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Title: Over Periscope Pond - Letters from Two American Girls in Paris October 1916-January 1918
Author: Crocker, Marjorie, Root, Esther Sayles
Language: English
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[Illustration: Marjorie Crocker and Esther Sayles Root]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

OVER PERISCOPE POND

Letters from Two American Girls in Paris
October 1916-January 1918

by

ESTHER SAYLES ROOT and MARJORIE CROCKER

With Illustrations



Boston & New York
Houghton Mifflin Company
The Riverside Press Cambridge
1918

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright, 1918, by Houghton Mifflin Company
All Rights Reserved

Published April 1918

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                FOREWORD

The authors of these letters are two young American girls, one from New
York and the other from Boston.

They first met in Paris, each having volunteered her services to the
Rev. and Mrs. Ernest W. Shurtleff, to aid in relief work among the
refugees, or, as Dr. Shurtleff expressed it, "To help in our effort to
get under part of the burden of humanity."

The letters were written (as is evident) for the family eye only, and
consent to their publication has been given by cable with much
hesitation.

To me they are revealing of the spirit of feminine young America--a
brave and self-sacrificing spirit which shines out through irrepressible
youthful humor and vivacity, and is a worthy complement to the
unquestioning and unquestioned valor shown by the brothers of such girls
to-day.

                                                   CLARA LOUISE BURNHAM.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                CONTENTS

                    Foreword by CLARA LOUISE BURNHAM
                    I. FROM ESTHER
                    II. FROM ESTHER
                    III. FROM ESTHER
                    IV. FROM MARJORIE
                    V. FROM ESTHER
                    VI. FROM MARJORIE
                    VII. FROM ESTHER
                    VIII. FROM MARJORIE
                    IX. FROM MARJORIE
                    X. FROM ESTHER
                    XI. FROM ESTHER
                    XII. FROM MARJORIE
                    XIII. FROM MARJORIE
                    XIV. FROM ESTHER
                    XV. FROM MARJORIE
                    XVI. FROM MARJORIE
                    XVII. FROM ESTHER
                    XVIII. FROM MARJORIE
                    XIX. FROM ESTHER
                    XX. FROM MARJORIE
                    XXI. FROM ESTHER
                    XXII. FROM MARJORIE
                    XXIII. FROM ESTHER
                    XXIV. FROM ESTHER
                    XXV. FROM ESTHER
                    XXVI. FROM MARJORIE
                    XXVII. FROM MARJORIE
                    XXVIII. FROM MARJORIE
                    XXIX. FROM MARJORIE
                    XXX. FROM ESTHER

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                             ILLUSTRATIONS

Marjorie Crocker and Esther Sayles Root
No. 6 Place Denfert-Rochereau
Women's Vestiaire and Men's Vestiaire
Dr. and Mrs. Shurtleff in the Office
Marjorie and Mrs. Shurtleff, with the Leopard Skin
Esther and Marjorie in Ford Truck
Rootie in Park at Saint-Germain
Marje in the Salon at No. 12 Place Denfert-Rochereau
"Bettina" at Saint-Germain
Le Cèdre at Saint-Germain
Will Irwin in the Garden at Blérancourt
Mrs. Williams, Miss Dobson, and Mrs. Wethey in the Garden at Blérancourt
Luncheon in the Garden at Blérancourt
The Cathedral at Soissons
Very Old and Beautiful House at Roye: Interior completely gone
A German Graveyard
The Air Raid on Paris on the Night of January 30, 1918

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          OVER PERISCOPE POND


                                   I

                              FROM ESTHER


                                       Aboard Espagne, October 21, 1916.

DEAR FATHER:--

The writing-room is a bower of gold leaf, electric-light fixtures, and
Louis XIV brocade, but it is injudiciously placed where both the motion
and vibration are greatest, and not even the marvelously developed
yellow cherub, who holds a candelabrum over my shoulder, is inviting
enough to induce me to stay here long. Not that I haven't plenty to
tell. I could easily use up all the ship's paper in describing the
various people and events of this memorable week.

The day we sailed was perfectly gorgeous. You remember. Mrs. Bigelow and
I watched the big buildings and the Statue of Liberty slowly melt into
the sunset, and then we went down to see what surprises the stateroom
might reveal. And they were plenty. Letters upon letters and lovely
presents. The atmosphere was a trifle charged as we passed the
three-mile limit, and we all found billets--not so doux as they might
have been--on our pillows assigning us to lifeboats and saying just what
to do when the signal should be given to abandon the boat. Both Mrs.
Bigelow and Miss Short were assigned to Lifeboat No. 10, while I was
shunted off in Lifeboat No. 8--a bad omen, I thought. We went up on the
top deck and looked them over. No. 8 looks like a peanut shell--and then
we looked over the edge where the great big blue rollers were beginning
to make the boat creak, and decided rather hurriedly to go down to
dinner. You can imagine yourself what it would be like to start off on
the sea in a canoe at our island when there was a good dash at the
rocks.

Now here is where the Shrinking Violet steps in. Miss Short lost her
traveling-bag, and was in misery. She can't speak or understand one word
of French--and she appealed to me. I suppose you would have had me back
coyly into the stern of the boat, and say that I didn't know the word
for suitcase and didn't dare speak to the steward. But not so. I went up
to a tremendous great gold-braided Frenchman and linked together the
words "bagage," "noir," and "perdu," by a series of what I considered
intelligent sounds, and, by Jove, the man--being a genius anyway--got
the idea that some one had lost a black suitcase, and had the whole
ship's service in action before I could wink. Soon the suitcase
appeared, and I had Miss Short's undying gratitude, coupled with
complete dependence for the rest of the trip.

This was the beginning of Miracle Number One--that is, my French was
perfectly understood, and I understood nearly everything. Oh, the joy of
having the many hours spent over Chardenal at Hawthorne School under the
vigilant eye of Miss Bourlard or Mlle. Delpit at college--of having them
not spent in vain! Why, one of the Ambulance men told me yesterday that
when he first saw me he thought I was French! (Of course, he speaks
execrably himself, and my red tam might assume any nationality.) I order
meals, carry on all our traffic with the stewardess and deck steward,
and interpret right and left.

All during dinner you could see that people were rather waiting for a
shot off our bows, and every one's expression was bien pressé. After
dinner I took myself up on the bridge in my fur coat and stood alone
watching the most beautiful moon-path that ever I saw. It was cold and
clear with a fine breeze. "O Sole Mio" floated up gently from the
steerage below. Helpful thoughts came to me, and suddenly Miracle Number
Two happened. I felt perfectly sure that we were all right and that
nothing was going to happen to the Espagne. I haven't thought of Germans
or submarines or anything since. I slept like a top that night.

Just as I was about to get into my berth, Mrs. Bigelow asked me if I
knew where the life-preservers were. I hadn't thought of them. Well, I
wasn't dressed, and I couldn't go and ask the steward, so I said, "Go
and find the steward, and say, 'Où sont les gilets de sauvetage?'" "I
suppose," said Mrs. Bigelow, "that 'gilets' means 'preservers'?" "Well,
not exactly," said I; "'gilets' means waistcoats, and 'sauvetage' means
salvation; literally, the waistcoats of salvation; quaint, isn't it?"
"Oh, very," said she; "Oo song lays geelays dee softadge--I can say that
easily." "Alors, allez-vous en," said I, and bowed her out of the
stateroom. She marched erectly down the corridor, and I could hear her
voice,--firm, but growing fainter and fainter,--"Where are the
waistcoats of salvation--oo song lays geelays dee softadge--where are
the waistcoats," etc.,--for all the world like "Fling out the Banner,"
or something of the kind. It would make a good hymn, I thought.

Back she came with a mute and suffering steward. He had understood her
and pointed to the top of the wardrobe. He was not at all disturbed by
my nightgown, and I gave mental thanks to May for having run the ribbons
in--I feel freer in the French tongue when I am in négligé. So the
evening ended with a pleasant chat about sauvetage and naufrage and the
amenities of life.

The first morning was blue and clear, but oh! so rough. My head began to
feel funny as I dressed, so I hurried into my sailor blouse and red tam
and beat it for the deck. And here we have Miracle Number Three. I
wasn't a bit sick for one minute, and have felt better and fuller of pep
than I have since I was at Bailey's. I have been an obnoxious sight to
most of the passengers because I have run, skipped, and jumped
(figuratively) while they have rolled listless eyes at me. There were
only about fifteen people in the dining-room that first luncheon, and I
was the only woman. You should see this boat roll. Really, the Olympic
or the Minneapolis would blush at such actions.

I hardly saw Mrs. Bigelow and Miss Short the first two days, and so it
was natural that I should get very chummy with the Frenchman whose chair
was next to mine. He has long wiry mustaches that stick out at least
five inches on each side. He is a widower, and very small. He speaks
French the most beautifully I ever heard, and says lovely things, and
makes jokes too. When he says anything funny he lifts his feet aloft and
twinkles them very fast and goes into perfect spasms. He talks so fast
that often I don't understand him, but I laugh just the same, and the
more he laughs the more I do, because it strikes me so funny to be
making such a hullabaloo when I haven't the faintest idea what it's
about. He went up with me on the bridge for the moonlight the second
night (Mrs. Bigelow and Miss Short were laid out in a tableau barely
vivant), and we talked French and a little German--he recited
Schiller--and I told him I was going to France, and he said, "Belle a de
bon coeur," and we were bien amusés. He is French Consul at Montreal, and
is going to see his two little sons at ----.

The next day the captain asked to "be presented to" me. He invited me to
sit at his table, and oh, how I hated to refuse. All the interesting
French people sit there, and Mrs. Craigee--that lovely-looking girl that
we saw on the dock--and I could have practiced French so wonderfully.
Besides, Mrs. Bigelow and Miss Short nearly always eat on deck,--but of
course I had to sit with them. I was very much flattered, however,
although I needn't have been, for there are so few girls on board.

There are thirty-six American Ambulance men, and some of them are
dandies. About four in particular are most congenial, and we do
everything together--shuffle-board, deck-walking, afternoon-teaing,
card-playing, playing the piano, and generally exploring about the ship.
I should like to describe every one, but I feel that this is getting
boring as it is. The foreigners are delightful. Our French newspaper man
took my picture for his paper the other day. He is exactly like a
musical-comedy Frenchman--he raises his shoulders and says "la, la," and
wears checked trousers and patent leathers and gets so very
excited--such gestures!

At luncheon the other day there was great excitement--a wireless for
some one, and it was for me! From Robert and Harris and Johnny. Really,
I was so pleased. We were nine hundred miles out, and it seemed almost
like seeing them to have it come. I walked on air all afternoon. At
dinner that night the steward came around again, saying, "Télégramme
sans fil pour Mlle. Root,"--and there was a plate of salted almonds with
the cards the Ambulance men had stuck in it, with all sorts of crazy
messages written on them. I wirelessed back a poem as soon as I could
gather my senses sufficiently, and a good time was had by all.

It is now Sunday and our last day. It is a glorious blue morning.

There is a good deal of talk of submarines and floating mines as we
approach France. The lifeboats were swung out last night, our guns
loaded, all the lights darkened, and everything was preparedness. We
tried on the life-preservers before retiring, and the dust of ages that
they bore made me sneeze frightfully. How sharper than a serpent's tooth
it is to sleep on one's passport! I have played the piano a good deal on
the trip. The whole ship is singing "Liebes Freud." This morning Mrs.
Bigelow and I rose at 5.30, and saw a wonderful sunrise. We stood on the
bridge together, and it was all gold and rose and purple. She is a
peach,--Mrs. Bigelow. I can't wait to land, although I love the ship. I
had thought of crossing as just crossing; and not as such a wonderful
time. I do appreciate it all so much, Father, and I will write very
seriously when I get to Paris.

                                                              Much love.
                                                              ESTHER.



                                   II

                              FROM ESTHER


                                       Paris, Monday, October 23, 3 A.M.

DEAREST MOTHER:--

This day has been so eventful, so utterly new and remarkable to me, that
I can't bear to think of its being crowded out of my mind by the
immediate to-morrows. These experiences in fact have been so remarkable
and the after-dinner coffee so absolutely noir, that after a few hours
of fitful slumber I seem to be done for the night. After I have
described this place you will not wonder that ink is not provided, but
you will forgive pencil, I hope (it's the nice black one out of Father's
writing-case which I love so, and its maiden trip), although I know that
writing in pencil holds a place with you alongside of messing the top
bureau drawer and neglecting to wear a fully equipped sewing-bag always
about the neck.

The last night on the steamer was thrilling. I stood way out on the bow
with one of the Ambulance men (the nicest one) and watched the lights
way off on the horizon grow brighter and brighter. We watched the pilot
row out from the pilot ship in a little boat, and although the sea
looked perfectly calm compared to what it had been, it was like climbing
mountains in a hickory shell. All dark night everywhere with a few
flickering lights and men calling hoarse things in French back and forth
from the ships--can't you see how weird it was?

It was too bad to go down the Gironde at night because they say it is a
grand sight, but we were glad enough to wake up in Bordeaux. We got up
at 5.30 and looked out on the wide flat river, the many boats, and the
picturesque water's edge of the harbor. We packed our last things, had a
farewell tour de force with the femme de chambre, flew around saying
good-bye to everybody, and then stood in line to see the préfet de
police. Right here I want to say that of all the fairy tales that were
told me, the ones about the difficulties of getting to Paris were the
most fantastic. There were a good many tiresome details: I had to show
our passports everywhere, but everything went smoothly, and every one
was most polite. I wish I could tell you the thousand and one funny
things that happened in leaving the boat. How we hated to leave that
darling stateroom and the still darlinger Espagne. You know my penchant
for everything Spanish, and I knew when I first heard that name at
Bailey's that it was the boat for me; and it was.

You remember the confusion and perfect riotousness of landing. I managed
my own things, which in itself is no joke. I had to get my stuff
together, have it examined, weighed, and checked, send my cable, and
telegraph Miss Curtis, pay my excess, and buy my railroad ticket, find a
carriage, and leave that dock. It sounds simple, but with a million
people all hurrying to do it at once and nothing but rapid-fire French
going on,--I got a few short circuits that were disastrous,--it was
dreadful (but often very funny) and took nearly two hours.

The customs inspector was a woman and pleasant as anything. I never even
unlocked my trunk and she just poked at my suitcases.

How can I describe Bordeaux as we saw it through that musty cab window?
Low and little and picturesque. It was like stepping into a stereopticon
picture and finding it alive. Little houses and shops, with bright signs
all in French, and foreign-looking people in the streets, and many
soldiers and many, many widows. Queer-painted carts and little houses
and little narrow alleys with uneven houses, dark and aged, huddled
together with lights over the doors--you know what I mean--adorable. The
town itself is quite a place--good hotels and shops and cafés, with blue
and red and yellow wicker chairs and tables on the sidewalk.

We piled our luggage in the lobby of the hotel and then filed into a
dismal parlor and faced one another over a marble table (for ornament
only). I was ready for bed and it was quarter of ten. The train for
Paris left at one--three hours to wait and we so tired we couldn't
budge. How that parlor rocked and reeled after the steamer! Mrs. Bigelow
said, "This is France." It made me think of "As You Like It" where
Rosalind and Celia and Touchstone arrive in the forest.

After I had slept a little, sitting bolt upright in the lobby, we walked
about town. The little back streets were so tiny that only one could
walk on the sidewalk at a time. Even Boston can go one better than that.
I walked in the middle of the street and never felt bigger in my life.
Miss Short sent a cable, and I went by myself into a little shop and
bought a copy of the "Marseillaise"--my first venture in commerce, and I
was mighty embarrassed because I don't believe there is such a word as
"copie" anyway, but I got it and was pleased to death to have actually
achète-ed something.

It didn't seem long until train-time, and we got into crowded but
comfortable first-class carriages. After our elaborate good-byes, we
found nearly every one from the steamer on the train, the Ambulance men
and everybody. In our compartment there were a very fat French woman, a
young girl, and her maid. The young girl--I had planned to spend hours
in describing her, but I can't stop now. I'll just say she was Elsie
Ferguson in "The Strange Woman," and let you picture her. The prettiest,
most charming, and warmest creature I ever met. It was the first time I
had heard a girl speak high French. There were no French women on the
boat, you remember, and it was like music. The country we passed was the
prettiest I've ever seen, more perfect than England even. So many
poplars, and hills,--and such houses. There were acres of vineyards and
lovely farms and with autumn foliage,--fainter than ours, of
course,--lovely yellows and reds, and leaves dropping, and blue mists
and more poplars, it was like a dream-land.

It was a long trip, but the steamer people visited back and forth and
bought things at the stations and stood in the corridors and talked, and
it didn't seem long. The fat French woman joined our conversation after
the French girl got out at Poitiers--I must tell you that she is married
and her husband is an officer and has just recovered from being badly
wounded. She is going to find out on Sunday if he has to go back,
because, you see, he'll never be strong again, and she is praying that
he'll be réformé for good. Oh, she does seem to love him so. If he isn't
réformé he'll have to go back to the front. She is so brave and so
beautiful!

Well, after she got out, a nice old Frenchman got in and a typical
Englishman (who spoke French) and we had the most wonderful time. Of
course we didn't speak at first, but the fat woman and I would say
things across the compartment to one another and they would offer a
remark now and then, until we all got to talking. I shall have to write
some of these things down, I fancy. I'd hate to forget them. I thanked
Heaven for the 'steenth time for my French, which is a bruised reed,
right enough, but a perfect joy just the same.

I was expecting to fall into Miss Curtis's arms, but it would have been
an empty fall, for she wasn't there. I didn't know, when I wired her,
that there were two stations, so I suppose she didn't know which to
choose. I could have gone with Mrs. Bigelow and the others, but I
thought Miss Curtis would have engaged a room for me here, so I wanted
to try this place, anyway. One of the Ambulance men, Mr. Baxter, offered
to bring me here and see me installed. There were no taxis left, and it
was still drizzling, and you know my luggage,--the eleventh hour Altman
winter flannels boiling out of the carryall with price-marks dangling
and soiled from constant exposure,--and me tired and dirty with the ship
still going round in my head, standing alone by a dark and empty
cabstand at 10.30 p.m. in Paris, the unknown. The others all rattled
off, and Mr. Baxter disappeared to find a taxi, and I sidled up behind a
big French soldier for comfort. I saw the fat French woman to say
good-bye and thanked her for being so bien gentille to me. I told her
that "elle m'avait fait senter la bien venue en France," which was
rotten French, and she said, "Mais Mlle. est si aimable." I could have
hugged her, and I felt as though she were a great big mother, twice,
three times, your size, Mother.

Mr. Baxter manufactured a taxi out of nothing and we bundled in the bag
and baggage without any idea how far our place was from the Quai
d'Orsai. It was nice to be on terra-cotta--to be in a place where you
don't have to show your birth certificate before you can order an egg,
as he said. The only thing that any one has told me that's true is that
Paris is dark. I don't see how the taxi-men can drive at all. We rattled
along, and finally came to a street that looked like a tunnel--a faint
light at the other end--that's all. At the very blackest point we
stopped, the driver said, "C'est l'hôtel," and by the light of a match
we could see a black sign with gold letters beside a door that looked
like the door of a stable, saying that, indeed, it was Hôtel des St.
Pères--but oh, so dark. It looked as though Louis Treize's sub-valet de
chambre had boarded it up and gone away and that no one had ever been
there since. We knocked and knocked, and after ages we heard a shuffling
step and the great black doors swung open. There stood the sleepiest,
wall-eyed person, almost entirely covered by a big spotted butcher's
apron. I asked in uncertain tones if they had place for Miss Root, and
he shook his head and I asked if he knew Miss Curtis, and he said no,
and then I asked if I could get a room. It was the most awful-looking
place. I didn't know just what to do. He made for a dark flight of
stairs,--the janitor, I mean,--and I started to follow him. I asked Mr.
Baxter if he supposed the janitor was a concierge, and he told me that
jardinière was the nearest he could get to it. Upstairs we went on
dark-red carpet, past maroon walls--up and up and up. Very high ceilings
and long black corridors. Finally he opened a room on the fourth floor,
and it looked clean, and I said I'd stay. I went down to get my things
and to thank Mr. Baxter for being so kind. I should have been so forlorn
all alone. So he drove off to the Ambulance Headquarters. I could hear
the taxi going off down the street and the "jardinière" tumbling over my
bags. I do think American men are wonderful!

We climbed again to this eyrie and he wished me "bon soir." Again I was
so glad for French because, as he was turning down my bed,--I told him
that "je viens de venir d'Amérique," and that I did not wish "que l'on
me réveille." He was quite genial and said good-night all over again.

My room is the queerest of the queer. There is a worn red carpet with
rainbow figures, the paper is green and yellow striped--mild, but
incontestably green and yellow. The ceiling is slanted and I have one
dormer window. There is a marble mantelpiece and a huge bed; also a
marble washstand, which I feel must be a bit of ornamentation looted
from Napoleon's tomb. I looked out of the window, but it's perfectly
black. There may be a blank wall six inches away, or a court or a forest
of trees or almost anything for all I can see. I stood in the middle of
the room with my hands on my hips and looked around and smiled. There
was my own fur coat which is Northampton to me, and my black sweater
which is Bailey's, and my suitcases and myself--all of us dropped into
this garret room.

When I went to lay my weary--oh, so weary--bones between the sheets, I
found the latter to be fashioned apparently out of heavy canvas. It was
like nestling down between two jibs of the good swordfisher, "Edmund
Black." The pillow is enormous and uncompromising--my own little baby
pillow Mrs. Bigelow put in her trunk for me. Still, as I describe them,
they look very good to me and I think I'll go back to them. It is
getting light, I think, and pouring rain, I'll try looking out again.


                                Tuesday.

I have seen it! I have seen it! Paris is the most romantic place in the
world. Talk about London! Oh, I never shall forget this afternoon. I
went to sleep almost before I stopped writing the above in pencil and
never woke up until twelve o'clock. I asked the femme de chambre whether
or not any one had called for me, thinking Miss Curtis might have tried
to find me, and she said that I had had two telephone calls, and that a
young gentleman had been here in a taxi. It was Mr. Baxter, of course,
because he said he would take me back to the Quai d'Orsay and help me
with my trunk and customs and prefect of police; and there, they'd told
him that I was asleep, and not to be waked up! I felt hopeless at the
thought of having to go by myself without any idea of what to do! I
suppose Mrs. Bigelow may have called me up. I had no idea of Miss
Curtis's whereabouts and I knew that the Shurtleffs are at their
headquarters all day long and I had no idea where that was, and I knew
that Mrs. Bigelow was at the other end of Paris and couldn't help me
even if I did see her.

I didn't feel like lunch, so I took the map of Paris and went out in the
dripping streets with no umbrella. I was so confused and so embarrassed
with my map, which I didn't dare open; I felt that people were staring
at me, and my rubbers and umbrella were in my trunk and my coat and hat
and feet were soaking. I just wandered along and finally came to a taxi.
I decided to go to Mrs. Shurtleff's house, whether she was in or not. So
I said, 6 Place Denfert-Rochereau, and got out at a big apartment house.
I walked in, and there was no elevator boy or telephone girl or
anything, so I rang at the first apartment and asked for Dr. Shurtleff.
The maid said he wasn't there, and I asked if she could tell what
apartment he lived in and she said she didn't know; finally her face
lighted up and she showed me into a little parlor and said, "You come
for a consultation! I'll go and get the doctor." Heavens and earth, I'd
stumbled into a physician's office. I said, "No, no!" and went out. I
thought I'd have to ring at all the apartments to find the Shurtleffs,
but I found a concierge, tremendously en négligé, who pointed to a
little elevator and said, "third floor." I got in expecting to be
followed, but bang went the doors without apparently word or sign from
any one and up I shot. Up and up; and I was scared to death. I felt sure
I was going through the roof; but eventually we stopped and I got out
and rang at the first bell to the left, as I'd been told. No answer; I
rang and rang; still no answer. I gathered that they were at the
headquarters, so I sat down on the top step of the stair and wrote on
the back of my visiting card that I was at the Hôtel des St. Pères. I
was a little discouraged, because it meant that I would have to wait at
the hotel until some one could call or write. In the mean time the lift
was standing inert and I couldn't make it go down--of course, I wouldn't
have gone down in it myself for the gross receipts. I could hear people
ringing wildly down below and pretty soon a man came leaping up the
stairs. I asked in my prettiest French if he could make the thing go
down, and he couldn't any more than I. He started to go into an opposite
apartment, and as the door opened I heard some one greet him in English.
I jumped up; it was the first English I'd heard since the others had
left me. I rushed forward and almost put my foot in the door, for I was
desperate. I asked the woman who had spoken, one of the most beautiful
women I ever saw, if she knew where Dr. Shurtleff lived. She said, "I am
Mrs. Shurtleff. Why, you must be Miss Root." And she threw both her arms
around me and pulled me into their living-room. There were Miss Curtis
and Dr. Shurtleff and a blazing wood-fire. If that wasn't heaven on
earth to me, I should be ungrateful to admit it. We talked and talked,
and oh, but I was glad to see them! They never had received my telegram
and the Espagne had not been announced in Paris, the concierge had
directed me to the wrong apartment, but now everything was straightened
out. It just happened that they were taking an afternoon off, the
Shurtleffs, that is; the others left very soon. I hadn't had anything to
eat since on the train the night before, and I felt weak and horrid, and
everything still rocked; so Mrs. Shurtleff gave me hot tea and nut bread
and cold chicken, and warmed me through and through. She is an angel;
she looks like one of the old Gibson drawings,--beautiful, and so
charming and enthusiastic, and much younger, too, than I had thought,
with light-brown hair and blue eyes and pink cheeks.

[Illustration]
[Illustration: No. 6 Place Denfert-Rochereau]

The first thing to decide was where I should live permanently, and Mrs.
Shurtleff took me that afternoon to two pensions, the best and nearest
to the work. One was very near, just across a little green square from
the Shurtleffs'. The other was on an adorable little street in the old
Latin Quarter, where all the painters from time immemorial have lived.
It was dark, and no conveniences, no heat, no running water, and no
bathtub in the whole house. But I peeped into one of the rooms and there
was a wood-fire singing so adorably, and a lovely mantelpiece and gold
mirror, and a piano with candles. That was nine francs a day, and
although much more inconvenient and far-away, I wanted to go there. The
cook showed us around and I promised to call on Wednesday and see the
landlady.

After that Mrs. Shurtleff took me to do an errand--and I saw Paris for
the first time. I think that the Seine, and the bridges, and lines of
straight trees are the most beautiful things I've ever seen. We looked
up the Champs Élysées as the sun was setting and the lights were
beginning to twinkle through a violet haze. It was like a dream city. I
sat on the extremest edge of the seat in the taxi gazing and gazing at
everything. Mrs. Shurtleff delighted in my delight, and she said it made
her live again the enthusiasm and wonder that she felt when she came
here ten years ago. So many queer things I noticed that she grew used to
years ago; the door-handles in the middle of the doors, the lamp-posts
in the middle of the sidewalks, and funny quaint little things like
that. We saw a trolley-car marked "Bastille," and I burst out laughing.
Why, it seemed like marking the ugliest, most ordinary or modern thing
"Guillotine" or "Robespierre"! Think of getting a transfer or "watching
your step" going to the Bastille.

I went to the Vestiaire yesterday morning where I am to work. It is
wonderfully interesting. All kinds of clothing are piled everywhere and
there is an office where people apply, and everything is very
business-like. The refugees are pathetic to the last degree, and already
I have seen many, many people, and heard of cases, that I couldn't
believe existed in the world. I haven't done any real work yet; but here
is something I want to tell you. We need everything, particularly warm
things, blankets; and big wide shoes above everything. I saw men turn
away some people to-day, and I tell you I'd like to snatch these
bedclothes out of the hotel and go find old people and give them to
them. But any kind of clothes! I saw a pile of sticks, about a hundred,
stored in the corner, and I asked Mrs. Shurtleff what they were for and
she said for the blind. They can't afford to buy them. Think of being
blinded and then not being able to afford a few pennies to buy a cane.

I find that Paris is much more alive and happy than I had expected,
although the individual cases are so very hard.

I have decided on my pension, and I like Mme. H----. My room certainly
is comfort itself, for Paris, with lovely sunlight and trees and a park
below. I move in November 4th, and I am glad to have it settled. Living
is so expensive that many of the best pensions have had to close, so I
feel I am wonderfully lucky.

Yesterday afternoon I covered about twelve acres of streets and
buildings in fulfilling various official formalities, and now call all
the prefects of police by their first names. I had no trouble, but it is
tedious to go from one place to another. My official title on the Paris
register is now "Demoiselle de Vestiaire," and as that can refer both to
relief work and to check girls in restaurants, I can give up one any
time for the other.

[Illustration: Women's Vestiaire]
[Illustration: Men's Vestiaire]

I went to the station and brought my trunk here. I had dinner with Mrs.
Bigelow, and we just fell on each other's necks and couldn't seem to let
go. Those two days of separation have been pretty long. We went to
church to the Wednesday evening meeting. We could hear them singing
"Abide with Me" as we came up the street, and it was the first note of
music that I had heard in many a long day, except what I played myself
on the steamer. My heart just swelled up, and when we got in and sang
the third verse, the tears were rolling down our cheeks. It was a
wonderful service.

The sun shines to-day for the first time, and I have been out with my
trusty map. You see such vital little scenes in the street--two girls
poring over a letter from the front, and giggling and teasing each
other; a little girl with tight black pig-tails, bare legs and socks, a
full black cape, and a basket under her arm, standing on tippey-toes to
ring an old bronze bell; a widow walking along with a little child,
watching with an inscrutable expression a car full of soldiers starting
for the front; a group of poor people, market-women, old men, and
children, pressing closely around a sign-poster who is posting up a
list, "Morts pour la Patrie." Many times you see the signs: "Don't talk,
be careful, enemy ears are listening." Oh, this country is at war, but I
can't tell you the inspiration that seems to be in the very streets. And
it is so beautiful when I think that I am really to live here, to be
chez moi, and have my own books and pictures and perhaps some plants,
and be able to go about and see these things. I can't tell you how happy
I am. If the Statue of Liberty ever wants to see me again, she will have
to turn a complete back somersault.

I send love home in bushels. There have been moments in these last few
days! But never for one breath have I wished that I hadn't set out, and
now with my pension settled, my permis de séjour granted by the police,
my trunk by my side, my work fairly started, the Shurtleffs perfectly
wonderful, and Mrs. Bigelow at hand and happy, why, nothing could be
happier than I am. And I never can thank you enough for letting me come.
My one trouble now is writer's cramp, so I must stop before I am too
paralyzed to address the envelope!

Do write me.

                                                        Love to you all.
                                                        ESTHER.



                                  III

                              FROM ESTHER


                                               Paris, November 26, 1916.

DEAREST MOTHER:--

My literary style may be a trifle affected by Baedeker, but I hope the
following details will not seem as dry as sawdust to you, for they are
the very air I breathe daily.

At the beginning of the war the French Government declared a moratorium,
which is the suspension of rent payments for every one in Paris paying a
rent of less than two thousand francs or possibly three thousand francs.
With practically all the men mobilized, many families would have starved
but for this provision. The wives or widows of soldiers are given a
regular income by the French Government called "allocation,"--one franc
twenty-five centimes a day and seventy-five centimes for each child. The
soldiers themselves get five sous a day (formerly three sous), which
barely enables them to get necessities and soap and tobacco, etc.

"Chaumage" is money given to woman refugees if they have no men
fighting. One franc twenty-five centimes a day for all over sixteen not
working (mothers of little children, invalids, blind, etc.), and fifty
centimes for children. There is a special old-age pension for men and
women over sixty. In addition to these pensions there are
committees--Comité Franco-Belge, Comité de la Marne, Secours des
Meusiens, etc., who help refugees by giving money and clothes to special
cases. They are so swamped with demands, however, that they cannot do
much. It is a marvel to me what they and the French Government can do
and what complication of financial adjustment is apparently carried on
successfully. Where does the money come from to finance this war?

Perhaps it would seem that considering the chaumage, the refugees are
nearly as well off as the Parisians, but I assure you it is not so: the
moratorium makes a vast difference, and, above all, the strangeness of
Paris, ignorance of where to find places to live and work, ill health
often contracted from the hardships of the way down and the frightful
shock of living through bombardment. Many of them, you see, were fairly
well off in Rheims or Lille or Maubeuge, or wherever they came from, and
had to flee with only the clothes they had on their backs. The people
who try to do much with little and live up to their former way of living
appeal to my sympathy more than the most squalid who really have the
greatest misery.

We have found that people can get a furnished room for thirty centimes a
day and up. Awful little rooms, dens of darkness and disease, can be
found (only occasionally, praise be) for three francs a week; but I
can't consider those. I saw one yesterday--a mother and two little girls
live there, and it was about the size of the cabin in our motor-boat,
but made the latter seem vast and airy by comparison. With the prices of
food and coal high, and constantly soaring, the poor people can just
make out their rent and food, but cannot buy clothes. Shoes are thirty
francs and up. You can figure it out for yourself. With our help,
however, many, many poor families can get along that would otherwise be
destitute. Sometimes we can give a girl a suit which will enable her to
present herself for a far better position than she could hope to obtain
in rags. Sometimes boys can go to school if they have warm new shoes, a
black apron, and an overcoat, when without them they would stay at home
and shiver in idleness. Warm strong clothing not only gives a new lease
to health, but to life as a whole. You should see the little girls when
I give them a hair-ribbon or a dress for their doll, if they have one.

I have gathered a lot of old stuff that I found at the Vestiaire and
have brought it home and ironed it out and cut it up fresh and given it
away to all sorts of little "fillettes." I do believe in the trimmings
even for the most wretched, especially if they're kids, and I am glad to
say that Mrs. Shurtleff does, too. We have a box of tinsel favors filled
with tiny bonbons that we give to the littlest, if they are restless
while their parents are being accommodated. The other day we had a
little angel of less than two, a small refugee from Rheims with its
father and mother. Her ears were pierced and supported tiny earrings.
When in this war-time any one had the time and inclination to pierce
that child's ears is one on me! Her father left our part of the
Vestiaire a few minutes to be fitted to an overcoat in the men's
department, and the child began to howl. I took it in my arms and rushed
it after its father as fast as I could go. Then all was serene again. In
some cases we go so far as to move families from crowded, dirty,
unsavory quarters to as clean and as airy a place as we can find in
proportion to their income. We then guarantee their rent for three
months and help them to furnish. This is all in the hands of the
installation department, and I have nothing to do with that, so I cannot
tell you as much as I would like to.

The field work is the visiting and investigation of applicants. The war
work of the Students Atelier Reunions has become known by word of mouth
among the refugees. Of course, the reports and results of our work
travel like wildfire and we are inundated with requests. After receiving
a letter from a refugee the case is looked up by two field workers and
reported at a meeting of the committee the following Saturday morning. A
vote is taken as to what to do and how much to give if it is decided to
give anything. The people are then told to present themselves at the
Vestiaire and we give them what they need. Every type of man, woman, and
child has crossed our threshold even within my month of service. How I
love them all!

I try to get each story as I measure the person and search the stock and
try on and tie up and list. Mother would die to see me, who have never
known anything more about children than that they belonged to the animal
kingdom and were awful little monkeys and might better approach more
nearly the vegetable kingdom, even if they were darlings--to see me tell
some mother of ten that "her little Yvonne is large for eight," or that
"Renaud has small feet for a boy of twelve." It is I who measure and
mark children's clothes as they are sent to us, according to age, and in
centimeters at that. I have been driven to ascertaining my own waist
measure by the same rating and now go about heavily veiled.

My good fortune has been to be made one of the field workers and I go
with either Miss Curtis or Miss Sturgis every Monday and Wednesday. Two
always go together because, until we have been to a place once, we don't
know what we are getting into, and it would be foolish to go alone way
to the back of the top of these big dark buildings without knowing what
sort of people lived there. In their homes you do see the people chez
eux. We see the extremes of cleanliness and filth, thrift and
abjectness. I shall not stop to describe individual homes now, but I can
tell you some of them are rare. In one home of about the same stratum as
the Russian family Mother and I visited last Christmas, I stepped
gingerly among the rags, coal-dust, food, and so forth on the floor, and
went and sat beside the dirtiest but the darlingest child you ever
saw,--blue eyes with black lashes, which always get me, you know,--but
its nose running fearfully. Miss Curtis did the questioning, but I
interrupted every three minutes to beseech the mother to wipe the
offending organ. I finally learned that the child ought to have an
operation, but it is only twenty-five months old and the doctor will not
operate until she is three. I showed her the buttons on my glove,
fastening and unfastening them. She looked up to me with her dirty
little mouth smiling radiantly and said, "Tiens!"

They are not the type we can do much for, but I begged some warm clothes
for them and they came to the Vestiaire yesterday. The name is Pruvot,
and there are a mother and daughter, three sons in the war, one of whom
I am going to adopt as "filleul," a son and his wife and two little
girls, and a little illegitimate child of a son who has disappeared and
whose mother has abandoned it. He is the star child, Marcel Pruvot, two
and a half years, and I am crazy to adopt him. What would you say if I
brought him home with me? Think of what one could make of his life; but,
of course, I shall not. We sent a layette to one little mother. (My
mother should see the layette department, stocked up with the cutest
things I ever saw.) And as a special luxury, we included some talcum
powder, marked "poudre de riz" (rice powder). Mrs. Jackson went to look
her up one day and found her boiling the talcum powder with water in a
saucepan, just about to feed it to the little creature of three months.
She had never heard of powder before.

The next big branch of work is fitting out the blind. There is more
pathos, gayety, and inspiration on Tuesday and Friday afternoons than in
all the rest of the week. After the men are wounded at the front they
are brought back through a chain of relief stations, "postes de
secours," to hospitals, and finally to a Paris hospital. The blind are
allowed to recuperate here either at the Val de Grace or the
Quinze-Vingt (big hospitals), and are then sent away, usually to the
country to learn a trade or to rejoin their families, or both. They must
give up their military clothes, underclothes, and shoes when they are
discharged, and are given only the poorest kind of civilian clothes in
exchange. This is where we step in to give them decent clothes. In many
cases they are not given civilian clothes at all, although I don't
understand the Government system enough to see how that is possible. So
Miss Hodges, our representative in work for the blind, brings five or
six of the most needy and touching cases to us and we fit them out.

The blind are the most childlike as a general rule of all the people we
deal with, and the outfit we give them and the kindness and help they
receive at the Vestiaire mean to them a new start in life, as we have
learned from guards afterwards. Such brave fellows! It is an exception
to see one downcast or morose, but when you do, your heart aches twice
as much, not only for them, but for the many gay ones who have conquered
despair. One boy twenty-four years old was wounded in the leg and
dragged himself along the ground half conscious, to find he was dragging
himself toward the German trenches. At this point he was struck again
and his eyes put out. He lay between the trenches under fire for days,
unconscious most of the time and feigning death the rest. By a miracle
he escaped being killed. He was picked up and taken to a hospital; has
been there six months, and is now starting out to learn a trade--in the
dark. I love to do what I can for them, especially as this is my one
chance to know the French poilu.

You would laugh to see me measuring and fitting, especially when it
comes to holding up underwear to some dear blind giant. I remember all
too well how at the age of eight I used to wriggle in Altman's when
mother insisted on "getting an idea how they would go" by holding "them"
up to me. Every saleswoman and floorwalker got the idea clearly. There
are moments when blindness is not such a misfortune.

The blind soldiers are always interested to know what their new clothes
look like. "C'est de quel couleur, Mademoiselle?" "Dark brown," I say,
"and I will give you a brown and white tie." "Ah que je serai chic,
moi!" One of his comrades would nudge him and say, "Je voudrais bien
avoir les yeux pour te voir, maintenant, mon vieux! C'est vrai que tu
vais te marier?" (I would like to have eyes to see you now, old fellow;
is it true you are just going to be married?) Then they laugh and thank
me "mille fois" and shake hands and wish me good luck. Sometimes I walk
down the street with them and guide them along. I admire their medals
and tell them that the passers-by are looking at them, etc. We never say
the word "aveugle" (blind), but "blessé" (wounded). Sometimes when we
have to wait for their guards I sit on the table and tell them all about
my crossing and about America, and, oh, a hundred things. We do have
good times--for the moment.

I have tried to give you a grasp of what we have to meet and how we try
to meet it. First, the French system of pensions and rents, then the
giving of clothes and the moving of families, then the field work and
the work for the blind. I haven't told about the Ouvroir because I am
not well enough informed. We give employment to many women in making
clothes for the Vestiaire,--flannel shirts and petticoats, underclothes,
dresses, everything. All materials, clothes, furniture, or their
equivalent in money, come from America.

Now for our needs. We need shoes (this "we" may be taken editorially,
for when my present boots take wings I don't know what I shall do. I
can't afford French shoes in war-times); large sizes, both men's and
women's, and all sizes children's--women's 5, 6, and 7 lengths, C, D,
and E widths, and men's correspondingly large. Then blankets, diaper
material by the yard, men's overcoats (we had to turn away a blind boy
the other day who had had his feet and legs frozen and was lame and was
just beginning to get tuberculosis), and women's shirts and heavy union
suits. These are great needs, but if there are any available just plain
clothes,--dresses, suits, children's clothes, boy's trousers and
sweaters, neckties, gloves, ribbons, stockings, caps,--send them. If
Mother has any sewing-circle in New York or elsewhere at her command, I
should like to use it as a part of the propaganda, if I may. I believe
she suggested it. If they want to make anything, make aprons for boys
and girls from four to fourteen years, the larger sizes from ten to
fourteen being the most important. All the school children wear them,
and always black. The stuff is like lining sateen. It is astonishing to
me that not only parents, but the children, are eager for anything
black. It is more practical, of course, and as it is the custom for all
the school children to wear black, any child feels embarrassed and odd
to wear a color. Only hair-ribbons do they like bright, and this is
because they dress up on Sundays to go to the cemeteries. The apron is
an all-over apron with sleeves, and buttons up the back.

My idea is to give always what fits and what is right to each person on
the spot. Give her something to take pride in and live up to. I have
seen a nice-looking waist for a girl to wear to her work in a paper-bag
factory not only transform her looks, but the expression of her face. I
consider it as much my duty to tell people at home what we need as to go
to work every morning. If you could know how we long for packing-boxes
to come from America. Sometimes when they do come they are filled with
junk. Old dirty clothes full of holes, pieces of lace, jet
passementerie, etc., and how disappointed we are! We are hoping,
perhaps, for three dozen heavy union suits for men, and find some
worn-out long white kid gloves.

Couldn't you tell some of our dear friends about the Vestiaire? So often
at home I have heard people say, "It is awful how little I do for the
war. I would like to do more, but I don't know just what to do." Tell
them that here's an opportunity not only to help France, but to back up
Americans.

One kind of help that appeals to me strongly, though it is entirely
outside of my work here, is adopting "filleuls." Many soldiers have
wives and families who write to them and send packages and warm things,
and an occasional bar of soap, cake of chocolate, or package of
cigarettes. Then there are many poor fellows whose families are in the
invaded provinces or killed. They have no one, no encouragement, no one
to write to or get letters from or give them trifling remembrances.
These are adopted as "filleuls" (godsons) by "marraines" (godmothers),
who take an interest and try and fill the place of family to them.
Hundreds have been so adopted in America, as you know, but there are so
many more who are quite forlorn. I heard of one boy the other day who
was the only one in his regiment who never got anything, but tried to go
away by himself when he knew it was time for the mail to come. I adopted
him like a shot. I have since taken three more temporarily, as I can't
possibly afford to keep them unless I can get some one in America to
support them. Now, many of my friends cannot write French very readily
and don't want to be bothered, and it takes months, anyway, for packages
to get from New York to the French front, so I thought that if I could
get two or three people to support my boys, I would do the writing and
the sending of packages gladly, and then report to whoever was
supporting them at home and forward to the supporters the men's letters.

You spend anywhere from three dollars up for the package and send the
package once a month. I shall keep these men from now until I hear from
you and make an account of what I spend for them. Please be sure and let
me know.

One of our greatest needs is a small motor-car--we take great heavy
packages and heavy furniture all over town, and then in the visiting
work we have to go everywhere, and we get really more tired than I ever
thought it possible to get and we waste so much time walking. There are
many places where the trams and subways don't go and the auto-buses have
stopped running. Here they are too expensive to buy and mostly too poor
in quality. They ask thirty-two hundred francs for a 1910 Ford.

                                                         Affectionately,
                                                         ESTHER.



                                   IV

                             FROM MARJORIE


                            S.S. Finland, Wednesday (December 19, 1916).

DEAR DADDY:--

At about noon yesterday, we were all thrilled to see a big transport
ship go by us to starboard. She was very lightly laden, and tossed about
at a great rate. She had no flag and no visible name, and gave us no
signal, which my friend, the purser, tells me is the custom in war-time.
She was too far off to wig-wag, and she did not wish to use the wireless
and thereby let some one else know her whereabouts. We were all duly
thrilled by her and watched her out of sight. Then we lay down again,
only to be bounced out of our chairs by the news that a French
man-of-war was passing us to port. We tooted around to the other side,
and there she was, big French flag, a medium-sized ship and a cruising
destroyer, according to the faithful purser. She went by us slowly and
gave no sign. We were duly grateful, for I can tell you her guns looked
awfully big! After she had gotten well past us, and we thought
everything was over, she suddenly fired a gun, began to steam up like
everything, and turned around remarkably quickly and came racing down on
top of us, smoke pouring out of her funnels and coming full-tilt right
at us. Nobody knew what it could mean, and then our engines stopped and
we hove to. The officers all beat it up to the bridge, and you never saw
so many sick passengers come to life and hang over the rail with the
rest of us watching. Every one had a different notion, and I can tell
you it was sort of scary, for she might be a German in disguise, and
Heaven only knows what she might do. After she got alongside, she
stopped and wig-wagged for all she was worth. After about ten minutes,
which seemed at least an hour, our engines started, and we went our way.
She circled around us, and kept going off in different directions, and
then turning. It seemed as if she was looking for something. The report
the captain gave out was that she wanted the Greenwich time; wanted to
know where we were going, and then wished us "Bon voyage." You can
believe that or not. It does not sound plausible to me, but, anyway, the
dear thing left us after having scared the life out of us. When she was
alongside, and you began to think of life in a lifeboat in this sea,
which is fairly smooth, it did not appeal. I suppose it all sounds
trivial to you,--to be held up by a warship in mid-ocean,--but with the
fact in mind that all sorts of things are happening now that never did
before, and also that she went steaming past and then suddenly turned,
we all had plenty of room for imagination. It was awfully interesting to
see how different people took it. I think I would have been scared to
death myself if it had not been for the humor of the idea of perishing
with a certain one on my arm. She, poor soul, was so frightened and weak
that she was both pitiful and laughable.

This dear boat seems to go more slowly every day. At the present rate, I
don't think we will land much before Easter! She certainly is nice and
steady, though, and if this glorious weather keeps up, I, personally,
don't care at all when we get in. It is so warm that it is really
ridiculous. Here we are at Christmas season, and yesterday I walked the
deck all the morning without even a sweater, my flannel waists being
heavy enough, though, to make up for something, I guess.

                                                                  MARJE.



                                   V

                              FROM ESTHER


                                                December 16 to 31, 1916.

DEAREST SISTER:--

From subtle remarks let fall from Father's pen, I take it that my
letters have all the charming privacy of Paul's Epistle to the
Ephesians. The thought that my recountings are coldly fed to the jaws of
a typewriter without so much as considering my editorial "oui" has
caused me to give my writing-table as wide a berth as is compatible with
the size of this my dominion; but since he at the same time calls me
"fatuous child" instead of using the far more obvious and shorter
adjective, I say, So be it. The writing-table leads me on in spite of my
better self, and I settle myself before this block of cheapest French
paper with certain foreknowledge that I shall give birth--this time--to
many indiscretions. (Why be called fatuous if you cannot live up to it?)

I have an idea of compiling a list of my various friends and associates
in a series of descriptions, something like La Bruyere's
"Caractères"--only far more interesting. I realize from your letters how
stingy I have been in telling you about the pension and the people who
have invited me about in Paris, and now that my first fear is dispelled,
I shall proceed. My first fear, you see, was that the family would think
I was having too good a time and would call me home with dispatch; now
that good times manifest themselves in such rarity, I feel free to
describe those first weeks of gayety. I shan't mention war or refugees
this time, not because I don't every day live and breathe them
(sometimes not so pleasant), but because I do. To-night is my night
off--this letter is a soirée!

My room, my dominion, my home--how I love it! It is fairly large, but
larger still is the bed, which is a dominion in itself. Alongside it I
am an incident, and alongside of me the piano is an episode. The massive
orange armoire, topped by my two suitcases and a hatbox, towers in vain
when I look up at it in the early morning from my eider-down
fastness--or (see Father) slowness. "My bed is like a little boat" no
more than it is like Central Park--in fact, the darling Espagne would
seem small beside it. To enter the room, to comb the hair, to wash the
hands, to exit from the room, you must insinuate yourself between the
bed and the wall. I might say there's no getting around it.

I call the armoire Richard Coeur de Lion--it is strong and all-embracing.
I have no bureau, but dress--instead of eat--"off" the mantelpiece.
Everything is dumped into the armoire--ribbons, collars, dresses, shoes,
books, chewing-gum, hats, furs, et al., and believe me, they stand not
on the order of their going! I will say, though, before Mother's last
whitened tress is wound up on her finger and put away in a little Altman
box at the back of her right-hand bureau drawer, that I keep things
pretty well arranged on the different shelves and in the little drawers,
my best clothes being left in my wardrobe trunk, but my orderliness
(so-called) is due to no virtue of my own, but to the fact that I never
wear anything but my blue serge dress, my old blue coat, heavy
underwear, old tan boots and rubbers--never, except during giddy
interregna of the old "battleship gray." Always put on in the morning
what you took off the night before, is my sine qua non--which doesn't
make any sense, but you know what I mean.

For chairs, I have one armchair of imitation red leather, which is stiff
and smooth and cold, but when I cover it over with my two sweaters to
take the edge off, as it were, it does very well. Then there are two
little chairs made so that you sit on them diagonally,--I've always
thought them an abomination,--but I never sit in them, just spread my
clothes out on them at night. Then I have a small straight chair which
goes with the little table that serves as desk.

My rugs--Heaven save the name!--are three irregular strips of
carpet--one red (a little purpler than the chair) with navy-blue
fleurs-de-lys (you will remember that the wallpaper is pink and gold);
the other two, gray in background, with a design which would seem to be
conventionalized lyre-birds and sculpins sparring in a whirlpool. It
takes the two strips to show the pattern--perhaps it is the
great-grandchild of a gobelin nightmare.

I have no place for my books. Indeed, I didn't have any books when I
started out, except my dictionaries, but Mrs. Bigelow has left me ten
Baedekers, and any number of books and magazines have been lent me. I
stack them up on the piano, but it is very untidy.

I have a little "cabinet" with a wash-bowl and running water, and I have
squeezed my trunk in, too. I don't mind being cramped, but it is fierce
to invite any one in to take tea. Of course, if I had a divan or folding
sofa instead of the Royal Couch, things would be simple. I have thought
it over, and have hesitated less on account of the expense of buying one
than the forfeiture of my one real source of comfort. I had Mrs. Bigelow
and Mrs. Shurtleff and Miss Curtis and Miss Sturgis in one day for tea,
and I had to sit on the bed and practically entertain through the bars.
Mrs. Shurtleff is very anxious for me to get a sofa,--it's just
impossible, of course, to let any of the Ambulance men come to call
here,--but I don't know. I may get a little hanging bookcase. Just try,
yourself, living without a bureau, a desk, a bookcase, or a rug, and see
how screaming it is. This last week, I spent most of the time I was in
the house sitting on a little hassock with my back to the radiator. It
has been bitter cold, and we had three centimeters of snow, and there is
hardly any coal. Mme. H---- doesn't turn on the electricity in the
morning, and turns it off at 10.45 at night, and the heat goes off about
8.30, and we can't have fires in our rooms, and it is freezing. When I
even mention these little inconveniences, I remind myself of the picture
that came out in "Punch" about two years ago: a silly ass reading the
newspaper and saying, "They've stopped the cinemas at Brighton, by Jove!
That does bring the war home to one!" You should hear what my boys write
to me about the cold in the trenches.

Now for the wonder in my ménage--I have a piano. One day I left the
house determined to get a mouth-organ if nothing else,--I had whistled
and sung quite enough,--and I was such a pest in other people's houses,
when I discovered their pianos, that I decided to do something
desperate. I found a little piano-store on rue Denfert-Rochereau, with a
little upright, and a darling blind piano-maker and his worried little
wife--everything little. When I found that the upright (with brass
candle-brackets) would be mine to command for twelve francs a month, I
said, "Have it charged and sent," in my best Lord & Taylor style.

Well, it came. It came the next morning when I was still in bed, and I
had to crawl into my wardrobe trunk while it was being installed. When
the heavy footsteps had echoed down the hall, I sprang forward like any
Eurydice, in my dollar-ninety-eight robe de nuit. I played and played,
and was a little late to the Vestiaire that morning. I had a long hard
day that day, and almost forgot my new treasure until after dinner, when
I sat down on the piano-stool. I was casting about for some music--any
music--to play, when Mlle. Germain, a French girl here, came in and
offered a copy of the Beethoven Symphonies. I struck up the Fifth, and,
believe me, it was like solid ground beneath my feet. Since then I have
eaten up all five--it's only the first book that she has. We went to a
concert given in a little room (I thought it was a bar when I first went
in,--marble-topped tables and men smoking), but there was no symphony. I
haven't had time to go to another lately.

In spite of remembering the Steinway at home, you can imagine how happy
I am with my little piano, even if it does come up barely to my hip. It
is usually out of tune, and is very painful, but the little blind man
comes with his wife and tunes it, and I couldn't send it back. I play
with a bicycle face my whole repertoire;--but I tell you I'm gay, and
I've learned to watch out at the end of the F major étude not to crack
my elbow against the foot of the bed, for I find that my bed gives out a
metallic sound when rapped sharply with a bone. I stick my umbrella into
the brass handle at the side of the piano, and then I have a "piano à
queue"! After a few hours of reading Beethoven, Mlle. Germain and I get
out a piece of French gâteau from the armoire and cut off a couple of
slices with my shoe-horn, and sit around in our pajamas and discuss
music and education and politics--and our complexions. All too soon the
lights go out on us, and she says, "Bon soir, chère Mademoiselle," and
goes off down the hall by the light of her last cigarette. Oh, we do
have good times!

I must tell you about the maids, for they are no inconsiderable part of
my days. There are two femmes de chambre, both small, and dark, and very
young. I was reading in my room one night after I had been here about a
week, when Mélanie came to turn down my bed. I, thinking to turn my
French on any victim, started to ask her questions about where her home
was, etc. She told me that she and Maria were both from the
North--Pas-de-Calais--and that they had had to come to Paris to work
after their husbands had been killed early in the war.

"Husbands!" I said. "Don't tell me you're married?"

"Mais si, Mademoiselle,--Maria has a little boy and I have a little
girl,--they're both three years old. They live with their grandmothers
back home. We can see them only once a year!"

I simply couldn't believe it. Why, those two are perfect kids
themselves--little and rosy-cheeked, scared to death of Mme. H----, but
often giggling apart in corners.

No one giggles, I can tell you, when you mention the war, and it's only
because they've been blessed with sunny natures that they can ever seem
light-hearted. Their children, being in the war zone, seem a thousand
miles away from them, because, even if Mélanie and Maria could afford
the trip oftener, they couldn't get the military permit to go through
more than once a year. They can't earn anything in the invaded district,
and Heaven knows Paris is the worst place to move the whole family to,
who are now fairly well off in the country. So here they are, Mélanie
and Maria, working their legs off, doing all the chamber work, waiting
on table and odd jobs for fourteen people--for the princely sum of six
dollars a month and tips. Louise, the cook, is Mélanie's aunt, a jolly
soul, and one fine cook. She lets me come into the kitchen any time, and
gives me a hot apple fritter or some grilled carrots. I found it was
customary to give ten francs for the three maids to divide among them
each month--three francs apiece--sixty cents for a month's hard labor. I
gave them twelve francs, and they were tickled to death. Then through
the Vestiaire I got some warm things for Mélanie's and Maria's children
for Christmas--a coat and dress for the little girl, and a doll and a
purse filled with chocolate money covered with tinfoil (the kind Father
used to enchant me with in East Orange days--he's had to keep following
it up, poor dear). Then for the little boy a coat and tiny trousers and
blouse and necktie, and tin soldiers and candy. Louise has a little
niece to whom I sent a dress and a darling doll's tea-set--I used to
have a set like it for my big Jean. Well, I'm sure the kids were
pleased, and I know that the mothers have been beaming ever since.
Mélanie puts a hot-water bottle in my bed every night now.

In the morning it is very dark, and I am correspondingly sleepy. She
knocks at my door and says, "Sept heures et demie. Mademoiselle,--la
journée commence," and I turn over and in desperation sing (like Charles
Woody), "Ferme la fenêtre, pour l'amour de Dieu!" Then I get up in the
cold and light my candle--Madame won't turn on the electricity in the
morning--and the day does commence. At night the light goes off at
eleven, so I not only dress by yellow candle-light, but write by it
also--as I'm doing now.

The coal situation is terrific. For the last few days we've had no heat
and no fires. It is just like out-of-doors in my room, and I sit in my
fur coat and comforter all the time. It rains endlessly. I never thought
that depression from mere weather could get me, but when you don't see
the sun for four weeks, the grayness gets inside of you. It gets dark at
about half-past three or quarter of four. The other day I was walking
down the Avenue de l'Opéra, and noticed that it was ten minutes past
four. There was another clock beside the one I was looking at, which
said quarter past eleven--New York time. It gave me a sort of a start,
and I said right out loud, "Not even hungry for lunch yet."


                              December 26.

Great Heavens! I started this ten days ago, and stopped because I had no
more paper--now it's after Christmas, and I have so much more to say,
and so many, many things to thank you all for. We were all electrified
at Father's cable about the Ford. Did any girl ever have such a good
father! I will write him at once! Then the "New Republic," and Mother's
letter, and yours. Please write me about the things that you alone can
tell me. Your letter was so fine the way it referred to what I had said
before, and so gave me an idea what I had written and what you had
thought of it. I'm certain you think I'm bad about writing--I will try
to do better.

My Christmas was a very pleasant one. On Saturday the 23d I helped trim
the tree and do up packages at one of the smaller hospitals here. It was
Mrs. Lane who asked me to help, a charming American woman whose husband
is head of the hospital. He had been called to the front by the illness
of their son, one of the American Ambulance men near Verdun. Sunday
night I went to the tree celebration, and it was a great experience. In
the first place, the hospital is in an old French private
mansion--hôtel, as they call it--and is quite a gorgeous place. What was
once the salon was filled with convalescents, all well enough to be in
uniform. At one end was the tree, the stage, and a piano, and at the
other end we guests sat. All in between was a mass of soldiers in Joffre
blue, laughing and jostling one another, expectant as children. There
were a few musical numbers, and then a playlet with songs. I happened to
be sitting by the mother of the girl in the playlet, and we had a
beautiful time together. The girl was lovely, and how the men clapped
and cheered!

Then there were speeches, and the tree was lighted. Before the presents
were given out, the "Marseillaise" was sung. I hadn't heard any singing
here,--men together especially,--and to see them all facing the tree
with the light on their faces, many of them pale, some bandaged, singing
with their whole hearts, it was too much for me. Some had only one leg
to stand on, and had their arms around the next fellows' necks, some
couldn't see, and looked so alone. I wouldn't let any one see the tears
in my eyes, for tears seemed to be their last thought.

It was very gay when the bags were distributed. Each man got some
bonbons and some trifle, and pieces of holly and mistletoe, and there
were snappers and caps, and things raffled off, and more speeches. The
evening ended with "Vive la France!" and "Joyeux Noël," and again, "Vive
la France!" I shall never forget it.

Love, and Happy New Year.

                                                                 ESTHER.



                                   VI

                             FROM MARJORIE


                              73 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea (January 4, 1917).

DEAREST DADDY:--

I have been having a delightful time--have seen a good many of the
sights, and have been to the theater. The houses are pretty good, not
crammed, but better than the average house has been in Boston for the
last two years. The pit is always full. The plays are frightfully
long-drawn-out, and I can't help thinking all the time that an American
audience would never endure them, but they are bright and beautifully
staged, which surprised me. We went to the Battle of the Somme pictures,
and enjoyed them very much, if one can use the word "enjoy" for such
interesting but harrowing pictures. There was a very small house, but
they were charging regular theater prices, and the pictures have been
here for a long time. The opera was good, and was particularly
interesting to us, for Mr. Julius Harrison, who conducted, is a friend
of the Smiths. It did seem strange to me to have them sing in English,
and once in a while an awful bit of Cockney would get in, such as in
"Cavalleria," the fiery Alfio, in his rage at discovering his wife's
infidelity, gave a wild leap on the stage and shrieked, "It's strienge,
it's straeynge." That is as near to the spelling as I can get. There was
a small but appreciative audience, and again the pit was crammed
full--Tommies and their girls.

Chelsea is certainly much the most pleasant part of London to live in if
one is an ordinary mortal--not a title, I mean. The houses have lots of
personality, and make me think of Beacon Hill all the time. It is fun to
compare them with the Boston houses and see just what the Americans have
copied and what they ignored. I love the plumbing here; it is so very
informal--the way it is all on the outside and usually down the front of
the houses. One bath to seven rooms is the average, I gather. And that
one bath is usually in the end of a hallway, or in a closet.

The weather is behaving in a true London fashion--was at first foggy, as
I told you, and now is absurdly warm. I have not suffered from the cold,
therefore, so far, and am waiting for my trials to begin in Paris along
that line. I have been so lucky this far on my trip that I suppose
something awful will soon happen to me, but I can look back to these
weeks of comfort and good food when I starve on the Channel ship!

You will be disappointed to know that they have not done away with the
dogs here, and that there are quantities of them everywhere! There is a
dear little puppy in this household, which makes me think of how you
would enjoy her, if only you were here.

I have so far had no difficulty in arranging affairs, and now with Dr.
Page behind me, I think I shall be in Paris soon. I have found my
various letters and papers valuable, and have been impressed with the
courteous efficient officers I have met. I can very well see, though,
that it would be impossible to get anywhere unless one knew exactly what
one wanted to do, and where one was going, and had good evidence to back
up one's statement.

                                                   Your loving daughter,
                                                   MARJE.



                                  VII

                              FROM ESTHER


                                                Paris, January 24, 1917.

DEAREST FATHER:--

I dashed off a few words to you almost in my sleep the other night to be
sure of having something on the Espagne. Sometimes I don't feel like
getting out a bolt of wrapping-paper and beginning at the extreme end,
and that was one of the times. I did manage to jot down a few theme
sentences, however, and now I will proceed to talk.

To say that we are overjoyed with the Ford is to put it mildly! It is
the ideal car and body for our purposes and we all feel much indebted to
you, Father dear, and to Mr. Migel. Two perfectly lovely letters are on
their way to him from Mrs. Shurtleff and me respectively. Mrs. Shurtleff
would like to know the name of the dealer who gave the thirty-three
dollars discount, to write him a note also. As for lettering, we shall
have time to think of the flourishes when the car arrives. I am glad you
didn't bother about it as Mrs. Shurtleff wants to have an American flag
underneath the name to let the French people see that it is an American
work.

The American mail has just come, and such a dandy lot has come my way! I
am sorry you have worried about the box sent November 15th; I
acknowledged it last time, but I will say again how much appreciated
everything was. The December 9th one came Thursday January 18th, which
was very quick, as we count on six weeks for cases. I was as excited as
a colt and went at it with hammer and tongs--in this case an old rusty
axe and a pair of pinchers--and pulled forth joyfully the shirts, coats,
and all the things. Certainly Mother does send jim-dandy things. I shed
a few sentimental tears on the name-tag on Mr. Hathaway's coat and more
tears when I didn't find my Oxford book or any peanut brittle! But the
box did contribute something to me personally which was of the greatest
value, which will appear later in my narrative.

It is touching to hear the refugees tell what they have tried to save
from their old homes. If they have been driven to Paris by bombardment
they have perhaps been able to save a couple of mattresses (so handy to
travel with) or some blankets; but for the ones who have been in the
invaded country and have only recently been repatriated by the Germans,
they rarely arrive here with anything but the clothes on their backs.
The trip is eventful enough, usually, in trying merely to keep life
going without juggling with furniture and extra clothes. They are sent
from Northern France into Germany through Switzerland to Southern France
and thence up to Paris. The traveling is not de luxe as you may imagine
and takes many hours--days even. To get a vivid idea of the journey you
should have it described by an old dame of seventy summers who has never
set foot out of her native village before. She will sit with ten or
twenty knitting needles flashing in her lap, her white cap tied neatly
under her chin and rattle on in toothless but fluent patois reciting a
series of experiences that you wonder she could ever have survived.
Perhaps you can picture for yourself the effect of taking any old
country woman that we know through the Dolomites under a hostile guard.

Highest praises are always given to the Swiss. They have given warm
clothes, warm food, and a warm welcome to countless refugees that I have
talked to.

What you say about the feeling in America, that France at the end of the
war will be safe from the encroachment of other nations for generations,
sounds encouraging, but does that imply that the end of the war is a
long way off? I have been astonished ever since coming to France to find
the general expectation is for an early termination of hostilities--very
early, this spring or next fall at the latest. My opinion was formed
almost entirely by the "New Republic" and the Frank H. Simonds articles
in the "Atlantic" and in the "Tribune," so that I considered the fall of
1918 to be the most logical time to hope for the end. What the Allies
have to do seems still well-nigh insurmountable, but to my surprise,
young and old, rich or poor, wise or foolish, seem sure that 1917 is,
indeed, l'année de la victoire et de la paix. I can't tell whether it is
because they wish it so hard or because to people who have seen and are
living among the results of such tremendous desolation, it seems
impossible for it to go on longer.

Please send more "New York Tribunes." You have no idea how they are
appreciated by all of us. I took the ones Mother sent over to the
Shurtleffs, then over to Mrs. Houpt's, then up to Miss Dorr's when I
went to tea one afternoon, and when I asked some people in they were the
features of my party. The W. E. Hill drawing of "scenes in the hat
department" brought down the house.

We haven't seen such good war pictures over here at all, and the
pictures of the stage and society and art exhibitions, etc., are
fascinating. It is wonderful to know that such things are going on. Then
for news, the regular "Tribune" was gobbled up. We have only these punk
French papers and the punker "New York Paris Herald," which costs three
cents and consists of one sheet of four pages--of nothing. We read,
"Quiet night on the front"; "Wilson presses investigation of ----, may
write note to Germany"; and accounts of the London dog shows morning
after morning. Take pity. And especially the magazine sections of the
"Sunday Tribune," and more stuff by Hill!

Now for my Hymn of Hate which is in this case a Hymn of Heat. I am cold.
This is a theme which has been elaborated in every degree of variation,
and amplification since December 23, 1916, I think. I wrote you about
that time that our steam heating had died suddenly and ingloriously, so
it was with relief that I read in your letters of this morning no trace
of worry about how I was managing to exist. All the old wiseacres that I
meet, and this includes Mrs. Shurtleff, shake their heads and say, "If
your father and mother knew how you were living, what would they say?"
and I think to myself, "They would probably think it was jolly well good
for me--and that it was a terrific joke."

As I said, the Chauffage Central didn't marché on December 23, and
hadn't marché-d since. The proprietor says he can't get any coal, and
this may be true enough, for the Seine has been rising and rising, and a
few days ago was higher than at any time since the floods of '08. Great
quantities of coal are at Rouen, but the transports can't get under the
bridges to bring it to Paris, with the river so high. It seems that
almost every one's proprietor was far-seeing enough to get in a huge
supply last summer, but ours was probably strolling along some sunny
beach and never gave the question a thought. To-day Mme. H---- heard
that he has been laying in coal at his residence this last week, and
still won't provide for us. The only indemnity he can be made to give is
five francs a day per apartment, and it costs about two francs per room
a day to keep heated by coal or wood. The five francs pays to keep alive
the stove that Madame has had put in the dining-room and for the extra
gas she uses in cooking.

And where do we come in, we pensionnaires? We buy our own coal or wood
or petrol stove, as the case may be, and it's very hard on some of us,
particularly Mlle. Germain. And on top of all this, we freeze.

I thought at first that it would be lovely to have a darling little fire
every night, and I never thought what it would be to get hold of darling
little logs and then make them burn. For a week or two it was more or
less fun and very war-y, but the drawbacks begin to pall after weeks.
You see the fireplace is only nineteen inches wide (I measured it with
the little blue tape measure Mother gave me), and the logs I burn are
about twelve inches long. So at best the heat penetrates to a maximum
distance of five feet. And finally the logs they send me are wet--and
you can't get kindling. If you could imagine the amount of time I have
spent kneeling in my fur coat before the miniature fireplace trying to
light a couple of wet logs with an old copy of the "Herald," you would
certainly smile. Here's where the cases from home came in strong. Our
good helper Agatha and I split them into kindling and made two bundles
and I carried them home. It is typical of the Latin Quarter that no one
gave me a second glance as I strode along the street with a big bundle
of wood on each shoulder. They burned as nothing ever has burned in my
sight before. I told Mrs. Shurtleff that I was going to write next for a
case of kindling from America!

Fortunately it is not as cold here as it is in New York, although this
confounded thermometer means so little to me that I can't tell you just
what it is. Some days it's zero, others it's 2, and in the house it's 5
or 7, and it feels just as cold as that would be on good old Fahrenheit.
It's just as cozy to live in my room these days as it would be to live
in a tent out on Place Denfert-Rochereau. I can see my breath if I care
to look, but I'm tired of it as we approach the fifth week. I wear my
fur coat most of the time and sometimes my hat, and settle down on a
hassock in front of whatever fire there is, to read. I have tried
wearing gloves, but the pages stick so that I lose in temper what I make
up for in warmth. To play my piano is like playing on icicles. But I
play just the same and then go into the kitchen to warm my hands. I have
Louise put some of my wet logs on the back of the stove when she has
been cooking and it has dried them out fairly successfully.

You can imagine what getting up in the morning is like. If it weren't
immodest I'd like to dress out on my balcony, for I think the
temperature would be an improvement. The very walls of the room are
cold, they haven't been heated for so long. And as for touching the bare
floor or a door-handle! Really, had I the tongue of Greeks or Jews or
possibly Siberians or Esquimaux I would describe our home atmosphere,
which makes itself felt as it whistles under the doors and around the
windows--but not unless. But I wouldn't think of moving even if I knew
of any warm place to go. The people are just like a big family and I'll
never desert Mme. H. ---- Micawber. It will be lovely in the spring.

And after all I love my little fire "that goes in and out with me." And
I feel so settled here. I never wake up in the morning any more and say
like the bewildered little darky, "Whar me!" and when I open the front
door at night I feel that I never really belonged anywhere else.

What I look forward to all day is getting into bed at night. I slide in
between the icy sheets and find the tin bed-warmer that Olive gave me,
and then way down at the bottom a hot, squashy, hot-water bag. I tuck
the comforter in tight, and pull my fur coat up over my head and stay
there suffocated until I'm sure my nose is warm enough not to keep me
awake, then I uncover cautiously and slowly go off to sleep. When once
asleep nothing could wake me up--not the Allies victorious or the
Heavenly trump. But before I go to sleep I have a fine chance to think
over happy things of the past and I do love it. I think of what fun we
used to have at Northampton, especially those two years at the Lodge. It
seems too wonderful to be true now, to think of living not merely with
people who were girls your own age and spoke English, but your very own
best friends that you would pick out from all the world. All living
together under one roof!

When it was cold like this there was skating on Paradise, and after
giving three looks at our history in the evening, a bunch of us would go
down to the boat-house and put on our skates and go out and skate by the
electric light and moonlight combined. Then when we were frozen, we'd
come in and warm ourselves by the huge fireplace, leave our skates, and
go down town to Kingsley's for some hot chocolate and whipped cream.
When the moon shone full on the white snow it gave the luster of midday
all right. I can just hear how our footsteps crunched and the snow
squeaked, it was so cold. As we'd be drinking our chocolate some one
would look down the street at the town clock and cry, "It's quarter of
ten!!" and we'd dash out of the place and run like mad up Main Street,
turn to the left at the watering-trough, up West Street, down Arnold
Avenue, and pound up the kitchen steps of the Lodge. Usually we got
there just as the college clock was striking ten. We'd fly up the back
stairs and undress in the dark and jump into bed. "Nothing on our minds
but our hair!" It seems so long ago.

This letter is going very slowly, I'm afraid. If I could only write with
my left hand, it wouldn't be so bad, but I have to keep stopping to put
my right on the hot-water bag to keep my fingers going. They look like
carrots, anyway. Please tell Aunt Esther that I have become a mad
devotee of hot water as a beverage. This ought to put new life into her,
for I have always felt that she never quite recovered from the obstinate
way I used to take the pitcher of hot water, regularly delivered to me
on a tray flanked conspicuously with a cup and saucer, dump the contents
into the bowl and bathe comfortably and leisurely. This at the age of
eight. Now all is changed. I drink what is brought piping hot for me to
use to bathe in, and bathe in the dispirited contents of my
night-blooming hot-water bag. Such is age--and Paris.

Now the results of this constant warfare between man and the elements
are twofold. I first might say that my flesh is brilliantly branded by
the various applications, too arduously embraced, so that it looks as
though giant postage stamps had been applied promiscuously over my huge
gaunt frame. Secondly, I am a bit done up. With my room fairly
uninhabitable it has been against nature to refuse as many of the
cordial (and warm) invitations that have been given me as would have
been consistent with wisdom--certainly ag'in' my nature, and I have
tired myself with trotting back and forth from one fireside to another
on top of the new forms of work that I have been adapting myself to. I
have gone out a great deal to tea, and sometimes in the evening, too,
and haven't rested very much. Yet it's little comfort to come home and
rest when you're shivering!

However, I'm not a bit discouraged about anything--one must find out
one's strength somehow--and please don't worry. By the time you get this
I shall probably be blooming.

I heard "Faust," with Mary Aiken and her mother a week ago Saturday--the
only time since Mother took Olive and Franklin and me eleven years ago,
when it was my first opera. It was glorious! I seemed to know it all and
what I didn't know was lovely too. We had dandy seats in the
parterre--only seven francs seventy centimes, the seventy centimes being
a tax for the poor, imposed on all theater and opera seats. Do you
remember when we used to struggle and squeak through "Anges purs, anges
radieux"?--where it goes up a key each time? I find myself singing,
"Salut, demeure chaste et pure," as I turn my chilled footsteps toward
Place Denfert-Rochereau sometimes--so chaste and pure that there is no
sybaritic allurement even in the fireplace.

I must tell you how wonderful that child Gile Davies has been to me.
Every week since I've been gone I've had a note, sometimes a long letter
from her; and not a word did I write until Christmas-time. To cap the
climax, I received a package a day or two ago--a Christmas present. It
was a baby blue satin handkerchief bag that she had made herself, with a
handkerchief and a sachet inside. It seemed great to see anything so
pretty and useless after so many flannel waists and boots and trousers
and all the homely things that are so indispensable. In the bottom of
the box was the most precious of all--an enlargement of the picture
Martha took of Gile one morning when she was putting up the flag at
Bailey's--Gile in a middy blouse with the sun full on her, just turning
to smile as she's pulling the ropes; and Harpswell and the Sound in the
distance.

When I found that, on top of the handkerchief and the sachet, I just
opened the bag and risked all the blue satin lining by crying into it.
Oh, I never saw anything look so sweet.

I think I was even gladder about what you wrote of wearing my circle
scarf-pin for my sake, than about the Ford; though maybe it's wicked. I
can forgive with abandon, and picture with tenderness the cruel and
unusual neckties in which it probably nestles. My one fear is that you
may waste too much affection on me when I'm away, thinking that I have
changed. I haven't at all, malheureusement. It's just that blessings
apparently seem to brighten immediately after taking flight. I never do
anything wonderful at all. I sometimes get tired clear through and wish
there were some one to manage things for me--some one to take me
out--some one else to buy the tickets--some one else to order the
taxi--some one else to decide what to do. I just long to get all dressed
up and go out somewhere and see people in evening clothes. Sometimes I
feel that I'd rather put on a pair of long white gloves than put off the
old man! You can see from that.

Remember that if I'm your little tin-god-on-wheels, you're mine, and I
think of you every day, no matter what I'm doing, and send you oceans of
love, not only for all your kindness to me and others, but because I
love you, anyway.

                                                  Good-night to you all,
                                                  ESTHER.

Dear Father, don't worry, I'm going to get a stove.



                                  VIII

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                    Villa des Dames,
                                    79 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris.
                                    (January 25, 1917.)

DEAR DADDY:--

Well, the impossible has happened! I am plunged into reckless expense
after having restrained myself for over a week. Yesterday afternoon I
came back from the Vestiaire with a great deal of typewriting to do. I
found my room a little colder than usual,--which was too much,--so I
just sailed downstairs and demanded a fire! Such excitement you never
saw. The head of the hôtel and his wife both came tearing up and wanted
to know if "Mademoiselle was cold"--with the marvelous steam heat going
full tilt(!). I said yes, I was cold, and that I must have a fire at
once--so I got it. They were most apologetic because it had to be a wood
fire--but I was delighted. I then lit my candles--ordered tea, and after
getting all warm inside, just sat down and toasted myself! You don't
know, you can't possibly imagine, the divine joy I got from that little
fire of only two pieces of wood at a time! I did not tell Miss W. that I
had it for a while, because I wanted to enjoy it all by myself. When I
did tell her, she was as thrilled as I was, and we two just sat over it
and nursed it all afternoon and evening! I do not know how much it cost
me,--I didn't dare ask,--but I do know that for the first time since I
left my room in the Belmont I have been truly so warm that I am
comfortable! I have had it again this afternoon, and am now sitting by
its dying embers before I go to bed. Miss W. is sitting opposite me
reading. We are both--wonder of wonders--sweaterless. You do not know
what all this means, but I can assure you after I worked in two sweaters
and a coat, with my fur coat around my knees, and stopping to blow on my
fingers every few minutes, I decided that it was plain silly, and that I
would move my table, which was put in the fireplace,--to suggest, as it
were, that there is now no need of a fire,--and investigate the chimney.
I was so pleased to find that it is a peach of a one, and draws
beautifully. By strict economy I have only used one basket of wood in
the two days, and that cannot be very, very extravagant. Also I am going
out to buy my own wood tomorrow, and bring it home under my arm, for I
know it will be less than what they will charge me here,--so picture me
as wandering through the streets with a load of wood under my arm in
true Parisian fashion! But also picture my once barely livable room
turned into a positive hot-bed--it must be 68° in here, I am sure! I may
have to give up going in the underground and have to walk
everywhere,--it will be so expensive,--but I will always from now on
have a warm room to work and rest in! You are probably saying, "What a
lot of fuss over a fire," but you do not know how I have been trying to
figure out just how much I could stand and how much I could not. I do
not mind working at the Vestiaire in the cold, for I am always active;
but I have got to have it decently warm when I sit and type for three
hours at a time, and I am so thrilled to find that this comparatively
small fireplace has such very excellent effects.

I can tell you little Marje is so grateful to Sears-Roebuck Company that
she is seriously considering putting them in her prayers! I sleep under
Sears-Roebuck blankets, wear their flannel nighties and underclothes,
and use their pen, paper, and pins! The French idea of blankets seems to
be something as heavy as possible, with the least possible warmth in it!

Miss W. says that I am to tell you that I already look better than when
I first came. I have a wonderful appetite, and only hope that I will not
by any unfortunate chance grow out of any of my warm things!

When I get home I expect to put your Miss K. out of the office, I am
becoming such an expert typist! It is rather amusing to come way over
here and type so much, but just now that and "visiting" is what they
need most. I expect to work after a time on the tuberculosis cases under
a very nice elderly gentleman whose name I cannot remember, and also to
drive the auto a good deal. Esther Root, one of the workers, has just
had a car (Ford, of course) sent to her by her father, and when it
arrives we are going to Bordeaux to drive it up here. Won't that be
great? We hope it will get here soon, for we need it frightfully. There
is so much to be carried around--furniture and such--when we move a
family, which we do quite often.

Oh, I do hope that Mother is not going to worry too much about me, now
that I am at last in such good hands. I never saw a much nicer, kinder,
more thoughtful set of workers. Now that I shall be warm, and I am very
well fed, indeed, I am as happy as can be. I think that I shall work in
to be fairly useful after a time.

We keep hearing rumors of sugar-cards, no more bakeries open, and all
sorts of things. I shall be interested to see if the new laws really
come into effect the first of February. Even if they do, I do not
believe that it will affect us very much. As usual, the poorer people
will have the hardest part of it to bear.

The more I see of Dr. and Mrs. Shurtleff, the more I like them; they are
so simple. It is quite wonderful to me to see how this work of Mrs.
Shurtleff's has grown up. The whole institution is run very smoothly and
very thoroughly. She takes it all very calmly and keeps it all in hand
without giving the appearance of being what you would call a "business
woman." She always has time to be more than polite and kind. She takes
the trouble to drop in to see me, for instance, when I know perfectly
well how busy she is. She writes the greater part of the "thank-you"
letters herself, and that alone is a terrific job. She is almost an
exact opposite to Mrs. ----, and yet it is wonderful to see how she has
kept this work up to standard and how she has enlarged it, and is every
day, almost, enlarging. Since I have come, for instance, she has started
a grocery store department, and the special tubercular department.
Altogether I am thoroughly enjoying "watching the wheels go round," and
I think I shall be able to do my bit towards pushing. I do not see how I
could have found a pleasanter, more fitting job for a girl of my age.

[Illustration: Dr. and Mrs. Shurtleff in the Office]

Until I got warmed up yesterday, I had the keenest sympathy with one
"Sam McGee" in one of Robert Service's poems,--who, you probably
remember, never was warm until he finally sat in his "crematorium"!

I must stop now. I hope that you have been able to read this. I used a
pen to-night because I have typed so much all day I was tired of it!
Lots and lots of love from your daughter

                                                                  MARJE.



                                   IX

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                    Villa des Dames,
                                    79 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris.
                                    (February 4, 1917.)

DEAREST FAMILY:--

Oh, Mother and Daddy, this work here is so interesting. Now that I have
settled down to it more, and can see what I am doing and where it all
leads to, I am very, very interested. I think that I shall be useful,
too. My typewriter hasn't stopped clicking for many hours since I came.
It is now being adjusted over Sunday, and they are going to give me a
price on having the French accents put on it. I tried to exchange it for
a French keyboard one, same machine, Corona, of course, but find it
would cost twenty dollars, which is an absurd price, I think. Of course,
they are selling so many here, they can ask what they want. However, I
jollied the lady a good deal, and she is going to see how much it would
cost to add the accents only to mine,--for you see it takes a lot of
extra, and just now pretty valuable, time, to go back over every page
and put on the accents. If they give me a good price, I think I shall do
it out of the money Mr. M. gave me.

I have been put in entire charge of the mail now, and, therefore, I try
to get to the Vestiaire by twenty minutes to nine, which gives me twenty
minutes free all to myself to get the letters opened at least, and
somewhat sorted. I am becoming a regular Sherlock Holmes when it comes
to guessing at names, addresses, and whether the letters are from
soldiers' wives, cultivated persons, or the regular appeals! After I
sort them, I head them with the last name, the address, and the
arrondissement, and then file what I can, and deliver the rest to the
various workers who are by this time assembling, and, as I have chosen
the mantelpiece for my desk, pro tem., I find every one gathers towards
the fire, which saves me lots of time! Because I am new, and the streets
are so very peculiar to me still, and it takes longer to look over a
French letter than it would an English one, I do not get ready for
calling until about 9.45. Then I get off, the others having paired off
and started soon after 9.10. Call all morning, but usually only three
visits, for it takes time to get all the details we want, and, as it is
really pretty much up to the visitor and her report as to what the
conference votes Saturday, we don't hurry, but try to give them each
their due, as it were. When I was home, of course, I thought that I knew
what the war over here meant, but now I am beginning to realize that if
I stayed here the rest of my life (which I hope I will not have to do,
even with the new international complications), I would find new
horrors, new complications and results every day. Of course, the object
of our visiting is to determine whether the family deserves what it has
asked for, and also to decide if they deserve what we can do, but they
never dream of asking us to move them. Of course, the greatest
difference between our work here and the ordinary visiting done by
social service workers at home, is that usually the people at home have
brought their present condition of misery on themselves in one way or
another, while these poor souls over here have not. They have had homes,
gardens, rabbits, and savings, which they tell you about as a rule with
pleasure, and not emotionally. (That is one thing, these people have
suffered so they do not weep any more.) These people used to help others
a little, and were driven out in various horrible and less horrible
ways,--marching for days on foot, a whole family, old and young, and not
able to save anything, and some families separated forever, perhaps by
the blowing up of a bridge behind them to keep back the "Boches." We
have one family who got across a bridge just in time. The mother and two
youngest children they saw on the other side before the bridge was blown
up, and they have never heard of or from them since. Then the days of
walking, sleeping in caves, sometimes for weeks, eating only when chance
put food in their ways; women having their babies born in straw in
cellars under bombardment, and the children surviving, sometimes. Then
after weeks of this, they arrive here, for it is certainly true of Paris
as of Rome, that "all roads lead to Rome," to find that they being
refugees must pay rent. No one wants to take them in when they have many
children. The Government is wonderful the way it does give its
"allocation" to them. The Mairies give coal once a month and potatoes
twice; and the schools give sabots or jalottes every three months. But
even with this, it is hard, after having had a "home," to live in hôtels
all in one room, or two at the most (and these people that were a pretty
good class of persons formerly). I don't know whether their mental as
well as physical suffering is more pitiful than those common miners'
families, refugees who always lived a squalid life, but whose actual
physical misery is usually worse than the first class.

Of course, the Parisians have a certain definite advantage right from
the first, because, according to law, they do not have to pay rent; that
is, none who have a member at the front, and goodness knows that
includes all Parisiennes, at any rate. This law does not refer to
refugees, so you see it makes a good big difference in the comparative
cost of living.

I suppose that it must be the Rockefeller Foundation that gives so many
of these people from the "pays envahis" such excellent aid if they pass
through Switzerland. We hear over and over again that in "Suisse on est
bien traité."

Just at present, things are very busy here, for Mrs. Shurtleff is
opening two new départements,--grocery and tuberculosis. The former will
be invaluable, for so many of the people are sick through lack of proper
food; and, after all, with one franc twenty-five centimes a day
allocation for the wife or mother, and seventy-five centimes per day for
the children under sixteen years, and only fifty centimes per kid if
there is no member at the front, with the average family now, with the
very varying rent, sometimes very high and other times comparatively
low, it is, even with a small supply of coal and potatoes (erratically
given, for the most part), hard for a family that is run down, after the
exposures and general strain of their flight, to have enough money left,
when they have paid their rent, to buy very nourishing and very much
food. It is most interesting to find every day new twists and turns as
to what the different Comités and Mairies will and will not do. They are
cutting down on everything as much as they can, and you can hardly blame
them. But the inconsistencies are amusing at times;--one family does not
get its "allocation de réfugié," generally known as "chaumage"
(differing from "allocation militaire" in that it is given, although
there is no member of the family at the front), because they have only
four children! Yet if there were five children or more, they would
receive only four pairs of shoes from the schools every three months, so
whatever you have in the way of a family is a drawback; but if you have
no children at all, you are worse off than ever!!

In one way the poor children are better off, from my way of thinking, in
one detail,--the poorer they are the heavier stockings they wear, and as
they grow richer, the stockings become less and less, until the really
rich, swell, Commonwealth-Avenue children go about with socks and purple
knees!

We each of us have our "pet families" whom we want to do little extra
things for, and I have already acquired one family--a very extra
special, nice, self-respecting one, who won me among other things by
telling me she opened the window in her room twice a day to change the
air!--an absolutely unheard-of thing in this land! The woman has three
dear little children, two who go to school and a lovely little baby.
They are all so clean, and the tiny room is spotless. The eldest boy is
now sixteen, and has just been operated on for appendicitis, and has
gone to some friends in the country to rest after the operation. The
mother and three children spent a month in caves before she came here.
The father is at the front, of course,--is a wirelayer for telephone and
telegraph service. He does lookout work, sitting in tree-tops with
spyglasses and hoisted on top of poles to try to discover the enemy's
guns and positions,--all of which is very dangerous work. Enough of all
this;--I did not realize how I had rambled on.

I want you and Daddy to know that I have been writing so hard that I
never heard the luncheon bell at all!! I am now eating my various kinds
of crackers with one hand, while I finish this with the other! I shall
have a splendid excuse to have a very plentiful tea this afternoon,
which will be very nice. I can tell you I think that I could stand a
several days' siege with my well-stocked wardrobe.

Lots and lots of love to all the family from your very happy and busy
daughter,

                                                                  MARJE.

This letter, although probably late, brings many, many happy returns of
the day to you, Mother dear.

P.S. Having re-read this letter, I have to apologize for the writing. I
am terribly sorry it is so messy. I guess I got excited and tried to go
as fast as the typewriter does!



                                   X

                              FROM ESTHER


                         On train from Pau, Saturday, February 24, 1917.

DEAREST FATHER:--

A telegram came to me a week ago, just as I was about to return to
Paris, telling me that the Ford had arrived at Bordeaux and to stay in
Pau until further notice. So I have been put in Pau since then, having
one more extra week. It has been glorious.

But nothing so glorious as the news that our darling Ford is on French
soil--or in French docks or wherever it is. A letter from Mrs. Shurtleff
unfolds this plan for me to meet her and Marjorie Crocker in Bordeaux
and drive the car up to Paris. Our road lies straight through the
château country. With weather and reasonable luck with the car we ought
to manage to get some fun out of it. Mrs. Shurtleff and Marjorie would
be my choice of companions, and the heart of France with a long straight
road my choice of place.

My "permis de conduire" hangs in mid-air. No word has been said of it,
but I know I must have one. The more I concentrate on the genus Ford,
the less I can remember about it; and to start off with an air in a new
car and in a strange city will be a sensation, at least. However, I'll
do anything once. The last time I drove a car was when I took Mrs.
Perkins for a national excursion down the sylvan ways of Connecticut. I
hardly expected then to have as my next passenger a frowning French
prefect of police through the heart of Bordeaux. We shall see.

Yesterday afternoon is one of the pleasantest that I have to look back
on in adorable Pau. Sudden inspiration seized me in the early afternoon
and I bought a sketch-book. Possibly Harold's charming drawings, made in
the country and at the front, planted ambitions in my unaspiring pencil
that I had hitherto ignored. Anyway, I bought a businesslike appareil
and wandered around the château seeking the most appealing detail. I
chose my point of attack and settled myself down on the curbstone with
my muff as a cushion. A few yards away a real artist was working, with
stool, easel, board, and other paraphernalia. I could almost hear his
brush scratch the canvas and feel his withering eye on my back.
Undismayed, I maintained my lowly position and scratched on for my own
part with unabashed enjoyment. The afternoon sun gave long shadows and
"touched the Sultan's turret with a shaft of light." It was magical.

I had almost finished when some boys came running out to play. They were
little chaps in the inevitable black aprons, and on their heads the
round sailor tams topped by a rosette. Some clustered around the artist,
the rest looked over my shoulder. They began to take sides. "Pas mal
çà," said one sitting on the curb beside me. "L'autre est mieux,"
genially put in another. At that several champions sprang magnanimously
forward--I say magnanimously, for really my efforts weren't too
successful. Age and weather and the piecemeal way in which the château
was built have given it that irregularity which is charming. The towers
tilt and the roofs sag in a way to make Bob's architectural soul recoil;
but I have rendered these with such unstinted charm that in general
perspective the château seems to have aged several centuries. One rosy
eight-year-old shook his head and declared vehemently: "Je mettrais
quinze jours â faire un tel dessein!" I asked him if they taught drawing
in school. It seems that every Tuesday and Friday "one" draws pitchers
and cups and casseroles and that day the whole class had drawn his
whistle. One day they draw the map of États-Unis. "Oh," I said, "c'est
de là que je viens, moi."

Then began a thousand questions, and I related what wonders I could, for
joy to see the many eyes grow rounder and rounder. There are buildings
in New York--I told them--there were buildings in New York ten times as
high as the château. "Pas possible!" was the general verdict. My
eight-year-old pushed his way out of the crowd and ran to the corner of
the street. "Dis donc, Julien!" he called out, "viens ici, écouter ce
qu'il y a aux États-Unis!" Another boy came running from the house and
joined him, and I saw him out of the corner of my eye, pointing out the
tower of the château with astounding comments. I went on describing the
elevators in the high buildings and how fast they went. But they had
never seen an elevator. He who has missed a French elevator cannot
complain of any great lack, but it certainly does heighten the
difficulty of fifty-eight stories. I had finished. My pals started to go
off, lured on by some one's "prelotte" (hop-scotch stone). I said, "Vous
pouvez dire hop-scotch?" They all tried in different tones and
tempos--and it was drôle comme tout. We all burst out laughing and I
started on my way. "'Voir, Mam'selle," they called after me, lifting
their "bonnets" and waving. I walked home smiling.

What I should have missed if the sketch-book hadn't inspired me--or if
French were an unknown tongue--or if you hadn't let me come to France!

You have doubtless known and detested hotel children--the spoiled
darlings of elevator boys and hotel habitués; so you will be grieved to
know that you have raised one. At my time of life--it is only a second
childhood, I know; but this month at Pau has given me a luscious taste
of being petted. The Hôtel de Londres is small and English. Every one
greets every one else in the dining-room, every one shares in hotel
newspapers, and every one promenades on the boulevard. Getting
acquainted is easy and interesting, but for my first two weeks I did
nothing but sleep and read. My third week was the week that Harold and
the boys left, and as they didn't get their definite orders until
Saturday, we had to say farewell nearly every day.

This week has been my week of expecting a telegram, so I have steadily
made the best of the last moment, and really feel that some of those
wonderful English people are my friends.

Mr. and Mrs. Moody are my favorites. She is tall and majestic and her
face is a mass of little wrinkles like the ripples when you drop a
pebble in a pool. Mr. Moody is little and bald and white-haired and
coughing, and must always have his rug. He has explained the Crimean War
to me from A to Izzard and traced a genealogy of the French kings by
memory.

Then there's Mr. Heyworth, a sort of a William Gillette man from India,
who was torpedoed on the Arabic; a young French aviator and his wife,
very good-looking both of them; and a Russian lady who in a desperation
of loneliness took a great shine to me, which I successfully
counteracted by having her teach me the Russian alphabet. Last of all,
there was a little French girl,--Bernadotte,--whose mother, an American,
died three weeks ago, and whose father is at the front. If she had had
any less than two governesses to keep her away from people, I shouldn't
have had a show as the hotel baby.

Well, we played bridge and walked and took tea and went driving and had
a splendid time. Aunt Ella studies all morning, never takes tea, and
goes to bed early, so that I have been a great deal with these other
people. Mr. Moody called me "m'dear" and patted my hand, and Mrs. Moody
teased me in the most tremendously ladylike way, and we had a splendid
time. When my telegram finally came, it seemed very sudden; and they
were no end nice about my going. Mrs. Moody said how much she would miss
the Donna of the next room. (We had become acquainted by my hearing them
gargle and their hearing me laughing over my letters from home, and
singing "La Donna e Mobile" to myself.) One day I called Mr. Moody's
attention to the fact that I had changed my time of departure. He said,
"Quite in keeping, my dear. La Donna e Mobile!" As I was finally going,
he, in the sweetest way and the most English English, quoted what
Boswell said when he heard of Johnson's death. "The gayety of nations is
eclipsed," and said that he hoped to encounter the gayety in Paris. I
said that I hated to go, but,--and here, Plagiarism, gentle presence!
lit on my brow,--"This Donna likes to be en automobile." It proved to be
a wonderful exit speech.

Even Teresa said she regretted my going, "On s'amuse bien quand M'lle
est là," and when I said, "Hasta luego!" she answered feelingly, "Hasta
luego!"--perhaps our most felicitous Spanish conversation.

It has been more than I had dreamed, this stay in Pau. The mountains,
the country, the aviation, and the people. I tried to repay the kindness
that was shown me, and I realize that young people and happy people are
scarce now, so that any one of my age and spirits would have had as
cordial a reception. Those older folk were lonely and I was different,
that's all. C'est la guerre.

We are passing through lovely country. It is sunset-time and the
shepherd boys are driving home their sheep in an orange haze. The man
opposite us looks like the villain in the play--black mustache, derby
well over the eyes, black velvet brocaded waistcoat, and gold ball
cuff-buttons. I expected him to draw a Smith & Wesson on me a short time
ago, but it was three pills (like shoe-buttons) that he had. He gulped
them down and is now sleeping innocuously like a baby of two.

My writing is only a trifle less awful than the roadbed--Bordeaux!

                                                                 Love.
                                                                 ESTHER.



                                   XI

                              FROM ESTHER


                                                     Paris, March, 1917.

DEAREST FATHER:--

I have never told you enough about our trip up from Bordeaux, and so
many things happened that were interesting and the effects of the trip
have been so lasting that I want very much to put you au courant.

We left on a Wednesday for Angoulême, which was a beautiful day's run.
The weather was superb, and it seemed too good to be true that we were
actually flying down the famous poplar-edged roads of France in our own
little car. We reached Angoulême at sunset-time. If you have ever been
there, you will remember the wonderful situation of the city. It rises
high in the center of a plain and the walk around the walls affords a
beautiful view. After getting settled in the hotel, we made the circuit
of the town and watched the shades of a pink and gold sunset slowly
deepen into the purple of twilight.

I rose early the next morning, before the others were up, and took a few
pictures. I had a lovely ramble among the old churches.

It was on leaving Angoulême that I cleverly took the wrong road, which
added fully fifty kilometres to our day's run. We found ourselves at
about two o'clock in La Rochefoucauld. Everywhere we were in search of
essence, and as we found plenty of it there, Marje forgave my stupidity.
As we knew we could make Poitiers that night, anyway, Mrs. Shurtleff
said that it made no difference. After having given one look at the
lovely château, I felt personally very pleased with myself. We had
luncheon at a funny little inn, which was so stuffy inside that we
insisted upon having them serve our omelets on the front porch. They
thought, of course, that we were crazy and the windows were crowded with
faces showing ill-concealed curiosity.

We went up to the château and found an old woman there who was glad to
take us around. The present Duke and Duchess of La Rochefoucauld have
not lived in the château since the beginning of the war. She is an
American with millions who has restored most lavishly but in the best
possible taste the interior of the fine old castle. The only son and
heir died, at the age of seven, a few years ago. A charming marble bust
of the child placed in the chapel gave a pathetic note to the whole
place. We stopped at Ruffec that afternoon, having been advised not to
miss the place where they manufacture pâtés de foie gras and truffles.
The fattest woman I ever saw has a little shop in a courtyard where the
finest canned goods are put up. She showed us her storeroom of thousands
of cans, and I felt like buying a couple of thousand until I found out
how much she charged. As it was, we bought six or seven cans, arguing
that it was pure economy to eat pâté with bread at the side of the road
instead of going to a hotel for luncheon every day.

We made Poitiers that night just after dark, dead tired. We slept late
in the morning and had a terrific time making the car start. We had time
to stop only at a few stores before going on our way, so that at the
present writing I can't tell you the difference in the general
topography between Poitiers and Jersey City. One thing I do remember is
that Harold made a careful note, on the guide that he wrote out for me,
that the Field of the Cloth of Gold was near Poitiers; and as I am a
perfect sight-seeing fiend I was bound that I would see it. While
manicuring the car in the garage and pouring gasoline and oil into every
joint and crevice, I tried to find out from the garage-man where I could
find (and here Marje disappeared inside the bonnet) "le champs de
l'étoffe d'or." He thought it was a part of the car and said that he was
sure that it was not that that was out of order. I gave up the search
and found when I reached Paris that such Field is near Dieppe, a good
three hundred miles from Poitiers.

I have mentioned stores, I believe. Well, it was here that Folly for the
first time in many well-ordered months jumped out of my pocket. I have
always been crazy about leopards, as you know; especially this winter I
have wanted to get a leopard's skin, but I did not think that even the
"miscellaneous" column in my accounts would justify the purchase of any
jungle trophies. I asked at Revillon's one day the price of a perfect
beauty that was in the window, and found that it was three hundred
francs. In Poitiers Marje and I were walking innocently down a side
street looking for some crackers and jam and a chamois skin through
which to strain the gasoline, when, suddenly, I saw in the window a
little yellow leopard that just twined himself around my heart! I soon
had him spread out on the counter and was haggling with the woman over
the price. She said sixty francs, with tears in her eyes. I objected
strenuously and Marje walked off in the other direction. She hates me
when I am trying to "marchander" and suddenly pretends that she is not
with me and doesn't know me, which is absurd when we are often the only
two American girls in the town. Well, I bought the leopard--"Leo" on
further acquaintance--for forty francs, and this time tears were in the
very voice of his former mistress. We left Poitiers in a cloud of dust,
not having seen one building, one church, or one view. Baedeker lay
sulking in the back of the car, but Marje was correspondingly exultant.
There is a certain antipathy between Marje and a statistic which may be
noticed. We had luncheon by the side of the road with Leo as guest of
honor. I thought Mrs. Shurtleff would die of laughter when she saw him
and when she discovered a large bald spot on his left shoulder. We all
laughed so that we could hardly negotiate another truffle! I must tell
you that weeks afterwards, when I told Aunt Ella that I had bought a
leopard skin in Poitiers, expecting her to throw up her hands at such
foolishness, she sat up straight and said: "You did? Oh! I wish I had
known there were leopard skins in Poitiers,--I just love them."

[Illustration: Marjorie and Mrs. Shurtleff, with the Leopard Skin]

Tours was our next stop. We went straight to the cathedral, which is
very lovely. As we walked around toward the back, I saw a beautiful
black dog tied to a little push-cart and approached it making
appropriate remarks. Quick as a wink it jumped up and bit me, tearing my
dress, but giving me only a scratch. This was considered very funny, as
I had been remarking what a way I had with animals. I have since learned
that such dogs are trained to bite anything that approaches the
push-cart in its master's absence.

Marje was particularly anxious to go the rounds of the antique shops in
Tours. Her mother and father had once spent a good deal of time there,
and she was anxious to see the city and also to try to match some china
that her mother had bought there. I usually stiffen my neck and keep my
eyes front when I see an antique shop and especially since Leo has come
into my life! I have been really meticulous in my studied inattention!
But here we positively ran into the jaws of the enemy. Marje bought a
million dollars' worth of gorgeous dark blue and gold cups, the kind
that are supposed to be made only in Tours. I came off with a little
imitation one for two francs, fifty centimes, which will mean as much to
me when I drink tea from it with Leo at my back.

From Tours we ran along the edge of the Loire. We were weary of asking
for essence, so you can imagine our delight to be able to get as much as
we wanted just outside of the city. You see, essence is practically
unobtainable in Paris, and at best at a very high figure, so that we
were anxious to get enough to run on for a while until we should be able
to get a special order from the Ministère de la Guerre on account of
ours being a work for charity.

We spent that night at Amboise. It was bitterly cold, but wonderfully
picturesque. The hotel faced on the water front, and up the hill, and on
the right, was a lovely château. The "Cheval blanc," as the hotel is
called, was very quaint, but, like all things quaint, as cold as an
iceberg. We sat around the little stove in the dining-room after dinner
and did our accounts, no simple matter. We got to laughing so over the
state of our affairs that our additions and subtractions--chiefly
subtractions--showed the effects, no doubt. That famous black velvet hat
of mine I had worn down in the train when I went to Pau, not knowing
that I should make the trip home in a Ford ambulance. Fortunately I had
my little brown hat with me to wear back, but the body of the car was so
congested, with our gasoline, our suitcases, the thermos bottles,
Marje's china, and the automobile tools, that the hat suffered
considerably--to put it mildly.

At Amboise Mrs. Shurtleff admitted that she had been very ill during the
night. She wanted to go to Chenonceaux just the same, however. We gave
only a fleeting glance at the gem of all the châteaux and hurried on to
Blois. I was driving that morning and I shall never forget the ride.
Mrs. Shurtleff was really suffering badly and freezing cold; she was
anxious to get the first train to Paris to get home to her husband. So,
of course, you can imagine what a hurry we were in, but the roads were
rough and full of country carts, and I could see that driving fast made
her nervous. It was cold and windy, as I have said; but I had my coat
open and was covered with perspiration by the time we crossed the bridge
and arrived at Blois.

We took Mrs. Shurtleff to a little hotel close to the railroad-station,
where she lay down and begged us to leave her and go off and have a good
time. We said that we would and that we would come back in plenty of
time to put her on the 7.40 train for Paris. We hadn't had anything to
eat all day and were too tired to think; and the thought of the château
was a little too much for us. So we went to a pâtisserie for some hot
chocolate. We ate every cake in the place and got up so much spunk that
we decided to give the château the once over. It was late and the place
was supposed to be closed, but a nice guide took us through. When we
returned we found Mrs. Shurtleff a little better, and with one grand
effort she rose and took the train.

We went to a comfortable hotel and didn't waste much time in getting
between the sheets. The next day was fine, and Marje suggested going to
Chaumont and Chambord and not trying to get to Paris until the following
day. She said that as long as she reached Paris by Sunday night it would
be all right. So we went to that heavenly Chaumont, my favorite of all
the châteaux,--do you remember my writing enthusiastically about Blois
on the way down to Pau? It was the castle of Chaumont that I thought was
the castle of Blois, and it is as fascinating when you actually visit it
as it is from the train; but as for Blois I never want to see it again.
Chaumont is filled with beautiful tapestries and furniture. The
situation high over the Loire is magnificent, and it is the only château
that we saw which is set in a large park, studded with great trees. How
I hated to hurry away! In the afternoon we went to Chambord, which is a
marvel of construction, but cold and unromantic. It is hardly furnished
at all and its most interesting feature is the promenade on the roof,
where you walk in and out among its three hundred and sixty-five
chimneys. We arrived in Orléans at about five o'clock and went straight
to the cathedral. Jeanne d'Arc completely dominates the city and the
cathedral; the latter is to me one of the most beautiful I have ever
seen, being harmonious throughout in style and period. The stained glass
is uniform--modern, of course--telling the story of the "Pucelle de
France." Marje and I clung to each other in the fading light and drank
in the quiet and beauty of those great arches.

We went to a very nice hotel, and in engaging a room we asked the
proprietor how far it was to Paris. We said we wanted to be sure to make
it by Sunday night. He said: "But this is Sunday night." We looked at
him amazed and gave in to his whim for the moment. We stepped out and
bought the paper and found that it really was Sunday! I never felt so
completely lost in my life! Of course we had forgotten to count out the
time we had spent in Blois with Mrs. Shurtleff, but it gave us quite a
start, I can tell you, particularly as Marje was so anxious to get home.
We did not let the grass grow under our feet the next day, believe me.
We had luncheon at Chartres and gave about ten minutes to the cathedral.
I drove from Chartres, and at Maintenon I stopped to take a picture of
the château reflected in the lake. Marje wandered off for a few minutes
to watch the old women in the market-place, and while I was standing
there alone two officers came up to me and one of them said, "Are you
English?" I said, "No, American." "Have you your papers, your permis de
conduire?" I felt my knees give way, but I hung on to the bridge that I
was standing on, and said smilingly, "Oui, Monsieur." "All right," he
said hesitatingly, and passed on. Of course, it was only Marje that had
her permis, and I don't know just what would have happened if they had
pressed the matter further, for I didn't have a sign of a permis and
they had seen me drive. Marje insists, however, that it would have been
all right because she could have said that she was teaching me. I was
pretty grateful, I can tell you, to have had one smile left just the
same.

At Versailles we were surprised to find that we could buy still more
gasoline. We couldn't understand because there is never enough in Paris.
We bought all that we could carry, however, and started for home. When
we came to the crossroads where it says: "Saint-Cloud, 11 K.M. and
Sèvres 6 K.M.," we decided to take the road to Sèvres, although people
had always warned us not to. We soon found out why. The road is hilly
and covered with cobblestones the entire way; but we really didn't care,
when we caught sight of the Eiffel Tower. At the gate of Paris there was
an armed soldier standing in a sentry box, and as we slowed down to go
through the gate I leaned out and said, "Bon jour, Monsieur."

Once in Paris we found that we were completely lost, having brought
everything with us but a map of Paris. It was too provoking, but here my
refugee knowledge did me good service, and I picked my way in and out
among the slums and found the way straight to our Lion de Belfort. We
had enough energy left to start unpacking that dear little car that was
stuffed full to the roof. The people at the pension were all excitement,
and the maids ran up and down stairs helping us with our things. We went
over at once to Mrs. Shurtleff. We found her looking worn. We knew how
anxious she must have been to know that we had arrived safely, so that
you can imagine how we felt when we tiptoed into the room and found that
she was so weak that all she could do was to turn her head on the pillow
and say, "Hello, girls!" We found that she had fainted twice coming up
on the train, but that Miss Curtis had taken care of her at the station.

After seeing Mrs. Shurtleff, we took the car to Miss Curtis's because we
knew no place to leave it overnight. We did not feel much like a
triumphal entry, but Miss Curtis and Miss Sturgis were so glad to see us
that all we had to do was to answer questions and get back to Place
Denfert as soon as possible.

Well, that is our trip. It certainly was interesting and it laid the
foundations of my friendship with Marje, who is the finest ever. It is
worth everything to me to have her companionship.

Time is up.

                                                              Devotedly,
                                                              ESTHER.



                                  XII

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                      12 Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris.
                                      (March 26, 1917.)

MY DEAREST DADDY:--

Writing nowadays is rather like the shooting the men do at the front;
they never can see if their shots get there. I am never sure if my
letters get to you, there has been so much trouble with the mails. The
head man at Morgan, Harjes told Dr. G. the other day that they had just
received a great deal of mail--the first for a long time--which was all
wet. The papers were ruined, but the letters had fared better as a
whole. I wonder what that meant?

As you probably know by the papers, we had a Zeppelin raid or alarm last
week. It was very exciting. I have never heard such a noise as the "gare
à vous" trumpets or horns--or whatever they are--make. Esther Root and I
stood out on our balcony for a long time watching the aeroplanes
overhead. They had searchlights and made a beautiful effect. The
Zeppelin was, of course, brought down way outside Paris. They never get
here, because the air guard is so very efficient; also they have to go
right over the army and are always discovered. However, I can now say
that I have been in Paris during a "near-raid," at least! This almost
makes up to me for the disappointment of not having had one during my
interminably long stay in London.

I have one very serious confession to make to you. I have been
religiously keeping accounts ever since I left New York, first in
dollars on the ship, then in pounds, shillings, and pence while in
London, and then shifted to francs when I got here. You have no idea
what a gorgeous account-book it was, or still is, but--here is the
tragedy--I lost the dear book last week, somewhere in the metro. There
is only one chance in hundreds that I will find it again. I don't know
just what I can do about it. I can't possibly remember what I spent, but
I will make a rough account which will give you some idea.

This room which I have now is only ten francs a day, and is much nicer.
It has splendid hot running water in the closet, a nice balcony, and the
food is delicious. Mme. H---- is very nice, and so are the other
boarders. Some queer ones, too,--two sisters from Poland who tell us
stories that make our hair curl! Also a Mlle. Germain, who is studying
to be a doctor, and tells us, at meal-time, about the latest corpses
from the Morgue she has cut up! It is wonderful to me the way the French
don't mind what they say at table.

I am wondering if I shall do all the queer things that I am now doing,
when I get home. I take my fork and knife off my plate every course and
lay them on the tablecloth. I "swab" (it's the only word) my plate with
a piece of bread, to get all the gravy. I eat bread by the yard
(literally), while I never touch it at home. You would laugh to hear
what we have for meals, and yet they are delicious,--mostly vegetables,
a little meat, very well done, and with delicious sauce, and never
anything but cheese and confitures for dessert. Although the tea-shops
are all open, you can notice a slight difference in their cakes. They no
longer have frosting in the real sense of the word, but are covered with
cream or paste or powdered sugar. The fillings are not as sweet as they
once were, but they are still delicious. Do you suppose I will want
white wine with luncheon and red with dinner, when I get back? I can't
get along without it over here. It is so funny when you once begin to
think it over. It does make me tired when I hear people say that living
in Paris in war-time "is very different," and then heave a sigh. Of
course, I don't know what it is like here in peace-times, but I do know
that we are all very comfortable. We all have luxuries, and there are
wonderfully few restrictions, I think. You should hear Mr. Ayrault--who
has just come back from a four months' tour of inspection of prison
camps in Germany--talk. He says we don't know what war means here,
compared with Germany, where everything is distributed by
cards,--everything except goose, and that, as a result, is prohibitively
high. He is most interesting in his accounts of Germany. I wish I could
write you all, but I don't suppose Mr. Censor would approve. By the bye,
of all my letters from America, only one from C. Morss has ever been
opened.

In one of your letters you spoke of fighting the "White Rats." I don't
care much for the idea. Don't, for goodness' sake, get stabbed in the
back or poisoned by a lot of bum vaudeville artists! I speak of stabbing
and such. If you hear of a young American being killed by a bicycle over
here, you may be sure that it is I, and it will be such an ignominious
death. A taxicab I could bear, but I seem fated to be killed by a
bicycle. They don't use horns here, and just go whizzing by. I have just
avoided two already.

Spring seems to be trying hard to get here,--not too successful so far
in its attempts, but there is some green grass in the gardens, and on
Sundays the Punch and Judys and merry-go-rounds are open on the Champs
Élysées.

I know I am getting cross-eyed, and walking up and down the Champs
Élysées is doing it. There are so many interesting people, so many
uniforms, that it is horrible. I try to look both ways at once. Then
tea. I have been to Rumpelmeyer's several times. It is very popular
here, although in London no one would go to Rumpelmeyer's, for it was
considered too "Boche." I am afraid the French love their cakes too
much! Such people as you see there, regular "coo-coos," you would say.
It is very amusing to sit in a corner, and watch and listen, and, of
course, the food--to say nothing of the joy of having ice cream--is to
be considered.

I have been going over several other Vestiaires lately, and I am
becoming more and more convinced that Mrs. Shurtleff's is among the best
organized institutions of its kind. Naturally some of the Government
things are much more complicated and wonderful. I can't help asking
myself more and more what France would have done and would do without
the assistance she receives from America.

                                              Your very loving daughter,
                                              MARJE.



                                  XIII

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                      12 Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris.
                                      (April 5, 1917.)

DEAREST MOTHER:--

Having gotten rather tired out the last few weeks, and having had
several bad headaches, I decided to take a few days' rest now,--for I
have at last finished the card catalogue,--before I start out on my new
duties, which are to be many and various. So here I am in bed with the
machine on my lap, having a good time, writing to you. Things have sort
of piled in on us at the work lately. It seems to me so very important
that none of the workers should fail now, so that is why I am taking
these few days to get my breath before going on. Mrs. Shurtleff has at
last come in from Neuilly with Gertrude, who seems to be doing
remarkably well. I can tell you that we are glad to have Mrs. S. home
again. I am particularly so, for I have had to go out for her and take
her back every afternoon, and as she wanted to be here for the work as
near nine o'clock in the mornings as possible, and the garage, or
remise, is some distance from here, I have had to make pretty early
starts. I found to my surprise that I was leaving this house at eight
o'clock, and, after a struggle with the car to start it,--for it has no
starter and we have to grind it,--I would beat it out to Neuilly, which,
being outside the gate, is an awful nuisance. You are stopped going and
coming, and have to get a red slip saying how much gas you have in the
tank, and you have to be very careful, for if they do measure how much
you have and find that you said either too much or too little, they are
very strict, and there is a heavy fine.

If, for any reason, I should die suddenly just now, and you had my brain
dissected, you would find, I am sure, that at least one half was a mass
of figures, which, if you studied, you would find was the result of my
constant reducing gallons to litres, and miles to kilometres, and my
endeavoring to figure out without measuring in the tank, how much
essence remains. Also you would find "essence," where to get it, how
much to pay for it,--"shall we stop here and buy some, or chance it till
we get home?" written all over my gray matter. I am at present entirely
responsible for the car, and, delightful as that should sound to you, it
is a privilege not entirely free from care. The question of getting
gasoline alone, in these days, is hard enough. Then I have to keep an
account of just what the car costs per day, and also to keep it in good
shape, for it is impossible to get mechanics these times. They are all
under the Government. We have for the car (which, by the bye, we named
"Nilly," for the other car being "Willy," and this one having come over
as I told you without anything--absolutely NIL) a small hole in the wall
off a peculiar alleyway, which is known over here as a "remise." It is
just big enough to get into, and is fairly difficult to navigate, for it
faces a cement wall, and one has to back in and turn just so, or else
hit the wall. But at the rate Rootie is going now, there will not be
much wall left to trouble us soon!

[Illustration: Esther and Marjorie]

I have enjoyed the rides out and back with Mrs. Shurtleff ever so much
in one way, for it gives me a chance to have her all to myself, and that
is something that few people can have with Mrs. Shurtleff. We have had
some bully talks. One day I went in to the hospital,--which is the
American Hospital, by the way, not connected with the American Ambulance
out there, but a hospital for Americans sick over here, and is a model
in many ways. I went all over it, and, incidentally, met Mrs. Robert W.
Service, the wife of the man who wrote those poems about Western life,
very much in Kipling's style. Daddy has them. "The Cremation of Sam
Magee" is one of the best. He has just published "Rhymes of a Red Cross
Man,"--war poems, needless to say. Well, Mrs. Service was at the
hospital, with two kids, twins, eight weeks old, dear little things. She
herself was very sweet and rather pathetic, I thought, trying to do
everything in the American way, although she is really a French woman. I
was impressed with the hospital and the nurses, and it gave me a nice,
secure feeling that, if I was ever sick, I could be so in the good
American way, even way over here.

I have been out with Agathe, the maid at the Vestiaire, almost every
afternoon, sending off packages, and then later returning Mrs. S. to
Neuilly. She stayed out there all the time with Gertrude, sleeping in a
horrid little hotel where there was no heating, but she got comfort from
being with Gertrude in the afternoons and evenings. By the time I got
the office work done, and did some chores and extra leaving and calling
for bundles, I found that it was after seven before I put the car
finally to bed, covered up and locked up, with the precious bidons of
essence standing in tidy rows behind the car. Then letter-writing in the
evenings, and making reports, extra typing for Mrs. Newson, and all the
hundred and one things that come up every day, reading and listening to
Rootie play,--which she does so very wonderfully,--this was getting to
be too long a day, so I have cut it out. Monday was my last day to go
for Mrs. S., as she brought Gertrude in yesterday. Just think, only
eight days from the operation. I hope that they are not going to let her
do too much, but I do not believe that they will.

Yesterday I was a little tired, anyway, and had a headache, and I was
told to take a Mrs. Jackson, one of the workers, off for all day in the
car, calling, as usual. I had no idea where I was going, or what I was
going to do, but I was given the address and told that it was an all-day
job--lunching with Mrs. J. too. I adore Mrs. J., she is such a sport,
and, like all the rest of the people over here, has been so good to me.
I got lost on the way to her house. I never saw such an elusive street.
I swear it moved on the map, while I was watching out for taxis. You
have no idea what sport it is trying to find one's way about Paris with
a map in one hand and driving with the other. Fortunately, my sense of
direction is fairly good, and after a time I arrived on the
street--going in the wrong direction, of course. If any one can tell me
the French system of numbering their streets, I would be obliged.

I used to think that Boston streets were mixey, because they changed
names once in a while, and Summer Street becomes Winter after it crosses
Washington, for some reason best known to itself. In Paris, a street is
one thing on one side of a lamp-post, and then suddenly adopts the name
of the nearest square on the other side of the post. The odd and even
numbers of a street run entirely differently on the two sides of the
street, so that when looking for forty and you see thirty-seven, you
think that forty is apt to be fairly near on the opposite side of the
street, but no, no, it is a couple of blocks ahead or past, for the
numbers do not run evenly, and twelve faces thirty-seven! Of course, all
the numbers are put up good and high, so that they won't be stolen, I
suppose, and also so that when you want to see them, and are walking,
you can turn your face skywards and, walking ahead, fall off the
sidewalk and amuse the children! Also in the car, with this body, one
has to lean out the side and crane, and I can tell you my swanlike neck
comes in handy, to say nothing of my eyes, for the ingenuity shown by
whoever hides the numbers on the houses--just behind a blind or beneath
a scroll, or to right or left or beside the doorway--is wonderful!

As I started to say, before I got off on this feeling dissertation on
the Parisian street names and numbers, I was late to Mrs. Jackson, and
found her waiting and eager to be off, for there was lots to be done. As
I knew that there was not any too much gas in the tank, I emptied one of
my extra bidons in (I always carry two extra ones; each holds five
litres of gas, makes about five gallons in all). I said as I did so that
it smelled like bum gas, and then thought no more about it. We started
cheerfully, and got about three blocks, on a nice muddy asphalt street,
and she died, quietly, but very dead, indeed. I got out and cranked for
a time, but soon knew that there was trouble deeper than mere cranking
would remove. So off came my hat and coat, and I rolled my sleeves up
and went to it. I found the spark seemed all right, and by a process of
elimination found out that just what I dreaded from the first was
wrong--the carburetor. By this time the sidewalk crowd had grown
considerably, for the sight of an American girl, hatless, sleeves rolled
up, hair flying, bobbing under the car and into the hood, was not missed
by many residents of that district, I can tell you. A very nice
gentleman pushed his way through the gaping crowd, which was getting as
near and as much in the way as possible, except when I turned every few
minutes and froze the half-dozen most forward with a glance calculated
to freeze, and which I wished could kill, for anything that gets me
peeved is an audience, particularly a French one. The nice American said
that he "knew nothing about a car," but "could he help?" He could. I
dispatched him for help from the nearest garage so quick that he
couldn't change his mind. By the time he returned, I had the feed-pipe
of the carburetor all off (I know that these names mean nothing to you,
but they will to Daddy), and the two mechanics which he had found would
not, of course, believe a simple woman--and I guess that I looked more
simple than I felt even by this time, for they had thoughtfully begun to
clean the streets while I was exploring under the car, and I was not
only muddy but wet.

After a heated discussion in Anglo-French, the men believed me, and
stopped cranking, and, on turning the pipe down to let the gas run out,
we were delighted to see pure aqua pura run out--not gas at all! Now,
don't you call that the limit? The last bidon of gas which I had put in
wasn't gas at all--it was water, pure and simple. Of course, we had to
wash out the tank, waste quarts of essence, which is more precious than
gold these days, and then clean out the feed-pipe and carburetor. You
never saw such a job, and all performed on the street! All told, that
little drink of water which I gave the Ford cost about one and a half
hours of time, and about sixteen francs in money.

We got under way again, but it was so late that nice Mrs. Jackson had to
rearrange all her plans. However, we got a great deal done, and,
incidentally, I had a wonderful day being with her. We lunched at a
queer little restaurant over in Montmartre--had hors d'oeuvres, cheese
omelette, lots of very good bread (at least, as bread goes these days;
how I shall enjoy some toast made out of white bread!), and cream cheese
and apple sauce, with coffee which was the real article--not chicory or
burnt almonds, or whatever it is that they give you at half the places.
We talked about everything under heaven and earth, and I came away from
luncheon more than ever convinced that she is a wonder. She asked me to
go South with her the 22d of this month, but I am not going to. First
place, the work needs me, and second place, I do not want to take my
vacation until this summer, and then take it all in one big lump, doing
something worth while. I am awfully complimented that she asked me,
anyway.

I went back to her house for tea after we did some more calls in the
afternoon, and had another nice talk with her in front of her fire, in
the nicest apartment--all etchings in her study and such dainty nice
things. I can tell you it is pretty nice to have tea from a silver
service once in a while, only it makes me sort of homesick for the
library and Josey to scrap with over the remaining piece of cake. I
suppose that she will be so grown up when I get back that I will not be
able to henpeck her any more at all. I think from her letters that she
and I are going to understand each other much better when we get
together again, and that we will pull together, not apart. I wish that I
could possibly tell her how much her letters have pleased me, for I know
very well what a nuisance it is to write me, and she has been so
faithful. After tea with Mrs. Jackson, I went over to see Ibb, who has
been resting off for a few days, and found her better. Then I toddled
the old Ford home, and, when I arrived here, went to bed myself. I found
I was a good deal more tired than I realized at the time, so yesterday I
just lay abed all day, and am doing the same thing to-day. As a result,
I feel like a fighting cock this afternoon, and am going to do some work
here at home to-morrow, for Mrs. S. wants me to go easy and not go to
the Vestiaire until Monday or Tuesday, for Monday is a holiday. Mme.
H---- is too good to me; she has had all sorts of special nice things
cooked for me, keeps the fire going in my room all day, and with that
and the sunshine, and every one being so good to me, I feel like a
different person already. Esther is a very fussy nurse, and won't let me
turn over for myself if she can do it for me; and to-day Mrs. Jackson,
dear, busy soul, came in to see me. I couldn't get over it. It is too
wonderful the way people are so good to me here: Mrs. Shurtleff, Mrs.
Jackson, Mrs. Christie, Dr. and Mrs. Lines, and I don't know how many
others. I just love them all, and am altogether too lucky for words.

Every one seems to have a different idea as to what the effect of our
entering the war will be. I hope that you will approve of my helping by
driving, if they call for volunteers for the American Ambulance, for I
would like to do it very much, and think that I am up to it. I naturally
will cable you before I do anything definite, and will consider it very
seriously before I leave Mrs. Shurtleff, as Daddy told me to. If,
however, America needs any help which it is within my very limited power
to give, I could not be happy, feeling that I was working for the French
only. This is, of course, all "IF"!

I have been saving the papers lately, for they are interesting, and I
thought that we would have a good time comparing them with the American
papers when I get home--seeing what they have let us know over here and
what they tell you over there about us here. I wonder which place is
really the most interesting.

Of course, all the mail is coming in the most peculiar order, yours of
February 28th arriving in the most dilapidated, water-soaked, almost
illegible condition, long after yours of March 2d, which came before
yours of March 11th. I never knew such wonderful letters as you and
Daddy write to me. I simply read and re-read them by the hour. Thank
goodness, you feel that I am telling you just what you want to know. You
have no idea how hard it is to write, for there are so many things to
say that one longs to be a Bernard Shaw and be able to say them all, and
not be just plain Marjorie Crocker, who can only ramble on without any
rhyme or reason, as she talks!

For goodness' sake, take my letters in doses, not all at once. I know
that it is awful to rant on as long as I do, but I have so much to say,
I simply cannot stop. That is why I only write once a week or so,
because I had so much rather take a long time to it, when I get started,
than to write a lot of hasty notes. Well, this is over now. I am going
into Rootie's room to listen to her play. She is so wonderful. She just
takes care of me, and to-night, to finish off a wonderful day, Mrs.
Shurtleff has just been in and was too nice. I adore that lady more
every time I see her. We all do, and that is, of course, the secret of
the success of her work here! We all adore her so. She made me promise
that I would not come back to the work until I felt really like it, and
my headache was all gone, and so forth. Then we planned out my work in
the future, now that the catalogue is done, and it just sounds too good
to be true--just enough visiting to keep in touch, and some office work
and some automobiling, and calling with Rootie, which is, of course, a
perfect lark. I am so happy to-night, so much more so than I have been,
since I got Daddy's cable on Sunday. Well, lots and lots and lots of
love to you all,

                                                                  MARJE.



                                  XIV

                              FROM ESTHER


                                  Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris XIV^e,
                                  April 8, 1917.

DEAREST AUNT ESTHER:--

It is curious that gloom is so absolutely gloomy and that happiness is
so happy and full. There are times when I cast about for something to
write home about without finding anything--or rather nothing that isn't
so black that it seems only selfishness to sit down and enlarge upon it.
To-night, on the contrary, I have spent a most wonderful Easter, and
looking backward and forward I can see a thousand things that I should
love to tell you about. It can be only a few for the moment, for the
electricity will be turned off in a few minutes.

This morning Marjorie, my new but very dear friend who lives here at the
pension, woke me up and said that the sun was shining. It has rained and
snowed without a break lately and the sunlight seemed a glorious
novelty.

We had breakfast together, then went to the patriotic service at the
American Church, where Dr. Shurtleff preached. The long-waited-for news
of our actually going to war had rejoiced us all yesterday, but it was
more thrilling than we ever could have imagined to drive past the big
French Administration Buildings and see the Stars and Stripes waving
with the other Allies' flags in the Easter sunshine! To be one of the
Allies at last! To have our flag and the French flag flying side by side
as they should be, to have our great country wake up and fight its own
fight--it is not only Easter but Thanksgiving to-day.

The American Church was full--men from the American Ambulance Service
sat in uniform in the front rows and the church was decorated in flowers
and flags. Dr. Shurtleff preached a fine sermon. He said that to lose
life was to gain it, and that this war was fought that war should
cease--that the world should know Christ's peace.

A lovely primrose plant was waiting for us here. After all the cold and
snow, flowers, especially the pink primrose, are heavenly. In the
afternoon Mrs. Shurtleff came over to say that the pianist who was to
play at Dr. Shurtleff's little Sunday evening meeting had been taken
ill, and would I play. Fortunately I had given a short programme last
Monday at the last meeting of a woman's club, so that I was glad to be
able to fill in.

I must tell you about last Monday. Not long ago I exchanged the little
old upright that I have had all winter for a wonderful Pleyel (French
make corresponding to Steinway). This piano seems to me to be the most
wonderful instrument I ever heard, and I love it and pat it and dust it
and play it, never tiring. It has saved my life these past weeks.

Knowing that I have been playing more of late, Mrs. Baldwin asked me to
play for the woman's club that I spoke of. I couldn't think of much to
play, and of course I have no music with me, but I was glad to have
something to make me practice, and I accepted.

The club meets every Monday afternoon to sew and knit garments for the
war orphans--Mrs. Cassette, a dear lady who used to live in Chicago, is
the president, and when it was time for me to play, she made the
announcement, and proceeded to enlarge on the Root family in general and
grandfather in particular. She spoke of his influence during the Civil
War, and of his and Uncle Fred's help in establishing good music in
Chicago. She spoke beautifully and gave me an at-home sort of feeling to
think of her knowing my relatives; but it was hard for me when she
started speaking of me as the third generation, etc. After I had played
I met a great many interesting people, among them the girl who wrote
that little book of letters called "Mademoiselle Miss." Do you remember
reading it with Mother at Bailey's last summer? The letters are full of
imagination, and charming, as is Miss Dare herself. We went off in a
corner together and talked over our experiences at a great rate.

To come back to Sunday evening. I played at the meeting the same
programme as on Monday. To my surprise, Dr. Shurtleff also made a speech
about grandfather, whom he knew in Chicago when he (Dr. Shurtleff) was a
young man. Many people came up and spoke to me afterwards, and I found
that lots of them knew the family in Chicago. Their enthusiasm was quite
exciting and made me feel almost like writing war songs myself. Wouldn't
it be wonderful to hear grandfather's "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp," sung in
France!

Yesterday--Easter Monday--we all gave up our holiday to go to the
Vestiaire and help to move our ouvroir department into a little store up
the street. I have explained that the work is carried on in an apartment
on the ground floor at 18 rue Ernest Cresson--one room is the women's
vestiaire, another, the men's vestiaire, a third Mrs. Shurtleff's
office, and a fourth, the ouvroir, where sewing and all kinds of work is
given out to the refugees. We have been crowded always, but of late it
has been almost impossible to work in the front two rooms with so many
people doing different things at once. People would keep running in and
out of Mrs. Shurtleff's office while she was dictating, to look up
records, or to get down reserve stock from the shelves; the officer of
the day would have to interview refugees in a corner of the ouvroir,
while lines of other refugees were waiting to call for, and hand in,
work--the confusion was impossible. The two rooms together are not as
big as the den at home.

Well, Mrs. Shurtleff, who goes around this world with her eyes open, I
can tell you, discovered a little store that had been closed since the
beginning of the war. It had been rented by a German. He was chased away
in 1914, his windows broken, and the place roughly boarded up. Mrs.
Shurtleff sought out the proprietor, rented it, and had it repaired.
Saturday word came that we could move in. We have been so crazy to
spread out a little that when some one suggested that all hands should
report on Easter Monday,--one of the great holidays here,--and get the
moving actually done, we all volunteered. At nine o'clock we started. We
took things down off shelves, stood in line and passed them through the
window, where Miss Curtis received them and stuffed them into the Ford.
When the poor little car was so laden down with clothes and materials
and bundles that it looked as though it would burst a blood vessel, it
started off and we all ran along beside it up to the new shop. There we
formed another line, and unloaded the car and put the things on the
waiting shelves.

There were tons of stuff--it was like moving R. H. Macy and Company, but
I can't tell you what fun it was. Dr. Shurtleff and each one of our
workers, who usually work at their own special jobs, pitched in to sort
out bundles of clothes, or carry yards and yards of worsted, or do
whatever turned up. Dr. Shurtleff started us singing "Tipperary" as we
worked, and we had a splendid time and accomplished wonders.

This morning when work began, there were the two front rooms all neatly
arranged, with plenty of space and everybody happy.

Well, I must close, but I shall have enough to tell you when I come home
to outlast many a wood fire, and I am looking forward to the day when we
can sit down together and talk, with the clock faced toward the wall!

Much love to you always.

                                                             Your niece,
                                                             ESTHER.



                                   XV

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                                                 Sunday.

DEAREST FAMILY:--

Here I go again in one of these cahier affairs. It seems to be the best
and only way to write you. I am this minute out at Saint-Germain--an
hour outside of Paris. It is the place where Ibby Coolidge nurses. Her
hospital is closed down now, so she is in at the "Invalides" for a few
months. Although she lives in Paris, I don't see much of her, for she
works from eight to eight, and is too tired to dine out after that.
Rootie has been out here for ten days resting. The air is wonderful--so
different from Paris, although so near. It has been getting warmer, and
to-day we are sitting out under the trees writing. I can hardly believe
it. If spring has only come, it will make so much difference. I have
been working fairly hard these last two weeks, for Agathe, the maid, has
been off on a vacation, and I have had to open the four vestiaires in
the mornings--open the shutters, dust a little, arrange the chairs and
such, build the fires in the offices, and generally start things. This,
combined with doing Rootie's work,--at least certain parts that could
not be allowed to wait,--has made life fairly complicated. Mrs.
Shurtleff is letting me have my Monday off this week, so I have two
whole glorious days out here with Rootie. We do nothing but sleep, eat,
and walk. We have sticks, and so feel very safe, and wander far into the
woods. The youngest class is being trained out here,--at least, part of
it,--and they come home from their lessons every night at about
half-past six,--about five hundred of them, in every sort and
description of uniform, all out of step, four abreast, except when they
want to run ahead and speak to a friend a few rows in front; all singing
"poilu" songs like regular soldiers. They are such a bright-faced crew,
we love to go out to the terrace and watch them march to the center
court, and there line up, be counted more or less--and mostly
less--correctly, and then be dismissed. It makes you laugh to watch
their antics as they march along. They all smile and salute us now,
because we have been there so often. They are not fresh,--just
amusing,--but it also makes me a little sad to think what they are
training for--what is ahead of them. To think that these bright-faced
boys will, in all probability, turn into some of the sad-faced,
mutilated men that we see in the hospitals and on the streets. Although
it sometimes disgusts you to have a réformé talk about getting so much
for his arm, or lack of arm, or leg or eye, or so much more for a ball
in his neck,--still I can hardly blame them. They have served their
country when their country called them. They have given their health,
and perhaps their happiness, to the country. Why shouldn't they be paid
for it, and paid well?

[Illustration: Rootie in Park at Saint-Germain]
[Illustration: Marje in the Salon at No. 12 Place Denfert-Rochereau]

If Rootie were writing this letter, she would tell you all the facts of
historic interest about Saint-Germain, as she is well up in her
Baedeker, but, as I am not, I will have to let you live in ignorance. I
vaguely know that Henri IV was born in the pavillon here, and that
François something started to build the château, got disgusted, and
built Versailles instead. I can tell you, however, that the woods and
park here are wonderful, that the church bell that rings every half-hour
is most pleasing, and that there are many good restaurants here--one of
which we are sampling this evening.

Daddy writes that my letter about the trip has not arrived. I guess it
must have sunk,--isn't it just my luck? Well, I am going to send you the
pictures we took, and I will write another shorter and much less
interesting account. I will type it and send a carbon copy a week after
the original, and, if you don't get either, I give it up! I know I have
missed some of your letters, but I haven't been much over two weeks
without word, so I certainly must not complain.

Mrs. Willis, a friend of Rootie's, took over a few little things to you
which I was anxious for you to have. She had no room, so I could not
send several other things I wanted to. This letter and Eleanor's, a Mr.
Whiting, a friend of mine, is taking for me. I hope that you will get
them quicker than usual;--you ought to. I am also sending a couple of
posters which I thought you might like for the bungalow in Marion. Tell
Josey the little medal I sent her is a regular "croix de guerre," and
the palm leaf on the ribbon is the highest "citation" one can have.

If you get a spare minute, read Helen Davenport Gibbons's "Red Rugs of
Tarsus." It is Mrs. Gibbons's first book. In some ways it is more
interesting to read, when you do not know her. She is, of course, Dr.
Herbert Adams Gibbons's wife--the one Betty Colt is secretary to. Betty
grows more and more attractive. I see quite a lot of her. She has tea
every day in the studios after they stop work at half-past four. I blow
in pretty often, at about half-past five, and Betty, dear soul, brews me
a fresh cup of tea. There are usually interesting people there. Mr.
Ayrault drops in often, also Mr. Griffiths, although the latter has
broken my great heart by announcing that he has got to work so hard from
now until June, he does not expect to take any time off.

Paris has seemed to me a little more sober these last weeks. Ever since
America entered the war, the enthusiasm has been mostly American, as far
as I can see. The French do not seem too hopeful as to the difference it
will make. Mr. Ayrault says that if Germany can hold out through August,
or until the next crops,--Heaven help the Allies. He says that the
German markets are pathetic now; that they are almost empty; that the
poor people are actually hungry, and not from high prices, but because
there isn't any food to be bought. He himself would have been hungry if
he hadn't had outside help. The embassy gets eggs and butter and some
meat from Norway, and also from Switzerland. Mr. A. also said that the
discipline is so good there, and law and order so much the ordinary run
of things, that the people are not likely to revolt. He feels that it is
only possible to finish the war soon if the United States can build
enough ships quickly to supply England, which, from all accounts, needs
food. There are, after all, only a limited number of submarines, and
each carries only seven or eight torpedoes, I believe. They do not get a
ship every time that they fire, so that, if the United States can build
enough ships, losing a hundred or more will not matter in the long run.
Mr. Simons, of the American Embassy here,--I mean consulate,--tells me
that no grain ship has come to Paris for fifteen days. That is why the
new regulation about the cakes and pastries has gone through so
suddenly. I personally am glad, for it does not seem quite right for us
to be eating so many foolish, unnecessary things if flour is scarce. I
suppose the shopkeepers will manage to get around the law somewhat, but
it seems to be a step in the right direction.

Harold Willis writes us the most thrilling accounts of the doings of the
aviators now. He sent us some of the cards, printed in German by the
French Government, which he and his fellow "flyers" drop by the
thousands while flying over German territory. The cards say that the
United States has joined the war, and recommend that the people
surrender, as they will be well fed and taken care of. They are not very
dignified, I think, and it is an amusing campaign, is it not? But in
some ways I would rather have them drop cards than bombs on the
villages, hadn't you?

It will seem queer to get home to Boston some day and go into street
cars and public buildings, and not read on all sides such notices as
"Taisez-vous, méfiez-vous, les oreilles ennemies vous écoutent." Also,
"Versez votre or pour le Gouvernement."

Sunday, while we were wandering through the woods, we came upon a
beautiful big tree,--a fairy oak,--all decorated with flags and flowers
and prayers for victory. It stood in the middle of a clear
space--benches around it. It was touching to see every passer-by take a
few flowers from the bunch they were carrying home and lay them devoutly
at the foot of the tree, praying as they did so. All the flags were
weather-beaten except the latest addition, the American, which looked
bright and hopeful in contrast to the others. I have never seen a tree
like this. Mark Twain tells of the one at Arc in his "Life of Joan of
Arc."

The terrace at night is in some ways more beautiful than in the daytime.
One can see the various searchlights playing in all directions. They are
really wonderful,--first one and then another combs the sky, as it were,
looking for hostile aircraft, which, by the bye, never get here.

The work continues to grow. Mrs. Sturgis is leaving us this next week,
unfortunately, and we are all dividing up her duties. Work in the Food
Department comes to me. I am both glad and scared. It will be
interesting handing out the food and keeping the shop shelves supplied;
but it requires lots of judgment to talk with the women each week, and
decide when to stop giving them food, and to try to advise them on all
sorts of questions. However, I am going to make a try at it. I think it
is pretty nice of Mrs. Shurtleff to ask me to do it.

I ran across a new thing the other day: one of the families we were
calling on showed us their linen,--sheets and underclothes,--which were
completely yellowed and rotted by the asphyxiating gases! They fell to
pieces when touched. Another result of this new kind of warfare.
Sometimes when I see so many children sick and diseased through the
results of their privations while under the German rule, I can't help
wondering what the coming generation will be like when they grow up.
They have had such hideous childhood. Gas-mask drills at school, lack of
food, no homes for many of them, and goodness knows no future.

Rootie and I are thinking of writing to the Mayor at Rheims to find out
who it is that counts the number of shells falling in that town daily!
It must be a splendid job, and the person who has it is delightfully
accurate. Every day we see by the paper just how many thousand have
fallen, except once, when they "fell so fast" it was impossible to keep
count. How awful it is to make fun of it, and yet one has to make fun of
something about this terrible, terrible war.

Betty Potter has given me my wonderful package. When I saw the wrapper
and Daddy's writing, and all the flags and ribbon, I just almost went to
pieces, but Miss Whittier being with me, I couldn't. I tore home, and
didn't go in to luncheon, but sat and read and read and read. Oh, you
dear, dear people, how did you ever think of doing such a wonderful
thing? It pleased and thrilled me so that I am still walking on air. And
the money. Oh, we do need it so, particularly just now! I shall write
every one slowly, as I get time, but will you just tell everybody what a
wonderful time it gave me, and how I can't possibly express myself? All
I can say is, thank you, thank you all, over and over again. It was
pretty mighty good of you.

I had already spent eighteen francs of Daddy's money on a hot-water
bottle for a poor dear old lady refugee, who is dying of cancer. It is
only a question of time. Her two daughters care for her now. We have
installed them, and are trying to make the end easier for them all. I
found on one of my visits that they used a heated plate to give her
relief when she had attacks in the night. The hot-water bottle is a
great help, and they are pathetically grateful. I shall write you as to
just what we do with all the money. Oh, you don't know how much it
means! The little pins have gone like lightning. It is so sweet to see
the joy that they give the children. Incidentally the various "workers"
have grabbed them also. Rootie is downtown this minute buying bright
ribbons for the children. It will be too marvelous to have new ribbons
to give them.

Mrs. Shurtleff is driving with Miss Curtis to the front, or rather the
evacuated district, next week. She has an opportunity and is seizing it,
you can be sure. If we get enough clothes from America these next few
months and can afford it, we are going to establish a regular station,
and deliver clothes per Ford every fifteen days, and I shall do the
driving!!! To say that the idea thrills me barely describes it. Of
course, she is taking Miss Curtis this time because she is older and is
the head worker, but next time she will take me. I can't tell you how I
long to hear the guns and actually see some of the things that I have
been hearing about for so long. It will be splendid.

The new jitney, having finally arrived, proves much more satisfactory
than the old ambulance body. I will send you some pictures of it soon.

We live on our balcony now, for the spring has really come. We purchased
a chaise-longue and cushions at nine dollars, and take turns lying out
on it. The balcony is so small we can only have one. We are just at the
height of the tree-tops, and now the leaves are out and the little
garden in front of us in the Square has many Japanese apple trees. The
air is lovely; with the moon at night, it is marvelous. We hate to go to
bed at all.

I have got to stop now. Lots and lots of love to every one, and thank
you again for the package of letters.

                                                                  MARJE.



                                  XVI

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                                   Sunday, May 13, 1917.

DEAREST FAMILY:--

Here I am out at Saint-Germain again, this time quite differently,
though. Betty Colt and I planned several weeks ago to have a day in the
country together; we have both been so busy that we haven't got round to
it until to-day. We planned to take the 8.04 train out, but, owing to a
thunder-shower at five this morning,--which caused me to rise and go out
on the balcony to rescue our precious chaise-longue, getting soaked in
the process,--and its looking so dismal and so like permanent rain, I
went back to bed and slept until 8.15! So we did not take the 8.04, but
the 10.04. It rained a little on the way out, but now, after a delicious
and filling dinner, we are sitting in the garden, writing at one of
those little green iron tables. For a nation that has such good taste in
most things, I think it remarkable the lack of taste the French have in
garden furniture! Betty having never been out here before, the first
thing we did was to go out to the Terrace. On the way, we passed a Ford
standing by the roadside, which had a familiar air. The number also
seemed like ours,--so I pulled out my license card (which I keep with me
always,--I am so afraid of ever missing an opportunity to drive through
not having papers), and found that it was our "other car,"--in other
words, the car Miss Curtis hires from Mrs. Gage and runs for the
Association and for herself over Sundays. You see, your license over
here is a complicated affair, and has, among other things, the numbers
of the car or cars you drive. I am saving, by the bye, all the extra
papers that I have had to possess since I left home. It will be fun
going over them together when I get back. Being clever children, we
decided that Miss Curtis must be near by,--if her car was here,--so we
rambled around and found her, and also Mr. and Mrs. Bowditch and Mrs.
Sturgis and Miss Sturgis, all lunching at the François I^{er}. We went in
and said "How do you do?" to them, warned them how expensive the place
is, and, after leaving a few chocolates, we went on to the Bois. We get
a marvelous variety of chocolates out here--pure chocolate all the way
through, called disque d'or, on account of a little daub or touch of
real gold on each one. Somewhat the same idea as that eau de vie with
beaten gold in it that we used to have sometimes.

I intend to stand Betty up this afternoon and get some good pictures of
her to send you. She is such a dear. I hate to think of her leaving
Paris in three weeks, but Dr. Gibbons goes to Houlgate for the summer,
and, strange as it may seem, he takes his secretary "mit" him! One
comfort is that she is going to Houlgate, which is on the ocean, and she
has already asked me to spend a week-end with her. This means that I
will get a swim--hurrah! My prospects of having a vacation this summer
seem to diminish as the time goes on. Mrs. Shurtleff and Mrs. Newsom are
going to take two months off, but with Mrs. Sturgis gone (she sails this
Saturday with her mother and father), I guess that the workers who
remain will simply take week-ends off, or perhaps a week. We are now
planning a wonderful week-end party, starting for Houlgate early some
Saturday morning--Rootie, Elizabeth Baldwin, Mr. Griffiths, Bryant,
Simmons, Mayo, and myself--in an auto, arriving in the afternoon, and
getting a swim, some tennis, some food, a peek at Deauville probably,
playing with Betty, and all coming back either Sunday afternoon or
Monday morning. Doesn't that sound pretty nice? I haven't the slightest
idea that we will ever really do this--but we plan it at our Friday
night parties every week now. If we do go, Heaven knows what I expect to
wear.

[Illustration: "Bettina" at Saint-Germain]
[Illustration: Le Cèdre at Saint-Germain]

I am wondering just what I planned in my mind to wear this spring, when
I left home. My faithful purple suit continues. It is, if possible, more
faded than ever. Rootie has offered me every conceivable kind of a bribe
to have it cleansed, and I think I may! I have bought a hat, round and
black with feathers curling round the edge, which, with my black silk
dress (which has turned from my only evening dress into my street
dress), is my costume for teas! I have one new waist; otherwise I have
nothing. To-morrow being my day off, I plan to shop. I must get some
thinner stockings, these woolen ones are killing me by inches. You just
try cranking a Ford car for hours at a time in woolen stockings! I have
got to get up my courage and buy some white skirts, although I hate
to--waists are bad enough. It is a bit disconcerting to be told that I
wear a 46! Why, why, don't we all use the same system of measuring
clothes, coal, essence, and lots of things? It would save so much
trouble.

Rootie and I have at last realized our ambition, and have persuaded the
lady who was in the big room next door to us to change with
Rootie--thereby giving us a salon. We use my room for a sleeping-room,
and the big one for a regular salon. With Rootie's piano and my sofa and
chairs, it is very nice-looking, and will be such a joy. We have not
been able to ask the crowd to come back to our house after Friday night
supper, for instance. Now we are going to play "pounce" and bridge and
all sorts of things in our salon. The extra room divided between us
costs me only one franc more,--namely, eleven francs instead of ten
francs,--and I think that it is well worth while. Also Mrs. Shurtleff
strongly recommended our doing it. Last night I was sitting at the table
writing,--Rootie on the other side sewing,--and suddenly, for no reason
whatsoever, my chair simply collapsed under me! I never had such a funny
sensation. As Rootie said, one minute I was there and the next I
wasn't--I was under the table! I left so early this morning that I did
not see Mme. H----, so Rootie has the fun of telling her about it!
However, she will not mind, I am sure. She is very, very good to us. She
keeps her table up very well, and that, with the good service and clean
rooms, is pretty fine, I can tell you. For instance, we had creamed
potatoes and cauliflower in a baking dish for the first course yesterday
noon, followed by cold asparagus with French dressing (second course),
cold meat and noodles, and ended with the usual cream cheese and
confiture.

Every time I have asparagus I can't help thinking of the wonderful green
"asperge" you people are having. It is nearly all white over here, and
although very nice, not nearly as good as ours from Marion--naturally.

Rumors of Russia making a separate peace are frequent here just now. Dr.
Gibbons and many others feel that she is not to be reckoned with one way
or the other any more. They blame the failure of the spring offensive
partially on Russia's lack of support. The submarines are evidently not
getting everything. We have received nine cases lately--the first in a
long time. Mr. Barbour at the American Clearing House says that eleven
hundred or more arrived in Paris this week. We are glad, for we need
everything we can get just now. The typewriter paper, I am very much
afraid, has not come through; still there is always hope. (Neither lot
has arrived.)

Rheims seems to be suffering particularly just now. Every day a list of
the houses ruined by shells or fire is posted downtown, and the poor
refugees go and stand and read whether "theirs" is gone yet. It seems to
be only a question of time before it will be a completely destroyed
city. All the soldiers and officers say that Verdun was bloody, but this
last month's defensive is twice as severe. Both sides are evidently
losing frightfully. In a great many ways I am glad that I am in Paris,
and not London. I believe that we will be able to outlast the English in
many ways--food and soldiers. Coal seems to be the greatest lack just
now, and yet as a whole there seems to be enough. The new meat
regulation amounts to very little. Few poor people ever ate meat at
night, and those who want to simply buy enough in the morning.

I was at the Ritz the other day seeing Roxy Bowen that was,--now Mrs. W.
Stephen Van Rensselaer,--and on her way to Rome with the Honorable
Stephen. They came via the Spanish line, and I gathered that the voyage
left much to be desired. Among the tales she told (most of which needed
a little salt, I imagine), was one of an egg dropped in the corridor and
not cleaned up during the whole trip! She was the only American aboard.
Personally I think I should prefer the submarines and the French line. I
started to say that everything seemed very normal at the Ritz, only we
could not have cake with our tea, it being Tuesday. Of course, it was
just my usual luck to be asked to tea at the Ritz on a cakeless day! I
have been told several times that more chocolates have been sold this
last year than any time during the last ten years--think of it! Of
course, a tremendous amount is sent to the front. It is a favorite thing
to send, but even with that taken into consideration, it seems odd,
doesn't it?

Speaking of sending to the front, I have taken on a Serbian soldier as a
partial filleul, on the condition that I don't have to write him. I send
him monthly packages, but anonymously,--as Rootie said, "Regular
Daddy-Long-Legs stuff"! I have seen so many foolish--and sometimes worse
than that--letters from these filleuls to their marraines that I have
been scared off. But I couldn't bear to have him starve to death. His
name not only is not Hippolyte, but is utterly unpronounceable--sneeze
twice, cough, and end with "sky," and you are as near it as I ever have
been!


                            Paris, Thursday.

What very deceptive things maps are, anyway. Do you remember the day we
looked up Denfert-Rochereau on the map? We all hunted for it, and
finally located it, surrounded with stations, morgue, catacombs, orphan
asylums, and goodness knows what else. I wonder if you have the same
picture that I had of it before I arrived? As a matter of fact, I only
discovered the station a few weeks ago--so you can see how well it is
hidden. The other cheering institutions do not exist, as far as I can
see, and I don't care to look them up. What does exist is a large
square, with a big statue of the Lion of Belfort in the middle. He is
our landmark, as it were, when we are coming home. From any direction,
there he stands, or rather lies, and that means "home" in a certain
sense to us. There is a perfectly lovely garden in front of our house,
and another beside us--between our block and Mrs. Shurtleff's. Both
gardens have Japanese apple trees or cherry trees, and at night, when we
lie on our balcony, the scent is perfectly lovely. As we are only two
flights up, we are just at the height of the tree-tops, so it is
deliciously cool, and, except for the children in the park, one can
hardly believe one is in the city. Having these two parks and a square
beyond, you can imagine what very good air we get, and that makes such a
difference here. Besides the æsthetic qualities, this house is located
at the end of a taxi-stand, which we can see by standing on a chair on
the balcony. As taxis are few and far between here these days, it is
pretty cute for us to have our own stand!

You may notice that I am following your excellent advice and am
numbering this letter No. one. Meant to begin last week, but forgot, so
here goes. Heaven help me if I miss out and forget what was the last
number I used! I am trying to get time to re-write the Bordeaux trip. My
bad words are all worn out from thinking of that beautiful letter going
to the fishes. I am so very glad that you called my attention to the
lack of periods and capitals in my letters. I intend to go over this
cahier very carefully! It pretty near scares me to death when I think of
your showing my notes to any one, for they are usually written
hurriedly, and I simply say what I think and feel without any regard to
phrases or literary value; not that I could do anything in that line if
I wanted to. Still, it does please me to feel that I have been able to
tell you enough, and in such a way that it has interested you. After
all, it is simply because everything is so vital here, and when one has
something to say, it is usually easy to say it.

Almost every day now, big, new, beautiful, creamy-colored dirigibles
sail over the city. They are so marvelous-looking, with the sun on them.
I do not quite know what they are for, but they are lovely to look at.

Having been scared into believing that the pastry-shops are really
closing, Rootie and I bought lots of crackers, only to find them all
flourishing to-day, and with no immediate prospects of closing! That is
the way things go here. Lots of talk about shortage of this and that,
and yet we all have everything.

The last few days a very large number of soldiers--a remarkable number
in fact--have come home for "permission"--I cannot imagine why. An
oldest son--one of three at the front--came home this morning while we
were making a call. I hated to stay on and ask questions, when I knew
how much the woman wanted to talk with her boy. When he came in, both
the mother and father stopped talking, and simply stared at him. Then
she said, "Well, I am glad to see you alive," and kissed him on each
cheek. The man said nothing, but pounded him on the back. Then the woman
turned to us and explained that he was the eldest, and asked him if he
had news of his brother, wounded in a hospital near Arras. The
simplicity of their greeting, the wonderful control of the woman, who is
having a very hard time,--her husband is dying of T.B.; she has three
sons at the front; her daughter of thirty is insane, the result of the
bombardment; and she herself is not strong. I think that it is
interesting to see how people usually say commonplace things when they
are greatly stirred.

Rootie has finished writing, and is now waiting for me to come in and
play "halma." Did you ever? We have bought a board, and I expect to be
licked all to pieces, but here goes.

                                              Your very loving daughter,
                                              MARJE.


                                                            Friday, A.M.

Am writing this while waiting in the car for Mrs. Shurtleff, who is in
the American Clearing House, looking up lost cases--your paper among
others. I feel pretty important lined up with all the military cars, and
I backed into the place perfectly, which is great, for soldiers look
down on girl drivers. Am hoping one of them will crank for me! Letters
from you and Dad arrived for breakfast, all about seeing the Roots.
Thanks so much for them.

                                                                      M.



                                  XVII

                              FROM ESTHER


                                            Paris, Monday, May 28, 1917.

DEAREST MOTHER:--

I am so bursting full of the good time that we have had during the past
two days that I am going to dash a line off to you--an inconsequential
line--even when I know that what you want is a letter full of statistics
and answers to questions. (Funny thing, I always think that I am the one
who is wonderful about answering everything that you ask!) I will be
good to-morrow.

To-night, I am tired and dusty, but miles and miles of white French
roads bordered by forests, and meadows, and houses, and towns, and
children, and horses, and castles, and flags, are going round in my
head.

         "There ne'er were such thousands of leaves on a tree,
         Or of people in church or the park...."

To-day is a holiday, being the day after Pentecost (Whit-Monday in
England), and Marje and I decided to go off for two days somewhere in
the country. Miss Curtis had planned to move a family to-day in the
Association car,--forgetting that Mrs. Shurtleff had promised us that we
could go out in it,--so she handed us over her Ford touring-car, which
was perfectly wonderful for us.

Yesterday morning we started off in dazzling sunshine with a clear blue
sky overhead. We took the road to Fontainebleau, which is long and
straight and bordered all the way--fifty kilometres--with great
evergreen trees. We took our hats off and talked, and laughed, and sang,
and whistled, and watched the countryside go flying by; the trees and
fields were the most luscious green, and everywhere were huge patches of
mustard, growing dense and brilliant yellow. Little towns, red-roofed,
with a single church spire and a few pointed haystacks, would huddle to
themselves far off on the horizon, and always we kept tearing along
between the trees, leaving Paris and carking care behind.

We stopped for luncheon under a particularly splendid tree and laid out
our store on the thick grass. Sardines, fresh bread, cheese, preserved
plums, strawberries, olives stuffed with anchovies, Cailler's chocolate
and orangeade. I never had anything taste so good, and no salt air any
nearer than Havre to account for it. You can't imagine what fun we had.
Finally when we were replete, we lay down and looked up into the leaves
and listened to the most heavenly birds.

We reached Fontainebleau at about two. The "New York Herald" had said
something about its being American day at F. that Sunday, but we weren't
prepared for such an exhibition of American flags as greeted us on all
the houses and shops, and on the palais itself. We knew, however, that
all this demonstration meant that the hotels were full, so we looked to
getting a room for the night before seeing anything. Not a thing to be
had. Thank fortune we were in a car and could go on to the next town.

There was a special invitation for all Americans to visit the
Fontainebleau golf course, so we made tracks out in that direction, as
the palais and grounds were overrun with permissionnaires and the usual
holiday crowds.

Arrived at the gates of the golf club we were ashamed at first to go in.
We were tired and dusty and blown to pieces, and the paths and hedges
looked too neat and dressy for words. But we did hop out and walk up to
a gentle-looking gray-bearded Frenchman with a black straw hat, and
asked if we could go in. He said he was enchanté to have Americans come
to the club, and took us himself up to the first tee. I looked wistfully
at the little piles of sand and thought of the many hours spent under an
electric light between four walls of fish-net on Seventy-second Street,
and longed for my driver.

We wandered up to some fir trees in the rough about halfway to the first
green and flopped down on the ground. We were both pretty tired and
didn't know where we could spend the night, or what, in fact, the next
move would be. Marje said that she couldn't go another step until she
had a nap, and as we didn't know when we should see a bed, we crawled
under the low branches of the fir tree, spread our coats over us, and
went to sleep.

It was twenty minutes of four when we woke up. We jumped out of the
bushes and so startled a man who was driving off that he sliced his shot
and the ball went whizzing between our heads. It was surprising to see
men caddies in battered French uniforms--probably réformés for
tuberculosis--and also young husky girl caddies toting around armfuls of
clubs. These were the only reminders of war, for on the veranda were
Americans and French people in white tennis shoes and blazers playing
bridge. You can't imagine the thrill of seeing good-looking people
wearing clothes and jewelry, sitting around and calling out "No
trumps"--after what this winter has been in Paris.

My, but we felt good after our nap! We met our friend with the black hat
and he took us inside the clubhouse. He showed us most especially the
mural decorations--scenes in Fontainebleau--which were from his brush.
One of the silver loving-cups in the glass case had "Compliments of
Charles Crocker" on it, and Marje discovered that he is a relation of
hers in Fitchburg.

We became very chummy with graybeard, and I mentioned in passing that we
couldn't find a place to stay. He gave us his card--M. Paul
Tavernier--and said that he knew an old couple who had a lovely house
which they rented furnished for the summer, beginning July 1st. Just now
they rented rooms overnight and would serve the petit déjeuner. It was
nice of him to recommend us, not knowing us at all, but he must have
known we were nice, we looked so innocent and unattractive. It seems
funny that over here when I'm traveling I spend my time trying to look
utterly unattractive and I meet with dazzling success; but such a
difference as it makes when choosing hats!

I have had a gnawing eagerness to see Moret. I believe it's where the
Barnards used to live; and Professor Churchill, head of the art
department in Northampton, knew George Gray Barnard there, and used to
mention the town and its environs in his lectures. The road leads
through the forest, and I can imagine nothing lovelier than the acres of
velvet green grass and giant green trees. You feel so tiny in between.

We hurried back to Fontainebleau and found 25 rue de l'Arbre Sec to be a
plain-looking house on a narrow, cobbled side street. Our ring was
answered by a nice-looking little woman, who became cordial when we
mentioned M. Tavernier's name. She led us through the house, which was
dark and finely furnished, and upstairs to a bedroom done in pink, with
white furniture. The windows looked out on a court and a heavenly
garden--undreamed of from the street.

Mme. Moreau, our hostess,--I call her hostess for she seemed just like
it,--made up the bed in fresh linen, hemstitched and monogrammed, put
fresh towels in our private adjoining bathroom, and puttered around us
adorably. She said that she didn't serve any meals except breakfast, but
would we like eggs with our coffee? We jumped for joy. I haven't had an
egg for breakfast since I was in Pau.

We sauntered out for dinner at 7.30. We went to the France et
Angleterre, the chic-est hotel there, and ate on the Terrace with all
the swells. A few of the very few members of Paris haute société that I
know were there, and bowed quite informally over their pearls. I was
becomingly gowned in my old brown felt hat, the coat of my winter suit,
the little blue serge model, and a pair of men's shoes that I bought
from the Vestiaire. No matter. We watched the officers and their lady
friends and the Rolls Royces and Renaults and negotiated our asparagus
with perfect nonchalance.

To bed in that wonderful room. The armoire was all lined with satin, and
there was a plain gray velvet carpet, and canework let into the head and
foot of the bed, and the bed was set in an alcove with a canopy. Oh, I
tell you it was great; twelve francs, for the two of us.

And when we woke there were the eggs--and pain grillé. It was about the
time when certain people that I know are usually on the way over to the
Vestiaire, and we hugged ourselves and each other, I can tell you, to
think that we were off in Fontainebleau in an elegant boudoir with trees
whispering outside the window and boiled eggs before us.

We had luncheon in the forest. We decided to leave the palais and
grounds until another day when there wouldn't be such a crowd and the
sun would not be so hot.

Moret is the cutest place ever. A cobbled main street, with little
stores and tiny streets leading off of it, and old stone towers over the
city gates. It is on the Loire, and we crossed the bridge and sat down
in the long grass at the water's edge and looked back at the town
through the trees; cunning little houses with window-boxes leaning out
over the river, children and ducks playing in the water; and topping the
town, the tower of the lovely old twelfth-century church.

We went up to the church, and really it is the most romantic, irregular,
moth-eaten, ancient of days that you can imagine. The inside is lovely
in outline and general construction, but here and there it has been
whitewashed and generally renovated in a deplorable way. Some one
evidently died--as Marje remarked--and left to the church three
brilliant cut-glass chandeliers, which give the most bizarre effect,
hanging in the main aisle. We wandered around all alone--not a person in
the place, not even a priest or choir-boy was to be seen.

We started home and went to Barbizon for tea. That is another cute
place. Lovely villas, and tablets outside saying what artist lived
there. There are several fine hotels. One was really very snappy, and we
had tea there outdoors under a yellow-and-white striped awning. The
country all about is lovely and just shrieks Millet. If it hadn't turned
cold suddenly I should have wanted to get out and sketch and let Marje
work on the car awhile. She always can find something to do, and if
there's nothing in sight for me to draw, I always can draw her doing it.

I have just been playing over the easier of the Symphonic Études--if
there are such--and here I am writing away and it's bedtime. Think of
how wonderful it was to have that car, and find that lovely place to
stay, and to have each other to go with, and then to come home to our
salon and my darling piano!

I am waiting impatiently for the letter telling me what I'm to do in
Switzerland. I am afraid you are quite unnecessarily worried about me.
There was a time when I was pretty ill and tired, but I am much better
now. Mrs. Shurtleff has given both Marje and me every other Monday off.
I haven't written to you yet about our salon, but it makes all the
difference in the world to our health and happiness.

Good-bye for now. I will write you a sensible letter soon, full of
information and untouched by frivolity. I understand that one boat has
skipped. I know I didn't get any mail. Heaven know when you'll get this.

Much love, Mother dear, from

                                                                 ESTHER.



                                 XVIII

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                                          June 20, 1917.

DEAREST FAMILY:--

Having written you a short bum letter last week, I am now going to try
to make it up to you this week. I certainly have enough material, and if
this cahier is not interesting, it is because I am writing very
hurriedly, and not on account of lack of things to tell you.

Ever since I arrived here in Paris, I have longed more or less, and
mostly more, to get up to the "front," and to see what this war has done
to the country and villages, and what modern warfare is like, anyway. I
have hoped that I might get an opportunity some time, but have only
hoped. It never occurred to me that I, Marjorie Crocker, would ever
really get there, but I have! I warn you right now that this trip has
changed my point of view in several ways, and I only hope that I shall
be able to tell you what I saw in such a way that you will feel as I
felt. (I am, by the bye, making a carbon copy of this letter, for I do
not intend to have another "Bordeaux trip" letter experience.)

Mrs. Gage wrote to Miss Curtis some time ago, saying that she wanted to
borrow her car for a few days' trip to the front, and would Miss C. be
willing to drive it for her? You can imagine that Miss Curtis was
willing. I happened to be there when she was reading the letter, and
remarked at once that, if anything happened, not to forget that I could
always go as a chauffeur too! Then I thought no more about it, until
last Friday, the 8th, when Rootie blew in to luncheon, all agog about
some Mrs. W---- who wanted Miss Curtis to drive her to the front the
next day, and Miss C. was in the country for a few days' rest. As this
sounded like a chance to me, I got busy, and with Rootie's help chased
up the "chance" as quick as we could! Rootie, knowing how I felt, had
suggested me in the morning as a substitute for Miss Curtis, but nothing
very definite had been arranged. We tore around from Dr. Shurtleff's to
the Vestiaire, and there by pure luck met Mrs. W---- and a Miss Upjohn,
who was with her. After some discussions between Mrs. Shurtleff, Mrs. W.
and M. X. C., as to whether I ought to try to go in Miss Curtis's place,
for there was every possibility of her returning that night, Mrs. W----
said that I was there on the scene, and she would like to try to take me
in place of Miss Curtis, and we must go at once to get the name changed
on the papers,--so we hopped into the Association car and beat it for
the Agence de la Presse, which is the place to get papers to go to the
front. I was at this stage of the game as ignorant as you are as to who
Mrs. W---- was, and why she was going to the front, and what the whole
game was. The only thing I could think of was that I was really going to
the front. We got the papers changed easily, and I came back to the
house all excitement, ready to start at six in the morning. You can
imagine how I felt, for it did seem as if I was cutting Miss Curtis out
of her opportunity. We stopped at Miss C.'s house to discuss things with
her, and found to our delight a telegram saying that she had decided to
stay over one day more, so I felt much better. Incidentally I knew that
she and Mrs. Shurtleff were going up to the front later on, and that
they were to stay for a week or more. After going to Mrs. Shurtleff's
and talking it over with her, we came back here and found a note saying
the start was postponed until three in the afternoon. This I was glad
of, for it gave me time to get ready, and also to attend the usual
Saturday morning conference.

Rootie and I lunched at the Bon Marché, in celebration of the event,
although I felt rottenly about going and not being able to take her
along too. I thought that the ladies seemed a little vague, so I took
some food with me, as I can keep going indefinitely if I am fed, as you
know. I went to the Hotel Regina, as directed, at the hour set, and
there met the rest of the mob. The party was to go in two cars, one a
high-powered landaulet, French make, and our Ford. Mrs. W---- was the
head of our party. She is about to found a work over here, has got an
office, and, when she gets money and a committee, is going to have a
"large work" for the Pays Envahis, so she says. She is English, and has
written at times, and her excuse for going on the trip was to write up
the country, send it to America, and raise money there for her work
which is about to be. Miss U. is a friend. Mrs. W. was the next. I made
the fourth, and chauffeur of the party. The other car contained Mr. and
Mrs. Will Irwin, of "Saturday Evening Post" fame, Mrs. Norman Hapgood,
and Mme. Perrin, the official guide, and her sister. Mlle. Bazin (they
are daughters of one Léon Bazin, a well-known French author), and a
chauffeur who looked at me in scorn! We started at about half-past
three, our orders being to follow as closely as possible to the other
car, and, if we lost them, to turn up at Compiègne, seventy-five
kilometres distant, for dinner and to spend the night.

I am perfectly sure that the chauffeur never drove so fast in all his
life before; he just whizzed out of Paris with us panting at his rear!
Once out of the city, I balked and slowed down to a comfortable gait,
which gave me a chance to listen to Mrs. W----'s flow of words in my
ear, and enjoy the country. I could hardly believe at this stage of the
game that I was really on my way to the front. We had two punctures,
but, as I was carrying two extra rims, they did not bother much. Of
course, the ladies thought I was "so clever" to be able to change a
tire! I wonder what they expected--that I would stay by the side of the
road all night with a puncture? We arrived at Compiègne at about 6.30,
and found an excellent hotel. The arrangement of rooms amused me a
little, for I found that they had reserved two chauffeurs' rooms!
Although the other one is a most superior being, having driven Edward
VII during his stay in Paris, still I thought I preferred the hotel to
the garage to sleep in, and so made my own arrangements! King Edward, as
we called him, was very nice, and mended my two punctures for me, after
taking me to the military field to get my gas for my trip. For once in
my life, I had all the gas I wanted offered me, and did not have to pay
for it! I can tell you, I took all that she would hold, and then filled
five empty bidons which I had, fortunately, brought with me. We had a
delightful dinner, and I for one turned in early, for I imagined that
the next day would be a tiring one. The next morning was cloudy, but not
rainy, and we started off at nine o'clock for Noyon, which is the
headquarters for such trips as ours. We went via Bailly, where we saw
our first trenches. Also No Man's Land, of Mary Roberts Rinehart fame:
the first really famous battlefield. We stopped and walked through long
communication trenches, now partially filled up, all muddy and full of
cobwebs and dead rats. It seemed strange to think that only last March
there was fighting in those trenches, and now they are cobwebbed and
falling to pieces. The officers' dug-outs along the side of the roads,
all of which have been first in French hands, then German, and now
French, were particularly interesting. Each one was different; some had
regular windows with pathetic attempts at curtains, some were quite
palatial, others were filled with water, and all wore a deserted and
much-fought-over air. The miles and miles of barbed-wire entanglements,
with corresponding miles of twisty-turny trenches, screens of boughs,
wire with grass tied on it, and burlap curtains, showed us quite
distinctly where the original French lines were and the Boche. The land
in between is now quite dry, and does not look like a lake, but like an
ordinary field, criss-crossed with low barbed-wire entanglements. Here
and there a grave, mostly French. We walked along the roadway, and
stopped to look at a ruined farm; the buildings of cement were all
shattered, except the cellar of the main house, which had a painted sign
over the door, "Notre Dame des Forêts," and then the hours of services.
The interior had been whitewashed, and a rude altar built at the farther
end. There were bullets, many of them, lying in front of the door. While
we were looking around, an old man drove up with his wife in a rickety
shay. He owned the place, and was coming for the first time to see what
was left. I hated to have him get out and look. I knew his heart was
breaking, and he was too old and already broken to ever be able to see
it rebuilt. He was talkative, and took me out behind the barns to see
his pride and joy: what once was a McCormick reaping machine, only just
paid for at the outbreak of the war,--fifteen hundred francs,--now a
mass of twisted, rusted iron and steel, hopelessly wrecked. He did not
say much, only told what it cost, said it was his only new machine, and
then walked away. I went back to the car. What in the world could I say?
The others had by this time walked on farther, and I had to hurry to
catch them. We inspected more dug-outs, and then went on to Noyon.

Just before entering this town, we saw our first Boche prisoners. I
don't know what a German soldier looks like ordinarily, but when shorn
of his arms, buttons (taken as souvenirs), wearing a little gray cap
with a red stripe around it on the top of his shorn head, he presents an
amusing and pathetic appearance. I don't know what it is that is so very
bedraggled about them, but they look so absurdly harmless, almost like
the inhabitants of the Forest Hills insane asylum, when one sees them
walking about the lawn or sitting under the trees on the way to Marion.
They looked well fed and young. They were working, not very hard, but
rather stolidly, I thought.

Noyon seemed to be fairly well preserved, and very full of military
life. We went to Headquarters, and procured that most necessary of
things for a trip to the front--a French capitaine. He was very
nice-looking and agreeable, and, as we discovered later on, very
efficient. He let us look around the town a bit; in fact, I went into
the cathedral for a minute, but as a service was going on, did not get
much idea of what it was like. One thing caught my eye in the courtyard
of the priest's house next door--a life-sized statue of some saint
carrying a lamb. A shell had bitten a great piece out of the back of the
figure, but he still held the lamb, unhurt.

From Noyon we were escorted south to a small town called Blérancourt,
where the poilus come home for vacation, and a gayer place I never was
in. Music, songs, soldiers dressed up playing tag, fencing, huge signs
telling of a spree to come off that night in the big room at the canteen
run by the English. We entered this building, and found three charming
English women who are living there, and running a rest and writing-room
and a canteen for the poilus. They serve about seven hundred a night,
they said. They invited us to eat our luncheon in their garden, which we
were most willing to do. I tried to get some pictures of it, but I doubt
if any of mine will come out. It was pretty cloudy for photos.

[Illustration: Will Irwin in the Garden at Blérancourt]
[Illustration: Mrs. Williams (back), Miss Dobson, and Mrs. Wethey in the
Garden at Blérancourt]

I managed to get a chance to talk with one of these women, and she was
so interesting. They are certainly doing a good thing, staying there.
They live in the most simple way, sleeping outdoors in the garden,
wearing khaki shirts and skirts. They are the only women in the town.
Their life is gay in some ways. A French poilu on his four days' leave
is more of a kid than anything I ever laid eyes on. One woman told me
she did not know when they ever rested, for they kept up the noise and
fun all day and all night too.

After a very nice luncheon, which we had brought with us, for one cannot
get food in the military zone, we went on. We were aiming for Chauny,
or, at least, we all hoped that we were, for Mr. Irwin told us that was
as near the front as any women would be allowed to get. The country by
this time was entirely ruined and very military-looking,--that is to
say, all criss-crossed with trenches, entanglements, and dug-outs. We
kept meeting high-powered cars going at a frightful speed,--mostly
closed ones,--with officers in them. I can tell you that driving was no
fun. I had to keep close to the other car which went at about thirty
miles an hour, making a frightful amount of dust, but I did not dare
slow down or lose sight of them, for I hate to think what would happen
to a party of women found in the zone des armées, traveling about
without the proper escort. I do not believe that any papers would be of
the slightest use. As a matter of fact, the papers were all made out
wrong, and the one we did possess said that our party consisted of Mrs.
Hapgood (in the other car), Mr. Williams (ditto), and Miss Upjohn and
Mr. Pelletier, the chauffeur. How I was to pose as a man chauffeur I do
not know.

We went along smoothly until we began meeting a great number of trucks,
gun-carriages, and soldiers. This made me think that we must be near the
actual fighting, and I was crazy to stop for a minute and listen for the
guns, but I did not dare to. Then we met a very nice-looking chasseur on
a bicycle, who held on to the side of the car and gave us all the
information we wanted. First place, he told us that we were off the
regular road for Chauny, and that we were almost at Pierrefond de Soucy,
which town was four kilometres from the actual front! This thrilled us,
as you may imagine. Then we were held up by a guard, who talked at great
length with the first car, and after finally letting them go on, stopped
us and said that we could not go for five minutes, that we must keep out
of sight of the first car, never stop under any conditions until we
passed the next sentinel, and that he had no business to let us go on
this road at all, as the Germans could see us on an ordinary day, but it
being foggy he would let us by! For the first time I really felt as if
there were some danger. As a matter of fact, it was practically nil, for
the Germans are very methodical in their way of fighting, and do not
fire on certain roads except at certain times. However, our chasseur
friend told us that the woods we could see beyond the field on the right
were French, but that the Germans were on the hill beyond. That made
them seem pretty near. We just scurried through that town and the next.
The road was very carefully screened on one side, with burlap and trees
and wire covered with grass. There were some guns ready for action at
the corners of the roads, and many signs saying that autos should not
use this road except after dark. The woods were full of soldiers, who
waved and shouted at us. I found that they all saluted our car, as they
took it for granted that we must have an officer with us like the front
car, so I began saluting back, and it seemed to please them terribly. By
the end of the last day, I got so that I could give a very military
salute without any trouble, which I consider quite a feat, for the
driving was hard,--the speed and the bad roads combined with the very
constant and real danger of the officers' cars which we met, and which,
of course, would simply run through you if you did not give way.

The beautiful great shade trees which line either side of the roads have
all been cut down by the Germans before their retreat. Also the fruit
trees. In some places they did not evidently have the time to really cut
down the trees, so they just ringed them--cut deep circles in them so
that they will die. I noticed that in some of the villages the farmers
had evidently tried to save these few remaining ones, and have bandaged
them up. Mother probably knows whether there is any hope for them to
pull through. The effect of miles and miles of flat roads with simply
the stumps of what were once beautiful trees is ghastly, and I think of
all the things that the Germans have done, perhaps this is the worst,
and the thing which the people of that district will never forgive. They
say it takes a tree thirty years to really bear, and the generation now
living will never see their orchards bearing again.

In some places the Boches cut the trees so that they split when they
fell (always across the roads, of course), and now there remain nothing
but rows of great white, livid stumps which shine in the sunlight, and
look so very ghastly, and make one realize even more that this modern
warfare is not a sport. I took several pictures of the trees, but I do
not imagine that I got the effect. It is, without doubt, one of the most
impressive and oppressive things that one sees; every one who comes back
says the same thing. From a military point of view, cutting the shade
trees across the roads was not of great value and must have taken a
great deal of time, and the apple and other fruit trees seems to be pure
desire to destroy. Although one thing I noticed, the young fruit trees
were almost always spared, and this fact carries out the German theory
that they destroyed only trees which could be used for shelters for guns
or men. The trees on the side of the road are without doubt invaluable
in the making of screens to hide the road when under fire, but, even
with all these facts in one's mind, and trying to be fair, one is
infuriated to think that these trees, so many, many years old, should be
sacrificed.

[Illustration: Luncheon in the Garden at Blérancourt. Left to right: Mr.
Irwin, nice French poilu gardener, Mrs. Wethey, Mrs. Hapgood, French
officer who escorted us in zone des armées, Mlle. Bazin, Mrs. Williams]

Once again one was impressed by the fact that a nation, or, I suppose
one should say, two nations, who were keeping the whole world at bay, if
not actually beating the whole world, could have time to do all the
things with the attention to details which one finds in everything that
the Germans touched. Take, for example, the fact that in the whole
district which we covered--about thirty miles square surely--there is
not a single bridge left. The present ones are every one military ones,
more or less temporary. That is a true and exact statement--not a single
bridge. The same is true of telephone and telegraph poles--not one
remains. Also there is not a stick of furniture of any sort, except
things too big to be carted away, such as pulpits and big tables, which
are hacked to pieces and are of no value now. There is not any furniture
left in any house in any one of these villages. Germany must simply be
full of French furniture! I can't think what they want it for, and what
they plan to do with it, but, at any rate, they have taken it. In the
houses they have blown up, if they have not removed it one could at
least find the remains of it,--pieces of legs or something,--but there
is no sign whatsoever, and I looked myself in many, many houses. How did
they have the men and the time to do it all? Take also a little fact,
but one so very characteristic of them. When an army takes possession of
a village, one of the first things it does is to number all the houses
and mark them on the outside as to how many horses, men, and officers
they will hold. The French do this in paint in more or less neat figures
on the side of the house, but the Germans chiseled the numbers in the
majority of cases over the house door! A little thing, but taking time
just the same.

I think that before I got off on that ramble I was telling you about
arriving at Chauny. This town is pretty newly destroyed, and very
completely so. It was evidently a manufacturing town, and the factories
are now only a mass of twisted iron and steel. The rest of the village
is literally ruined. I doubt if there is a house in the whole town that
has two walls standing. We did not see it, if there is one. The
completeness of the destruction is what impressed me. Nothing, nothing,
left at all. It seems to me it will take generations to ever get that
one town in shape again, and, of course, this is only one of many. As it
is still under fire, we were scooted through, and were not allowed to
get out, or take any pictures, for which I am sorry. From here we went
via Guivry and Guisarde, two very much destroyed towns, to Champier,
where we stopped and looked at a church which was ruined, and also saw
for the first time graves which had been opened and emptied! This seems
like a good story, I have no doubt. What in the world the German army
wants with the contents of French graveyards I do not know, but I do
know that they have opened and pillaged great numbers of the graves. At
first it seemed to me that the sarcophagus might have been split open by
the shock caused by the explosion of the church and other near
buildings, for there must be a jolly shock when a church falls down in
pieces, but I saw many graveyards which were not in the churchyard and
which were also desecrated. I was interested to see the depth of the
older graves. They were all brick-lined, and surely eight feet deep.
This destroying graves has also had a very infuriating effect on the
people in the district, particularly as there are such awful stories
afoot about the Germans using their dead for all sorts of horrible
purposes.

[Illustration: Very Old and Beautiful House at Roye Interior completely
gone]
[Illustration: The Cathedral at Soissons. Notice only steel bars left in
windows]

Roye was the next town. Here the Germans played a sort of dreadful joke
on the inhabitants. They have left the outsides of the houses in fairly
good shape compared with the other villages, but have destroyed the
interiors perhaps even more completely than ever. One house on the road
into Roye looks as if a giant had cut it in two. The section which
remains standing is partially furnished; for instance, in the third
story there is a desk and chair, and a bust on a shelf against the wall!
Think of that bust staying there through all the shock which must have
resulted in the building being blown up. We saw several queer freak
sights like that. Among other things which made one feel that the
innocent, peaceful inhabitants of these villages are the ones who are
bearing the greater part of the war was a soldier home on permission,
who had just got the key to his house from the Mairie, for they do not
let people go into their houses until they have been inspected, as I
told you that the Germans leave everything loaded. So this man went into
his house and shop for the first time, and we all trailed in after him.
The shop was once a good-sized store for ammunition and fishing-tackle,
and that sort of stuff,--shelves running right up to the ceiling, with
glass doors. Every one of the shelves was emptied on the floor and then
exploded, every pane of glass was shattered in every door to every
cupboard. This again is an exact statement. Now to take the goods off
all those shelves, to smash every pane of glass, to burn and destroy
everything that was not movable in that store, counters and such, must
have taken time, and they did the same thing in every single store!
Upstairs the same story--no furniture, walls mutilated, and windows
gone. All metal things gone also, except lead, which they did not
evidently care about. The French army gathers together the bits of
gutter-pipes and lead plates which were on the roofs, and uses them
again, but the Germans preferred brass and steel. The soldier did not
say much. He told us, in grunts and shrugs mostly, that his wife and
five children were lost, evacuated, and he had not heard from them for a
long time. He kept saying, "What is there for me to do?" And none of us
could answer him. The officer told him that the township would have the
store cleaned out for him, if he asked them to. They use the prisoners
for this, and it must be very irritating to the Boches to have to clean
up their own handiwork! Also they send them into the houses first to try
and find any loaded bombs, placed thoughtfully in clocks, or under doors
and such places.

After looking about the town some more, we came on to Suzoy, where we
stopped again to see the Boche drawings in the Mairie. It seems that
they used that building for their staff headquarters during their
prolonged stay there, and so decorated the walls a bit after their own
taste. They did this in many places, but in most of the towns the
natives have been so infuriated by the drawings that they have already
destroyed them, but this village has saved theirs and shows them to you
with pride. I could not help thinking of the Cook's tourists who will be
shown them later on, I suppose. The chief and most important one of
these drawings covers the entire end wall of the big hall. The side
walls have medallions of the various crowned heads of Europe, more or
less terrible caricatures. The big picture shows two fat naked German
devils, with broad grins, and horns sticking out of their heads, and
with long, pointed, forked tails, sitting in hell and watching and
superintending the frying of the crowned heads of their enemies. The
kings and presidents are all dangling on peacock feathers, trying not to
slip into the fire, but all are sliding towards their doom. In the
center, in the hottest part,--in fact, right in the flame,--are two
figures, one, King George, I should imagine, and the other a neat little
Highlander in his kilts. This is interesting in view of all the stories
one hears about the Germans being more afraid of and hating the Scotch
regiments more than any others, is it not? The pictures are well drawn,
but are hideous, and you can imagine their effect on a French villager!
There were also some excellent black-and-white charcoal sketches, which
were really beautifully done, showing what happened in villages where
the Germans were sniped at. A real artist must have done these last
pictures. The most interesting thing in the village was a rough grave in
the churchyard with a green board for a tombstone, bearing the
following:--

                              "Ici a crevê
                                Le Boche
                               Qui a fait
                            Sauter l'Êglise.
                            18 Mars, 1917."

The story is that the officer, who ordered the destruction of the church
just before their departure, was found half buried in the churchyard,
the next morning (after the destruction), presumably killed by a French
obus, but, to my way of thinking, more likely sniped by an irate
villager. Anyway, the story is good, and the few remaining villagers
like to tell it, and do it well.

All the time that I was on this trip I think the thing that gave me the
sincerest sympathy with the people was the thought which was constantly
in my mind: "Suppose this was Marion; suppose this was our house, our
garden, etc."

Another rather amusing incident in Suzoy was an old lady, who appeared
from somewhere, and insisted upon telling us her story. The thing that
was uppermost in her mind, and the thing which she has personally
against the Kaiser,--more than the destruction of her home, the total
loss of possessions, the killing of one of her children by an obus,--all
these are of slight consequence beside the awful fact that the German
commander took with him when he left every solitary key in the whole
village! "And how do you expect me to get along--this is too much, too
much." If you know how the French love to lock up anything and
everything, you can imagine what a tragedy this was!

Lassigny was the next village, and was in some ways the most totally
destroyed one which we saw. There is nothing left at all. We went
through it quickly, and returned to Noyon, where we left our officer
with many thanks, and turned towards Compiègne, where we arrived at
about 9 p.m., tired out, or, at any rate, I was dead. We had a good
dinner, and I turned in very soon after. I had seen so many
battlefields, so much destruction and so many novel sights, that I was
afraid I would not sleep, but I did. Maybe the wine which we had at
dinner made me sleep, but, anyway, I only came to at 7.30 the next a.m.
I had some coffee and went down to find that the car was wet, and that
the cap on the front wheel was cut open, and the grease running out.
This meant something was wrong with the bearings, I knew, but, as
Compiègne is about as convenient as the Desert of Sahara when it comes
to getting hold of Ford parts, I decided to let well enough alone, and
so tied it up with wire as best I could. King Edward showed a great
longing to investigate, but I would not let him! As long as a Ford will
run, let it run, is my motto--particularly when seventy-five kilometres
from the nearest Maison Ford.

We all went at nine sharp to the famous Carrel Hospital, and were given
an hour and a half lecture with colored slides of his system of
irrigation. This was interesting, but I fear one member of the party
felt that she would rather be out looking at things and battlefields
than at slides of human beings, torn to pieces and then all nicely
mended. After the talk, Dr. C. joined us, and took us through two wards.
We watched some dressings which were gory and quite interesting. He
assured us that he did not hurt the patient, but there was a difference
of opinion on that subject, for the poilus yelled nobly most of the
time. I talked with one man particularly. He attracted me, for he was so
young-looking and was sitting up in bed with his leg on a pulley out in
front of him, and in the most detached position I have ever seen. It did
not seem to be part of him at all. He was reading a choice book called
"La Douleur de l'Amour." I asked him if he didn't have a pain worse than
love, and he allowed that he thought yes. He was a nice soul, and I am
sending him some magazines to while away the time, for he will remain,
even in this hospital where they are so quick, for several months. One
nice old wizened-looking man said that he had been in five hospitals,
had seven operations, and now was here with his right arm and left leg
suspended. I asked him how he stood it, and he said that he would stand
anything rather than go back to the trenches again, and live in water
for two months at a time. A queer choice? We came away at about
half-past eleven, after having had a long talk with Dr. C., who said the
same thing that I have heard from so many sides. I asked why, if his
system of irrigation could so reduce amputation, mortality, and
suffering, didn't the other French hospitals adopt it. He said that it
was a new thing, and that they would not, because they are not used to
the idea, and they prefer to keep on in the same old way, cutting off
the limb if poisoning sets in, and so sending out a tremendous number of
needlessly crippled men. How awful that does seem! I do hope that
America is going to be sensible and profit by all the mistakes that the
Allies have made so far.

From here we went in the direction of Soissons, and, much to our
surprise, were able to persuade the guard at the outskirts of the town
to let us enter, for women are not really meant to be admitted, as the
city is still under fire. In some ways, this was the most interesting
thing we saw. The cathedral was a wonderful and saddening sight. I would
give a great deal to be able to attend a service in it some night. They
are still holding them in the ruins, and, with the sound of the guns,
which is very distinct, and with all the uniforms, a service held in the
ruined cathedral, with the windows all shattered, the roof mostly gone,
and the outer walls all pitted and scarred, must be impressive. I could
not get a good picture of the towers, or rather the one remaining one,
but I shall have a copy of Sydney Fairbanks's, which is taken from a
neighboring roof, and is excellent. They say that there is not a house
in Soissons which has not been hit, and I can believe it. There are
quite a few inhabitants left still, and they say they are going to stay
until the last gasp.

We could only stay for a short time, for we were due for lunch at the
American Escadrille, Flying Corps, which has its headquarters at
Chaudon, south of Soissons. I had hoped that this would be the corps
which I knew, but was not too sure, for the last time we had seen Harold
Willis he was at Ham. However, you can imagine whether I was pleased to
see, when we drove up to the camp, all the people whom I knew: Walter
Lovell and Stephen Bigelow and Harold Willis. I, being the only thing
this side of thirty in the party, naturally had a time! We had a swell
luncheon, and afterwards saw everything there was to see. It is lucky
for your peace of mind, Daddy, that they have only single passenger
machines now, for nothing would have stopped me if they could have taken
me up. I never was so thrilled by anything--to see them fly in circles,
and upside down, and every which way, was too wonderful. Harold told me
all about the engine, and how to work it, and I even got inside his
machine and tried the whole thing. I hate to say it, but I am going to
have a fly some day before I die, and, if I have a rich husband, I shall
have flying machines, not jewels, for my hobby. I saw the most wonderful
pictures, and, oh, hundreds of things. They have two lion cubs for
mascots, and the best-looking dogs you ever saw--one German sheep dog is
so intelligent it is hard to believe that he can't speak. You simply
tell him anything and he does it. He belongs to the captain. After
spending as long a time there as we could, we came home via La Ferte
Millon and Meaux, taking in the old battlefield of the Marne, and seeing
Miss Aldrich's House on the Marne. It was hard to believe that this
district was once as much fought over as that which we saw first--it is
so grown up now. For one thing, they did not use barbed-wire
entanglements half as much as they do now. I cannot get over the miles
and miles and miles of fields we saw, all criss-crossed with wire. I
keep wondering who is going to take it all up when the war is over.

We arrived in Paris at about eight o'clock, and it was a tired but
thrilled Marje who came home to Rootie.

Lots and lots of love from your loving and very sleepy daughter,

                                                                  MARJE.



                                  XIX

                              FROM ESTHER


                                    Wednesday, June 20, 1917. 11:15 P.M.

DEAREST FATHER:--

I don't know whether or not I have explained to you sufficiently about
my vacation; but I do know that the work and life in general are going
more smoothly now than for some time past, and that with the spring more
or less broken into by one thing and another, I am only too glad to have
a steady stretch in which to work without any more interruptions than
necessary. I shouldn't know what to do with myself for two or three
months' vacation, and the present arrangement, of having the month of
August and every other Monday off, seems ideal to me.

For over a month we have doubled up, Marje and I, and are just twice as
happy as we were. You will remember that the marginal space in which I
lived and moved, always carefully, around my bed, was small to say the
least (certainly Madame gave me bed and board!), and what was worse, it
was in the other apartment from Marje. By a strange system of two keys
hung on each front door, passing across from one apartment to the other
was made as difficult as possible. We called it going through the
portcullis, having no idea what that meant. And next to Marje's room was
the big salon of the apartment, thriftily converted by Madame into a
bedroom and exclusively tenanted by the wife of a French officer. To her
I made appeal one fine day--after hours of egging on and double-daring,
etc.--that she exchange rooms with me. Here she was surrounded by gray
paneling, a bay window, a carved marble mantelpiece, and easy access to
the dining-room; whereas I had to offer her a room of no size, no
sunlight, the pink wall-paper, red leather armchair, and chimney that
won't draw. However, there must have been something in my manner, or
even something in my smile, or in the fact that my room was two francs a
day cheaper and had running water in the cabinet, that made her want to
exchange. Also, the doors to the salon are broad and made of glass with
only china silk curtains to protect one, and she felt--happily--that it
wasn't quite convenable for a chambre à coucher. Tuesday morning dawned.
All the maids turned out in excitement. Madame was everywhere at once,
particularly where a poor little sandy-haired tapissier was doing his
best to move a two-ton armoire; the whole idea was considered so
bizarre--to have one room as bedroom, with two armoires at once--that
the work of it all presented thrills. I never saw such dust and flurry,
or such an accumulation of junk as I extracted from my former nest.

Slowly we settled. We would stand of an evening like newly-weds in the
newly acquired dominion and plan our furnishings. Yellow and black was
to be the color scheme, with my lampshade and piano as keynotes--two
armchairs and a divan to be covered with something, and the traces of
the era Minard (the officer's wife) to be eliminated. The lace tidies
came off, the pictures of Calvary likewise, the strips of carpet put
under the bed, and the statuettes and vases hidden. There was a
washstand, a double-decker, and a Japanese screen to be disposed of
somehow without Madame's guessing that we weren't wild about her
furniture. It was days before we dared act. Marje did it. I should have
told Madame that we were navrées not to have enough room to keep them
and would they be safe in the cellar? but Marje--a diplomatic one--asked
Madame if she thought it was quite comme il faut for two young girls to
have a washstand in their salon? and with a "I should think not!" it was
gone.

We looked at cretonnes--plain stripes; then wiggly stripes with roses
and a conventional basket; then a formal design of children playing by a
table; and on and on--always introducing yellow. Suddenly we saw our
cretonne. A big gray pot of deep-rose peonies, with little white birds
hovering over, and a little blue wistaria, all against a blue-and-gray
lattice, with ultimate background of black. It is gorgeous. The design
is twenty-seven inches high. We bought yards and yards--not to say
metres and metres.

Then came upholstering. We worked with pins and warm language, and in
five days had covered the divan, two armchairs, and six pillows. Marje
did the pinning. I did the cutting. Then two long straight curtains
beside the glass doors.

As for our yellow, my wonderful tea-set that I told you about, and some
candlesticks painted yellow, and some bright yellow and black-and-tan
striped pillows and the lampshade are the only yellow things. In the
cretonne was only one pale lemon-colored flower; but I am slowly going
round with my little brush and painting in the right yellow with
water-colors. It's wonderful, all of it.

Then we have a nest of tables of plain unvarnished wood that I got for
nineteen francs--four tables for less than four dollars--and we fight
constantly as to whether they are to be painted cream or black. You can
imagine how lovely my black leather writing-pad that you gave me looks
on the table, and with Leo sunning in the bay window, why, Mme. de
Sévigné need not apply; and I forgot a gorgeous blue hydrangea that
Marje gave me for my birthday.

You can't imagine what a difference it makes to have a place to breathe
in, and to play in, and to read the "New Republic" in, and to sew in,
and to have afternoon tea in, etc. We feel so settled and permanent.
Just wait until the war ends and you all come over to call!

I think we both feel a good deal better for the change. The Shurtleff
car has been running fairly well lately.

I must tell you about my birthday--Marje wished me merry birthday the
first thing in the morning, and then over at the Vestiaire Miss Curtis
and Miss Sturgis presented me with a jar of real guava jelly. They had
some left over from a steamer box when I first came, and remembered how
fond I was of it. I was tremendously pleased to have any one think of my
birthday, over here where everything is so different.

I went visiting all morning and took packages for prisoners, in the car,
and sent them off. In the afternoon Marje and I did more visiting and
hurried home for tea at five. Mrs. Shurtleff and Gertrude had tea with
us and admired the salon, which had lately been fixed up, and then Miss
Curtis blew in. She was going away the next day for two days to the
country and wanted the Association car to go to the Ford place in her
absence. She mentioned also some chairs and tables to be delivered up in
Montmartre and a bed that had to go to Neuilly. It was after half-past
five,--still later, I guess,--and she looked dead. So we offered to do
it for her. She is always so wonderful to us. The car had the things all
loaded on, but it's always a job to go to Montmartre. The streets go
straight uphill--so straight that they often end in a flight of steps,
not marked on the map, and you have to back down and try another.
Finally, we found the little back alley which was our first stop. The
concierge's husband helped unload the table and chairs and he was
obsequiously drunk. He was too polite for words, and after the furniture
was installed he explained that he was no mover, but a marchand de vin,
and wouldn't ces dames step in pour se refraichir. I couldn't believe
what he was saying, and Marje got hysterical over my tact (so-called),
and I wanted to start off quickly, but dignifiedly. The car wouldn't
move. Crowds gathered. Suddenly I bethought myself of pushing the
car--it was so very steep. But, of course, we were headed wrong, and you
never can start the engine by pushing the car when you're going
backwards. However, we decided to push until we came to a cross street
and could then turn around. We did this amid cheers. Then Marje took off
the brake and let her coast. Not a leaf stirring. She said the
carburetor must be wrong, and that she needed priming. So I pulled out
the primer, backing along the cobblestones as fast as I could while the
car coasted; all women and children drawing hastily away at the sight of
a girl apparently pulling a camion down the street with one finger. But
she started that way, and off we went. One has to be habile quelquefois.
I think that Santa Claus in the shape of a lady from America is bringing
us a self-starter.

Then out to Neuilly with the bed. The poor little woman that we took it
to was overjoyed, as she and her children had taken turns sleeping on
the floor ever since theirs had gone from their home là-bas.

Finally to Maison Ford just outside of Paris. We left the car, walked
back to the gates of Paris, and started to go home in the Metro. We
happened to notice that it was twenty minutes of eight and home three
quarters of an hour away.

So we went to Premier's, one of my favorite places. Marje gave me the
dinner of my life: lobster and real ice cream. I began talking about all
my different birthdays, especially the one at college when I took my
last exam and my ring came. I shall never forget that afternoon. Maidie
and I had dinner at Rahar's, where we were forbidden to go without a
chaperon, and she bet me the dinner that I wouldn't dare go up to the
head of the philosophy department, whom we didn't know at all, but who
was there, and ask him to chaperon us. Of course I did, and of course he
was lovely, and came and sat with us a few minutes and said he hoped
we'd take his courses some day when we grew up--and I a senior!

Then I told Marje about Bailey's and Stetson's and the ocean and
everything. Gee! but we had a great time--I've almost stopped saying
"Gee."

After dinner we found a horse cab in front of the restaurant and drove
home. It was late twilight, and as we crossed the Concorde, we saw a
tremendous big yellow full moon rising over Notre Dame. I nearly always
stop when I'm driving over the Concorde bridge because I love that view
down the river so, but the cab went so slowly we didn't have to. It was
all purple and gold, with the yellow moon and reflections in the Seine.
I never saw such an evening.

The next morning I received your dear cable and that pleased me more
than anything else. Thank you all for thinking of me. I've never been so
far away before, have I?

The other night we returned home late and very tired and we were too
late for dinner,--for a change,--so we went out and gave a farewell
dinner to ourselves: four omelettes and lots of strawberries. Home and
to bed early--we were tired and excited and happy all at once. We left
Miss Curtis's car beside the house in an open space behind the sidewalk,
having taken everything takable out, and disconnected two spark-plugs.

We were barely horizontal between the sheets when tat-tat-tat--came at
the door. Madame, backed by half the pensionnaires and the concierge,
were in procession. We were taking such a risk in leaving the car
there--such vandalism mauvais gens could commit. It was unthinkable to
leave a car there, la la, and, anyway, we would have a procès verbal
brought against us.

If it had been our car we would have taken the risk, but we didn't dare
with some one's else. Up we got and dressed as hurriedly as possible. It
seemed like a nightmare. Back we put the spark-plugs and the other
things and started off.

We went to our place, where the jitney is kept, to ask if they could
possibly take another car, and they said yes, there was just room--but
that we'd have to take the car out before 7.30 in the morning because
the car in back of it was to leave at that time. It didn't seem as
though we could bear it. I suggested, although I knew it was wild (Marje
is too mechanical for words), that we leave the brake off and put logs
under the wheels and that he just give it a shove at 7.29 the next
morning and roll it down the incline into the street. By Jove, he
agreed. We slept peacefully that night and called for the car at a
quarter of nine the next morning, as we always do.

Marje discovered that her passport had run out, and as it is always a
good thing to have about, we chased over to the Embassy after Saturday
morning conference and had it renewed. She was off, too, for a sudden
trip to the devastated towns, and we realized that we were to be
separated for two whole days. You know, it was the first time since
Bordeaux. I felt widowed, and she thought it was going to be a crazy
party and was off the whole idea, anyway. But she left at three sharp
and I went and had a shampoo. The Ambulance men who had brought over the
candy from Mrs. Crocker had asked Marje to dine at the Chinese Umbrella
that night, and she hadn't been able to let them know she couldn't make
it; so just before she left I promised to take Mrs. Allen and Mary, with
whom I was going to spend the night, to dinner there and ward the men
off. The bank was closed, and Marje had had to borrow some money from
me. This and the dinner don't sound related, but they were.

I was pleased that the Allens would go with me--I run over there quite a
lot and they always have something extra for me, and are kindness
itself, anyway. But I discovered I had just twenty francs to my name.
Now the Chinese Umbrella has the best straight American food in town,
but it is expensive, as everything is nowadays. I never was so nervous.

I met the Ambulance boys safely enough and painted a colorful picture of
Marje's departure and they were successfully thrilled.

But for dinner--we had orangeade and fried chicken, slipping around our
plates with no vegetables (happily the asparagus had been used up--also
the potatoes!); cornbread, and finally strawberry shortcake. When pay
time came I stepped into the office planning to throw myself on Miss
Pabris's (the proprietor's) neck if all were not well. She knows me
because I got a job through Mrs. Shurtleff for one of my protégées
washing dishes at the Chinese Umbrella. But it was nineteen francs. I
pulled out my francs, and largesse with a stray fifty centimes, and
stepped proudly out--not knowing where Metro tickets, not to mention a
taxi, were to come from.

As we passed the kitchen windows a voice hailed me and there was Mme.
Beau, my friend and protégée, with a dishtowel clutched in one hand, and
five francs extended in the other. The poor thing owed it to me, she
said. I had utterly forgotten it; part of some money I had lent her when
her baby died. Mrs. Shurtleff thought it was better to have her pay part
of it back.

Well, there was supply--what cared I for the Metro? We looked for a
taxi, but there was none to be had. So I contented myself with buying
three tickets as pompously as possible.

On Monday, hard work moving furniture and taking packages with two
amusing Ambulance boys, just landed, to help me. One from Montana, the
best-looking thing you could hope to see, was equally entertaining on
the subject of the "Harvard Sisters" who had come over on the boat with
him, and of his Paris experiences.

From tea-time on, I was all ears to hear Marje drive up. Finally she
came. About 8.30 it was. Such a lot as she had to tell. Perhaps I shall
have something first hand for you some day, but certainly what she said
was worth talking about. The party was made up of two carloads; among
them, Mr. and Mrs. Will Irwin, and Mrs. Norman Hapgood.

Now I could never drive a car over such roads or take care of the engine
or tires if there should be any trouble (Marje had three punctures), so
my idea is to go as a journalist and take the same route as this party
did. Do you think, Father, you could get me a chance? Think over your
newspaper acquaintance.

                                                              Devotedly,
                                                              ESTHER.



                                   XX

                             FROM MARJORIE


                               12 Place Denfert-Rochereau, July 4, 1917.

DEAREST MOTHER AND DADDY:--

It is eleven o'clock in the morning, and by all rights I should be
working in the Vestiaire, but here I am at home writing you. I'll tell
you why. First place, it is the 4th of July, and I am away from home for
the first time; second place, it is Wednesday, and I want to get this
letter off today, so that you will surely get it.

Everything is most delightfully upset at the Vestiaire. Rootie and I
turned up for work as usual this A.M., and found that the balcony of the
Arts Décoratifs building--on rue Rivoli--had been offered to the workers
at the Vestiaire this morning, to watch the parade of our soldiers! We
just all tumbled into the two cars as fast as we could,--Dr. Shurtleff
coming in ours,--and with Rootie driving, we followed Miss Curtis as
fast as we could over to the Louvre. When we arrived at the entrance to
the garden, under those old gray stone arches, there were many policemen
guarding the way, and they all pointed down the street, saying that we
must follow the Quai, but Mrs. Shurtleff leaned out of the car and said
that we were an American oeuvre, and that we were going to see our
soldiers from special seats, so they let us through. We put the cars in
one corner of the garden and then went through to the Arts Décoratifs
building. The balcony was one flight up, and almost on the corner of rue
des Pyramides, where the statue of Jeanne d'Arc is. We could see the
procession as it rounded the corner at the Place de la Concorde, and
watch it out of sight down the rue Rivoli. The sidewalks were already
lined with people, and the balconies all along were full of people. Just
as we could hear the drums faintly, and could just make out the Garde de
Paris on their horses, with their white belts and shining brass helmets,
we heard an ah-h--run through the crowd. A flying machine--one of the
smaller French ones, with the tricolor painted on each wing--was making
circles and diving down low, and soaring up again over the soldiers as
they crossed the Concorde. The pilot was magnificent to watch, but very
reckless, for he flew so low and turned such tremendously quick curves
that if anything went wrong, he would have hurt many people, and, of
course, not had a chance himself. However, it was wonderful to watch,
and got the crowd thoroughly excited. It made me think of the
performance the first man gave who went up to show us--when we were at
Chaudon, seeing the American Escadrille. When he came down, he got fits
from the captain for taking such chances! After a short wait, they came,
and the crowd just went mad: first, the Garde Républicaine, on
wonderful-looking horses; then a French band, all in uniform, of course,
and much to our joy they struck up a tune just at our corner. They were
such a fine-looking lot of men--short, thick-set, hardy, jovial chaps,
each one with a rose either pinned to his coat or stuck in his helmet
strap. The few soldiers who formed sort of a guard for the band had
their roses stuck in the end of their rifles!

After these came the Americans!! Oh, it was great! A score of mounted
officers leading, with one French capitaine in the middle, and then the
band, with a drum major and all! It was too thrilling to ever put down
on paper. The crowd just howled and shouted and jumped up and down,
threw flowers, and we on the balcony yelled as loud as we could. Then
another very fine-looking officer, and right behind him the soldiers.
Not so very many, only one battalion,--the Sixteenth Infantry, the flag
said,--but a fine-looking lot of soldiers. They were noticeably taller
than the French, were very thin, and all much tanned. I think they must
have been in Mexico. The crowd let the first half march past, but the
last division, which for some reason did not have their rifles, were
surrounded by the mob, which just carried them along, all good-naturedly
shouting and pushing, so that the ranks were broken badly in some
places. This did not add to the looks of the parade from a military
point of view, but it was so typically French. They simply had to join
in, and the police were powerless, so that the end of the parade was a
seething mass of soldiers, Boy Scouts, men and women, with a few police
trying vainly to keep the people back. I shall never forget it. It was
magnificent. I hate to think that our country has come into it finally,
and I couldn't help thinking all the time that these men, who are
walking down the street so gayly now, will probably go to the front and
be killed soon; what for? It does seem so wicked, but the French need
something to put new enthusiasm into them, for even that undying thing,
French courage, is showing signs of wearing out after these three years,
and now the American soldiers actually getting here does thrill them. It
was so thrilling to see a French crowd get so excited. You know how it
just carries you away to hear thousands yelling and clapping. It was
mighty interesting. I imagine it is about the first time that "The
Fourth" has been celebrated in Paris. After it was over, we came back to
the Vestiaire, and settled down to a morning's work. I told Dr. S. that
we ought to have a holiday this afternoon, and he agreed; so he talked
to Mrs. S. and we are to have the whole P.M. free! I had left my
typewriter at home, so I brought my cards and things home, and am going
to do them after lunch and to-night. They can wait a little, and I do
want to get this off so.

I will take a chance on the censor reading this, and tell you the little
that we know over here. In many ways we are as much out of touch with
things as you are. France does seem to be really feeling the war more
than she has admitted hithertofore. It is evident in the way the people
talk in the Metro and at the restaurant and everywhere. It is shown in
the constant strikes--the women too. This last strike of the taxis is in
some ways a good thing--the Metro now runs all night, or rather until
midnight, which is much more convenient. Russia, from all one hears, is
out of the game, for the present, at any rate. She is not to be reckoned
with either way. Dr. G. feels that the Allies are lucky if she does not
make a separate peace. Mr. A. feels that if the Allies with our help,
mostly moral help, can give Germany a big scare in the next few weeks,
maybe there will be an upheaval there, and that the Kaiser will
abdicate, and then every one will be ready to talk peace. If not, and if
the Germans get a good harvest,--and there is every prospect of their
doing so,--he feels that she has won; that she can go on forever. Every
one now admits, even French officers, that the spring offensive was a
failure, and the loss of life was something terrible, worse than Verdun;
also that the Germans have the upper hand now in a military way. The
submarine question you can get little news about. England runs that
news, and so one can tell nothing. Certainly there are a great many more
losses than they will acknowledge. For instance, Dr. Gibbons told me
that several times he will see in the German lists certain boats sunk
many days before the British publish it. There is no doubt about it, the
French are lacking many things, principally flour and sugar. The bread
over here is very bad now, very dark, coarse, and often sour. We buy
bread baked in loaves from a pain de santé store, which is conveniently
located on rue Ernest Cresson. Inasmuch as London, at any rate, was much
more poorly off than Paris when I was there in January, it is reasonable
to suppose that they are still worse off, particularly as the Germans
have sunk more English ships than any other nation's. It seems to be
hard to get any definite reports as to the conditions in England; no one
comes to France via England any more!

It is pretty late now, so I will stop. Lots and lots of love from your
daughter,

                                                                  MARJE.



                                  XXI

                              FROM ESTHER


                           Place Denfert-Rochereau (XIV), July 23, 1917.

DEAREST MOTHER:--

It is great to know that you are all so happy at Bailey's and
accomplishing so much for us. Little sister, sitting with hands folded
on the other side of Periscope Pond, wonders why the youngsters don't
amuse themselves sometimes by erecting, or by listening to Charles
Thomas erect, a good spring-board. We've needed one long; and if you
don't think that summer posterity would be grateful, then you don't know
this member of it as well as I think you do.

I have the queerest feeling when I talk about summer and Bailey's. Life
goes along just the same here: up every morning, work all day, tea, more
work, dinner, write, or play, and then bed. The weather is cool and
beautiful, sometimes quite cold, occasionally rainy, but always I think
of it being April, or possibly May; and a week from Wednesday is the
first of August. Guess where I'll be! Our vacation plans are very
exciting and I can't wait for this week to be over. This is how things
have worked out.

When Father cabled me about going to Switzerland, the last thing on
earth that I wanted to do was to go on a vacation. I considered my week
of grippe and my week at Saint-Germain a terrible lapse, and wanted to
do everything in the world to make up for it. Agathe had been sent on a
vacation, because she was worn out, and then I went off, leaving Mrs.
L---- all alone at the Vestiaire. I worked as hard as I could during
May, doing Vestiaire work in the morning, and visiting in the afternoon,
driving the car a good deal, taking the big packages to the stations and
sending them off, and doing a good many odd jobs. On the 15th of June,
Mrs. L---- went away on her vacation, and I was left in charge of the
Vestiaire, with Agathe to help. It was a circus and I enjoyed it hugely.
Then on the 23d Marje broke her wrist and besides being pretty hard to
bear for a while, it tied things up considerably. I was the sole
chauffeur for the Association, and the sole hairdresser, amanuensis,
shoe-tier, bath-giver, etc., at Place-Denfert. Miss Curtis went over to
the American Red Cross about the first of July, where she is invaluable.
We miss her tremendously, however, and there will have to be a new
distributing of work in the fall. Marje and I just adore her, and we
miss working with her, but she brings Miss Sturgis down to work every
morning in the car so that we see her a good deal, anyway. She is the
most clear-headed, honest, intelligent, nice person I ever knew. She is
always a sport about everything--I can't imagine her doing anything that
wasn't so square that an ordinary person wouldn't ever even think of
doing it. Marje and I would like to be just like her--and if ever
anybody wasn't, it's me! She has blue eyes and a deep voice, anyway; and
I don't believe you can be really efficient without them.

Well, there wasn't much chance for a vacation for me, was there? And I
had no desire to go away and would even now stay with Marje if her arm
wasn't healing so wonderfully that she can go away right on schedule
too. Mrs. L---- got back last Monday, the 16th, and Mrs. Shurtleff left
on Tuesday, the 17th. I took her and all her trunks down to Gare
Montparnasse in a perfect cloudburst, and then had to come back for a
little hatbox. It's the best thing I do to handle other people's trunks;
but you just wait till next Tuesday and I'll be off myself. Mrs.
Shurtleff is beyond compare adorable, and I was glad of the extra visit
I had with her.

These last two weeks are being spent in winding up loose threads, having
a few families come to the Vestiaire, moving the last people on our
list, going out to Montrouge for our last gasoline supply, calling for
contributions of beds, sewing-machines, etc., buying a store of food for
the Food Department, etc., etc.

We have arranged with friends to take turns at the office during August,
attending to important mail, sending out notices that the Vestiaire is
closed until October, giving out food to our regular families every
Tuesday, etc. The weather is no hardship--nothing like the heat of May
and June, and for blueness and clearness equaled only at Bailey's.

Well, Marje and I decided, way back when the snow flew, that we would be
one and inseparable, now and forever, in regard to vacation; but as
August loomed nearer, all we heard were the most discouraging reports of
discomfort and expense in regard to hotels. So many of the usual resorts
are closed that the few hotels anywhere that are attractive, that are
open, boost their prices way up. The last thing we wanted to do was to
chase around after vacation started, to find a perch. We inquired about
Switzerland and were told by the Embassy that it was feasible; but by
business men and the general public that it was made as difficult and
unpleasant as possible to get back. Marje dreads a long train trip, and
I knew Mrs. Shurtleff would have a fit if we went, and would worry over
us.

One day we asked Miss Curtis and Miss Sturgis quite casually what their
plans were, and Miss Curtis said that all she wanted was to be
"somewhere near the sea, tied by the leg and left to browse." Then Miss
Buchanan, the terribly nice Scotch girl, sculptor, who gives half her
time to the work, was sounded, and we found we all wanted the same
thing. We got Baedeker, picked out euphonious names, and wrote to
thirteen different hotels. One answered--and sent a hideous post-card
view. Miss Sturgis and Miss Curtis keep house and were going to send the
maids off somewhere. Suddenly they proposed taking a villa, and a Miss
Hyde, also a worker, told us of the villa she had rented last year, and
I went over and telegraphed, and yesterday morning got a reply that it
was free, so we've taken it! It's in Brittany, near Dinard, and we go
Tuesday, July 31st, on a couchette, and arrive the next morning. We have
no linen and no silver, no coal or wood; no lamps or anything; but we
have plans! Doesn't it sound entrancing? Villa Valérie, Val André,
Côtes-du-Nord. I'm just squealing with joy!

                                                                 ESTHER.



                                  XXII

                             FROM MARJORIE


                   Villa Valérie, Val André, par Pleneuf, Côtes-du-Nord,
                   August 7, 1917.

DEAREST MOTHER:--

Back to the country is my cry! Simple life, and, therefore, simple
paper. We bought this at Pleneuf the day before yesterday, when for the
second time we tooted over there to get our papers signed, only to find
that the Mairie closes at eleven and at four! Since then we have decided
that it is easier to let the paper question slide, as long as the Mairie
has such inconvenient hours!

We certainly are the luckiest crew that ever sailed! Here we are
comfortably settled in a nice little villa, with all the comforts of
home and none of the responsibilities, for the maids (Miss Curtis's and
Miss Sturgis's) take all of that, and all we have to do is to eat the
excellent food which is offered us and sleep and loaf all day long. We
have all wanted to go off for the month together, but have not known
where to go nor how to get there; so we sat around and waited for
something to happen, and sure enough, a friend offered us this villa. We
just grabbed it, and came down a week ago to-morrow. I simply cannot
believe that we are in France. Paris, refugees, jitney Fords, and work
seem so far away. We are certainly leading a healthy life, and, if we do
not all go back to Paris with a healthy burn and lots of energy, it will
not be the fault of the wonderful air and, I might say, sea, down here.
I do not think that any of us realized how tired we were until we
arrived. Since then we have taken things easy.

We breakfast any time after 9 A.M., and we babies (Rootie and myself)
have an EGG for breakfast. That does not sound like anything to you, but
it means a lot to us--nice, fresh eggs that are brought in by a girl who
makes me think of Josey, she is so persistent; the poor hens hardly have
time to lay, she is looking for the eggs so constantly! Also we have our
coffee more like American citizens! No more boiled milk for us; also
toasted bread. We find that the bread here is very good, and
particularly so when toasted. After breakfast, we all sit around and
plan what is to happen. Usually Miss Sturgis and Miss Curtis and Miss
Buchanan go off to paint, leaving Rootie and myself. We try to write a
few letters, but it is awfully hard, with all the things we want to talk
over now that we have the time, and with the delightful peasant women
cutting the hay and doing the gardening right under our windows. Also
there is always Marthe, very different, very quiet and gentle, and quite
reconciled to our queer ways; but Marthe cannot get over the
"Demoiselles" putting butter on fried potatoes! However, she brushes our
clothes so hard and so faithfully that it makes me wish I had brought my
suit down to be cared for by her.

Luncheon comes at 12.30, or whatever time we get home. We have a way of
just running up to the top of the hill for one peep at the sea at 12.15,
which gives us great joy, and does not seem to bother the maids. We eat
on the porch, all covered with honeysuckle, roses, and with a beautiful
fig tree just outside.

The war seems very far away down here. There is a hospital in the
village, but otherwise than that one can hardly believe that while we
are loafing and playing down here, men are being slaughtered at the
front, which, after all, is not too far away! I told you that Miss
Curtis went over to the Red Cross, for they offered her a splendid
position in just the line of work she is most interested in, and, of
course, Mrs. Shurtleff wouldn't have her stay with our little work when
she has the chance to be part, and an important part, of such a big one.
She is to take charge of the reconstructing of four devastated villages,
which are to be models to the rest which the Red Cross expect to do
later. She goes up from here on the 13th, and, after she gets her
papers, will go to the villages in question and live there, working
among the people, planning how to get the village on its feet again. All
her work is to be with the view to making recommendations in the future
to other committees who will do the same work. The Red Cross is to work
through existing organizations, and to make recommendations and give
money to workers who will be capable of reorganizing these villages.
Miss Curtis will have a wonderful experience, won't she? She is taking
Miss Sturgis with her, which is rather a gloom for us, for I do not
believe that we will ever see either of them at 18 rue Ernest Cresson
again, for they are wavering about going home this winter. Also, of
course, the Red Cross will work in many other fields, but this
reconstruction is one of the most important.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Needless to say, I was unable to finish this without being interrupted.
To-day is Tuesday, and I cannot believe that we have been here a whole
week. Miss Curtis will be leaving us soon, and then we will all be left
to amuse ourselves. Yesterday she suggested that we should each tell all
we could about our homes, families, and she and Miss Sturgis proceeded.
They were too funny. They had to correct each other all the time, and,
of course, they each know all about the other's relations. They kept it
up for a couple of hours, giving us the most minute details about the
sisters and brothers, and also describing the insides of their town and
country houses! It was such fun, we enjoyed it thoroughly. To-day
Rootie, Miss Buchanan, and I tell about our folks. I just have to laugh
when I think of how I will describe the Green House which is so
beautiful when you learn to appreciate it, but, from a purely
architectural point of view, is not perfect! Also 378! Never mind, I am
just waiting to have them all down to Marion some day, and to show them
what a wonderful family I have, and to give them a sail that will make
them all jealous the rest of their lives. I feel as if I were more or
less equipped to tell about the Roots, and I guess that Rootie feels the
same about us, so I suppose we will be able to supplement each other's
story.

We have discovered another attraction to this villa! Out in a very dirty
and unattractive-looking hen-yard, which Miss Curtis wanted to
investigate, we found a box covered with wire, and with five or six of
the dearest little rabbits you ever saw. They are quite tame and allowed
us to hold them for a long time, just cuddling down on our necks, all
warm and so soft! I am happy now, for I have a pet to play with. I admit
that we need a dog, but that does not seem to be practicable just now,
so the bunnies will have to do.

Luncheon is almost ready, and I plainly see that to be popular I had
better stop this noise. I will write you again soon, and tell you more
about how perfectly lovely it is here. Until then don't worry about me
not having a good rest and a splendid time, for I am. I have already
plans as to what a lot more work Rootie and I can do this winter, now
that we will be the oldest workers--not in years, but in time. Lots and
lots of love to all. You have none of you said whether you liked or even
read my letter about going up to the front. I sent it by Ibby with the
pictures and relics for Josey.

Lots and lots of love from

                                                          Your daughter,
                                                          MARJE.



                                 XXIII

                              FROM ESTHER


                                Villa Valérie, Val André, Côtes-du-Nord,
                                Sunday morning, August 26.

DEAREST FAMILY:--

Last week I let time and the postman creep up on me so that I didn't
have time to write, but I hope from my meager notes you have been able
to get some sort of an idea of Val André and of our household here. It
has been a month of glorious weather, with such clouds and shadows as I
never saw before I had a paint-box. The cliffs are high and rounded,
covered with gorse, thistles, and other wild flowers. They drop steeply
down to a rocky base, and then smooth away in a glorious beach. Val
André and the headlands just to the north form a sort of ace of clubs,
with beaches in between. The big popular beach, edged by pink and
turquoise bathing-houses and high-shouldered stone villas, we shun
consistently. In the afternoon it is rather lovely to watch the
ever-active little French children, barelegged and nimble, build
sand-castles to stand on triumphantly until the incoming tide has
flattened out their afternoon's work. The dark-haired bonnes sit in
groups on camp-chairs and sew as they gossip, and here and there a
deeply veiled mother makes a dark note as she sits quietly in the shade
of a brilliantly striped awning.

There is a military hospital in an old convent on the main road, and the
convalescents wander around, or lean out of the windows. These and the
occasional permissionnaires are the only close reminders of the war that
we have. The beautiful rolling wheat-fields behind our villa are
cultivated by women, and it makes my back ache to watch them lean over,
hour after hour, their sunburned hands making heavy bundles of wheat.

We have spent two or three glorious nights in a favorite hollow on the
hillside, just at the top of the highest falaise. We put the two big
hold-alls on the ground, then a coat, then ourselves, then blankets. You
never saw such stars. Early in that first morning we heard voices down
on the beach below, and saw the fisherwomen with their lanterns taking
fish out of big nets stretched on the sand.

Then the dawn came, and a pink and lavender and yellow sunrise. We sat
up on our elbows and watched. The sand was wet, and the grass about us
covered with dew. The light comes so subtly.

We didn't wake again until after eight. Marje and I scrambled down the
cliff and had a delicious swim. The water was a clear emerald and the
foam as white as white!

We have had a glorious time with Miss Curtis--Aunt Midge, as we call
her. The daughter of the family with whom she and Miss Sturgis have
lived, Mlle. Griette, came on Thursday and makes a fascinating sixth to
our party. Her father was president of the Collège de France and a
well-known man. She is cultured to a degree, about twenty-four, and
simply charming. She understands English perfectly,--her knowledge of
English literature puts Marje and me to shame,--yet she hates to speak a
word. In consequence, we speak English and she French, and the effect is
sometimes joyous in the extreme.

Yesterday afternoon we went crabbing. Some of the costumes had to be
improvised, and I'll describe no more minutely than to say that they
ranged from simplest in-wading to full bathing-suits. It is wild sport,
especially if you are particularly fond of crab-meat with mayonnaise,
and yet your fingers have a natural timidity!

Tableau of Marje and Mlle. Griette kneeling on slippery seaweed,
prettily reflected in a pool.

"By golly, there goes one!"

"Où est-ce?"

"Oh, a big green one. Look under that rock, I bet he's--"

"Zut! Il s'est échappé--sale bête!!"

"Not on your tintype--not while Sister Marje has a say-so--I've got my
finger in the small of his back; you hold him while I get the net."

"Oh, mais, en void un plus grand! Où vastu, mon vieux? Oh, Oh, il me
tient! Oh, là, là!--Il manque de charme, celui-ci--enfin ça est"--etc.,
etc.

For two hours we splashed around, chasing and pouncing and yelling, and
got in all sixteen crabs--some whoppers. Then we took a luscious swim in
the clear sunlit water.

This mixture of dolce far niente and a lark is going to put us in fine
trim for the fall work. Don't forget, Father, you're going to get some
confiding editor or journalist to send me to the devastated towns?

                                                                 Love,
                                                                 ESTHER.



                                  XXIV

                              FROM ESTHER


                                                      September 4, 1917.

DEAREST MOTHER:--

The cable came yesterday afternoon and caused a great stir in this
little ménage, I can tell you. I hope to go to the Embassy to-day and
get my papers through. Father was a dear to accomplish my wish. I'm
grateful; but so excited that I'm shaky, and what did I have to do this
morning but run into a taxicab, and we've spent hours writing a formal
statement to the insurance companies in both French and English; and I
only broke one spoke of his wheel, but it is too embêtant for words. We
have to send them notice within twenty-four hours and I don't want that
taxi-driver to have a show at making a fuss.

Mrs. Shurtleff finally got a laisser-passer to go to the evacuated
villages with clothes for the people left there, and she and Miss Curtis
left Friday in the jitney. Miss Curtis has lent us her Ford touring-car
until her return, and, believe me, we have hardly let the engine cool
off. Saturday afternoon we did shopping, and it was such a joy to be
able to go about from place to place in the heat without having to think
of taxis or walking or anything. I asked Miss Hubbard where to get a
nice dress. The only thing I have to wear is the old blue-and-tan, and
its clutch on life is weakening visibly. The lace and net are torn to
shreds, the sleeves that I put in last spring are hanging by a thread,
and Leo has nothing on it for spots.

Well, she told me to go to Jenny, she being the least expensive of all
the good places. I said, "How much do you suppose the cheapest little
frock would be?" and she said, "Oh, of course, she doesn't touch
anything under seven hundred francs--but they wear forever, and it would
be wonderful for our business." "I guess it would be death on mine," I
told her, and I should have to hear more directly from headquarters
before any such altruistic venture. After the war, I'd just like to get
something wonderful, but not for now, unless Father wants me to!

So Marje and I went modestly to the Printemps, and having decided that
our pet aversions were bottle green and elbow sleeves, we bought
dresses, exactly alike, with those two features as keynotes. We simply
had to have something for a dinner to-morrow night, and really they're
not bad. We'll have some one take our pictures together. Then Saturday
evening we had dinner together downtown, and went out to Saint-Germain.
I never felt such heat. We got to our beloved Mme. Poitier's where I
stayed when I was ill, and she said that she had received our telegram
too late and that all she had was a single room under the roof. You
can't imagine how hot it was. We laughed our heads off because, of
course, our rooms in Paris are nearly always cool. But we bunked as well
as we could. I spent half the night on the floor with one pillow lying
on a strip of oilcloth which was the coolest thing in sight. We had
boiled eggs for breakfast, which made up amply for any discomfort.

We read and slept and explored the lovely cool forest on Sunday, so
different now from the last week of April.

Monday evening we met Mrs. Allen and Mary and had a picnic supper in the
wild part of the Bois de Boulogne on the banks of the Seine. We had an
awfully good time--a beautiful evening and luscious cheese and guava
jelly that Miss Curtis and Miss Sturgis gave me on my birthday.

Last night Marje took Miss Sturgis and me to Armenonville for dinner;
the swellest place right in the Bois, with all the officers and their
fine friends of the bonton there, eating melon at five francs a slice.
We had a great time--we saw several American officers tramp in, among
them André de Coppet. He nearly fell over when he saw me. We had quite a
chat about his coming over at the last moment as interpreter.

More nice young boys are wending their way Parisward--and in particular
to Place Denfert-Rochereau. Davis Ripley made a long call the other
afternoon with a Harvard coeval; and a letter of introduction from Mrs.
Hastings this afternoon presents a Holyoke youth. People keep coming
from Boston to see Marje, and we are kept pretty busy.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I started this on the way to work this morning and couldn't finish. Now
we have finished work and it is tea-time. We have been taking turns
driving around wet, slippery streets making calls, and Marje is calling
me to tea and the remains of the guava.

Your letters have been most interesting lately and my next ought to be
so!

                                                                 Love,
                                                                 ESTHER.



                                  XXV

                              FROM ESTHER


                                                      September 9, 1917.

DEAREST FATHER:--

I've been there! Past the sentries, through the devastated villages,
right into the army zone.

How many pictures I've seen marked, "Somewhere in France," or, "Results
of German Shells." How endlessly have I pored over Sunday supplements or
watched miles of film click by, trying always to imagine myself really
standing on French soil, seeing real things. But the pictures were
always just black and white, and I never managed to step into them.

The refugees at the Vestiaire tell vivid stories, and they all have that
inborn dramatic instinct which can make live the scenes they describe.
But even from their background I had no idea of the look and atmosphere
of the ruined towns as they now are. No one ever told me that the
trenches taken from the Germans a few months ago would now be half
hidden by long grass and brilliant red poppies, nor that the summer
sunshine could ever soften the grimness of barbed wire and dug-outs.
Yesterday I saw for myself.

Compiègne is the sentinel to the "zone des armées." At the railroad
station you must present your sauf-conduit before you go through the
gate, and frown as you do so, for certainly the official will frown at
you. The streets are full of soldiers and officers, blue with them, and
great military trucks grind past at every turn. Even the churchyard is
filled with lines of military wagons, and horses were tethered at its
portals.

We arranged to have a bite to eat at the hotel, and I, for one, was
surprised at the naturalness and comfort of the atmosphere. One of us,
after standing at the elevator shaft several minutes, turned to the
manager of the hotel and asked if she would have long to wait. "I hope
not, Madame," he said,--"just until the end of the war."

As we ate our luncheon we looked from the dining-window across the big
square to the palace, now used as military headquarters. The sentries
passed and repassed with their heavy guns before the entrance gate.

Our military cars, painted dull gray with the numbers in white across
the wind shield, were waiting to take us on our wonderful journey. As we
left the narrow streets of Compiègne, we passed several motors bearing
important-looking officers going to or from the front; they tore around
corners in just my idea of a warlike way--very little gold braid, but
business-like and grim.

The country was lovely: rolling fields, and deep woods, rich with
foliage. My idea of a devastated region had been a large plain, covered
with small ruined villages, blackened by smoke. I had pictured
everything bare and muddy--no grass, lowering clouds; but here was
blazing sunlight, and such grass and flowers as I had never seen.

At Noyon we were joined by a French lieutenant, who acted as guide to
us, and was High Mogul to all guards and officials along our route. He
looked skeptical of a party of women, even Americans (who are known to
be wild), tearing along on the roads where only soldiers, trucks, and
beasts of burden are seen.

The crops interested me very much. Large fields of wheat and barley, as
well as trim lines of lettuce and garden truck, were on each side of the
road near every settlement. I asked who planted them. "Different
people," said our lieutenant; "the people who have been living here
right along under the Germans, the soldiers who delivered the territory
last March, the civil population who came back to their homes when the
Boches were driven out."

Until March 18th, the Germans held French territory up to the line
passing through Rossières, Andréhy, Lassigny, Ribecourt, and Soissons.
They retreated on that date, and the present line passes just west of
Saint-Quentin, La Fère, and Barésis. Our route was a big circle through
the section between these lines among the towns most lately relinquished
by the invader.

I felt reluctant to be whisked along so fast, for I wanted to see just
how these bridges had been blown up. I wanted to ask that old man over
there, hoeing in the field with a tiny little girl beside him in a black
apron, what he had seen and felt, and how he liked the Boches. But we
seemed always to keep the same pace.

At Chauny we slowed up, however. We passed down an aisle of ruins, and
stopped in a big square. We were told: "They are shelling the town, so
that you run a risk if you stop here, but they seem to be lazy to-day,
so don't worry." I was so glad to get out of the car and wander around
according to my fancy, that I didn't give a thought to the possibility
of shells. And I couldn't see why they should want to keep on firing, as
there didn't seem much more to do to the place. I stood at first and
looked about me. Not one roof to be seen--just walls, and not more than
one or two stories of these. Nothing horizontal--just the perpendicular
skeletons of buildings, and piles, piles, piles of stone in between.

The streets have been cleared of rubbish, by the French, so that the
square or "place" looked as neat and ready for market-day as though the
market-women might come at any moment with their pushcarts, station
themselves in the center, and display piles of carrots, cherries,
potatoes, and radishes to tempt the passing throng.

But the passing throng had passed somewhere else. We saw nobody. On one
side was a wall marked "Théâtre"--just the front of it left, all the
rest ruins. Across the square was a large building with "Palais de
Justice" carved over the portal, portions of the front ripped away so
that we could see the different rooms and central staircase leading up,
and up, to nothing.

Down the cobbled streets which radiated from the square were the remains
of the shops and homes of the people of Chauny. Ruins everywhere. The
houses had evidently been blown up from within, causing the roofs and
floors to fall in a heap into the cellar, so that it was difficult to
walk in and look about. The town has, of course, been shelled as well as
mined; the Germans were determined to wipe it out completely, so that
the iron and sugar industries which made Chauny well known may never be
resumed.

The strangest kind of things would be lying in the piles of débris--an
iron bedstead, twisted and red with rust, an old baby carriage, a boot,
a candlestick, all sorts of little domestic things. In many houses the
tiled fireplaces were intact, and stood up among all the wreckage. Our
lieutenant climbed into one of the houses and brought back a few tiles
which he gave us. Mine is a heavenly turquoise blue, smooth and perfect.
It is the one relic that I cared to keep. I prefer it to a charred brick
or a bent piece of iron. It was there in its place in the war, during
the burning and pillaging, and weathered the bombs and the shells.

Through the back windows were vistas of grass and trees. I saw an
enchanting ravine with a stony brook running through it, and gardens,
full of rank grass and weeds. Here and there a holly bush looked about
in surprise at being so neglected this year.

The church in Chauny is only half destroyed. Most of the roof has been
blown up, and the west end of the nave is piled high with wreckage, but
the altar is untouched and there is enough roof left to shelter about
ten rows of seats. A rough partition of wood and tarred paper has been
built across the middle of the church, which divides the piles of broken
stone, open to the blazing sunlight, from the altar half hidden and dim.

It was very quiet. I heard a bird chirping near by, and saw two sparrows
fly through an opening and perch on a cornice over the cross. There is
not much left in Chauny even for a bird.

The road leading north runs beside an embankment high enough to screen a
motor from view. Where this embankment stops, a huge screen has been
built of boughs woven in and out of a wire foundation; thus the road is
hidden for miles, and military trucks, ammunition trains, themselves
"camouflés," pass to and fro unobserved.

Near Villquiers-Aumont we began to see the cut-down fruit trees: I don't
know whether to say fields of fruit trees, or orchards; for what we saw
were rolling green fields, with fruit trees lying prone in even rows,
their naked branches--

         "Bare, ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang"

--ruined carefully and deliberately.

We stopped near an abrupt little hill. It looked like a giant thimble,
with a rustic summer-house on top. This was once Prince Eitel
Friedrich's lookout, and as we climbed up the carefully made stone
steps, we saw more and more of the wonderful view he had chosen. French
landscapes stretched away on every side, smooth fields, winding roads,
and poplars. The group of poilus who were stationed in the lookout gave
us a gay welcome. They were ready with information about the surrounding
countryside, and pointed out the various villages in the distance. The
officer in charge lent us his field-glasses and showed us to the north
the spires of the cathedral at Saint-Quentin--still held by the Boches.

We took a détour in order to see the grave of Sergeant McConnell, the
American aviator who was killed last spring. A French flag and two
American flags nailed to a wooden cross mark the grave; fifty yards away
are a few splinters of iron and wood, the remains of his aeroplane,
which indicate the spot where he fell. Some splinters of wood, some
rusty bits of iron, part of the engine, are all that is left of his
aeroplane. As I looked back towards the grave I saw our soldier
chauffeur stooping to place a bunch of wild poppies below the flags. He
walked back to his place at the wheel without knowing that I had seen
him. It was a small thing, but I felt grateful to the American who had
made a simple Frenchman wish to pay this tribute. I felt, too, a warm
pride to think of this corner of a foreign field (to paraphrase Rupert
Brooke) that is forever America!

We went next to Flavy-le-Martel. This town is half ruined and is
inhabited only by soldiers. The great sight is a ruined factory, which
is now a grotesque pile of rubbish--wheels and boilers and chimneys; the
mass of broken stone and twisted iron is heaped to an immense height and
in extent it looked to one like an acre of pure destruction.

Suddenly we heard discomforting sounds--guns, big guns, and not very far
away. The entrance gate to the factory had been locked and barred with a
sign, "No Admittance," in large letters, and we had to enter through a
hole in the fence, but certainly that couldn't mean that we were doing
anything dangerous? One of the soldiers working near by motioned
upwards, and we caught sight of a Boche aeroplane disappearing in a big
white cloud--lesser white clouds kept multiplying as the French
anti-aircraft guns fired on. Each shot sounded like hitting a barn door
with a baseball--only fifty times as loud. I was all for standing with
my neck craned waiting to see what would happen next, but the soldiers
gave one laconic look (if a look can be laconic) at the signs in the
heavens, and walked off to the "abri" or shelter. Our lieutenant asked
us to follow, so down we plunged into a little cellar-like place after
the soldiers.

"Five men were wounded here yesterday by pieces of flying shell," said
one of them; "so, Mon Dieu! it is not worth the trouble to make one's
self a target to-day."

That seemed sensible enough, but it had never occurred to me that
anything would ever come down and hit me. I'm not a soldier, I'm not
even French, and everything about the front has always been a name to me
until now. What am I usually doing the first week in July? I'm helping
the kids set off firecrackers down on the beach--on a good old American
beach; or getting the mail at the post-office to read the latest war
news. Zum-zum! and here I am crouched down in an abri with some poilus,
and a German biplane a mile in the air straight over my head. Wouldn't
it be funny if--I wonder how thick the roof of this place is, anyway?
Zum, zum, ZUM! How foolish to drop bombs on a place that is destroyed,
anyway.

The firing became less frequent and the explosions farther off. We
climbed out to the great outdoors again, and looked around. Nothing to
be seen or heard. Just as we started off, a last zum! and a fleeting
glimpse of the Boche disappeared gayly into a cloud. That was a week
ago; I'm wondering if they have got him by now.

Along the road on the way to Ham were rows of neat little brick and
stone houses, so unlike anything I had seen that their very neatness
looked strange. "The soldiers have already begun rebuilding," said the
lieutenant. And they have done well, may I add; the architecture is of
an unimaginative, cubelike variety, but a touch of poetry is supplied by
the white muslin curtains and climbing nasturtiums! The soldiers,
working with sleeves rolled up and with gorgeous red sashes round their
waists, smiled and waved as we passed, and if we had slowed down who
knows but that we should have had an invitation to tea; with a Boche
avion only just lost from view.

It was an interesting road all the way. We met a priest trotting
comfortably down the road on a fat chestnut mare. His gown fluttered and
his beads swung by his side in time to the horse's gait. We all felt
included in his smile as he lifted his shallow-crowned, wide-brimmed hat
in greeting; we Americans bowed, the militaires saluted inflexibly.

Next we saw--or rather were stopped by--a herd of cows. They looked
utterly peaceful and oblivious, and along with the window curtains and
nasturtiums that we had just seen on leaving Flavy-le-Martel, they
seemed to give hope that the forlorn shells of houses might one day
become homes again. I asked our lieutenant what the enemy had done with
the cattle that they had found when they came. He answered, smiling
broadly, "Zay ett heem!"

Ham is interesting chiefly for its ancient château. The town itself is
only partially destroyed, and there are at the moment fifteen hundred
and thirty civilians living there. We got out of the motor by the bank
of the canal, and looked first at the havoc wrought to it and the
bridges. The sides have been blown up and great masses of stone have
fallen into the ditch stopping up the deepest part of it. Rude wooden
bridges have been built to replace the stone ones and to carry the
traffic of trucks and military cars that are constantly passing. The
trees that once stood in even rows along the banks have totally
disappeared. Not a stump is left.

The canal widens just south of the main road, and begins to have the
aspect of a stone quarry. There is a vast area of broken stone; groups
of workmen applying themselves with pick and shovel; iron cars drawn by
mules moving here and there; and the noise of incessant labor. Across
the excavation stands a great wall, fifty feet high, split down the
middle as though by a stroke of lightning. Over the top you can just see
the tower, with a pointed slate roof.

"But where's the château?" some one asked.

"Le voilà," said our guide.

Oh, the hours of labor that must be put in to restore what was once
built so carefully. New trees will be planted, but the chateau can never
be replaced. It's all unspeakable!

Just as we turned to take the road to Nesle (I never can be reconciled
to pronouncing it "Nell" in view of neslerode pudding), I saw a
storm-beaten signpost reading, "Saint-Quentin, 8 kilomètres"--just as
though you could go there! I wonder just how soon one would be killed if
she tried it?

[Illustration: A German Graveyard]

As we drew near to Nesle we saw a sign by the road in English! Near a
little bridge the warning, "Look Out--no truck over 17 tons," was
posted. Magic language! There were only one or two Tommies about, but it
was thrilling to be in a town that had been captured and occupied by the
English. Along the road I had seen in several places signs reading,
"Sens obligatoire"; translated literally this means "direction
obligatory." We should say, "one-way street." On a house standing in the
middle of a trim field was painted, "Tipperary--Sens Obligatoire!"

We walked through the graveyard at Nesle, where French, English, and
Germans are buried side by side. The soldiers' graves of all nations are
nearly alike--plain wooden crosses bearing the name and regiment in
black paint. They contrast strangely with the marble tombs and
mausoleums decorated with colored bead wreaths, erected before the war.

A few of the German graves are more elaborate, flamboyant even. One
monument in particular was a large sculptured plaster affair, depicting
a German soldier against a background of burning houses, being crowned
by an angel. Across the burning village scene a scornful French hand has
scratched the words, "Camelotte Boche!" (Boche rubbish!)

It is amusing to see German prisoners at work repairing the damage they
have done, rebuilding roads and bridges and canals. They make excellent
workmen and seem content with their lot. A gray-clad figure, wearing the
round fatigue cap with the red band around it, was mending a roof as we
passed. He may well have set the bomb that was meant to level the house
to the ground; but all the same he never turned his round face towards
us, or missed a stroke of his hammer in his apparent effort to make it
bomb-proof in the future.

The city of Roye presents a new phase of destruction. Outwardly it looks
normal enough, with the exception of the fine church and a few important
buildings which are in ruins. But it is all a brick shell of what was
once a city. The Germans have played a grisly joke on the inhabitants,
who, when they return to their houses, discover the same old outside but
the inside gone.

Each house has been systematically denuded of everything--furniture,
decorations, glass, metals, tools, etc., and then the interior blown up.
In the shops all the goods were emptied from the shelves on to the floor
and then the roof exploded. Not a pane of glass, not a lighting fixture,
not a lock or key, remains. The cost to the Germans in time and money
alone must have been enormous.

I wandered around by myself exploring further these streets of hollow
mockery. A woman was standing in the doorway of a shop, gazing curiously
to see an untamed American behaving as if at home. We exchanged "Bon
jours," and I begged permission to step into her shop while I changed a
film in my kodak. The place was bare, save for a few bicycle tires and
tools piled on the counter, and these the woman told me she and her
husband had buried when they were driven out nearly three years ago. The
husband had been mobilized, and she, fortunately, had been able to go to
relatives in the Midi.

"Goo!" came to me from the dark recesses of a perambulator, and there
was a bouncing baby, born since the war. The woman came back six weeks
ago, having heard that her shop was safe. She did not seem to be
disheartened by the mutilation of her property and the loss of her
stock, and has already tried to start in business again by selling odds
and ends to the soldiers and few civilians who have returned like
herself. "Mais que voulez-vous? Business doesn't go very well these
days." I smiled. Competition may be the life of trade, but customers are
pretty handy to keep it going.

I wished her au revoir, and told her I'd come back some day when her
shop is rebuilt and she is doing more flourishing business than ever
before.

Beyond Roye about eight kilometres, "as the shell flies," the old
first-line German trenches can be seen from the road. Barbed-wire
entanglements stretch away to left and right, half hidden in the grass,
and dug-outs covered by heavy logs occur at intervals. Where the
trenches began to run along close to the road, we left the motors and
climbed down among the narrow, rustic walks that are trenches. The
floors and walls are made of small boughs nailed nearly one inch apart,
and the depth of the trenches is a little over six feet. They turn and
twist unbelievably--apparently following the track of a spotted snake
with a tummy-ache; and communication trenches, "boyaux," fork off every
fifty feet or so, making a network of passages.

I saw a tube of iron with a star-shaped end which interested me; the
lieutenant hastily called out that it was a hand grenade. I had read too
many war stories to be inclined to have anything more to do with it, so
I passed obediently by; the next minute I caught my foot in some
infernal machine and my heart leaped as I wildly clutched at the sides
of the trench for support. It was a twisted bedspring.

Near by was an opening twenty-five feet square with dug-outs along the
edge, where officers evidently lived. There was a rustic table under a
lattice-trimmed shelter, and a flight of birch steps led to the sleeping
quarters!

The lavish grass and flowers constantly impressed me. Around the
trenches up to the very edges of the shell holes, over the famous strip
called "No Man's Land," grows to-day a gorgeous carpet of green grass
and wild flowers. I like to think that Nature has already begun to heal
the scars of war.

A little village called Suzoy is already known for some rough paintings
left on the walls of the main schoolroom, by the Germans. We stopped at
the building and followed two little girls through the entrance; they
showed us the pictures with pride; and for my part, I assure you, what
met our eyes were the most astonishing mural decorations you ever saw.

Two naked figures, half man, half beast, sit opposite each other with
faces turned to wink at you. They have horns and tails and the
unmistakable Boche cap on their heads. Between them is a roaring fire on
which they expect with relish to fry their supper. In their hands are
two great peacock feathers which cross and make graceful crescents along
the length of the wall. On the feathers are poised--or endeavor to be
poised--miniature figures of the heads of the Allied nations. President
Poincaré, in frock coat and stovepipe hat, is trying frantically to keep
his balance; King George V is sprawling and just ready to fall; King
Albert is hanging on desperately by one hand; and the Czar, in ermine
robes, is trying wildly to hold on to his crown and keep his equilibrium
at the same time. The other kings are all awkwardly trying to keep from
dropping off. In the center, directly over the flame is a whimsical
Scotch lad, playing his swan-song on a bagpipe. And always the big
Boches leer diabolically.

The effect on me was at first to make me laugh, and then to make me
rage. So cock-sure, so clever, so insulting! There were other
caricatures on the side walls, medallion portraits of George V and
Poincaré, but nothing so subtle as the big painting.

The little girls, who had stayed in the village throughout the German
occupation, told us that the schoolroom was used as an officers' mess,
and that there used to be a great many soirées there. It had taken a
month to paint these modern frescoes, and the children had been allowed
to watch the artist work.

"Were the Boches nice to you?" I asked one of them.

"Oh, yes, fairly--assez gentils; they taught us a little German, but we
never speak it now."

"Did you have enough to eat?"

"But yes, food was brought to us every week by the Americans."

"Mademoiselle is American," put in the lieutenant.

"Tiens!" said the little girl, and grew too bashful to speak.

"We should have died but for the Americans," she said at last, looking
down at her apron.

"You had rice and vegetables, I suppose. Did you ever have meat and
eggs?" And I confess that for "eggs" I said, not "uh," but "uffe." The
other child began to giggle.

"Tais-toi," exclaimed my little friend quickly. "Didn't you just hear
that the lady is American?"

It might be hard to express thanks, but not while she was about should
Americans be made fun of.

On our homeward journey I saw things that simply did not exist to my
eyes earlier in the day. The country around Bailly is full of trenches
and barbed wire, dug-outs, shell holes, and shade trees cut down by the
road, all of which escaped me before I had had those five full hours of
tense observation; and just as I did not at first distinguish the signs
of war, so I did not fully consider until afterward the completeness of
the destruction we had seen. In the section of forty miles square that
we skirted, not one bridge is left--the only ones now in existence are
of temporary military construction. The same is true of telephone and
telegraph poles--not one remains. Also there is not a stick of furniture
of any sort except what was too heavy to be taken away, such as pulpits
and big tables, which were hacked to pieces and are of no value now.
That the furniture was not blown up with the houses I am sure, for not a
piece can be found in the ruins, and I looked carefully for any trace.
Germany must be full of French furniture, and what it is all wanted for
I can't imagine.

It is wonderful what vistas can be thrown open by the experiences of one
day. I never again can hear of any one who comes from Chauny or Roye or
Lassigny without seeing row upon row of deserted, ruined houses. I never
can hear of a fortune lost in the war without picturing the ruined sugar
factory at Flavy-le-Martel. And yet the sight of men and mules and
engines clearing out the canal at Ham is more significant than either of
these, for it means that the energy which once built the cities of
France is deathless. A new beginning is being made within sound of the
guns; and we are helping. We are helping!!

                                                                 ESTHER.



                                  XXVI

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                                     September 12, 1917.

DEAREST FAMILY:--

You could never guess where I am, nor what I am doing! I am just this
minute the guest of Mme. la Marquise Molinari d'Incisa, in a large
château in Touraine. The other week-end guests--it being Monday
to-day--consist of Mrs. W. and her daughter, Mrs. H. Mlle. la Forgue,
whom I have written you about before, and who has been so nice to me in
Paris, and her brother of seventeen, Mme. Molinari, and Rootie and
myself make up the party! Needless to say, Rootie got me into this. I
bucked and balked and tried not to come, but I am here. We met Mme.
Molinari at Dr. Shurtleff's funeral, and she wanted to know what we were
doing, and whether we would like to come down to Touraine and see her.
She had a château for the month which belongs to the W----s, who are in
America! We more or less jokingly, on my part at any rate, accepted, and
she said of course that there was nobody to keep her company, so we
would be quite free, and could wear old clothes, and so forth. The next
thing I knew, Rootie had accepted definitely, and we were to start from
Paris Monday A.M., having arrived from Val André via Saint-Michel the
Saturday before. Start we did! I fortunately darned my only silk
stockings, and had my sole white skirt laundered, and my beautiful blue
linen one also put in order. We left Paris at ten o'clock, and met the
La Forgues on the train, which was a shock to us. They told us they
thought there were other guests already there! Half-way down, we changed
at Vierjon, and when we got off the train (we were in uniform, of
course), we heard English-speaking voices calling us, and on turning saw
several American soldiers. We waved vigorously and went on, but were
stopped by two of them running up and taking off their hats, offering
their hands, and saying, "Do you folks speak English?" On our replying
that we did, they let a yell, and calling their pals announced that they
had "caught 'em, and you bet they can talk the lingo!" We were instantly
surrounded, and our baggage taken from us, and we were led like queens
to a compartment and sat on the seat while they lined up opposite and
shot questions at us as fast as they could talk! I never had such fun.
Of course. Mlle. la Forgue thought that we were quite mad, and a bit
unladylike, I guess, but do you know I didn't care at all. They were
nice men, and they were so pitifully glad to hear some English! They
were going on the same train as we were, which was fortunate for us, for
I doubt if they would have let us off the train! We got more gossip as
to what is going on in the army over here and at home than we would get
from the papers in two years! They were all twelve of them volunteer men
from the New York Telephone Company and the Western Union. (Their
battalion consists of five hundred, of course, but these men were going
to Saint-Nojan to drive up some trucks.) The former are receiving their
usual wages from the company, with their governmental pay deducted. They
seemed a nice crew, strong, hardy fellows, and maybe they didn't have a
time getting over here--I mean on the way across the ocean! They have
only been here a month, but they have already begun to lay wires from
one end of the war zone to the other, all to communicate with Pershing's
headquarters, which you probably know has been moved from Paris, and
although I know where it is, I won't put it down, not so much on account
of the censor as spies! We certainly had a good time. They had taken a
first-class compartment, which is against all rules, for the army is
supposed to go third class, of course, but they had one forty-four
hours' trip in French third class, and have vowed never again. They
could none of them speak French, least of all the so-called interpreter,
but they knew how to throw out any one who tried to enter their
compartment, and did so with joy, saying something about "reservé pour
la armée Amèricaine!" We stayed with them till we arrived, and you would
have laughed to see them with Mme. Molinari. We had told them that we
were going to visit a Marquise, and I think they expected a coronet and
pages, and when charming Mme. M. stepped up and talked English with
them, and shook hands with them, they could not believe that she was a
title! My, it was funny!

After we had waved them off, and wished them luck, we turned to the
chateau. It is quite near the station, so a little donkey named Kee Kee
carries the bags up, and you walk a short way until you enter the
estate. It is beautiful; all shade trees, with a spring you have to
cross on stepping-stones, and such ivy and bushes and flowers! There are
two houses--the more modern larger one, which has the dining-room and
kitchen and library and big bedrooms, and then the old one, dating way,
way back, where we are, and which is charming. The W----s put all their
time and money into the grounds and vineyards, and the houses are simple
and are lovely outside. They are up against the rocks, and the barn or
cellar with the winepress is hewn in the rock, and has many underground
passages which lead all over everywhere, and you can hear the spring
gurgle under them at certain places. There is electric light and most of
the comforts; also several dogs and rabbits. The gardens run down the
terraces in front of the big house. They are mostly annuals now, and
there are fig trees and lemon trees, which supply the lemon for our tea!
The brook comes out in all sorts of beautiful and unexpected places, and
makes pools. There is a lovely fountain which goes all the time, and
which we can hear from our bedroom. The tennis court is hidden by trees
and vines, and had just been put in shape so that Rootie and Mlle. la
Forgue played this morning. Across the road is the path that leads
through a tunnel under the railroad to the fruit garden and vineyards.
Such fruit!--all the peaches trained in diagonal lines against a white
stone and plaster wall, which has turned greenish from constant
sprayings, and the plum trees bent to the ground with fruit, and the
apples in rows making hedges like ours at Marion. We ate fruit till we
could literally eat no more. The grapes are mostly in houses, and such
luscious ones I never saw. We walked through just picking off huge
purple muscats with their beautiful bloom still on them, big white ones,
and brown--in fact every sort. Each variety tastes better than the one
you took before! The flowers do not compare with yours, Mother, but are
effective. The usual standards, lovely at a distance, but I can hear you
saying they should have been de-budded!

                  *       *       *       *       *

I was, of course, interrupted yesterday, and am now trying to finish
while Rootie completes a sketch of our house, and the others get really
dressed. We have breakfast at half-past eight, and some of us dress and
the rest wear wrappers. As Rootie did not bring one, and had to borrow
one which must have belonged to Mr. W----, and mine is that pink
crêpe-de-chine affair which Ruth S---- made for me when I was at
Farmington, we decided in favor of dressing for breakfast!

I see that I must stop, and go for a walk through the marvelous caves
which go through the cliffs for miles around here, and are in part
wine-cellars, some belonging to the W----s, and some not. We had wine
from the cellar last night, and it was excellent, I thought. Mme.
Molinari is renowned even in Paris for her cuisine, so you can imagine
whether we are having a good time or not! We had hot biscuits for
breakfast yesterday, for the first time since I left home, and they sure
tasted good.

We are really having a very good time, for we do just whatever we want
to, and although we are not what you would call dressy, still we are at
least clean. Rootie, having laughed me to scorn for bringing two waists
and skirts, now wishes she had done the same thing herself. (We did not
plan to stay more than twenty-four hours.) I am so hoping to find
letters from both of you when I get back to Paris, for it is over two
weeks since I got any word, although Rootie got a long letter from
Mother! Rootie has been more wonderful than ever these last few days.
She does fit in wonderfully. She is so very, very clever, and can do
everything well, even playing bridge. When they get started on that, I
retire to the library and have a delightful time reading everything in
sight, and there are lots of books. Did I ask you if you have read "God,
the Invisible King," by Wells? I enjoyed it.

Lots and lots of love to you both.

                                                                  MARJE.



                                 XXVII

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                      12 Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris.
                                      October 21, 1917.

DEAREST FAMILY:--

You see I am being good this week and not neglecting you as I did two
weeks ago. I still get embarrassed when I think of that time. We are
hearing all sorts of rumors about no boats going for thirty days, but
there is no reason to believe them any more than the many other rumors
we hear all the time, so I shall keep on writing, anyway, and nowadays I
make a carbon copy of each letter that I send. It does not take any
longer, and it seems to me to be well worth while.

Things are about the same here. Very busy. We have finally secured the
storehouse and are moving into it this week. The present plan is to have
all our reserve stock there, and have only just enough on the shelves to
meet the demands during the week. The car will go to the storehouse once
or twice a week, and get the necessary things. In this way we will have
much more room in the vestiaires themselves, and it will be easier to
handle more people. We have just taken stock of our food-supply and find
to our joy that it is considerably larger than we realized. This means
that we can enlarge that department, and with Rootie there it will be
splendid, I think. I hate to let it go at all, and am going just the
same Tuesday afternoons, but I know that it will soon be impossible for
me to give up that much time. We hope to move ten families a week. This
will mean pretty close calculations on time for all of us.

It is wonderful to feel that I may be able to be of some real use to
some one for the first time in my life. I have not felt so strong and
well and so well equipped for a winter as I do now, for a long time. We
have laid in a supply of coal and wood, and are as cozy as can be. I am
letting many little petty time-taking jobs slide along to some one else,
and am just saving myself for the furniture above everything else. That
sounds as if I was not doing any hard work. I truly am. We moved all the
things from the store we call Maggi, and which is on Ernest Cresson, a
little farther down, over to the rue Daguerre storehouse, and I can tell
you it was some job for all of us--piling the things in the car, and
then unloading at the other end. Gay Kimberly's husband returned
suddenly, so I had to run the car, as Rootie was out calling with a Red
Cross man who wants to know the conditions of refugees living in Paris.
(By the bye, a Maxwell car with a starter has been given us. I wish it
was a Ford, on account of essence, but we must not be fussy, I suppose.)

This morning Rootie started for church early, and got a bath with a
friend of hers who lives in a hotel which still has its hot water on
Saturday and Sunday! I was, therefore, alone for the morning, and after
the washing was counted and put away, and the salon tidied, and the
pillows, which had raveled, had been sewn, I decided that I was going to
pretend I was at home; so I got dressed as if for Sunday dinner at 378.
I put on a nice waist and my pink sweater with the gray collar, which I
made myself, and my earrings, and Aunt Sarah's ring. It was really lots
of fun. I imagined what I would be doing if I was at home, and who would
be there too. Rootie could not imagine what had struck me when she came
in and found me all dressed up.

I wonder if it would interest you to hear what we did for one family in
the way of moving? Rogeau is the name. We have had them on our cards for
quite a long time. It is a small family, a tuberculous man and his wife
and little boy. We have been boarding the woman and child out in the
country, while the man was in the hospital. This summer the woman came
in to see us to ask if we could possibly let her have another month out
in the country. We were fortunately able to do so, and when her husband
came out of his hospital, he joined her in Saint-Prix, where she was
boarding, and together they have found a little house at twenty-two
francs a month, for the house and garden. They will each have separate
rooms to sleep in, and the woman is most careful about cleaning and all
that. Owing to our being able to give them the meubles, they were able
to take the house at once, and last week I took out to them a table, two
chairs, one stool, plates, knives, forks, spoons, a stove, basin, pail,
dishtowels, pitcher, sheets, covers,--and extra nice light warm ones for
the man,--pillow-cases, casserole, carpet, bathtowels, coffeepot, small
pillow for man, refuse pail, coat-hangers, table-cover, and candle and
candlestick (having sent three single beds by express). With these few
things they can begin to live, and then they will gradually get more.
The man has a little forge in an out house in the garden where he works,
and has a chair in the sun. He mends pails and pans. I am giving him a
chaise-longue with Daddy's money, so that he can rest in between spells
of work. I am so hoping that the air and sun will rebuild him as they
have others. You would have been as touched as I was at their joy at the
few things we brought them. You see they are really beginning to have
their home together again. This is only one of so many interesting
cases. Having no income except from the little work he does, they are
not paying us anything for the things, although lots of other families
are paying. If it is possible, it is so much better for them to pay
something.

We are worried just now as to what we are going to do for stoves. There
is a great shortage. And the way prices jump up from one week to
another!! We calculated two weeks ago that every move costs us well over
five hundred francs, with the beds. Now they are much more. Everything
goes up two to three francs a week. Beds cost ninety francs for a double
lit cage, with mattress and two pillows, where they used to be only
seventy last spring. Single beds are fifty-nine instead of thirty-two.
Stoves used to be fifteen to twenty-five francs new, and now we pay
thirty for old ones and seventy for the new ones. Next week they are to
be fifty per cent more, I was told. Lessiveuses are thirty-five, and we
have had to give them up, although I hope to change that, and give the
few big things and no small things,--forks and knives and all that,--for
a family can, after all, save and buy those things, and they never would
be able to get either a buffet or lessiveuse. Mrs. H---- pays
twenty-five to thirty-five francs for a secondhand buffet now, and she
used to get a big, tall, new one for twenty-five. All the small things
are about a franc more, pails and all such. Linen is terribly dear.
Fortunately, we still have some unbleached linen from America for the
sheets. When it goes, I don't know what we will do. They want nine
francs apiece for the most slimsy cotton sheets here. I do not quite see
what is going to happen if things keep on getting more and more
expensive. What will stop it all? And I suppose Germany is richer than
ever with her latest gains in Russia. What is going to happen?

Rootie says it is time to go to bed, and I guess she is right. Lots and
lots of love.

                                              Your very loving daughter,
                                              MARJE.



                                 XXVIII

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                      12 Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris,
                                      November 14, 1917.

DEAREST MOTHER AND DADDY:--

I hope that you will not worry about our being cold over here this
winter. We will not be. First place, we find that we can heat the salon
very nicely with a wood fire, and second, we are definitely to have our
chauffage central the 15th. We have had hot water once already, and you
would have laughed. You couldn't see any one for the two days, for every
one was having as many baths as possible. We will have the water right
along after the heating begins.

I went to the movies for the first time in ages the other night. Sydney
took Dulles and myself and we saw an excellent show: that Jap man,
Sessue something (I bet Josey knows), and then some wonderful war
pictures; the Zepps that they brought down the other day, close up, and
most interesting. The tremendous size of them was what overwhelmed me.
They look like a whole sugar factory burned up when they are destroyed.
It is certainly true that no nation but the German would or could afford
to build them now. I wonder if the French will get any good ideas from
the one which is not destroyed. The supremacy of the air seems to be the
great hope of the Allies now. Sydney cheerfully tells us that the Boches
have an aeroplane with six engines. Think of it. Also I believe that
they have some new horrors to spring on us soon. I have been told by a
Suisse-Français girl that they (the Germans) have had the best harvest
they have had for years; also that their first Italian victory fell on
one of their biggest fête days, so they are sure that God is with them.
No one that I ever see over here feels that we could possibly win a
military victory for several years, and then it would be an air victory.
I can hardly believe that the people will be able to endure another
three years. Last spring was nip and tuck keeping the French going, and
if it hadn't been for the rushing over of those troops to march through
the streets on the 4th of July I hate to think what might have happened.
At least, that is the way it seems to me. If Italy gives in, and it
seems possible, as there is some sort of treachery there, and Russia is
quite out of it, if she isn't worse,--on their side, I mean,--will the
French hang on? Lots of people feel that all this changing of cabinets
(and we have another one to-day) means that Caillaux is the man who will
be put in eventually. He is the last chance, as it were, and, if he is
once in, it is all over, for he is supposed to be pro-German. Rootie has
many friends of various grades in the army and navy, who blow in and out
at times and fill us up with gossip: how the whole of America is full of
German spies; how the new submarines carry three-inch guns and fight the
Allied destroyers on equal terms as a result; how the Chemin des Dames
offensive is completely successful; what they think is the reason for
the complete hold-up of all Suisse mail and trains and many French ones;
how many troops have gone to Italy, and so forth. It is more or less
discouraging as a whole. Conditions here in Paris are about the same.
The coal situation seems to be better handled. Most proprietors have
been told by the Government that they must heat their tenants or not ask
rent. There is plenty to eat still. Suisse chocolate is not to be had
any more. Sugar seems to be scarce, but not as bad as last year. Butter
and eggs are high, but one can buy them. The swell tea-houses are having
difficulty to make their cakes, but they do just the same. A great deal
of honey is used instead of sugar, I think. There were special
provisions for confitures being made this fall, so that I think we shall
have all we want. There are still taxis to be seen about, but, although
they have been restricted in what they can do to you in the way of
flatly refusing to take you, still they can usually manage to make it so
disagreeable for you that you prefer to walk. Gasoline is to be very,
very scarce even in the army, I believe, next month, but fortunately we
have a supply on hand. I shall be very glad to turn over the
responsibility of the cars to H. soon, for there is quite a good deal to
be done, and it grows more difficult to do it every day. Ford is
completely mobilized now, and it is very difficult to have anything done
at all.

Rootie says that we are going to have our pictures taken, and what she
says usually goes, so you will probably get a picture of your beautiful
daughter in uniform. Don't you dare show it to a soul if you do, though.

Rootie says to be sure to thank you very much for the toast-holder. We
will use it a lot. Lots and lots of love to both of you, and all of you.

                                                                  MARJE.



                                  XXIX

                             FROM MARJORIE


                                                 Paris, January 1, 1918.

DEAREST MOTHER AND DADDY:--

If I could only tell you in words what our Christmas was like I would be
so happy, but it's dreadfully hard to. First place, your wonderful
packages came in plenty of time, and were grabbed by Rootie, who
informed me that she was running our special, extra-private Christmas
morning celebration, and for me to trust her!

We decided at the Vestiaire that we must have a tree for the refugee
children,--our pet ones, at any rate,--and Mrs. Shurtleff was so pleased
with the idea. We got a hall in the same building where Dr. S. used to
have his meetings, and we had more fun decorating the tree ourselves,
filling bags with candy which we bought after hours of standing in line
at Potin's, and we gave two hundred refugee children the best Christmas
party they ever had, I bet. We had a prestidigitator-man first, who was
excellent, and who delighted the kids by getting enough flags out of a
hat to give each child one. After he was through, we dropped a curtain
which was hiding the tree, and which looked very gorgeous with its
candles and piles of presents heaped around the base, and bowing and
smiling in front of the tree was Père Noël (Rootie), who gave each child
two presents. They were passed cakes and candy, and even the mothers who
were sitting around the edge of the room (one grown-up was allowed to
each family) got some cake. Then, after they received their two gifts,
which were all sorted according to ages, they came to the door with
mothers and brothers and sisters and were presented with a bag of candy
each, a Christmas card, and a muffler, and were sent home. You never saw
such a well-behaved lot of children, so clean and so good, and so happy.

Monday night we went to bed early,--that is, I did, and Rootie sat up
until all hours arranging things for the next day. When I woke up, I
found that Rootie had ordered eggs for our breakfast, and had slipped
into the other room and made a perfectly delicious piece of toast for
me. We had such fun over breakfast, and then I was led into the next
room where the mantelpiece was decorated with a huge clock with presents
tied on by red ribbons. There was a fire and lots of presents piled in
front of it! All this when we had said we were not giving any presents
this year! I almost cried! We sat down on our little stool, and I began
opening all your lovely things. Oh, you were much too good to us! The
candy was and is the best in the world. You don't know how we pick and
choose and save the caramels till the end only. Rootie always goes down
three layers at once, just to see what is underneath! Josey's dear
little purse and the very effective picture of herself and her hair and
ribbon were almost too much. Rootie was so pleased with your thought of
her. We just had a beautiful Christmas morning together, and I can tell
you we thought pretty nice things about our families who had taken all
the trouble for us.

Rootie had every sort of a present for me. She had thought of everything
that I have ever said I liked, or wanted to have. First place, some
lovely little shell hairpins which are delightful. They fit your head so
nicely. Then a lovely cyclamen plant; a dear little pot to hold a baby
plant; a vase; a hearth-brush, for I get so cross with the one there is
in the room now; a photograph of the two of us on the steps at
Bourre,--which I believe she sent you, too,--with a calendar on it; also
a calendar for the office and the most delightful little machine that
clips papers together, and which I have been longing for for ages!--also
a drum because I have been saying I missed mine so: this one is about
five inches across, and has the sticks attached, and saves you lots of
trouble, for you use it like a watchman's rattle; a beautiful
laundry-bag, which is also much needed, and a sachet. You never saw such
a lovely pile of things, and every one something which I needed, and
wasn't she dear to take all that time for me! It seems I have been an
awful nuisance while she has been getting the things together, because I
insisted upon coming home when she was preparing them. I cannot tell you
how all her thought of me touched and pleased me. It was just like
Rootie to do it.

We had to go over to Miss B----'s at about eleven, for we were all to
have our Christmas dinner there,--all us workers, I mean. I had ordered
everything, and was generally in charge. Miss B---- lives in a charming
little studio which has several of her pieces of sculpture in it, and is
very delightful, anyway. She offered it to us and it did seem so much
more homey than a hotel. She has a big, unfinished marble in the middle
of the room which I had planned in my mind's eye to put aside while we
dined, but I found out it weighs tons and would have to have three or
four men to move it, so we let it stay and we put our table behind it.
We borrowed the table from the rue Daguerre storehouse, and tablecloths
from the ameublement; also chairs and glasses; and with Rootie's yellow
saucers and Fiskie's blue ones in between, and fruit in the middle, we
made a very effective table.

I had ordered the whole dinner from Coute's, a store near by that has
very good cooked things, and which offered to send in everything piping
hot ready to eat. This last suggestion appealed to me, especially as
Miss B---- has no gas, and cooks on her stove, which was built to
heat,--not to cook. Rootie having charge of the decorations fixed up the
place cards prettily, and arranged the fruit. We were fifteen. Every one
arrived on time, but the dinner! I began to get nervous at about five
minutes to one, for the meal was ordered at 12.30, and I was afraid it
must have gone astray. Dulles and Mlle. Herzog volunteered to go to
Coute's and try to find our dinner. After they had left, the brilliant
thought occurred to me that maybe I had told them the wrong number of
the street. It is 18, Bd. Edgar Quinet, 18 like the Vestiaire, but not
like the Daguerre number, --19, --and the more I thought it over the
more sure I was that I had sent the dinner to 19! This thought did not
cheer the company, as there is a very large cemetery opposite Miss
B----'s and goodness only knew where the number 19 might be, so I put on
my fur coat and new hat, which is very tall, and therefore heavy, and
started out to find number 19. I started slowly, but as I went farther
and farther, I got more and more nervous, and began to trot and then to
run. I arrived in front of 19, which was an exceptionally shady-looking
stable, bar, hardware shop, just in time to see Coute's boy, on one of
those bicycle-pushcart affairs, piking down the street!! You have no
idea of what a feeling that gave me. He seemed to be going fifty miles a
minute, and with him was our whole dinner!! I let out a war-whoop, and
started after. That coat of mine which Aunty gave me is not patterned
after a running-suit, and to say that it and my hat, which toppled over
my eyes every minute, and the snow, which was just perfect for coasting,
hampered me, is putting it mildly. However, there was nothing to do but
to run, so I ran; and after about a block (which seemed three to me), I
attracted his attention, and also that of all the population of the
Latin Quarter. He stopped and was most agreeable; said he had looked
everywhere for the right house, but had found no trace. I didn't stop to
argue,--I was so glad to see the pots and pans in that cart,--but I
pointed out the way, and we returned triumphantly to 18. I can tell you
it was a close call. Dulles and Mlle. Herzog met him on their way back,
too, and held him up, but he had already left the food with us. It was
delicious, in spite of its extra journey. Hors d'oeuvres of pâtés de fois
gras; then two big golden-brown turkeys stuffed with marrons; mashed
potatoes all yellow with butter, and just the right consistency; peas
cooked up with lettuce and sweetened just a little; great plates of
delicious currant jelly (we couldn't get cranberry sauce); a big bowl of
celery salad; and brown gravy to go on the turkey. It was mighty good, I
can tell you. We warmed things up a little while they began on the first
course, then we shifted plates, four of us, like regular waiters. We had
planned it all out beforehand, and Miss Curtis attacked the turkeys. She
can carve like a whizz among all the other things that she does well.
She made one bird go the round, and then there was plenty left of the
second for Mrs. Shurtleff to take home some cold. You never saw a crowd
enjoy their Christmas dinner more!

We had a surprise for them next. Hannah and I decided that Christmas
wasn't Christmas without a plum pudding, so we scraped up three little
already cooked plum puddings, which Mrs. Shurtleff had steamed for
hours, Rootie and I gave the sugar we had saved this summer for a foamy
sauce, and, although we cooked it too long, for I got so interested in
eating my turkey that I forgot it, still it was so full of wine and
sugar that it was delicious. We went to buy a little rum to burn on it,
and found to our amusement that we must buy three big bottles, which we
proceeded to do! (The new law requires that you buy at least two
litres.) I wish you could see our room. It looks like a bar, for Mrs.
Shurtleff also brought a bottle of cooking sherry for the sauce. Well,
we poured enough wine on that pudding to light a half-dozen, and with
holly in the center, it looked very gay and most Christmasy. Every one
seemed to like it.

Then we had VANILLA ICE-CREAM AND HOT CHOCOLATE SAUCE!!! Regular
ice-cream just like home, and the best I ever tasted outside of our
house. Oh, it was good! By the time we had done justice to this, we were
all in the state where we preferred to stand up! Some of them went to
Dr. Cabot's Christmas carol party, where they went from hospital to
hospital singing for the blessés. I wonder how they sang! We certainly
made enough noise, and I don't think any one had a homesick thought, and
that was what we were all scared of. Miss Sturgis was unable to come,
and we missed her terribly. We made up a very nice plate of cold turkey,
salad, jelly, and breadsticks for her, and armed with this and some
ice-cream and sauce, we all went down to see her. We found her with a
fire burning, and so we all sat around and talked and some of them
slept, and then Mr. D----, a Red Cross man, blew in, and told us lots of
interesting things about being on the commission for distributing German
money for the German prisoners in Russia the first year of the war, and
also of his more recent experiences in Italy. He was one of the men sent
by the Red Cross with so much actual cash to help out there, and also
lay plans for the future work. He was very interesting. We all stayed
there until it was time to go back to the studio for a Welsh rabbit. I
had to laugh when Miss Curtis asked if I knew how to make one. I said
yes without thinking, and then realized that all I have ever done was to
watch you. However, you know I would die before I would back out, so I
went ahead with an expert air, and gave as exact an imitation of you as
I could. I cut about the same size pieces of cheese, ladled out mustard
with the cover of the tin, just the way you do, and poured on beer in
little professional dabs, every once in a while. Then I stirred and
stirred, and although it gave me heart failure while it passed through
the gummy, stringy, curdly stage, still it finally emerged in a smooth
thick state, and I hastily broke an egg into it, and gave it a final
beating and served it. Wonder of wonders, they said it was O.K.! Far be
it from me to say it was luck! We had scrambled eggs, toast, and salad
also, and last, but not least, we had "asti spumanti." Oh, it was good!
We wanted it for dinner, but we couldn't with the crowd, so we had it
for supper. It was delicious.

I was lucky enough to have to go and see Madame Brunschwig, who is the
great big-hearted woman here who has done so much for the housing of
refugees. She started on her own backing herself, and she is wonderful.
She let me sit beside her from 10 until 12.30 one day, and listen to her
interview her people. It was so interesting to see how a Frenchwoman
does it. She is so sharp, never misses a thing, very clear-headed,
kind-hearted, and has that quick, wise power of decision which is so
characteristic of Mrs. Shurtleff. It was very interesting to hear her
say so many times just the things that I have heard Mrs. S. say. I feel
quite sure that their two judgments on a case would be the same. I think
it is well worth noting that these two women have done what they have
without any social-service training; they just use their heads and
hearts and common sense. I am not yet convinced that one has to go to
the Boston School for Social Workers to be a good worker.

The gasoline situation has been very serious over here lately; the story
is that the American Government took all the gas that came into France
for ten days because they were getting short, and they would not stand
for the lavish use of gas which had been going on. Anyway, they have
finally stopped bons of essence for private cars. Miss Curtis says that
she has been told that the English have made a fuss, too, for they have
not had any private cars for a long, long time. We got ours for the work
all right. It was reduced, but still we will have enough if we are
careful, I believe. I have had lots of fun initiating Hannah into the
game of "trying-to-get-gasoline-in-Paris."

The pastry-shops are really to be closed, I guess; the American ones
have been stopped from making any kind of cake and even corn-bread. We
got a big chocolate cake at Rebattet's Saturday, but I think it is the
last. I am glad of it, for people at home are doing so much it seems to
me we ought to be cut down over here, too. I shall be especially glad if
they stop all this bonbon-making; it must use oodles of sugar. (I think
we have enough for a few months, and then we will be home.) I imagine
that it is the American Government that has brought pressure to bear on
this, and it is a good thing.

Hannah and I saw some of the cement boats being built the other day,
when we were outside of Paris; they looked fine. Very low in the water,
just like regular barges, but, of course, they must be built in a much
shorter space of time. I wonder if they are really using them as much as
they expected to?

It seems to be a very critical time just now for the Allies. Lots of
people are depressed and talking very gloomily. Evidently the Caillaux
affair is pretty delicate. The English Government has been insulted, and
it is up to the French to do away with the gentleman in question. They
called the class of 1919 the day before yesterday, and also recalled
that of '91, which sounds as if they wanted men. All the Americans we
see speak cheerfully of three to five years' preparation, but I can't
believe it. Isn't it awful to think of Padua being bombarded? Will there
be anything beautiful left after this war? Even Jerusalem. We have heard
such wild stories about how they have defended Venice from air attacks,
that there are lots and lots of balloons up over it, and that they have
wires stretched between each two, and, of course, a wire, even if pretty
fine, will wreck an airplane. It seems that these wires can't be seen
very well. I do not know whether this is true or not, but a very nice
doctor who had just come back from there told us. By the by, he is the
doctor who now gives us one afternoon a week for our refugees; then Miss
Neivin--one of the workers, and who has had some first-aid training at
home--can go into the homes afterwards and follow up the cases.

I wonder if the Boches have really got some new atrocity to spring on
us. Every one seems to think that they have. I can't see how they can
have time to think up anything else. Did you hear about the mirrors used
on submarines so that they are very hard to see? It sounds plausible.

Lots and lots of love to you all. Tell John-on-the-corner, Mary
Devlin, and all that I am looking forward to seeing them all in
May. Tell Mrs. Dow that her candy is the best ever, and that it
is in much better condition when she packs it in lead paper and
in a tin box. Lots and lots of love again, and here's hoping that
you are still alive after the eleventh page of rambling of your
very-affectionate-and-looking-forward-to-being-home-soon

                                                               Daughter,
                                                               Marje.



                                  XXX

                              FROM ESTHER


                                     Thursday evening, January 31, 1918.

DEAREST FAMILY:--

Last night was it--the biggest raid they've ever had on Paris. When I
think that at nine o'clock I was sitting up in bed with a sniffling
cold, bemoaning the fact that I couldn't seem to write anything but the
stupidest sort of letter when I had a whole week packed full of events
to tell you about--when I think of that, I don't know how I shall begin
to tell you all to-night.

Every one has been expecting an air raid on Paris for quite a time, and
Sunday evening we were all set for it, for the moon was full, and it was
the Kaiser's birthday, and we worked our intuitions to the utmost. Last
night, when I snuggled down in my warm bed, I had forgotten all such
possibilities.

Suddenly I heard that siren that means one thing and one thing only.
It's a dismal, foreboding sound. There's also an "alerte," a sort of
horn that blows at the same time, that sounds as though a fiend were
putting his whole lungs into it. I didn't stir at first because I
thought it might be a false alarm, but the siren and the alerte kept it
up and kept it up, so that Marje and I, for curiosity's sake, slipped
into our fur coats and went out on the balcony. We saw a few aeroplanes
and rocket signals and heard a distant booming of guns. The street
lights went out one by one and the tramways rumbled ponderously home
from their last nocturnal journey.

It was an ideal night--the moon had waned only a little and the stars
were bright; but never did "the luster of midday to objects below" give
such a desperate feeling of defenselessness as when we looked out across
the Place and saw each tree and building stand out distinctly.

The guns grew much louder. We turned to each other and said, "This is
something new--we've never heard anything half so near in any other
raid." We were thrilled. We went across to the other apartment to see if
Hilda and Gay and Fiskey were taking it all in, and just as we stepped
into Gay's room, two terrific crashes came. We all rushed out on
Fiskey's balcony and stood there trembling with excitement. She and
Hilda said that there had been two great flashes; Marje and I had been
in Gay's room just at that instant, and were as mad as anything to have
missed something.

The five of us took our posts on the same balcony, where we had a superb
view. Way to the left was the Eiffel Tower, invisible at that distance,
but certainly one of the goals of any air attack on account of being the
greatest wireless station. To the north lay the Place de la Concorde,
with the heads of the Inter-Allied Conference resting, perhaps uneasily,
in the Hôtel Crillon. All the way to the Place d'Italie, in the extreme
east, we had the panorama of the sky, and you may believe there were
five pairs of eyes that never missed a flash or a light.

We counted as many as fifteen aeroplanes at once, flying in groups of
threes or fours or widely separated. How thrilling to think that every
little light meant a warm living, thinking, human being straining to the
utmost--some for defense--some for destruction. We made wild
speculations--were they French or Boche? Why should any have lights? The
Boches must certainly want to come unobserved, and the French must
certainly want to chase them without being seen. How can either side
tell which is friend and which is enemy, lights or no lights? How can
even an anti-aircraft gun hope to hit a tiny moving plane way up in the
air? How can a moving plane hit another in the dark? Which of the deep
booms were guns and which bombs?

[Illustration: The Air Raid on Paris on the Night of January 30, 1918]

This thought was dreadful. Bombs actually being dropped in the suburbs
of Paris on buildings, on our friends, on the refugees, on anybody.

Suddenly a flash lit up the Place--the trees stood silhouetted against a
red glare and an explosion thundered out. It seemed just across the
Place. I never shall forget it. We thought of the garage with the three
Fords sleeping peacefully in it--but the flash was certainly farther to
the left than Boulevard Saint-Jacques. We were speculating as to how far
away in feet and inches it had hit, when bang! bang!--more bombs:
funniest thing--we all took a backward step into Hannah's room. We saw a
plane with a red light on it--certainly a Boche--fire his mitrailleuse
and then down fell another bomb. It was fascinating to see him so
plainly, but as the sound of his engine became louder and we could see
him flying towards us, one charge of fear went through me. To feel that
an enemy is flying right over you, ready any second to drop a bomb that
will blow you and Marje and people you love and the house and the street
and everything to flinders; to know that you can't do anything--that not
even pulling the bedclothes up over your head is sure protection; to
have to wait, wait, wait while you hear that throbbing motor, and then
wait again to see whether he'll let go that instant or not--well, as
Marje says, "It may be all right for the soldiers, but I feel distinctly
like 'women and children.'"

It lasted two hours, and we stood there in our catch-as-catch-can
costumes, trying not to feel the cold stone of the balcony through our
kid night slippers. We were sure we smelled gunpowder, and some one
suggested gas bombs--not exactly pleasant. The hum of aeroplanes was
continual and the explosion of guns frequent. When one would be
especially loud, some one would call out, "Attitudes of defense,
girls--turn up your coat collars--here comes the Crown Prince!" "Have
you on your Boston grips, Marje?--if so, no metal can touch you!" "Here,
here, you great bonehead Boche, you came to get Lloyd George and
Pershing and General Foch and that crowd--don't break up our happy
little home life!"

I got too tired and cold to stand out there any longer, so I took a nap
on Hannah's bed until the bugle of "All danger's past" blew. You can't
imagine how that sounds until once you've seen the Germans come toward
you and have felt yourself an insignificant, but a very much concerned,
target. You never heard anything so full of joy!

We adjourned to Hilda's room and the practical spirits of the crowd soon
had some solid alcohol burning and some Whitman's instantaneous
chocolate in the saucepan. It certainly went to the spot with
toasterettes as an accompaniment--and still another accompaniment of the
bugle call growing fainter in the distance.

We went to bed, and oh, how we slept! We have wanted to experience a
real raid and now we have, and we've had one and that's enough.

This morning the maids brought in wild tales with our breakfast. The
École des Mines had been hit, on the Boulevard Saint-Michel. The morning
papers said nothing. As the workers came strolling in to the Vestiaire,
heavy-eyed from lack of sleep, but bursting with questions, we could get
little definite news.

Mlle. Herzog and I started out hot-foot for the École des Mines, hoping
that the work would not grudge us half an hour for satisfying our
curiosity. We found a big crowd, managed by a policeman standing in
front of the École, in which every window was broken. So was every
window on both sides of the Boulevard for several hundred feet, and a
big ragged hole beside the asphalt showed where the bomb had fallen.
Things seem so different in the daytime--there were all the commonplace
buildings, the tram, the policeman, the landmarks that we know so well,
and yet the sidewalks were covered with broken glass and limbs of trees,
and that big hole had been made by a real live Boche!

It seemed fairly near home too--the spot is about as far from us as
three New York short blocks, perhaps a little farther; but it doesn't
seem so far away to drop a bomb when some one has come all the way from
Germany.

During the day we heard of more places hit--a hospital near Place
d'Italie; a house where one child was buried alive; a cabman was killed
somewhere, but not his horse. The worst damage was on the Avenue de la
Grande Armée, where a three-story house was ruined. We hope to go over
to-morrow at lunch-time and see. Thank Heaven, they missed the Arc de
Triomphe.

Doris Nevin, who had supper here with us to-night, went over to the
Concorde at the end of the raid last night and saw the wreckage of a
French machine which was burned up.

The papers have headlines and long blank columns, so that we know
nothing. They acknowledge twenty victims, though. The Germans mans
always attack two or three nights running, and the strain to-day has
been the knowledge that they would come again to-night. But now one
thing I know: that to-night Paris is deep in a fog that nothing can
penetrate; that a mist which seems hardly more than air is protecting us
as neither iron nor steel can do; and that no German can follow the
shining rivers and lakes to attack us. Oh, to feel so safe! It makes me
think of the Great Peace we shall have at the end of the war. If we can
only all give our strength to have that come soon.

                                                         With much love,
                                                         ESTHER.



                          The Riverside Press
                       CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS
                               U . S . A





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