate which meant life to him and hastening home to give
just six months of service to his country, would be more menacing than
the loss of an entire corps frontage.

And there's the type who can't forget; he suffers from a fundamental
lack of generosity. The Englishman of this type can't refrain from
quoting such phrases as, "Too proud to fight," whenever opportunity
offers. His American counterpart insists that he is not fighting for
Great Britain, but for the French. He makes himself offensive by
silly talk about sister republics, implying that all other forms of
Government are essentially tyrannic. He never loses an opportunity
to mention Lafayette, assuming that one French man is worth ten
Britishers. A very gross falsehood is frequently on the lips of this
sort of man; he doesn't know where he picked it up and has never
troubled to test its accuracy. I can tell him where it originated; at
Berlin in the bureau for Hun propaganda. Every time he utters it he is
helping the enemy. This falsehood is to the effect that Great Britain
has conserved her man-power; that in the early days she let Frenchmen
do the fighting and that now she is marking time till Americans are
ready to die in her stead. This statement is so stupendously untrue
that it goes unheeded by those who know the empty homes of England or
have witnessed the gallantry of our piled-up dead.

Then there's the jealous fool--the fool who in England will see no
reason why this book should have been published. His line of argument
will be, "We've been in this war for more than three years. We've done
everything that America is doing; because she's new to the game, we're
doing it much better. We don't want any one to appreciate us, so why
go praising her?" Precisely. Why be decent? Why seek out affections?
Why be polite or kindly? Why not be automatons? I suppose the answer
is, "Because we happen to be men, and are privileged temporarily to be
playing in the rôle of heroes. The heroic spirit rather educates one
to hold out the hand of friendship to new arrivals of the same sort."

There is one type of fool, exclusively American, whose stupidity
arises from love and tenderness. Very often she is a woman. She
has been responsible for the arrival in France of a number of
narrow-minded and well-intentioned persons; their errand is to
investigate vice-conditions in the U.S. Army. This suspicion of the
women at home concerning the conduct of their men in the field, is
directly traceable to reports of the debasing influences of war set in
circulation by the anti-militarists. I want to say emphatically that
cleaner, more earnest, better protected troops than those from the
United States are not to be found in Europe. Both in Great Britain and
on the Continent their puritanism has created a deep impression. By
their idealism they have made their power felt; they are men with a
vision in their eyes, who have travelled three thousand miles to keep
a rendezvous with death. That those for whom they are prepared to die
should suspect them is a degrading disloyalty. That trackers should
be sent after them from home to pick up clues to their unworthiness
is sheerly damnable. To disparage the heroism of other nations is
bad enough; to distrust the heroes of your own flesh and blood,
attributing to them lower than civilian moral standards, is to be
guilty of the meanest treachery and ingratitude.

Here, then, are some of the sample fools to whom this preface is
addressed. The list could be indefinitely lengthened. "The fool hath
said in his heart, 'There is no God'." He says it in many ways and
takes a long while in saying it; but the denying of God is usually the
beginning and the end of his conversation. He denies the vision of
God in his fellow-men and fellow-nations, even when the spikes of the
cross are visibly tearing wounds in their feet and hands.

Life has swung back to a primitive decision since the war commenced.
The decision is the same for both men and nations. They can choose the
world or achieve their own souls. They can cast mercenary lots for
the raiment of a crucified righteousness or take up their martyrdom
as disciples. Those men and nations who have been disciples together
can scarcely fail to remain friends when the tragedy is ended. What
the fool says in his heart at this present is not of any lasting
importance. There will always be those who mock, offering vinegar in
the hour of agony and taunting, "If thou be what thou sayest...." But
in the comradeship of the twilit walk to Emmaus neither the fool nor
the mocker are remembered.



OUT TO WIN



I

"WE'VE GOT FOUR YEARS"


The American Troops have set words to one of their bugle calls. These
words are indicative of their spirit--of the calculated determination
with which they have faced up to their adventure: an adventure
unparalleled for magnitude in the history of their nation.

They fall in in two ranks. They tell off from the right in fours.
"Move to the right in fours. Quick March," comes the order. The
bugles strike up. The men swing into column formation, heads erect
and picking up the step. To the song of the bugles they chant words as
they march. "We've got four years to do this job. We've got four years
to do this job."

That is the spirit of America. Her soldiers give her four years, but
to judge from the scale of her preparations she might be planning for
thirty.

America is out to win. I write this opening sentence in Paris where I
am temporarily absent from my battery, that I may record the story of
America's efforts in France. My purpose is to prove with facts that
America is in the war to her last dollar, her last man, and for just
as long as Germany remains unrepentant. Her strength is unexpended,
her spirit is un-war-weary. She has a greater efficient man-power
for her population than any nation that has yet entered the arena
of hostilities. Her resources are continental rather than national;
it is as though a new and undivided Europe had sprung to arms in
moral horror against Germany. She has this to add fierceness to her
soul--the reproach that she came in too late. That reproach is being
wiped out rapidly by the scarlet of self-imposed sacrifice. She did
come in late--for that very reason she will be the last of Germany's
adversaries to withdraw.

She did not want to come in at all. Many of her hundred million
population emigrated to her shores out of hatred of militarism and to
escape from just such a hell as is now raging in Europe. At first it
seemed a far cry from Flanders to San Francisco. Philanthropy could
stretch that far, but not the risking of human lives. Moreover, the
American nation is not racially a unit; it is bound together by
its ideal quest for peaceful and democratic institutions. It was a
difficult task for any government to convince so remote a people that
their destiny was being made molten in the furnace of the Western
Front; when once that truth was fully apprehended the diverse souls
of America leapt up as one soul and declared for war. In so doing the
people of the United States forewent the freedom from fear that they
had gained by their journey across the Atlantic; they turned back in
their tracks to smite again with renewed strength and redoubled hate
the old brutal Fee-Fo-Fum of despotism, from whose clutches they
thought they had escaped.

America's is the case of The Terrible Meek; for two and a half years
she lulled Germany and astonished the Allies by her abnormal patience.
The most terrifying warriors of history have been peace-loving nations
hounded into hostility by outraged ideals. Certainly no nation was
ever more peace-loving than the American. To the boy of the Middle
West the fury of kings must have read like a fairy-tale. The appeal to
armed force was a method of compelling righteousness which his entire
training had taught him to view with contempt as obsolete. Yet never
has any nation mobilised its resources more efficiently, on so titanic
a scale, in so brief a space of time to re-establish justice with
armed force. The outraged ideal which achieved this miracle was the
denial by the Hun of the right of every man to personal liberty and
happiness.

Few people guessed that America would fling her weight so utterly into
the winning of the Allied cause. Those who knew her best thought it
scarcely possible. Germany, who believed she knew her, thought it
least of all. German statesmen argued that America had too much to
lose by such a decision--too little to gain; the task of transporting
men and materials across three thousand miles of ocean seemed
insuperable; the differing traditions of her population would make it
impossible for her to concentrate her will in so unusual a direction.
Basing their arguments on a knowledge of the deep-seated selfishness
of human nature, Hun statesmen were of the fixed opinion that no
amount of insult would compel America to take up the sword.

Two and a half years before, those same statesmen made the same
mistake with regard to Great Britain and her Dominions. The British
were a race of shop-keepers; no matter how chivalrous the call,
nothing would persuade them to jeopardise their money-bags. If they
did for once leap across their counters to become Sir Galahads, then
the Dominions would seize that opportunity to secure their own base
safety and to fling the Mother Country out of doors. The British gave
these students of selfishness a surprise from which their military
machine has never recovered, when the "Old Contemptibles" held up the
advance of the Hun legions and won for Europe a breathing-space. The
Dominions gave them a second lesson in magnanimity when Canada's lads
built a wall with their bodies to block the drive at Ypres. America
refuted them for the third time, when she proved her love of
world-liberty greater than her affection for the dollar, bugling
across the Atlantic her shrill challenge to mailed bestiality. Germany
has made the grave mistake of estimating human nature at its lowest
worth as she sees it reflected in her own face. In every case, in
her judgment of the two great Anglo-Saxon races, she has been at
fault through over-emphasising their capacity for baseness and
under-estimating their capacity to respond to an ideal. It was an
ideal that led the Pilgrim Fathers westward; after more than two
hundred years it is an ideal which pilots their sons home again,
racing through danger zones in their steel-built greyhounds that they
may lay down their lives in France.

In view of the monumental stupidity of her diplomacy Germany has found
it necessary to invent explanations. The form these have taken as
regards America has been the attributing of fresh low motives. Her
object at first was to prove to the world at large how very little
difference America's participation in hostilities would make. When
America tacitly negatived this theory by the energy with which she
raised billions and mobilised her industries, Hun propagandists, by
an ingenious casuistry, spread abroad the opinion that these mighty
preparations were a colossal bluff which would redound to Germany's
advantage. They said that President Wilson had bided his time so that
his country might strut as a belligerent for only the last six months,
and so obtain a voice in the peace negotiations. He did not intend
that America should fight, and was only getting his armies ready that
they might enforce peace when the Allies were exhausted and already
counting on Americans manning their trenches. Inasmuch as his country
would neither have sacrificed nor died, he would be willing to give
Germany better terms; therefore America's apparent joining of the
Allies was a camouflage which would turn out an advantage to Germany.
This lie, with variations, has spread beyond the Rhine and gained
currency in certain of the neutral nations.

Four days after President Wilson's declaration of war the Canadians
captured Vimy Ridge. As the Hun prisoners came running like scared
rabbits through the shell-fire, we used to question them as to
conditions on their side of the line. Almost the first question that
was asked was, "What do you think about the United States?" By far the
most frequent reply was, "We have submarines; the United States will
make no difference." The answer was so often in the same formula that
it was evident the men had been schooled in the opinion. It was only
the rare man of education who said, "It is bad--very bad; the worst
mistake we have made."

We, in the front-line, were very far from appreciating America's
decision at its full value. For a year we had had the upper-hand of
the Hun. To use the language of the trenches, we knew that we could go
across No Man's Land and "beat him up" any time we liked. To tell the
truth, many of us felt a little jealous that when, after two years of
punishment, we had at last become top-dog, we should be called upon
to share the glory of victory with soldiers of the eleventh hour. We
believed that we were entirely capable of finishing the job without
further aid. My own feeling, as an Englishman living in New York, was
merely one of relief--that now, when war was ended, I should be able
to return to friends of whom I need not be ashamed. To what extent
America's earnestness has changed that sentiment is shown by the
expressed desire of every Canadian, that if Americans are anywhere on
the Western Front, they ought to be next to us in the line. "They are
of our blood," we say; "they will carry on our record." Only those
who have had the honour to serve with the Canadian Corps and know its
dogged adhesion to heroic traditions, can estimate the value of this
compliment.

I should say that in the eyes of the combatant, after President
Wilson, Mr. Ford has done more than any other one man to interpret the
spirit of his nation; our altered attitude towards him typifies our
altered attitude towards America. Mr. Ford, the impassioned pacifist,
sailing to Europe in his ark of peace, staggered our amazement.
Mr. Ford, still the impassioned pacifist, whose aeroplane engines
will help to bomb the Hun's conscience into wakefulness, staggers
our amazement but commands our admiration. We do not attempt to
understand or reconcile his two extremes of conduct, but as fighters
we appreciate the courage of soul that made him "about turn" to
search for his ideal in a painful direction when the old friendly
direction had failed. Here again it is significant that both with
regard to individuals and nations, Germany's sternest foes are
war-haters--war-haters to such an extent that their principles at
times have almost shipwrecked their careers. In England our example is
Lloyd George. Throughout the Anglo-Saxon world the slumbering spirit
of Cromwell's Ironsides has sprung to life, reminding the British
Empire and the United States of their common ancestry. After a hundred
and forty years of drifting apart, we stand side by side like our
forefathers, the fighting pacifists at Naseby; like them, having
failed to make men good with words, we will hew them into virtue with
the sword.

At the end of June I went back to Blighty wounded. One of my most
vivid recollections of the time that followed is an early morning
in July; it must have been among the first of the days that I was
allowed out of hospital. London was green and leafy. The tracks of
the tramways shone like silver in the sunlight. There was a spirit of
release and immense good humour abroad. My course followed the river
on the south side, all a-dance with wind and little waves. As I
crossed the bridge at Westminster I became aware of an atmosphere
of expectation. Subconsciously I must have been noticing it for some
time. Along Whitehall the pavements were lined with people, craning
their necks, joking and jostling, each trying to better his place.
Trafalgar Square was jammed with a dense mass of humanity, through
which mounted police pushed their way solemnly, like beadles in a vast
unroofed cathedral. Then for the first time I noticed what I ought
to have noticed long before, that the Stars and Stripes were
exceptionally prevalent. Upon inquiry I was informed that this was the
day on which the first of the American troops were to march. I picked
up with a young officer or the Dublin Fusiliers and together we
forced our way down Pall Mall to the office of The Cecil Rhodes Oxford
Scholars' Foundation. From here we could watch the line of march from
Trafalgar Square to Marlborough House. While we waited, I scanned the
group-photographs on the walls, some of which contained portraits of
German Rhodes Scholars with whom I had been acquainted. I remembered
how they had always spent their vacations in England, assiduously
bicycling to the most unexpected places. In the light of later
developments I thought I knew the reason.

Suddenly, far away bands struck up. We thronged the windows, leaning
out that we might miss nothing. Through the half mile of people
that stretched between us and the music a shudder of excitement was
running. Then came cheers--the deep-throated babel of men's voices and
the shrill staccato of women's. "They're coming," some one cried; then
I saw them.

I forget which regiment lead. The Coldstreams were there, the Scotch
and Welsh Guards, the Irish Guards with their saffron kilts and green
ribbons floating from their bag-pipes. A British regimental band
marched ahead of each American regiment to do it honour. Down the
sunlit canyon of Pall Mall they swung to the tremendous cheering
of the crowd. Quite respectable citizens had climbed lamp-posts and
railings, and were waving their hats. I caught the words that were
being shouted, "Are we downhearted?" Then, in a fierce roar of denial,
"No!" It was a wonderful ovation--far more wonderful than might have
been expected from a people who had grown accustomed to the sight of
troops during the last three years. The genuineness of the welcome
was patent; it was the voice of England that was thundering along the
pavements.

I was anxious to see the quality of the men which America had sent.
They drew near; then I saw them plainly. They were fine strapping
chaps, broad of shoulder and proudly independent. They were not
soldiers yet; they were civilians who had been rushed into khaki.
Their equipment was of every kind and sort and spoke eloquently of the
hurry in which they had been brought together. That meant much to us
in London-much more than if they had paraded with all the "spit and
polish" of the crack troops who led them. It meant to us that America
was doing her bit at the earliest date possible.

The other day, here in France, I met an officer of one of those
battalions; he told me the Americans' side of the story. They were
expert railroad troops, picked out of civilian life and packed off
to England without any pretence at military training. When they
were informed that they were to be the leading feature in a London
procession, many of them even lacked uniforms. With true American
democracy of spirit, the officers stripped their rank-badges from
their spare tunics and lent them to the privates, who otherwise could
not have marched.

"I'm satisfied," my friend said, "that there were Londoners so doggone
hoarse that night that they couldn't so much as whisper."

What impressed the men most of all was the King's friendly greeting of
them at Buckingham Palace. There were few of them who had ever seen
a king before. "Friendly--that's the word! From the King downwards
they were all so friendly. It was more like a family party than a
procession; and on the return journey, when we marched at ease, old
ladies broke up our formations to kiss us. Nice and grandmotherly of
them we thought."

This, as I say, I learnt later in France; at the time I only knew
that the advance-guard of millions was marching. As I watched them
my eyes grew misty. Troops who have already fought no longer stir
me; they have exchanged their dreams of glory for the reality of
sacrifice--they know to what they may look forward. But untried troops
have yet to be disillusioned; dreams of the pomp of war are still in
their eyes. They have not yet owned that they are merely going out to
die obscurely.

That day made history. It was then that England first vividly realised
that America was actually standing shoulder to shoulder at her side.
In making history it obliterated almost a century and a half of
misunderstanding. I believe I am correct in saying that the last
foreign troops to march through London were the Hessians, who fought
against America in the Revolution, and that never before had foreign
volunteers marched through England save as conquerors.

On my recovery I was sent home on sick leave and spent a month in New
York. No one who has not been there since America joined the Allies
can at all realise the change that has taken place. It is a change
of soul, which no statistics of armaments can photograph. America
has come into the war not only with her factories, her billions
and her man-power, but with her heart shining in her eyes. All her
spread-eagleism is gone. All her aggressive industrial ruthlessness
has vanished. With these has been lost her youthful contempt for older
civilisations, whom she was apt to regard as decaying because they
sent her emigrants. She has exchanged her prejudices for admiration
and her grievances for kindness. Her "Hats off" attitude to France,
England, Belgium and to every nation that has shed blood for the cause
which now is hers, was a thing which I had scarcely expected; it was
amazing. As an example of how this attitude is being interpreted
into action, school-histories throughout the United States are being
re-written, so that American children of the future may be trained in
friendship for Great Britain, whereas formerly stress was laid on the
hostilities of the eighteenth century which produced the separation.
As a further example, many American boys, who for various reasons were
not accepted by the military authorities in their own country, have
gone up to Canada to join.

One such case is typical. Directly it became evident that America was
going into the war, one boy, with whom I am acquainted, made up his
mind to be prepared to join. He persuaded his father to allow him
to go to a Flying School to train as a pilot. Having obtained his
certificate, he presented himself for enlistment and was turned down
on the ground that he was lacking in a sense of equipoise. Being too
young for any other branch of the service, he persuaded his family to
allow him to try his luck in Canada. Somehow, by hook or by crook, he
had to get into the war. The Royal Flying Corps accepted him with the
proviso that he must take out his British naturalisation papers.
This changing of nationality was a most bitter pill for his family to
swallow. The boy had done his best to be a soldier; he was the eldest
son, and there they would willingly have had the matter rest. Moreover
they could compel the matter to rest there, for, being under age, he
could not change his nationality without his father's consent. It was
his last desperate argument that turned the decision in his favour,
"If it's a choice between my honour and my country, I choose my honour
every time." So now he's a Britisher, learning "spit and polish" and
expecting to bring down a Hun almost any day.

One noticed in almost the smallest details how deeply America had
committed her conscience to her new undertaking. While in England
we grumble about a food-control which is absolutely necessary to our
preservation, America is voluntarily restricting herself not for her
own sake, but for the sake of the Allies. They say that they are
being "Hooverized," thus coining a new word out of Mr. Hoover's name.
Sometimes these Hooverish practices produce contrasts which are rather
quaint. I went to stay with a friend who had just completed as his
home an exact reproduction of a palace in Florence. Whoever went
short, there was little that he could not afford. At our meals I
noticed that I was the only person who was served with butter and
sugar, and enquired why. "It's all right for you," I was told; "you're
a soldier; but if we eat butter and sugar, some of the Allies who
really need them will have to go short." A small illustration, but one
that is typical of a national, sacrificial, underlying thought.

Later I met with many instances of the various forms in which this
thought is taking shape. I was in America when the Liberty War Loan
was so amazingly over-subscribed. I saw buses, their roofs crowded
with bands and orators, doing the tour of street-corners. Every store
of any size, every railroad, every bank and financial corporation had
set for its employés and customers the ideal sum which it considered
that they personally ought to subscribe. This ideal sum was recorded
on the face of a clock, hung outside the building. As the gross
amount actually collected increased, the hands were seen to revolve.
Everything that eloquence and ingenuity could devise was done to
gather funds for the war. Big advertisers made a gift of their
newspaper space to the nation. There were certain public-spirited men
who took up blocks of war-bonds, making the request that no interest
should be paid. You went to a theatre; during the interval actors and
actresses sold war-certificates, harangued the audience and set the
example by their own purchases.

When the Liberty War Loan had been raised, the Red Cross started its
great national drive, apportioning the necessary grand total among all
the cities from sea-board to sea-board, according to their wealth and
population.

One heard endless stories of the variety of efforts being made.
America had committed her heart to the Allies with an abandon which it
is difficult to describe. Young society girls, who had been brought
up in luxury and protected from ugliness all their lives, were banding
themselves into units, supplying the money, hiring the experts, and
coming over themselves to France to look after refugees' babies.
Others were planning to do reconstruction work in the devastated
districts immediately behind the battle-line. I met a number of these
enthusiasts before they sailed; I have since seen them at work in
France. What struck me at the time was their rose-leaf frailness and
utter unsuitability for the task. I could guess the romantic visions
which tinted their souls to the colour of sacrifice; I also knew
what refugees and devastated districts look like. I feared that the
discrepancy between the dream and the reality would doom them to
disillusion.

During the month that I was in America I visited several of the camps.
The first draft army had been called. The first call gave the country
seven million men from which to select. I was surprised to find that
in many camps, before military training could commence, schools in
English had to be started to ensure the men's proper understanding of
commands. This threw a new light on the difficulties Mr. Wilson had
had to face in coming into the war.

The men of the draft army represent as many nationalities, dialects
and race-prejudices as there are in Europe. They are a Europe
expatriated. During their residence in America a great many of them
have lived in communities where their own language is spoken, and
their own customs are maintained. Frequently they have their own
newspapers, which foster their national exclusiveness, and reflect the
hatreds and affections of the country from which they emigrated. These
conditions set up a barrier between them and current American opinion
which it was difficult for the authorities at Washington to cross. The
people who represented neutral European nations naturally were anxious
for the neutrality of America. The people who represented the Central
Powers naturally were against America siding with the Allies. The only
way of re-directing their sympathies was by means of education and
propaganda; this took time, especially when they were separated from
the truth by the stumbling block of language. For three years they
had to be persuaded that they were no longer Poles, Swedes, Germans,
Finns, Norwegians, but first and last Americans. I mention this here,
in connection with the teaching of the draft army English, because it
affords one of the most vivid and comprehensible reasons for America's
long delay.

What brought America into the war? I have often been asked the
question; in answering it I always feel that I am giving only a
partial answer. On the one hand there is the record of her two and a
half years of procrastination, on the other the titanic upspringing
of her warrior-spirit, which happened almost in a day. How can one
reconcile the multitudinous pacific notes which issued from Washington
with the bugle-song to which the American boys march: "We've got four
years to do this job." The cleavage between the two attitudes is too
sharp for the comprehension of other nations.

The first answer which I shall give is entirely sane and will be
accepted by the rankest cynic. America came into the war at the moment
she realised that her own national life was endangered. Her leaders
realised this months before her masses could be persuaded. The
political machinery of the United States is such that no Government
would dare to commence hostilities unless it was assured that its
decision was the decision of the entire nation. That the Government
might have this assurance, Mr. Wilson had to maintain peace long after
the intellect of America had declared for war, while he educated
the cosmopolitan citizenship of his country into a knowledge of Hun
designs. The result was that he created the appearance of having been
pushed into hostilities by the weight of public opinion.

For many months the Secret Service agents of the States, aided by the
agents of other nations, were unravelling German plots and collecting
data of treachery so irrefutable that it had to be accepted. When all
was ready the first chapters of the story were divulged. They were
divulged almost in the form of a serial novel, so that the man who
read his paper to-day and said, "No doubt that isolated item is true,
but it doesn't incriminate the entire German nation," next day on
opening his paper, found further proof and was forced to retreat to
more ingenious excuses. One day he was informed of Germany's abuse of
neutral embassies and mail-bags; the next of the submarine bases in
Mexico, prepared as a threat against American shipping; the day after
that the whole infamous story of how Berlin had financed the Mexican
Revolution. Germany's efforts to provoke an American-Japanese war
leaked out, her attempts to spread disloyalty among German-Americans,
her conspiracies for setting fire to factories and powder-plants,
including the blowing up of bridges and the Welland Canal. Quietly,
circumstantially, without rancour, the details were published of
the criminal spider-web woven by the Dernburgs, Bernstorffs and Von
Papens, accredited creatures of the Kaiser, who with Machiavellian
smiles had professed friendship for those whom their hands itched to
slay and strangle. Gradually the camouflage of bovine geniality was
lifted from the face of Germany and the dripping fangs of the Blonde
Beast were displayed--the Minotaur countenance of one glutted
with human flesh, weary with rape and rapine, but still tragically
insatiable and lusting for the new sensation of hounding America to
destruction.

I have not placed these revelations in their proper sequence; some
were made after war had been declared. They had the effect of changing
every decent American into a self-appointed detective. The weight
of evidence put Germany's perfidy beyond dispute; clues to new and
endless chains of machinations were discovered daily. The Hun had come
as a guest into America's house with only one intent--to do murder as
soon as the lights were out.

The anger which these disclosures produced knew no bounds. Hun
apologists--the type of men who invariably believe that there is a
good deal to be said on both sides--quickly faded into patriots. There
had been those who had cried out for America's intervention from the
first day that Belgium's neutrality had been violated. Many of these,
losing patience, had either enlisted in Canada or were already in
France on some errand of mercy. Their cry had reached Washington at
first only as a whisper, very faint and distant. Little by little that
cry had swelled, till it became the nation's voice, angry, insistent,
not to be disregarded. The most convinced humanitarian, together with
the sincerest admirer of the old-fashioned kindly Hans, had to join in
that cry or brand himself a traitor by his silence.

America came into the war, as every country came, because her life was
threatened. She is not fighting for France, Great Britain, Belgium,
Serbia; she is fighting to save herself. I am glad to make this
point because I have heard camouflaged Pro-Germans and thoughtless
mischief-makers discriminating between the Allies. "We are not
fighting for Great Britain," they say, "but for plucky France." When I
was in New York last October a firm stand was being made against these
discriminators; some of them even found themselves in the hands of the
Secret Service men. The feeling was growing that not to be Pro-British
was not to be Pro-Ally, and that not to be Pro-Ally was to be
anti-American. This talk of fighting for somebody else is all lofty
twaddle. America is fighting for America. While the statement is
perfectly true, Americans have a right to resent it.

In September, 1914, I crossed to Holland and was immensely disgusted
at the interpretation of Great Britain's action which I found current
there. I had supposed that Holland would be full of admiration; I
found that she was nothing of the sort. We Britishers, in those early
days, believed that we were magnanimous big brothers who could have
kept out of the bloodshed, but preferred to die rather than see the
smaller nations bullied. Men certainly did not join Kitchener's mob
because they believed that England's life was threatened. I don't
believe that any strong emotion of patriotism animated Canada in her
early efforts. The individual Briton donned the khaki because he was
determined to see fair play, and was damned if he would stand by a
spectator while women and children were being butchered in Belgium.
He felt that he had to do something to stop it. If he didn't, the same
thing would happen in Holland, then in Denmark, then in Norway. There
was no end to it. When a mad dog starts running the best thing to do
is to shoot it.

But the Hollanders didn't agree with me at all. "You're fighting for
yourselves," they said. "You're not fighting to save us from being
invaded; you're not fighting to prevent the Hun from conquering
France; you're not fighting to liberate Belgium. You're fighting
because you know that if you let France be crushed, it will be your
turn next."

Quite true--and absolutely unjust. The Hollander, whose households
we were guarding, chose to interpret our motive at its most ignoble
worth. Our men were receiving in their bodies the wounds which would
have been inflicted on Holland, had we elected to stand out. In the
light of subsequent events, all the world acknowledges that we
were and are fighting for our own households; but it is a glorious
certainty that scarcely a Britisher who died in those early days had
the least realisation of the fact. It was the chivalrous vision of
a generous Crusade that led our chaps from their firesides to the
trampled horror that is Flanders. They said farewell to their habitual
affections, and went out singing to their marriage with death.

I suppose there has been no war that could not be interpreted
ultimately as a war of self-interest. The statesmen who make wars
always carefully reckon the probabilities of loss or gain; but the
lads who kiss their sweethearts good-bye require reasons more vital
than those of pounds, shillings and pence. Few men lay down their
lives from self-interested motives. Courage is a spiritual quality
which requires a spiritual inducement. Men do not set a price on their
chance of being blown to bits by shells. Even patriotism is too vague
to be a sufficient incentive. The justice of the cause to be fought
for helps; it must be proportionate to the magnitude of the sacrifice
demanded. But always an ideal is necessary--an ideal of liberty,
indignation and mercy. If this is true of the men who go out to die,
it is even more true of the women who send them,

  "Where there're no children left to pull
  The few scared, ragged flowers--
  All that was ours, and, God, how beautiful!
  All, all that was once ours,
  Lies faceless, mouthless, mire to mire,
  So lost to all sweet semblance of desire
  That we, in those fields seeking desperately
  One face long-lost to love, one face that lies
  Only upon the breast of Memory,
  Would never find it--even the very blood
  Is stamped into the horror of the mud--
  Something that mad men trample under-foot
  In the narrow trench--for these things are not men--
  Things shapeless, sodden, mute
  Beneath the monstrous limber of the guns;
  Those things that loved us once...
  Those that were ours, but never ours again."

For two and a half years the American press specialized on the terror
aspect of the European hell. Every sensational, exceptional fact was
not only chronicled, but widely circulated. The bodily and mental
havoc that can be wrought by shell fire was exaggerated out of all
proportion to reality. Photographs, almost criminal in type, were
published to illustrate the brutal expression of men who had taken
part in bayonet charges. Lies were spread broadcast by supposedly
reputable persons, stating how soldiers had to be maddened with
drugs or alcohol before they would go over the top. Much of what was
recorded was calculated to stagger the imagination and intimidate the
heart. The reason for this was that the supposed eye-witnesses rarely
saw what they recorded. They had usually never been within ten miles
of the front, for only combatants are allowed in the line. They
brought civilian minds, undisciplined to the conquest of fear, to
their task; they never for one instant guessed the truly spiritual
exaltation which gives wings to the soul of the man who fights in a
just cause. Squalor, depravity, brutalisation, death--moral, mental
and physical deformity were the rewards which the American public
learned the fighting man gained in the trenches. They heard very
little of the capacity for heroism, the eagerness for sacrifice, the
gallant self-effacement which having honor for a companion taught.
And yet, despite this frantic portrayal of terror, America decided
for war. Her National Guard and Volunteers rolled up in millions,
clamouring to cross the three thousand miles of water that they might
place their lives in jeopardy. They were no more urged by motives of
self-interest than were the men who enlisted in Kitchener's mob. It
wasn't the threat to their national security that brought them; it
was the lure of an ideal--the fine white knightliness of men whose
compassion had been tormented and whose manhood had been challenged.
When one says that America came into the war to save herself it is
only true of her statesmen; it is no more true of her masses than it
was true of the masses of Great Britain.

So far, in my explanation as to why America came into the war, I have
been scarcely more generous in the attributing of magnanimous motives
than my Hollander. To all intents and purposes I have said, "America
is fighting because she knows that if the Allies are over-weakened or
crushed, it will be her turn next." In discussing the matter with
me, one of our Generals said, "I really don't see that it matters a
tuppenny cuss why she's fighting, so long as she helps us to lick
the Hun and does it quickly." But it does matter. The reasons for her
having taken up arms make all the difference to our respect for her.
Here, then, are the reasons which I attribute: enthusiasm for the
ideals of the Allies; admiration for the persistency of their heroism;
compassionate determination to borrow some of the wounds which
otherwise would be inflicted upon nations which have already suffered.
A small band of pioneers in mercy are directly responsible for
this change of attitude in two and a half years from opportunistic
neutrality to a reckless welcoming of martyrdom.

At the opening of hostilities in 1914, America divided herself into
two camps--the Pro-Allies and the others. "The others" consisted of
people of all shades of opinion and conviction: the anti-British,
anti-French, the pro-German, the anti-war and the merely neutral, some
of whom set feverishly to work to make a tradesman's advantage out of
Europe's misfortune. A great traffic sprang up in the manufacture of
war materials. Almost all of these went to the Allies, owing to the
fact that Britain controlled the seas. Whether they would not have
been sold just as readily to Germany, had that been possible, is a
matter open to question. In any case, the camp of "The Others" was
overwhelmingly in the majority.

One by one, and in little protesting bands, the friends of the Allies
slipped overseas bound on self-imposed, sacrificial quests. They went
like knight-errants to the rescue; while others suffered, their own
ease was intolerable. The women, whom they left, formed themselves
into groups for the manufacture of the munitions of mercy. There were
men like Alan Seeger, who chanced to be in Europe when war broke out;
many of these joined up with the nearest fighting units. "I have
a rendezvous with death," were Alan Seeger's last words as he fell
mortally wounded between the French and German trenches. His voice
was the voice of thousands who had pledged themselves to keep that
rendezvous in the company of Britishers, Belgians and Frenchmen, long
before their country had dreamt of committing herself. Some of these
friends of the Allies chose the Ford Ambulance, others positions in
the Commission for the Relief of Belgium, and yet others the more
forceful sympathy of the bayonet as a means of expressing their wrath.
Soon, through the heart of France, with the tricolor and the Stars and
Stripes flying at either end, "le train Américaine" was seen hurrying,
carrying its scarlet burden. This sight could hardly be called neutral
unless a similar sight could be seen in Germany. It could not.
The Commission for the Relief of Belgium was actually anything
but neutral; to minister to the results of brutality is tacitly to
condemn.

At Neuilly-sur-Seine the American Ambulance Hospital sprang up.
It undertook the most grievous cases, making a specialty of facial
mutilations. American girls performed the nursing of these pitiful
human wrecks. Increasingly the crusader spirit was finding a gallant
response in the hearts of America's girlhood. By the time that
President Wilson flung his challenge, eighty-six war relief
organizations were operating in France. In very many cases these
organizations only represented a hundredth part of the actual
personnel working; the other ninety-nine hundredths were in the
States, rolling bandages, shredding oakum, slitting linen, making
dressings. Long before April, 1917, American college boys had won a
name by their devotion in forcing their ambulances over shell torn
roads on every part of the French Front, but, perhaps, with peculiar
heroism at Verdun. Already the American Flying Squadron has earned
a veteran's reputation for its daring. The report of the sacrificial
courage of these pioneers had travelled to every State in the Union;
their example had stirred, shamed and educated the nation. It is to
these knight-errants--very many of them boys and girls in years--to
the Mrs. Whartons, the Alan Seegers, the Hoovers and the Thaws that I
attribute America's eager acceptance of Calvary, when at last it
was offered to her by her Statesmen. From an anguished horror to
be repelled, war had become a spiritual Eldorado in whose heart lay
hidden the treasure-trove of national honor.

The individual American soldier is inspired by just as altruistic
motives as his brother-Britisher. Compassion, indignation, love of
justice, the determination to see right conquer are his incentives.
You can make a man a conscript, drill him, dress him in uniform, but
you cannot force him to face up to four years to do his job unless the
ideals were there beforehand. I have seen American troop-ships come
into the dock with ten thousand men singing,

  "Good-bye, Liza,
  I'm going to smash the Kaiser."

I have been present when packed audiences have gone mad in reiterating
the American equivalent for _Tipperary_, with its brave promise,

  "We'll be over,
  We're coming over,
  And we won't be back till it's over, over there."

But nothing I have heard so well expresses the cold anger of the
American fighting-man as these words which they chant to their
bugle-march, "We've got four years to do this job."



II

WAR AS A JOB


I have been so fortunate as to be able to watch three separate nations
facing up to the splendour of Armageddon--England, France, America.
The spirit of each was different. I arrived in England from abroad the
week after war had been declared. There was a new vitality in the
air, a suppressed excitement, a spirit of youth and--it sounds
ridiculous--of opportunity. The England I had left had been wont to
go about with a puckered forehead; she was a victim of
self-disparagement. She was like a mother who had borne too many
children and was at her wits' end to know how to feed or manage them.
They were getting beyond her control. Since the Boer War there had
been a growing tendency in the Press to under-rate all English effort
and to over-praise to England's discredit the superior pushfulness
of other nations. This melancholy nagging which had for its constant
text, "Wake up, John Bull," had produced the hallucination that there
was something vitally the matter with the Mother Country. No one
seemed to have diagnosed her complaint, but those of us who grew weary
of being told that we were behind the times, took prolonged trips to
more cheery quarters of the globe. It is the Englishman's privilege to
run himself down; he usually does it with his tongue in his cheek. But
for the ten years preceding the outbreak of hostilities, the prophets
of Fleet Street certainly carried their privilege beyond a joke.
Pessimism was no longer an amusing pose; it was becoming a habit.

One week of the iron tonic of war had changed all that. The atmosphere
was as different as the lowlands from the Alps; it was an atmosphere
of devil-may-care assurance and adventurous manhood. Every one had the
summer look of a boat-race crowd when the Leander is to be pulled off
at Henley. In comparing the new England with the old, I should have
said that every one now had the comfortable certainty that he was
wanted--that he had a future and something to live for. But it wasn't
the something to live for that accounted for this gay alertness; it
was the sure foreknowledge of each least important man that he had
something worth dying for at last.

A strange and magnificent way of answering misfortune's challenge--an
Elizabethan way, the knack of which we believed we had lost! "Business
as usual" was written across our doorways. It sounded callous and
unheeding, but at night the lads who had written it there, tiptoed out
and stole across the Channel, scarcely whispering for fear they should
break our hearts by their going.

Death may be regarded as a funeral or as a Columbus expedition to
worlds unknown--it may be seized upon as an opportunity for weeping
or for a display of courage. From the first day in her choice England
never hesitated; like a boy set free from school, she dashed out to
meet her danger with laughter. Her high spirits have never failed her.
Her cavalry charge with hunting-calls upon their lips. Her Tommies go
over the top humming music-hall ditties. The Hun is still "jolly old
Fritz." The slaughter is still "a nice little war." Death is still
"the early door." The mud-soaked "old Bills" of the trenches,
cheerfully ignoring vermin, rain and shell fire, continue to wind up
their epistles with, "Hoping this finds you in the pink, as it leaves
me at present." They are always in the pink for epistolary purposes,
whatever the strafing or the weather. That's England; at all costs,
she has to be a sportsman. I wonder she doesn't write on the crosses
above her dead, "_Yours in the pink:_ _a British soldier, killed in
action_." England is in the pink for the duration of the war.

The Frenchman cannot understand us, and I don't blame him. Our high
spirits impress him as untimely and indecent. War for him is not
a sport. How could it be, with his homesteads ravaged, his cities
flattened, his women violated, his populations prisoners in occupied
territories? For him war is a martyrdom which he embraces with a
fierce gladness. His spirit is well illustrated by an incident that
happened the other day in Paris. A descendant of Racine, a well-known
figure at the opera, was travelling in the Metro when he spotted a
poilu with a string of ten medals on his breast. The old aristocrat
went over to the soldier and apologised for speaking to him. "But," he
said, "I have never seen any poilu with so many decorations. You must
be of the very bravest."

"That is nothing," the man replied sombrely; "before they kill me I
shall have won many more. This I earned in revenge for my wife, who
was brutally murdered. And this and this and this for my daughters who
were ravished. And these others--they are for my sons who are now no
more."

"My friend, if you will let me, I should like to embrace you." And
there, in the sight of all the passengers, the old habitué of the
opera and the common soldier kissed each other. The one satisfaction
that the French blind have is in counting the number of Boche they
have slaughtered. "In that raid ten of us killed fifty," one will say;
"the memory makes me very happy."

Curiously enough the outrage that makes the Frenchman most revengeful
is not the murder of his family or the defilement of his women, but
the wilful killing of his land and orchards. The land gave birth to
all his flesh and blood; when his farm is laid waste wilfully, it
is as though the mother of all his generations was violated. This
accounts for the indomitable way in which the peasants insist on
staying on in their houses under shell-fire, refusing to depart till
they are forcibly turned out.

We in England, still less in America, have never approached the
loathing which is felt for the Boche in France. Men spit as they utter
his name, as though the very word was foul in the mouth.

In the face of all that they have suffered, I do not wonder that the
French misunderstand the easy good-humour with which we English go
out to die. In their eyes and with the continual throbbing of
their wounds, this war is an occasion for neither good-humour nor
sportsmanship, but for the wrath of a Hebrew Jehovah, which only blows
can appease or make articulate. If every weapon were taken from their
hands and all their young men were dead, with naked fists those who
were left would smite--smite and smite. It is fitting that they should
feel this way, seeing themselves as they do perpetually frescoed
against the sky-line of sacrifice; but I am glad that our English boys
can laugh while they die.

In trying to explain the change I found in England after war had
commenced, I mentioned Henley and the boat-race crowds. I don't think
it was a change; it was only a bringing to the surface of something
that had been there always. Some years ago I was at Henley when the
Belgians carried off the Leander Cup from the most crack crew that
England could bring together. Evening after evening through the
Regatta week the fear had been growing that we should lose, yet none
of that fear was reflected in our attitude towards our Belgian guests.
Each evening as they came up the last stretch of river, leading by
lengths and knocking another contestant out, the spectators cheered
them madly. Their method of rowing smashed all our traditions; it
wasn't correct form; it wasn't anything. It ought to have made one
angry. But these chaps were game; they were winning. "Let's play
fair," said the river; so they cheered them. On the last night when
they beat Leander, looking fresh as paint, leading by a length and
taking the championship out of England, you would never have guessed
by the flicker of an eyelash that it wasn't the most happy conclusion
of a good week's sport for every oarsman present.

It's the same spirit essentially that England is showing to-day. She
cheers the winner. She trusts in her strength for another day. She
insists on playing fair. She considers it bad manners to lose one's
temper. She despises to hate back. She has carried this spirit so far
that if you enter the college chapels of Oxford to-day, you will find
inscribed on memorial tablets to the fallen not only the names of
Britishers, but also the names of German Rhodes Scholars, who died
fighting for their country against the men who were once their
friends. Generosity, justice, disdain of animosity-these virtues were
learnt on the playing-fields and race-courses. England knows their
value; she treats war as a sport because so she will fight better. For
her that approach to adversity is normal.

With us war is a sport. With the French it is a martyrdom. But with
the Americans it is a job. "We've got four years to do this job. We've
got four years to do this job," as the American soldiers chant. I
think in these three attitudes towards war as a martyrdom, as sport
and as a job, you get reflected the three gradations of distance
by which each nation is divided from the trenches. France had her
tribulation thrust upon her. She was attacked; she had no option.
England, separated by the Channel, could have restrained the weight
of her strength, biding her time. She had her moment of choice, but
rushed to the rescue the moment the first Hun bayonet gleamed across
the Belgian threshold. America, fortified by the Atlantic, could not
believe that her peace was in any way assailed. The idea seemed
too madly far-fetched. At first she refused to realise that this
apportioning of a continent three thousand miles distant from Germany
was anything but a pipe-dream of diplomats in their dotage. It was
inconceivable that it could be the practical and achievable cunning of
military bullies and strategists. The truth dawned too slowly for her
to display any vivid burst of anger. "It isn't true," she said. And
then, "It seems incredible." And lastly, "What infernal impertinence!"

It was the infernal impertinence of Germany's schemes for
transatlantic plunder that roused the average American. It awoke in
him a terrible, calm anger--a feeling that some one must be punished.
It was as though he broke off suddenly in what he was doing and
commenced rolling up his shirt-sleeves. There was a grim, surprised
determination about his quietness, which had not been seen in any
other belligerent nation. France became consciously and tragically
heroic when war commenced. England became unwontedly cheerful because
life was moving on grander levels. In America there was no outward
change. The old habit of feverish industry still persisted, but was
intensified and applied in unselfish directions.

What has impressed me most in my tour of the American activities
in France is the businesslike relentlessness of the preparations.
Everything is being done on a titanic scale and everything is being
done to last. The ports, the railroads, the plants that are being
constructed will still be standing a hundred years from now. There's
no "Home for Christmas" optimism about America's method of making war.
One would think she was expecting to be still fighting when all the
present generation is dead. She is investing billions of dollars in
what can only be regarded as permanent improvements. The handsomeness
of her spirit is illustrated by the fact that she has no understanding
with the French for reimbursement.

In sharp contrast with this handsomeness of spirit is the iciness of
her purpose as regards the Boche. I heard no hatred of the individual
German--only the deep conviction that Prussianism must be crushed at
all costs. The American does not speak of "Poor old Fritz" as we do
on our British Front. He's too logical to be sorry for his enemy.
His attitude is too sternly impersonal for him to be moved by any
emotions, whether of detestation or charity, as regards the Hun. All
he knows is that a Frankenstein machinery has been set in motion for
the destruction of the world; to counteract it he is creating another
piece of machinery. He has set about his job in just the same spirit
that he set about overcoming the difficulties of the Panama Canal.
He has been used to overcoming the obstinacies of Nature; the human
obstinacies of his new task intrigue him. I believe that, just as
in peace times big business was his romance and the wealth which
he gained from it was often incidental, so in France the job
as a job impels him, quite apart from its heroic object. After
all, smashing the Pan-Germanic Combine is only another form of
trust-busting--trust-busting with aeroplanes and guns instead of with
law and ledgers.

There is something almost terrifying to me about this quiet
collectedness--this Pierpont Morgan touch of sphinxlike aloofness
from either malice or mercy. Just as America once said, "Business
is business" and formed her world-combines, collaring monopolies and
allowing the individual to survive only by virtue of belonging to
the fittest, so now she is saying, "War is war"--something to be
accomplished with as little regard to landscapes as blasting a
railroad across a continent.

For the first time in the history of this war Germany is "up against"
a nation which is going to fight her in her own spirit, borrowing
her own methods. This statement needs explaining; its truth was first
brought to my attention at American General Headquarters. The French
attitude towards the war is utterly personal; it is bayonet to
bayonet. It depends on the unflinching courage of every individual
French man and woman. The English attitude is that of the
knight-errant, seeking high adventures and welcoming death in a noble
cause. But the German attitude disregards the individual and knows
nothing of gallantry. It lacks utterly the spiritual elation which
made the strength of the French at Verdun and of the English at Mons.
The German attitude is that of a soulless organisation, invented for
one purpose--profitable conquest. War for the Hun is not a final and
dreaded atonement for the restoring of justice to the world; it is
a business undertaking which, as he is fond of telling us, has never
failed to yield him good interest on his capital. I have seen a
good deal of the capital he has invested in the battlefields he has
lost--men smashed to pulp, bruised by shells out of resemblance to
anything human, the breeding place of flies and pestilence, no
longer the homes of loyalties and affections. I cannot conceive what
percentage of returns can be said to compensate for the agony expended
on such indecent Golgothas. However, the Hun has assured us that it
pays him; he flatters himself that he is a first-class business man.

But so does the American, and he knows the game from more points of
view. For years he has patterned his schools and colleges on German
educational methods. What applies to his civilian centres of learning
applies to his military as well. German text-books gave the basis for
all American military thought. American officers have been trained in
German strategy just as thoroughly as if they had lived in Potsdam.
At the start of the war many of them were in the field with the German
armies as observers. They are able to synchronise their thoughts with
the thoughts of their German enemies and at the same time to take
advantage of all that the Allies can teach them.

"War is a business," the Germans have said. The Americans, with an
ideal shining in their eyes, have replied, "Very well. We didn't want
to fight you; but now that you have forced us, we will fight you on
your own terms. We will make war on you as a business, for we are
businessmen. We will crush you coldly, dispassionately, without
rancour, without mercy till we have proved to you that war is not
profitable business, but hell."

The American, as I have met him in France, has not changed one iota
from the man that he was in New York or Chicago. He has transplanted
himself untheatrically to the scenes of battlefields and set himself
undisturbedly to the task of dying. There is an amazing normality
about him. You find him in towns, ancient with châteaux and wonderful
with age; he is absolutely himself, keenly efficient and irreverently
modern. Everywhere, from the Bay of Biscay to the Swiss border, from
the Mediterranean to the English Channel, you see the lean figure and
the slouch hat of the U.S.A. soldier. He is invariably well-conducted,
almost always alone and usually gravely absorbed in himself. The
excessive gravity of the American in khaki has astonished the men of
the other armies who feel that, life being uncertain, it is well to
make as genial a use of it as possible while it lasts. The soldier
from the U.S.A. seems to stand always restless, alert, alone,
listening--waiting for the call to come. He doesn't sink into the
landscape the way other troops have done. His impatience picks him
out--the impatience of a man in France solely for one purpose. I have
seen him thus a thousand times, standing at street-corners, in the
crowd but not of it, remarkable to every one but himself. Every man
and officer I have spoken to has just one thing to say about what is
happening inside him, "Let them take off my khaki and send me back
to America, or else hurry me into the trenches. I came here to get
started on this job; the waiting makes me tired."

"Let me get into the trenches," that was the cry of the American
soldier that I heard on every hand. Having witnessed his eagerness,
cleanness and intensity, I ask no more questions as to how he will
acquit himself.

I have presented him as an extremely practical person, but no American
that I ever met was solely practical. If you watch him closely you
will always find that he is doing practical things for an idealistic
end. The American who accumulates a fortune to himself, whether it be
through corralling railroads, controlling industries, developing mines
or establishing a chain of dry-goods stores, doesn't do it for the
money only, but because he finds in business the poetry of creating,
manipulating, evolving--the exhilaration and adventure of swaying
power. And so there came a day when I caught my American soldier
dreaming and off his guard.

All day I had been motoring through high uplands. It was a part of
France with which I was totally unfamiliar. A thin mist was drifting
across the country, getting lost in valleys where it piled up into
fleecy mounds, getting caught in tree-tops where it fluttered like
tattered banners. Every now and then, with the suddenness of our
approach, we would startle an aged shepherd, muffled and pensive as
an Arab, strolling slowly across moorlands, followed closely by the
sentinel goats which led his flock. The day had been strangely mystic.
Time seemed a mood. I had ceased to trouble about where I was going;
that I knew my ultimate destination was sufficient. The way that led
to it, which I had never seen before, should never see again perhaps,
and through which I travelled at the rate of an express, seemed a
fairy non-existent Hollow Land. Landscapes grew blurred with the speed
of our passage. They loomed up on us like waves, stayed with us for a
second and vanished. The staff-officer, who was my conductor, drowsed
on his seat beside the driver. He had wearied himself in the morning,
taking me now here to see an American Division putting on a manoeuvre,
now there to where the artillery were practising, then to another
valley where machine-guns tapped like thousands of busy typewriters
working on death's manuscript. After that had come bayonet charges
against dummies, rifle-ranges and trench-digging--all the industrious
pretence at slaughter which prefaces the astounding actuality. We
were far away from all that now; the brown figures had melted into the
brownness of the hills. There might have been no war. Perhaps there
wasn't. Never was there a world more grey and quiet. I grew sleepy.
My head nodded. I opened my eyes, pulled myself together and again
nodded. The roar of the engine was soothing. The rush of wind lay
heavy against my eye-lids. It seemed odd that I should be here and
not in the trenches. When I was in the line I had often made up life's
deficiencies by imagining, imagining.... Perhaps I was really in
the line now. I wouldn't wake up to find out. That would come
presently--it always had.

We were slowing down. I opened my eyes lazily. No, we weren't
stopping--only going through a village. What a quaint grey village
it was--worth looking at if I wasn't so tired. I was on the point
of drowsing off again when I caught sight of a word written on a
sign-board, _Domrémy_. My brain cleared. I sat up with a jerk. It was
magic that I should find myself here without warning--at Domrémy, the
Bethlehem of warrior-woman's mercy. I had dreamed from boyhood of this
place as a legend--a memory of white chivalry to be found on no map,
a record of beauty as utterly submerged as the lost land of Lyonesse.
Hauntingly the words came back, "Who is this that cometh from Domrémy?
Who is she in bloody coronation robes from Rheims? Who is she that
cometh with blackened flesh from walking in the furnaces of Rouen?
This is she, the shepherd girl...." All about me on the little hills
were the woodlands through which she must have led her sheep and
wandered with her heavenly visions.

We had come to a bend in the village street. Where the road took a
turn stood an aged church; nestling beside it in a little garden was
a grey, semi-fortified mediæval dwelling. The garden was surrounded by
high spiked railings, planted on a low stone wall. Sitting on the wall
beside the entrance was an American soldier. He had a small French
child on either knee--one arm about each of them; thus embarrassed
he was doing his patient best to roll a Bull Durham cigarette. The
children were vividly interested; they laughed up into the soldier's
face. One of them was a boy, the other a girl. The long golden curls
of the girl brushed against the soldier's cheek. The three heads bent
together, almost touching. The scene was timelessly human, despite the
modernity of the khaki. Joan of Arc might have been that little girl.

I stopped the driver, got out and approached the group. The soldier
jumped to attention and saluted. In answer to my question, he said,
"Yes, this is where she lived. That's her house--that grey cottage
with scarcely any windows. Bastien le Page could never have seen it;
it isn't a bit like his picture in the Metropolitan Gallery."

He spoke in a curiously intimate way as if he had known Joan of Arc
and had spoken with her there--as if she had only just departed.
It was odd to reflect that America had still lain hidden behind the
Atlantic when Joan walked the world.

We entered the gate into the garden, the American soldier, the
children and I together. The little girl, with that wistful confidence
that all French children show for men in khaki, slipped her grubby
little paw into my hand. I expect Joan was often grubby like that.

Brown winter leaves strewed the path. The grass was bleached and dead.
At our approach an old sheep-dog rattled his chain and looked out of
his kennel. He was shaggy and matted with years. His bark was so
weak that it broke in the middle. He was a Rip Van Winkle of a
sheep-dog--the kind of dog you would picture in a fairy-tale. One
couldn't help feeling that he had accompanied the shepherd girl and
had kept the flock from straying while she spoke with her visions.
All those centuries ago he had seen her ride away--ride away to save
France--and she had not come back. All through the centuries he had
waited; at every footstep on the path he had come hopefully out from
his kennel, wagging his tail and barking ever more weakly. He would
not believe that she was dead. And it was difficult to believe it in
that ancient quiet. If ever France needed her, it was now.

Across my memory flashed the words of a dreamer, prophetic in the
light of recent events, "Daughter of Domrémy, when the gratitude of
thy king shall awaken, thou wilt be sleeping the sleep of the dead.
Call her, King of France, but she will not hear thee. Cite her by the
apparitors to come and receive a robe of honour, but she will not be
found. When the thunders of universal France, as even yet may happen,
shall proclaim the grandeur of the poor shepherd girl that gave up her
all for her country, thy ear, young shepherd girl, will have been deaf
five centuries."

Quite illogically it seemed to me that January evening that this
American soldier was the symbol of the power that had come in her
stead.

The barking of the dog had awakened a bowed old Mother Hubbard lady.
She opened the door of her diminutive castle and peered across the
threshold, jingling her keys.

Would we come in? Ah, Monsieur from America was there! He was always
there when he was not training, playing with the children and rolling
cigarettes. And Monsieur, the English officer, perhaps he did not
know that she was descended from Joan's family. Oh, yes, there was no
mistake about it; that was why she had been made custodian. She must
light the lamp. There! That was better. There was not much to see, but
if we would follow....

We stepped down into a flagged room like a cellar--cold, ascetic
and bare. There was a big open fire-place, with a chimney hooded by
massive masonry and blackened by the fires of immemorial winters. This
was where Joan's parents had lived. She had probably been born here.
The picture that formed in my mind was not of Joan, but that other
woman unknown to history--her mother, who after Joan had left the
village and rumours of her battles and banquets drifted back, must
have sat there staring into the blazing logs, her peasant's hands
folded in her lap, brooding, wondering, hoping, fearing--fearing as
the mothers of soldiers have throughout the ages.

And this was Joan's brother's room--a cheerless place of hewn stone.
What kind of a man could he have been? What were his reflections as
he went about his farm-work and thought of his sister at the head of
armies? Was he merely a lout or something worse--the prototype of
our Conscientious Objector: a coward who disguised his cowardice with
moral scruples?

And this was Joan's room--a cell, with a narrow slit at the end
through which one gained a glimpse of the church. Before this slit she
had often knelt while the angels drifted from the belfry like doves
to peer in on her. The place was sacred. How many nights had she spent
here with girlish folded hands, her face ecstatic, the cold eating
into her tender body? I see her blue for lack of charity, forgotten,
unloved, neglected--the symbol of misunderstanding and loneliness.
They told her she was mad. She was a laughing stock in the village.
The world could find nothing better for her to do than driving sheep
through the bitter woodlands; but God found time to send his angels.
Yes, she was mad--mad as Christ was in Galilee--mad enough to save
others when she could not save herself. How nearly the sacrifice of
this most child-like of women parallels the sacrifice of the most
God-like of men! Both were born in a shepherd community; both forewent
the humanity of love and parenthood; both gave up their lives that the
world might be better; both were royally apparelled in mockery; both
followed their visions; for each the price of following was death.
She, too, was despised and rejected; as a sheep before her shearers is
dumb, so she opened not her mouth.

That is all there is to see at Domrémy; three starveling, stone-paved
rooms, a crumbling church, a garden full of dead leaves, an old
dog growing mangy in his kennel and the wind-swept cathedral of the
woodlands. The soul of France was born there in the humble body of a
peasant-girl; yes, and more than the soul of France--the gallantry of
all womanhood. God must be fond of His peasants; I think they will be
His aristocracy in Heaven.

The old lady led us out of the house. There was one more thing she
wished to show us. The sunset light was still in the tree-tops,
but her eyes were dim; she thought that night had already gathered.
Holding her lamp above her head, she pointed to a statue in a niche
above the doorway. It had been placed there by order of the King of
France after Joan was dead. But it wasn't so much the statue that she
wanted us to look at; it was the mutilations that were upon it. She
was filled with a great trembling of indignation. "Yes, gaze your fill
upon it, Messieurs," she said; "it was _les Boches_ did that. They
were here in 1870. To others she may be a saint, but to _them_--Bah!"
and she spat, "a woman is less than a woman always."

When we turned to go she was still cursing _les Boches_ beneath her
breath, tremblingly holding up the lamp above her head that she might
forget nothing of their defilement. The old dog rattled his chain as
we passed; he knew us now and did not trouble to come out. The dead
leaves whispered beneath our tread.

At the gate we halted. I turned to my American soldier. "How long
before you go into the line?"

He was carrying the little French girl in his arms. As he glanced
up to answer, his face caught the sunset. "Soon now. The sooner, the
better. She ...," and I knew he meant no living woman. "This place ...
I don't know how to express it. But everything here makes you want
to fight,--makes you ashamed of standing idle. If she could do
that--well, I guess that I...."

He made no attempt to fill his eloquent silences; and so I left. As
the car gathered speed, plunging into the pastoral solitudes, I looked
back. The last sight I had of Domrémy was a grey little garden, made
sacred by the centuries, and an American soldier standing with a
French child in his arms, her golden hair lying thickly against his
neck.

On the surface the American is unemotionally practical, but at heart
he is a dreamer, first, last and always. If the Americans have merited
any criticism in France, it is owing to the vastness of their plans;
the tremendous dream of their preparations postpones the beginning of
the reality. Their mistake, if they have made a mistake, is an error
of generosity. They are building with a view to flinging millions
into the line when thousands a little earlier would be of superlative
advantage. They had the choice of dribbling their men over in small
contingents or of waiting till they could put a fighting-force into
the field so overwhelming in equipment and numbers that its weight
would be decisive. They were urged to learn wisdom from England's
example and not to waste their strength by putting men into the
trenches in a hurry before they were properly trained. England was
compelled to adopt this chivalrous folly by the crying need of France.
It looked in the Spring of 1917, before Russia had broken down or the
pressure on the Italian front had become so menacing, as though the
Allies could afford to ask America to conduct her war on the lines
of big business. America jumped at the chance--big business being the
task to which her national genius was best suited. If her Allies could
hold on long enough, she would build her fleet and appear with an army
of millions that would bring the war to a rapid end. Her rôle was to
be that of the toreador in the European bull-fight.

But big business takes time and usually loses money at the start.
In the light of recent developments, we would rather have the
bird-in-the-hand of 300,000 Americans actually fighting than the
promise of a host a year from now. People at home in America realised
this in January. They were so afraid that their Allies might feel
disappointed. They were so keen to achieve tangible results in the war
that they grew impatient with the long delay. They weren't interested
in seeing other nations going over the top--the same nations who had
been over so many times; they wanted to see their sons and brothers at
once given the opportunity to share the wounds and the danger. Their
attitude was Spartan and splendid; they demanded a curtailment of
their respite that they might find themselves afloat on the crimson
tide. The cry of the civilians in America was identical with that of
their men in France. "Let them take off our khaki or else hurry us
into the trenches. We want to get started. This waiting makes us
tired."

And the civilians in America had earned a right to make their demand.
Industrially, financially, philanthropically, from every point of view
they had sacrificed and played the game, both by the Allies and
their army. When they, as civilians, had been so willing to wear
the stigmata of sacrifice, they were jealous lest their fighting men
should be baulked of their chance of making those sacrifices appear
worth while.

There have been many accusations in the States with regard to
the supposed breakdown of their military organization in
France--accusations inspired by generosity towards the Allies. From
what I have seen, and I have been given liberal opportunities to see
everything, I do not think that those accusations are justified. As
a combatant of another nation, I have my standards of comparison by
which to judge and I frankly state that I was amazed with the progress
that had been made. It is a progress based on a huge scale and
therefore less impressive to the layman than if the scale had been
less ambitious. What I saw were the foundations of an organisation
which can be expanded to handle a fighting-machine which staggers
the imagination. What the layman expects to see are Hun trophies and
Americans coming out of the line on stretchers. He will see all that,
if he waits long enough, for the American military hospitals in France
are being erected to accommodate 200,000 wounded.

Unfounded optimisms, which under no possible circumstances could ever
have been realised, are responsible for the disappointment felt in
America. Inasmuch as these optimisms were widely accepted in England
and France, civilian America's disappointment will be shared by
the Allies, unless some hint of the truth is told as to what may be
expected and what great preparations are under construction. It was
generally believed that by the spring of 1918 America would have
half a million men in the trenches and as many more behind the lines,
training to become reinforcements. People who spoke this way could
never have seen a hundred thousand men or have stopped to consider
what transport would be required to maintain them at a distance of
more than three thousand miles from their base. It was also believed
that by the April of 1918, one year after the declaring of war,
America would have manufactured ten thousand planes, standardised all
their parts, trained the requisite number of observers and pilots,
and would have them flying over the Hun lines. Such beliefs were pure
moonshine, incapable of accomplishment; but there are facts to be told
which are highly honourable.

So far I have tried to give a glimpse of America's fighting spirit in
facing up to her job; now, in as far as it is allowed, I want to give
a sketch of her supreme earnestness as proved by what she has already
achieved in France. The earnestness of her civilians should require
no further proof than the readiness with which they accepted national
conscription within a few hours of entering the war--a revolutionising
departure which it took England two years of fighting even to
contemplate, and which can hardly be said to be in full operation yet,
so long as conscientious objectors are allowed to air their so-called
consciences. In America the conscientious objector is not regarded; he
is listened to as only one of two things--a deserter or a traitor. The
earnestness of America's fighting man requires no proving; his only
grievance is that he is not in the trenches. Yet so long as the weight
of America is not felt to be turning the balance dramatically in our
favour, the earnestness of America will be open to challenge both by
Americans and by the Allies. What I saw in France in the early months
of this year has filled me with unbounded optimism. I feel the elated
certainty, as never before even in the moment of the most successful
attack, that the Hun's fate is sealed. What is more, I have grounds
for believing that he knows it--knows that the collapse of Russia will
profit him nothing because he cannot withstand the avalanche of men
from America. Already he hears them, as I have seen them, training in
their camps from the Pacific to the Atlantic, racing across the
Ocean in their grey transports, marching along the dusty roads of two
continents, a procession locust-like in multitude, stretching half
about the world, marching and singing indomitably, "We've got four
years to do this job." From behind the Rhine he has caught their
singing; it grows ever nearer, stronger. It will take time for that
avalanche to pyramid on the Western Front; but when it has piled up,
it will rush forward, fall on him and crush him. He knows something
else, which fills him with a still more dire sense of calamity--that
because America's honour has been jeopardised, of all the nations
now fighting she will be the last to lay down her arms. She has given
herself four years to do her job; when her job is ended, it will be
with Prussianism as it was with Jezebel, "They that went to bury her
found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her
hands. And her carcase was as dung upon the face of the field, so that
men should not say, 'This is Jezebel.'"

As an example of what America is accomplishing, I will take a sample
port in France. It was of tenth-rate importance, little more than
a harbour for coastwise vessels and ocean-going tramps when the
Americans took it over; by the time they have finished, it will be
among the first ports of Europe. It is only one of several that they
are at present enlarging and constructing. The work already completed
has been done in the main under the direction of the engineers who
marched through London in the July of last year. I visited the port in
January, so some idea can be gained of how much has been achieved in a
handful of months.

The original French town still has the aspect of a prosperous
fishing-village. There are two main streets with shops on them; there
is one out-of-date hotel; there are a few modern dwellings facing
the sea. For the rest, the town consists of cottages, alleys and
open spaces where the nets were once spread to dry. To-day in a vast
circle, as far as eye can reach, a city of huts has grown up. In those
huts live men of many nations, Americans, French, German prisoners,
negroes. They are all engaged in the stupendous task of construction.
The capacity of the harbour basin is being multiplied fifty times, the
berthing capacity trebled, the unloading facilities multiplied by ten.
A railroad yard is being laid which will contain 225 miles of track
and 870 switches. An immense locomotive-works is being erected for
the repairing and assembling of rolling-stock from America. It was
originally planned to bring over 960 standard locomotives and 30,000
freight-cars from the States, all equipped with French couplers
and brakes so that they could become a permanent part of the French
railroad system. These figures have since been somewhat reduced by
the purchase of rolling-stock in Europe. Reservoirs are being built at
some distance from the town which will be able to supply six millions
gallons of purified water a day. In order to obtain the necessary
quantity of pipe, piping will be torn up from various of the
water-systems in America and brought across the Atlantic. As the
officer, who was my informant remarked, "Rather than see France go
short, some city in the States will have to haul water in carts."

As proof of the efficiency with which materials from America are being
furnished, when the engineers arrived on the scene with 225 miles of
track to lay, they found 100 miles of rails and spikes already waiting
for them. Of the 870 switches required, 350 were already on hand. Of
the ties required, one-sixth were piled up for them to be going on
with. Not so bad for a nation quite new to the war-game and living
three thousand miles beyond the horizon!

On further enquiry I learnt that six million cubic yards of filling
were necessary to raise the ground of the railroad yard to the proper
level. In order that the work may be hurried, dredges are being
brought across the Atlantic and, if necessary, harbour construction in
the States will be curtailed.

I was interested in the personnel employed in this work. Here, as
elsewhere, I found that the engineering and organising brains of
America are largely in France. One colonel was head of the marble
industry in the States; another had been vice-president of the
Pennsylvania Railroad. Another man, holding a sergeant's rank was
general manager of the biggest fishing company. Another, a private
in the ranks, was chief engineer of the American Aluminum Company. A
major was general manager of The Southern Pacific. Another colonel was
formerly controller of the currency and afterwards president of the
Central Trust Company of Illinois. A captain was chief engineer and
built the aqueducts over the keys of the Florida East Coast Railroad.
As with us, you found men of the highest social and professional grade
serving in every rank of the American Army; one, a society man and
banker, was running a gang of negroes whose job it was to shovel sand
into cars. In peace times thirty thousand pounds a year could not
have bought him. What impressed me even more than the line of
communications itself was the quality of the men engaged on its
construction. As one of them said to me, "Any job that they give us
engineers to do over here is likely to be small in comparison with
the ones we've had to tackle in America." The man who said this had
previously done his share in the building of the Panama Canal. There
were others I met, men who had spanned rivers in Alaska, flung
rails across the Rockies, built dams in the arid regions, performed
engineering feats in China, Africa, Russia--in all parts of the world.
They were trained to be undaunted by the hugeness of any task; they'd
always beaten Nature in the long run. Their cheerful certainty that
America in France was more than up to her job maintained a constant
wave of enthusiasm.

It may be asked why it is necessary in an old-established country
like France, to waste time in enlarging harbours before you can make
effective war. The answer is simple: France has not enough ports of
sufficient size to handle the tonnage that is necessary to support
the Allied armies within her borders. America's greatest problem is
tonnage. She has the men and the materials in prodigal quantities, but
they are all three thousand miles away. Before the men can be
brought over, she has to establish her means of transport and line
of communications, so as to make certain that she can feed and clothe
them when once she has got them into the front-line. There are two
ways of economising on tonnage. One is to purchase in Europe. In this
way, up to February, The Purchasing Board of the Americans had saved
ninety days of transatlantic traffic. The other way is to have modern
docks, well railroaded, so that vessels can be unloaded in the least
possible space of time and sent back for other cargoes. Hence it has
been sane economy on the part of America to put much of her early
energy into construction rather than into fighting. Nevertheless, it
has made her an easy butt for criticism both in the States and abroad,
since the only proof to the newspaper-reader that America is at war is
the amount of front-line that she is actually defending.

I had heard much of what was going on at a certain place which was to
be the intermediate point in the American line of communications. I
had studied a blue-print map and had been amazed at its proportions.
I was told, and can well believe, that when completed it was to be the
biggest undertaking of its kind in the world. It was to be six and
a half miles long by about one mile broad. It was to have four and
a half million feet of covered storage and ten million feet of open
storage. It was to contain over two hundred miles of track in its
railroad yard and to house enough of the materials of war to keep a
million men fully equipped for thirty days. In addition to this it was
to have a plant, not for the repairing, but merely for the assembling
of aeroplanes, which would employ twenty thousand men.

I arrived there at night. There was no town. One stepped from the
train into the open country. Far away in the distance there was a
glimmering of fires and the scarlet of sparks shooting up between
bare tree-tops. My first impression was of the fragrance of pines and,
after that, as I approached the huts, of a memory more definite and
elusively familiar. The swinging of lanterns helped to bring it back:
I was remembering lumber-camps in the Rocky Mountains. The box-stove
in the shack in which I slept that night and the roughly timbered
walls served to heighten the illusion that I was in America. Next
morning the illusion was completed. Here were men with mackinaws and
green elk boots; here were cook-houses in which the only difference
was that a soldier did the cooking instead of a Chinaman; and above
all, here were fir and pines growing out of a golden soil, with a
soft wind blowing overhead. And here, in an extraordinary way, the
democracy of a lumber-camp had been reproduced: every one from
the Colonel down was a worker; it was difficult, apart from their
efficiency, to tell their rank.

Early in the morning I started out on a gasolene-speeder to make the
tour. At an astonishing rate, for the work had only been in hand three
months, the vast acreage was being tracked and covered with the sheds.
The sheds were not the kind I had been used to on my own front; they
were built out of anything that came handy, commenced with one sort of
material and finished with another. Sometimes the cross-pieces in the
roofs were still sweating, proving that it was only yesterday they
had been cut down in the nearby wood. There was no look of permanence
about anything. As the officer who conducted me said, "It's all run
up--a race against time." And then he added with a twinkle in his eye,
"But it's good enough to last four years."

This was America in France in every sense of the word. One felt the
atmosphere of rush. In the buildings, which should have been left when
materials failed, but which had been carried to completion by pioneer
methods, one recognised the resourcefulness of the lumberman of the
West. Then came a touch of Eastern America, to me almost more replete
with memory and excitement. In a flash I was transferred from a camp
in France to the rock-hewn highway of Fifth Avenue, running through
groves of sky-scrapers, garnished with sunshine and echoing with
tripping footsteps. I could smell the asphalt soaked with gasolene
and the flowers worn by the passing girls. The whole movement and
quickness of the life I had lost flooded back on me. The sound I heard
was the fate _motif_ of the frantic opera of American endeavour. The
truly wonderful thing was that I should hear it here, in a woodland in
France--the rapid tapping of a steel-riveter at work.

I learnt afterwards that I was not the only one to be carried away by
that music, as of a monstrous wood-pecker in an iron forest. The first
day the riveter was employed, the whole camp made excuses to come
and listen to it. They stood round it in groups, deafened and
thrilled--and a little homesick. What the bag-pipe is to the
Scotchman, the steel-riveter is to the American--the instrument which
best expresses his soul to a world which is different.

I found that the riveter was being employed in the erection of an
immense steel and concrete refrigerating plant, which was to
have machinery for the production of its own ice and sufficient
meat-storage capacity to provide a million men for thirty days. The
water for the ice was being obtained from wells which had been already
sunk. There was only surface water there when the Americans first
struck camp.

As another clear-cut example of what America is accomplishing in
France, I will take an aviation-camp. This camp is one of several, yet
it alone will be turning out from 350 to 400 airmen a month. The area
which it covers runs into miles. The Americans have their own ideas
of aerial fighting tactics, which they will teach here on an intensive
course and try out on the Hun from time to time. Some of their experts
have had the advantage of familiarising themselves with Hun aerial
equipment and strategy; they were on his side of the line at the start
of the war as neutral military observers. I liked the officer at
the head of this camp; I was particularly pleased with some of his
phrases. He was one of the first experts to fly with a Liberty engine.
Without giving any details away, he assured me impressively that it
was "an honest-to-God engine" and that his planes were equipped with
"an honest-to-God machine-gun," and that he looked forward with cheery
anticipation to the first encounter his chaps would have with "the
festive Hun." He was one of the few Americans I had met who spoke with
something of our scornful affection for the enemy. It indicated to me
his absolute certainty that he could beat him at the flying game. On
his lips the Hun was never the German or the Boche, but always "the
festive Hun." You can afford to speak kindly, almost pityingly of some
one you are going to vanquish. Hatred often indicates fear. Jocularity
is a victorious sign.

When I was in America last October a great effort was being made to
produce an overwhelming quantity of aeroplanes. Factories, both large
and small, in every State were specializing on manufacturing certain
parts, the idea being that so time would be saved and efficiency
gained. These separate parts were to be collected and assembled at
various big government plants. The aim was to turn out planes as
rapidly as Ford Cars and to swamp the Hun with numbers. America is
unusually rich in the human as well as the mechanical material for
crushing the enemy in the air. In this service, as in all the others,
the only difficulty that prevents her from making her fighting
strength immediately felt is the difficulty of transportation. The
road of ships across the Atlantic has to be widened; the road of steel
from the French ports to the Front has to be tracked and multiplied in
its carrying capacity. These difficulties on land and water are
being rapidly overcome: by adding to the means of transportation;
by increasing the efficiency of the transport facilities already
existing; by lightening the tonnage to be shipped from the States by
buying everything that is procurable in Europe. In the early months
much of the available Atlantic tonnage was occupied with carrying the
materials of construction: rails, engines, concrete, lumber, and all
the thousand and one things that go to the housing of armies. This
accounts for America's delay in starting fighting. For three years
Europe had been ransacked; very much of what America would require had
to be brought. Such work does not make a dramatic impression on
other nations, especially when they are impatient. Its value as a
contribution towards defeating the Hun is all in the future. Only
victories win applause in these days. Nevertheless, such work had to
be done. To do it thoroughly, on a sufficiently large scale, in the
face of the certain criticism which the delay for thoroughness would
occasion, demanded bravery and patriotism on the part of those
in charge of affairs. By the time this book is published their
high-mindedness will have begun to be appreciated, for the results of
it will have begun to tell. The results will tell increasingly as the
war progresses. America is determined to have no Crimea scandals. The
contentment and good condition of her troops in France will be
largely owing to the organisation and care with which her line of
communications has been constructed.

The purely business side of war is very dimly comprehended either by
the civilian or the combatant. The combatant, since he does whatever
dying is to be done, naturally looks down on the business man in
khaki. The civilian is inclined to think of war in terms of the mobile
warfare of other days, when armies were rarely more than some odd
thousands strong and were usually no more than expeditionary forces.
Such armies by reason of their rapid movements and the comparative
fewness of their numbers, were able to live on the countries through
which they marched. But our fighting forces of to-day are the manhood
of nations. The fronts which they occupy can scarcely boast a blade of
grass. The towns which lie behind them have been picked clean to the
very marrow. France herself, into which a military population of many
millions has been poured, was never at the best of times entirely
self-supporting. Whatever surplus of commodities the Allies possessed,
they had already shared long before the spring of 1917. When America
landed into the war, she found herself in the position of one who
arrives at an overcrowded inn late at night. Whatever of food or
accommodation the inn could afford had been already apportioned;
consequently, before America could put her first million men into the
trenches, she had to graft on to France a piece of the living tissue
of her own industrial system--whole cities of repair-shops, hospitals,
dwellings, store-houses, ice-plants, etc., together with the purely
business personnel that go with them. These cities, though initially
planned to maintain and furnish a minimum number of fighting men,
had to be capable of expansion so that they could ultimately support
millions.

Here are some facts and statistics which illustrate the big business
of war as Americans have undertaken it. They have had to erect
cold storage-plants, with mechanical means for ice-manufacture, of
sufficient capacity to hold twenty-five million pounds of beef always
in readiness.

They are at present constructing two salvage depots which, when
completed, will be the largest in the world. Here they will repair
and make fit for service again, shoes, harness, clothing, webbing,
tentage, rubber-boots, etc. Attached to these buildings there are
to be immense laundries which will undertake the washing for all
the American forces. In connection with the depots, there will be a
Salvage Corps, whose work is largely at the Front. The materials which
they collect will be sent back to the depots for sorting. Under the
American system every soldier, on coming out of the trenches, will
receive a complete new outfit, from the soles of his feet to the crown
of his head. "This," the General who informed me said tersely, "is our
way of solving the lice-problem."

The Motor Transport also has its salvage depot. Knock-down buildings
and machinery have been brought over from the States, and upwards of
4,000 trained mechanics for a start. This depot is also responsible
for the repairs of all horse-drawn transport, except the artillery.
The Quartermaster General's Department alone will have 35,000 motor
propelled vehicles and a personnel of 160,000 men.

Every effort is being made to employ labour-saving devices to
the fullest extent. The Supply Department expects to cut down its
personnel by two-thirds through the efficient use of machinery and
derricks. The order compelling all packages to be standardized in
different graded sizes, so that they can be forwarded directly to
the Front before being broken, has already done much to expedite
transportation. The dimensions of the luggage of a modern army can
be dimly realized when it is stated that the American armies will
initially require twenty-four million square feet of covered and
forty-one million of unroofed storage--not to mention the barrack
space.

Within the next few months they will require bakeries capable of
feeding one million and a quarter men. These bakeries are divided
into: the field bakeries, which are portable, and the mechanical
bakeries which are stationary and on the line of communications. One
of the latter had just been acquired and was described to me when I
was in the American area. It was planned throughout with a view to
labour-saving. It was so constructed that it could take the flour off
the cars and, with practically no handling, convert it into bread
at the rate of 750,000 lbs. a day. This struck me as a peculiarly
American contribution to big business methods; but on expressing this
opinion I was immediately corrected. This form of bakery was a British
invention, which has been in use for some time on our lines. The
Americans owed their possession of the bakery to the courtesy of the
British Government, who had postponed their own order and allowed the
Americans to fill theirs four months ahead of their contract.

This is a sample of the kind of discovery that I was perpetually
making. Two out of three times when I thought I had run across a
characteristically American expression of efficiency, I was told that
it had been copied from the British. I learnt more about my own army's
business efficiency in studying it secondhand with the Americans,
than I had ever guessed existed in all the time that I had been an
inhabitant of the British Front. It is characteristic of us as a
people that we like to pretend that we muddle our way into success.
We advertise our mistakes and camouflage our virtues. We are almost
ashamed of gaining credit for anything that we have done well. There
is a fine dishonesty about this self-belittlement; but it is not
always wise. During these first few months of their being at war
the Americans have discovered England in almost as novel a sense as
Columbus did America. It was a joy to be with them and to watch their
surprise. The odd thing was that they had had to go to France to
find us out. Here they were, the picked business men of the world's
greatest industrial nation, frankly and admiringly hats off to British
"muddle-headed" methods. Not only were they hats off to the methods,
many of which they were copying, but they were also hats off to the
generous helpfulness of our Government and Military authorities in the
matter of advice, co-operation and supplies. From the private in the
ranks, who had been trained by British N.C.O.'s and Officers, to
the Generals at the head of departments, there was only one feeling
expressed for Great Britain--that of a new sincerity of friendship and
admiration. "John Bull and his brother Jonathan" had become more than
an empty phrase; it expressed a true and living relation.

A similar spirit of appreciation had grown up towards the French--not
the emotional, histrionic, Lafayette appreciation with which the
American troops sailed from America, but an appreciation based on
sympathy and a knowledge of deeds and character. I think this spirit
was best illustrated at Christmas when all over France, wherever
American troops were billeted, the rank and file put their hands deep
into their pockets to give the refugee children of their district the
first real Christmas they had had since their country was invaded.
Officers were selected to go to Paris to do the purchasing of the
presents, and I know of at least one case in which the men's gift was
so generous that there was enough money left over to provide for the
children throughout the coming year.

In France one hears none of that patronising criticism which used
to exist in America with regard to the older nations--none of those
arrogant assertions that "because we are younger we can do things
better." The bias of the American in France is all the other way; he
is near enough to the Judgment Day, which he is shortly to experience,
to be reverent in the presence of those who have stood its test. He is
in France to learn as well as to contribute. Between himself and his
brother soldiers of the British and French armies, there exists an
entirely manly and reciprocal respect. And it is reciprocal; both the
individual British and French fighting-man, now that they have seen
the American soldier, are clamorous to have him adjacent to their
line. The American has scarcely been blooded at this moment, and yet,
having seen him, they are both certain that he's not the pal to let
them down.

The confidence that the American soldier has created among his
soldier-Allies was best expressed to me by a British officer: "The
British, French and Americans are the three great promise-keeping
nations. For the first time in history we're standing together.
We're promise-keepers banded together against the falsehood of
Germany--that's why. It isn't likely that we shall start to tell lies
to one another."

Not likely!



III

THE WAR OF COMPASSION


Officially America declared war on Germany in the spring of 1917;
actually she committed her heart to the allied cause in September,
1914, when the first shipment of the supplies of mercy arrived in
Paris from the American Red Cross.

There are two ways of waging war: you can fight with artillery and
armed men; you can fight with ambulances and bandages. There's the war
of destruction and the war of compassion. The one defeats the enemy
directly with force; the other defeats him indirectly by maintaining
the morale of the men who are fighting and, what is equally important,
of the civilians behind the lines. Belgium would not be the utterly
defiant and unconquered nation that she is to-day, had it not been for
the mercy of Hoover and his disciples. Their voluntary presence
made the captured Belgian feel that he was earning the thanks of all
time--that the eyes of the world were upon him. They were neutrals,
but their mere presence condemned the cause that had brought them
there. Their compassion waged war against the Hun. The same is true of
the American Ambulance Units which followed the French Armies into the
fiercest of the carnage. They confirmed the poilu in his burning sense
of injustice. That they, who could have absented themselves, should
choose the damnation of destruction and dare the danger, convinced the
entire French nation of its own righteousness. And it was true of the
girls at the American hospitals who nursed the broken bodies which
their brothers had rescued. It was true of Miss Holt's _Lighthouse_
for the training of blinded soldiers, which she established in Paris
within eight months of war's commencement. It was true of the American
Relief Clearing House in Paris which, up to January, 1917, had
received 291 shipments and had distributed eight million francs. By
the time America put on armour, the American Red Cross, as the army's
expert in the strategy of compassion, found that it had to take over
more than eighty-six separate organisations which had been operating
in France for the best part of two years.

One cannot show pity with indignant hands and keep the mind neutral.
The Galilean test holds true, "He who is not for me is against me."
You cannot leave houses, lands, children, wife--everything that
counts--for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake without developing a
rudimentary aversion for the devil. All of which goes to prove that
America's heart was fighting for the Allies long before her ambassador
requested his passports from the Kaiser.

The American Red Cross Commission landed in France on the 12th of
June, 1917, seven days ahead of the Expeditionary Force. It had
taken less than five days to organise. Its first act was to convey a
monetary gift to the French hospitals. The first actual American Red
Cross contribution was made in April to the Number Five British Base
Hospital. The first American soldiers in France were doctors and
nurses. The first American fighting done in France was done with the
weapons of pity. The chief function of the American Red Cross up
to the present has been to "carry on" and to bridge the gap of
unavoidable delays while the army is preparing.

To prove that this "war of compassion" is no idle phrase, let me
illustrate with one dramatic instance. When the Italian line broke
under the pressure of Hun artillery and propaganda, the American Red
Cross sent representatives forward to inaugurate relief work for
the 700,000 refugees, who were pouring southward from the Friuti and
Veneto, homeless, hungry, possessing nothing but misfortune, spreading
despair and panic every step of the journey. Their bodies must be
cared for--that was evident; it would be easy for them to carry
disease throughout Italy. But the disease of their minds was an even
greater danger; if their demoralisation were not checked, it would
inevitably prove contagious.

The first two representatives of the American Red Cross arrived in
Rome on November 5th, with a quarter of a million dollars at their
disposal. That night they had a soup-kitchen going and fed 400 people.
Their first day's work is the record of an amazing spurt of energy. In
that first day they sent money for relief to every American Consul in
the districts affected. They mobilised the American colony in Rome and
arranged by wire for similar organisations to be formed throughout
the length and breadth of Italy, wherever they could lay hands on an
American. On all principal junction points through which the refugees
would pass, soup-kitchens were installed and clothes were purchased
and ready to be distributed as the trains pulled into the stations.
They were badly needed, for the passengers had endured all the rigours
of the retreat with the soldiers. They had been under shell and
machine-gun fire. They had been bombed by aeroplanes. No horror of
warfare had been spared them. Their clothes were verminous with weeks
of wearing. They were packed like cattle. Babies born on the journey
were wrapped in newspapers. There were instances of officers taking
off their shirts that the little bodies should not go naked. A
telegram was at once despatched to Paris for food and clothes and
hospital supplies. Twenty-four cars came through within a week,
despite the unusual military traffic. This ends the list of what was
accomplished by two men in one day.

The great thing was to make the demoralised Italians feel that America
was on the spot and helping them. The sending of troops could not have
reused their fighting spirit. They were sick of fighting. What they
needed was the assurance that the world was not wholly brutal--that
there was some one who was merciful, who did not condemn and who
was moved by their sorrow. This assurance the prompt action of the
American Red Cross gave. It restored in the affirmative with mercy,
precisely the quality which Hun fury and propaganda had destroyed with
lies. It restored to them their belief in the nobility of mankind, out
of which belief grows all true courage.

As the work progressed, it branched out on a much larger scale,
embracing civilian, military and child-welfare activities. In the
month of November upward of half a million lire were placed in the
hands of American consuls for distribution. One million lire were
contributed for the benefit of soldiers' families. A permanent
headquarters was established with trained business men and men who had
had experience under Hoover in Belgium in charge of its departments.
Over 100 hospitals and two principal magazines of hospital stores
had been lost in the retreat. The American Red Cross made up this
deficiency by supplying the bedding for no less than 3,000 beds.
Five weeks after the first two representatives had reached Rome
three complete ambulance sections, each section being made up of 20
ambulances, a staff car, a kitchen trailer and 33 men, were turned
over to the Italian Medical Service of the third Army. By the first
week in December the stream of refugees had practically stopped. Italy
had been made to realise that she was not fighting alone; her morale
had returned to her. This work, which had been initially undertaken
from purely altruistic motives, had proved to possess a value of the
highest military importance--an importance of the spirit utterly out
of proportion to the money and labour expended. Magnanimity arouses
magnanimity. In this case it revived the flame of Garibaldi which had
all but died. It achieved a strategic victory of the soul which no
amount of military assistance could have accomplished. The victory
of the American Red Cross on the Italian Front is all the more
significant since it was not until months later that Congress declared
war on Austria.

The campaign which the American Red Cross is waging in every country
in which it operates, is frankly an "out to win" campaign. To win the
war is its one and only object. What the army does for the courage of
the body, the Red Cross does for the courage of the mind. It builds
up the hearts and hopes of people who in three and a half years have
grown numb. It restores the human touch to their lives and, with
it, the spiritual horizon. Its business, while the army is still
preparing, is to bring home to the Allies in every possible way the
fact that America, with her hundred and ten millions of population, is
in the war with them, eager to play the game, anxious to sacrifice as
they have sacrificed, to give her man-power and resources as they have
done, until justice has been established for every man and nation.

It is necessary to lay stress on this programme since it differs
greatly from the popular conception of the functions of the Red Cross
in the battle area. It was on the field of Solferino in 1859, that
Henri Dunant went out before the fury had spent itself to tend the
wounded. It was here that he was fired with his great ambition to
found a non-combatant service, which should recognise no enemies and
be friends with every army. His ambition was realised when in 1864 the
Conference at Geneva chose the Swiss flag, reversed, as its emblem--a
red cross on a field of white--and laid the foundations for those
international understandings which have since formed for all
combatants, except the Hun in this present warfare, the protective law
for the sick and wounded. The original purpose of the Red Cross still
fills the imagination of the masses to the exclusion of all else that
it is doing. Directly the term "Red Cross" is mentioned the picture
that forms in most men's minds is of ambulances galloping through
the thick of battle-smoke and of devoted stretcher-bearers who brave
danger not to kill, but in order that they may save lives.

This war has changed all that. To-day the Red Cross has to minister
to not the wounded of armies only, but to the wounded of nations. In
a country like France, with trenches dug the entire length of her
eastern frontier and vast territories from which the entire population
has been evacuated, the wounds of her armies are small in comparison
with the wounds, bodily and mental, of her civil population--wounds
which are the outcome of over three years of privation. When the civil
population of any country has lost its pluck, no matter how splendid
the spirit of its soldiers, its armies become paralysed. The civilians
can commence peace negotiations behind the backs of their men in the
trenches. They can insist on peace by refusing to send them ammunition
and supplies. As a matter of fact the morale of the soldiers varies
directly with the morale of the civilians for whom they fight. Behind
every soldier stand a woman and a group of children. Their safety is
his inspiration. If they are neglected, his sacrifice is belittled.
If they beg that he should lay down his arms, his determination is
weakened. It is therefore a vital necessity, quite apart from the
humanitarian aspect, that the wounds of the civilians of belligerent
countries should be cared for. If the civilians are allowed to become
disheartened and cowardly, the heroic ideal of their fighting-men is
jeopardised. This fact has been recognised by the Red Cross Societies
of all countries in the present war; a large part of their energies
has been devoted to social and relief work of a civil nature. Even
in their purely military departments, the comfort of the troops
claims quite as much attention as their medical treatment and
hospitalisation. As a matter of fact, the actual carrying of the
wounded out of the trenches to the comparative safety of the dressing
station is usually done by combatants. A man has to live continually
under shell-fire to acquire the immunity to fear which passes for
courage. The bravest man is likely to get "jumpy," if he only faces up
to a bombardment occasionally. There are other reasons why combatants
should do the stretcher-bearing which do not need elaborating. The
combatants have an expert knowledge of their own particular frontage;
they are "wise" to the barraged areas; they are "up front" and
continually coming and going, so it is often an economy of man-power
for them to attend to their own wounded in the initial stages; they
are the nearest to a comrade when he falls and all carry the necessary
first-aid dressings; the emblem of the Red Cross has proved to be only
a slight protection, as the Hun is quite likely not to respect it.
What I am driving at is that the Red Cross has had to adapt itself to
the new conditions of modern warfare, so that very many of its most
important present-day functions are totally different from what
popular fancy imagines.

The American Red Cross has its French Headquarters in a famous
gambling club in the Place de la Concorde. It is somewhat strange to
pass through these rooms where rakes once flung away fortunes, and
to find them industriously orderly with the conscience of an imported
nation. By far the larger part of the staff are business men of
the Wall Street type--not at all the kind who have been accustomed
to sentimentalise over philanthropy. There is also a sprinkling
of trained social workers, clergy, journalists, and university
professors. The medical profession is represented by some of the
leading specialists of the States, but at Headquarters they are
distinctly in the minority. The purely medical work of the American
Red Cross forms only a part of its total activities. The men
at the head of affairs are bankers, merchants, presidents of
corporations--men who have been trained to think in millions and
to visualise broad areas. Girls are very much in evidence. They are
usually volunteers, drawn from all classes, who offered their services
to do anything that would help. To-day they are typists, secretaries,
stenographers, nurses.

The organisation is divided into three main departments:
the department of military affairs, of civil affairs and of
administration. Under these departments come a variety of bureaus:
the bureau of rehabilitation and reconstruction; of the care and
prevention of tuberculosis; of needy children and infant mortality;
of refugees and relief; of the re-education of the French mutilés; of
supplies; of the rolling canteens for the French armies; of the U.S.
Army Division; of the Military, Medical and Surgical Division, etc.
They are too numerous to mention in detail. The best way I can convey
the picture of immense accomplishment is to describe what I actually
saw in the field of operations.

The first place I will take you to is Evian, because here you see the
tragedy and need of France as embodied in individuals. Evian-les-Bains
is on Lake Geneva, looking out across the water to Switzerland. It is
the first point of call across the French frontier for the repatriés
returning from their German bondage. When the Boche first swept down
on the northern provinces he pushed the French civilian population
behind him. He has since kept them working for him as serfs, labouring
in the captured coal-mines, digging his various lines of defences,
setting up wire-entanglements, etc. Apart from the testimony of
repatriated French civilians, I myself have seen messages addressed
by Frenchmen to their wives, scrawled surreptitiously on the planks of
Hun dug-outs in the hope that one day the dug-outs would be captured,
and the messages passed on by a soldier of the Allies. After three and
a half years of enforced labour, many of these captured civilians are
worked out. To the Boche, with his ever-increasing food-shortage, they
represent useless mouths. Instead of filling them he is driving their
owners back, broken and useless, by way of Switzerland. To him human
beings are merchandise to be sold upon the hoof like cattle. No
spiritual values enter into the bargain. When the body is exhausted it
is sent to the knacker's, as though it belonged to a worn-out horse.
The entire attitude is materialistic and degrading. Evian-les-Bains,
the once gay gambling resort of the cosmopolitan, has become the
knacker's shop for French civilians exhausted by their German
servitude. The Hun shoves them across the border at the rate of about
1,300 a day. From the start I have always felt that this war was a
crusade; what I saw at Evian made me additionally certain. When I was
in the trenches I never had any hatred of the Boche. Probably I shall
lose my hatred in pity for him when I get to the Front again--but
for the present I hate him. It's here in France that one sees what a
vileness he has created in the children's and women's lives.

I took the night train down from Paris. Early in the morning I woke
up to find myself in the gorges of the Alps, high peaks with romantic
Italian-looking settings soaring on every side. At noon we reached
Lake Geneva, lying slate-coloured and sombre beneath a wintry sky.
That afternoon I saw the train of repatriés arrive.

I was on the platform when the train pulled into the station. It might
have been a funeral cortége, only there was a horrible difference: the
corpses pretended to be alive. The American Ambulance men were there
in force. They climbed into the carriages and commenced to help the
infirm to alight. The exiles were all so stiff with travel that they
could scarcely move at first. The windows of the train were grey with
faces. Such faces! All of them old, even the little children's. The
Boche makes a present to France of only such human wreckage as is
unuseful for his purposes. He is an acute man of business. The convoy
consisted of two classes of persons--the very ancient and the very
juvenile. You can't set a man of eighty to dig trenches and you can't
make a prostitute out of a girl-child of ten. The only boys were of
the mal-nourished variety. Men, women and children--they all had the
appearance of being half-witted.

They were terribly pathetic. As I watched them I tried to picture to
myself what three and a half long years of captivity must have meant.
How often they must have dreamt of the exaltation of this day--and
now that it had arrived, they were not exalted. They had the look of
people so spiritually benumbed that they would never know despair or
exaltation again. They had a broken look; their shoulders were crushed
and their skirts bedraggled. Many of them carried babies--pretty
little beggars with flaxen hair. It wasn't difficult to guess their
parentage.

As they were herded on the platform a low, strangled kind of moaning
went up. I watched individual lips to see where the sound came from.
I caught no movement. The noise was the sighing of tired animals.
Every one had some treasured possession. Here was an old man with
an alarm-clock; there an aged woman with an empty bird-cage. A boy
carried half-a-dozen sauce-pans strung together. Another had a spare
pair of patched boots under his arm. Quite a lot of them clutched a
bundle of umbrellas. I found myself reflecting that these were the
remnants of families who had been robbed of everything that they
valued in the world. Whatever they had saved from the ruin ought to
represent the possession which had claimed most of their affections,
and yet--! What did an alarm-clock, an empty bird-cage, a pair of
patched boots, a string of sauce-pans, a bundle of ragged umbrellas
signify in any life? What utter poverty, if these were the best that
they could save!

There was a band on the platform, consisting mainly of bugles and
drums, to welcome them. The leader is reputed to be the laziest man
in the French Army. It is said that they tried him at everything and
then, in despair, sent him to Evian to drum forgotten happiness into
the bones of repatriés. Whatever his former military record, he now
does his utmost to impersonate the defiant and impassioned soul of
France. His moustaches are curled fiercely. His brows are heavy as
thunderclouds. When he drums, the veins swell out in his neck with the
violence of his energy.

Suddenly, with an ominous preliminary rumble, the band struck up
the Marseillaise. You should have seen the change in this crowd
of corpses. You must remember that these people had been so long
accustomed to lies and snares that it would probably take days to
persuade them that they were actually safe home in France.

As the battle-song for which they had suffered shook the air their
lips rustled like leaves. There was hardly any sound--only a hoarse
whisper. Then, all of a sudden, words came--an inarticulate, sobbing
commotion. Tears blinded the eyes of every spectator, even those who
had witnessed similar scenes often; we were crying because the singing
was so little human.

"Vive la France! Vive la France!" They waved flags--not the
tri-colour, but flags which had been given them in Switzerland. They
clung together dazed, women with slatternly dresses, children with
peaked faces, men unhappy and unshaven. A woman caught sight of my
uniform. "Vive l'Angleterre," she cried, and they all came stumbling
forward to embrace me. It was horrible. They creaked like automatons.
They gestured and mouthed, but the soul had been crushed out of their
eyes. You don't need any proofs of Hun atrocities; the proofs are to
be seen at Evian. There are no severed hands, no crucified bodies;
only hearts that have been mutilated. Sorrow is at its saddest when
it cannot even contrive to appear dignified. There is no dignity
about the repatriés at Evian, with their absurd umbrellas, sauce-pans,
patched-boots, alarm-clocks and bird-cages. They do not appeal to one
as sacrificed patriots. There is no nobility in their vacant stare.
They create a cold feeling of bodily decay--only it is the spirit that
is dead and gangrenous.

There is a blasphemous story by Leonid Andreyev, which recounts the
bitterness of the after years of Lazarus and the mischief Christ
wrought in recalling him from the grave. After his unnatural return
to life there was a blueness as of putrescence beneath his pallor;
an iciness to his touch; a choking silence in his presence; a horror
in his gaze, as if he were remembering his three days in the
sepulchre--as if forbidden knowledge groped behind his eyes. He rarely
looked at any one; there were none who courted his glance, who did not
creep away to die. The terror of his fame spread beyond Bethany. Rome
heard of him, and at that safe distance laughed. It did not laugh
after Cæsar Augustus had sent for him. Cæsar Augustus was a god upon
earth; he could not die. But when he had questioned Lazarus, peeped
through the windows of his eyes, and read what lay hidden in that
forbidden memory, he commanded that red-hot irons should quench such
sight for ever. From Rome Lazarus groped his way back to Palestine and
there, long years after his Saviour had been crucified, continued to
stumble through his own particular Gethsemane of blindness. I thought
of that story in the presence of this crowd, which carried with it the
taint of the grave.

But the band was still playing the Marseillaise--over and over it
played it. With each repetition it was as though these people, three
years dead, made another effort to cast aside their shrouds. Little
by little something was happening--something wonderful. Backs were
straightening; skirts were being caught up; resolution was rippling
from face to face--it passed and re-passed with each new roll of the
drums. The hoarse cries and moaning with which we had commenced were
gradually transforming themselves into singing.

There were some who were too weak to walk; these were carried by the
American Red Cross men into the waiting ambulances. The remainder were
marshalled into a disorderly procession and led out of the station by
the band.

We were moving down the hill to the palaces beside the lake--the
palaces to which all France used to troop for pleasure. We moved
soddenly at first, shuffling in our steps. But the drums were still
rolling out their defiance and the bugles were still blowing. The
laziest man in the French Army was doing his utmost to belie his
record. The ill-shod, flattened feet took up the music. They began to
dance. Were there ever feet less suited to dancing? That they should
dance was the acme of tragedy. Stockings fell down in creases about
the ankles. Women commenced to jig their Boche babies in their arms;
consumptive men and ancients waved their sauce-pans and grotesque
bundles of umbrellas. The sight was damnable. It was a burlesque. It
pierced the heart. What right had the Boche to leave these people so
comic after he had squeezed the life-blood out of them?

All his insults to humanity became suddenly typified in these five
hundred jumping tatterdemalions--the way in which he had plundered the
world of its youth, its cleanness, its decency. I felt an anger which
battlefields had never aroused, where men moulder above ground and
become unsightly beneath the open sky. The slain of battlefields
were at least motionless; they did not gape and grin at you with
the dreadful humour of these perambulating dead. I felt the Galilean
passion which animates every Red Cross worker at Evian: the agony
to do something to make these murdered people live again. This last
convoy came, I discovered, from a city behind the Boche lines against
which last summer I had often directed fire. It was full in sight from
my observing station. I had watched the very houses in which these
people, who now walked beside me, had sheltered. For three and a half
years these women's bodies had been at the Hun's mercy. I tried to
bring the truth home to myself. Their men and young girls had been
left behind. They themselves had been flung back on overburdened
France only because they were no longer serviceable. They were
returning actually penniless, though seemingly with money. The thrifty
German makes a practice of seizing all the good redeemable French
money of the repatriés before he lets them escape him, giving them in
exchange worthless paper stuff of his own manufacture, which has no
security behind it and is therefore not negotiable.

We came to the Casino, where endless formalities were necessary. First
of all in the big hall, formerly devoted to gambling, the repatriés
were fed at long tables. As I passed, odd groups seeing my uniform,
hurriedly dropped whatever they were doing and, removing their caps,
stood humbly at attention. There was fear in their promptness. Where
they came from an officer exacted respect with the flat of his
sword. What a dumb, helpless jumble of humanity! It was as though the
occupants of a morgue had become galvanised and had temporarily risen
from their slabs.

The band had been augmented by trumpets. It took its place in the
gallery and deluged the hall with patriotic fervour. An old man
climbed on a table and yelled, "Vive La France!" But they had grown
tired of shouting; they soon grew tired. The cry was taken up faintly
and soon exhausted itself. Nothing held their attention for long.
Most of them sat hunched up and inert, weakly crying. They were not
beautiful. They were not like our men who die in battle. They were
animated memories of horror. "What lies before us? What lies before
us?" That was the question that their silence asked perpetually. Some
of them had husbands with the French army; others had sweethearts.
What would those men say to the flaxen-haired babies who nestled
against the women's breasts? And the sin was not theirs--they were
such tired, pretty mites. "What lies before us?" The babies, too,
might well have asked that question. Do you wonder that I at last
began to share the Frenchman's hatred for the Boche?

An extraordinary person in a white tie, top hat and evening dress
entered. He looked like a cross between Mr. Gerard's description of
himself in Berlin and a head-waiter. He evidently expected his advent
to cause a profound sensation. I found out why: he was the official
welcomer to Evian. Twice a day, for an infinity of days, he had
entered in solemn fashion, faced the same tragic assembly, made the
same fiery oration, gained applause at the climax of the same rounded
periods and allowed his voice to break in the same rightly timed
places. Having kept his audience in sufficient suspense as regards
his mission, he unwrapped the muffler from his neck, removed his coat,
felt his throat to see whether it was in good condition, swelled out
his chest, including his waist-coat which was spanned by the broad
ribbon of his office, then let loose the painter of his emotion and
slipped off into the mid-stream of perfunctory eloquence. With all his
disrobing he had retained his top-hat; he held it in his right hand
with the brim pressed against his thigh, very much in the manner of
a showman at a circus. It contributed largely to the opulence of his
gestures.

He always seemed to have concluded and was always starting up afresh,
as if in reluctant response to spectral clapping. He called upon the
repatriés never to forget the crimes that had been wrought against
them--to spread abroad the fire of their indignation, the story of
their ravished womanhood and broken families all over France. They
watched him leaden-eyed and wept softly. To forget, to forget, that
was all that they wanted--to blot out all the past. This man with
the top-hat and the evening-dress, he hadn't suffered--how could he
understand? They didn't want to remember; with those flaxen-haired
children against their breasts the one boon they craved was
forgetfulness. And so they cowered and wept softly. It was
intolerable.

And now the formalities commenced. They all had to be medically
examined. Questions of every description were asked them. They were
drifted from bureau to bureau where people sat filling up official
blanks. The Americans see to the children. They come from living in
cellars, from conditions which are insanitary, from cities in the
army zones where they were underfed. The fear is that they may
spread contagion all over France. When infectious cases are found the
remnants of families have to be broken up afresh. The mothers collapse
on benches sobbing their hearts out as their children are led away.
For three and a half years everything they have loved has been led
away--how can they believe that these Americans mean only mercy?

From three to four hours are spent in completing all these necessary
investigations. Before the repatriés are conducted to their billets,
all their clothes have to be disinfected and every one has to be
bathed. The poor people are utterly worn out by the end of it--they
have already done a continuous four days' journey in cramped trains.
Before being sent to France they have been living for from two to
three weeks in Belgium. The Hun always sends the repatriés to Belgium
for a few weeks before returning them. The reason for this is that
they for the most part come from the army zones, and a few weeks will
make any information they possess out of date. Another reason is
that food is more plentiful in Belgium, thanks to the Allies' Relief
Commission. These people have been kept alive on sugar-beets for the
past few months, so it is as well to feed them at the Allies' expense
for a little while, in order that they may create a better impression
when they return to France. The American doctors pointed out to me the
pulpy flesh of the children and the distended stomachs which, to the
unpractised eye, seemed a sign of over-nourishment. "Wind and water,"
they said; "that's all these children are. They've no stamina.
Sugar-beets are the most economic means of just keeping the body and
the soul together."

The lights are going out in the Casino. It is the hour when, in
the old days, life would be becoming most feverish about the gaming
tables. In little forlorn groups the repatriés are being conducted
to their temporary quarters in the town. To-morrow morning before it
is light, another train-load will arrive, the band will again play
the Marseillaise, the American Red Cross workers will again be in
attendance, the gentleman in the top-hat and white-tie will again make
his fiery oration of welcome, his audience will again pay no attention
but will weep softly--the tediously heart-rending scene will be
rehearsed throughout in every detail by an entirely new batch of
actors. Twice a day, summer and winter, the same tragedy is enacted at
Evian. It is a continuous, never-ending performance.

Poor people! These whom I have seen, if they have no friends to claim
them, will re-start their journey to some strange department on which
they will be billeted as paupers. Here again the American Red Cross is
doing good work, for it sends one of its representatives ahead to see
that proper preparations have been made for their reception. After
they have reached their destination, it looks them up from time to
time to make sure that they are being well cared for.

If one wants to picture the case of the repatrié in its true misery,
all he needs to do is to convert it into terms of his own mother or
grandmother. She has lived all her life in the neighbourhood of Vimy,
let us say. She was married there and it was there that she bore
all her children. She and her husband have saved money; they are
substantial people now and need not fear the future. Their sons are
gaining their own living; one daughter is married, the others are
arriving at the marriageable age. One day the Hun sweeps down on them.
The sons escape to join the French army; the girls and their parents
stay behind to guard their property. They are immediately evacuated
from Vimy and sent to some city, such as Drocourt, further behind
the Hun front-line. Here they are gradually robbed of all their
possessions. At the beginning all their gold is confiscated; later
even the mattresses upon their beds are requisitioned. For three and
a half years they are subjected to both big and petty tyrannies,
till their spirits are so broken that fear becomes their predominant
emotion. The father is led away to work in the mines. One by one the
daughters are commandeered and sent off into the heart of Germany,
where it will be no one's business to guard their virtue. At last
the mother is left with only her youngest child. Of her sons who are
fighting with the French armies she has no knowledge, whether they are
living or dead. Then one day it is decided by her captors that they
have no further use for her. They part her from her last remaining
child and pack her off by way of Belgium and Switzerland back to her
own country. She arrives at Evian penniless and half-witted with the
terror of her sorrow. There is no one to claim her; the part of France
that knew her is all behind the German lines. A label is tied to her,
as if she was a piece of baggage, and she is shipped off to Avignon,
let us say. She has never been in the South before; it is a foreign
country to her. Poverty and adversity have broken her pride; she has
nothing left that will command respect. There is nothing left in life
to which she can fasten her affections. Such utter forlornness is
never a welcome sight. Is it to be wondered at that the strangers to
whom she is sent are not always glad to see her? Is it to be wondered
at that, after her repatriation, she often wilts and dies? Her sorrow
has the appearance of degradation. Wherever she goes, she is a threat
and a peril to the fighting morale of the civilian population. Yet in
her pre-war kindliness and security she might have been your mother or
mine.

The American Red Cross, by maintaining contact with such people, is
keeping them reminded that they are not utterly deserted--that the
whole of civilised humanity cares tremendously what becomes of them
and is anxious to lighten the load of their sacrifice.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have before me a pile of sworn depositions, made by exiles returned
from the invaded territories. They are separately numbered and dated;
each bears the name of the region or town from which the repatrié
came. Here are a few extracts which, when pieced together, form a
picture of the life of captured French civilians behind the German
lines. I have carefully avoided glaring atrocities. Atrocities are
as a rule isolated instances, due to isolated causes. They occur, but
they are not typical of the situation. The real Hun atrocity is the
attitude towards life which calls chivalry sentiment, fair-play a
waste of opportunity and ruthlessness strength. This attitude is
all summed up in the one word Prussianism. The repatriés have been
Prussianised out of their wholesome joy and belief in life; it is this
that makes them the walking accusations that they are to-day. In
the following depositions they give some glimpses of the calculated
processes by which their happiness has been murdered.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Lately copper, tin, and zinc have been removed in the factories and
amongst the traders, and quite recently in private houses. For all
these requisitions the Germans gave Requisition Bonds, but private
individuals who received them never got paid the money. To force men
to work 'voluntarily' and sign contracts the Germans employed the
following means: the Germans gave these men nothing to eat, but
authorised their families to send them parcels; these parcels once in
the hands of the Germans are shown to these unhappy men and are not
handed over until they have signed. About a week ago young boys from
the age of fourteen who had come back from the Ardennes had to present
themselves at the Kdr to be registered anew; a number of the young
people work in the sawmills, etc.; some have died of privation and
fatigue."

       *       *       *       *       *

"A week after Easter this year the population of LILLE was warned by
poster that all must be ready to leave the town. At three o'clock in
the morning private houses were invaded by the German soldiers; they
sorted out women and girls who were to be deported. There then took
place scandalous scenes: young girls belonging to the most worthy
families in the town had to pass medical visits even with the speculum
and had to endure most atrocious physical and moral suffering. These
young girls were segregated like beasts anywhere in the rooms of the
town halls and schoolhouses, and were mingled with the dregs of the
population."

       *       *       *       *       *

"For a certain time the Germans did not requisition milk and allowed
it to be sold, but now this is forbidden under a fine of 1,000 marks
or three months' imprisonment. Recently WIGNEHIES was fined 100,000
frcs., and as the whole of this sum was not paid the Germans inflicted
punishment as follows: Several inhabitants of WIGNEHIES were caught in
the act of disobeying by the gendarmes and were struck, and bitten by
the police dogs of the gendarmes because they refused to denounce the
sellers.... Brutal treatment is due more to the gendarmes than to the
soldiers. About six weeks ago Marceau Horlet of WIGNEHIES was
found, on a search by the gendarmes, to have a piece of meat in his
possession. He was brutally beaten by them and bitten by the police
dogs because he refused to say who had given it to him. In 1915, the
youth Rémy Valléi of WIGNEHIES, age 15, was walking in the street
after 6-9 p.m., which was forbidden; he was seen by two gendarmes and
ran away. He was straightway killed, receiving six revolver bullets in
his body."

       *       *       *       *       *

"At PIGNICOURT during the CHAMPAGNE offensive the village was
bombarded by the French, who were attempting to destroy the railway
lines and bridges. The Commandant, by name Krama, of the Kdr, forced
men and youths, and even women, to fill up the holes made by the
bombardment during the action. A German general passed and reprimanded
them on the ground that there was danger to the civilians; they were
withdrawn for the moment, but sent back as soon as the general had
left."

       *       *       *       *       *

"As regards the Hispano-American revictualling, it may be said with
truth that without this the population of Northern France would have
died of hunger, for the Germans considered themselves liberated from
any responsibility. During the first months of the war before this
Committee started, the Germans put up posters saying that the Allies
were trying to starve Germany, who in turn was not obliged to feed the
invaded territory.... When informant (who is from ST. QUENTIN) left at
the general evacuation of this town, no requisition bonds were given
for household goods. As the inhabitants left, their furniture was
loaded on to motor lorries and taken to the station, whence it was
sent by special train to Germany. This shows clearly that requisition
bonds issued by the Germans show only the small proportion of what has
been suffered by the inhabitants.... Informant was the witness of the
execution of French civilians whose only fault was either to hide
arms or pigeons: several who had committed these infractions of
requisitions were shot, and the Germans announced the fact by poster
of a blood-red colour. In other cases the men shot were British
prisoners who had dressed in civil clothes on the arrival of the
Germans. Informant had a long conversation with one of them before
his execution. He told informant how he had been unable to leave ST.
QUENTIN, viz., by the 28th August. Some passers-by offered to hide
him. It appears that, through his ignorance of the French language,
he was unaware that the Germans threatened execution to all men found
after a certain date. He was discovered and condemned to death for
espionage. It is obvious, as the man himself said, that one could not
imagine a man acting as a spy without knowing either the language of
the country or that of the enemy."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Before the evacuation of the population the Germans chose those who
were to remain as civilian workers, viz., 120 men from 15 to 60.
On the very day of the evacuation they kept back at the station 27
others. These men are now at CANTIN or SOMAIN, where they are employed
on the roads or looking after munitions in the Arras group. The others
at DECHY and GUESNIN are in the VIMY group and are making pill-boxes
or railway lines. A certain number of these workers refused to carry
out the work ordered, and as punishment during the summer were tied to
chairs and exposed bareheaded to the full blaze of the sun. They were
often threatened to be shot."

       *       *       *       *       *

"After the bombardment of LILLE the Germans entered ENNETIÈRES on
the 12th October, 1914. On the next Monday 200 Uhlans occupied the
Commune, and houses and haystacks were burned.... At LOMME every one
was forced to work: the Saxon Kdnt. Schoper announced that all women
who did not obey within 24 hours would be interned: all the women
obeyed. They were employed in the making of osier-revêtement two
metres high for the trenches. The men were forced to put up barbed
wire near Fort Denglas, two kltrs. from the front. A few days after
the evacuation of ENNETIÈRES the Uhlans shot a youth, Jean Leclercq,
age 17, son of the gardener of Count D'Hespel, simply because they had
found a telephone wire in the courtyard of the château."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Informant, who has lost his right arm, was nevertheless forced to
work for the Germans, notably to unload coal and to work on the roads.
He had with him males from 13 to 60. Having objected because of his
lost arm, he was threatened with imprisonment. At LOMME squads of
workers were given the work of putting up barbed wire; women were
forced to make sand bags. In cases of refusal on either side the Kdr.
inflicted four or five weeks' imprisonment, to say nothing of blows
with sticks inflicted by the soldiers. In spring 1917 a number of
men were sent from LOMME to the BEAUVIN-PROVINS region to work on
defences.... Those who refused to sign were threatened and struck with
the butts of rifles, and left in cellars sometimes filled with water
during bombardments. Several of them came back seriously ill from
privation."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Young girls are separated from their mothers; there are levies made
at every moment. Sometimes these young girls have barely a few hours
before the moment of departure.... Several young girls have written
to say that they are very unhappy and that they sleep in camps amongst
girls of low class and condition."

       *       *       *       *       *

"For a long time past women have been forced to work as road
labourers. These work in the quarries and transport wood cut down by
the men in the mountain forest. A number of women and young girls have
been removed from their families and sent in the direction of RHEIMS
and RETHEL, where it is said (although this cannot be confirmed) that
they are employed in aerodromes."

       *       *       *       *       *

These extracts should serve to explain the mental and physical
depression of the returning exiles. They have been bullied out of the
desire to live and out of all possession of either their bodies or
their souls. They have been treated like cattle, and as cattle they
have come to regard themselves. Lazaruses--that's what they are! The
unmerciful Boche, having killed and buried them, drags them out
from the tomb and compels them to go through the antics of life. Le
Gallienne's poem comes to my mind:

  "Loud mockers in the angry street
  Say Christ is crucified again--
  Twice pierced those gospel-bearing feet,
  Twice broken that great heart in vain...."

That is all true at Evian. But when I see the American men and girls,
leaning over the Boche babies in their cots and living their hearts
into the hands and feet of the spiritually maimed, the last two lines
of the poem become true for me:

  "I hear, and to myself I say,
  'Why, Christ walks with me every day.'"

The work of the American Red Cross at Evian is largely devoted
to children. It provides all the ambulance transportation for the
repatriés, to and from the station. American doctors and nurses do
all the examining of the children at the Casino. On an average, four
hundred pass through their hands daily. The throat, nose, teeth,
glands and skin of each child are inspected. If the child is suspected
or attacked by any disease, it is immediately segregated and sent to
the American hospital. If the infection is only local or necessitates
further examination, the child and its family are summoned to present
themselves at the American dispensary next day. Every precaution
is employed to prevent the spread of infection--particularly the
infection of tuberculosis. Evian is the gateway from Germany through
which disease and death may be carried to the furthest limits of
France. Very few of the repatriés are really healthy. It would be
a wonder if they were after the privations through which they have
passed. All of them are weakened in vitality and broken down in
stamina. Many of them have no homes to go to and have to be sent to
departments of the interior and the south. If they were sent in an
unhealthy condition, it would mean the spread of epidemics.

The Red Cross has a large children's hospital at Evian in the villas
and buildings of the Hôtel Chatelêt. This hospital deals with the
contagious cases. It has others, especially one at the Château des
Halles, thirty kilometers from Lyons, which take the devitalised,
convalescent and tubercular cases. The Château des Halles is a
splendidly built modern building, arranged in an ideal way for
hospital use. It stands at the head of a valley, with an all day sun
exposure and large grounds. Close to the Château are a number of small
villages in which it is possible to lodge the repatriés in families.
This is an important part of the repatrié's problem, as after their
many partings they fight fiercely against any further separations. One
of the chief reasons for having the Convalescent Hospital out in the
country is that families can be quartered in the villages and so kept
together.

The pathetic hunger of these people for one another after they have
been so long divided, was illustrated for me on my return journey to
Paris. A man of the tradesman class had been to Evian to meet his wife
and his boy of about eleven. They were among the lucky ones, for they
had a home to go to. He was not prepossessing in appearance. He had a
weak face, lined with anxiety, broken teeth and limp hair. His wife,
as so often happens in French marriages, had evidently been the
manageress. She was unbeautiful in rusty black; her clothes were the
ill-assorted make-shifts of the civilian who escapes from Germany. Her
eyes were shifty with the habit of fear and sunken with the weariness
of crying. The boy was a bright little fellow, full of defiance and
anecdotes of his recent captors.

When I entered the carriage, they were sitting huddled together--the
man in the middle, with an arm about either of them. He kept pressing
them to him, kissing them by turn in a spasmodic unrestrained fashion,
as if he still feared that he might lose them and could not convince
himself of the happy truth that they were once again together. The
woman did not respond to his embraces; she seemed indifferent to him,
indifferent to life, indifferent to any prospects. The boy seemed fond
of his father, but embarrassed by his starved demonstrativeness.

I listened to their conversation. The man's talk was all of the
future--what splendid things he would do for them. How, as long
as they lived, he would never waste a moment from their sides. It
appeared that he had been at Tours, on a business trip when the war
broke out, and could not get back to Lille before the Germans arrived
there. For three and a half years he had lived in suspense, while
everything he loved had lain behind the German lines. The woman
contributed no suggestions to his brilliant plans. She clung to him,
but she tried to divert his affection. When she spoke it was of small
domestic abuses: the exorbitant prices she had had to pay for food;
the way in which the soldiery had stolen her pots and pans; the
insolence she had experienced when she had lodged complaints against
the men before their officers. And the boy--he wanted to be a poilu.
He kept inventing revenges he would take in battle, if the war lasted
long enough for his class to be called out. As darkness fell they
ceased talking. I began to realise that in three and a half years they
had lost contact. They were saying over and over the things that
had been said already; they were trying to prevent themselves from
acknowledging that they had grown different and separate. The only
bond which held them as a family was their common loneliness and fear
that, if they did not hold together, their intolerable loneliness
would return. When the light was hooded, the boy sank his hand against
his father's shoulder; the woman nestled herself in the fold of his
arm, with her head turned away from him, that he might not kiss her so
often. The man sat upright, his eyes wide open, watching them sleeping
with a kind of impotent despair. They were together; and yet they
were not together. He had recovered them; nevertheless, he had not
recovered them. Those Boches, the devils, they had kept something;
they had only sent their bodies back. All night long, whenever I
woke up as the train halted, the little man was still guarding them
jealously as a dog guards a bone, and staring morosely at the blank
wall of the future.

These were among the lucky ones; the boy and woman had had a man to
meet them. Somewhere in France there was protection awaiting them and
the shelter of a house that was not charity. And yet ... all night
while they slept the man sat awake, facing up to facts. These were
among the lucky ones! That is Evian; that is the tragedy and need of
France as you see it embodied in individuals.

       *       *       *       *       *

The total number of repatriés and réfugiés now in France is said to
total a million and a half. The repatriés are the French civilians who
were captured by the Germans in their advance and have since been sent
back. The réfugiés are the French civilians from the devastated areas,
who have always remained on the Allies' side of the line. The réfugiés
are divided into two classes: réfugiés proper--that is fugitives
from the front, who fled for the most part at the time of the German
invasion; and évacués--those who were sent out of the war zone by the
military authorities. Naturally a large percentage of this million and
a half have lost everything and, irrespective of their former worldly
position, now live with the narrowest margin between themselves and
starvation. The French Government has treated them with generosity,
but in the midst of a war it has had little time to devote to
educating them into being self-supporting. A great number of
funds have been privately raised for them in France; many separate
organisations for their relief have been started. The American Red
Cross is making this million and a half people its special care, and
to do so is co-operating directly with the French Government and with
existing French civilian projects. Its action is dictated by mercy
and admiration, but in results this policy is the most far-seeing
statesmanship. A million and a half plundered people, if neglected and
allowed to remain downhearted, are likely to constitute a danger to
the morale of the bravest nation. Again, from the point of view of
after-war relations, to have been generous towards those who have
suffered is to have won the heart of France. The caring for the French
repatriates and refugees is a definite contribution to the winning of
the war.

The French system of handling this human stream of tragedy is to
send the sick to local hospitals and the exhausted to the _maison
de repos_. The comparatively healthy are allowed to be claimed by
friends; the utterly homeless are sent to some prefecture remote from
the front-line. The prefects in turn distribute them among towns and
villages, lodging them in old barracks, casinos and any buildings
which war-conditions have made vacant. The adults are allowed by the
Government a franc and a half per day, and the children seventy-five
centimes.

The armies have drained France of her doctors since the war; until
the Americans came, the available medical attention was wholly
inadequate to the civilian population. The American Red Cross is now
establishing dispensaries through the length and breadth of France.
In country districts, inaccessible to towns, it is inaugurating
automobile-dispensaries which make their rounds on fixed and
advertised days. In addition to this it has started a child-welfare
movement, the aim of which is to build up the birth-rate and lower the
infant mortality by spreading the right kind of knowledge among the
women and girls.

The condition of the refugees and repatriates, thrust into communities
to which they came as paupers and crowded into buildings which were
never planned for domestic purposes, has been far from enviable. In
September, 1917, the American Red Cross handed over the solving of
this problem to one of its experts who had organised the aid given to
San Francisco after the earthquake, and who had also had charge of the
relief-work necessitated by the Ohio floods at Dayton. Co-operating
with the French, houses partially constructed at the outbreak of war
were now completed and furnished, and approximately three thousand
families were supplied with homes and privacy. The start made
proved satisfactory. Supplies, running into millions of francs, were
requisitioned, and the plan for getting the people out of public
buildings into homes was introduced to the officials of most of the
departments of France. Delegates were sent out by the Red Cross to
undertake the organisation of the work. Money was apportioned for the
supplying of destitute families with furniture and the instruments
of trade; the object in view was not to pauperise them, but to afford
them the opportunity for becoming self-supporting. Re-construction
work in those devastated areas which have been won back from the Boche
was hurried forward in order that the people who had been uprooted
from the soil might be returned to it and, in being returned to their
own particular soil, might recover their place in life and their
balance.

I visited the devastated areas of the Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Oise and
Aisne and saw what is being accomplished. This destroyed territory
is roughly one hundred miles long by thirty miles broad at its
widest point. In 1912 one-quarter of the wheat produced in France
and eighty-seven per cent. of the beet crop employed in the national
industry of sugar-making, were raised in these departments of the
north. The invasion has diminished the national wheat production by
more than a half. It is obvious, then, that in getting these districts
once more under cultivation two birds are being killed with one stone:
the refugee is being made a self-supporting person--an economic asset
instead of a dead weight--and the tonnage problem is being solved.
If more food is grown behind the Western Front, grain-ships can be
released for transporting the munitions of war from America.

The French Government had already made a start in this undertaking
before America came into the war. As early as 1914 it voted three
hundred million francs and appointed a group of _sous-préfets_ to
see to the dispensing of it. Little by little, as the Huns have been
driven back, the wealthier inhabitants, whose money was safe in Paris
banks, have returned to these districts and opened _oeuvres_ for the
poorer inhabitants. Many of them have lost their sons and husbands;
they find in their daily labour for others worse off than themselves
an escape from life-long despair. Misfortune is a matter of comparison
and contrast. We are all of us unhappy or fortunate according to our
standards of selfishness and our personal interpretation of our lot.
These patriots are bravely turning their experience of sorrow into the
materials of service. They can speak the one and only word which makes
a bond of sympathy between the prosperous and the broken-hearted, "I,
too, have suffered." I came across one such woman in the neighbourhood
of Villequier-au-Mont. She was a woman of title and a royalist. Her
estates had been laid waste by the invasion and all her men-folk, save
her youngest son, were dead. Directly the Hun withdrew last spring,
she came back to the wilderness which had been created and commenced
to spend what remained of her fortune upon helping her peasants. These
peasants had been the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the Hun
for three and a half years. When his armies retreated, they took with
them the girls and the young men, leaving behind only the weaklings,
the children and the aged. Word came to the Red Cross official of
the district that her remaining son had been killed in action; he was
asked to break the news to her. He went out to her ruined village
and found her sitting among a group of women in the shell of a house,
teaching them to make garments for their families. She was pleased to
see him; she was in need of more materials. She had been intending
to make the journey to see him herself. She was full of her work and
enthusiastic over the valiance of her people. He led her aside and
told her. She fell silent. Her face quivered--that was all. Then she
completed her list of requirements and went back to her women. In
living to comfort other people's grief, she had no time to nurse her
own.

These "oeuvres," or groups of workers, settle down in a shattered
village or township. The military authorities place the township in
their charge. They at once commence to get roofs on to such houses
as still have walls. They supply farm-implements, poultry, rabbits,
carts, seeds, plants, etc. They import materials from Paris and
form sewing classes for the women and girls. They encourage the
trades-people to re-start their shops and lend them the necessary
initial capital. What is perhaps most valuable, they lure the
terror-stricken population out of their caves and dug-outs, and set
them an example of hope and courage. Some of the best pioneer work
of this sort has been done by the English Society of Friends who now,
together with the Friends of the United States, have become a part
of the Bureau of the Department of Civil Affairs of the American Red
Cross.

The American Red Cross works through the "oeuvres" which it found
already operating in the devastated area; it places its financial
backing at their disposal, its means of motor transport and its
personnel; it grafts on other "oeuvres," operating in newly taken over
villages, in which Americans, French and English work side by side
for the common welfare; at strategic points behind the lines it
has established a chain of relief warehouses, fully equipped with
motor-lorries and cars. These warehouses furnish everything that an
agricultural people starting life afresh can require--food, clothes,
blankets, beds, mattresses, stoves, kitchen utensils, reapers,
binders, mowing-machines, threshing-machines, garden-tools, soap,
tooth brushes, etc. If you can conceive of yourself as having been a
prosperous farmer and waking up one morning broken in heart and dirty
in person, with your barns, live-stock, daughters, sons, everything
gone--not a penny left in the world--you can imagine your necessities,
and then form some picture of the fore-thought that goes to the
running of a Red Cross warehouse.

But the poverty of these people is not the worst condition that the
Red Cross workers have to tackle; money can always replace money.
Hope, trust, affection and a genial belief in the world's goodness
cannot be transplanted into another man's heart in exchange for
bitterness by even the most lavish giver. I can think of no
modern parallel for their blank despair; the only eloquence which
approximately expresses it is that of Job, centuries old, "Why is
light given to a man whose way is hid and whom God hath hedged in? My
sighing cometh before I eat. My roarings are poured out like waters.
My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them
that weep. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I
quiet; yet trouble came."

This hell which the Hun has created, beggars any description of
Dante.[1] It is still more appalling to remember that the external
hell which one sees, does not represent one tithe of the dreariness
which lies hidden behind the eyes of the inhabitants. To imagine amid
such scenes is to paralyse compassion with agony. The craving, never
far from one's thoughts, is the age-old desire, "O that one might
plead with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!"

[Footnote 1: Since this was written and just as I am returning to
the front, the Hun has set to work to create this hell for the second
time. Most of the places referred to below are once more within the
enemy country and all the mercy of the American Red Cross has been
wiped out.]

I started out on my trip in a staff-car from a city well behind the
lines. In the first half hour of the journey the country was green
and pleasant. We passed some cavalry officers galloping across a brown
field; birds were battling against a flurrying wind; high overhead
an aeroplane sailed serenely. There was a sense of life, motion and
exhilaration abroad, but only for the first half hour of our journey.
Then momentarily a depression grew up about us. Fields and trees were
becoming dead, as if a swarm of locusts had eaten their way across
them. Greenness was vanishing. Houses were becoming untenanted; there
were holes in the walls of many of them, through which one gained
glimpses of the sky. Here, by the road-side, we passed a cluster of
insignificant graves. Then, almost without warning, the barbed-wire
entanglements commenced, and the miles and miles of abandoned
trenches. This, not a year ago from the day on which I write, was the
Hun's country. Last spring, in an attempt to straighten his line, he
retreated from it. Our offensives on the Somme had converted his Front
into a dangerous salient.

We are slowing down; the road is getting water-logged and full of
holes. The skull of a dead town grows up on the horizon. Even at this
distance the light behind empty windows glares malevolently like the
nothingness in vacant sockets. A horror is over everything. The horror
is not so much due to the destruction as to the total absence of any
signs of life. One man creeping through the landscape would make it
seem more kindly. I have been in desolated towns often, but there were
always the faces of our cheery Tommies to smile out from cellars and
gaps in the walls. From here life is banished utterly. The battle-line
has retired eastward; one can hear the faint rumble of the guns at
times. No civilian has come to re-inhabit this unhallowed spot.

We enter what were once its streets. They are nothing now but craters
with boards across them. On either side the trees lie flat along the
ground, sawn through within a foot of the roots. What landmarks remain
are the blackened walls of houses, cracked and crashed in by falling
roofs. The entire place must have been given over to explosion and
incendiarism before the Huns departed. One stands in awe of such
completeness of savagery; one begins to understand what is meant by
the term "frightfulness." As far as eye can reach there is nothing to
be seen but decayed fangs, protruding from a swamp of filth, covered
with a green slime where water has accumulated. This is not the
unavoidable ruin of shell-fire. No battle was fought here. The
demolition was the wanton spite of an enemy who, because he could not
hold the place, was determined to leave nothing serviceable behind.
With such masterly thoroughness has he done his work that the spot
can never be re-peopled. The surrounding fields are too poisoned and
churned up for cultivation. The French Government plans to plant a
forest; it is all that can be done. As years go by, the kindliness
of Nature may cause her to forget and cover up the scars of hatred
with greenness. Then, perhaps, peasant lovers will wander here and
refashion their dreams of a chivalrous world. Our generation will
be dead by that time; throughout our lives this memorial to
"frightfulness" will remain.

We have left the town and are out in the open country. It is clean
and unharried. Man can murder orchards and habitations--the things
which man plants and makes; he finds it more difficult to strangle
the primal gifts of Nature. All along by the roadside the cement
telegraph-posts have been broken off short; some of them lie flat
along the ground, others hang limply in the bent shape of hairpins.
Very often we have to make a detour where a steel bridge has been
blown up; we cross the gulley over an improvised affair of struts and
planks, and so come back into the main roadway. Every now and then
we pass steam-tractors at work, ploughing huge fields into regular
furrows. The French Department of Agriculture purchased in America
nineteen teams of ten tractors apiece in the autumn of last year. The
American Red Cross has supplied others. The fields of this district
are unfenced--the farmers used to live together in villages; so
the work is made easy. It is possible to throw a number of holdings
together and to apply to France the same wholesale mechanical means
of wheat-growing that are employed on the prairies of Canada. All
the cattle and horses have been carried off into Germany. All the
farm-implements have been destroyed--and destroyed with a surprising
ingenuity. The same parts were destroyed in each instrument, so that
an entire instrument could not be reconstructed. The farms could not
have been brought under cultivation this year, had not the Government
and the Red Cross lent their assistance.

We are approaching Noyon, the birthplace of Calvin. This is one of
the few towns the Hun spared in his retreat; he spared it not out of
a belated altruism, but purely to serve his own convenience. There
were some of the French civilians who weren't worth transporting to
Germany. They would be too weak, or too old, or too young to earn
their keep when he got them there. These he sorted out, irrespective
of their family ties, and herded from the surrounding districts into
Noyon. They were crowded into the houses and ordered under pain of
death not to come out until they were given permission. They were
further ordered to shutter all their windows and not to look out.

As an old lady, who narrated the story, said, "We had no idea,
Monsieur, what was to happen. _Les Boches_ had been with us for nearly
three years; it never entered our heads that they were leaving. When
they took the last of our young girls from us and all who were strong
among our men, it was something that they had done so often and so
often. When they made us hide in our houses, we thought it was only
to prevent a disturbance. It is not easy to see your boys and girls
marched away into slavery--Monsieur will understand that. Sometimes,
on former occasions, the mothers had attacked _les Boches_ and the
young girls had become hysterical; we thought that it was to avoid
such scenes that we were shut up in our houses. When darkness fell,
we sat in our rooms without any lights, for they also were forbidden.
All night long through our streets we heard the endless tramping
of battalions, the clattering wheels of guns and limbers, the sharp
orders, the halting and the marching taken up afresh. Towards dawn
everything grew silent. At first it would be broken occasionally by
the hurried trot of cavalry or the shuffling footsteps of a straggler.
Then it grew into the absolute silence of death. It was nerve-racking
and terrible. One could almost hear the breathing of the listening
people in all the other houses. I do not know how time went or what
was the hour. I could endure the suspense no longer. They might kill
me, but ... Ah well, at my age after nearly three years with 'les
Boches,' killing is a little matter! I crept down the passage and drew
back the bolts. I was very gentle; a sentry might hear me. I opened
the door just a crack. I expected to hear a rifle-shot ring out, but
nothing happened. I opened it wider, and saw that the street was empty
and that it was broad daylight. Then I waited--I do not know how long
I waited. I crouched against the wall, huddled with terror. All this
took much longer in the doing than in the telling. At last I could
bear myself no longer. I tiptoed out on to the pavement--and, Monsieur
will believe me, I expected to drop dead. But no one disturbed me.
Then I heard a rustling. Doors everywhere were opening stealthily, ah,
so stealthily! Some one else tiptoed out, and some one else, and some
one else. We stood there staring, aghast at our daring. Suddenly we
realised what had happened. The brutes had gone. We were free. It was
indescribable, what followed--we ran together, weeping and embracing.
At first we wept for gladness; soon we wept for sorrow. Our youth had
departed; we were all old women or very ancient men. Two hours later
our poilus came, like a blue-grey wave of laughter, fighting their
way through the burning country that those swine had left in a sea of
smoke and flames."

And so that was why the Hun spared Noyon. But if he spared Noyon,
he spared little else.[2] Every village between here and the present
front line has been levelled; every fruit-tree cut down. The wilful
wickedness and pettiness of the crime stir one's heart to pity and
his soul to white-hot anger. The people who did this must make
payment in more than money; to settle such a debt blood is required.
American soldiers who came to Europe to do a job and with no decided
detestation of the Hun, are being taught by such landscapes. They know
now why they came. The wounds of France are educating them.

[Footnote 2: Goodness knows where the "present Front-line" may be by
the time this book is published. I visited Noyon in February, 1918,
just before the big Hun offensive commenced.]

There has been a scheme proposed in America under which certain
individual cities and towns in the States shall make themselves
responsible for the re-building of certain individual cities and
towns in the devastated areas. The scheme is noble; it has only one
drawback, namely that it specialises effort and tends to ignore the
immensity of the problem as a whole. I visited one of these towns--it
is a town for which Philadelphia has made itself responsible. I wish
the people of Philadelphia might get a glimpse of the task they have
undertaken. There is a church-spire still standing; that is about
all. The rest is a pile of bricks. In the midst of this havoc some
Philadelphia ladies are living, one of whom is a nurse. They run a
dispensary for the people who keep house for the most part in cellars
and holes in the ground. A doctor visits them to hold a clinic ever
so often. They have a little warehouse, in which they keep the
necessities for immediate relief work. They have a rest hut for
soldiers. They employ whatever civilian labour they can hire for the
roofing of some of the least damaged cottages; for this temporary
reconstruction they provide the materials. When I was there, the place
was well within range of enemy shell-fire. The approach had to be made
by way of camouflaged roads. The sole anxiety of these brave women
was that on account of their nearness to the front-line, the military
might compel them to move back. In order to safeguard themselves
against this and to create a good impression, they were making a
strong point of entertaining whatever officers were billeted in
this vicinity. Their effort to remain in this rural Gomorrah was as
courageous as it was pathetic. "The people need us," they said, and
then, "you don't think we'll be moved back, do you?" I thought they
would, and I didn't think that the grateful officers would be able to
prevent it--they were subalterns and captains for the most part. "But
we once had a major to tea," they said. "A major!" I exclaimed, trying
to look impressed, "Oh well, that makes a difference!"

There was one unit I wished especially to visit; it was a unit
consisting entirely of women, sent over and financed by a women's
college. When I was in America last October and heard that they were
starting, I made up my mind that they were doomed to disappointment.
I pictured the battlefield of the Somme as I had last seen it--a sea
of mud stretching for miles, furrowed by the troughs of battered
trenches, pitted every yard with shell-holes and smeared over with
the wreckage of what once were human bodies. I could not imagine what
useful purpose women could serve amid such surroundings. It seemed
to me indecent that they should be allowed to go there. They were
going to do reconstruction, I was told. Reconstruction! you can't
reconstruct towns and villages the very foundations of which have been
buried. There is a Bible phrase which expresses such annihilation,
"The place thereof shall know it no more." Yes, only the names remain
in one's memory--the very sites have been covered up and the contours
of the landscape re-dug with high explosives. It took millions of
pounds to work this havoc. Men tunnelled under-ground and sprung mines
without warning. They climbed like birds of prey, into the heavens to
hurl death from the clouds. They lined up their guns, tier upon tier,
almost axle to axle in places, and at a given sign rained a deluge
of corruption on a country miles in front, which they could not even
discern. The infantry went over the top throwing bombs and piled
themselves up into mounds of silence. Nations far away toiled day and
night in factories--and all that they might achieve this repellant
desolation. The innocence of the project made one smile--a handful of
women sailing from America to reconstruct! To reconstruct will take
ten times more effort than was required to destroy. More than eight
hundred years ago William the Norman burnt his way through the North
Country to Chester. Yorkshire has not yet recovered; it is still a
wind-swept moorland. This women's college in America hoped to repair
in our lifetime a ruin a million times more terrible. Their courage
was depressing, it so exceeded the possible. They might love one
village back to life, but.... That is exactly what they are doing.

I arrived at Grécourt on an afternoon in January. It is here that the
women of the Smith College Unit have taken up their tenancy. We had
extraordinary difficulty in finding the place. The surrounding country
had been blasted and scorched by fire. There was no one left of whom
we could enquire. Everything had perished. Barns, houses, everything
habitable had been blown up by the departing Hun. As a study in the
painstaking completion of a purpose the scenes through which we
passed almost called for admiration. Berlin had ordered her armies to
destroy everything before withdrawing; they had obeyed with a loving
thoroughness. The world has never seen such past masters in the art
of demolition. Ever since they invaded Belgium, their hand has been
improving. In the neighbourhood of Grécourt they have equalled, if not
surpassed, their own best efforts. I would suggest to the Kaiser that
this manly performance calls for a distribution of iron crosses. It is
true that his armies were beaten and retiring; but does not that fact
rather enhance their valour? They were retiring, yet there were those
who were brave enough to delay their departure till they had achieved
this final victory over old women and children to the lasting honour
of their country. Such heroes are worthy to stand beside the sinkers
of the _Lusitania_. It is not just that they should go unrecorded.

In the midst of this hell I came across a tumbled château. Its roof,
its windows, its stairways were gone; only the crumbling shell of its
former happiness was left standing. A high wall ran about its grounds.
The place must have been pleasant with flower-gardens once. There was
an impressive entrance of wrought-iron, a porter's lodge and a broad
driveway. At the back I found rows of little wood-huts. There was a
fragrance of log-fires burning. I was glad of that, for I had heard
of the starving cold these women had had to endure through the first
winter months of their tenure. On tapping at a door, I found the
entire colony assembled. It was tea-time and Sunday. Ten out of the
seventeen who form the colony were present. A box-stove, such as
we use in our pioneer shacks in Canada, was throwing out a glow of
cheeriness. Candles had been lighted. Little knicknacks of feminine
taste had been hung here and there to disguise the bareness of the
walls. A bed, in one corner, was carefully disguised as a couch.
Save for the fact that there was no glass in the window--glass
being unobtainable in France at present--one might easily have
persuaded himself that he was back in America in the room of a
girl-undergraduate.

The method of my greeting furthered this illusion. Americans, both
men and women, have an extraordinary self-poise, a gift for remaining
normal in the most abnormal surroundings. They refuse to allow
themselves to be surprised by any upheaval of circumstances. "I should
worry," they seem to be saying, and press straight on with the job
in hand. There was one small touch which made the environment seem
even more friendly and unexceptional. One of the girls, on being
introduced, promptly read to me a letter which she had just received
from my sister in America. It made this oasis in an encircling
wilderness seem very much a part of a neighbourly world. This girl is
an example of the varied experiences which have trained American women
into becoming the nursemaids of the French peasantry.

She was visiting relations in Liége when the war broke out. On the
Sunday she went for a walk on the embattlements and was turned back.
Baulked in this direction, she strolled out towards the country and
found men digging trenches. That was the first she knew that war was
rumoured. On the Tuesday, two days later, Hun shells were detonating
on the house-tops. She was held prisoner in Liége for some months
after the Forts had fallen and saw more than all the crimes against
humanity that the Bryce Report has recorded. At last she disguised
herself and contrived her escape into Holland. From there she worked
her way back to America and now she is at Grécourt, starting shops in
the villages, educating the children, and behaving generally as if to
respond to the "Follow thou me" of the New Testament was an entirely
unheroic proceeding for a woman.

And what are these women doing at Grécourt? To condense their purpose
into a phrase, I should say that by their example they are bringing
sanity back into the lives of the French peasants. That is what the
American Fund for French Wounded is doing at Blérancourt, what all
these reconstruction units are doing in the devastated areas, and what
the American Red Cross is doing on a much larger scale for the whole
of France. At Grécourt they have a dispensary and render medical aid.
If the cases are grave, they are sent to the American Hospital at
Nesle. They hunt out the former tradespeople among the refugees and
encourage them to re-start their shops, lending them the money for
the purpose. If the men are captives in Germany, then their wives are
helped to carry on the business in their absence and for their sakes.
Groups of mothers are brought together and set to work on making
clothes for themselves and their children. Schools are opened so
that the children may be more carefully supervised. Two of the girls
at Grécourt have learnt to plough, and are instructing the peasant
women. Cows are kept and a dairy has been started to provide the
under-nourished babies of the district. An automobile-dispensary is
sent out from the hospital at Nesle to visit the remoter districts. It
has a seat along one side for the patient and the nurse. Over the seat
is a rack for medicine and instruments. On the opposite side is a
rack for splints and surgical dressings. On the floor of the car a
shower-bath is arranged, which is so compact that it can be carried
into the house where the water is to be heated. The water is put into
a tub on a wooden base; while the doctor manipulates the pump for the
shower, the nurse does the scrubbing. Most of the diseases among the
children are due to dirt; the importance of keeping clean, which such
colonies as that at Grécourt are impressing on all the people whom
they serve, is doing much to improve the general state of health. In
this direction, as in so many others, the most valuable contribution
that they are making to their districts is not material and financial,
but mental--the contribution of example and suggestion. Seventeen
women cannot re-build in a day an external civilisation which has been
blotted out by the savagery of a nation; but they can and they are
re-building the souls of the human derelicts who have survived the
savagery. This war is going to be won not by the combination of
nations which has most men and guns, but by the side which possesses
the highest spiritual qualities. The same is true of the countries
which will wipe out the effects of war most quickly when the war is
ended. The first countries to recover will be those which fight on
in a new way, after peace has been signed, for the same ideals for
which they have shed their blood. The sight of these American women,
living helpfully and voluntarily for the sake of others among hideous
surroundings, is a perpetual reminder to the dispirited refugees that,
whatever else is lost, valiance and loyalty still survive.

From Grécourt I went farther afield to Croix, Y and Matigny. Here
a young architect is in charge of the reconstruction. No attempt
is being made at present to re-build the farms entirely. Labour is
difficult to obtain--it is all required for military purposes. The
same applies to materials. Patching is the best that can be done. Just
to get a roof over one corner of a ruin is as much as can be hoped
for. Until that is done the people have to live in cellars, in
shell-holes, in verminous dug-outs like beasts of prey or savages.
Their position is far more deplorable than that of Indians, for they
once knew the comforts of civilisation. For instance, I visited a
farmer who before the war was a millionaire in French money. Many of
the farmers of this district were; their acreages were large even by
prairie standards. The American Red Cross has managed to reconstruct
one room for him in a pile of debris which was once a spacious house.
There he lives with his old wife, who, during the Hun occupation,
became nearly blind and almost completely paralytic. His sons and
daughters have been swept beyond his knowledge by the departing
armies. Before the Huns left, he had to stand by and watch them
uselessly lay waste his home and possessions. His trees are cut down.
His barns are laid flat. His cattle are behind the German lines. At
the age of seventy, he is starting all afresh and working harder than
ever he did in his life. The young architect of the Red Cross visits
him often. They sit in the little room of nights, erecting barns and
houses more splendid than those that have vanished, but all in the
green quiet of the untested future. They shall be standing by the time
the captive sons come back. It is a game at which they play for the
sake of the blinded mother; she listens smilingly, nodding her old
head, her frail hands folded in her lap.

These pictures which I have painted are typical of some of the things
that the American Red Cross is doing. They are isolated examples,
which by no means cover all its work. There are the rolling canteens
which it has instituted, which follow the French armies. There are
the rest houses it has built on the French line of communications for
_poilus_ who are going on leave or returning. There is the farm for
the mutilated, where they are taught to be specialists in certain
branches of agriculture, despite their physical curtailments. There
is the great campaign against tuberculosis which it is waging. There
are its well-conceived warehouses, stored with medical supplies and
military and relief necessities, spreading in a great net-work of
usefulness and connected by ambulance transport throughout the whole
of the stricken part of France. There are its hospitals, both military
and civil. There is the "Lighthouse" for men wounded in battle,
founded by Miss Holt in Paris.

I visited this Lighthouse; it is a place infinitely brave and
pathetic. Most of the men were picked heroes at the war; they wear
their decorations in proof of it. They are greater heroes than ever
now. Nothing has more deeply moved me than my few hours among those
sightless eyes. In many cases the faces are hideously marred, the
eyelids being quite grown together. In several cases besides the eyes,
the arms or legs have gone. I have talked and written a good deal
about the courage which this war has inspired in ordinary men; but the
courage of these blinded men, who once were ordinary, leaves me silent
and appalled. They are happy--how and why I cannot understand. Most
of them have been taught at the Lighthouse how to overcome their
disability and are earning their living as weavers, stenographers,
potters, munition-workers. Quite a number of them have families
to support. The only complaint that is made against them by their
brother-workmen is that they are too rapid; they set too strenuous
a pace for the men with eyes. It is a fact that in all trades where
sensitiveness of touch is an asset, blindness has increased their
efficiency. This is peculiarly so at the Sévres pottery-works where I
saw them making the moulds for retorts. A soldier, who was teaching a
seeing person Braille, explained his own quickness of perception when
he exclaimed, "Ah, madame, it is your eyes which prevent you from
seeing!"

I heard some of the stories of the men. There was a captain who, after
he had been wounded and while there was yet time to save his sight,
insisted on being taken to his General that he might inform him about
a German mine. When his mission was completed, his chance of seeing
was forever ended.

There was a lieutenant who was blinded in a raid and left for dead
out in No Man's Land. Just before he became unconscious, he placed
two lumps of earth in line in the direction which led back to his
own trenches. He knew the direction by the sound of the retreating
footsteps. Whenever he came to himself he groped his way a little
nearer to France and before he fainted again, registered the direction
with two more lumps of earth placed in line. It took him a day to
crawl back.

There was another man who illustrated in a finer way that saying, "It
is your eyes which prevent you from seeing." This man before the war
was a village-priest, and no credit to his calling. He had a sister
who had spent her youth for him and worshipped him beyond everything
in the world. He took her adoration brutally for granted. At the
outbreak of hostilities he joined the army, serving bravely in the
ranks till he was hopelessly blinded. Having always been a thoroughly
selfish man, his privation drove him nearly to madness. He had always
used the world; now for the first time he had been used by it. His
viciousness broke out in blasphemy; he hated both God and man. He made
no distinction between people in the mass and the people who tried to
help him. His whole desire was to inflict as much pain as he himself
suffered. When his sister came to visit him, he employed every
ingenuity of word and gesture to cause her agony. Do what she would,
he refused to allow her love either to reach or comfort him. She was
only a simple peasant woman. In her grief and loneliness she thought
matters out and arrived at what seemed to her a practical solution.
On her next visit to the hospital she asked to see the doctor. She was
taken to him and made her request. "I love my brother," she said; "I
have always given him everything. He has lost his eyes and he cannot
endure it. Because I love him, I could bear it better. I have been
thinking, and I am sure it is possible: I want you to remove my eyes
and to put them into his empty sockets."

When the priest was told of her offer, he laughed derisively at her
for a fool. Then the reason she had given for her intended sacrifice
was told to him, "Because I love him, I could bear it better." He fell
silent. All that day he refused food; in the eternal darkness, muffled
by his bandages, he was arriving at the truth: she had been willing
to suffer what he was now suffering, because she loved him. The hand
of love would have made the burden bearable and, if for her, why not
for himself? At last, after years of refusal, the simplicity of her
tenderness reached and touched him. Presently he was discharged from
hospital and taken in hand by the teachers of the blind, who taught
him to play the organ. One day his sister came and led him back to his
village-parish. Before the war, by his example, he was a danger to
God and man; now he sets a very human example of sainthood, labouring
without ceasing for others more fortunate than himself. He has
increased his efficiency for service by his blindness. Of him it
is absolutely true that it was his eyes that prevented him from
seeing--from seeing the splendour that lay hidden in himself, no less
than in his fellow creatures.

So far I have sketched in the main what the war of compassion is
doing for the repatriés--the captured French civilians sent back from
Germany--and for the refugees of the devastated areas, who have either
returned to their ruined farms and villages or were abandoned as
useless when the Hun retired. To complete the picture it remains to
describe what is being done for the civilian population which has
always lived in the battle area of the French armies.

The question may be asked why civilians have been allowed to live
here. Curiously enough it is due to the extraordinary humanity of
the French Government which makes allowances for the almost religious
attachment of the peasant to his tiny plot of land; it is an
attachment which is as instinctive and fiercely jealous as that of
a cat for her young. He will endure shelling, gassing and all the
horrors that scientific invention has produced; he will see his
cottage and his barns shattered by bombs and siege-guns, but he will
not leave the fields that he has tilled and toiled over, unless he
is driven out at the point of the bayonet. I have been told, though
I have never seen it, that behind quiet parts of the line, French
peasants will gather in their harvest actually in full sight of the
Hun. Shells may be falling, but they go stolidly on with their work.
There is another reason for this leniency of the Government: they have
enough refugees on their hands already and are not going in search
of further trouble, until the trouble is forced upon them by
circumstances.

As may be imagined, these people live under physical conditions that
are terrible. They consist for the most part of women and children;
the women are over-worked and the children are neglected. Skin
diseases and vermin abound. Clothes are negligible. Washing is a
forgotten luxury. Much havoc is wrought by asphyxiating gases which
drift across the front-line into the back-country. To the adults are
issued protective masks like those that the soldiers wear, but the
children do not know how to use them. Many of them are orphans, and
live like little animals on roots and offal; for shelter they seek
holes in the ground. The American Red Cross is specialising on its
efforts to reclaim these children, realising that whatever happens to
the adults, the children are the hope of the world.

The part of the Front to which I went to study this work was made
famous in 1914 by the disembowellings, shootings and unspeakable
indecencies that were perpetrated there. Near by is the little village
in which Sister Julie risked her life by refusing to allow her wounded
to be butchered. She wears the Legion of Honour now. In the same
neighbourhood there lives a Mayor who, after having seen his young
wife murdered, protected her murderers from the lynch-law of the mob
when next day the town was recaptured. In the same district there is
a meadow where fifteen old men were done to death, while a Hun officer
sat under an oak-tree, drinking mocking toasts to the victims of each
new execution.

The influence of more than three years of warfare has not been
elevating, as far as these peasants are concerned. As early as July,
a little over a month from its arrival in France, an S.O.S. was sent
out by the Préfet of the department, begging the American Red Cross
to come and help. In addition to the refugees of old standing, 350
children had been suddenly put into his care. He had nothing but a
temporary shelter for them and his need for assistance was acute.
Within a few hours the Red Cross had despatched eight workers--a
doctor, nurse, bacteriologist, an administrative director and two
women to take charge of the bedding, food and clothing. A camionette
loaded with condensed milk and other relief necessities was sent by
road. On the arrival of the party, they found the children herded
together in old barracks, dirty and unfurnished, with no sanitary
appliances whatsoever. The sick were crowded together with the well.
Of the 350 children, twenty-one were under one year of age, and the
rest between one and eight years. The reason for this sudden crisis
was that the Huns were bombing the villages behind the lines with
asphyxiating gas. The military authorities had therefore withdrawn
all children who were too young to adjust their masks themselves, at
the same time urging their mothers to carry on the patriotic duty of
gathering in the harvest. It was the machinery of mercy which had been
built up in six months about this nucleus of eight persons that I set
out to visit.

The roads were crowded with the crack troops of France--the Foreign
Legion, the Tailleurs, the Moroccans--all marching in one direction,
eastward to the trenches. There were rumours of something immense
about to happen--no one knew quite what. Were we going to put on a
new offensive or were we going to resist one? Many answers were given:
they were all guesswork. Meanwhile, our progress was slow; we were
continually halting to let brigades of artillery and regiments
of infantry pour into the main artery of traffic from lanes and
side-roads. When we had backed our car into hedges to give them
room to pass, we watched the sea of faces. They were stern and yet
laughing, elated and yet childish, eloquent of the love of living and
yet familiar with their old friend, Death. They knew that something
big was to be demanded of them; before the demand had been made,
they had determined to give to the ultimate of their strength. There
was a spiritual resolution about their faces which made all their
expressions one--the uplifted expression of the unconquered soul of
France. That expression blotted out their racial differences. It did
not matter that they were Arabs, Negroes, Normans, Parisians; they
owned to one nationality--the nationality of martyrdom--and they
marched with a single purpose, that freedom might be restored to the
world.

When we reached the city to which we journeyed, night had fallen.
There was something sinister about our entry; we were veiled in fog,
and crept through the gate and beneath the ramparts with extinguished
head lights. Scarcely any one was abroad. Those whom we passed, loomed
out of the mist in silence, passed stealthily and vanished.

This city is among the most beautiful in France; until recently,
although within range of the Hun artillery, it had been left
undisturbed. In return the French had spared an equally beautiful city
on the other side of the line. This clemency, shown towards two gems
of architecture, was the result of one of those silent bargains that
are arranged in the language of the guns. But the bargain had been
broken by the time I arrived. Bombing planes had been over; the Allied
planes had retaliated. Houses, emptied like cart-loads of bricks into
the street, were significant of the ruin that was pending. Any moment
the orchestra of destruction might break into its overture. Without
cessation one could hear a distant booming. The fiddlers of death were
tuning up.

Early next morning I went to see the Préfet. He is an old man, whose
courage has made him honoured wherever the French tongue is spoken.
Others have thought of their own safety and withdrawn into the
interior. Never from the start has his sense of duty wavered. Night
and day he has laboured incessantly for the refugees, whom he refers
to always as "my suffering people." He kept me waiting for some
time. Directly I entered he volunteered the explanation: he had just
received word from the military authorities that the whole of his
civil population must be immediately evacuated. To evacuate a civil
population means to tear it up and transplant it root and branch, with
no more of its possession than can be carried as hand-baggage. Some
75,000 people would be made homeless directly the Préfet published the
order.

It was a dramatic moment, full of tragedy. I glanced out into the
square filled with wintry sunlight. I took note of the big gold gates
and the monuments. I watched the citizens halting here and there to
chat, or going about their errands with a quiet confidence. All this
was to be shattered; it had been decided. The same thing was to happen
here as had happened at Yprés. The bargain was off. The enemy city,
the other side of the line, was to be shelled; this city had to take
the consequences. The bargain was off not only as far as the city was
concerned, but also as regards its inhabitants' happiness. They had
homes to-day; they would be fugitives to-morrow. Then I looked at
the old Préfet, who had to break the news to them. He was sitting at
his table in his uniform of office, supporting his head in his tired
hands.

"What are you going to do?" I asked.

"I have called on the Croix Rouge Américaine to help me," he
said. "They have helped me before; they will help me again. These
Americans--I have never been to America--but they are my friends.
Since they came, they have looked after my babies. Their doctors and
nurses have worked day and night for my suffering people. They are
silent; but they do things. There is love in their hands."

While I was still with him the Red Cross officials arrived. They had
already wired to Paris. Their lorries and ambulances were converging
from all points to meet the emergency. They undertook at once to place
all their transport facilities at his disposal. They had started their
arrangements for the handling of the children. Extra personnel were
being rushed to the spot. There was one unit already in the city. They
had hoped to go nearer to the Front, but on arriving had learnt that
their permission had been cancelled. It was a bit of luck. They could
set to work at once.

I knew this unit and went out to find it. It was composed of American
society girls, who had been protected all their lives from ugliness.
They had sailed from New York with the vaguest ideas of the war
conditions they would encounter; they believed that they were needed
to do a nurse-maid's job for France. Their original purpose was to
found a crêche for the babies of women munition-workers. When they
got to Paris they found that such institutions were not wanted. They
at once changed their programme, and asked to be allowed to take
their crêche into the army zone and convert it into a hospital for
refugee children. There were interminable delays due to passport
formalities--the delays dragged on for three months. During those
three months they were called on for no sacrifice; they lived just
as comfortably as they had done in New York and, consequently, grew
disgusted. They had sailed for France prepared to give something that
they had never given before, and France did not seem to want it. At
last their passports came; without taking any chances, they got out
of Paris and started for the Front. Their haste was well-timed; no
sooner had they departed than a message arrived, cancelling their
permissions. They had reached the doomed city in which I was at
present, two days before its sentence was pronounced. Within four
hours of their arrival they had had their first experience of being
bombed. Their intention had been to open their hospital in a town
still nearer to the front-line. The hospital was prepared and waiting
for them. But in the last few days the military situation had changed.
A hospital so near the trenches stood a good chance of being destroyed
by shell-fire; so once again the unit was held up. It volunteered to
abandon its idea of running the hospital for children; it would run it
as a first aid hospital for the armies. The offer was refused. These
girls, whose gravest interest a year ago had been the season's dances
and the latest play, were determined to experience the thrill of
sacrifice. So here they were in the doomed city, as the Red Cross
officials said, "by luck"--the very place where they were most needed.

When I visited them, after leaving the Préfet's, they had not yet
heard that they were to be allowed to stay. They had heard nothing of
the city's sentence or of the evacuation of the civil population. All
they knew was that the hospital, which had been appointed with their
money, was only a few kilometres away and that they were forbidden
even to see it. They were gloomy with the fear that within a handful
of days they would be again walking the boulevards of Paris. When
the news was broken to them of the part they were to play, the full
significance of it did not dawn on them at once. "But we don't want
anything easy," they complained; "this isn't the Front." "It will
be soon," the official told them. When they heard that they cheered
up; then their share in the drama was explained. In all probability
the city would soon be under constant shell-fire. Refugees would be
pouring back from the forward country. The people of the city itself
had to be helped to escape before the bombardment commenced. They
would have to stay there taking care of the children, packing them
into lorries, driving ambulances, rendering first aid, taking the
wounded and decrepit out of danger and always returning to it again
themselves. As the certainty of the risk and service was impressed on
them their faces brightened. Risk and service, that was what they most
desired; they were girls, but they hungered to play a soldier's part.
They had only dreamt of serving when they had sailed from New York.
Those three months of waiting had stung their pride. It was in Paris
that the dream of risk had commenced. They would make France want
them. Their chance had come.

When I came out into the streets again the word was spreading. Carts
were being loaded in front of houses. Everything on wheels, from
wagons to perambulators, was being piled up. Everything on four legs,
dogs, cattle, horses, was being harnessed and made to do its share
in hauling. We left the city, going back to the next point where the
refugees would be cared for. On either side of the road, as far as eye
could stretch, trenches had been dug, barricades thrown up, blockades
and wire-entanglements constructed. It all lay very quiet beneath the
sunlight. It seemed a kind of preposterous pretence. One could not
imagine these fields as a scene of battle, sweating torture and agony
and death. I looked back at the city, one of the most beautiful in
France, growing hazy in the distance with its spires and its ramparts.
Impossible! Then I remembered the carts being hurriedly loaded and
the uplifted faces of those American girls. Where had I seen their
expression before? Yes. Strange that they should have caught it! Their
expression was the same as that which I had noticed on the Tailleurs,
the Foreign Legion and the Moroccans--the crack troops of France....
So they had become that already! At the first hint of danger, their
courage had taken command; they had risen into soldiers.

Through villages swarming with troops and packed with ordnance
we arrived at an old caserne, which has been converted into the
children's hospital of the district. It is in charge of one of the
first of America's children's specialists. While he works among the
refugees, his wife, who is a sculptress, makes masks for the facially
mutilated. He has brought with him from the States some of his
students, but his staff is in the main cosmopolitan. One of his nurses
is an Australian, who was caught at the outbreak of hostilities in
Austria and because of her knowledge, despite her nationality, was
allowed to help to organise the Red Cross work of the enemy. Another
is a French woman who wears the Croix de Guerre with the palm. She
saved her wounded from the fury of the Hun when her village was lost,
and helped to get them back to safety after it had been recaptured.
The Matron is Swedish and Belgian. The ambulance-drivers are some
of the American boys who saw service with the French armies. In this
group of workers there are as many stories as there are nationalities.

If the workers have their stories, so have the five hundred little
patients. This barrack, converted into a hospital, is full of babies,
the youngest being only six days old when I was there. Many of the
children have no parents. Others have lost their mothers; their
fathers are serving in the trenches. It is not always easy to find out
how they became orphans; there are such plentiful chances of losing
parents who live continually under shell-fire. One little boy on being
asked where his mother was, replied gravely, "My Mama, she is dead.
Les Boches, they put a gun to 'er 'ead. She is finished; I 'ave no
Mama."

The unchildlike stoicism of these children is appalling. I spent
two days among them and heard no crying. Those who are sick, lie
motionless as waxen images in their cots. Those who are supposedly
well, sit all day brooding and saying nothing. When first they arrive,
their faces are earth-coloured. The first thing they have to be taught
is how to be children. They have to be coaxed and induced to play;
even then they soon grow weary. They seem to regard mere playing as
frivolous and indecorous; and so it is in the light of the tragedies
they have witnessed. Children of seven have seen more of horror in
three years than most old men have read about in a life-time. Many
of them have been captured by and recaptured from the Huns. They have
been in villages where the dead lay in piles and not even the women
were spared. They have been present while indecencies were worked upon
their mothers. They have seen men hanged, shot, bayoneted and flung
to roast in burning houses. The pictures of all these things hang
in their eyes. When they play, it is out of politeness to the kind
Americans; not because they derive any pleasure from it.

Night is the troublesome time. The children hide under their beds with
terror. The nurses have to go the rounds continually. If the children
would only cry, they would give warning. But instead, they creep
silently out from between the sheets and crouch against the floor like
dumb animals. Dumb animals! That is what they are when first they
are brought in. Their most primitive instincts for the beginnings of
cleanliness seem to have vanished. They have been fished out of caves,
ruined dug-outs, broken houses. They are as full of skin-diseases as
the beggar who sat outside Dives' gate, only they have had no dogs to
lick their sores. They have lived on offal so long that they have the
faces of the extremely aged. And their hatred! Directly you utter the
word "Boche," all the little night-gowned figures sit up in their cots
and curse. When they have done cursing, of their own accord, they sing
the Marseillaise.

Surely if God listens to prayers of vengeance, He will answer the
husky petitions of these victims of Hun cruelty! The quiet, just,
deep-seated venom of these babies will work the Hun more harm than
many batteries. Their fathers come back from the trenches to see them.
On leaving, they turn to the American nurses, "We shall fight better
now," they say, "because we know that you are taking care of them."

When those words are spoken, the American Red Cross knows that it is
achieving its object and is winning its war of compassion. The whole
drive of all its effort is to win the war in the shortest possible
space of time. It is in Europe to save children for the future, to
re-kindle hope in broken lives, to mitigate the toll of unavoidable
suffering, but first and foremost to help men to fight better.



IV

THE LAST WAR


_The last war!_ I heard the phrase for the first time on the evening
after Great Britain had declared war. I was in Quebec en route for
England, wondering whether my ship was to be allowed to sail. There
had been great excitement all day, bands playing the Marseillaise,
Frenchmen marching arm-in-arm singing, orators, gesticulating and
haranguing from balconies, street-corners and the base of statues.

Now that the blue August night was falling and every one was released
from work, the excitement was redoubled. Quebec was finding in war
an opportunity for carnival. Throughout all the pyramided city the
Tri-colour and the Union Jack were waving. At the foot of the Heights,
the broad basin of the St. Lawrence was a-drift in the dusk with
fluttering pennons. They looked like homing birds, settling in
dovecotes of the masts and rigging.

As night deepened, Chinese lanterns were lighted and carried on poles
through the narrow streets. Troops of merry-makers followed them,
blowing horns, dragging bells, tin-cans, anything that would make a
noise and express high spirits. They linked arms with girls as they
marched and were lost, laughing in the dusk. If a French reservist
could be found who was sailing in the first ship bound for the
slaughter, he became the hero of the hour and was lifted shoulder high
at the head of the procession. War was a brave game at which to play.
This was to be a short war and a merry one. Down with the Germans! Up
with France! Hurrah for the entente cordiale!

Beneath the coronet of stars on the Heights of Abraham the spirit of
Wolfe kept watch and brooded. It was under these circumstances, that I
heard the phrase for the first time--_the last war_.

The street was blocked with a gaping crowd. All the faces were raised
to an open window, two storeys up, from which the frame had been taken
out. Inside the building one could hear the pounding of machinery,
for it was here that the most important paper of Quebec was printed.
Across a huge white sheet a man on a hanging platform painted the
latest European cables. A cluster of electric lights illuminated him
strongly; but he was not the centre of the crowd's attention. In the
window stood another man. Like myself he was waiting for his ship
to sail, but not to England--to France. He was a returning French
reservist. Across the many miles of ocean the hand of duty had
stretched and touched him; he was ecstatically glad that he was
wanted. In those first days this ecstasy of gladness was a little hard
to understand. Thank God we all share it instinctively now. He was
speaking excitedly, addressing the crowd. They cheered him; they were
in a mood to cheer anybody. His face was thin with earnestness; he
was a spirit-man. He waved aside their applause with impatience. He
was trying to inspire them with his own intensity. In the intervals
between the shouting, I caught some of his words, "I am setting out
to fight the last war--the war of humanity which will bring universal
peace and friendship to the world."

A sailor behind me spat. He was drunk and feeling the need of
sympathy. He began to explain to me the reason. He was a fireman on
one of the steamers in the basin and a reservist in the British Navy.
He had received his orders that day to report back in England for
duty; he knew that he was going to be torpedoed on his voyage across
the Atlantic. How did he know? He had had a vision. Sailors always had
visions before they were drowned. It was to combat this vision that he
had got drunk.

I shook him off irritably. One didn't require the superstitions of an
alcoholic imagination to emphasize the new terror which had overtaken
the world. There was enough of fear in the air already. All this
spurious gaiety--what was it? Nothing but the chatter of lonely
children who were afraid to listen to the silence--afraid lest they
might hear the creaking footstep of death upon the stairs. And these
candles, lighting up the fringes of the night--they were nothing but a
vain pretence that the darkness had not gathered.

But this spirit-man framed in the window, he was genuine and
different. Yesterday we should have passed him in the street
unnoticed; to-day the mantle of prophecy clothed him. Within two
months he might be dead--horribly dead with a bayonet through him.
That thought was in the minds of all who watched him; it gave him an
added authority. Yet he was not thinking of himself, of wounds,
of death; he was not even thinking of France. He was thinking of
humanity: "I am setting out to fight the last war--the war of humanity
which will bring universal peace and friendship to the world."

Since the war started, how often have we heard that phrase--_the last
war!_ It became the battle-cry of all recruiting-men, who would have
fought under no other circumstances, joined up now so that this might
be the final carnage. Nations left their desks and went into battle
voluntarily, long before self-interest forced them, simply because
organised murder so disgusted them that they were determined by weight
of numbers to make this exhibition of brutality the last.

Before Europe burst into flames in 1914, we believed that the last
war had been already fought. The most vivid endorsement of this belief
came out of Germany in a book which, to my mind, up to that time was
the strongest peace-argument in modern literature. It was so strong
that the Kaiser's Government had the author arrested and every copy
that could be found destroyed. Nevertheless, over a million were
secretly printed and circulated in Germany, and it was translated into
every major European language. The book I refer to was known under its
American title as, _The Human Slaughter-House_. It told very simply
how men who had played the army game of sticking dummies, found
themselves called upon to stick their brother-men; how they obeyed at
first, then sickened at sight of their own handiwork, until finally
the rank and file on both sides flung down their arms, banded
themselves together and refused to carry out the orders of their
generals. There was no declaration of peace; in that moment national
boundaries were abolished.

In 1912 this sounded probable. I remember the American press-comments.
They all agreed that national prejudices had been broken down to such
an extent by socialism and friendly intercourse, that never again
would statesmen be able to launch attacks of nations against nations.
Governments might declare war; the peoples whom they governed would
merely overthrow them. The world had become too common-sense to commit
murder on so vast a scale.

Had it? The world in general might have: but Germany had not. The
argument of _The Human Slaughter-House_ proposed by a German in
protest against what he foresaw was surely coming, turned out to be a
bad guess. It made no allowance for what happens when a mad dog starts
running through the world. One may be tender-hearted. One may not like
killing dogs. One may even be an anti-vivisectionist; but when a dog
is mad, the only humanitarian thing to do is to kill it. If you don't,
the women and children pay the penalty.

We have had our illustration in Russia of what occurs when one side
flings away its arms, practising the idealistic reasonings which this
book propounds: the more brutal side conquers. While the Blonde Beast
runs abroad spreading rabies, the only idealist who counts is the
idealist who carries a rifle on his shoulder--the only gospel to which
the world listens is the gospel which saviours are dying for.

The last war! It took us all by surprise. We had believed so utterly
in peace; now we had to prove our faith by being prepared to die for
it. If we did not die, this war would not be the last; it would be
only the preface to the next. To paraphrase the words of Mr. Wells,
"We had been prepared to take life in a certain way and life had taken
us, as it takes every generation, in an entirely different way. We had
been prepared to be altruistic pacifists, and ..."

And here we are, in this year of 1918, engaged upon the bloodiest war
of all time, harnessing the muscle and brain-power of the universe
to one end--that we may contrive new and yet more deadly methods
of butchering our fellow men. The men whom we kill, we do not hate
individually. The men whom we kill, we do not see when they are dead.
We scald them with liquid fire; we stifle them with gas; we drop
volcanoes on them from the clouds; we pull firing-levers three, ten,
even fifteen miles away and hurl them into eternity unconfessed. And
this we do with pity in our hearts, both for them and for ourselves.
And why? Because they have given us no choice. They have promised,
unless we defend ourselves, to snatch our souls from us and fashion
them afresh into souls which shall bear the stamp of their own image.
Of their souls we have seen samples; they date back to the dark
ages--the souls of Cain, Judas and Cæsar Borgia were not unlike them.
Of what such souls are capable they have given us examples in Belgium,
captured France and in the living dead whom they return by way of
Evian. We would rather forego our bodies than so exchange our souls.
A Germanised world is like a glimpse of madness; the very thought
strikes terror to the heart. Yet it is to Germanise the world that
Germany is waging war to-day--that she may confer upon us the benefits
of her own proved swinishness. There is nothing left for us but to
fight for our souls like men.

The last war! We believed that at first, but as the years dragged
on the certainty became an optimism, the optimism a dream which we
well-nigh knew to be impossible. We have always known that we would
beat Germany--we have never doubted that. But could we beat her so
thoroughly that she would never dare to reperpetrate this horror?
Could we prove to her that war is not and never was a paying way of
conducting business? Men began to smile when we spoke of this war as
the last. "There have always been wars," they said; "this one is not
the last--there will be others."

If it is not to be the last, we have cheated ourselves. We have
cheated the men who have died for us. Our chief ideal in fighting is
taken away. Many a lad who moulders in a stagnant trench, laid down
his life for this sole purpose, that no children of the future ages
should have to pass through his Gethsemane. He consciously gave
himself up as a scapegoat, that the security of human sanity should
be safeguarded against a recurrence of this enormity. The spirit-man,
framed in the dusky window above the applauding crowds in Quebec,
was typical of all these men who have made the supreme sacrifice. His
words utter the purpose that was in all their hearts, "I am setting
out to fight the last war--the war of humanity which will bring
universal peace and freedom to the world."

That promise was becoming a lie; it is capable of fulfilment now. The
dream became possible in April, 1917, when America took up her cross
of martyrdom. Great Britain, France and the United States, the
three great promise-keeping nations, are standing side by side. They
together, if they will when the war is ended, can build an impregnable
wall for peace about the world. The plunderer who knew that it was not
Great Britain, nor France, nor America, but all three of them united
as Allies that he had to face, no matter how tempted he was to prove
that armed force meant big business, would be persuaded to expand
his commerce by more legitimate methods. Whether this dream is to
be accomplished will be decided not upon any battlefield but in the
hearts of the civilians of all three countries--particularly in
those of America and Great Britain. The soldiers who have fought and
suffered together, can never be anything but friends.

My purpose in writing this account of America in France has been to
give grounds for understanding and appreciation; it has been to prove
that the highest reward that either America or Great Britain can gain
as a result of its heroism is an Anglo-American alliance, which will
fortify the world against all such future terrors. There never ought
to have been anything but alliance between my two great countries.
They speak the same tongue, share a common heritage and pursue the
same loyalties. Had we not blundered in our destinies, there would
never have been occasion for anything but generosity.

The opportunity for generosity has come again. Any man or woman
who, whether by design or carelessness, attempts to mar this growing
friendship is perpetrating a crime against humanity as grave as that
of the first armed Hun who stepped across the Belgian threshold. It
were better for them that mill-stones were hung about their necks and
they were cast into the sea, than ...

God is giving us our chance. The magnanimities of the Anglo-Saxon
races are rising to greet one another. If those magnanimities are
welcomed and made permanent, our soldier-idealists will not have died
in vain. Then we shall fulfil for them their promise, "We are setting
out to fight the last war."


THE END





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