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Title: Huts in Hell
Author: Poling, Daniel A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Huts in Hell" ***

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[Illustration: "I SWEAR TO AVENGE YOUR FATHER!"
This striking picture, which is very popular in Paris, was brought
to America by the author. It shows an American soldier standing with
French orphans by the grave of their father, slain in battle.]



HUTS IN HELL

BY
DANIEL A. POLING

[Illustration: Decoration on title page]

BOSTON
CHRISTIAN ENDEAVOR WORLD



COPYRIGHTED, 1918, BY THE
GOLDEN RULE COMPANY



TO

THE MEN AND WOMEN

OF

THE RED TRIANGLE


_They also fight who help the fighters fight_



INTRODUCTION


This book is a record of my observations in France, where I made a
deliberate choice between seeing the American, French, and British
fronts casually, or studying the army of the United States carefully; I
decided to spend all of my time with the American soldier. I lived with
him from the port of entry to the front line, and saw him under every
condition of modern warfare.

Since I left him in the trenches of northern France every day has added
glorious testimony to the evidence that moved me to write in one of the
chapters of this book: "The American soldier is the worthy inheritor of
the finest traditions of American arms, a credit to those who bore him,
an honor to the nation he represents, and the last and best hope that
civilization will not fail in her struggle to establish the might of
right."

I have not aspired to write a complete chronicle of the American
overseas army, but have tried to record faithfully what I saw of the
men with the colors, and my impressions of the efficient agencies
contributing to their well-being and comfort. May the message of the
book be worthy of the supreme motives that have brought us as a people
into this struggle for international righteousness and permanent peace.

I went to Europe as the official representative of the United Society
of Christian Endeavor, as chairman of the United Committee on War
Temperance Activities in the Army and Navy, as commissioner of the
Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, and representing
the National Temperance Council of America.

My observations in France were made unaccompanied by a military
officer, and the way was not prepared before me. I saw things at their
best and at their worst, just as they were. Before going to France I
spent six weeks in England and Scotland speaking under the auspices of
the Prohibition Educational Campaign.

    DANIEL A. POLING.
    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS.



CONTENTS


                                                 PAGE
    I.     THE PIRATE OF THE DEEP                   1
    II.    WAR CAPITALS OF THE ALLIES              12
    III.   DOWN IN FLAMES                          23
    IV.    PERSHING                                33
    V.     SEICHEPREY                              43
    VI.    A DUGOUT DIARY                          49
    VII.   "HE'S A HUN, BUT WE'RE AMERICANS"       65
    VIII.  "GAS! GAS! GAS!"                        89
    IX.    "THEY SHALL NOT PASS"                  103
    X.     THE GREATEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD       120
    XI.    THE FIRST CROIX DE GUERRE              133
    XII.   THE HYMN OF HATE                       143
    XIII.  A MAID OF BRITTANY                     151
    XIV.   THE FIGHTING PARSON                    155
    XV.    THREE NEW GRAVES                       166
    XVI.   A TALE OF TWO CHRISTIANS IN FRANCE     169
    XVII.  LLOYD GEORGE                           174
    XVIII. WORTHY OF A GREAT PAST                 183
    XIX.   RUM RATION RUINOUS                     189
    XX.    PHYSICALLY COMPETENT AND MORALLY FIT   199
    XXI.   VIVE LA FRANCE!                        212



ILLUSTRATIONS


    "I Swear to Avenge Your Father!"                 _frontispiece_

    The German Crew and Submarine which Surrendered
    to the U. S. S. "Fanning"                     _facing page_   8

    An American Airman Returning to his Post after a
    Day's Work in the Skies                                      30

    Y. M. C. A. Serving Soup and Hot Coffee to Wounded Men       62

    A Gas Attack                                                100

    American Infantry Resting, Approaching the Front in France  140

    The First American Troops to Reach Europe Marching
    through London Amid the Cheers of Thousands of
    Our British Allies                                          158

    Dr. Poling with Newton Wylie, of the Toronto "Globe"        190



HUTS IN HELL



CHAPTER I

_THE PIRATE OF THE DEEP_


The great liner had reached the danger zone. She drove ahead through
the night with ports closed and not a signal showing. Under the stars,
both fore and aft, marines watched in silence by the guns. Each man
wore or had by him a life-preserver, and there was silence on the deck.

Quietly I stood by the rail, and watched the waves break into spray
against the mighty vessel's bow. The phosphorescent glow bathed the sea
in wondrous light all about; only the stars and the weird illumination
of the waves battled with the darkness; there was no moon.

It was hard to realize that out there somewhere silent watchers
waited to do us hurt, hard to grasp the stern significance of those
men in uniform who crowded the staterooms, officers of the new army
of democracy bound for the bleeding fields of France. It was hard to
comprehend these facts of blood and iron.

"Well, old top, I'm more nervous to-night than I ever was in the air;
it's a jolly true fact, I am," said the British flier, who was standing
by my side.

"Up there you can see them coming, but out here you just stand with
your eyes closed, and wait." He was a captain and an "ace." After
convalescing from a wound sufficiently to be about, he had been sent to
America to serve as an instructor in one of the new aviation camps. He
was returning now to re-enter the service at the front.

And it was a nerve-racking experience to wait out the night with its
hidden but sure dangers. I turned in at eleven, fully dressed, and
in spite of the menace that charged the very air was soon asleep. It
seemed like ten minutes, or a flash,--it really was six hours,--when
"Boom!" and I was awake. I sat up in bed, and tried to get my bearings.
In a flash I remembered that I was at sea. Then I recalled the falling
of a great stack of chairs on the deck just above our stateroom a few
nights before, and was reassured. But "Boom! Boom! Boom!" three times
in quick succession our six-inch guns spoke, shaking the ship from bow
to stem. Before the third discharge had sounded I was in the middle of
the floor.

There I met my cabin partner, the premier aviator of the American
navy. We exchanged no lengthy felicitations, but jumped into our
life-preservers and hurried on deck. Eight times the guns were in
action in that first attack. What the results were we never learned;
ships' officers are reticent, and gun-crews are not allowed to speak.

On four different occasions, the last time within thirty miles of
the Mersey River, we were attacked by submarines. Later, in London,
I learned that ours had been one of the most eventful trips of the
war--that did not end disastrously. I know now exactly what a "finger
periscope" looks like at a distance of three hundred yards; one glimpse
is quite enough! And at least one submarine that interviewed us went
down after its interview deeper than it had ever gone before.

After the first attack, unless we happened to be on deck when an action
began, we were kept below until the disturbance was over. There was
little chance to observe the manoeuvres of the enemy, anyhow; he was
elusive and kept discreetly under cover. It was not until several hours
after the first attack that our convoy appeared; until within the
danger zone we had sped on our way alone, trusting to our own engines
and the skill of our captain.

Then the destroyers finally picked us up, three of them; we saw the
Stars and Stripes flying from their signal-masts. It was a feast to
our anxious eyes. Like frisky young horses these chargers of the sea
cavorted about us. The sight of them brought a comforting sense of
security.

The last attack came at dusk, and was beaten off with gun-fire and
depth-charges, the latter dropped in the wake of the conning-tower that
had scarcely got out of sight when the destroyers dashed over the spot,
one from the rear and another that swept across our bows, clearing us
by inches. Our own gun-crew did not relax its vigilance until the bar
was crossed and all danger was passed. The officer in charge of the
bluejackets was an Annapolis man and a friend of my cabin companion. He
had been compelled to resign his commission because of ill health; the
doctors assured him that he was incurably afflicted with tuberculosis.
But the war brought him quickly back. The need was so great that he
was not turned away. When I left him at Liverpool, he had been without
sleep for two days and two nights; but he was happy.

"I have my big chance," he said, "and I'm getting well!" Thus does the
spirit conquer the body when a crisis challenges the soul.

A few days after landing in Great Britain I saw the ruins of a
fishing-ship that had been attacked by a submarine. Without warning
the U-boat had appeared and begun to shell the little vessel. Though
outranged, the one gun of the smack replied right sturdily. But it was
an unequal and hopeless fight. Soon the fishermen were forced to take
to the open boats. This they did, dragging along their wounded. They
were shelled as they pulled away; and the mate, already hit, received a
mortal hurt, but did not flinch.

The submarine disappeared as suddenly as it came, perhaps warned by
wireless of the approach of British cruisers. Back to their little ship
came the dauntless seamen. Let one of those who heard the story tell it.

"The fire was burning fiercely forward; steam was pouring from her
wrecked engine-room; and the ammunition was exploding broadcast about
her decks.

"'A doot she's sinkin',' said Ewing stoutly. Noble said nothing; he
was not given overmuch to speech; but he made the painter fast, and
proceeded to climb aboard again. Ewing followed, and between them they
fought and overcame the fire.

"'Dinna leave me, Jamie!' cried the mate piteously. 'Dinna leave me in
the little boat!'

"'Na, na,' was the reply; 'we'll na leave ye'; and presently they
brought their wounded back on board, and took them below again. The
mate was laid on his bunk, and Ewing fetched his shirts from his bag,
and tore them up into bandages. 'An them's his dress shirts!' murmured
Noble. It was his first and last contribution to the conversation.

"They took turn and turn about to tend the wounded, plug the
shot-holes, and quench the smouldering embers of the fire, reverently
dragging the wreckage from off their dead, and comforting the dying
mate in the soft, almost tender accents of the Celt.

"''Tis nae guid,' said the mate at last. 'Dinna fash aboot me, lads.
A'll gang nae mair on patrol'; and so he died." But they saved their
little ship, and I saw her there in a corner of the basin, a mass of
twisted metal and charred woodwork, but a flawless monument to the
courage of the British fisherman in war.

We had one Sunday on the Atlantic. The evening before I sat with
Tennyson and read of King Arthur and his men, the Knights of the Table
Round. But even as I read, all about me was a braver picture than the
words of the great singer conjured up for me, five hundred men of the
new chivalry, in the uniform of my country, with faces set toward the
places where Democracy battles to rescue the Holy Grail of Freedom and
Justice and Peace.

On Sunday morning for an hour the ship became a house of worship. The
songs of our Christian faith and the words of our Christ came to us
with richer meaning. About the long tables in the main dining-room
during the services sat colonels and majors and captains, lieutenants
and privates, soldiers of the land and also soldiers of the sea. Never
have I seen anywhere a finer company--strong faces, clear eyes and
skins, sturdy bodies.

It was a group representative of every section of the United States and
of virtually every profession. Here was a major from Texas who had left
behind him a daily newspaper; another from Chicago, who is a famous
surgeon; another from Boston, dean of a great law school. I was seated
by a captain who was to solve the telephone problem for our fighting
front. He is one of America's leading telephone executives; and, when I
had last seen him, he was president of the Christian Endeavor union in
Grand Rapids, Mich.

At the piano was a lieutenant whose name was on every lip at a great
Eastern football game a year ago; and directly in front of him was a
choir singer from the largest Episcopal church in Washington, D.C.
There I found the professor of French in a State university. He was
going back to his old home, going back with two silver bars upon each
shoulder, going back beneath the Stars and Stripes.

There were West Pointers in the company, stalwart young officers only
a few months from the Orient, and graduates of Annapolis, one, now the
ranking aviator of the navy, a soft-voiced Southerner, who was the
champion light-weight boxer of the Naval Academy.

Down well in front--and while I was speaking his eye never left
mine--sat the English "flier." His cane was by his side, and on his
sleeve were the gold bars that tell of wounds.

There was no false sentiment in that company, but there was a profound
emotion. Practical men they were, and they were dreamers too. In their
dreams that day were the faces of fair women and of little children,
for "the bravest are the tenderest"; and in their dreams were the soft
caresses that thrust them forth to the battles' hardness, for love has
the keener goad where honor marks the path of duty.

We were on the backward track of Columbus, and those men sailing out of
the New World which the far-visioning mariner first saw four hundred
years ago were discoverers too. They have found themselves; they
and their brothers have found their country's soul, and they go now
on a spiritual adventure holier than that which brought Richard the
Lion-Hearted to the walls of Jerusalem.

The shipboard meeting was arranged by the secretaries of the Y. M. C.
A., and the English clergyman who conducted the formal portion of the
service selected as the Scripture lesson the story of the journey of
Mary with the Christ-child into Egypt and their return to Nazareth
when the danger of King Herod's wrath was passed. At first the lesson
seemed a trifle unusual, a little out of place for the occasion; but
now I am of the opinion that it was peculiarly fitting. Out of the
tale of the babe whose weakness was stronger than hate, and whose
helplessness was not despised, came to thoughtful men the memories of
the sacred associations of their "yesterdays," a satisfying calm, a
sober exaltation that was to their souls what food is to the body.

[Illustration: THE GERMAN CREW AND SUBMARINE WHICH SURRENDERED TO THE
U. S. S. "FANNING"
This is the first capture at sea of Germans by American forces, an
event which will go down into history.
Copyright by Committee on Public Information.]

These modern knights, bound on their Crusade farther than flew the
imperial eagles of Rome, gathered there beneath the starry banner
of their fathers and under the flag of the church with as true a
consecration and as fine a faith as ever thrilled the breasts of
mail-clad men when ancient knighthood was in flower. No cause since men
fought to free the sepulchre of Christ, no tourney of kings, no search
for a grail, has been so worthy as the cause in which these soldiers of
Democracy go forth by land and sea to dare their best and all.

And there were other soldiers on board, soldiers of the Red Triangle,
soldiers as brave and soldiers as vital to the cause of their country
as those who wear the insignia of the combatant. After the service that
morning one of these slipped his arm into mine as I steadied myself
against a particularly heavy sea, and said, "I've just had a great
time, old man."

I knew by the eager look in his eyes that he wanted to talk about it,
and so I led him over to a sheltered spot on the deck where we could be
alone. The secretary was a college professor with a wife and two babies
in the "States," and he had been a very nervous man all the way across
the ocean; but now he was quite himself and very happy.

"I've just had a good hour with a lieutenant from S----," he continued.
"He came to me in trouble. The story is the old one, one God knows
we'll hear many times in the next few months. The chap is paying the
price of his sin, rather the price of his ignorance, for he is just an
overgrown country boy. He never saw the ocean until this ship carried
him out upon it, and New York was too big and bad and attractive for
him. Well, things might be worse. I helped him, and started him in
the right direction; and then I said: 'Say, lad, you've got a stiff
battle before you in France, stiffer than any the Germans can give you,
stiffer than New York; and I know what you need. Do you want it?' and
the chap looked me in the eye, and said, 'I do.' Well," the secretary
continued, "we were on our knees presently, and God helped me first,
and then helped him, to pray. Now Jesus Christ has another follower on
this transport."

There was silence between us for a moment, and then the secretary
concluded: "Last night I slept with my clothes on; I suppose we all
did. I listened to the steady pound of the engines, and waited, tense
and anxious, for the crash of the torpedo I knew might come; and then
I got a grip on myself. I said: 'What are you here for? Who sent you?
Whose are you?' and I promised God to stop being a coward. I asked Him
to give me a chance to make amends for the time I had lost on this
voyage looking for a submarine that is not likely to come. I asked God
to give me a man out of these hundreds in uniform, to give me a man for
Christ.

"And how quickly God has answered my prayer! Now I know why I'm here,
and I have the first-fruit of my ministry."

A great thing it is to know why you are _here_! The man who has a
reason for his journey, and the evidence of his decision in his own
heart, has the peace that passeth understanding, and that not even
U-boats can take away.



CHAPTER II

_WAR CAPITALS OF THE ALLIES_


The war capitals of the Allies, Paris and London, have much in common.
Soldiers in many-colored uniforms, from the brilliant red and black and
blue of the French headquarters to the faded, mud-caked khaki of the
helmeted "Tommy" just back from the trenches; Y. M. C. A. secretaries
and nurses; wounded--streets filled with battle-marked and cheerful
men; women in black, who turn neither to the right nor to the left as
they hurry along with eyes that search for that which they will never
see again; and shouting boys.

Of course London and Paris have many other things in common, but these
are at once apparent. I suppose that I mentioned the boys because there
are so many of them, the little fellows, and they are so shrill of
voice. They are doing so many things that the "elders" used to do and
with which we have never before associated them that they are quite
impressive. But London and Paris do not have a monopoly of them.

In their spirit, too, they are part of the stern and stirring time.
On the sea one morning I was awakened by "Billy Buttons"--I was his
christener. His "Hot water, sir," was shrill and cheery; and his smile
was the map of Ireland. On this particular morning I sat up in bed and
said sternly, very sternly, "Billy Buttons, what are you doing here,
anyhow?" and like a shot the sturdy lad sent back the answer, "Doing my
bit, sir; doing my bit."

His daddy sailed the sea bringing bread to Britain until his ship went
down unwarned; a brother died in France; a brother-in-law was killed
in the battle of Jutland; another brother was then recovering from a
wound received in a submarine attack; a sister was a nurse, but Billy
seemed quite as proud, I am ashamed to say, of another sister who was
an "actress"; and Billy himself, Billy of the sixteen blazing buttons,
whose years entitled him to only fourteen, was "doing his bit."
_Blessed Billy Buttons!_

       *       *       *       *       *

London is massive and slow to arouse. During an air raid I saw women
knitting in the basement of the hotel whither the management had tried
to hurry its guests, and the trams only slightly quickened their pace.
London has learned in the years of this war that "haste makes waste"
and that "direct hits" from airplanes respect not even the stoutest
buildings anyhow. Of course, shrapnel is a different proposition, and
one is very foolish to walk abroad when the "barrage" is under way.

One day I saw an aviator "loop the loop" directly above Piccadilly
Circus. He did the trick repeatedly while not more than four hundred
feet above the hotel roof. Scores of people in the streets did not
turn away from staring into shop windows. At another time I saw two
"silver queens"; beautiful beyond words these dirigibles were when they
manoeuvred in the still air above St. Paul's. For these the crowds did
turn from their mundane pursuits.

       *       *       *       *       *

My first war visit to London almost convinced me that it was a city of
the "woman of the cigarette," and that she had few sisters, if any, who
were not victims of her habit. In the dining-room of my hotel I found
literally scores of women, perhaps as many as three hundred, smoking.
The young, the middle-aged, and the old, were all at it. I saw a young
mother calmly blow smoke over the head of her eight-year old son, who
displayed only a mild interest.

And what I saw in the hotel I witnessed in every down-town eating-place
that I visited. During my entire journey across England I witnessed
a wild nicotine debauch, for in every public place tobacco was king,
and his throne of smoke filled everywhere. English railway-carriages
are marked "smoking" or left undesignated, but nowadays (this does not
apply to Scotland) every compartment is in reality a smoker. A man
in uniform, particularly, wherever he finds himself, brings forth the
inevitable "pill-box"; and there is none to say him nay.

Out of Hull one morning I found myself chatting with a delightful
company, several gentlemen and a lady; and modesty forbids my telling
who was the one person who did not burn up any cigarettes! Later in the
day a modest young woman, carrying every air of gentle breeding, was
seated directly across from me at dinner. She smoked--languidly, but
nevertheless smoked--between courses. And, by the way, one sees much
more smoking in _public_ among women in London than he sees in Paris.

For a man who is old-fashioned enough to prefer womanhood _à la_ his
wife and mother the "woman of the cigarette" is very disquieting,
to say the least. But not all the women of England smoke. Only a
superficial observer would take a London hotel, or London down-town
dining-rooms, or any number of mere incidents, as a warrant for
charging English womanhood universally with the cigarette habit. I have
found the mother and wife of the average Englishman quite as simple and
"unmodernized" as our own American mothers and wives. New York hotel
life will perhaps approach the hotel life of London; and London, we
should remember, has the whole world to contend with. Her allies and
their families are doing a good deal of the smoking for which she gets
the credit.

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps I am very old-fashioned, too, when I prefer a preacher who
does not smoke; but I do. For the pastor of the church in which I find
a family pew, and where I gather my sons and daughters, I continue to
select a minister who knows not the weed and on whose breath the aroma
of it is not found.

But in London I discovered myself often in the company of clergymen
who blew rings with a deftness not acquired in a fortnight. I did not
allow my own discomfort to inconvenience my brethren, however. A very
distinguished divine blew tobacco smoke into my nose and eyes for an
hour after dinner one evening. I suffered nearly as severely as I did
later from German gas in France, but I bore the infliction meekly.

Three months before I should have denied that any man could have done
for ten seconds what that man did for sixty minutes, and live to tell
the story--without a lisp! But we have learned to do and tolerate a
great many things since April, 1917, and many of us who refuse to
learn to do _some things_ appreciate fully the fact that all who have
the greater good at heart, who labor for the things of first and vast
importance, _must work together_.

In London my feet never tired of pressing the streets that led me to
the golden shrines of history. I lost myself in Westminster Abbey and
in the Tower. I stood upon London Bridge, and hours afterwards found
myself humming the old, old chorus, "London Bridge is falling down,
falling down, falling down." But London Bridge is not falling down.
Hear the Tommies marching in the street!

The low buildings of the mighty city are a surprise for the American,
even though he has known of them. Not until he has walked for miles and
miles by them can he realize that London is a vast community. Always he
has associated cities with "sky-scrapers."

That conditions in a war capital are different from those in ordinary
cities I quickly discovered when I tried to have my watch repaired. The
dealer assured me that he would do his best to have it for me in four
weeks! I purchased an Ingersoll; but not in London, for London was sold
out! The war has drained the European nations of skilled artisans. They
are making other things than watches now.

       *       *       *       *       *

Paris is swifter on its feet than London, and one does not wait so long
for his laundry. There is much politeness visible, too. A Frenchman
will spend ten minutes in trying to understand what you mean to impart,
simply for the chance of rendering you a service. My first battle on
French soil was with a button that I desired to have a tailor sew on
my coat while I lunched. Between my finger in my mouth, with which I
hoped to reveal to him my gastronomic purposes, and the button in my
other hand, with which I pointed to my coat, I was able to convince him
at last--that I had swallowed a similar button and was looking for a
doctor. He did the best that he could for me--directed me to a druggist!

Paris is exquisite in the little things. She knows and values the
amenities of social intercourse as no other city I have ever visited.
Even the "cabbies" curse you with infinite politeness.

       *       *       *       *       *

A striking difference between Paris and any Canadian or American city
lies in the fact that even in wartime the former employs so many
people that a few modern labor-saving devices would release. While
the telephone and the typewriter are used, they are not common. To
this day it is impossible to telephone to the Paris Gas Society, an
enormous organization with several hundred branches. The company does
not wish to be bothered. London is not unlike Paris in this respect.
In the metropolis of the British Empire thousands of ministers and
professional men and business houses do not have telephones. In Paris
when your gas is in trouble you take a day off and "explain." You may
finally receive the assurance that the matter will be adjusted sometime
within the week. If you grumble, a clerk will smile and say, "C'est la
guerre." And of course the war is much to blame for delays, but more
telephones would help greatly; typewriters and carbon-paper would be
more efficient than cumbersome copying-press machines, and a checkbook
would release many a lad and many an elderly gentleman who now walk
about paying bills with currency.

       *       *       *       *       *

But Paris is inspiring in her quiet courage and her unshaken
determination. Long-range guns and air raids have left her unbroken.
Indeed, they seem to have cured her of the "nerves" she was supposed
to have. On the morning after a distressing night of suspense
following the loss of more than a hundred lives as the result of
bombs, I rode from Paris to Bordeaux. At dinner I sat opposite a very
distinguished-looking gentleman. He was quite friendly, and introduced
himself; he had been Master of Horse to King George of Greece, was
a brigadier-general in the old Grecian army, and was of one of the
most ancient families of Montenegro--le Comte de Cernowitz. After the
pro-German designs of King Constantine of Greece had become established
le Comte de Cernowitz took up his residence in Paris. As he left me, he
casually remarked that on the previous night his house had been struck
by a bomb, that the roof had been torn off, but that no one had been
killed. He was going to Bordeaux to "await the repairs"!

       *       *       *       *       *

And Paris now is always a city of surprises. Early one Monday morning
I found myself drawing into a great station. The night had been a very
uncomfortable one. I was in a compartment with a friend--an American
captain--and two French officers. The Frenchmen were very polite, but
they preferred to have the window closed. The air was very close. I
would cautiously open the window, and after an interval our allies
would cautiously close it! The compartment was dark, and finally I
shoved a corner of my pillow under the sash, and waited. Presently down
came the window on the pillow! We had a little breeze for the rest of
the night, anyhow.

I had boarded the train at Rennes, and had been surprised at the close
inspection the local officers had given my papers. But on alighting
at Paris I was even more surprised. French and American soldiers were
drawn up on both sides of the platform, and at the gate stood General
Pershing and his staff. Six o'clock in the morning is early for a
commanding officer to be meeting trains! I waited, and was rewarded by
seeing the Secretary of War, Mr. Newton Baker, whose secret journey to
Europe and the western front was one of the unusual military features
of 1918, leave his car.

       *       *       *       *       *

Both London and Paris have a regal distinction, a distinction in
common. They are the meeting-points for the going and coming armies of
democracy. No double-track system is this. As they go, so they return.
Here by the Seine and yonder by the Thames these knights of a new
era salute each other as they pass. From Canada and Australia, from
Scotland and Ireland, and from a dozen other places, some of them as
far away as South Africa, the English-speaking soldiers are gathered
into the welcoming arms of London and then thrust forth to be scattered
along the lines of Flanders and France. And to London they come
back--those who do not remain where they fell--to be welcomed tenderly
and then dropped into the distant places that have never faded from
their eyes in all the days of their bloody pilgrimage.

And to Paris the world sends her best, the black and white and yellow
children of the Old World and the New; and Paris smiles upon them
through her resplendent tears, and passes them on. Later, by way of her
vast treasures of the storied past, they march again to find the track
to the open sea and their "own countries."

Once I saw two armies in the selfsame street, one dirty and bedraggled
and with thinned ranks, the other fresh and with the light of eager
quest in its eyes. One was marching south while the other was marching
north. One was from Yorkshire in old England and the other was from
America. Ah, it was a sight to turn stone into tears when the tall,
sinewy lads from the western hemisphere halted just where the avenue
faces the Madeleine, and cheered those weary heroes marching back from
hell.

Paris is far behind me as I write, but the soldiers who shouted their
admiration for the wounds of a thousand convalescent "Tommies" bound
for "Blighty" are with me. God only knows how many of those far-called
heroes will be marching down that glorious way of Paris when the
battalion musters out for home. They are now where civilization has
reared her altars, where democracy has found her Gethsemane. But this
we all know: they will "carry on."



CHAPTER III

_DOWN IN FLAMES_


"The Boche is coming back," a man yelled into the entrance of the
cellar. A second later I was above ground and with my head at the
sky-scraper angle. There he was! Like a great homing pigeon he was
streaking it for his own lines after an observation-flight far behind
ours. He was high, but not high enough to hide the telltale crosses
on the under side of his wings, and the churn of his engine was
unmistakable.

When my eyes brought him into focus, he was at least a mile away, but
in half a minute he was directly overhead. The guns were roaring all
about; shrapnel bursts surrounded the pirate bird. Ah! that one broke
near! For just an instant he faltered, but on he came.

I stepped into the doorway of an old shattered stone house to find
cover from the falling shrapnel and stray pieces of shell. The Boche
was flying as the eagle flies when his objective has anchored his
eye; he turned neither to the right nor to the left. He quickly and
constantly changed his elevation, however; but the batteries were doing
splendidly, and that he escaped destruction is a miracle. Two minutes
more, and he was out of hearing and virtually safe.

There was a chorus of disgust; strong words in lurid splashes filled
the air. Particularly fluent were the men when they passed comment upon
the French fliers.

"Where are they?" they inquired in derision.

"Taking in the side-shows on the Milky Way!" one husky volunteers.

Another added: "Always the same story, 'No speed, no pep.' 'Dutchmen
come and Dutchmen go, but we stay down forever.' They'll come along
presently like blind pigs looking for an acorn."

I knew the symptoms, and spared any comment. It had been noticeable,
however, that the German airmen, on our sector at least, commanded
swifter scout-planes than we did. In straightaway bursts they left our
French brothers at the post. At the time of this particular incident
only a few Americans were flying, and these were associated with French
aviators, and were using French machines.

Sure enough, two minutes more brought the "silver queens," as the boys
called them, although the name "silver queen" really belongs to the
great British aluminum dirigibles. There were three of them, and the
sunlight flashing upon their white pinions was a gallant sight. These
"queens" are hard to follow because of their color, and we kept them
located by the angry buzzing of their motors--an altogether different
sound from that given out by the visitor from Germany--and by the light
flashing from their wings. They were like angry hornets that had been
disturbed early in the morning and were now furiously looking for their
tormentor. The men continued to "grouse," but their tones indicated
expectancy.

In the meantime all was quiet across the way, and our guns had been
silent ever since the elusive foe roared out of range. The Frenchmen
were circling high above us. Suddenly and with something of a shock I
noticed that the circle was widening, that each new circumference was
nearer the enemy's lines. Our airmen were inviting battle. They were
prepared to go clear across to get it, and were challenging the foe
to come out, or rather up. He was not eager. Indeed, I never saw him
when he was. Perhaps his orders do not allow of the initiative that
the Allies possess; but German airmen, as a class, rather than German
aëroplanes, are inferior to those who so often hurl to them, without
acceptance, the gage of battle.

Our little fleet was well "over" and drawing anti-aircraft fire before
its invitation was acknowledged. Then up they came, five in all; and
the deadly tourney was on. In spite of the odds, not an inch did the
"silver queens" recede. The conflict was so far away that its fine
details were lost to us; we could not distinguish the sound of the
machine guns in the air from those in the front-line trenches below
us, and only the sunlight flashing on the silver wings told that "our
flag was still there."

It was a swirling vortex of currents that held to no fixed course.
The war-birds swooped and climbed; puffs of smoke and streaks of
fire marked their way. A dozen times machines seemed to collide; a
dozen times we saw planes plunge as if to destruction, only to right
themselves and return to the fray. Out of a nose-dive one Frenchman
came when so near the ground that I had closed my eyes to avoid seeing
the crash. A score of times men looped the loop and "tumbled." But not
an inch did those Frenchmen give! And listen to these "grousers" now!--

"_Come back! Come back!_ They'll not come back unless _five more_ get
up, _until something happens_! They're hungry, man! Those Frenchies
eat 'em up. They haven't had a chance like this for five days." It was
five days before that eighteen planes were in battle behind our lines
only two miles back. In this affair two Germans were shot down without
the loss of an Allied wing. "And, when they kiss the Hun good-by this
morning, he'll have blisters on his mouth."

But such struggles simply cannot long endure. This one ended far more
quickly than it began. With the speed of express-trains two machines
drew away from the whirlpool. Their course paralleled the lines. We
saw the "silver queen" on the tail of the Taube. Bitterly the German
fought to outposition his rival, but his pursuer anticipated his every
manoeuvre. For once at least the German had no advantage in speed. They
looped the loop together and almost as a double plane. In a second it
was all over. As the warriors slid to the bottom of the great circle,
the Frenchman poured a veritable stream of steel into his hapless
enemy. A trail of smoke came away; then a ball of fire hung in the
air; and then like a dead sun the crumpled skyship fell to the earth.
The victor paused for a second above his triumph, and then flew to
re-enforce his hard-pressed comrades.

We had forgotten the other six. When we looked at them again, the six
were eight or ten; at the distance from which we observed them we
could not be exact. But the odds were too great even for Frenchmen,
and anyway they had "dined." They were not pursued beyond our advanced
trenches. The Germans did not bring themselves into the range of our
batteries, although they outnumbered our fliers at least two to one. As
for France, _three went over and three came back_!

I cannot describe my feelings as I saw that German die in his burning
chariot, but a flying man has described them for me. He was speaking
at a patriotic meeting in western New York. Very handsome he was in
the uniform of the Lafayette Escadrille, and he was very young, the
youngest man ever allowed to wear that uniform. Already he had been
cited for bringing down three enemy planes. He was recovering from a
severe wound, and while convalescing in America was giving some of his
time to platform work.

Again and again the men at his table (it was a dinner affair) urged him
to tell of one of his battles. He was reluctant to do so. His consent
was finally secured, but only after pressure that was hardly allowable
had been brought to bear.

The tale was told without the slightest attempt at oratorical effect.
He described his success in outmanoeuvring his opponent, or rather his
_two_ opponents, for two men were in the enemy plane; the buckling of
the German machine; the shooting of the observer from his seat, and how
he hurtled through the air; the explosion and the fire. Then he said,
"I stopped there in the sky, and all that I could think was, 'Do they
feel it?'"

The lad's eyes--for his face and his years were those of a lad, though
he had done already a man's stern work--were wistful as he spoke.
_These men are not killers._

But it was not at the front that I found the horror of aërial warfare.
One afternoon I stepped from the American Y. M. C. A. headquarters in
London, at 47 Russell Square, walked a little way, and found stones red
with the blood of children. When I left Europe, not a single military
objective had been found by an aërial bomb in all the raids over the
capital of the United Kingdom. In the very nature of things it is not
likely that a bomb will reach such an objective. The night-raider must
have a large target. Twenty minutes sees him across the Channel and at
the estuary of the Thames. He follows the silver trail into the heart
of the city, and drops his "eggs." But of course a military programme
is not intended. Imperial Germany built her aërial plans about the
theory that terrorizing a people will destroy a nation's morale.

But Imperial Germany blundered again. Early one morning, following
the sounding of the "all-clear" signals, a great company crowded
against the ropes that the omnipresent "Bobby" had thrown about a
lodging-house. Many murdered and maimed had been left behind by the
Bluebeard of Berlin. A gray-haired man was lifted by the carriers.
Surely he was dead; the top of his head was like a red, red poppy.
But no. He raised his thin, white hand, and waved it feebly to the
crowd below. Such a roar went up from that multitude as man seldom
hears,--_the roar of the female lion standing over her cubs_.

One night I reached Paris simultaneously with an air-raid warning.
Later I stood--very foolishly, but I was ignorant of the danger
then--on the roof of the Gibraltar Hotel, and watched first the
star shells and the barrage at the city's edge, the flashing of the
signals from the defending planes, and the long arms of the mighty
searchlights as they policed the sky. So effective were the French that
night that the enemy got no farther than the suburbs.

Many excruciatingly funny things happen during a raid, as for instance
the raising of an umbrella by a gentleman who suddenly found shrapnel
falling about him. He kept it up, too, while he galloped straight down
the middle of the street instead of finding cover.

A very prominent gentleman, who is a friend of the writer, had been
looking forward with some misgivings to his wartime trip abroad. He
found his first night in Paris enlivened by a visit from Germany. He
had made diligent inquiry and learned the exact location of the abri,
had several times traversed the route between his room and the cellar,
and had been particular to make himself familiar with the signals
of alarm. He was restless when he first retired; but the long and
wearisome journey was a sure sleep-producer, and it was out of profound
slumber that the whistle and cries awoke him.

You may be sure that he lost no time in getting under headway; he even
forgot his dressing-gown and the slippers by the side of his bed. He
sacrificed all impedimenta for speed. I do not know whether he used
the banisters or not, but I have reason to believe that nothing was
left undone to cover the maximum of distance in the minimum of time.
Afterwards he remembered the amazed countenances of the people in the
halls as he flashed by. However, their indifference (indeed, they were
not even bound in the direction of the cellar) did not deter him. What
he regarded as carelessness due to long exposure and many similar
experiences did not blind him to the obligations he owed to his own
family and profession.

[Illustration: AN AMERICAN AIRMAN RETURNING TO HIS POST AFTER A DAY'S
WORK IN THE SKIES
Copyright by Committee on Public Information.]

The cellar was cold, but he was no quitter! He was the only one in it,
but company was not his chief concern! However, even a man of iron
needs more than pajamas and bare feet to hold him steadfast through an
unwarmed February night in a Paris abri. Before two hours had passed
the cautious American was fully decided to risk all for warmth. He was
a human iceberg when he crept up the quiet stairs and into his bed. The
next morning he discovered that the signals he obeyed were the "All
clear," that he had failed to hear the warning, and that he had slept
through the raid.

But a few weeks later the German came clear in. Again I happened to be
in the Gibraltar Hotel, _in_ the hotel this time. I sat in the parlor
with Dr. Robert Freeman of Pasadena, a master of the intricacies of
Christian service in this war. The windows were iron-shuttered, and we
listened in comparative safety. The guns of the defensive batteries
roared about us, and above the sound of them crashed again and again
the bombs of the city's despoilers. Explosions came quite near that
night. A bloody night it was for women and babies.

Again I say it: there is and has been no excuse of even barbarous
military science for the murder trips to London and Paris. In one abri
that night, a shelter in a great station, nearly a hundred died.

Among those killed in a hospital was Miss Winona Martin of Long Island.
She had been in France only a few days, having come across to serve
as a Y. M. C. A. canteen worker. She was the first American Y. M. C.
A. representative to die in action. "The devil loves a shining mark,"
but even frightfulness overshot its mark that night. Dr. Freeman
conducted the funeral of the quiet woman who had travelled far to be a
messenger of cheer and comfort. There was no sermon. On Miss Martin's
record-card, in her own handwriting, are the words, "For the duration
of the war and longer if necessary." Another has said:

"Her sacrifice spoke more eloquently than words. Longer than the
duration of the war will linger the memory of the girl, the first
American woman in Paris to lay down her life in this struggle against
wrong, the first martyr among those wearers of the triangle who may be
found living in every camp and trench of France."



CHAPTER IV

_PERSHING_


Persons about to be received by the great are invariably amusing; I
know, for I have had the "funny feeling" of the man who waits without.
A reception-room is a "first-aid station" in practical psychology.
The nonchalance, perfectly transparent and that deceives no one, not
even the man who feigns it; the effort to convince the other fellow of
your own importance or the importance of your mission; the anxiety and
nervousness that you hide behind venerable magazines--these are a few
of the symptoms of the "about-to-be-ushered-into-the-presence-of."

I had stepped over to the general headquarters from the Y. M. C.
A. hut, to ascertain when "The General" would see me, and had been
surprised when Colonel Boyd, his secretary, said:

"Can you wait? He will meet you this afternoon."

And so in the plain but ample room separated from General Pershing's
private office by a smaller room occupied by his secretary I
entertained myself for two hours while the man upon whom the nation has
placed so great a responsibility wrestled with his problems. And while
I waited, I studied psychology. I began with a more or less complete
analysis of my own mental state--but why discuss personal matters when
there are other people to talk about?

I was particularly interested in a little group of Frenchmen. One
of them was a general, I should judge, although uniforms and gold
braid in France often mislead a civilian, and I had been saluting
letter-carriers for a week before my attention was called to the
mistake. He had with him two aids, one of whom was an interpreter. The
French officers sat with their backs toward the entrance of the small
room already referred to. Just within the entrance was a table on which
were four hand-grenades, unloaded, but with their detonating-caps in
place. However, the exact status of the grenades, which I have just
revealed, was unknown to me until after _it_ happened.

On one of the periodical excursions of my eyes about the bare walls
of the room--a room overlooking a great barrack court, flanked on two
sides and closed at one end by long, low gray stone buildings--they
stopped with a shock at the grenades on the table. The table was
directly in front of me and directly behind the French officers, who
sat within ten feet of it. When my eyes were arrested in their aimless
wandering, one of those hand-grenades was in the act of falling off
that table. I knew nothing about the nature of grenades at the time,
only that they were, potentially at least, small but effective engines
of destruction. At any rate, there was nothing that I could do but
brace myself against what might happen when that grenade met the floor.

What happened was this: the detonating-cap exploded. It was a
relatively small noise as this war goes, but within the four walls
of a quiet room it gave a pretty good account of itself. It was
particularly disquieting to men without warning of it, men for several
years accustomed to associate all such disturbances with the business
of killing. The French general and his aids rose hurriedly and with
ejaculations! Every man in the two rooms decreased the distance between
himself and the ceiling. Only General Pershing remained unperturbed; at
least, no sound came from within and his door was not opened.

After the field had been cleared and the composure of the innocent
bystanders restored, I took up again my task of waiting. Colonel Boyd
was courteous and interesting; indeed, the American officer overseas as
I saw him was two things--busy, _very_ busy, and always courteous. He
has no time to waste, but he is efficient without being a "gump." His
efficiency is branded with his Americanism; water-mains, railroads, and
warehouses built by Uncle Sam's engineers carry no "made in America"
label, but their origin is unmistakable. They look and they _act_ the
part! There are French cities now that remind one of a section of
Bridgeport, Conn., or of Chicago.

And what romance walks with those who have come so far to make the
paths straight for democracy! An Oregon company of engineers, while
excavating in a certain city that nearly girdles a beautiful harbor,
dug up a cache of Roman coins bearing the head of Marcus Aurelius.
The tombs of the past are being opened in more ways than one by these
soldiers of the present; the old and the new are joined together, and
the West has come to the East.

But we have wandered far afield. In the meantime General Pershing has
completed his schedule, and I am ushered into his presence. Perhaps I
suggest the personality of the man when I confess that I carried away
not the slightest recollection of the room in which our interview took
place. He had just completed instructions to certain officers, and was
dismissing them when I entered. He greeted me with the suggestion of a
smile, and, after I had seated myself at his invitation and directly
across the flat-top desk from him, he waited for me to speak.

When I faced General Pershing, I found a man who looks like his
picture. He is slightly heavier than I had expected to find him,
exceedingly well proportioned, and amply tall. He is erect without
the conscious effort of those who begin soldiering after years in
the undisciplined pursuits of peace. His eye is gray and clear, his
close-cropped mustache accentuates the firmness of his mouth. His
skin is of the ruddy texture of health, the health of vigorous action
out-of-doors. I have not consulted "Who's Who in America," and I know
that he is older than he appears; but he looks and acts virile fifty.
His inches are all those of a soldier, and his presence carries the
assurance of a man of action.

In the weeks which I spent in France following my hour with the
commander-in-chief of the overseas forces the almost startling
efficiency that I found everywhere, and in some instances under
difficult and extreme circumstances, was at once associated with him,
with the personality of this other "quiet man" who has soldiered
in every place where the flag of his country floats, and who is
now intrusted with what Lincoln gave to Grant. General Pershing's
promptness is fast becoming proverbial. On October 19, 1917, he was
requested to pass judgment upon the sawed-off shot-gun as a possible
weapon of trench warfare. Seventeen days later the originator of the
idea was notified that the gun had been adopted.

When General Pershing spoke, his first sentence clearly stated his
attitude toward the matter being considered. It is my impression that
no circumstance would find him able to cover his thoughts with words;
his mind is hopelessly direct! His famous "speech" at the tomb of
Lafayette, "_Lafayette, we are here_," was true to his best form, and
what could have been more complete?

As to the opinion men have of him,--those who have been associated
with him closely and those who have met him casually, as I did,--one
word tells the whole story--_confidence_. A certain gentleman high in
British political life said in my presence,

"General Pershing is a great re-assurance."

In the opinion of the writer he will be followed with enthusiasm and
real affection by many, and all will have faith in his leadership.

When we discussed the morals of the soldiers in France, the General's
face lighted; and well it might, for no nation has ever been
represented by cleaner-living men than those who wear the uniform of
the United States in France to-day; and the programme of the military
authorities in France to safeguard and inform the country's fighters is
a source of gratification and pride to all who believe that efficiency
and morality are twin brothers. General Pershing said,

"When the report shows an increase in the venereal rate of _one
thousandth of a per cent_, I learn the reason."

Army medical officers--and with two of these it was my privilege to
have conferences--are constantly in the field investigating conditions
that affect army morale and morals. Their findings and recommendations
are the basis for orders and constructive activities that never relax
their vigilance. Early one Sunday morning the General motored nearly
thirty miles to a certain brigade headquarters, which while American
authority was in control served both French and American troops. This
situation made it embarrassing, to say the least, for any action to
be taken affecting the recognized customs of our splendid allies.
But General Pershing's trip was not a pleasure-jaunt. Several French
wine-shops had been injuring the discipline of American soldiers.
Conditions had not been improving. General Pershing permanently closed
every wine-shop in the village, and so diplomatically did he proceed
that the cordial relationship between the two armies was not disturbed.

His own attitude both toward alcohol for beverage purposes and toward
vice is in harmony with the programme of the War Department and the
Navy Department at home, and he is earnestly enthusiastic for that
programme. Some of the details of the programme as applied in France
must be worked out by indirect methods rather than by direct, but
the programme shall not suffer. For instance, in the villages at the
front where our leadership is in control I found no orders against the
distribution or the use of the popular beverage of France, light wine;
_but neither did I find any light wine_. It was not available.

[Illustration: A MESSAGE FROM GENERAL PERSHING TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF
THE AMERICAN CHURCHES]

    GENERAL HEADQUARTERS AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES.

    France, March 4, 1918.

    To the Young People
    of the Churches of America:

    I am glad to have the opportunity of sending you greetings and
    hearty approval of the concerted support the church forces of the
    country, through you, are giving the Government. The great active
    moral influence of the churches of America cannot fail to add power
    to the Nation.

    After all, it is to the young people, whose vision reaches far into
    the future, and whose aggressiveness of spirit gives force to their
    will, that the country looks for strength. Your efforts will serve
    to unite our people more closely in their determination to give the
    downtrodden throughout the world the same free democracy that we
    ourselves enjoy.

    While the young people at home may be depended upon to do their
    full part, the soldiers who represent you, encouraged by your
    loyalty, may be depended upon to give a good account of themselves
    in this battle for the principles of liberty.

    With very best wishes, I remain,

    Yours sincerely,
    John J. Pershing.

    To Dr. Daniel A. Poling,
    American Y. M. C. A.,
    12 Rue d' Aggesslan,
    Paris, France.

Our conference revealed General Pershing's own firm religious
convictions and his determination to give to the army a religious
leadership second to the leadership of no other branch of the service.
He spoke with kindling eyes of what he hoped to secure for the men
through the chaplains, and referred to the work of investigation he had
committed to his old friend and the friend of his family, Bishop Brent.
His words were the words of a constructer and prophet, as well as the
words of a forward-driving warrior. He expressed his gratitude for the
Y. M. C. A. and his appreciation of the support from the religious
and moral agencies at home. He barely referred to the criticisms that
some temperance leaders had visited upon him after his order against
"spirits" was made public and before opportunity was given for the
General himself to explain the order with reference to its silence on
wine and beer, also its relation to circumstances associated with army
life in France. He is too busy to give attention to small things and
too big to misunderstand the real heart of the anxious men and women
whose sons had been intrusted to him.

The last words spoken to me by this leader who represents so much of
the idealism and faith of his country to-day were of the _men_. I shall
not forget many things that were said in that interview, but with
distinctness above everything else that was said I shall remember the
dozen words with which the quiet soldier revealed his pride and his
confidence in those who fight now to achieve a lasting peace.

General Pershing's life has had a great tragedy; under unspeakably sad
circumstances his family--all but one boy--was destroyed in a fire
while he was on duty on the Mexican border.

General Pershing's wife and children were received into the church by
Bishop Brent when the bishop was presiding over the Philippine diocese,
and while the General was stationed in Manila. Since his acceptance
of the post in France the General himself has been welcomed into the
fellowship of the church by his old friend, now serving as leader
of the chaplains of the American army. There is something vastly
re-assuring in the manifest poise of a man who is so transparently
unaffected in great decisions and whose personal example is so high a
challenge to acknowledge the authority of the spiritual.

It was after office-hours when I found my way down the ancient stairway
and into the courtyard. Out through the guarded gates I passed, the
gates through which Napoleon marched his legions when he turned them
toward Moscow, the city of their destruction. And as I thought of
Bonaparte and of his programme, of that unsated ambition and pride
which brought about the overthrow of the military genius no time of the
past or the present has duplicated, I was glad that America's man of
the hour on the field of democracy's destiny has not forgotten to place
first things first; that he retains so clear a conception of relative
values in so disturbed a time.



CHAPTER V

_SEICHEPREY_


The head-lines that told the story of the battle of Seicheprey brought
me a sensation entirely apart from the thrill of anxiety and pride
with which we all read of the heavy attack, the loss of ground, the
desperate fighting, the recapture of the village, and the gallantry of
American troops in the most extensive assault yet directed against our
lines on the western front. It was the name of the village that gripped
me; gripped me with the memory of things that I shall never forget, of
kaleidoscopic days that were eternities of supreme emotion.

It was about Seicheprey that our first division permanently in the
line, our first division to be made fully responsible for a sector on
the western front, experienced its first general gas attack and its
first general raids. It was here that the American soldier established
in fact what in his own soul he had never doubted, his ability to meet
and defeat the finest shock troops of imperial Germany, and under
conditions and in an event chosen by the German command to demonstrate
America's military inferiority.

There will be a thousand greater occasions for American arms in this
war than that which fell on Friday, the first of March, 1918, and than
those which immediately preceded and followed it. But in the chronicles
of this conflict those days will remain as the days which first sent
back from the flaming front to every officer and every man in the ranks
the triumphant message, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours."

_It was the moment when the American army was baptized by fire into the
sacrificial comradeship of democracy's international Calvary._

The village nestles among the hills in the shadow of Mount Sec,
Mount Sec before which and on which so many thousands of gallant
Frenchmen have laid down their lives, and within which now mass the
German batteries that overlook the immediate plain where our forces
lie intrenched. It rests, or did rest, well within our first line, a
kilometer beyond the last battery of "75's," and at the same distance
from the great camouflaged military road that the papers have announced
was the objective of the recent attack. One catches occasional glimpses
of it as he approaches it through the deep connecting trench, a picture
of desolation framed with crumbling walls. From it the trenches lead
on again, but not far, for Seicheprey is close to the German barbed
wire. The officers and the men who hold it are constantly on the alert.
German guns always command it, and perhaps a dozen times a day drop
shells into it. No men are billeted there beyond the capacity of the
bomb-proofs. These shelters, aside from the direct hits of high-power
shells, give practically complete protection.

There are no villagers in Seicheprey; those who lived there and who
tilled the fields round about are gone. It is a community without a
woman, and from morning until night it does not hear the small voice of
a child. It is a city of ruin, a place of most melancholy memories.

Seicheprey is holy ground; lying midway between Toul and Metz, it is
in the heart of the salient that next to Verdun has witnessed the
bloodiest fighting on the French front. It is an honor and a high trust
for an army just to be there. It stands before one of the two gateways
to the heart of France. It has seen the tide of war surge back and
forth many times among its houses and up and down its street. Again and
again it has been captured and surrendered and recaptured.

Out from it, or hard by, twenty thousand glorious Frenchmen have been
buried by the hands of their comrades or the shells of their foe. I
have seen the war planes high above it, German planes with shrapnel
bursts about them, hurrying home from observation-trips behind our
lines, and the silver planes of France in hot pursuit. From a blackened
hill behind it I saw an air duel above the German lines, and a German
flyer brought down in smoke and flames. I have seen our wounded
carried out from it, German wounded brought into it; and stumbling
through its single street I have watched the passing of our first
prisoners of war. From it I have watched the chill winds of February
driving through the shredded orchard trees on the hillside that dips
into the open field where the poison gas has found so many victims and
where it lies in ambush in the noisome shell-holes. Beyond the field is
what was once a forest; the shattered tree-trunks now remind one of the
broken columns in a cemetery.

I have seen Seicheprey under a barrage. Crouching in an abandoned
trench by the side of a runner from battalion headquarters, to which we
were returning and scarce one hundred yards away, I witnessed through
terror-widened eyes that most appalling sight of modern warfare. Once I
looked down from the summit of the Canadian Rockies upon a cloudburst
in the Bow River Valley. Once in Oregon among the dunes of the Columbia
I turned my pony's head away from an approaching storm, and flung
myself headlong upon my face while with the sound of a hundred mountain
torrents and in inky darkness the swirling tempest of sand swept over
me. But this was a cloudburst of steel, an avalanche of iron; the
pouring upward of the earth in sudden geysers, choked with trees and
rocks and the fragments of houses; a continuous, mighty thunder in
which were mingled the throaty roar of multiple discharges, the moan
of the shells through the air, and the shock of the explosions at
contact with the objective. It was an overwhelming noise filling all
spaces.

Seicheprey! It was then a jagged scar. It must be now, after this fresh
surge of the human flood, an open wound. There I saw heaven touch hell.
There I beheld the soldiers of my country writing a new page in the
book of her glory.

Seicheprey taught me the sacredness of comradeship. From a parapet
near by one early afternoon I looked across the intervening 170 yards
to the German lines. The snow was falling. Strangely out of place in
No Man's Land were scores of crosses marking the graves of French
soldiers. When the crosses were placed there, they were behind the men
who reared them, but after the final adjustment of the lines they were
found between the hostile trenches. Peaceful and white was the battle
graveyard. Now the men who made it and who tended it for so many weary
months are gone. Soldiers in khaki fill the trenches behind it, and the
dugouts echo the words of an unknown tongue; but in another springtime,
when the flowers bloom redder because of their long, rich watering,
in the dark night the hands of the stealthy American patrol will
straighten the crosses as tenderly as would the hands that put them
there.

Seicheprey! I found a French gas-mask out from Seicheprey. It has
sacred ground upon it, the soil of France. And where the face of its
wearer pressed into it there are blood-spots. During the raid on the
first of March our allies came down from the right, and dropped in
behind our lines at a distance of five hundred yards. There in the
open they lay, a reserve against a possible breaking through of the
enemy. The enemy did not break through; but there a few hours later,
after the raiders had been hurled back, terribly punished, I found this
mask. I shall keep it as a token of the unity of free peoples which
in the providence of God and in His time will make the world safe for
democracy.

I shall hope that in the great peace I may lead my children down the
street of Seicheprey restored and tell of the glory that I saw there.



CHAPTER VI

_A DUGOUT DIARY_


On Monday morning, February 25, I opened my eyes in the great
bedchamber of the Archbishop's house in Toul, hard by the cathedral.
Rather, it had been the Archbishop's house, and even now the
underground entrance leading to the cathedral was in use. It was no
longer an entrance, however, but an "abri" or anti-aircraft shelter
for the secretaries and guests of the Y. M. C. A. officers' hotel
which, following the removal of a French general, occupied the fine old
building.

I opened my eyes slowly, reluctantly, and tried to close them
again without disturbing the knocking at the door! It was no use;
the secretary was determined, and I surrendered. Out through the
writing-room, where above the mantelpiece were embossed the seals of
the cities of the old diocese,--among them those of Nancy and Toul,--in
less than ten minutes I walked, ready for breakfast and a trip to the
line.

I was to spend three days in a wine-cellar Y. M. C. A. canteen, "close
up," as a relief for "Heints," a strong-bodied, big-hearted young
Methodist preacher, a "Northwestern" man of football fame, who for
several weeks had been on the toughest job of the division without a
rest or a chance to clean up. His was a "one man's stand"; there was no
room to "sleep" an assistant.

West drove me in. After making several calls to drop men at the huts
_en route_ we reached Mandras, where we left the car. Machines were
not allowed to go farther than this point until night. We were now
only a mile from the military road that marked the back of the first
line. It was a beautiful morning and comparatively quiet. Shells came
over regularly, and our guns were not idle; but nothing broke within
half a mile of us. As we hiked up the road and swung around "Dead
Man's Curve," we discussed the evangelization of the world! We reached
Boumont, just a mile from Mandras, and hurried through its tumbled
buildings to Rambecourt. An hour served to cover the two miles to our
destination. The going was muddy, but the footing beneath the surface
slime was firm.

Heints protested at first; but "orders is orders," and he threw his
things hurriedly together and accompanied West back to the car. I was
soon to feel the wrath of his friends. Officers and privates all swore
by him. Only my assurance that he was gone temporarily and to get a
bath and fresh _insect-powder_ saved the situation. I immediately got
into action behind the counter. A lieutenant just in from the trenches
intrusted to me a German stick grenade--a grenade attached to a wooden
handle about twenty inches long, that he had promised my friend. He
said:

"It's safe now. I fixed it; only don't get it near the fire." I put the
fire out.

For several hours during the middle of the day I had the assistance of
a secretary from an adjoining hut. His presence gave the man in charge
a chance to stretch his limbs in the open and go to the company kitchen
for "chow." While the dimensions of the canteen were not more than
twenty feet by fifteen, it was a busy and crowded place. From early
morning until late at night men filled it; indeed, they stood generally
in a long queue reaching up the entrance stairway and out into the
old open court. My sales in three days and two nights totalled nearly
4,000 francs, or $800. The men bought everything we had, and all that
we had--oranges, jam, candy, cigarettes and tobacco, bar chocolate,
etc., and a score of things that a man needs to keep himself fit, from
tooth-paste to shaving-brushes.

The canteen service of the Red Triangle at the front is an absolute
necessity. There is no other place "alive" within miles; the villages
are utterly empty, for in the years that have passed since the war
began even the broken furniture has completely disappeared. Not a
villager remains. The Y. M. C. A. sells nothing from the standpoint
of traffic for gain; it hopes to keep its losses as low as possible,
but it constantly "short-changes" itself. Tons of supplies are given
away outright in the "trench trips," and daily the canteens serve hot
drinks free. Now and then criticisms are heard because the extreme
difficulty of transportation and the high cost of every commodity, a
cost that constantly fluctuates, cannot be generally understood; but
the commissary department of the Red Triangle is giving vastly more
than one hundred cents for the dollar; giving it with efficiency and
despatch.

My first afternoon in the cellar was uneventful but strenuous. I
found myself compelled to learn the ropes under pressure. Men wanted
everything that was hard to find; and it seemed, too, that every
man was either just out of the trenches--which began right there
and extended in communicating trenches, the reserve and the most
advanced trenches, nearly a mile on in front of us--or just going in,
and therefore in a great rush. I was slow on the prices, too; but,
when I was in doubt, I simply put it up to the men; only once was I
deceived, and then the Y. M. C. A. got too much money! I saw but one
man in France who had a dishonest streak in him, and I speak with
deep sympathy of that man; he was born with a twist, and was killed
by a shell only a few hours after a Y. M. C. A. secretary caught him
in the act of stealing from a comrade. The fellows over there are a
"plumb-line" crowd.

I made chocolate in the big iron bucket, and gave it away; that is, I
tried to. But why dwell on that tragedy? It was better the next time.
One of the men from the first-aid room gave me a few lessons while he
swept out for me.

At about six o'clock a chap who had been eying me for some few minutes
said, "Say, _I know you; who are you_?"

He was right. He had been president of a Christian Endeavor society
in Newport, Va. With fine frankness he told me of uniting with the
First Church of Christ there; we had met at a State Christian Endeavor
convention. Another lad who had listened to the conversation remained
long enough to tell me that he lived in Macon, Ga., and that he saw me
first in Griffin, the same State. He was the "birdman," in charge of
the carrier-pigeons, and had been in that first affair back in 1917
when Germany captured her first American prisoners. By the way, a
strangely impressive sight it is to see a white dove circling above the
battery to get its bearings and then flying swift and straight toward
the red flag in the trenches to which its training calls it.

A considerable crowd was lingering about while I lunched out of a can
of peaches and on crackers. Breakfast was brought in to me by one of
the men, who carried it back from the company kitchen in my mess kit,
and I took it with one hand while I "shoved the stuff" with the other.
Dinner I went out for, as already related; but "lunch" was a less
formal affair. While I munched away, I watched the fellows, those who
were ready to go in. They were fully equipped, had their gas-masks at
attention, as we all did, and were in helmets. There was very little
profanity, no vileness; and some of them did not smoke. I was often
surprised by the number of men who spent no money on cigarettes. As for
the swearing, the Y. M. C. A. hut has an atmosphere that, while it does
not stifle cursing, does make the men themselves prefer to be without
it. They welcome a place that is different! The secretaries remember
first that they are there to minister, and to minister to all; they do
not preach at the fellows, but some of them are real geniuses. One put
up a "menu" that said among other perfectly rich things, "Please don't
swear; the secretary is trying to break himself of the habit."

And let us be perfectly frank about the cigarette problem that troubles
so many of us. That it is a problem I am fully persuaded. Leading
medical authorities in all armies recognize the fact that the nicotine
bondage now fastening upon the men _and women_ of the war-ridden
nations will be a slavery of heavy chains for the next generation.
Giving evidence before the city exemption appeal courts in Montreal in
January, 1918, Dr. G. E. Dube said that he was appalled at the amount
of illness prevailing among men of military age, and that he attributed
the trouble chiefly to cigarettes.

Personally I hate the cigarette. I have seen its fine fiendishness.
But to-day society has time for only absolutely "first things." Some
seem to think that because the world is on fire the time is ripe for
an anti-smoking crusade. I do not. Just as the next generation must
carry largely the financial burden of the war, so it must solve the
many physical and moral problems that this generation let fall from its
hands when it gripped the sword. Personally, I have put the cigarette,
for the man in the service who uses it, in the same class with the
strychnine the doctor prescribes. There are hundreds of thousands of
men in the trenches who would go mad, or at least become so nervously
inefficient as to be useless, if tobacco were denied them. Without it
they would surely turn to worse things. Many a sorely wounded lad has
died with a cigarette in his mouth, whose dying was less bitter because
of the "poison pill." The argument that tobacco may shorten the life
five or ten years, and that it dulls the brain in the meantime, seems
a little out of place in a trench where men stand in frozen blood and
water and wait for death.

This statement is not a defence of the cigarette; it is an honest
effort to make clear the position of the Y. M. C. A., facing an
immediate crisis in a diseased world, and required to function or fail.
I found splendid opportunities to help the non-smoker without appearing
to "preach." When he didn't "use them," I said, "Shake, neither do I.
How do we live?" When a man in trying to make even change suggested
"another pack," I said, "Better try something else; you've driven
enough coffin-nails to-day." In many huts Dr. George Fisher's book on
tobacco is placed on the counter by the side of the cigarettes. The men
have here available the positive instruction that at least does them no
harm. In the educational campaign which will follow the war those who
were able to adjust themselves to the peculiar needs of this abnormal
time will have the greater ministry.

At nine o'clock I took down the stovepipe that ran up through the
little window in the far corner of the selling-section of the
canteen, and dropped the heavy gas-curtain; a little later the double
gas-curtains at the door were also dropped. A good hour was spent in
"cleaning up." Boxes were re-arranged with the assistance of the man
who lingered; I laid the fire for the morning, and studied the stock
so as to be quicker on my feet the next day. I left a few candle
stubs on the table for the "gas-post," the man standing on guard to
protect the soldiers in the billets, signal-corps room, and first-aid
dressing-station from being surprised by a possible gas attack. All of
these men were in this same dugout or series of dugouts. For another
hour I wrote a few brief letters and filled out my order-blank for the
next day. Our stock was very low.

It was now nearly midnight. There were no stragglers left in the
canteen, and all about me I could hear the regular breathing of the
tired sleepers. Putting on my helmet and pushing aside the curtains,
I climbed the steep stairs, and walked for a few minutes in the
chill February night beneath a cloudless sky. The guns were going
ceaselessly; back and forth the huge shells moaned like tired and
unwilling men; they were not tired when they landed! Down on the line
the rat-rat-rat-rat-rat-rat of the machine guns, with the explosions so
close together as to give almost the sound of ripping canvas, rang out
at irregular intervals. They were spraying No Man's Land, searching for
enemy patrols. The huge trucks and great wagons that had been pounding
the road since early dark bringing up supplies and ammunition were
still busy; it was a good night for the "mule-skinners" (mule-drivers)
and for men at the wheels; they could move faster, and the moon reduced
to a minimum the danger of accidents.

I stood for a minute or two by a dirty pool in the centre of what had
been a formal garden, and wondered where the grace and beauty of the
ancient house had gone. Only the pool, the crushed marble walls of the
chateau, and the splintered trees remained of that which had been the
glory of an ancient name.

I slept profoundly that night; general shelling does not disturb one's
rest unless it stops. I say that I slept profoundly; I did until two in
the morning when the gas experience, related elsewhere, crept into my
diary.

The second day was quite as busy as the first, and there were at
least a score of feature stories. The life of a hut-manager is not
monotonous; his contribution to the cause of his country is second to
the contribution of no other. My little glimpse of his parish was quite
convincing.

All the morning the talking-machine was busy. The selections varied
with the mood of the man playing it. I wanted to choke the chap who
started Homer Rodeheaver's "Tell Mother I'll Be There." No violence was
used, but several besides myself choked before the record was finished.
Mother is everything plus, over there. To the fellow who has seen her
blessed face in dreams beneath a battle's flaming sky she will never
be taken for granted again. A thousand little things bring him close
to her--the socks that he tries to darn, the button that he sews on,
the food that reminds him. A letter from a mother makes a lot of heaven
over there--if it is the right kind, _if it is the kind that makes
a son proud of his mother_. A message of courage, of cheer, of news;
details of the commonplace,--the coming of the spring birds back to the
house he built, the addition to the neighbor's home, the new paper on
the wall, the bright gossip of the street or town, the tragedy of the
bread that burned while you wrote him, such a message builds morale
faster than flags, or music, or the speeches of captains.

Just before dinner a stretcher-party brought in a man who had been
painfully, though not seriously, injured by the explosion of a "75."
His helmet had deflected the fragment. He was standing in the door of
the bomb-shelter when he fired the gun, but one ear had been nearly
severed and his neck had been deeply cut. After he had been fixed up I
put him on a box by the little stove, and gave him some hot tea.

He was shaken and nervous. In just such a situation the secretary has
his "big chance." The boy said: "This will sure kill my mother. She's a
frail little thing, never could stand trouble; when she hears I'm hurt,
she'll just lie down and die."

I came back with "Don't you believe it. That isn't the way it works
at all. When your mother hears of this, she'll say: 'Thank God, he's
_only_ wounded. Now I know he's safe for a little while.'" And I went
on: "You have _yours_; comparatively few men ever get two wounds, and
after nearly four years of war still there aren't enough wounds to go
around."

But it didn't do the business.

Then I asked him where he lived, and he said, "The Bronx."

"I'll tell you what I'll do, old man," I said; "I'll call her up as
soon as I reach New York, and later I'll go and see her."

Bang! he blew up! Down into his hands went his sore head, and then he
was better. He was just a boy after all and through it all. But what a
boy!

When I went up to "mess" that day, an orderly pointed out to me through
a crack in the camouflage a ruined plane a kilometer away in the open
and under constant observation from both lines. In it was the body of
a famous German flier. Things had been too hot for our men to go out
and bring in the remains. Mt. Sec towered above us, nine hundred feet
high. We knew that it was a vast nest of German guns. Like Gibraltar it
stands in front of Metz. But it is not impregnable. Twice the French
have demonstrated that; and, when the hour strikes, Mt. Sec will not
turn these allied armies back.

I felt something cold touch my hand, and, looking down, saw a
kindly-eyed, well-fed dog inspecting me. These dogs are the only
"original settlers" left on the line. They were lost in the first
rush, I suppose; and now, cared for by the fighting men, they watch the
walls that daily dwindle, and wait with dumb loyalty for the return of
their masters.

One of the men brought me a "beautiful" fragment of a mustard-gas
shell. His little gift helped a lot, for it told me that I was
beginning to "arrive." Later I received the nose of a shrapnel "made
in Germany"; the shrapnel broke above the dugout, and the nose dropped
"dead" in the entrance. Another fellow, a youngster who must have
fibbed a lot to get into the army, pulled a Testament out of his _upper
left-hand pocket_ to replace it with something else, and then said,
as he thought out loud, "Nope," and back went the book. There is an
unadmitted tradition that the "book" keeps German steel away from the
heart, and it does in more ways than one.

That evening I had plenty of assistance, and things moved like
clockwork. There was nearly a catastrophe, though. Two of the men were
trying to fix a carbon lamp that had been useless for several days,
and it caught fire. The way that dugout emptied itself was a sight to
behold.

After eight o'clock we had a "home-talent" frolic, and it was some
show. There was no room for acrobatics, but practically everything else
that a well-ordered minstrel show should have we had.

"At midnight in his guarded tent"--that doesn't really fit here, but
at midnight the Pierce-Arrow arrived with _oranges_, blood-oranges
from Italy. We were out of everything but tobacco, and I was desperate
before the oranges came. What fellows they are who keep the supply
lines open for the Y. M. C. A.! Day and night they work, with a smile.
Every risk the ammunition drivers run, they accept, and without
complaint. They left me fifteen boxes of oranges, and a good word that
sang me to sleep. This night I slept better, and there was no gas alarm.

The third day it _rained_--shells! At ten the entrance suddenly
darkened as if the gas-curtain had been dropped. It looked as if
every man of General Pershing's army was trying to come to see me in
a great hurry, and ahead of every other man who was bound in the same
direction. For several minutes I had noticed the quickened firing and
that the explosions were unusually close; but, feeling safe myself and
being busy, I had paid little attention to the noise. The Germans were
trying to muss up the batteries just behind us, and a torrent of shells
was now falling. The big outdoors had suddenly become too small, and
the men were taking cover.

One chap, longer and louder than the rest, came in waving one boot
above his head, and in his sock feet. When I inquired solicitously
after the other shoe, he sang out, "Left it; didn't need it, anyhow."

[Illustration: Y. M. C. A. SERVING SOUP AND HOT COFFEE TO WOUNDED MEN
One hundred yards from the front line.]

He was cleaning his equipment in front of his billet when an "H. E."
(High Explosive) dropped just across the street from him and close
against an old wall. He cut the "Kaiser's party" in a hurry. A shell
dropped in the old pool, two just to the right of the entrance, and
several others did spring ploughing in the abandoned garden hard by.
But not a man was scratched, and not a missile reached its objective.
The "doves of peace" from Germany presently stopped coming over, and we
breathed more freely.

While we were giving our friend of the lonely shoe some unsolicited
advice, a sergeant came in and told a thrilling tale of an alarm that
had been distributed along the road by a wild-eyed "runner" holding his
nose and yelling, "Gas!" at the top of his voice.

At six o'clock Heints came back. He was as fresh as a daisy and as
happy as a lad just arrived "out to old Aunt Mary's." It was with a
pang of regret that I surrendered the place to him. It was not easy
to go away. Always I shall remember that dark place and treasure my
recollections of it. May all the men I knew there come safely home!

It was a long jaunt back. In one village we passed through, the clock
in the church tower had stopped at 4.30 P.M., when the first shell hit
it; in another at 2.25 P.M. Both had been silenced in the early days of
stern fighting before Toul. When will they start again? Ah, no! that
is not the question. "How soon shall the power that turned back the
clock of civilization be stopped?"--that is the question. That question
America is answering with her treasure and with the best of her breed.

By a long line of trucks and wagons we ran,--two hundred of
them,--ready to go on in under cover of darkness. In another place
fifty-seven ambulances were ready for quick action, and by them a
hundred fresh artillery horses were watering.

That night I slept again in the house by the cathedral. I dreamed of
muddy men and bursting shells, of scampering rats and a phonograph, and
I awoke--disappointed.



CHAPTER VII

"_HE'S A HUN, BUT WE'RE AMERICANS_"


With a wild clatter a twelve-foot section of the ceiling came down.
We sat up in our bunks and waited. It occurred to me that no shell
had exploded _above_, _within_, or immediately _about_ the "hut,"
and that this interruption of our peaceful slumbers must be due to
the vibrations from our own batteries; there was consolation in the
thought. But I did not fall asleep again. Our guns were going on at a
terrific rate now. It was no ordinary shelling of enemy objectives,
no mere following of a regular schedule by which "big ones" and
"little ones" are dropped on military roads, headquarters, and
concentration-points in "Germany."

Pest, secretary in charge of the "hut," who in happier times is
physical director of the Young Men's Christian Association in Newark,
N. J., said: "Something doing. That's a barrage; wonder whether they're
coming across or whether we are going over. The first brigade is
due for relief to-day; guess the Hun knows it, and is 'speeding the
departing guest.' We'll sure have company for breakfast if our fellows
keep on stirring up the animals."

Presently the "company" arrived. First the gas-alarm was given,
and we hurried into our masks. I kept on my waterproof, so that my
friends would not see my _knees in action_! Then the shrapnel began to
spray, and high explosives felt out our guns. The throaty roar of our
seventy-fives mingled with the longer and nearly double shocks of enemy
explosions. We knew that "William" would not waste shells on us; but we
knew, too, that we were desperately near the places he was trying to
find, and that even modern military science is not _always_ exact.

There was a stern patter on the roof--spent shrapnel; a few minutes
later it came again with a sterner knocking and the sound of an
explosion directly overhead, but high. Hummel got up and opened the
door. He looked out, and then _closed the door_. Simultaneously with
the banging of the door a huge explosion took place in our back yard.
Hummel said that he saw the field go up as high as the spire of the
ruined village church. There was a mighty rush of wind and a scream of
steel; a fragment of high explosive tore out the sash of a window, and
"carried on." This particular piece of projectile passed through the
hut less than twenty-five feet from the cots.

From three o'clock in the morning until seven the shelling was heavy,
the roar of the guns was continuous. It then lessened, but for the
rest of the day and through the night there was no quiet. During the
barrage, the reason for which we learned a few hours later, our village
suffered more than usual. In one billet six men were instantly killed
and five were horribly wounded. In another billet there was a fatality,
and a French soldier was killed at the meeting of two streets as he
walked towards his home, going back on his first "leave" in two years.

We waded through the mud to our "mess" just across the street; good,
steaming hot, and well prepared it was. I went back for a "second," as
is the privilege of every man provided he waits until all have had the
first serving.

It was the first day of the month, and so while Pest fixed the packs
for the trenches, and Hummel (Rev. Mr. Hummel, of California, if you
please) completed a sink and drain which his deft hands had begun
the day before, I took account of stock, and incidentally packed
more securely on the shelves the supplies that were in quantity. The
bombardment was shaking things loose. At 10 A.M. Pest and I started
for the trenches, with the former remarking to Hummel that if things
continued so active the supply-truck would hardly get in, and that it
might be well to "shove the stuff" a bit easy to conserve what we had.

Up the road we hiked toward Germany. Our sacks held a hundred pounds of
chocolate, nuts, cigarettes, and oranges, things that the regular and
necessarily severe front-line mess could not duplicate. The oranges
came from Italy, and the chocolate was made by Americans in French or
Swiss factories taken over by the Y. M. C. A. Trench supplies are never
sold; these are "specials," gifts to those who for days at a time must
bear the body and nerve destroying ordeal of the most advanced places.
No man who has not seen the faces of the men and heard their "Thank
yous" can appreciate what these trench trips of the Red Triangle mean
to the soldiers of the Republic. Every day the secretaries go "in," and
clear in. To the last observation-post they carry the extra food, the
bit of luxury, and the strong man's word and grip of comradeship that
build fighting spirit and morale.

For a mile the going was easy, the road-bed straight away toward the
trenches; and the footing beneath five or six inches of mud was firm.
At "Dead Man's Curve," a bad spot which bends out from behind a great
ammunition-dump and passes between batteries on into another ruined
village, we took a short cut across the field. The mud at the bend was
red, and the road was filled with blood; an empty supply-wagon had
been caught there earlier in the morning. The two men on the driver's
seat and all of the mules had been killed. For five hundred yards we
continued across the shell-ploughed field; now and then we were forced
to turn out of the direct path to avoid shell-holes close together;
several times I found as many as three small craters with rim touching
rim.

The firing continued heavy, and the moaning missiles passed one another
high above our heads. There were explosions half a mile away, and the
surface of the earth was churned with fury; but no shells dropped
near. We entered the communication-trench at the far edge of the great
military road that at this particular point parallels the first line of
fifteen miles. It runs directly in front of the last heavy batteries,
and to a height of twenty feet is carefully camouflaged with branches
and painted canvas. The camouflage does not disguise the location of
the road itself; but it does hide the movements of troops, munitions,
and supplies from the enemy observers, who here look down upon our
lines from a famous mountain which towers nine hundred feet above our
position.

The morning was cloudy; mist was in the air, and a little later it
began to snow. We caught glimpses now and then of another ruined
village, the battalion headquarters (a kilometer from the head of the
communicating trench), where we reported before going on to the most
advanced positions. Presently we met a lieutenant coming out. He was
smiling, and without being asked for information told us that the enemy
had come over in force with shock troops after shelling the lines
for twelve hundred meters on either side of the eight-hundred-meter
front which bore the full weight of the infantry attack. He gave us no
details; but, as he hurried on, he assured us that "the boys brought
away the bacon."

We reported to the major on reaching headquarters, and learned from him
that the company we had planned to serve that morning had been very
"busy"; that it was digging itself out, reopening the trenches after
the intense bombardment, clearing away the dead, looking after the
wounded; and that he would prefer to have these supplies taken into
Company K, where things were in better order. He spoke with pardonable
pride when he informed us that already the men at the most advanced
listening-posts had been served with food and red-hot coffee. We began
to understand the heavy firing of the morning. Our guns had been
supporting the infantry, and German guns had been trying to silence
them.

A sergeant, covered with blood but happy, had just made his report
for Company I. He accompanied us until our paths, or rather trenches,
separated. He was going back to the "busy" portion of the front.
His story was interesting, to say the least. During the preparatory
bombardment which preceded the raid he was buried in a dugout. When
the barrage lifted for the raiders to come across, he dug frantically
toward the faint light that came through a tiny opening in the
shattered roof. Suddenly two hand-grenades were hurled through his
little window of hope. Both exploded, but the sergeant miraculously
escaped. Indeed, the grenades helped him out! He despatched the
thrower, and leaped into the heart of the counter-attack. How fierce
that counter-attack was may be judged from the fact that every
commissioned officer of his company was killed or wounded before it was
crowned with triumph.

The Germans were forced into our supporting barrage, and were virtually
annihilated. It was a demoralized remnant indeed that reached German
lines to make a report far different from what had been anticipated.
But our losses were not light. Our first infantry captain to die in
action was killed that morning at the head of his men. Five out of the
six lieutenants "up" at the time were wounded, and the sixth followed
his gallant captain. The sergeant spoke slowly when he recounted the
losses, but he was jubilant when he recalled the perfect support
given by the artillery. We knew and he knew that the first great test
had come, and that Americans had not been found wanting in courage,
initiative, or skill.

Presently we reached company headquarters as the major had directed us,
and heard at length the story of the morning. With a guide we now went
on. Hip-boots did little good, for the "chicken-ladder" trench floor
had been badly smashed by the shelling. Often we sank to our hips. The
boys were mighty glad to get the candy and fruit. The Italian oranges
were our leaders! A soft-voiced Southern lieutenant gave us additional
details, and told us how the gallant French on our right came down and
dropped in behind us at a distance of five hundred yards. There in the
open they lay, a reserve against the possible breaking through of the
enemy. No Man's Land looked strangely peaceful through our parapet, and
the German barbed wire a hundred and seventy yards away was more like
loganberry trellises in Oregon than part of a war machine in France.
The company had lost only one man during the shelling, and it had not
suffered in the raid.

It was nearing one o'clock when, returning, we reached the place where
our friend the sergeant had left us. Pest looked down the trench toward
headquarters, and then down the front line toward the low ground where
we had originally planned to go, and where the boys were "busy." Surely
things were cleaned up now, and they would be hungry for a bit of
chocolate and a strong word. I followed him toward the left, but not
without forebodings. There was plenty of noise in front of us, and I
was sure that the enemy would not co-operate with the engineers who
were restoring our trenches, by refraining from shelling them. The
"little ones," three-inch high explosives, were falling not far away;
but we were well covered. We crossed the low ground where the boys had
suffered so seriously from the gas attack three days before, and then
entered the woods, whose tree-trunks bore many new wounds.

At the far edge of the woods our progress was completely blocked.
Working parties filled the space. All about were the marks of the
bloody struggle. Not all the dead had been carried back, but the
wounded were either out or had been started toward the rear. There were
yet bodies in the barbed wire, hanging like ghastly scarecrows.

We emptied our sacks, and right about faced. The firing was steadily
increasing, and we hurried our steps. When we came to the place
where we had entered the woods, we found our way barred again. Two
stretcher parties were resting under the cover of the little ruined
forest. One carried the remains of the second lieutenant, who had been
killed by a trench mortar; the other bore a wounded German prisoner,
a fine-looking, husky Bavarian whose legs had been fearfully mangled.
The carriers were worn out; it had been a "busy" morning for them, too.
They were within a hundred yards of the point where it was necessary to
leave the trench and take to the open. The trench had been so shattered
by the shelling that a stretcher could not be carried through it. The
light had been growing steadily better, and it was very apparent that
German observers, at this point less than two hundred yards away,
would quickly spot a party taking to the open. But there was nothing
else to do. Pest volunteered to lend a hand, and together we carried
the wounded prisoner to the point where with assistance we lifted him
to the parapet.

The two stretcher parties now started down across the low ground in
the open, their burdens shoulder-high, not only for greater ease in
carrying, but to give the "kultured" gentlemen across the way a square
and open look. The going was heavy. After carrying for perhaps three
hundred yards the four of us who had lifted the burden at the parapet
were relieved. Pest and I now increased our speed in the direction of
battalion headquarters, which were in plain view and not more than a
kilometer away as the bird flies.

Suddenly hell opened. A barrage was put down upon the field. I can
hear to-day as distinctly as I heard it then the close-up crash of
German guns, and almost simultaneously with that the cry of the officer
in charge of the stretcher, "Scatter!" Then all about us the shells
dropped and broke. I suppose that the barrage lasted ten minutes,
hardly more, but it was a kind of eternity. It seemed to my terrified
eyes that no foot of ground about us was left untouched. That night an
observer in our line, on his way back after being relieved, stopped
long enough to say that more than two hundred shells fell within a
radius of fifty yards from the centre of our party.

I sprawled upon my face, and rolled over into a very shallow
shell-hole. At my right, and not ten feet away, suddenly a man was
lifted into the air; five feet he seemed to go up. He turned over, and
came down with a flop into a shell-hole filled with water. Aside from
the shock and bruises he was uninjured. The "three-inch" had gone in,
by his side and at an angle, almost under him. But in the open and in
soft ground high explosives are not particularly dangerous unless they
score direct hits. They penetrate so far before they explode that they
are largely smothered; and, while they kick up a great commotion, their
bark is worse than their bite.

Fortunately for our little party, this barrage had no shrapnel mixed
with it; had there been shrapnel, the story would be of another sort.
But I was so profoundly frightened that I made no distinction between
high explosives and shrapnel.

I found myself trying to hide behind a rock no larger than a baby's
fist. I envied the white dog, which wheeled about on his hind legs,
barking angrily in a dozen directions at once, trying to cover each new
explosion. I envied not his bark, but his potential speed, and called
him a fool for not using it.

And then I heard some one say,--or perhaps it was my own heart
speaking,--"Run for it!" and faster than I ever left the scratch on a
cinder path, in the days when I was credited with 10 1-5 seconds for
the hundred-yard dash, I got away. As I ran, I thought of two things.
First, I breathed a prayer of thankfulness for the additional five
thousand of war-risk life-insurance that I had taken out just before
leaving New York; and then I remembered the ancient tale of the colored
brother who heard the bullet twice, once when it passed him and once
again when he passed it! And I did my best to emulate the hero of the
tale. Two men reached headquarters before I did, but they were younger
men and unimpeded by trench coats.

I followed Pest into the presence of the major,--we ran a dead
heat!--and heard his report. The major smiled, a trifle anxiously, told
us of the _comparative_ safety we had really enjoyed because of the
soft ground and high explosives, and then inquired, "Did the carriers
stay with the prisoner?" Pest replied, "I am not sure, sir; I did not
look around, but I am inclined to think that he is out there alone."
Some one felt it in order to remark that if the Hun wanted to kill his
own wounded, he ought to be given the privilege of doing so "without
mussing up any good Americans"; and then the major said: "Yes, _he's a
Hun, but we're Americans. Go back and get him._"

I am writing these lines more than five thousand miles from
the candle-lighted room in the bomb-shelter of that battalion
headquarters; but, as I write them, I cross the sea, and stand again by
the side of the rough table where I stood that March afternoon when the
major startled me out of my terror into soberness and quiet with his
"Yes, he's a Hun, but we're Americans. Go back and get him." I believe
that I am better for trying to give the German the benefit of the
doubt; for _half_ thinking that, after all, he may not have recognized
the nature of the party crossing the open field. But the major waived
the whole question of German "frightfulness," and leaped at once
into the heart of American traditions of war and America's military
idealism. He saw only a prisoner, wounded and under fire, and--he knew
his duty.

And before we continue this story let us halt for a moment with the
"major." I saw him only once and under tense and extreme circumstances.
His battalion had just come through a baptism of fire that will not
be forgotten when the story of America's part in the great war is
told. I do not know how he looked in a dress uniform or when he was
clean-shaven; I have no conception of what his carriage was in a
drawing-room; and I am uninformed as to his church affiliation--if he
had any. But he acted like a soldier that afternoon and talked like
a Christian. I am sure that he was every inch a soldier, too; for
he fought through the Spanish-American war, and was a major in the
Philippine constabulary. He enlisted in the British army; but, when
the Stars and Stripes came to stand by the side of the Union Jack,
he _moved over_, and was commissioned a major in the national army.
I intended to write him a letter after I returned; but now that will
be unnecessary, for to-day at the top of a column I read, "American
colonel killed in action," and below, "Lieutenant-Colonel Richard H.
Griffiths; commanding a battalion of infantry, has been killed by
shell-fire in Picardy. He emerged from a dugout just as a German shell
arrived and exploded directly in front of him." And now he stands at
attention before the Commander whose orders, whether he thought of it
in that way or not, he so completely obeyed.[1]

As the major spoke, he turned to a lieutenant, and said, "Get those
carriers, and send them back." Pest and I followed the lieutenant into
the open. The lieutenant inquired of Pest the location of the prisoner;
and the man from Newark replied, "_I'll show you._" It was at this
point that the writer made a speech. The speech was brief, but logical
and unanswerable. I told Mr. Pest that he had no business to go back.
True, the barrage had lifted, but the Germans had another one where
the first one came from, and they might decide to spare it! Then, too,
he--Pest--had done not only his full duty, but more. To go back would
be to expose himself needlessly and also to run the risk of having the
trenches closed to the Y. M. C. A. "What will the army over here say if
it gets the idea that you Y. M. C. A. fellows are sticking your heads
above parapets and rambling around in open fields? How long will it
stand for the Y. M. C. A. man's assuming a rôle that does not belong to
him? Granted that you did the only thing you could do by helping with
that prisoner when you ran into the immediate need, this return trip is
another proposition."

I laid hands on my friend; but he started up the road for the open
field, showing the way to the lieutenant, and with a heavy heart I
followed another officer to indicate the carriers who must go out to
help bring in the wounded man. Pest had made no reply to my speech, and
I knew that my _logic_ was sound; but that didn't satisfy my heart,
with Pest out there. And Pest's heart would not have been satisfied,
had he allowed me to win the debate.

I came back and stood at the head of the road leading through the
tumbled walls, out by some abandoned trenches with tangles of rusted
wires above them, and on into that open field where so many brave men
had fought and died since the first rush came down from Metz. "Poor
place to spend a vacation," said the sentinel, who stood post there,
and scarcely had the last word left his lips when that field again
became an inferno. I could not see my friend and those who had gone to
join him, a slight rise in the ground and an old cut-to-pieces orchard
obscured the view; but the air was full of earth and rocks, and I was
sure that I saw fragments of bodies in the vortex. Surely men could not
come again unscathed through such a horror.

And now I was forced into the sickening acknowledgment that, while my
logic had been sound when I sought to dissuade Pest from returning to
the prisoner, my nerve had not been. I knew that my feverish urgency
was not unmixed with personal fear. Never did a more sick and anguished
heart cry out to God than the one that supplicated for that stretcher
party. _But it did not appear!_ When the suspense became unbearable,
I hurried to the major; and, when I told him the situation, he became
very grave. He had been trying for some minutes to silence our own
batteries, fearing that the enemy would continue to concentrate their
fire on objectives near our battalion headquarters if our firing
continued to stir them up. And our fire _was_ stirring them up! Our
shelling was deadly and unrelenting. The major wanted to give that
party in the field a chance to get back. But his communications were
down. Already two runners had been despatched, and the signal-corps men
were working frantically.

I asked for permission to go down the road a little way to see whether
there might be a sign of the men. I could not face my own soul without
knowing for myself what Pest's end was. The major understood, and down
the road I went. A great fear possessed me, but it was a new kind
of fear. I reached the edge of the open place; there was no sign of
life anywhere. The snow was falling again, and I hurried on. I met a
runner; he had not seen the party. Three minutes more, and I was on the
spot where the first barrage broke; and still there was no sign.

Suddenly the tightening about my heart loosened, and I fairly shouted,
"There would be _something_ left, if they were dead." A second runner
was skirting the woods we had passed through earlier in the day. I ran
to meet him, and fairly choked him to get the information that I was
desperately searching for. "Yes," he had seen them. They had waited
till the shelling stopped, and then from the cover of the woods he had
watched them rush the stretcher back to the trench. They had followed
close against the lower side of the trench, the longer way into the
village. This brought them into the lower end of the town, and gave
them a slight cover for the entire distance. It was the way we should
have taken in the beginning.

"And now," the runner said, "this is our 'busy' afternoon,"--I had
heard the word so often that day,--"and we must get to headquarters
'toot sweet'!" The youthful veteran instructed me to follow him at
a distance of twenty paces, and he led the way down the road which
skirted the edge of the field farthest from the German lines. The
snow was falling more rapidly now, and we were practically safe from
observation. We walked in the shallow ditch by the roadside, so
that in case shelling was resumed we could avail ourselves of its
protection. By lying flat we should be on a level with the surface of
the ground.

The road was deep in mud, and I saw the prints of _French_ boots! Then
I remembered what the lieutenant had said in the morning of the gallant
French reserves, and realized that I was on the exact spot where
they had waited in the open behind our trenches. A rush of emotion
overwhelmed me, and I wept. Suddenly in front of me I saw a mask, a
_blue_ gas-mask, half buried in the mud, lying where the brave Poilu
had dropped it only a few hours before. When I showed it to the major a
little later, soaked with water and with _blood_, ruined and useless,
he said, "Take it home to your children; you are a millionaire." Yes, a
millionaire in the treasure of sentiment, by the wealth of the vision
the blue mask brings to me of the comradeship of democracy in suffering
and in sacrifice.

Before we reached the edge of the village the batteries became busy
again, but at first their objectives seemed to be well beyond the town.
Then without warning the fire assumed the intensity of a barrage,
and the range was shortened so that the projectiles fell all over
"headquarters." Such a spectacle I had never seen before. It was as
though the heavens had opened and precipitated an ocean of soil,
bowlders, and trees upon the earth. No, rather the earth itself seemed
to open as the result of some great sickness and vomit this terrifying
spectacle upon us. The ground trembled, and the noise became literally
deafening. I stood transfixed behind the runner. I was conscious of no
other emotion than one of complete amazement. I had been in the midst
of the former barrage, and _had not seen it_! We were perhaps one
hundred and fifty yards away from this one, and so soon does one become
accustomed to the eccentricities of shell-fire that we felt ourselves
in no danger. We listened to the shells as they described their low arc
above us, and knew instinctively whether they would land to the right
or to the left, near us or relatively far away. One's judgment in these
matters is much akin to his judgment of a batted ball; only he judges
the shell altogether by its sound.

But we were roused from our stupor. Off at our left, not far away, a
shrapnel broke, the first I had _seen_ that day. For an instant I was
paralyzed. The balls flew all about us; dirt spattered us; and then
we ran! Straight toward that barrage we sprinted. Our one chance--and
I knew it as well as the splendid fellow in front of me--was those
abandoned trenches with their caved-in dugouts; we were not more than
fifty yards from them. It was shrapnel now and no mistake. That we were
not hit is merely one of the hourly miracles of the front. But we did
reach, without being wounded, the old barbed wire with the barrage
being pulled across the village and shortening in our direction, and
with the shrapnel overhead. Both of us dove head first into the trench,
and a good eight-foot plunge it was, into slime and water six inches
deep. There we waited until the affair was over.

As suddenly as it begins, intense shell-fire ceases; this demonstration
against battalion headquarters lasted in all not more than ten minutes.
Then, save for explosions well up on the ridge or behind it in the
region of the batteries, comparative quiet reigned. With my new-found
friend I climbed out of our refuge and hurried into the village. Here
I received another shock; aside from three men wounded, several old
walls tumbled in, a score of small craters in the streets, and yards
of destroyed camouflage the bombardment had done no injury. I was
sure that bodies would be scattered everywhere. But the major was
at his table, working furiously and as if nothing had happened; the
signal-corps room hard by had been mussed up; one shell had dropped
close by the wall of the major's bomb-proof, and another had destroyed
the camouflage at its entrance; but these experiences were with the
day's work. With the first explosions just beyond the town the men had
taken to the cellars, and there remained until the storm was over. The
last few hours had given me a vivid demonstration of the truth of the
statement that I had often heard, but scarcely believed, "It takes a
thousand shells to kill a man by shell-fire."

My first inquiries were for Pest, and he was reported safe and waiting
for me in the communicating trench; the sentinel at the head of the old
road had given him a statement of my movements. The prisoner had been
carried in, and presently he was hurried by in an ambulance bound for
the hospital. Every hand that I had seen touch his stretcher had been
a kindly, ministering hand; and the men who were risking their lives
to bring him out had been prompt to express their admiration of his
nerve; he was suffering terribly. He in his turn, when bearers "eased
off" their load in the hard going of the open field, would say deeply
between his groans, "_Schön, schön_!" ("Fine, fine.")

Shells exploding half a mile away had made me very nervous in the
morning; but now as I hurried back, ploughing through the mud and snow
of the communicating trench, sinking often to my hips, and pulling
myself out as best I could, no sounds worried me. Men were coming
in--the relief; they looked clean and fit. A machine-gun company passed
me, and was eager for a few words of information. It was great to have
good news for those fellows! At last I reached the main road; its
inches of mud with firm footing beneath seemed a paradise. The field in
front of the batteries had been reploughed since we crossed it in the
morning, and there were many new craters about "Dead Man's Curve."

As darkness came down, we reached----home! and home it is to thousands
of hungry-eyed lads who have become men in an hour. Home it is to
these far-called soldiers of freedom, who pay the sterner price of the
world's redemption. It holds them to their yesterdays; it grips them
with their past. By its tables they sit and think and write; about its
fire they talk and muse. In the atmosphere of its manly decency they
breathe deeply and are purified; and the fellowship of those other
soldiers who wear the red triangle makes them fit and strong in their
hearts. Ah! as I stepped across the threshold of that place fenced
with rough boards and set where heaven touches hell, I saw all things
become new. We could not win this war without the Young Men's Christian
Association; for, even though our armies reached Berlin, our souls
would lose their way.

I put my trophies out of sight--the masks and some pieces of shell that
I had taken from a shell-hole after I scrambled up from the first shock
of the barrage. A few hurried changes were made, and then we relieved
Hummel, who had been working like a lonely Trojan all day.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched Pest. He didn't even know that he
was a hero! When I think of him, I shall always see him as I saw him
swinging down the road with the lieutenant, bound for the open field,
head up and chin out, leaning slightly forward as he took the long and
easy stride of the trained athlete--a soldier and a Christian, under
higher orders than any that man ever gave or refused, facing death to
be merciful, risking his own life to salvage the life of his enemy.

And Pest is more than one man; he is a type. This one day of his life,
a trifle more than ordinary, to be sure, but not unlike scores of days
he experiences, is a single page from the ledger of service which
the Y. M. C. A. secretaries are writing on every front where freedom
bleeds.


FOOTNOTE:

[1] A letter from Lieutenant David R. Morgan describes the
circumstances under which Lieutenant-Colonel Griffiths was buried:

"The regimental chaplain was sick. There happened to be a Red Cross
chaplain visiting us from Paris, so he officiated. The Boches were
within a few hundred yards of us, so he had to whisper the ritual. It
was pitch-dark and the boys had to be mighty careful to keep their
shovels from clicking against stones. A few officers were present.

"The burial took place at midnight. A lantern or a candle would have
helped, but the crackle of a match would have meant death. Twice the
ritual was suspended while the mourners took to cover to avoid German
bullets.

"Privates had gathered wild violets and poppies at the rear of the
trenches, keeping them fresh in a dipper of water in a dugout. These
were laid on the graves at night.

"The next night a Boche high explosive demolished the little cemetery,
exposing the bodies. We had to bury Colonel Griffiths four separate
times."

Lieutenant Morgan, who is an active Pennsylvania Christian Endeavorer,
speaking further of Lieutenant-Colonel Griffiths, said: "The breast of
his coat was covered with medals. He did not know what fear was. He
never sent a man anywhere until he went first. I have seen him calmly
walking along the street with the shells dropping on all sides."



CHAPTER VIII

"_GAS! GAS! GAS!_"


"Gas! Gas! Gas!" and the hand-siren rang through the dugout in
accompaniment to the cry of the sentinel. The first shout sounded far
away; I was sleeping deeply. The second brought me to my elbow, and
the third sent my hands down through the inky darkness to the mask on
my chest. I was wide-awake and in absolute command of every faculty.
I remember the surprise with which I noted my calmness. I had feared
that in just such circumstances I should go to pieces, or at least
bungle things and fail in those first fateful seconds. But I adjusted
my mask with precision, with deftness that my fingers had never before
possessed; and I recalled every item of the instructions I had received.

I held my breath until the mouthpiece was between my teeth, attached
the nose-clamp, shoved the mask far under my chin, and then pressed my
face well into it while I firmly fixed the holding-bands about my head.
Then I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with the chemicalized air,
exhaled violently, and noted with satisfaction the "glub, glub" of the
little rubber exhaust that told me the machine was "hitting on every
cylinder."

All the while I was fully conscious of the sounds and movements about
me. I heard the rats scurry squealing into the corners. I scratched
methodically on several inhabited portions of my anatomy. I listened
to the muffled voices in the signal-corps room, which was just beyond
the thin partition; the men on duty there with the trench telephones
wore French masks that had neither nose-clamps nor mouthpieces. But,
masks or no masks, signals and messages must go forward without delays.
These lads of the signal stations, along with those "standing post" to
give the warning, must add to the dangers that all face the extra ones
that fall to the lot of men who are charged with the safety of their
comrades. I listened to the soldiers stirring in the billets behind
me--forty-seven bunks were there; and just across in the first-aid
dressing-station I heard the stretcher party.

To all of these matters I was keenly alive while I adjusted my mask (I
had on all my clothes), groped for the door opening out of my private
sleeping-corner, which was almost exactly as large as the cot it
contained, and stepped into the central room occupied by the Y. M. C.
A. canteen. Here I found candles burning feebly.

Does this all sound like rare presence of mind and complete
self-control? Do not be deceived. It was simply a case of nerves
paralyzed with terror and of muscles responding mechanically to
suggestions previously received. The acuteness of my perception and
sense of hearing were evidences of acute fright.

The canteen soon filled with begoggled soldiers; we stood elbow to
elbow, and waited. Was there gas in the room? I wondered. Hardly time
for that, because of the heavy blankets sealing the entrance to the
cellar; one stairway and one deep-set window were the only openings
through which either air or gas could penetrate. These were closed
at night. The dugout itself was a kilometer back from the advanced
trenches, and on comparatively high ground. I remembered that on the
preceding day an officer in discussing a possible gas attack had said
that our position was very favorable. But of course the enemy might be
sending over gas-shells in a bombardment of the batteries just behind
us, in which case our hole in the ground might become a veritable
deathtrap to any one without a mask.

The ruins high above us trembled with the vibrations from our own guns.
I looked up, and noted that the arched roof of the cement wine-cellar
which was the basis for the entire dugout, or rather system of dugouts,
where we were quartered did not show even a crack. We were in one of
the finest bomb-proofs in that entire sector. After more than three
years the direct hits of high explosives had not penetrated it. To its
original thickness and strength had been added the tumbled-in walls
of the glorious old building which once stood above it. Now and then
shells bursting near the entrance to our shelter forced in the heavy
curtains with the rush of air following the explosion.

The firing from our own guns became more intense and rapid. What did
it mean? Were we under general attack? Was a raid to be received, or
were our lads to deliver one? Was our barrage--for the bombardment had
assumed the intensity of curtain fire--a reply to German guns, or was
it the initiating of a local offensive? I found myself getting out
of hand, but remembered the alert officers out there in the greater
danger, whose orders would answer my question soon enough.

Now another matter thrust itself upon my attention; my mouth and throat
were full of saliva, and I didn't know what to do with it. At this
point--and a vital one it is--my instructor had failed me. There are so
many things to remember that it is surprising more is not forgotten. I
became desperate. My predicament was far worse than a patient's in a
dentist's chair with jaws clamped wide open and a rubber sheet jammed
between his teeth. In the latter case one can signal with his hands,
and indeed, under great provocation, a man has been known to kick the
shins of his tormentor. But I knew that neither signalling nor kicking
would now do me any good. There were questions, pressing questions,
that I wished to ask; and I could not open my mouth to ask them. I
could not even talk through my nose, for that was in a vise. My head
now felt like a Noah's ark. It was a case of strangle or swallow. I
decided that I had a choice between allowing the saliva to pour through
the tube into the chemical can of the mask, or of somehow getting it
down my throat. I took a deep breath, held firmly to the mouthpiece,
and swallowed. Later I learned that I had done exactly the right thing.

Minutes passed, and my eyes began to burn, and my goggles became
blurred. I heard muffled coughing, and a sweat broke out upon me; were
we to be trapped without a chance for our lives? But no orders came,
and we waited on. Being in a group and in the station of a special gas
sentinel, I knew that we were to depend upon this sentinel for further
instructions and not to "test for gas" ourselves. Testing for gas is
done by filling the lungs to their utmost capacity through the tube,
releasing the nose-clamp, pulling the mask slightly away from one
cheek, and sniffing. If gas is still about, the odor will be detected
_unless the gas is odorless_; and the lungs, being already occupied
by air, will not be affected. However, if your test has revealed the
presence of gas, your mask has now become filled with the poison, and
this must be got out. After readjusting the nose-clamp the lungs are
emptied, and refilled through the breathing-tube; then simultaneously
the mask is pulled away quickly from the cheek, and the breath instead
of being exhaled through the tube is blown violently into the mask
itself. By repeating this rather hazardous operation several times the
mask is entirely cleared.

But to return to the case in hand. I was fast becoming blinded by
the moisture on my "windows." I now followed the instructions of my
teacher, and brought out my "window-cleaner," the preparation which
each man carries for thoroughly cleansing his goggles. Leaving the nose
firmly held and continuing my strong bite on the mouthpiece, which
is not unlike the mouth-hold in a football nose-guard, I pulled the
bands off my head, the mask away from my cheeks, and with the speed of
desperation cleansed the two glasses. After readjusting the mask, to
free it from any possible gas I used the method described above.

Nearly an hour had passed. "All clear," came the cry, and again the
hand-siren sounded. The reader cannot imagine the relief with which I
uncovered my face. The men went quietly to their places; it was now
apparent that the real seat of the trouble, whatever it was, had been
located some distance away. In the morning we learned that only a
"trace" of the gas had reached our high ground. The batteries continued
their intense firing, but again we stretched out in our bunks. I had
just covered myself when the warning came again, "Gas! Gas! Gas!" and
for another thirty minutes I stood at attention. But after the second
alarm our relief was permanent. I then made a record of the exact
number of minutes the mask was in service, and turned in, to remain
undisturbed until morning.

This record, for which special charts are provided, is absolutely
essential. The chemical in the British mask (box respirator) is
good for forty-eight hours. The can containing the chemical is then
exchanged for a new one. The mask itself, with proper treatment,
lasts for a long time. While the more quickly adjusted, but far less
reliable, French mask is also carried by our men, the British mask is
chiefly relied upon. It is complete protection against every gas thus
far developed; and the scientific men of the Allies are daily lessening
the fiendish menace of gas. The spirit of the men who face the poison
is expressed by Corporal Harold Hall of Bridgeport, Conn. In a letter
to his mother he says: "We were under a heavy gas for four hours, and,
to tell the truth, I'm glad we were, as I was always afraid of gas. But
now that I've been through a good gas attack I don't fear it at all,
as there is absolutely no danger if a fellow is on the alert and not
careless. Oh, this isn't such a terrible war, after all. We are used to
it, and do not mind it near so much as you people at home do."

When day broke, we learned of the disaster that had overtaken our
lines lower down. The first general gas attack experienced by Americans
since the entry of the United States into the war had been directed
against our sector. In the marshy ground on our right one company had
suffered terribly. Men had died almost instantly; others had been
carried back with little hope of recovery; and for several days a large
number continued to develop the symptoms of the poisoning. Such is
the nature of this fiendish weapon of refined barbarism. For hours it
may hide its deadly sting, and encourage its victim by exertion and
exposure to weaken himself for its final assault. Absolute rest and
protection from the elements are vitally essential in all cases where
this breath of death has found its way into the lungs.

The suffering accompanying and following exposure to gas is too
horrible to describe. Only a people completely committed to the
propositions that the end justifies the means, and that might makes
right, could have conceived the gas attack and first used it as a
weapon against humankind.

My second serious experience with the gas came in a Y. M. C. A. hut
above the ground and farther back. During the shelling incident to a
general raid across our lines we used our masks for some time. The
introduction of gas-shells has made it possible to reach a much wider
area with this fiendish weapon than was the case at the beginning,
when only the trench containers and projectors were used, and
when the wind was relied upon to carry the fumes into the enemy's
positions. Gas-shells are mixed in with shrapnel and high explosives,
and when thus employed are often very deadly. Fired alone, they are
distinguishable because of their peculiar explosive sound; but, when
they are sent over in a general bombardment, the only way to be sure of
escaping them is to use the mask continuously.

Old shell-holes are often death-traps because of the gas that settles
in them. The poison fumes, being heavier than air, will lie for hours,
and under favorable atmospheric conditions for days, in the bottom of
a crater or an abandoned trench. Soldiers seeking shelter in these
holes are trapped. The French commanding officers at one time issued a
general order prohibiting French soldiers from entering shell-holes.
In some instances the "active" portions of the trench system are
cleared of gas with shovels. Soldiers in masks actually _shovel_ the
heavier-than-air poison lying at the bottom of the trenches and filling
the dugouts; they fling it over the parapets, where the air can reach
and disperse it. The shovels have canvas flappers attached, which serve
as fans. Clouds of chlorine gas are also dispersed by the use of a
hypo-solution in a special sprayer.

The writer has a friend who entered a shell-hole near the head of
a communicating trench which ran from a military road to battalion
headquarters. He descended to lay a foundation for a Y. M. C. A. hut,
and was completely overcome as soon as he stooped to begin work. A
gallant French soldier, seeing the danger, leaped into the crater, and,
standing as nearly erect as he could, pulled the unfortunate man to his
feet. He held him there until others came to his assistance. My friend
went to the hospital for three weeks.

Much of the acute pneumonia and pleurisy, and thousands of cases of
tuberculosis, reported among the Allies are superinduced by gas. For
days men doctor persistent colds, only to find at last that the "stuff"
has somewhere scorched them. I had been five days from the front,
and was scores of miles removed from the scene of my last possible
exposure, before my case was pronounced "gas-poisoning." For several
days my "cold" had been increasingly annoying. My lungs were sore, my
throat burned, my vocal chords were affected, and I coughed deeply.
The mucous membrane of the mouth, throat, and nose became painfully
inflamed, and even bled; my head ached constantly, and my eyes on the
sixth day completely crossed. I could not have got more than a touch
of the stuff. I have absolutely no recollection of any particular time
when the thing might have occurred; indeed, I had congratulated myself
that I had been unusually prompt to use my mask and exceedingly careful
to take no chances.

Two months later a thorough examination resulted in the following
report: "Röntgen examination of the thorax showed increased density of
both apices, left more than right; marked thickening of right hilus."
All of which means, according to the obliging man of science, that
the lungs were left with scars as lungs are scarred from pneumonia or
incipient tuberculosis.

In the writer's slight case the depressing nature of the poison because
of its action upon the organs of respiration and the nerve-centres was
particularly noticeable. For weeks I experienced the constant sensation
of smothering, felt "full" and "stuffed," as the proverbial "stuffed
toad" looks. At night, when I could sleep at all, I suffered dreams of
horror, and awoke struggling for a full breath; then always followed
appalling wakefulness. My appetite returned slowly. I was favored with
the best of care, enjoyed a delightful ocean voyage at just the right
time, and had a perfect general physical condition to begin with. I
have the assurance that my glimpse into what so many blessed sons of
the republic must behold with wide-open eyes will leave no permanent
evil after-effects. But it will cause me to see forever the travail of
those who must experience the birth-throes of the new and better world,
and the picture of Democracy's youthful martyrs will not fade from my
eyes while the flowers of memory put forth and bud.

I think of Liberty Bonds now in terms of gas-masks; one fifty-dollar
bond will _almost_ buy _two_ gas-masks!

A driver on a truck or a wagon is especially exposed to the menace
of gas. He is entirely removed from the warnings of the special
gas sentinel, and the noise of his vehicle gives him no chance to
distinguish the peculiar sound of the bursting shell. Down into a bit
of low ground the brave fellow swings; a sudden giddiness seizes him.
He is fortunate indeed if it is only a whiff and he can adjust his mask
before greater disaster overwhelms him.

In general attacks, where gas is extensively used, both sides are
compelled to fight in masks; the attacking foe must enter territory
he has previously drenched with his poison. With a gas-mask on a man
is not more than fifty per cent efficient. In any sort of combat, but
particularly in hand-to-hand fighting, it is a fearful handicap. The
temptation to tear off the mask becomes practically irresistible.
Heroic doctors have been known calmly to lay aside their masks when
with their faces covered they could no longer serve their suffering
charges.

[Illustration: A GAS ATTACK
American soldiers in their trenches wearing gas-masks.
Copyright by Underwood and Underwood, N. Y.]

An enemy constantly strives to deceive its opponents into believing
that gas is about to be used or has been used. If an unhampered raiding
party can find trenches filled with men in masks in the all-important
second when it leaps over the parapet, the success of its venture is
virtually assured. Three days following the first general gas attack
experienced by the American army the first general raid on our lines
came across. Before the raid exactly the same methods were pursued,
and the same demonstrations were made within the German lines that
had preceded this first gas-attack. Many of our lads believed that a
second gassing was imminent, and got into their masks. Just before
the German barrage was lifted from our trench to the territory behind
it, and at the exact time fixed for the starting of the raid, German
patrols sent into No Man's Land shouted in perfect English, "Gas! Gas!"
It was hoped that the Americans would be deceived into believing that
their own patrols were giving the warning and that the raiders would
find themselves confronted by begoggled opponents. In this instance the
strategy completely failed; the raiders were virtually annihilated.

It is interesting to note that in the affair just referred to long
pipes filled with explosives were for the first time used against us
to destroy our barbed wire. These pipes, some of them sixty feet long,
were stealthily shoved under our wire, and at a signal were exploded
simultaneously, with the concentrating of a brief barrage on the wire
entanglements. Large sections of our wire were blown completely out of
the ground.

Riding from London to Glasgow one afternoon, I became acquainted with
a captain of the Black Watch. He was returning from Mesopotamia. For
two years and six months he had been in service without a "leave." He
was counting the miles to Dundee, and his eyes had the light of the
home fires burning in them. We had talked about many things. He had
told me of the death of General Maude, of the capture of Bagdad, and
had given me what he believed to be the reasons for General Townshend's
defeat. Finally I said, "Do you use the gas out there?" and he replied:
"No; we have it ready, but we have never used it. _The Turks are
Christians._ They don't use it."

His answer gives more clearly than any argument I have ever listened
to the statement of the difference between the spirit and programme
of the Central Powers and the spirit and programme of the Allies.
Gas was "made in Germany"; Autocracy and Absolutism are its parents.
Only a stern military necessity has finally forced it as a weapon
into the hands of Democracy. Military _necessity_, I say, for not to
meet gas with gas would be like opposing rapid-fire guns with spears.
The "culture" that ravished Louvain, and that left on the cities of
northern France the scars of rapine and murder that will never out, has
made the air a poison breath.



CHAPTER IX

"_THEY SHALL NOT PASS_"

GLIMPSES OF THE SPIRIT OF THE TRENCHES


We were seated together at a Liberty-Loan dinner in Buffalo. He was in
the British uniform and "wore" a cane, not a dress cane, but a heavy
stick that took the place of a crutch. A naturalized American citizen,
he enlisted first in an Irish regiment. After recovering from a serious
wound he was discharged, but a few weeks in New York left him a
restless man with eyes turning ever toward the sea. On the thirtieth of
November, 1916, he re-enlisted, this time with a Canadian regiment in
Toronto. Again he was "shot to pieces." Now he hobbles about with the
same nervous eagerness that forced him away from home the second time.
Another honorable discharge has not satisfied him, and he said to me,

"I hope I get over this so that I can re-enlist, this time under the
Stars and Stripes."

No _man_ who has been "over there" is ever again satisfied while water
remains between him and the front. Not that he forms an appetite for
war; he hates war. But so long as the fighters fight he will be in the
valley of discontent when he is not on the field of action.

In England and in Scotland I found scores of men pining for France.
They had been eager to get back to "Blighty." With straining eyes they
had watched for her shores through the mists of the morning as the
hospital ship found the channel of the home port, but now they begged
for a chance to get back. Lieutenant-Colonel Cote, on his way to rejoin
in Italy his command which he had left on the Somme when a bullet
through his shoulder and back laid him low, said to me:

"I could not stay. They offered me a desk in London, and it was tough
to leave the wife and little girls; but I couldn't stay."

At that time he was one of six men in the British Empire who had three
times received the "D. S. O." (Distinguished Service Order)--once in
South Africa where he enlisted as a private, and twice in France. After
five months he was sufficiently recovered from his third wound to
report for duty.

What is this spirit, the spirit of the trenches? There is humor in
it. Lieutenant Johrens, who returned with me from France, was on the
Tuscania when she was sent down by submarine attack. As the destroyer
which picked up the boat company of which he was in charge cruised
about in the darkness near the scene of the catastrophe, the officers
heard singing in the distance. Searching out the spot from which
the voices came, they found twenty privates on a catamaran, shouting
lustily the refrain of the popular song,

    "Where do we go from here, boys?
    Where do we go from here?"

The Lieutenant added that a French pastor in Tours on being told the
story seemed deeply impressed, but not even slightly amused. The
next Sunday, referring to the incident, he said impressively to his
sympathetic congregation:

"Our brave allies are not only men of action; they are all men of deep
spiritual conviction. In danger their thoughts turn instinctively
toward God. As they clung to their frail raft in the darkness of the
tempest and the blackness of the night, they searched their hearts, and
with the mingled emotions of men facing the vast unknown they sang that
glorious old Billy Sunday hymn,

    'Where do we go from here, boys?
    Where do we go from here?'"

The humor of homesickness makes no pretence, and is unashamed. A chap
from Montana came up to the canteen counter behind which I stood, and
said,

"Say, did you ever hear the story of the Statue of Liberty?" and I
replied,

"Which one?"

He tipped his helmet forward, mocked me with a deep bow, and said,

"This one: A fellow had been started toward Davy Jones's locker three
times by 'subs.' Finally he got a tub that made through connections;
and, as he came up the harbor of 'little ol' Broadway,' he saw the
'Lady' standing up there and looking out through the mist, holding the
lamp up to the window for him, and saying, 'Hello, kid; welcome home!'
and he swallowed his Adam's apple, stood at attention, saluted, and
said, 'Thank you, madam; I'm mighty glad to see you. But, if you ever
see me again, _you'll have to turn around_!'"

He didn't wait for a laugh. He knew that the tale had "whiskers" and
that many a man now old "had kicked the slats out of his cradle" in
protesting against its resurrection. He hadn't told it to amuse me, but
to "spill himself." But I laughed just the same, for it was richly done.

I watched the artist of the story as he proceeded to unlimber "Jenny,"
the fifteen-dollar talking-machine that stood in the far corner of the
cellar in which this particular Y. M. C. A. canteen was located. No
corner of that cellar was as far as thirty feet from any other corner.
It was not more than sixteen hundred yards from our most advanced
position, and directly in front of a great battery which just then was
exchanging "calls" with the enemy. It sounded like a dozen Fourth of
Julys outside, with cannon crackers and bombs not excluded.

The story-teller fingered through the records until he found the one
his mood called for; then he removed his helmet to ease his weary
head,--regulations allowed him to uncover while underground,--sat down
on a biscuit-box directly in front of the sound-chamber, and, with his
unshaven chin in his dirty, cracked hand, waited, close up, for the
first word. There, in that old cellar under a ruined French chateau,
I heard Alma Gluck sing "Little Gray Home in the West." She has sung
it to vast multitudes in great halls, and to distinguished people in
quiet parlors; she has set the world a-weeping with the exquisite pain
of her song; but she never sang more effectively than she sang that
night among the noisome odors of a dark dugout of the front line, with
shrapnel and high explosives for an accompaniment and a homesick lad
from Montana for her audience.

What is the spirit of the trenches? It is the spirit of rare
comradeship. _I never saw a man injure another man up there, or seek
to._ Quarrels? _Sure!_ and personal encounters now and then, but these
are few and far between. There are little time and strength for them,
of course, and there are few opportunities; but, when they do happen,
they are differences of words that do not have two meanings and of
fists that come through the open.

I have seen a man carry, in addition to his own kit, the entire
equipment of another man who was suffering from gas. Three miles
and a half, under the severest conditions of opening spring, through
mud-filled trenches he walked with his double load, helping a man he
had never seen before.

In one of our companies were two Portuguese. One could not speak
English. He was terribly dependent upon his "buddy." While I was with
the battalion to which his company belonged, the "buddy" was killed.
The distress of the man who did not understand the language of the
country he loved and for whose just cause he had volunteered his all
was most affecting. But how the other men of that company got about
him! They swore that he should not have a single lonely minute. Indeed,
they nearly ruined the chap with their kindness. They were in a fair
way to destroy his stomach with their gifts and his constitution by
their vigilance, which actually robbed him of sleep, when a wise-headed
corporal took command of the situation and set them right.

It is this spirit of man's thoughtfulness for his brother, man's
tenderness with man, that reassures me when I ask, "How will this
stupendous man-hunt affect the heart of the race?" And the fighter is
not unaware of the question. Indeed, he asks it himself. I heard a
young major who was saying a farewell to a group of his friends at a
church banquet in a Canadian city say,

"I go away determined, God helping me, to do my hardest duty; to render
my country and the empire an enthusiastic and utmost service; and to
carry myself so that when I come back, if I come back, _little children
will run to me as confidently as they do now_."

What is the spirit of the trenches? It is the spirit of service that
has no interrogation points. One night a shriek of agony came ringing
back to our line from a listening-post in No Man's Land. A chaplain
was "up," a Roman Catholic. He crawled down the shallow communicating
trench to the wounded soldier, found him with a foot smashed by a
grenade, unconscious, and bleeding to death. He stanched the flow of
blood as best he could, and somehow got the man back. And then, after
the stretcher party had carried the "casualty" to the dressing-station,
and while they waited for the ambulance, he prayed with the lad. A few
days later he said to me, "I didn't think a Catholic's prayer would
hurt a Protestant boy." And it was a Protestant padre, we are told, who
ministered to the dying Major Redmond on a battle-field of Flanders.

There is no "grousing" in the trenches. I heard no complaints from men
who were straining their vital forces to the utmost. It is great to
hear them when they come out, though! How they do vent their spleen
upon springs that are a bit uneven, these fellows who have been
wallowing in mud and ice for days without a word in their misery!

A runner came in one morning after thirty-six hours of continuous duty.
He was chilled to the bone, and one foot was in bad shape. He had
neither overcoat nor blankets; his entire equipment had been buried
by the shelling incident to a raid. We leaned him against the great
tea-boiler, and while he stood there warming his body we poured hot
drinks into his stomach. Turning away for a moment, I was startled by
a clatter behind me. There he was, his cup on the floor; he was dead
asleep on his feet.

I have seen lads fall asleep on the rough boards of a Y. M. C. A.
hut, with only the nondescript materials for covers that we could
hastily throw over them. Not even the noises of great batteries, and of
hundreds of soldiers passing in and out, disturbed them in the least.

Not a whimper, not a whisper of rebellion, came from them. Oh, I do not
believe that I shall ever again complain about any hardship without
despising myself. What a task we at home have, to be worthy of them!

There are so many tales of unalloyed courage, and so many to tell them
well, that I have purposely committed this chapter largely to a very
faulty pen-picture of another side of the spiritual portrait of the
American soldier. His bravery is very prompt and very honest, and no
soldier of the world is braver. He confesses his fear, which is not
pretended; tells how fast he ran, how paralyzed his tongue was, how he
caught himself saying, "Engine, engine number nine, running on Chicago
line," or wiping his forehead with his revolver! But all the time he
has not turned away from the line of duty by a single hair.

The type of his courage is unmistakable. It would be very poor form
for an American to speak of this in any way that would make invidious
comparisons, and to speak thus would insult the American soldier, who
so thoroughly appreciates and so enthusiastically magnifies at his own
expense the prowess of our allies who have done so much for us, who for
four years have stood between us and destruction, and who even now must
very largely teach us the modern art of national self-defence. "Private
Peat" was of course over-enthusiastic in his praise, but he indicated a
quality of bravery that I never failed to find in the American army in
France when he said: "They are far ahead of the English and French in
many ways. They are more active, more quick in thinking, and can decide
in an instant what to do in battle. They have already made a wonderful
record. Every allied soldier honors them." I saw the native genius of
American fliers strikingly illustrated in an aviation contest between
student fliers and their instructors. Every event--bomb-dropping,
handling of machine guns, and trick flying--was won by the students.

And the spirit of the trenches is not confined to those who stand in
the mud of the trenches and experience their horrors. In Basingstoke,
England, one night I sat with a queenly woman of seventy in front of a
typical English grate fire. The war has taken much away from her; and,
as she talked with such quiet determination and in tones so rich with
suffering, she said, "_We_ who have been in the trenches for nearly
four years ----"

Ah, yes, the women too have been in the farthest places of the line.
The long vigils of the soldier in nights that promise only terror and
in days that bring only hardship are not kept alone. The mothers of
men, their wives, their sisters, and their sweethearts stand there
too. And not only these, but the fathers and the brothers denied the
privilege of bearing arms, but entering into the supreme ordeals of
those who do bear them, by day and by night, in tense silence suffer
in spirit the agonies which the bodies of their sons and brothers must
experience at every station of the flaming trail that leads from the
base to the far rim of No Man's Land.

In a city of Scotland one night I was introduced by the "provost," the
mayor. He was quiet, but fully master of the situation. At the close of
the meeting my host told me that the chairman who had presented me had
that afternoon received a message informing him of the death in action
of his third and last son. _The provost was in the trenches that night._

I have watched the long hospital trains pull into London stations
during a "big push." I have seen the crowded ambulances dash by, and
the dense crowds lining the streets. I have caught at the tightening
of my throat when some grievously wounded man has waved a hand, or
smiled, or wriggled a foot (if the arm was helpless) at the shouting
multitude. And no less glorious has been the spirit of news-laddies who
in rags and tatters have pressed their papers upon bandaged Tommies who
were able to sit up--laddies from the submerged East Side, pauperizing
themselves for a week because their hearts called them. And no less
glorious than the spirit of these newsies has been the devotion of
the flower-women, just as poor as the boys in "Cæsar's coin" and just
as rich in true devotion, some of them in black with only memories
to fill the chairs where strong men once sat--flower-women who, with
tears in their eyes that for the soldiers' sake they _will not_ shed,
crowd about those wagons of mercy, showering the blanketed figures with
primroses and daisies.

What is this spirit,--this spirit of laughter and of tears; this spirit
that _goes_ and that _stays_; this spirit that slays without becoming
cruel and that turns, as the needle turns toward the pole, back again
toward hardness and danger, choosing to walk the trench of death rather
than to linger in the paths of life; this spirit that is both old and
young, and that flourishes in the thin soil of poverty as luxuriantly
as it blooms in the fields of the rich?

It is the spirit that I found in the Gillespie home in Edinburgh. When
the war came, there were two sons to add strength to the grace that two
daughters brought to that fireside. Now the line runs out to the valley
of the Somme, and ends there beneath the flowers of Flanders. Tom died
in the rear-guard fighting from Mons to the Marne. Bey fell at the head
of his men in a charge on the twenty-fifth of September, 1915. Tom's
oars (he was captain of the Oxford eight) hang in the hall and his
picture at the left of the mantel in the library. Bey, whose letters
to his mother have been published as "Letters from Flanders," was the
finest scholar turned out by Oxford in a generation. His picture hangs
just across the mantel from that of his brother.

In that room we sat and discussed the mighty advance just then at its
height; the possibility of its reaching the Channel ports, capturing
Paris, overrunning France, separating the British and French armies. We
discussed the _worst_! And then they said, they who had laid so rich an
offering upon the altar of liberty:

"Back against the shores of this island the British fleet will stand
and hold, hold while America brings up the reserves of civilization.
_They shall not pass! They shall not pass!_"

What is this spirit? I found it everywhere. The very stones of France
cried out with its voices; the shattered trees of the forest were the
strings of a harp that sang with it; the eyes of the smallest child
were filled with it; and aged men in the fields, and gray-haired women
pushing carts through the streets of the cities, were monuments to it
that cathedral-levelling shells could not destroy.

As a troop-train pulled out of a great station in Paris late one
afternoon, I saw a sight that will always remain with me as one of
the most appealing and suggestive pictures of this war. Perhaps five
hundred people were standing on the platform, saying a last good-by to
their loved ones and friends bound for the hungry front. With hands
outreaching and faces in the sun they stood in a great tableau of
farewell as we drew slowly away. And as I looked into the profound
depths of those faces, I was swept by a torrent of emotion that left
me a changed man. They, and millions of others they represent, are the
fathers and mothers, the sisters, wives, sweethearts, brothers, and
friends of unnumbered and never-to-return young men. All have felt
the agony of this war's separations and loss, have poured out their
treasure and their blood. We cannot speak for them, we who only now
begin to enter into their suffering. But we can speak for ourselves; we
can deliver our own souls.

We too have been in this war since 1914, but until a few months
ago France and Britain fought our battles for us. As surely as the
principles for which we now fight, and our American ideals and
liberties, were governing facts with us four years ago, so surely the
same misgoverned power that threatens them now threatened them then.
The British fleet in the North Sea, the British Tommy in the trenches
of Flanders, and the soldiers of France, have made the wall of iron
and the dike of flesh and bone against the flood of autocracy and
absolutism that otherwise would have broken through to ingulf Europe,
America, and the world.

The United States is forever in the debt of those who for unspeakable
months held the lines against the day of her arrival. What we do,
and all that we can do, will not be an unmerited investment from the
standpoint of those peoples who, war-weary and impoverished, yet hold
fast. As for ourselves, it is the price of our progress and of our very
life.

He is less than a loyal American and he is without the knowledge of
gratitude who speaks with a slight of the allies of his country. The
broken men in London's streets, the cripples by the Seine, the armless
lads who wear the badge of far-away Australia, the bandaged ones from
New Zealand and the maimed from Canada, leave me blinded with my tears
of pride and acknowledgment. The wide-eyed women of Brittany in their
simple black, and the children so strangely quiet, the matrons of
England, Italy, Ireland, and Wales, and their sisters in the Highlands
and Lowlands of Scotland, whose unshed tears are like lost rivers, tell
me of my debt, America's debt.

And let us not forget the plight of Serbia and Montenegro, the complete
agony of Roumania. If our war is just and if Justice never forgets,
then the United States will not remain a nation long enough to lose
from her memory the travail of these hapless people to whom all is
now lost but honor. And nothing that Russia, Russia betrayed by those
of her own household and destroyed by an unscrupulous enemy--nothing
that Russia does now or fails to do hereafter will wipe from the page
of history the imperishable glory of her _six million sons_ dead or
maimed, who, inadequately equipped and hopelessly led, were fed in
Freedom's name to the ruthless god of war.

To-day Democracy has become as one nation; thus she stands or falls.
The far-bending line behind Mt. Kemmel and in front of Amiens, and
every line that shall confront Imperial Germany until autocracy has
been finally conquered, is _our_ line. It is not four thousand miles
away, and there is no ocean between it and us. It runs through the
_heart_ of the United States and of Canada. Those who hold it with
their backs against the wall of destiny, whether they fight beneath
the Union Jack, the tricolor of France, or the Stars and Stripes, are
soldiers of the Republic.

This spirit of gratitude and understanding is the spirit of the
American trenches, for in them are Americans who have entered into the
sufferings of a world that loves liberty enough to give the best, the
last, and all, to preserve it. I found no boasting in our trenches;
men did not say, "We have come to win the war." They said with an
all-convincing earnestness, "We have come to _help win the war_." And
now _behind our_ trenches are fathers and mothers and friends; these
too have entered into this vast fellowship of pain, and they too _begin
to know_.

More eloquently than any words of mine can describe it the verses of
Private William I. Grundish, Company C of the U. S. Engineers, A. E.
F.,--verses which first appeared in the Paris edition of _The New York
Herald_,--have given a voice to the soul of the American soldier.
Private Grundish called the poem

FACING THE SHADOWS.

    "When I behold the tense and tragic night
      Shrouding the earth in vague, symbolic gloom,
    And when I think that ere my fancy's flight
      Has reached the portals of the inner room
    Where knightly ghosts, guarding the secret ark
      Of brave romance, through me shall sing again,
    Death may ingulf me in eternal dark,--
      Still I have no regret nor poignant pain.
    Better in one ecstatic, epic day
      To strike a blow for Glory and for Truth,
    With ardent, singing heart to toss away
      In Freedom's holy cause my eager youth,
    Than bear, as weary years pass one by one,
    The knowledge of a sacred task undone."

Lieutenant Dinsmore Ely was killed in France in the aviation service on
April 21, 1918. On April 29 his father, Dr. James O. Ely of Winnetka,
Ill., received a letter from him written just before his death. The
letter ends thus:

"And I want to say in closing, If anything should happen to me, let's
have no mourning in spirit or in dress. Like a Liberty Bond, it is an
investment, not a loss, when a man dies for his country. It is an honor
to a family, and is that the time for weeping?"

"_It is an investment, not a loss, when a man dies for his country._"
Here is the spirit of the trenches: it is the spirit that cries, "With
this I give myself." It is _sacrifice_, and sacrifice is the spirit of
victory.



CHAPTER X

_THE GREATEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD_


I saw her first in a great base hospital in the north of England.
Her ward was filled with wounded British soldiers. In writing of her
one hesitates to use the only word in the language of our race that
expresses the adoration of those young heroes as their eyes companioned
her from cot to cot. One hesitates to use the word because it has been
associated with so many small and trifling things, because it has
become such a commonplace. But it is the only word: they _worshipped_
her.

What I saw in their eyes that day I have seen in my mother's eyes as
she arose from prayer; I saw it once in the eyes of a battle-widow
kneeling before a shrine in Paris; I caught a glimpse of it in the eyes
of my son when, leaning against the cradling embrace of his mother's
arms, he looked for an instant with a baby's questioning into his
mother's face; I beheld it in supernatural glory near the fortress city
of Toul when a soldier of my country, a lad in years but a veteran in
sacrifice, in the delirium of his suffering whispered that name which
is above all other names in the vocabulary of the dying. It is not the
tribute of either sex exclusively, nor of any particular age; it is
the supreme testimony of the human soul, and to those who behold it a
fleeting glimpse of the things that are "hid with Christ in God."

This woman was not old, and she was not young. Her hair was white, and
her cheeks were the vivid hue of her native land. She was not beautiful
by the artist's test, but it is seldom given to any one to study a more
attractive face. A stranger would always see first and remember last
her eyes and her mouth; why, I cannot say, for as I write I find it
impossible to describe them. She was just above the medium in height,
athletic of figure; and she moved about with the unhurried swiftness of
the born nurse.

But the impression she left upon me was not the impression of one who
deftly, tenderly cares for the sick and the injured. When my eyes
fell upon her, and as they followed her, and when I turned away from
the great hospital, I thought of my own mother. Now, although I am
writing of her, the face that rises before me is not her face; it is my
mother's face.

She stopped presently by a bed that held a fearfully broken lad from
London's great East Side. In half a dozen places the shrapnel had
sought his vitals, and quite as many times the kindly cruel scalpel of
the surgeon had searched out the creeping poison. The foot of the bed
was raised so that the bandaged head was inches below the level of
the tired feet. When she touched the boy, he smiled. He could not see
her,--his eyes were covered,--and he could not move his head. Even the
smile must have cost him pain. But I never knew before that a man's
mouth could be so beautiful. It was as if the lips had responded to
something electric in that white-gowned woman's touch; it was as if
her fingers had healing in them, as if her hands bore the same divine
ministries that the hands of the Galilean carried to the halt and lame
and blind nineteen hundred years before. I found myself whispering,
"And the child was cured from that very hour."

I saw her next in France and not far behind the lines, and I saw,
in the eyes of the men she ministered to there, what I had seen in
England. I never learned her story. Somehow I never cared to know it;
I never inquired. Once when a chaplain started to tell me, I stopped
him. I knew that it would be brave and beautiful; but the war has
many stories, and we must save our dreams. I prefer to remember her
in the spirit of the words of one her hands were laid upon: "I wonder
what she did before she went to war--for she has gone to war as truly
as any soldier. I am sure in the peaceful years she must have loved
and been greatly loved. Perhaps _he_ was killed out there. Now she is
ivory-white with over-service, and spends all her days in loving. She
will not spare herself. Her eyes,--ah! her eyes,--they have the old
frank, comprehending look of her yesterdays; but they are ringed with
being weary. Only her lips hold a touch of the old color. Over dying
men she stoops, and is to them the incarnation of their mother or of
the woman, had they lived, they would have loved."

I saw her first in England and then in France. I shall not see her
again. In the air a winged monster paused and let loose his fury.
_She is not dead, but gone to her coronation._ She lives to-day in
the hearts of ten times ten thousand women and thousands more, this
greatest mother in the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

I came one bitter night in February into the crowded, dirty station at
Toul. One of my travelling companions was a lieutenant of the "Rainbow
Division," who hailed from Marion, O., and who talked a lot about his
wife and baby. His head was clean-shaven, "because," he said, "kerosene
was expensive and hard to procure!"

On the same train with us were a dozen Red Cross nurses transferring to
a new base hospital. They were wonderful girls. Until morning brought
the cars that were to carry them on to their destination nearer the
line they sat on their blanket-rolls. While they waited, they sang
"Keep the Home Fires Burning," "Over There"; and they sang the old
songs, "Kentucky Home," "Swanee River," "Tenting To-night on the
Old Camp-Ground"; and they sang some of the hymns that have body and
distinction and that last, "Rock of Ages," "Nearer, My God, to Thee,"
"Lead, Kindly Light"; the "Marseillaise" was sung again and again,
while we all stood, and "The Star-Spangled Banner." The night rang with
their voices.

During the informal concert a French troop-train pulled in, and the
poilus tumbled out. They heard the singing; and, although they could
not understand the words of the songs, they caught the spirit of the
singers. Like statues they stood leaning upon their long guns and
listening to those women of a far land brought near by the ministry of
a common pain. About us were the high-piled sand-bags that re-enforced
the abris (shelters) conveniently placed for a quick retreat in case
of an air raid. Only a few very faint lights were shown. But the faces
of those French soldiers seemed to build a warming fire on the station
platform, and the choir lighted a candle that did not burn out. It was
a night never to be forgotten.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Wonderful is woman, this woman of war!

    "The bravest battle that ever was fought,
        Shall I tell you where and when?
    On the maps of the world you will find it not;
        'Twas fought by the mothers of men."

And this woman of war is the woman of work. As, in the brave days of
old, woman, free of spirit as she was free of limb, carried the extra
weapons of her mate into the heart of the conflict, and inspired him to
superhuman deeds, bearing equal share with him in the front of battle,
so the woman of to-day, for the first time in long generations given
equal freedom with man to do the world's work, has sprung to the side
of her mate. In the factories of England, in the fields of Russia,
in the mills and mines of France, on the firing line itself, and in
the Red Cross behind every bloody trench of the war-mad world, she
is giving herself, body, mind, and soul, for the preservation of the
institutions of her people.

I have seen her pushing her cart through the streets of Rennes and
Tours, bearing great loads down the highways of Brittany, tilling
fields with the first glimpse of spring, close behind the lines. She is
in all places, for her tasks are the tasks of the universal need.

But England gave me my best opportunity to study carefully the woman
of work. A girl sold me my ticket at Liverpool; another took it.
A girl gathered the baggage together at the Paddington station in
London. Young women were at the desk of the hotel--not a man in sight
anywhere. Women are conductors on the London trams and guards as well
as ticket-sellers in the tubes. I saw them doing the heaviest labor
of canal-boats and harbor tugs. They were ploughing in the country
and driving munition-vans in the cities. In one of the greatest
shell-factories I saw scores of young women at lathes, and other scores
managing intricate machinery with deftness and precision. What price
the next generation will pay for these strained bodies--some of the
loads are necessarily heavy ones--I do not know, but womanhood asks no
questions when the voice of sacrifice calls.

One is impressed by the number of wedding-rings worn by the women of
work; thousands of wives, yes, and widows, of soldiers are serving
Britain in these new ways. Many must add their earnings to the scant
home store, and so the babies are cared for by grandparents or public
nurseries while the mothers labor for the cause the father fights for
or may have died for. In munition-factories matrons are provided who
look after the interests of the younger girls. Of course, grave moral
problems are arising from these new and complicated relations of women
to the world that has for so long been man's world exclusively. These
problems will not be solved in a day.

After three years of war 4,766,000 women were employed in England,
or 1,421,000 more than were employed in 1914. The number of women
workers is increasing at the rate of 18,000 every week. The Minister of
Munitions announces that from "sixty to eighty per cent of the machine
work on shells, fuses, and trench-warfare supplies is now performed by
women. They have been trained in aëroplane-manufacture, gun-work, and
in almost every other branch of manufacture."

In a statement made later, in the House of Commons, the Minister of
Munitions referred to the fact that nearly one thousand large guns
were destroyed or captured, and between four and five thousand machine
guns destroyed or captured, in the great German offensive which began
on the twenty-first of March, 1918, and that in this same period the
ammunition lost amounted to about the total production of from one to
three weeks. But he declared that the loss had been more than made up
in less than one month, and that nine-tenths of the huge output of
shells which was then sufficient for the continuation of an intensive
battle throughout the summer was due to the labor of three-quarters of
a million women.

I heard a great iron-merchant say: "Ah! sir, the women are saving the
country. When I myself urged a holiday upon them,--and not in a year
have they taken one,--they said: 'What will our men at the front do
when we stop? Will the Germans sit back and rest too? We will have our
holiday when the war is over and the lads come home.'"

She was just a slip of a girl; but she smiled at the baby boy in her
arms, and said, "His father is in France." She continued: "This is
my first day with him in ten months. He is asleep when I get home at
night, and he is asleep in the morning when I leave for the shop."
And she smiled again as she added: "O, he is a fine sleeper, sir, and
the ladies at the church [referring to the nursery] have no trouble
with him. It is good, though, to have him in my arms with his eyes
open." And, though I blinked my eyes hard as I looked at this brave
English girl having an enforced vacation from shell-making because of
"back-strain," she had no tears in her eyes.

And in excess of all that her hands find to do, as when Spartan mothers
sent their sons away and with the same spirit, Democracy's woman of
work is giving her flesh and her blood to be food for the carrion-birds
of countries she has never seen, while still beneath her heart she
carries the developing life that is the hope of the future.

I saw a great parade in London, one hundred thousand women marching in
a vast demonstration after the triumph of suffrage--mothers, wives,
sisters, and sweethearts, little daughters dressed in white, and
gray-haired battle-widows of the Crimea. The faces of the marchers were
inspiring, but my eyes did not rest upon them. I looked longest at the
black masses of men and boys crowding close against the lines that
kept the street open for the parade. To the eternal credit of manhood
let it be said that the faces of the men were generally faces of old
men and that the faces of the boys were the faces of children.

But I saw more than the crowd of men and boys. On those faces I saw the
light of discovery, and I seemed to hear a voice, a voice that speaks
down through the years from a Roman cross, "Behold thy mother." The
clamor of the unparalleled conflict has been the quiet in which for
the first time woman's cry for justice has been really heard and fully
understood.

Great Britain, the butt of our jokes because of her stolid slowness
and stubbornness in an opinion or tradition, saw her window-smashers
turn to munition-makers, saw her social butterflies don the garb of Red
Cross nurses, saw her women rise to help win the war; and Great Britain
was convinced.

And what have we found this "new woman," this woman of war, to be?
First of all, we have discovered that she is not new; that she is the
woman of old, the woman of yesterday, to-day, and forever.

But, while woman has not changed, her times have; and with intelligent
heroism she is fighting against fearful odds, to adjust the machinery
of society to meet modern needs. One has declared that already
three-fourths of woman's former sphere has slipped away from her. Back
at the beginnings of the race she was in all things partner of the man.
She not only bore children and reared them; she was armor-bearer as
well, tent-maker, planter, tender, and reaper of the harvests.

But gradually changes came. Men no longer spent all of their time
in fighting or preparing to fight. They began to relieve women
in the fields and to assume more and more the heavier portion of
building-operations. Women found more time for the nursery and kitchen,
for the loom and spinning-wheel.

As civilization progressed, still fewer men went away to battle, and
war became less frequent. Minds with leisure became inventive, and
machinery simplified household labors. Even the nursery was invaded;
for the cry was no longer, "Give me sons, many sons," but, "Give me fit
sons," and the honor in mere numbers in childbearing gave way to the
distinction of quality as well.

Then, too, the home itself reached out beyond the pioneer clearing
which formerly held all of its activities, until its interests became
identified with all the problems of a society no longer bounded by
family, village, tribal, or even racial lines. It is as unreasonable to
insist that women in their social and political relations to-day remain
as they were before the advent of the public bakery, the tailor-shop,
the candy-kitchen, the public school, and the legalized saloon as it
would be to insist that they go back to the spinning-wheel or that they
assume again as a normal occupation the hod-carrying of the builder.

Civilization faces a female ultimatum to-day. Ah, more than that,
it is a racial ultimatum; for effete women produce their kind, and
final racial standards are fixed in the womb. This is the ultimatum:
_Parasite or partner?_

Woman must be admitted on equal terms to participation in all
activities of modern society, or she must occupy an ever-narrowing
sphere that will crowd her at last to the soft couch of voluptuous
idleness, where Roman splendor waned and Grecian greatness died.

Do you say that woman's sphere is in the home? Because I so believe I
am intensely concerned that she shall find no barred doors anywhere
that open to knowledge and power which will make her more competent in
her paramount task of motherhood. For the sake of the future we must
not consent to send woman into the social arena short of being fully
armed.

Woman is to-day following the unerring sex instinct that warns her to
keep always by the side of her mate. Her cry for political freedom is a
plea for and a movement toward a fuller understanding, a more blessed
helpfulness, between husband and wife, mother and son, male and female.
_Those who grow not together, grow apart._

I have seen towering trees fall before the joined cuttings of two
axe-men who, working together, with blow following blow, hewed to the
heart of the monarch of the forest. I have seen a giant workman laying
the bricks of a city pavement, with his left and right hands toiling in
perfect unison and with almost incredible rapidity. In the crash of a
great line drive on the gridiron I have felt the swaying of the human
mass in deadlock, and then the impact of the reserve from the back
field that has destroyed the balance and forced the ball over the line.

Just as the tree falls slowly before the attack of a single axe-man,
just as the paving waits on a "one-handed" layer of bricks, just as the
gridiron struggle remains undecided until it has felt the drive of the
reserve back, so society waits to-day on the fulness of the strength of
womanhood.

For the times that are to come with the close of the war we must now
prepare; for the reforms that will be possible then, for that mighty
new dispensation of social justice, we must doubly arm ourselves.
No resources of power available for the world programme of peace,
sobriety, economic freedom, and democracy, dare be overlooked. Hear the
female ultimatum to the race: _a drag or a lift, a plaything or a mate,
a parasite or a partner_.



CHAPTER XI

_THE FIRST CROIX DE GUERRE_


A sentinel barred our way. "Can't take the 'bus' in for half an hour
yet." Barnes turned to me, and said, "Shall we walk or wait?" We left
the car for the driver to bring up when the failing light would make
his journey safer, and hiked up the road.

We had been stopped at the edge of the woods between the third and
second lines, half a mile from a little village that marked the point
within the second line which was our immediate destination. Machines
were not allowed beyond the cover of the trees before dark. A few yards
above the sentinel who had challenged us the road came under the eye of
German observers.

Ten minutes of brisk walking brought us to the second line. There had
been a great air fight, with eighteen planes in action, only a few
hours before; and three Germans had been dropped. An anti-aircraft
gun manned by the French was so carefully camouflaged that even when
standing within ten feet of the spot where it raised itself unhurriedly
out of the earth to go into action, one was quite unaware of its
presence.

Barnes, an old-time Endeavorer from Ohio, whose business in Cleveland
was big, and who brings to the generalship of a front-line Y. M. C.
A. division a genius for leadership and a personality that make him a
marked man, was in a hurry to be off. A mile and a half of open country
lay between us and the most advanced "75's." In front of these was the
military road along which were scattered the several ruined villages we
must visit before returning to headquarters.

The "front line," by the way, is not a string without thickness; from
batteries to the most advanced trench it is a mile deep at least. The
great battle highway, in front of the hidden guns that are the most
exact engines of death the war has developed, is screened carefully
from the enemy to cover the passing of trains and men. From it deep
communicating trenches run down to battalion and company headquarters,
the dugouts, the reserve trenches, the machine-gun nests, and the
"laterals" that stretch away for miles facing Germany.

The gray of a February evening, whose heavy sky completely hid the
sunset, was our protection as we left the second line behind us and
swung with long strides across the open. Then, too, we were nearly
three miles from enemy trenches, and by the time we had come to closer
quarters it would be pitch-dark.

Not a fence or a hedge broke the monotony of that vast open space.
Abandoned trenches, that in a need could be quickly made war-fit,
scarred it in all directions, and shell-holes pocked it thickly. Almost
I thought myself again in the dead season of late fall upon the high
plateaus of Montana or Wyoming. These craters, the old ones, were not
unlike the ancient buffalo-wallows of the West; and the tangled, heavy
grass, undisturbed for three plantings, reminded me of the dried virgin
turf of my own country.

But I got no farther with my comparisons; the sounds in the air and the
huge noises in the not-too-remote distance, where the earth rose in
volcanic eruptions to meet the sky, were unlike any range voices I had
ever heard. Across this plateau of France Death has herded his flocks,
and here have been gathered some of his bloodiest harvests.

We steered our course by the "farm" described to us by the men on the
second line. It was a jumbled ruin overhung with vines, kindly vines
that tried to hide great wounds. A bicycle courier, speeding back with
messages, set us right again when we lost our way in the deepening
darkness; but it was black night when we entered our first objective on
the great road.

A private directed us to the officers' mess. Winding in and out among
the shattered buildings, we threaded our way to an old bomb-proof. As
I came out of the night, even the flicker of the candles in the dark,
cellar-like room blinded me. When my vision cleared, I saw approaching
me a young officer who had risen from the head of the table; he was the
"town major," the officer in charge of the village. With his hands he
made a vise and gripped my shoulders, as he said, like one in a dream,
"Poling, what are you doing here?" and, reaching back a half-dozen
years, I cried, "_Pat!_" It was Lieutenant Robert C. Patterson, of
Huntington, Ind.,--but it was not as "Lieutenant Patterson" that I
addressed him.

We met first at a young people's conference at Winona Lake. He
was president of the Christian Endeavor society and teacher of
a Sunday-school class in the Presbyterian church at home, an
exceptionally alert and vigorous young man. Out under the trees early
one morning we talked about the gravest problem a man ever faces,
"Where shall I put my life?" Since those days at Winona Lake I had not
seen him. He had experienced many changes, enlisting at twenty-one,
three years before our meeting in France; and, when the challenge of a
vast military need had become unmistakable to him, he had seen service
first at Panama. Later he had been assigned to duty at home; and in
July, 1917, his eager eyes were among the first in our expeditionary
army to see the shores of bleeding, glorious France. His advancement
had been rapid, from private to sergeant, and from sergeant to a
commission. He was wearing the silver bar of a first lieutenant
when we gripped each other "over there," but before I saw again the
lights off Sandy Hook--and my return was not long delayed after our
meeting--he was made a captain.

We did not eat. In his billet we sat on his bunk and talked. We
travelled fast and far in a few minutes. Things and times had changed
since we last talked together by the quiet lake in Indiana, but some
things never change; we talked about those things that are the same
yesterday, to-day, and forever.

But Barnes was becoming impatient; there were long miles to go yet, and
much work was to be done. The machine had arrived and was waiting, and
machines look better under way than parked on the line.

"Pat" said a few things quietly, and then opened his tunic and took out
of a deep pocket a well-worn leather case. In it was the first Croix
de Guerre given by the French government to an American officer after
the entry of the United States into the war. With it was the official
citation telling of the high courage and determination which won the
coveted cross of honor. "Take it back; deliver it in person," he said.

You have not forgotten the story of the first little affair suffered by
Americans in the trenches, the story of the barrage, the trench raid,
the taking of three prisoners, and the offering of America's first
strong lives upon the altar of freedom. You will never forget the young
officer who in that "violent bombardment," when communications were
cut and re-enforcements held back, conquered the shell-fire to make
his report, and then "carried on" until the black morning was over.
America's first Croix de Guerre never left its place by the side of my
passport and movement orders, pressed close against my body, until the
last inch of treacherous Atlantic was behind me.

But to me it speaks of the _other soldier_, not the one I left out
there by the battle road under the shell-illumined sky of St. Mihiel,
not the one in muddy uniform with the old-young face of a veteran and
the insignia of the army of the republic; but that other soldier who
gave his heart's full allegiance to the Captain of the great salvation,
and who now, in the far, stern place his quest of richer, fuller life
has called him to, keeps the faith. As these lines are being written,
there lies before me a letter from the mother of Captain Patterson;
and in it I read, "It was through his interest in our local Christian
Endeavor society that he became a member of the church when he was
thirteen years old."

Out from the International Headquarters of the Christian Endeavor
movement floats a service flag with 140 stars upon it, and every star
represents 1,000 men--140,000 young Endeavorers now with the colors in
France or in training-camps preparing to go--140,000 young men from
the churches of the United States who have not "failed to hear the call
of highest patriotism." Long ere these words will find themselves upon
the printed page the 140,000 will have become 150,000, and, if the end
of this red pilgrimage be not soon reached, the three hundred thousand
Endeavorers of military age, and their as yet uncounted brothers, will
have found their places in the trenches or behind them, and on the
ships of the sea.

How quickly they came! From my own local union six officers enlisted
within a few weeks; before I left for France twenty-three State
presidents, active or past, were in training; and a great city union,
that of Des Moines, found itself without a young man left on the
executive committee. Within the first year of the war Illinois and
Ohio recorded more than five Christian Endeavorers in service for
every society. A census of Camp Hancock taken in early December, 1917,
revealed the fact that ten per cent of the men in training there at
that time were Christian Endeavorers.

On no day in France did I look in vain for Christian Endeavorers, and
no group that I met there was so small that it did not contain them. My
visit with Patterson that night was only the beginning, or rather it
was a high point, in a day of continuous Christian Endeavor fellowship.
In every Y. M. C. A. hut I was greeted by Christian Endeavorers under
helmets and with gas-masks, at attention. What a fine little group that
was from Maine! And then there was the brother of a president of the
Oklahoma union.

In one "hut," after the gas-warning which came while I was speaking had
been recalled, a Christian Endeavorer took me to the rise from which an
exceptional view of the flares from the guns could be seen. The night
was crowded with great trucks bearing supplies and ammunition along the
midnight roads. Without lights, and forbidden to use their horns, those
unsung, unseen heroes crept along, passing files of soldiers, soldiers
marching in and soldiers marching out, facing the risk of the shells
that death drops suddenly from the sky to open chasms in the way or to
strew horses and men in wide windrows under the ghostly trees. And on
many a high seat and behind many a truck-wheel I found my brethren that
night.

In another hut I was greeted by William E. Sweet, former president of
the Colorado union. He sat on a cracker-box, and told me that Christian
Endeavor made him, that he is president of the Young Men's Christian
Association in Denver, that he is in France, that he is all that he is
trying to be as a Christian, under God, because of Christian Endeavor.

At ten o'clock that night we turned off the main road, and in a dense
growth came upon the last hut within the zone of constant shell-fire.
It was strangely quiet. After heavy knocking the door was cautiously
opened, and a familiar face peered out at us above a flickering candle.

[Illustration: AMERICAN INFANTRY RESTING, APPROACHING THE FRONT IN
FRANCE
From a photograph copyrighted by the Committee on Public Information.
From Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.]

"Early to bed and early to rise?" questioned Barnes.

"No," a big voice replied. "Nothing doing here to-night. The boys are
all up on the line. Looks like a 'party.' They were ordered away early
and in a hurry."

While he spoke, the chap with the candle had been inspecting me, and
introductions were hardly begun before we knew each other; it was Rev.
Mr. Sykes, formerly president of the Minnesota Christian Endeavor
union, and as vigorous a Christian as ever demonstrated the manhood of
the Master. There in the woods I left him under a sky whose paths are
crowded with iron messengers of death, making a little bit of heaven
for hundreds of men who tread daily the places of a man-made hell.

Our pace was more rapid now; we ran with lights from the last hut. In
twenty minutes we were in brigade headquarters, where in the morning
we had registered and secured our passes. I thought again of the major
who in arranging our papers had shown attention to certain details
that concerned the safety and comfort of the private soldier. His
consideration had particularly impressed me. Democracy differs from
Autocracy in more ways than one when she goes to war.

Brigade headquarters was just out of the zone of shell-fire--not
that guns of large caliber could not have reached it, but the German
front opposite it had thus far been satisfied with visiting aërial
bombardments upon it. Half a dozen open mines behind the village
testified to the poor aim but clear intention of an aviator who the day
before had sought to destroy its warehouses.

As we drew away from the slumbering but well-guarded town, off at the
right, dimly outlined against the swelling bosom of the hill, I saw
white crosses. With arms outreaching they stood above our new-made
graves. In the distance could still be heard the voices of the guns,
and the leaden sky grew rosy where the great shells broke.

We were only a few minutes late for our midnight supper. I pulled
off my mud-laden boots in a daze. I had lived, it seemed, a thousand
years in fifteen hours. What a Christian Endeavor tour it had been!
Into a dozen States it had carried me, and back to a hundred choice
and stirring memories. I crept into my blankets with a mixture of
emotions no mortal can analyze, but in it was unspeakable gratitude to
the blessed boys who are the supermen of our American citizenship, the
torch-bearers of civilization, the road-makers of Christian peace.



CHAPTER XII

_THE HYMN OF HATE_


"Saw a Dutchman to-day, saw him from here up."

The speaker indicated with his hands that part of a man's body between
hips and head.

"You know I'm a pretty good shot. Didn't see him again."

Pause.

"Do you know what I've been thinking ever since? I've been hoping he
isn't in my fix; I hope he doesn't have a wife and kid."

The red-headed sergeant from Boston was the spokesman--a sharpshooter
and a fluent user of Sunday-school language--in his own lurid way. It
was night, and he had been hanging around for some time waiting his
chance to "spill himself." I shall forget all of my own speeches, but
never his. I was moved too deeply for words. I stuck my hand out, and
said, "Put her there!" and he understood.

I heard no hymn of hate on our line in France. I saw prisoners of war
treated like men; they had fought like men, our fellows said. I saw
wounded prisoners brought out with every consideration and care. And
as the result of a raid that came over early in March a German captain
of infantry lies by the side of an American captain of infantry. He was
buried with military honors. Why? That was the question I asked, and
the answer I received was a look of surprise.

Modern warfare has not changed the traditions of American arms. I say
that there is no hymn of hate on the American front in France. There
will be desperate deeds a-plenty. In the outpouring of passions men
will become the instruments of appalling vengeance. War is not pretty.
Americans will not lightly regard a crucifixion, and they will punish
treachery. Atrocities will have their own reward. _Men_ cannot sing
songs of peace while handless babies cry in pain before their eyes, and
girls big with child name their despoilers. It is not difficult to be
charitable with those who have seen so much and suffered so greatly,
when they for the moment use the only weapon their foe seems to value
and to fear.

But the programme of the army has no hymn of hate. Its spirit is the
spirit of punishing wrath without malice; its thrust is not for man,
but for a system; it looks upon its foes with even pity and regret
while it abhors and hates and destroys the power that makes them bloody
pawns.

I listened one evening to the address of a one-armed French colonel. He
had been left for dead before Verdun. Thirty-six hours he lay in the
open, suffering the tortures of a living, earth-born hell. He said:

"The German 'Hymn of Hate' saved Paris. Down across Belgium the gray
barbarians came, thrust forth by a philosophy of 'Might makes right'
and believing that terrorizing a people will conquer its will to
resist. They gave their bayonets an extra twist and lingered with them
to be cruel; _they lost seconds_. In the market-places of Louvain
they dishonored women and girls; _they lost minutes_. They butchered
hostages, and left the scars of rapine and murder upon the cities of
Flanders and Picardy; _they lost hours_.

"France had her chance! Britain came! When we turned, we had no time
to hate, no time for the extra bayonet-thrust. We saw no individual
German. It was for France! We heard her cry in the weeping of our
women; she spoke to us from her fields watered with the blood of our
brothers. Vive la France! Vive la France!"

I learned as a lad that to master another, or to master a task, one
must first be master of himself. Once in a great football contest I saw
a college defeated because her captain and star tackle was goaded into
slugging by the constant "dirty work" of the lesser man opposing him. I
felt at the time that the blow which knocked the unfair player into the
mud with a streaming, broken nose was less than he deserved, but that
same blow put my hero out of the game.

I have a book, the supreme ethical, moral, and religious volume of all
time. In it is written that he who treasures an evil passion in his
heart, or allows it residence in his soul, is by so much less than
the man he might be. No hater can be at the height of his possible
efficiency in physical strength, in moral courage, or in spiritual
stamina. In the long run a nation loses power in proportion as her
system of faith disregards moral values.

Germany has temporarily changed the map of Europe, but unless God
contradicts Himself she is farther from triumph to-day than she was
when her legions stood before Liége. No long-distance gun from Krupps'
can outrange the truth.

"The German 'Hymn of Hate' saved Paris." Yes, and it will be written at
the end, "The German 'Hymn of Hate' saved America and the world." It
was not the "Star-Spangled Banner," that hymn of unsullied glory, that
sent America marching out of her isolation into the slaughter-plains
of Europe; it was the "Hymn of Hate," the hymn of submarines and
Zeppelins, of poison gas and unnumbered atrocities, the hymn that
mingled with its chorus the cooing of infants about to drown and the
screams of women about to suffer the greater death.

What Britain and France and Russia and America, perhaps, could not have
done, Germany has done herself.

But is this system of faith practical from the standpoint of the
individual, the individual who has suffered, suffered in his own body
and in the flesh of those dearer to him than his own life, the tortures
of hell? I have visited in scores of British homes of mourning, and
have generally found the fulfilment of the promise, "As thy days, so
shall thy strength be."

In Cooke's Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Canada, one Sunday morning of
November, 1916, I listened to a sermon preached by Rev. Mr. McGaw, then
assistant to Dr. William Patterson. Mr. McGaw later became pastor of a
church in Montreal. He is as Irish as his name suggests. His own family
has been in France from the beginning; when the sermon to which I
refer was delivered, two brothers were lying in hospitals, wounded. At
the close of the service Mr. McGaw prayed; and, as he prayed, I found
myself in a sweat of amazement. He said:

"Our Father, thou knowest that we do not pray for the triumph of German
arms; we pray for the destruction of the power that has wasted the
world, for the despoiling of the ruthless despoiler, for the toppling
of the last crown of autocracy, and that the last throne of militarism
shall be tumbled down. But, our Father, as we pray for our own who
suffer, for our wounded brethren, for our dying comrades, for our
widowed and our orphaned and our bereft, we pray for the sufferers of
the enemy."

By my side that morning sat a returned Canadian soldier with blinded
eyes. As I lifted my head after the prayer, I looked into the face of
my friend who had made so great a sacrifice, and his face was illumined
by a "light that never was on sea or land." I was wrong. McGaw was
right.

The Christian must not forget whose he is and whom he serves, even
though the vindication of righteousness seems afar off and tardy. He
must, for the sake of his country as well as for the demonstration of
the faith committed to him, be a "doer of the word." He must so speak
now that when the war is over he will not be ashamed.

That the soldier does not expect to find the "Hymn of Hate" in the
pulpit, and is resentful when he hears it there, is at least suggested
by a paragraph from a letter in "Letters from Flanders," written by
Lieutenant Bey Gillespie, one of the earlier martyrs of the war, a
Scotch lad of brilliant promise, whose happy part it was to speak, in
speaking his own heart, for hundreds of thousands of other British
youths less able than he to make vocal the quests and questionings of
their souls:

"Personally I do not care for a mixture of the two styles; and when
the cleric says, 'Please God the Germans will take it in the neck,' it
makes me wriggle in my chair and feel uncomfortable all down my back.
However, when he left our German enemies alone and got to those others
with whom a bishop is more particularly concerned, he was very good;
and I think the men enjoyed him, for it was something quite new to most
of them."

In the London _Times_, March 15, 1918, appeared a remarkable letter
from a British officer who had shortly before reached a convalescent
home in Holland after three and one-half years' imprisonment in
Germany. It was a ringing protest against the agitation of the
pacifists in Parliament and a calm but intense arraignment of the
"Landsdowne letter," which had appeared only a short time before. But,
wonderful as was the letter itself, the spirit in which it was written
was even more wonderful. The concluding paragraph is as follows:

"Unless Germany is beaten in the field we cannot win this war. Any
peace based on compromise, whatever its terms, can be only a degree
better than a British defeat. The loss of life, of money, of time,
will have been to no purpose. The whole terrible tragedy will have
to be begun over again. And let no one think that it is for reasons
of revenge or in order to enable us to impose harsh and heavy terms
that we must defeat the German armies. On the contrary, let us be very
generous in the hour of our victory, but until that hour comes let us
cease to wrangle about peace terms. For the moment there can be but one
war aim--to defeat Germany."

That religion does not make the fighting man less bold, his hand less
certain, and his heart less resolute, is evidenced by the fact that the
mightiest soldiers since Christianity became a factor in the affairs of
men have been, to the fulness of the light they possessed, worshippers
of the Nazarene, followers of Him who, being the Prince of Peace, was
not afraid to die for the truth. And the greatest of the captains, who
in the height of his power denied the sway of the Galilean, cried out
in his defeat, "What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal
reign of Christ!"

When this war is ended, ended in the triumph of Democracy,--and until
such triumph comes it must not end,--the words of Julian the Apostate
will live again: "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean."



CHAPTER XIII

_A MAID OF BRITTANY_


It was sunrise in Brittany. From the windows of the lazy train I
watched the morning come across the rugged hills. The thatched stone
houses set in formal fields took shape out of the gray dawn. The
unsightly, close-trimmed tree-trunks, which were like the gnarled and
twisted fingers of a heavy hand, became clearly defined against the
sky. Cattle appeared in the meadows, and presently people were moving
in the roads. Villages were more frequent, and before the world was
fully awake we stopped at a city.

Until now I had occupied a compartment alone on my journey from Saint
Nazaire to Brest; but my privacy was invaded by a most delightful
family, a father and mother and their daughter, the daughter an
exquisite miss of five. The parents took the seat opposite mine, and
the little girl with her two dolls established herself by my side, but
without so much as a glance in my direction.

I continued to be occupied with the smiling out-of-doors until the
light allowed of writing. I was increasingly conscious of the child.
Her rich brown hair and richer eyes, her delicately tinted skin, the
deftness of her tiny fingers, the laughter in her voice, made her, for
a father far removed from the children of his own fireside, a picture
to revel in.

Presently our train stopped again. While we waited for the unloading of
baggage and the changing of engines I amused myself by throwing walnuts
at the children, who scampered about in wooden shoes, trying to catch a
glimpse of my hat and uniform, with which they were already familiar as
the distinguishing dress of an American in France. They were ragged and
dirty, but very polite; and their thanks for the nuts were profuse.

The commotion attracted the attention of my little
travelling-companion; and, unconscious of her nearness to me, she
came to the window and stood with her hand on my knee while she
watched the wild scramble without. When the train started again, she
discovered herself, and was in confusion; but my smile and the friendly
recognition of her parents re-assured her; and, though I could not
speak her beautiful language, and she knew not a single word of mine,
we were soon fast friends. She received the sweets my bag revealed with
a courtesy and "Merci, monsieur," and then told me all about her dolls.
My attention was perfect, and the fact that I could not understand her
vivacious prattle did not in the least discourage her.

How glorious a morning we spent together! When I brought forth the
picture of my lads and lassies, she was happy beyond words, or rather
with many words; for she talked with lips and hands, eyes and body,
both to her parents and to me. And then she became very quiet, and sat
for several minutes looking at the pictures in her hands and at me.
Perhaps she sensed her new-found friend's home-hunger; the sympathy of
a child is perfect consolation.

When the morning lengthened toward noon, and the little head nodded, I
made a pillow for it in my lap; and while she slept I lost my fingers
in her curls.

It was with a pang that I saw the father prepare the luggage for
removal from the compartment; and, when my little friend's bonnet
was brought down from the rack, the day became suddenly dark and
uninviting. I assisted my travelling-companions to alight, and with
the perfect courtesy of their country they thanked me for my small
kindnesses. I was out first, and the bags were handed to me; then the
gentleman stepped down and gave his hand to his wife. Last in the
doorway was the child. With her pretty bonnet, her soft fur coat and
her dolls, with her silken hair and dimpled cheeks, she was a darling
fairy. I held up my arms, and into them she came. With an extra hug I
set her upon the platform.

For an instant she stood and looked up at me; and then, to my
disappointment, without a word of good-by or a sign, she ran to her
mother, and said something in a tone of inquiry. The mother smiled and
nodded. The little one came tripping back. Up reached her arms, and out
puckered her lips. Down went my arms in an eager swing. Close about my
neck she threw her chubby arms, and on either cheek she kissed me.

Only a watchful guard saved me from missing that train! I stood as a
man bewildered while the little group disappeared, and for the rest of
the day I was not lonely. The touch of a baby's hands and the pressure
of a baby's lips had lifted me above high mountains and carried me
beyond far seas.



CHAPTER XIV

_THE FIGHTING PARSON_


"Did you mean what you said about the--preacher just now? Do your
thinking quick, and be prompt about speaking. If you meant it, I'm
going to punch your nose."

The speaker was "Angel Face," or as he was called, following the
militant speech recorded above, "Gyp the Blood." His parishioners in
S----, California, might not have recognized his language and his style
of delivery on the occasion which introduces him to my readers; but
they could not have made a mistake in the speaker himself; the figure
and presence of their pastor would identify him anywhere, even at a
prize-fight.

And the language used was fully warranted. For two days one of the few
"misfits" that the Y. M. C. A. must briefly contend with in France had
been making himself particularly obnoxious to the clergyman who finally
squelched him. The chap was new, and of the type that seeks to cover
ignorance with bluster and to be impressive by emitting loud noises. He
made the preacher the target of a good deal of his profanity, and for
nearly two days the preacher turned the other cheek.

But, having fulfilled the Scripture, the preacher took a turn around
the truck that had carried the party to its work,--a hut was being
erected,--and then clamped down upon the shoulder of the vilifier a
hand that was heavy and callous with two months of service on the
"line" and preached as already related. The mourners' bench was
instantly crowded!

"Can't you take a joke?" the frightened husky stuttered.

"No, not that kind," the California divine replied, and continued,
"We'll call it quits, since you _didn't mean it_; but don't try to be
funny again until you have studied a joke-book."

The applause that greeted the "clean knockout" was not audible; but it
was loud, and the name "Gyp the Blood" was the reward of the victor.
The preacher is "wanted" in France, but only the Fighting Parson need
apply. Surely it will be unnecessary to add that the "big fight" is
not of the kind just described, although the spirit that secured the
decision there is the spirit absolutely essential to success in the
other.

The present war has made many calls upon the church, and has laid new
and heavy obligations upon the ministry. I do not aspire to deal with
the general programme of organized religious forces, nor do I pretend
to discuss seriously the peculiar religious problems growing out of
these unparalleled times. I am ambitious only to present a pen-picture
glimpse of the preacher as I saw him in France, the American preacher
in action with the American overseas forces.

At the outset I disclaim any prejudice for or against. I saw him
under all conditions, from port of entry to the front lines,
from cosmopolitan Paris to the odoriferous country village, from
training-camp to hospital, at times when he was conscious of being
inspected and was on his mettle, and when he thought himself
unrecognized and with no fellow countryman about. I have no special
brief prepared for him; I judged him by the measure of a man. France
has only one uniform to-day, the uniform of the soldier; all other
distinctions as to dress have been removed.

I found a few preachers in France who made me thankful for the vivid
picture of my own ministerial father, which I carry always with me,
_they were so disappointing_! One was trying to smoke; it was painfully
apparent that it was his first attempt. He was doing his best to be a
good fellow, and succeeded only in being a fool. Another was rather
loudly arguing with a young Y. M. C. A. secretary and trying to
convince him that no man could really get on with the men of the army
unless he smoked cigarettes and drank the French wines. The younger
fellow won the debate, and did so without my seconding speech, which
for the other members of the recently arrived party I felt constrained
to make, since I was a veteran of several weeks' standing.

Both of these illustrations relate to the use of tobacco, and it will
be well to add that a preacher who would feel himself called upon to
conduct an anti-cigarette crusade on the western front would be equally
a misfit with the one laboring under the sad delusion that to grip the
hearts of the men in uniform he must lower his own personal standards.

First of all, a man to succeed with men anywhere must run true to form,
must be honest and be his best self; he may be very sure that the
American soldier will not misjudge him or be deceived by him. War has
an amazing aptness for ignoring reputations and discovering character.
If the preacher did not smoke on the western side of the Atlantic, he
does not need to smoke on the eastern side; it will take more than
smoke to make him a winner. Of course he may run true to his best form
and yet be a failure, but he is doomed from the beginning if he turns
his back upon his personal ideals and standards.

It is a pernicious fallacy that you must be like men to be liked
by them; sometimes men want you to be different. There are supreme
occasions in a man's life when, sick of himself and of his kind,
he longs for a comrade and a guide whose language, whose habits of
mind and of body, are the opposite of his own. Such times come more
frequently where the iron death moans by than elsewhere. A cad or a
Pharisee has no place in France to-day, but there are no depths in real
religion and simple piety too profound for the men who stand for their
country's sake in a soldier's narrow place between life and death.

[Illustration: THE FIRST AMERICAN TROOPS TO REACH EUROPE MARCHING
THROUGH LONDON AMID THE CHEERS OF THOUSANDS OF OUR BRITISH ALLIES
Copyright by Committee on Public Information.]

I heard a first lieutenant from Mississippi say to a young United
Presbyterian minister: "I came to talk to you to-day because you are
_different_. I feel myself slipping. At bayonet practice a man loses a
lot of the things he doesn't want to forget."

I would not refer to this if it were the only incident of its kind.

I have given my two stories of preachers who got away with a poor
start. I saw _hundreds_ of preachers in France, American preachers
with the Y. M. C. A. and others serving as chaplains. _They are a
great lot!_ Measured by every obligation of their ordination, and
by their ability and their willingness to adapt themselves to these
unprepared-for and utterly unanticipated conditions, _they are a great
lot_! The American preacher in France is a _minister_. He is doing a
tremendous work now, and he will do a far greater work when he returns.

I wish that every pastor in America could have at least six months in
actual service overseas. It would pay any congregation to finance its
minister's trip abroad for service with the Y. M. C. A.

As to the programme of the Kingdom itself, these men who have heard
the great spiritual voice of Civilization in her rebirth, who have
toiled and listened through long and terrifying days that crowded out
of their lives the petty and superficial things, who have thrilled with
the uncovered cries of men for the answer to their heart questionings,
for the realization of their soul quests, will not return to be
contented within the ancient walls of ecclesiasticism and sectarian
differences. They, with the hundreds of thousands they have ministered
to, will strike mightily against the props of outgrown systems. With
the re-enforcements already promised from missionary lands, they will
save us from ourselves, and together we shall set Christ free in
His own temple. These who have seen the folly of a too long divided
command on the western front, and who have witnessed the wisdom of
a generalissimo there, will call for a United Army under the Divine
Generalissimo, to press forward on the spiritual front of the world.

One day I saw six men building a road from a military highway in
to a Y. M. C. A. supply warehouse. They were working in the rain,
breaking rock and standing ankle-deep in mud. Four of the six men were
preachers, preachers to large and distinguished congregations at home.
The combined salaries of the six amount to $30,000; one man, a Wall
Street broker, draws $12,000; divide $18,000 among the other five men!

In a first-line Y. M. C. A. division fifty-two secretaries were working
night and day, doing the work of one hundred and twenty-five men.
Twenty-eight of the fifty-two were preachers. Ah, but you say, how well
were they doing it? This very question was in my mind, and I asked the
divisional secretary to tell me how many of the twenty-eight he would
keep if he could secure the secretarial assistance he would consider
ideal. He went over his list carefully, and said, "Twelve." Rather
disquieting! I then asked him how many of the laymen he would retain
by the same test, and after quite as careful consideration he said,
"Ten," and added: "O, they are all great fellows. You have asked me an
efficiency question, and I have applied my ordinary business standards;
but some of these very men may prove to be _very_ efficient."

The two interesting items are these: twenty-eight out of fifty-two
secretaries in a zone where thirty-five secretaries are under
shell-fire daily, where the most desperate chances are daily taken
and the most menial and body-wearying tasks are daily done, were
_preachers_; and the preachers and the laymen stood side by side, and
were of the same stature when a business man's efficiency measurements
were applied to them.

I found my own pastor directing the affairs of a busy port-of-entry
canteen with all the earnestness and success that mark his ministry at
home. I saw the pastor of a large New Jersey "First Baptist Church"
levelling the floor in a Y. M. C. A. officers' tent. At a brigade
headquarters another minister was in charge of a hut on the first line,
set out in the woods for the fellows' completer isolation from even the
advantages of a ruined village, and at the point where all lights are
turned out at night by supply and ammunition trucks creeping up to the
line. Another, a graduate of Northwestern University, a strong-bodied,
great-hearted, husky saint, was alone in the dugout, the most advanced
permanent Y. M. C. A. station in any army. Just 1,600 yards it is from
our most advanced trenches, and directly in front of our last batteries
of "75's." I saw a young minister, who is the "informal chaplain" in
a great seacoast city, marching at the head of a little funeral party
that bore three black stevedores to their last resting-place.

But why multiply instances? The American preacher is just short of
omnipresent in France, and he is doing the work of the war from Alpha
to Omega with two-handed masculine energy and unselfish Christian zeal.
His spiritual message may be shoved across a hut counter along with a
can of beans or a bar of chocolate, or it may be quietly spoken about a
red-hot stove just before closing-time at night, when he gathers those
who care to stay, for "family prayers"; it may be whispered in broken
sentences to the lad who has been gassed or to the man dying from his
wounds. In a thousand ways it may be given, but it is being delivered.

The minister who left America to preach to the boys at the front, who
departed with the words of his people, admiringly spoken, ringing in
his ears, and a purse of real American money ballasting his trousers,
has had some heavy seas in passage; but he has arrived. Rude shocks
have awaited him, and his whole plan of campaign has been ruthlessly
changed; but he has not turned back. To-day he is carrying on, and he
will stay through. I saw no more inspiring figures in the beautiful
land where so much of America's future is now shaping, and where so
many of her hopes and fears are centred, than the preacher of the
gospel of the Son of God.

I have not said anything about the formal religious services. They
are not neglected. The number of these increases with the raising
of each hut and the arrival of each new chaplain and secretary. The
pulpit messages our fighters are listening to in France are the most
eloquent and soul-feeding that are heard by Americans anywhere in the
world to-day. Their messengers are from the first line of our American
congregations, and these men of God are preaching as they never
preached before.

I have had one ambition for this very faulty picture of the American
preacher overseas--to leave with my readers the impression of the
manhood of the ministry in a time when those who are less than men are
either pitied or despised.

I reached a Paris hotel one evening utterly tired, dead for rest. I
defied the teachings of Horace Fletcher, however, and ate my supper.
Before I had finished my meal--I was late--the doors between the
dining-room and the parlor were opened, and the programme of the weekly
session of the Paris secretaries' club of the Y. M. C. A. began. I
gulped my food to get out of the way.

Then a man began to read in a voice that rested me and warmed my heart,
a voice of richness and vibrant with personality. He read from "Beside
the Bonnie Brier Bush." I stretched my legs far under the table, leaned
hard into the chair, and with my back to the speaker drank in the music
of his speaking.

The reader was "Dr. Freeman," Freeman of Pasadena, one of the
best-loved men in France to-day. He is a "corker," a "prince," the
"real stuff," a "humdinger," and a hundred other things, by the ringing
testimony of those who know him over there. I followed his trail from
the sea to the mountains. I saw the division that he "set up" on the
line, travelled the roads over which he distributed his equipment, and
heard the men he led there tell how by day and by night he filled
his own hands with the meanest tasks and spared not his own body. In
Brest I found his manly prayer of purity and strength on the wall
of a captain's room. In Toul his successor told me of his unfailing
resourcefulness and cheer. Had he his own way, he would be on the line
still, out in the greater noise and danger. But he is a good soldier.
Now the spiritual directorship of the Y. M. C. A. for France is in his
firm hands.

We sat through a raid one night after I had "borrowed" a pair of his
socks and mussed up his room, and we talked of the great days that are
to be when the boys come home.

Ah, one of the compensations for the war is the friendships it has made
among Christians and the vocabulary it has given them, in which words
of faith and fellowship have crowded out the smaller words of doubt and
selfishness.

One of the best-loved men I found in France was Freeman of Pasadena, a
_preacher_.

    [NOTE.--I wish to say that the preacher referred to in the opening
    of this chapter is Rev. William L. Stidger, pastor of the first
    Methodist Episcopal Church of San José, California.--D. A. P.]



CHAPTER XV

_THREE NEW GRAVES_


Out of a blue and sea-cooled sky the sun looked down upon an ancient
city of France. Great ships fantastically camouflaged lay in the
harbor; darting to and fro were smaller vessels; the streets of the
city were crowded with curious soldiers in khaki stretching their
cramped limbs after two weeks in the restricted quarters of a transport.

From a military hospital three army hearses, accompanied by their
formal escorts and preceded by officers, slowly climbed a central
hill toward a cemetery. Three American flags were draped about the
caskets, and several bouquets of flowers supplied by friends of the
dead men were carried by the drivers. As the quiet group moved through
the street, civilians and the military stood uncovered; a platoon of
marching French soldiers brought its guns to attention, and even the
small children removed their head-coverings; the populace had long
since become accustomed to military funerals, but the heart of France
never wearies of honoring the hero dead.

Through the long rows of cross-marked graves the little procession made
its way--by the tricolor of France, the Union Jack, and the crescent
marking the graves of Algerian soldiers who gave their lives for a
cause that had not raised its banner in their own land, but for which
they were glad to die by the side of their brothers who spoke a tongue
that they did not even understand.

When the three open graves were reached, the caskets were placed upon
the supports ready for lowering, and the brief burial service was
begun. Quietly surrounding the graves were first the soldiers and then
the simple peasants of Brittany, who had come to mourn their own dead
and who now remained to honor the memory of those who had journeyed
from the great nation beyond the sea to help fight the battles of
democracy, of civilization, and of their beloved France.

The chaplain of the occasion read the names of the dead soldiers,
and then said: "These men were denied the privilege of dying at the
front; with fine ardor they enlisted, and with bounding enthusiasm they
stood upon the deck when the ship took the path to the open sea. They
were black men, sons of fathers or their grandsons liberated by the
emancipation of 1863. In the quest of a larger freedom than was ever
won for a single race they turned their faces toward the fields where
white and black and yellow mix themselves to blend the colors of a just
and lasting peace. They fell beneath the hand of disease that might
have stricken them at home. It is the irony of fate that no shells ever
moaned above their heads, that no hoarse-voiced command ever sent
them charging into the enemy's lines, that no portion of their dream
of conflict and triumph ever came true. But they had not fallen short,
and their coming has not been in vain. In their own hearts they were
soldiers; by their own decision they gave their lives to their country,
and in the sum of the contribution America makes to this unparalleled
endeavor their gift will not be lost. God measures us by what we are;
deeds are not the outward manifestation of character; we fail or we
succeed first in our own souls. Into the body of the same earth out of
which they came in a far distant land, which holds those who loved them
and who had great pride in their setting forth, we lower their bodies.
We commit their spirits to Him who was called the Prince of Peace,
who is the rewarder of every righteous action; who gives the keys of
everlasting life to all who have kept the faith."

A prayer followed, and then an ebony-skinned bugler stood at the head
of one of the graves. He turned the bell of his instrument into the
sunset, and out toward sea beyond the land-locked harbor the clear
notes rang. There is no firing-squad in a French cemetery. Back from
the grave-crowded God's half-acre the platoons marched, and then
dispersed. The day was drawing to a close; the graves were filled; the
earthly record of three humble colored men who died for their country
was completed.



CHAPTER XVI

_A TALE OF TWO CHRISTIANS IN FRANCE_


He was called the "Count." How he came by the name, and who christened
him, I do not know. At home he is a travelling salesman. I saw him
first with an odoriferous pipe between his teeth and a week's growth
of beard on his face, standing in the doorway of a Y. M. C. A.
secretaries' mess at the headquarters city for the First American
Division--the first division permanently in the line on the western
front. He was short and stocky, with the face of an Irish fishing-smack
captain and a cough that sounded like the fog-horn off Nantucket Light.

I liked him instantly--liked him in spite of his pipe. Men who worked
with him all swore by him. He was one of the key men of the fifty-two
who under the leadership of a great-hearted and tremendously efficient
Ohio business man were carrying the work of the Y. M. C. A. through
the vital experimental stages, directly behind and within the fighting
lines on one of our sectors in France.

His particular job was hut-building, and as superintendent of
as nondescript a crew of carpenters as ever drove a nail he had
already raised a dozen or more shelters under the menace of constant
shell-fire; and when I saw those shelters they were keeping out the
weather and housing a thousand comforts for twelve thousand soldiers.

Among those who knew him it was the consensus of opinion that he was a
short man because so much material had been used in making his heart.
His body was constantly under the whip of his sympathies. Far into the
night his "camionette" searched the road for stragglers. Often he tore
the blankets from his own bed to supply a man whose experience with
French wines had been disastrous, and who would have been put into the
guard-house had the "Count" not given him shelter under the cover of
his light truck.

He had been on the job for weeks when I met him, but his ardor was as
intense as when he began. "Why try to sleep when slumber only brings
visions of bedraggled lads who need friendly rooms, warming fires,
writing-tables, talking-machines, red-hot drinks, and the comradeship
and sympathy of the Y. M. C. A. secretaries?" This was his question
for all interested friends who tried to give him advice as to his own
welfare. He religiously blasphemed his laryngitis, flagrantly disobeyed
his considerate chief, and for hours broke every rule that the
American Federation of Labor has ever indorsed.

He celebrated the last Sabbath of my association with him by persuading
a United Presbyterian minister to work all day on a Y. M. C. A. hut
for four hundred drivers of supply and ammunition trucks, who were
quartered in a desolate forest miles from every comfort. By putting in
the entire Sunday he gave those men a warm room in the evening. The
"Count's" tired face was unusually attractive as he stood eating his
late supper that night, and his ministerial friend looked as if he had
a fuller understanding of the text, "The Sabbath was made for men."

A few hours before I left this division the "Count" brought me a
Testament, and said, "Doc, I'm not in your line; but there's no telling
when I will 'get mine' out along the road somewhere. Suppose you mark
my book up; hit the places you know that have the stuff, and I'll
be obliged." I "marked it up" a bit, and put a line or two on the
title-page, and left it for him. He was away before I had finished. I
am not sure that we said, "Good-by"; at any rate, we have not separated.

The "Count's" words do not always do him justice. The tobacco he smokes
is not of a fancy brand. Theologically he is hard to locate; but he
is an unassuming, unequivocating follower of the "Inasmuch," and a
two-handed man of the Christ.

"Smith" was altogether different; tall and shallow-chested, thin of
face and red-headed, he looked every drop of the Scotch that flowed
unmixed in his veins. He was a "graduated" British Tommy. One lung was
gone, and the rest of him had been so badly used in the blowing-up of a
sap-head that the hospital judges refused to give him another chance to
die for his country in the trenches.

He was one of the immortal "First Hundred Thousand," the glorious
"Contemptibles" who fought from Mons to the Marne, the mightiest
rear-guard action known in the history of wars. He was one of those who
suffered the horrors of gas in front of Ypres. But he could not rest
in London--rest there with his wife and babies, rest there with his
laurels. Across the Channel the cause of his race still trembled in the
balance, and it was thither that his heart commanded him.

When the army refused him absolutely, he finally secured a position as
an automobile-driver with the American Y. M. C. A.; and so he carried
me from an ancient city in Brittany to a great barrack camp established
by Napoleon, but now filled with American artillery in training.

The judgment of his associates would warm his kindly heart if he
could hear the words with which they told me his story. The hacking,
deep-seated cough that racks him is more than the evidence of his
torture. To those who have heard it and who know him it is the token
of a higher heroism than that with which he tunnelled under the enemy's
lines or faced the shock of their attack.

As I watched him disappear among the French soldiers bound for the
front, who crowded the station on the night when I took my departure,
the words of another soldier came to me: "He that endureth to the end
shall be saved."



CHAPTER XVII

_LLOYD GEORGE_


I stepped out of the taxi, and found myself in front of three
old-fashioned houses. The vicinity was one of distinction; but the
houses before me, dwarfed by the Privy Council Building and the Foreign
Office, and hard by the Parliament Buildings, were the strays of
another century. Westminster Abbey, not far away, gives them an excuse
for staying. Looking up, I read, "The First Lord of the Treasury, No.
10," and knew that I was before the portals of historic "10 Downing
Street," for a century and a half now, with only a few intervals, the
official home of Britain's Prime Ministers, and in reality the "White
House" of the United Kingdom.

I lifted the ancient knocker that for perhaps three centuries has
announced guests and that for at least a century and a half has called
attendants to usher in the statesmen and the politicians of the earth.
The door swung open, and a quiet man dressed in a business suit took my
card.

About me on the high walls of a small square hall hung the antlered
heads of deer. I followed down a long and simple but impressive
passage to another hall, where I ran, head on, into a well-set-up
gentleman of thirty-nine,--Major Waldorf Astor,--who was coming to
meet me. He was delightfully informal. Through another waiting-room
one passes into the Council-Chamber of the War Cabinet. Here all the
British Cabinets have met since the Prime Minister established himself
at "10 Downing Street."

The room is worthy of the greatness it has treasured. There are
bookshelves about its long walls, and the lighting is good. The books
are scarcely visible now, for they are curtained closely with maps
and charts; here the far-flung battle lines of the Empire, which have
become the front of civilization, are daily traced by the fingers of
the men whose hands hold Democracy's destiny. The eastern end of the
chamber is flanked on each side by two chaste Corinthian columns. A
great table commands the centre of the room. It is covered with green
baize and well set off by heavy, formal chairs. The room was furnished
with a larger cabinet in mind; but every session of the War Council is
attended by those responsible for the numberless leadership tasks of
the struggle, and there are seldom vacant places.

There is only one picture in the room now. Above the mantelpiece which
tops the fireplace, on the southern side, and directly behind the chair
of David Lloyd George it hangs, a portrait of Francis Bacon. He was
Lord Chancellor once, although he is better remembered as a master of
human thought.

It is said that the present Prime Minister uses the chamber as his
workshop, that it is his favorite room, and that he is more often in
it than anywhere else. Perhaps because of its convenience--doors open
out from it into the rooms of secretaries; and then, too, it is large
enough to receive special deputations without waste of energy or time.
Perhaps this convenience of the place attracts the leader in whom
are centred now the British Empire's hopes and fears, or is it the
associations of the chamber that call him?

Here sat Pitt and his cabinets. Here, when the word came from
Austerlitz, Pitt said, as he pointed to the map of Europe that hung
then where it hangs now, "Roll it up; it won't be needed for another
ten years!" Here they stood with ringing cheers for Trafalgar, and here
broke the glory of Waterloo. Here Disraeli won the Suez Canal, and
Gladstone's mighty form once filled the chair before the fire. Does
the gigantic little Welshman lift his head betimes and listen for the
voices of the Past? If he does (and his eyes are not the hard eyes of
a man who does not dream), he never fails to hear words prophetic of
triumph, for this room is a Chamber of Conquerors.

As Major Astor greeted me, we turned to the right; and there on the
stairway, with his left hand resting lightly on the banister, and a
smile lighting his face, stood the Prime Minister. I shall always be
glad that I saw him thus. He had just returned from Versailles, where
matters of vast and immediate importance to the western front were
discussed and settled. England did not yet know that he had arrived.
The morrow was to precipitate him into one of the crucial battles of
his ministry.

As he stood there he knew of the impending struggle--and he
smiled!--not a perfunctory tremor of the lips, but a warming glow that
made the great hall a friendly place. The smile was not for me, but for
the gentleman at my side. Mr. Astor is a member of the Prime Minister's
personal staff, and by his own worth a favorite and close friend of his
chief.

David Lloyd George in the moment when I saw him on the stairway
answered any question that may have been in my mind as to the personal
quality of his leadership; he is virile and magnetic. Square of
shoulder and deep-chested, with a straight neck that gives his fine
head an erect setting, he has the appearance of added height that few
stocky men possess. His color is good; his long hair, which is inclined
to curl at the ends, is turning rapidly now; his eyes are clear, and
shine; his voice is rich, and sings. He is one of those irresistible
personalities, a man who not only dominates and rules by the mastership
of his soul as well as by right of his mental genius, but who binds
men to himself. His is the complete opposite of the phlegmatic,
judicial temperament; his keen calculations in debate, his weighing
of an opponent in a political tourney, are the decisions of an almost
unerring intuition, and not the conclusions of a cold casuist.

His oratory and his whole leadership are first of the heart. His
enemies have assailed him at this point, but they have not found it a
vulnerable one. It is the heart of the world that bleeds and fights
and triumphs. Only a master of the language of the soul can speak to
it and for it, can marshal its forces and inspire them to superhuman
activities, can challenge it over a Calvary and lead it to victory.

Perhaps no other man in Europe has been so long familiar to the
American people; certainly no other political leader of the Old World
has been so popular with the masses in America as Lloyd George. When he
risked his life to deliver his soul against the Boer War, the United
States cried, "Bravo!" and in his battle with landlordism, his struggle
with the House of Lords, his championing of the rights of labor, and
his unrelenting efforts to better the conditions surrounding the poor,
he had the heart of America with him.

The story of his life is a familiar one and of the kind that brings
a mist to the eyes and a tightening to the throat, as do the tales
of the boyhood of Lincoln and Hanly and Grant. He was born in a wee
house of Manchester, this Welshman; but an uncle, whose pride and joy
he never ceased to be, reared the future statesman among the hills of
Wales. The childhood of Lloyd George was typical of the simple customs
and the religious faith of his people. He was an active boy. His
inclinations from the beginning were toward the platform and public
life. In Wales, singers and poets and orators are born, not educated;
an education follows, an education in which environment looms large;
but a true Welshman could not, if he would, bury _himself_ in the books
of universities, the sophistries of a profession, or the formalities of
a calling. He remains Nature's child.

The activities of Mr. Lloyd George in connection with the temperance
reform began in his childhood when he "spoke the pieces" and
participated in the programmes of the Band of Hope. The ardor of his
youth fired many an audience of his townspeople with an enthusiasm for
"teetotalism" and a determination to conquer the traffic in spirits.
It was twenty-eight years ago that he said: "I am a simple Welsh lad,
taught, ever since I learned to lisp the words of my wild tongue, that
'whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' This traffic,
having sown destruction and death, must reap for itself a fruitful
harvest of destruction and crime."

But it has been since the beginning of the war that David Lloyd George
has delivered his supreme philippics against the "Trade." As Minister
of Munitions and as Chancellor of the Exchequer he had denounced rum as
the super-traitor of them all. It is not to be doubted that the words,
"_We are fighting Germany, Austria, and drink, and so far as I can see
the greatest of these three deadly foes is drink_," more than any other
words spoken in either the Old World or the New have advanced Democracy
toward total prohibition. They were the weights that turned the balance
in Canada and in a dozen States of the American Union. They brought
demoralization to the liquor forces. Their unequivocating charge of
disloyalty against drink has been irresistible.

[Illustration: A LETTER FROM LLOYD GEORGE TO THE AUTHOR, INDICATING
HIS CONTINUED INTEREST IN THE CAMPAIGN FOR PROHIBITION OF THE LIQUOR
TRAFFIC.]

    March 25th., 1918.

    Dear Dr. Poling,

    I am following with great interest the War restrictions on alcohol
    actually enforced and those under consideration in the United
    States of America.

    We have ourselves not been neglectful of the necessities imposed by
    War. We have stopped entirely the manufacture of spirits; we have
    cut down the brewing of beer by more than two-thirds and the hours
    during which it can be sold to less than one third.

    Should the exigencies of War necessitate further restrictions we
    shall follow with interest your campaign for the enforcement of War
    Prohibition in the United States of America.

    Yours truly,
    D. Lloyd George

We must grant that the Prime Minister has not been fortunate in some of
his words used to deny the petitions of his temperance constituents;
that some of his "explanations" have seemed at least to apologize for
these brave declarations of another time, to discredit them because of
their age. The heart of the church in Britain, where I found it less
than enthusiastically friendly toward the Prime Minister, was a heart
more of sorrow than of bitterness, the sorrow of a disappointment, a
disappointment that was great because so much had been expected.

But I am yet to be convinced that David Lloyd George has turned away
from "the God of his fathers" and the idealism of his youth; and I am
able, I think, to appreciate in a small way the circumstances that have
made a great man sometimes silent in order that he may have from many
discordant voices the _one_ message, "_Get on with the war!_"

Again it is the _war_! There can be but one task now. The Prime
Minister, with appalling responsibility for the life of the Empire,
surrounded by men of all political faiths and representatives of every
class, is no longer merely a spokesman, a prophet, a minister, an
executive; in him concentrate to such an extent the directing agencies
of the country that he has become in fact the administration of the
Government.

When I stepped away from "10 Downing Street," I had these words ringing
in my ears: "_The Prime Minister has not changed_." I believe that the
words are true. I shall continue to believe in the man about whom they
were said. And, when he speaks again, I shall not be surprised.

I walked back to my hotel. On the way I lingered by the Thames, where
only the swift patrol-boats were stirring. There was no moon, and a
deep mist closed the sky channel to the pirate fleet. The city was in
darkness and in peace. Up the Strand I walked to Nelson's monument, and
in the lee of an old building across from it I stood and studied its
shadowy outline. The mighty shaft was a promise from the past in which
justice did not fail, in which freedom was not lost. It made me strong.
The night became as the day, for in it was opened the window of hope.
The sum of the experiences of the past two hours totalled the assurance
of victory.



CHAPTER XVIII

_WORTHY OF A GREAT PAST_


These are times when it means much to know where some things are
whose roots run far back and deep down. Before me as I write is a
cathedral-shaped block of age-bevelled and worm-eaten English heart
of oak. Its miniature spires rise not at all unlike those of a Gothic
cathedral. It came from one of the original roof-beams of Holy Trinity
in Hull, the largest parish church in England. As the warden placed
it in my hands, his arm swept the high and vaulted nave and he said,
"Six hundred and thirty-four years ago it was placed here." Six hundred
and thirty-four years ago! Two hundred and eight years before Columbus
started on his journey! Six centuries, and nearly a half more, before
I stood there that fragment was part of a mighty support lifted by the
hands of men and fitted above an altar that even then stood upon the
ruins of another altar.

America is very young, but in a new and very vital way she now enters
into the brave and worthy things of the past.

Six weeks in England and Scotland during a campaign for wartime
prohibition gave me a vivid picture of the motherland and her
unrelenting traditions, her customs anchored in the ages, her
unyielding might. It was early in the year; but even so the fields had
begun to smile, the grass was green, and presently the hedges began to
bud. The khaki-colored lanes--for soldiers were on every path--were
bursting into song; there were birds everywhere.

I walked by the Humber, down which some of the Pilgrim Fathers sailed;
and in Southampton far to the south I stood before the new Pilgrim
monument just in front of the ruins of King John's water-palace. Here
John Alden, "a youth of the city," joined the immortal company; and
from the dock hard by the Mayflower sailed.

I wandered down the streets Dickens has immortalized, and I climbed
the "keep" of Conisboro, and stood in the window where Sir Walter
Scott placed Rebecca and the wounded Ivanhoe. I heard my footsteps
echo through the cathedrals of London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. That
supremely exquisite creation at York, a spectacle of worship, burst
upon my enraptured gaze like a palace from heaven.

At dusk I followed Canon Braithwaite through the cathedral at
Winchester, England's ancient capital. It was at the close of a vesper
service of song and prayer. Here twenty-three of England's kings are
buried, and here until Henry VIII. all were crowned. Here the Crusaders
came for their parting consecration; across these Norman tiles they
tramped ere they turned their faces toward the distant sepulchre; here
is "Bloody Mary's" wedding-chair, the gift of a pope; and the great
Canute, whose kingly dust reposes somewhere beneath the nave, after he
had learned his lesson from the tide that refused to obey his will,
left his crown upon the figure of the Christ just above this old altar.
In one portion of the cathedral space is an ancient well that was in
the temple of Diana erected nineteen hundred years ago upon the spot
now covered by the cathedral itself.

While the gray-haired canon talked of the priceless treasures for which
he has long been responsible, the choir-boys began their practice.
The music filled the mighty building, and rang in a hundred echoes
from column to column and from the tiles of the floor to the perfectly
joined stones of the vaulted roof. The flare of our torch so lighted
the sculptured figures that they seemed alive and moving through the
air; the singing became the voices of these men and women, some of whom
were good, all of whom were human, and who spoke so long ago.

I found particular satisfaction in treading the stones of Rochdale,
the city of John Bright. Here during our Civil War, in spite of
"soup-kitchens" and pestilence, the cotton-workers stood against
any petition to the English government to demand the lifting of the
blockade of the Southern ports. John Bright's influence for freedom
was quite as effective at home as it was in Parliament.

Scotland gave me the continuation of the story British men and women
are writing in blood around the world, a story of sacrifice and
devotion unsurpassed in history. The pages of the story blend with the
pages that recite the glory of Wallace at Bannockburn and of Robert
the Bruce. From Castle Stirling I looked out across the windings of
the firth; from that Gibraltar of Scottish kings my eye followed
the massive wanderings of the Grampians. I caught just a glimpse of
the Burns country at Dunoon, the home of Highland Mary, where her
wonderful bronze memorial looks out across the estuary of the Clyde.
Here is the home of another Scottish bard, Harry Lauder. He is a singer
of a different sort, but he plays upon the same harp of which his
illustrious fellow countryman was such a master. From the depths of a
supreme sorrow he has lifted up a new song that has comforted a weeping
world. Some day his fellow townsmen will rear another monument where
the little city looks out toward the sea. On it will be the name of the
gallant "Captain John," Harry Lauder's heroic and only son.

But my wartime journey was not one of aimless wanderings. It brought me
to many shrines; it brought me face to face with those who fight the
battles of Britain and those who lead them, into the homes of a people
whose hospitality, even as their courage and devotion, is unsurpassed
throughout the world. But it was a trip seriously intended and with
stern business involved.

A representative group of men and women, compelled by what they
regarded as immediate necessity, organized a prohibition educational
campaign for the purpose of bringing to the British people testimony as
to the actual results accomplished by the prohibition of the beverage
liquor in Russia, Canada, and the United States. Witnesses were
introduced from abroad, and a great series of meetings was arranged.
Both prohibitionist and anti-prohibitionist supported the unique
effort, which was a gigantic educational clinic. The addresses of the
speakers were educational rather than agitational, and an open forum in
which questions were freely asked and answered was a prominent part of
each programme.

Wide publicity was secured and a vast attendance. Some of the most
prominent political leaders, members of the clergy, ministers,
professional men, manufacturers, labor executives, and writers, as well
as all of the officials of the reform, gave the movement their support.
Dr. Sir George Hunter, the distinguished publicist and shipbuilder, was
chairman of the central committee.

The executive genius of the campaign was a brilliant young Canadian
who led the amazing drive that made the Province of Ontario dry, Mr.
Newton Wylie of Toronto. Wylie is a wonder! A broken back keeps him
out of the army, but in spite of virtually constant suffering, he is a
human dynamo, virile and indefatigable, with the double personality of
an inspirational leader and an executive. The campaign he generalled
in Great Britain was a great success. It addressed one million people
from the platform and millions more through the daily and religious
press, arrested the attention of political leaders, destroyed the
sophistries of the trade, answered the questions of honest doubters,
and overwhelmed the arguments of the opposition. As to the supporters
of prohibition and the leaders of the many temperance groups, it
brought them close together, and gave them unity for final action. As
the result of the campaign war prohibition was brought perceptibly
nearer. When it is brought about, Great Britain will have taken one
more step in her age-long history of progress, a mighty step toward the
victory which means peace and freedom for mankind.



CHAPTER XIX

_RUM RATION RUINOUS_


"I served at Gallipoli; I was wounded on the western front. It is my
earnest opinion that the rum ration is utterly bad."

The speaker turned now so that he faced the larger portion of the
audience that crowded the hall to its utmost capacity, and with which
he had been seated. He then continued,

"_I believe that there are thousands of glorious British lads who would
be alive to-day, recovered from wounds and disease, restored to their
country, their loved ones, and their friends, had this rum ration not
undermined their strength and destroyed their resistance._"

The speaker was a wounded surgeon of the Royal Medical Corps. The
writer had just finished an address in Weymouth, England. The date was
Wednesday, January 30, 1918. The presiding officer of the evening was
the mayor of the city. Following the address an hour was given to the
asking and answering of questions under the direction of the chairman.
It was during this time that the surgeon made his remarkable statement.
The rum ration had been debated, and some apparently earnest
temperance people had gone on record in favor of it.

The writer finds absolutely nothing abroad to cause him to change his
opinion that Sir Victor Horsley, Lord Roberts, and Lord Kitchener were
correct in their opposition to the serving of rum as a ration to the
soldiers. There was a time when a single hour of "Dutch courage" won a
battle, and when a battle won a war; but that time is past forever. If
we were to grant the desirability of the temporary effects resulting
from the ration, we should be bound in the light of evidence produced
to insist that the final results leave the soldier less able to resist
disease, less competent to take care of himself if wounded. The
argument that rum should be given to drown the sensibilities, to deaden
the terror of men about to go over the top, is not valid. Rum enough to
accomplish this makes a soldier unfit to go over the top at all into
the situations where every order must be obeyed promptly and where
every faculty must be supremely alert.

Principal Paton of the greatest public school of Manchester, England,
said to the writer that at a certain aviation camp six young men were
dashed to the ground and killed because, owing to the fact that they
had taken liquor just before their flights, liquor to which they were
unaccustomed, their machines in the higher altitude got out of control.

[Illustration: DR. POLING WITH NEWTON WYLIE, OF THE TORONTO "GLOBE"
Mr. Wylie was the executive secretary of the prohibition campaign in
Great Britain.]

I have found it quite difficult to show any tolerance at all for the
opinions of certain public men of Great Britain, clergymen included,
who have asked for the wet canteen in the training-camps set aside for
boys of eighteen.

The effect of the rum ration upon the teetotaler should have more
attention than it has yet received. The son of a personal friend of
mine wrote home to England that it was impossible for him to secure
water for several days while in the trenches, and that the tea supplied
him had the rum put into it before it was served. _This lad had never
tasted liquor before he left home._

In that very remarkable book, "Letters from Flanders," written by
Second Lieutenant A. D. (Bey) Gillespie, who died at the head of his
troops on September 25, 1915, I find the following:

"Also I had my first taste of rum, for I have to stand by and see a lot
of that served out to men as soon as it gets dark.... I think that they
should arrange that men who do not want it could get chocolate or some
other small thing instead."

While in Scotland the writer received from a British lady the following
portion of a letter written by her "godson," a Belgian soldier:

"If the war is the cause of many disasters, it has also its benefits.
Among them we concede the destruction, if I may say so, of alcoholism.
In our northern countries alcohol was a necessity, so to speak. Alcohol
did one good; that was the idea firmly fixed in the minds of the
people. To-day the governments have abolished the sale of alcohol in
all the cafés. It is forbidden to sell it to soldiers, the soldiers
cannot carry it with them, etc.; and a man is not the worse for that,
but far better off. I know many soldiers who every day 'needed' their
drop of spirits, and I myself was not free from the habit; yet for
three and one-half years now I have done without it, and really my
health is better. The bad habit is uprooted. The war has forced me
to temperance, as it has forced many others. This must have happened
also to civilians, for alcohol has become dear and scarce. So much the
better."

Much has been said about the "impossible" water of France. I crossed
and recrossed France without being at any time so situated that I could
not secure pure or purified water in ample quantity. The American
military administration deserves great credit for the way in which
it has solved this problem for our overseas forces. From the port of
entry to the last mess-kitchen at the front I found that where the
local water-supply was inadequate or questionable the great canvas
bags were kept constantly filled with the wholesome beverage that
to-day makes America famous from the Mediterranean Sea to the Vosges
Mountains. The great water-main laid through the French city in which
the general headquarters of the American army was for months located
was an inspiring sight and a ringing testimony to America's scientific
attitude and her war efficiency.

As to the basis for the British rum ration, Sir Victor Horsley refers
to it as the "old pernicious rum ration" which is given to the soldier
as a deceptive substitute for food, which decreases his efficiency and
reduces his strength. Sir Victor was one of the most distinguished
surgeons of his time, the recognized medical authority of the British
army for a generation, and a scientist who in his profession commanded
a hearing through the world. He has referred to the system of supplying
rum to British soldiers as having been established by the command
in Flanders during Marlborough's campaign at the beginning of the
eighteenth century. He also says, "It must be remembered, for the sake
of our honor as a profession, that the army medical service, though an
absolutely essential part of His Majesty's forces, has not only never
been granted a proper place in the administration of military affairs,
but even now [early in 1917] has no representative on the Army Council."

The medical profession cannot be held primarily responsible to the
British nation for errors in the vital question of the rum ration and
the medical and surgical care of soldiers.

Sir James McGregor, at one time the principal medical officer of the
army, issued one of the earliest statements against the rum ration. He
says in his memoirs that on a trying desert march down the Nile "the
men had no spirits delivered out to them, and not only did they not
suffer by this, but it contributed to the uncommon degree of health
which they had this time enjoyed." This was written in 1801. Medical
men in the United States are familiar with the experience of McClellan
on the banks of the Potomac in 1862 when a spirit ration was issued
in the belief that it would help stop bowel complaints. After one
month the ration was withdrawn because drunkenness and dysentery had
increased.

The experiences of Lord Roberts in the Boer War in South Africa and in
India, and similar experiences of General Kitchener, caused these men
to become unequivocally opposed to a ration of rum.

The army authorities of Great Britain have never answered Sir Victor's
following contentions, which had the fullest indorsement of Lord
Roberts and Lord Kitchener:

The rum ration is responsible for

    1. Decadence of morale. Causation of "grousing," friction, and
    disorder.

    2. Drunkenness, punishments, degradations in rank.

    3. Decadence of observation and judgment. Causation of errors and
    accidents.

    4. Loss of endurance and diminution of physical vigor. Causation of
    fatigue, falling out, and slackness.

    5. Loss of resistance to cold. Causation of chilliness, misery, and
    frost-bite.

    6. Loss of resistance to disease (particularly diseases occurring
    under conditions of wet and cold), namely, pneumonia, dysentery,
    typhoid fever.

    7. Loss of efficiency in shooting. (Half the rum ration causes a
    loss of 40 to 50 per cent in rifle-shooting. The navy rum ration
    causes a loss of 30 per cent in gunnery.)

In Sir Victor Horsley's last letter to Mr. Guy Hayler of London he
spoke of the great riot that occurred in Cairo,--a riot not set on
foot, as had been reported, because the men wanted more drink for
themselves, but because they would not stand quietly by and see the
officers drinking heavily in the hotels after the time appointed for
closing canteens to the privates. He also stated that the enormous loss
of men crippled and dead from frost-bite and cold at Gallipoli was due
to several factors, in which alcohol played a part not only directly,
but indirectly as well, owing to the neglect of the personal care and
treatment of the men due to the satisfaction and complacency which
whiskey-drinking produces. "Men allowed things to drift," the great
surgeon wrote.

I was privileged to be in the front line with the American forces when
they experienced their first general gassing and their first raid from
German shock troops. I was with them in water- and mud-filled trenches;
I saw them when for five and even seven days they had been constantly
in the tense expectancy of men who await a raid; I slept with them
and messed with them; I saw them in the agonies of the gas and soaked
in the blood of their wounds; I saw them so completely exhausted that
they fell asleep in their snow- and water-soaked garments upon the hard
floor of a Y. M. C. A. hut, resting there without protection only as we
found newspapers and canvas strips with which to cover them--their own
blankets had been buried by shell-fire, and they had just come from the
more advanced positions after being relieved.

These men had borne all without a rum ration. The hot coffee and tea
with which the Y. M. C. A. and Red Cross and their own cooks provided
them did for them all that the rum ration could have done, and with
none of rum's evil after-effects. I did not hear a single soldier ask
for rum. As to the insistence of some that it is impossible to supply
our forces with coffee and tea under extreme front-line conditions,
I was witness to the fact that under the most extreme conditions hot
drinks were constantly furnished.

It will be kept in mind that by the term "rum ration" we refer to the
regular and daily supply of spirits as a recognized part of the dietary
of the soldier, and not to the possible use of alcohol in special
instances by order of medical officers. As to this latter, I have not
seen rum or spirits used. The men have themselves informed me that it
has not been prescribed for them. I imagine that its introduction for
medicinal purposes will depend very much upon the personal attitude of
individual medical men toward alcohol as an internal medicine, just as
it does in the United States. The fact that the medical profession _is_
represented in the councils of the American army, and by some of its
most distinguished leaders, and the further fact that medical authority
in America has banished alcohol from the American pharmacopoeia, are
re-assuring. In having such men as Dr. Haven Emerson, formerly chief
health officer of New York City, now a major in the medical service in
France, to counsel those in supreme authority overseas, we are most
fortunate.

Peculiarly difficult will be the problem arising where American
soldiers are brigaded with English and French regiments. _But it is a
problem that must and will be solved._

Under no circumstances will this nation consent to the establishing
of the rum system that now works injury in the armies of her splendid
allies. _That it does work injury, I know._

It is certainly true that the vast majority of men now receiving
the ration of rum, if asked to express an opinion, would heartily
vote for it. It is equally true that the soldiers of our allies
are not a drunken mob, that they do not fall under the influence
of drink _menasse_. But the weakening and deteriorating effect of
this pernicious narcotic, water-absorbing, depressant drug poison is
unmistakable.

What the surgeon of the Royal Medical Corps said at Weymouth, and all
that he said, is true. Canada does well to be aroused; her hurt is
deep. There is tragedy in the situation that ties the hands of a people
who have sent armies of men clean of alcohol to fight for our common
cause under the flag of their motherland. These armies, as soon as
they leave the three-mile zone that guards the shores of Canada, pass
under an authority that thrusts upon them the curse which their own
government has destroyed.

The fact that the immediate and noticeable sensations and effects
of rum deceive men into accepting it as a benefactor instead of a
curse does not relieve a government of responsibility for finding and
following the truth. With my own eyes I have seen the demonstration
of the truth which science establishes--alcohol gives to the armies
of democracy trembling limbs, blinded eyes, deafened ears, dulled
sensibilities, hearts too frail to pump the blood of mightiest deeds,
poverty of soul in times when richest treasures alone suffice to pay
the price of justice and of freedom.



CHAPTER XX

_PHYSICALLY COMPETENT AND MORALLY FIT_


"I must keep clean for them, and I'm going to do it."

A captain of the American Expeditionary Force spoke the words. We were
standing together in front of a mantel in an old-fashioned room in an
ancient seacoast city of France. On the mantel were the pictures of a
woman and four beautiful children. The captain was not a saint; he was
entirely too profane to be really good company; but, as he looked into
the faces of his wife and babies, he was very intense and determined.

There is a question of vital interest to all Americans and particularly
to those who have sons in the Expeditionary Forces of the United
States, and I went abroad to find the answer to it. Rather, there are
two such questions: first, What is the moral character of the American
soldier abroad? and, second, What are the American military authorities
in France doing to keep the soldier physically competent and morally
fit?

There have been black rumors abroad. Stories have been told that
reflect seriously upon the man in uniform. Leaders in high places
have been accused of protecting vice, of allowing what amounts to a
segregated district directly behind the lines. The charge was widely
circulated in December, 1917, by certain publications, that more than
one thousand Americans from a suburban community of the northeastern
section of the United States were under guard for drunkenness after
their first pay-day in France. Alarming statements have been made
concerning venereal diseases.

I have found the answers to the questions already stated.

1. I have studied conditions in England, in landing-ports and
embarkation-ports, in London and in rest-camps.

2. I have lived in constant contact with five hundred American officers
for a period of ten days.

3. I have watched the American soldier in Paris on the street, in the
hotel, and in the café.

4. I have conferred with those who have special responsibility for
investigating social diseases among men with the colors and for
conducting a comprehensive educational campaign to fortify these men
against sexual temptations.

5. I have visited hospitals under virtually all conditions as to
location and the nature of the diseases treated.

6. I have had interviews with surgeons and other regular army officers.

7. The whole matter has been discussed with a distinguished physician
who until recently was the chief health officer of a great American
city and a recognized authority on the relation of liquor to vice. This
physician is now in the government service in France and is giving
special attention to sanitation and hygiene.

8. I have had interviews with General Pershing and several of his staff.

9. I have given particular attention to the French ports where American
soldiers disembark, spending several days in each of these cities. On
two occasions while I was on the ground as many as fifteen thousand men
came ashore from convoys in a single day. These men had their first
shore experience after a long and nerve-racking voyage.

10. I have been closely associated with more than five hundred Y. M.
C. A. secretaries who served under all conditions of army life. Among
these secretaries have been some of America's most prominent business
men, ministers, lawyers, athletes, physicians, nurses, and teachers.

11. I have talked with leaders in the civilian and political life of
France.

12. For four days I have studied conditions in our general headquarters
in France and in a divisional headquarters at the front.

13. For six days I have messed with private soldiers under fire; I was
with them day and night.

14. For six days I served within the front line as a regular Y. M. C.
A. secretary; three additional days were spent somewhat farther back,
but within the immediate war zone. For three of the six days I was
entirely in charge of the dugout which is the most advanced permanent
Y. M. C. A. station in any army, being located within less than sixteen
hundred yards of our most advanced trench. Directly connected with this
dugout are a room of the Signal Corps, a Red Cross first-aid station,
and billets for forty-seven men. Three other days were spent assisting
in a hut farther back, but situated above ground and in the zone of
constant shell-fire. During these days I was brought face to face with
men confronted by the most trying conditions of modern warfare. I saw
them caked with mud, chilled with snow and ice-cold water, sick and
wounded. I witnessed the treatment that they received; I inspected what
they ate and drank.

15. I have visited our front-line trenches, meeting the men and
officers and conversing with them. I have seen the American soldier
under direct fire. I have measured him after the most extensive raid
the Germans had until that time directed against him, and the one in
which the American army really came into its own. I have been with the
American soldier in a barrage, and later when he carried back his dead
and wounded and the wounded of his enemy.

16. I have studied the American soldier after he had marched four miles
through mud-filled, shell-scattered trenches to his billet, relieved
after eight days of trench life during which he had suffered everything
from rain and snow to gas, machine-gun fire, bayonet, and shrapnel. I
have seen him in repose and in action. I have seen him before, and I
have seen him after, a charge.

I believe that I not only know what the American soldier does in
France, but that I begin to know what _he is_.

_He is a representative American._ And he is living on a moral plane
which is _above the moral plane of civilian life at home_.

I have found soldiers who are a disgrace to the uniform; there are
individual cases and there are groups of cases that give me keen
regret. I wish that the army had a "Botany Bay," that those who insist
upon practising the indecencies could be segregated. However few these
men are,--and they are indeed the small minority,--they constitute a
menace to morale, and exert a demoralizing influence upon those with
whom they are associated. Then, too, there are a few officers who
represent the old idea that the soldier is necessarily a victim of his
passions, and must be allowed, even encouraged, to gratify them. But
such officers are in a decreasing ratio to the whole, and privates who
bring an unfavorable judgment upon their country are the exceptions,
that assist in proving the rule.

On one occasion two hundred men from just-arrived transports began
their self-appointed task of painting a certain French city a livelier
hue. Very quickly they discovered that "decorators" of their class
were not in demand. The naval patrol sent them back to the ships with
battered heads and wiser minds. Two hundred men out of more than
_fifteen thousand_ tried to be naughty, and failed! I can imagine a
lurid head-line, "_Recently Arrived Soldiers Paint City Red_." Such a
head-line would have been unfair and untrue. That story of a thousand
men from the rural community of northeastern America is absolutely
false. I have investigated it in every French port where American
troops land and in in every other place where any considerable number
of our men have been quartered. My inquiries have followed three lines,
the military, the Y. M. C. A., and civilians. While conditions were
worse at the beginning, before our military authorities had their own
police programme operating, nothing at all approaching this condition
_ever_ existed.

Our leaders in France have not conquered the vices that society has
battled against from the first organized beginnings of civilization;
but, if the American Expeditionary Force is not setting an example in
moral idealism to American civilian life, then I have walked through
France with my eyes closed and my ears stopped.

When you see one soldier under the influence of liquor, do not conclude
that the army is drunk! It is at least suggestive that in three months
spent in England and France, associated with tens of thousands of
soldiers, I did not see a single soldier, officer or private, under
the influence of liquor on the street, in a public conveyance, or in a
public building.

When you hear of one syphilitic, or a hundred, do not traduce _en
masse_ the flower of American manhood now transported to the richly
watered fields of France. An investigation made by a prominent jurist
of the United States, who is also a leading layman of the Methodist
Church, revealed the following conditions in a certain port of landing.
This city has long borne the reputation of being among the most immoral
of Europe. The survey covered both white and black troops, and was made
in areas personally inspected by the writer.

The record for venereal diseases for four months preceding my visit
was:

           _Colored Troops_                         _White Troops_

  First Month,
  108.7 men in each thousand.             16.89 men in each thousand.

  Second Month,
   30.9   "  "   "      "                 12.5   "   "   "      "

  Third Month,
   21.2   "  "   "      "                  8.7   "   "   "      "

  Fourth Month,
   11     "  "   "      "                  2.11  "   "   "      "

Many of these men were found to be infected when they reached France.
Army discipline, it will be seen, soon produced results. The rate of
venereal disease for white men when I left that city was less than
one-fourth of one per cent and for colored soldiers, just about one per
cent.

Let us think of our army division in terms of a modern American city,
a city of men, women, and children. But here are cities of men only,
men between twenty-one and thirty-one. Yes, men between seventeen and
thirty-one. Young men, red-blooded, far from home, inhabit these war
cities. Put such a city into your moral test-tube! Is it not inspiring
beyond words that these cities, by the records of the Surgeon-General
and from the reports of General Pershing, show a venereal rate
far below that of civilian life, and a decreasing rate; that they
show little drunkenness? And every statement of the War Department
concerning these vital matters has been substantiated by my own
investigations.

We shall be helped greatly in our efforts to appreciate the facts
if we remember that every soldier before he is a soldier is a _man_;
that the American soldiers in France are our own brothers and our own
sons; that we have taken the best from our colleges, our churches, our
offices, our homes, our factories and our farms, to feed the god of
war who stalks across the fields of Europe. These men have not laid
off their American idealism; they have not abandoned their American
training and the moral and spiritual instructions absorbed by American
firesides and in American churches and schools. We indict ourselves
when we believe wholesale charges of evil living, brought against the
finest fruit of our tree of democratic culture.

The psychology of such charges is demoralizing. Men falsely accused are
inclined to argue, "Well, I have the name; the mark is on me; I'll take
the game!" On the other hand, confidence begets confidence. Men are
made strong by the knowledge that other men and that women and children
believe in them. Our brothers and sons in France have won the right,
not only to our love, but to our esteem and faith as well.

There is no room to-day for the quick-spoken, casually informed, and
misinformed destructive critic. The constructive critic in the army
and out of it, in France and in civilian life at home, will have
increasingly much to do; not one iota of service for the soldier and
sailor can we afford to abate. They are always in the danger zone.

I found the American in uniform building up about himself a wall
of protection in the very attitude he is assuming toward the moral
excesses practised by the few. He is resenting the indulgence that
causes his country's civilization to be misjudged; he is disciplining
his comrade who by taking improper and forbidden liberties endangers
the freedom of others; he shows a distinct pride in the fact that
American physical and moral standards are high. _I believe that for
every man in the army that is morally destroyed at least five men are
morally born again._ We have spent much time in discussing the vast
task of keeping our men fit to return to us when the war is over, and
it is time well spent. But there is another matter quite as important:
_America must be made and kept fit for these men to return to_.

This is a report on conditions as they exist in the American army,
and does not deal directly with circumstances surrounding vice and
liquor in England and in France. As to these conditions in England and
France, they differ widely. Vice conditions in such cities as London
and Liverpool are particularly menacing; strong drink is everywhere a
distressing problem. In both of these vital matters the English problem
presents difficulties in excess of those confronting the investigator
in France. Through diplomatic representations and with the utmost
regard for the customs and feelings of our heroic allies _certainly the
same regulations should be applied to our soldiers overseas that now
apply at home_.

The results that have been thus far accomplished have been accomplished
without conflict with the drinking-customs of our allies. In proportion
as it has been found practical for our military authorities to have
absolute police control over territory occupied by American soldiers
has it been possible to deal effectively with liquor and vice from the
standpoint of administering regulations and laws.

What is the attitude of the American military authorities in France
toward drink and vice? I find our leaders in France aggressively and
successfully promoting the most comprehensive programme ever attempted
by a nation at war to keep her soldiers physically competent and
morally fit. An official of the British government, a man of many
distinctions and high in political life, told me that the eyes of all
the nations of Europe were upon the well-nigh revolutionary policies of
General Pershing and his staff.

The programme of the military leaders has been effectively supplemented
by the Y. M. C. A., the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. The Y. M. C.
A. is responsible for a ministry that cannot be overvalued. With its
huts, which range from the commodious double building in the great
cities and in the large training-camps to the foul-smelling, dark
dugouts at the front, with its canteens and hotels for officers and
privates, with its music and its lectures, its classes in French and
its Bible classes, with its athletic leadership and its rest-stations
high among the quiet mountains, with its religious services and its
personal interviews, it is meeting squarely the moral challenge of
this stupendous occasion. It is the most potent hope of the church,
and God's most fruitful agency, "for such a time as this." A captain
of a company of colored stevedores told me that the Y. M. C. A. had
increased the morale of his men one hundred per cent.

As I have written these lines, I have had vividly before me a group of
American soldiers. It is three o'clock in the morning, and they have
just marched four miles through trenches, shell-obliterated or filled
with mud and snow; they have been relieved from the first line. They
are men from four companies of a battalion of a division occupying a
permanent position on the western front. They have had the distinction
of experiencing the first extensive gassing directed against American
troops and of repelling the first general raid over an American front.
Of one of the companies every commissioned officer has been killed
or wounded in the fighting of twenty hours before; its captain, a
gallant Southern lad, died on the parapet leading the successful
counter-attack. They are covered with mud, dead for sleep, chilled to
the bone, but uncomplaining. Some of them have fallen repeatedly on the
way out, and their faces are as black as their boots. They lean against
the counters and the tables of the Y. M. C. A. hut, and silently drink
the red-hot tea and eat the cookies and crackers. These are the men who
have given the first clear demonstration of the fighting superiority of
American democracy over German autocracy. They have paid a great price;
but, counting all the cost, they have found the expenditure justified.
They are the very vanguard of the pathfinders of civilization; they are
the knights of the twentieth century.

I should be false to these men if, having the evidence of their moral
soundness, I did not declare it; and I should be false to those who
gave them as a priceless offering upon the altar of freedom.

General Pershing and those who are in authority with him in France
deserve not a resolution of inquiry or censure, but a vote of
confidence with the assurance of our co-operation and support.

The American soldier is the worthy inheritor of the finest traditions
of American arms, a credit to those who bore him, an honor to the
nation he represents, and the last and best hope that civilization will
not fail in her struggle to establish the might of right.



CHAPTER XXI

_VIVE LA FRANCE!_


It was the tenth of May, 1917, in New York. The great city was
alive--riotously, gloriously alive. Save for the narrow lane kept
for the progress of the hero of the day her main artery flowed from
building-line to building-line with a vibrant throng. It was a supreme
demonstration of Democracy's melting-pot, a confusion of tongues, a
medley of peoples, a human flood fed by every racial fountain of the
earth.

I stood that day where the multitude was densest, and at the very
edge of the throng, directly in front of the reviewing-platform at
Forty-second Street. We had waited, it seemed, for hours when suddenly,
as such a silence always comes, a pregnant quiet fell over all the
people.

Obedient to the universal spiritual impulse, my eyes turned from the
gray walls of the majestic library building, and followed where ten
thousand billowing flags rolled back from Fifth Avenue like the parting
of another Red Sea. Old Glory was everywhere, and everywhere flanking
her were the Tricolor and the Union Jack.

I had scarcely recorded the shock of that emotion when sharp and
high-keyed sounded the hoofbeats of horses, and drawing rapidly near
were the outriders of a distinguished company.

The eager throng surged against the officers who guarded the open way;
the voices of those about me joined the cyclonic thunder of cheers
that rolled upon us; there was a bedlam of horns and bugles, and
then--Joffre swept by!

Ah, I shall never cease to see him, a heroic portrait in red and white,
painted against a great confusion and hung beneath a sun-goldened
sky. I was very close to him, and his military cap was lifted; he was
slightly smiling, and his eyes were shining islands in seas of tears.
His white hair crowned his massive head rather than belied his full and
ruddy cheeks; his shoulders were herculean and shaped for the load of a
nation; his chest was broad and deep, to hold the heart of France.

In an instant he was gone, but in that instant the Gibraltar of the
Marne, the rock against which the flood of absolutism rolled and broke,
fixed his eyes upon the place where I stood. While the question, "Is
he looking at me?" was shaping in my mind, clear and strong above the
shout of the multitude rang the cry, "Vive la France! Vive la France!
Vive la France!"

Three times it came, and from a position so close to mine that, when I
swung about, I found myself breath to breath with the voice that had
lifted it. The man was young and tall; his right arm was bound against
his chest; his face was deeply scarred; and he was in the uniform of
the French Flying Corps. As he flung up his unmaimed hand and cried,
"Vive la France! Vive la France!" he was the incarnation of the
chivalry of war.

The mighty Joffre leaned forward, gazed intently, replaced his cap, and
then, as warrior to warrior, saluted.

It was a flash, an eternal moment that remains with you and in you and
of you. From the souls of the two, the tender, iron hero of the Marne
and the young American who had crossed the sea to help pay the debt a
young Frenchman left us nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, I caught
the gleam of brotherhood that will not die while a grateful Democracy
remembers Lafayette and free men bear wreaths to the tomb of Washington.



Transcriber's Notes


Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

p. 40, 180: The text of these letters in the illustrations are
transcribed. The images of the messages are also provided in HTML and
other non-text formats.

Caption of the illustration following p. 62: COFEE -> COFFEE.

p. 180: United States of Ameria -> United States of America.





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