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Title: Round about Bar-le-Duc
Author: Day, Susanne R.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    ROUND ABOUT
    BAR-LE-DUC


    BY

    SUSANNE R. DAY
    AUTHOR OF "THE AMAZING PHILANTHROPISTS," ETC.


    London
    SKEFFINGTON & SON, LTD.
    34 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C. 2
    PUBLISHERS TO HIS MAJESTY THE KING


    TO

    CAROL

    FOR WHOSE EYES
    THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN



PREFACE


TO CAROL

Dear, you asked me to write for you the story of my work and adventures
in France, and through all the agonising hours of incubation and
parturition you have given me your unfailing sympathy, encouragement
and help. You have even chastened me (it was a devastating hour!) for
my--and, I believe, for the book's--good, and when we discovered that
the original form--that of intimate personal letters written directly
to you--did not suit the subject matter, you acquiesced generously in a
change, the need for which I, at least, shall ever deplore.

And now that the last words have been written and Finis lies upon the
page, I know how short it all falls of my ideal and how unworthy it is
of your high hope of me. And yet I dare to offer it to you, knowing
that what is good in it is yours, deep delver that you are for the gold
that lies--somewhere--in every human heart.

Twenty months in the war zone ought, one would imagine, to have
provided me with countless hair-breadth escapes, thrills, and perhaps
even shockers with which to regale you, but the adventures are all
those of other people, an occasional flight to a cellar in a raid being
all we could claim of danger. And so, instead of being a book about
English women in France, it is mainly a book about French women in
their own country, and therein lies its chief, if not its only claim to
merit.

Humanness was the quality which above all others you asked for, and if
it possesses that I shall know it has not been written in vain.

  SUSANNE R. DAY.

  _London,
  January 1918._



  CONTENTS


 CHAP.                                       PAGE

    I. MAINLY INTRODUCTORY                     11

   II. EN ROUTE--SERMAIZE-LES-BAINS            16

  III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS                       29

   IV. À TRAVERS BAR-LE-DUC                    47

    V. SETTLING IN                             61

   VI. THE BASKET-MAKERS OF VAUX-LES-PALAMIES  73

  VII. IN WHICH WE PLAY TRUANT                 87

 VIII. THE MODERN CALVARY                     107

   IX. IN WHICH WE BECOME EMISSARIES OF LE
        BON DIEU                              125

    X. PRIESTS AND PEOPLE                     136

   XI. REPATRIÉES                             160

  XII. STORM-WRACK FROM VERDUN                179

 XIII. MORE STORM-WRACK                       198

  XIV. AIR RAIDS                              207

   XV. M. LE POILU                            223

       ENVOI                                  255



ROUND ABOUT BAR-LE-DUC



CHAPTER I

MAINLY INTRODUCTORY


Relief Work in the War Zone. It did sound exciting. No wonder I
volunteered, but, oh dear! great was the plenitude of my ignorance.
I vaguely understood that we were to distribute clothes and rabbits,
kitchen utensils, guano and other delectable necessaries to a stricken
people, but not that we were to wear a uniform and that the uniform
would be made "by post." If I had there might never have been a chapter
to write nor a tale to tell.

That uniform!--shall I ever forget it? Or the figure I cut when I
put it on? Of course, like any sensible female woman, I wanted to
have it made by my own tailor and in my own way. Strict adherence
to the general scheme, of course, with reasonable modification to
suit the individual. But Authority said NO. Only by one man and in
one place could that uniform be made. Frankly sceptical at first, I
am now a devout believer. For it was certainly unique; perhaps in
strict truth I ought to say that several specimens of it were unique.
There was one--but this is a modest tale told by a modest woman.
Stifle curiosity, and be content with knowing that the less cannot
contain the greater. And then let us go hence and ponder upon the
sweet reasonableness of man, or at least of one man who, when asked to
produce the uniform hats, replied, "But what for, Madam?"

"Well, to try on, of course."

"Try on? Why ever should you want to do that?"

Perhaps you won't believe this? But it is true.

Oh, the agonies of those last days of preparation, and the heartrending
impossibility of getting any really useful or practical information
about an outfit!

"Wear pyjamas, a mess-tin, and a water-bottle. And of course you must
have a sleeping-bag and a bath."

This was at least encouraging. Were we going to sleep _à la belle
étoile_, a heap of stones our pillow, our roof the sky? You can
imagine how I thrilled. But there was the bath. Even in France.... I
relinquished the stars with a sigh and realised that Authority was
talking learnedly about the uniform, talking swiftly, confidently,
assuredly, and as I listened conviction grew that once arrayed in it
every difficulty and danger would melt away, and the French nation
prostrate itself before my blushing feet in one concentrated desire to
pay homage and assist. One danger certainly melted away, but, alas! it
took Romance with it. As a moral life-belt that uniform has never been
equalled.

And then there was the kit-bag. Ye gods, I KNOW that villainous
thing was possessed of the devil. From the day I found it, lying a
discouraged heap upon my bedroom floor, to the day when it tucked
itself on board ship in direct defiance of my orders and invited the
Germans to come and torpedo it--which they promptly did--it never
ceased to annoy. It lost its key in Paris, and on arrival at Sermaize
declined to allow itself to be opened. It was dumped in my "bedroom"
(of which more later), the lock was forced, Sermaize settled itself to
slumber. I proceeded to unpack, plunged in a hand and drew forth--a
pair of blue serge trousers.

Wild yells for help brought Sermaize to my door. What the owner of the
trousers thought when his broken-locked bag was flung back upon him,
history does not relate. He had opened what he thought was HIS bag, so
possibly he was beyond speech. He was a shy young man and he had never
been in France before.

If the thing--the bag, I mean, not the shy young man--had been pretty
or artistic one might have forgiven it all its sins. Iniquity should
always be beautiful. But that bag was plain, _mais d'une laideur
effroyable_. Just for all the world like a monstrous obscene sausage,
green with putrefaction and decay. What I said when I tried to pack
is not fit for a young and modest ear. I planted it on its hind legs,
seized a pair of boots, tried to immure them in its depths, slipped and
fell into it head foremost. It was then the devil chuckled. I heard
him. He had been waiting, you see--he knew.

It is some consolation that a certain not-to-be-named friend
was not on the hotel steps as I stole forth that torrid June
morning. Every imp of the thousand that possess her would have
danced with glee. How she would have laughed: for there I was,
the not-to-be-tried-on-uniform-hat, a grotesque little inverted
pudding-bowl of a thing, perched like a fungoid growth on the top of my
head, the uniform itself hanging blanket-like about my shrinking form
(it was heavy enough for the arctic regions), a water-bottle which had
refused point-blank to go into the kit-bag hanging over one shoulder,
and a bulging brown knapsack jutting blasphemously from my back. What
a vision! Tartarin of Tarascon climbing the Alps with an ironmonger's
shop on his back fades ignominiously in comparison. But then I wasn't
just climbing commonplace tourist-haunted Alps. I was going "to the
Front." At least, so my family said when making pointed and highly
encouraging remarks about my will. That the "Front" in question was
twenty miles from a trench was a mere detail. Why go to the War Zone if
you don't swagger? I swaggered. Not much, you know--just the faintest
æsthetic suspicion of a swagger, and then.... Then Nemesis fell--fell
as I passed a mirror, and saw.... I crawled on all fours into France.

I crawled on all fours into Paris. Think of it, PARIS! No wonder French
women murmured, "Mais, Mademoiselle, vous êtes très devouée." I am a
modest woman (I have mentioned this before, but it bears repetition),
but whenever I thought of that uniform I believed them.

If Paris had not been at war she would probably have arrested me at the
Douane, and I should have deserved it. Fancy insulting her by wearing
such clothes, and on such a night--a clear, purple, perfect summer
night, when she lay like a fairy city caught in the silvery nets of the
moon. And yet there was a strange, ominous hush over it all. The city
lying quiet and, oh, so still! It seemed to be waiting, waiting, a cup
from which the wine had been poured upon the red floor of war.

Wandering along the deserted quays, wondering what the morrow would
bring.... What a night that was, the sheer exquisite beauty of it! The
Conciergerie dark against the sky, the gleaming path of the river, and
then the Louvre and the Tuileries all hushed to languorous, passionate
beauty in the arms of the moon.

Don't you love Paris, every stone of her? I do. But I was not allowed
to stay there. Inexorable Fate sent me the next morning in a taxi and
a state of excusable excitement to the Gare de l'Est, where, kit-bag,
mess-tin, water-bottle and all, I was immured in the Paris-Nancy
express and borne away through a morning of glittering sunshine to
Vitry-le-François, there to be deposited upon the platform and in the
arms of a grey-coated and becomingly-expectant young man.



CHAPTER II

EN ROUTE--SERMAIZE-LES-BAINS


I

Like Bartley Fallon of immortal memory, "if there's any ill luck at
all in the world, 'tis on meself it falls." Needless to say, I was
not allowed to remain in the arms of that nice young man; and indeed,
to give him his due, he showed no overwhelming desire to keep me
there. The embodiment of all Quakerly propriety, he conducted me with
befitting ceremony to the station just as the sun began to drop down
the long hills of the sky, and sent me forth once more, this time
with a ticket for Sermaize-les-Bains in my pocket. My proverbial luck
held good--that is to say, bad. The train was an OMNIBUS. Do you know
what that means? No? Then I shall tell you. It is the philosopher
of locomotion, the last thing in, the final triumph of, thoughtful,
leisurely progression. Its phlegm is sheerly imperturbable, its
serenity of that large-souled order which cataclysms cannot ruffle
nor revolutions disturb. A destination? It shrugs its shoulder. Yes,
somewhere, across illimitable continents, across incalculable æons of
time. The world is beautiful, haste the expression of a vulgar age. To
travel hopefully is to arrive. It hopes. Eventually, if God is good, it
arrives.

And so did we, after long consultative visits to small wayside
stations, and after much meditative meandering through sunset-coloured
lands. Arrived--ah, can you wonder at it?--with just a little catch
in our throats and a shamed mistiness of vision, for had we not seen,
there in that little clump of undergrowth outside the wood, a lonely
cross, fenced with a rustic paling, an old red mouldering _képi_
hanging on the point? And then in the field another ... and again
another ... mute, pitiful, inspiring witnesses of the grim tragedy of
war.

And then came Sermaize, once a thriving little town, a thing of streets
and HOMES, of warm firelit rooms where the great game of Life was
played out day by day, where the stakes were Love and Laughter, and
Success and Failure and Death, where men and women met, it might be on
such a night as this--a night to dream in and to love, a night when the
slow pulse of the Eternal Sea beat quietly upon the ear--met to tell
the age-old story while the world itself stood still to listen, and
out of the silence enchantment grew, and old standards and old values
passed away and a new Heaven and a new Earth were born.

Once a thing of streets and homes! Ah, there lies the real tragedy
of the ruined village. Bricks and mortar? Yes. You may tell the tale
to the last ultimate sou if you will, count it all up, mark it all
down in francs and centimes, tell me that here in one brief hour the
Germans did so much damage, destroyed so many thousand pounds worth of
property, ground such and such an ancient monument to useless powder,
but who can count the cost, or appraise the value of the things which
no money can buy, that only human lives can pay for?

One ruined village is exactly like every other ruined village you
may say with absolute truth, and yet be wrong. A freak of successful
destruction here, a fantastic failure there, may give a touch of
individuality, even a hint of the grotesque. That tall chimney, how
oddly it leans against the sky. That archway standing when everything
about it is rubble and dust. That bit of twisted iron-work, writhing
like an uncouth monster, that stairway climbing ridiculously into
space. Yes, they are all alike, these villages, and all heartrendingly
different. For each has its hidden story of broken lives to tell, of
human hopes and human ambitions dashed remorselessly to earth, of human
friendships severed, of human loves torn and bleeding, trampled under
the red heel of war. Lying there in the moonlight, Sermaize possessed
an awful dignity. In life it may have been sordid and commonplace, in
death, wrapped in the silver shroud of the moon, it was sublime.

As we passed through the broken piles of masonry and brick-and
iron-work every inch of the road throbbed with its history, the ruins
became infused with life and--was it phantasy? a trick of the night? of
the dream-compelling moon?--out of the dark shadows came the phantoms
of men and women and little children, their eyes wide with fear and
longing, their empty hands outstretched....

Home! They cried the word aloud, and the night was filled with their
crying.

And so we passed. Looking back now, I think the dominant emotion of
the moment was one of rage, of blind, impotent, ravening fury against
the senseless cruelty that could be guilty of such a thing. For the
destruction of Sermaize-les-Bains was not a grim necessity of war. It
was a sacrifice to the pride of the All-Highest.

In a heat that was sheerly tropical the battle had raged to and fro.
The Grande Place had been torn to atoms by the long-range German guns,
then came hand-to-hand fighting in the streets, and the Germans in
possession. The inhabitants, terrified, for the most part fled to the
woods. Some remained, but among them unfortunately not the Mayor. He
had gone away early in the morning. He was, perhaps, a simple-minded
person. He cannot have realised how inestimable a privilege it is to
receive a German Commandant in the "Town Hall" he has just blown to
infinitesimal fragments. It may even be--though it is difficult to
believe it--that, conscious of the privilege, he yet dared to despise
it. Whatever the reason the fact remains--he was not there. What an
insult to German pride, what a blow to German prestige! No wonder
the Commandant strode into the street and in a voice trembling with
righteous indignation gave the order, "Pillage and Fire."

Oh, it was a merry game that, and played to a magnificent finish. The
houses were stripped as human ghouls stripped the dead upon Napoleonic
battlefields; glass, china, furniture, pictures, silver, heirlooms
cherished through many a generation, it was a glorious harvest, and
what was not worth the gleaning was piled into heaps and burned.

There are certain pastilles, innocent-looking things like a man's coat
button, round and black, with a hole in the middle. They say the German
army came into France with strings of them round their necks, for in
the German army every contingency is provided for, every destructive
device supplied even to the last least ultimate detail. Its organisers
take no risks. They never throw the dice with Chance. Luck? They don't
believe in luck. They believe in efficiency and careful scientific
preparation, in clean-cut work, with no tags or loose ends of humanity
hanging from it. The human equation is merely a cog upon the machine,
and yet it is the one that is going to destroy them in the end.

So they brought their pastilles into France just as they brought
their expert packers to ensure the safe transit into Germany of all
perishable loot. And if ever you see some of those pastilles framed at
Selfridge's and ask yourself if they could really be effective--they
are so small, so very harmless-looking--remember Sermaize and the waste
of charred rubbish lying desolate under the moon. Some one--I think
Maurice Genevoix, in _Sous Verdun_--tells how, in the early days of
war, French soldiers were sometimes horrified to see a bullet-stricken
German suddenly catch fire, become a living torch, blazing, terrible.
At first they were quite unable to account for it. You see, they didn't
know about the pastilles then. Later, when they did, they understood.
I was told in Sermaize that a German aeroplane, flying low over the
roofs, sprayed them with petrol that day. If true, it was quite an
unnecessary waste of valuable material. The pastilles were more than
equal to the occasion. But so was the French hotel-keeper who, coming
back when the Germans had commenced their long march home, and finding
his house in desiccated fragments, promptly put up a rough wooden
shelter, and hung out his sign-board, "Café des Ruines!"


II

No one should go to Sermaize without paying a visit to M. le Curé. He
stayed with his people till his home was tumbling about his ears, and
even then he hung on, in the cellar. Driven out by fire, he collected
such fugitives as were at hand and helped them through the woods to a
place of safety. Of the events and incidents of that flight, of the
dramatic episodes of the bombardment and subsequent fighting--there
was a story of a French officer, for instance, who came tumbling into
the cellar demanding food and drink in the midst of all the hell, and
who devoured both, M. le Curé confessing that his own appetite at the
moment was not quite up to its usual form, howitzer shells being a poor
substitute for, shall we say, a gin-and-bitters?--it is not for me to
speak. He has told the tale himself elsewhere, and if in the telling he
has been half as witty, as epigrammatic, as vivid and as humorous as he
was when he lectured in the Common-room at Sermaize, then all I can say
is, buy the book even if you have to pawn your last pair of boots to
find the money for it.

A rare type, M. le Curé. An intellectual, once the owner and lover
(the terms are, unhappily, not always synonymous) of a fine library,
now in ashes, a man who could be generous even to an ungenerous
foe, and remind an audience--one member, at least, of which was no
Pacifist--that according to the German code the Mayor should have
remained in the town, and that he, M. le Curé, had been able to collect
no evidence of cruelty to, or outrage upon, an individual.

That lecture is one of the things that will live in my memory. For
the Curé was not possessed of a library of some two thousand volumes
for nothing, and whatever his Bishop's opinion may be on the subject,
I take leave to believe that Anatole France, De Maupassant, Verlaine
and Baudelaire jostled many a horrified divine upon the shelves. For
his style was what a sound knowledge of French literature had made it.
He could dare to be improper--oh, so deliciously, subtly improper! A
word, a tone, a gesture--a history. And his audience? Well, I mustn't
tell you about that, and perhaps the sense of utter incongruity was
born entirely of my own imagination. But to hear him describe how he
spent the night in a crowded railway-station waiting-room where many
things that should be decently hidden were revealed, and where he, a
respectable celibate divine, shared a pallet with dames of varying ages
and attractiveness ... and.... The veil just drawn aside fell down
again upon the scene, and English propriety came to its own with a
shudder.

Yes, if you are wise you will visit M. le Curé. And ask him to tell
you how he disguised himself as a drover, and how, when in defiance of
all authority he came back to Sermaize, he himself swept and cleaned
out the big room which the Germans had used as a hospital, and which
they had befouled and filthied, leaving vessels full of offal and
indescribable loathlinesses, where blood was thick on walls and floor;
a room that stank, putrid, abominable. It was German filth, and German
beastliness, and French women, their hearts still hot within them,
would not touch it.

And ask him to tell you how nearly he was killed by a shell which fell
on an outhouse in which he was taking shelter, and how he was called
up, and as a soldier of France was told to lead a horse to some
village whose name I have forgotten, and how he, who hardly knew one
end of a horse from another, led it, and on arriving at the village met
an irate officer.

"And what are you doing here?"

"I do not know."

"Your regiment?"

"I haven't one."

"And the horse?"

A shrug, what indeed of the horse?

Three days later he was wearing his cassock again.

Once, when escaping from Sermaize he was nearly shot by some French
soldiers. There were only a few of them, and their nerves had been
shattered. Nerves do give way sometimes when an avalanche sweeps over
them, and the Germans came into France like a thousand avalanches.
And so these poor wretches, separated from their regiment, fled. It
was probably the wisest thing they could do under the circumstances.
"Sauve qui peut." There are few cries more terrible than that. But a
village lay in the line of flight, and in the village there was good
red wine. It was a hot day, France was lost, Paris capitulating, and
man a thirsty animal. A corporal rescued M. le Curé when his back was
against the wall and rifles, describing wild circles, were threatening
him; finally, the nerveless ones went back to their regiment and fought
gloriously for France, and Paris did not capitulate after all.


III

With a howl of bitter anguish Tante Joséphine collapsed upon the
ground, and the earth shook. For Tante Joséphine was fat, and her
bones were buried beyond all hope of recovery under great pendulous
masses of quivering, perspiring flesh. And she had walked, _mais,
pensez donc!_--walked thousands of accursed miles through the woods,
she had tripped over roots, she had been hoisted over banks, she had
crashed like an avalanche down trenches and drains. She was no longer
a woman, she was a bath--behold the perspiration!--she was an ache,
_mon Dieu!_ not one, but five million villainous aches; she was a lurid
fire of profanity. For while she, Tante Joséphine, walked and fell and
"larded the green earth," Grandmère lay in the _brouette_ and refused
to be evicted. At first Tante Joséphine tried to get in too. Surely
the war which had worked so many miracles would transform her into a
telescope, but the war was unkind, and Pierre, _pauvre petit gosse!_
had been temporarily submerged in a sea of agitated fat from which he
had been rescued with difficulty. And Grandmère was only eighty-two,
whereas she, Tante Joséphine, was sixty.

All day long her eyes had turned to the _brouette_, and to Grandmère
lying back like a queen. No, she could bear it no longer. If she did
not ride she would die, or be taken by the Germans, and her blood
would be on Grandmère's head, and shadowed by remorse would be all
that selfish woman's days. The wood resounded with the bellowings, and
the green earth trembled because Tante Joséphine, as she sat on it,
trembled with wrath and fatigue and desolation and woe.

Grandmère stirred in the _brouette_. At eighty-two one is not so active
as one was at twenty, but one isn't old, _ma foi_! Père Bronchot was
old. He would be ninety-four at Toussaint, but she--oh, she could
still show that big soft thing of a Tante Joséphine what it was to be
a woman of France. She was always a weakling, was Joséphine, fit only
for pasturage. And so behold the quivering mountain ludicrously piling
itself upon the _brouette_, Pierre, a pensive look in his eye, standing
by the while. He staggered as he caught up the handles. The chariot
swayed ominously. The mountain became a volcano spurting forth fire.
The chariot steadied, and then very slowly resumed its way. Half a
kilomètre, three-quarters, a whole. Grandmère was strangely silent, for
at eighty-two one is not so young as one was at twenty, and kilomètres
grow strangely long as the years go by.

Tante Joséphine snored. Pierre ceased to push.

"Allons, Allons. Pierre, que veux-tu? Is it that the Germans shall
catch us and make of you a stew for their supper?" Tante Joséphine had
wakened up.

"I am tired."

"Ah, paresseux." The volcano became active again.

Pierre looked at Grandmère. How old she was! And why did she look so
white as she trailed her feet bravely through the wood?

"Grandmère is ill. She must ride!"

What Tante Joséphine said the woods have gathered to their breast.
Pierre became pensive, then he smiled. "Eh, bien. En route."

The kilomètre becomes very long when one is eighty-two, but Grandmère
was a daughter of France. Her head was high, her eye steadfast as she
plodded on, taking no notice of the way, never seeing the deep drain
that ran beside the path. But Pierre saw it. He must have, because he
saw everything. He was made that way. And that is why Tante Joséphine
has never been able to understand why she dreamed she was rolling down
a precipice with a railway train rolling on top of her, and wakened
to find herself deep in the soft mould at the bottom of the drain,
the _brouette_ reclining on--well, on the highest promontory of her
coast-line, while Pierre and Grandmère peered over the top with the
eyes of celestial explorers who look down suddenly into hell.

So and in such wise was the manner of their going. Of the return
Tante Joséphine does not speak. For a time they hid in the woods,
other good Sermaizians with them. How did they live? Ah, don't ask me
that! They existed, somehow, as birds and squirrels exist, perhaps,
and then one day they said they were going home. I am not at all sure
that the authorities wanted to have them there. For only a handful
of houses remained, and though many a cellar was still intact under
the ruins, cellars, considered as human habitation, may, without
undue exaggeration, be said to lack some of the advantages of modern
civilisation. How was Tante Joséphine, how were the stained and
battered scarecrows that accompanied her to provide for themselves
during the winter? Would broken bricks make bread? Would fire-eaten
iron-work make a blanket? Authority might protest, Sermaizians did not
care. They crept into the cellars that numbed them to the very marrow
on cold days, living like badgers and foxes in their dark, comfortless
holes, enduring bitter cold and terrible privation, lacking food and
clothes and fire and light, but telling themselves that they were at
home and sucking good comfort from the telling.

Needless to say, there weren't nearly enough cellars to go round,
and direful things might have happened but for a lucky accident.
Hidden in the woods about a mile from the town was an old Hydropathic
Establishment, known as La Source, which had escaped the general
destruction. Into it, regardless of its dirt and its bleak, excessive
discomfort swarmed some three hundred of the _sinistrés_, there to
huddle the long winter away.

As an example of its special attractions, let me tell you of one woman
who lived with her two children in a tiny room, the walls of which
streamed with damp, which had no fireplace, no heating possibilities of
any kind, and whose sole furniture consisted of a barrow and one thin
blanket.

From the point of view of the Relief worker an ideal case. Beautiful
misery, you know. It could hardly be surpassed.

A Society--a very modest Society; it has repeatedly warned me that
it dislikes publicity, so I heroically refrain from mentioning its
name[1]--swept down upon the ruins early in 1915, and taking possession
of one of the buildings at La Source, made the theatre its Common-room,
the billiard-room its bedroom, and a top-loft a general dumping-ground,
whose contents included a camp bed but no sheets, a tin basin and
jug, an apologetic towel and, let me think--I can't remember a
dressing-table or a mirror. It was a very modest Society, you remember,
and the sum of its vanity----? Well, it perpetrated the uniform. Let it
rest in peace.

 [1] It has, nevertheless, done work of inestimable value in France, in
 Serbia and in Russia.

Wherefore and because of which things a grey-clad apparition, moving
through the moonlight like some hideous spectre of woe, arrived that
warm June night at La Source, and was ushered into a room where
innumerable people were drinking cocoa, rushing about, talking--ye
gods, how they talked!--smoking.... I was more frightened than I have
ever been in my life. I am not used to crowds, and to my fevered
imagination every unit was a battalion. Then because I was hotter and
thirstier than a grain of sand in a sun-scorched desert, cocoa was
thrust upon me--_cocoa_! I drank it, loathing it, and wondered why
everybody seemed to be drinking out of the same mug.

Then a young man seized my kit-bag. "Come along." My hair began to
rise. I had been prepared for a great deal, but this.... I looked at
the young man, he looked at me. The situation, at all events, did not
lack piquancy! It was indeed a Sentimental Journey that I was making,
and Sterne.... But the inimitable episode was not to repeat itself. My
only room-mate was a bat.



CHAPTER III

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


I

Sermaize, however, was not to be the scene of my future labours. The
honour was reserved for Bar-le-Duc, the captital city of the Meuse,
the seat of a Prefecture, and proud manufacturer of a very special
jam, "Confitures de Bar-le-Duc." The mouth waters at the very thought
of it, but desire develops a limp when you have seen the initial
processes of manufacture; for these consist in the removal by means of
a finely-cut quill of every pip from every currant about to be boiled
in the sacrificial pan. As you go through the streets in July you see
white and crimson patches on the ground. They look disgustingly like
something that has been chewed and spumed forth again. They are the
discarded currant pips, for only the skin and pulp are made into jam.

This unpipping (have we any adequate translation for _épepiner_?), paid
for at the rate of about four sous a pound, is sometimes carried on
under the cleanliest of home conditions, but occasionally one sees a
group of women at work round a table that makes jam for the moment the
least appetising of comestibles. Nevertheless, if the good God ever
places a pot of Confiture de Bar-le-Duc upon your table, eat it; eat it
_à la Russe_ with a spoon--don't insult it with bread--and you will
become a god with nectar on your lips.

There were about four thousand refugees in Bar. That is why I was there
too. And before I had been ten minutes in the town a hard-voiced woman
said, "Would you please carry those _seaux hygiéniques_ (sanitary
pails) upstairs?" So much for my anticipatory thrills. If I ever go to
heaven I shall be put in the back garden.

_À la guerre, comme à la guerre._ I carried the pails--a work of
supererogation as it subsequently transpired, for they all had to be
brought down again promptly, so heavily were they in demand.

For the sanitation of Bar-le-Duc has yet to be born.[2] One can't call
arrangements that date from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
sanitation, one can only call them self-advertisement. Until I went to
Bar I never knew that the air could be solid with smell. One might as
well walk up a sewer as up the Rue de l'Horloge on a hot day. Every
man, woman and child in the town ought to have died of diphtheria,
typhoid, septic poisoning, of a dozen gruesome diseases long ago. If
smells could kill, Bar would be as depopulated as the Dead Cities of
the Zuyder Zee. But the French seem to thrive on smells, though in all
fairness I must admit that once or twice a grumble reached me. But that
was when the cesspool under the window was discharging its contents
into the yard.

 [2] It is only fair to add that the whole question was under serious
 consideration when the war broke out, and made reform, for the moment,
 impossible.

The hard-voiced woman was hygienically mad. She imported a Sanitary
Inspector, an ironic anomaly, who used to blush apoplectically through
meals because she would discuss the undiscussable with him. "I hope you
are not squeamish? We don't mind these things here," she said to me.
"It is so stupid to be a prude."

Frankly, I could have slain that woman. She wasn't fit to live. The
climax came on a broiling day when we were all exhausted and not a
little sick from heat and smell. She pleasingly entertained us at
dinner with a graphic description of a tubercular hip which she had
been dressing. There was a manure heap outside the window of the sick
child's room. It crawled with flies. So did the room. So did the hip.

She went back to the native sphere she should never have left a
few days later, but in the meantime she had obsessed us all with a
firm belief in the value of the _seau hygiénique_. Every refugee
family should have one. Our first care must be to provide it. The
obsession drove us into strange difficulties, as, for example, once
in a neighbouring village where, trusting to my companion to keep the
kindly but inquisitive Curé who accompanied us too deeply engaged in
conversation to hear what I was saying, I asked the mother of a large
family if she would like us to give her one.

"Qu'est que c'est? What did you say?"

Gentle as my murmur had been, M. le Curé was down on me like a shot.
The woman who hesitates is lost. Anything is better than embarrassment.
I repeated the question.

"Ce n'est pas nécessaire. Il y a un jardin," was his electrifying
reply, and we filed out after him, with new ideas on French social
questions simmering in our heads.

More embarrassing still, though, was a visit to a dear old couple
living high up in a small room in a narrow fœtid street. Madame Legrand
was a dear, with a round chubby face and the brightest of blue eyes,
a complexion like a rosy apple and dimples like a girl's. She wore a
spotlessly white mob-cap with a coquettish little frill round it, and
she was just as clean and as fresh and as sonsy as if she had stepped
out of her little cottage to go to Mass. Her husband was a rather
picturesque creature, with a crimson cummerbund round his waist. He
had been a _garde-forêt_, and together they had saved and scraped,
living frugally and decently, putting money by every year until at last
they were able to buy a cottage and an acre or two of land. Then the
war came and the Germans, and the cottage was burnt, and the poor old
things fled to Bar-le-Duc, homeless and beggared, possessed of nothing
in all the world but just the clothes on their backs.

The _garde-forêt_ was talking to my companion. I broached the
all-important subject to Madame.

"Vous avez un seau hygiénique?" (I admit it was vilely put.)

"Mais oui, Mademoiselle. Voulez-vous ...?" Before I could stop her she
had flourished it out upon the floor. It seems there are no limits to
French hospitality, but there are to what even a commonplace English
woman can face with stoical calm. Lest worse befall we fled. Somehow
our sanitary researches lacked enthusiasm after that.


II

"Bar-le-Duc, an ancient and historical city of the Meuse, is
beautifully situated on the banks of the Ornain."

That, of course, is how I should have commenced Chapter III, and then,
with Baedekered solemnity, have described its streets, its canals, its
railway-station--a dull affair until a bomb blew its glass roof to
fragments; when it became quaintly skeletonic--its woods and hills, its
churches and its monuments.

Only I never do anything quite as I ought to, and my capacity for
getting into mischief is unlimited. I can't bear the level highways of
Life, cut like a Route Nationale straight from point to point, white,
steam-rollered, respectable, horrible. For me the by-ways and the
lanes, the hedges smelling of wild roses and woodbine, or a-fire with
berry and burning leaf, the cross-cuts leading you know not whither,
but delightfully sure to surprise you in the end. What if the surprise
is sometimes in a bog, in the mire, or in a thicket of furze? More
often than not it is in Fairyland.

And so grant me your indulgence if I wander a little, loitering in the
green meadows, plunging through the dim woods of experience. Especially
as I am going to be good now and explain Bar and the refugees.

As I told you, there were some four thousand of them, from the
Argonne, the Ardennes, Luxembourg, and many a frontier village such
as Longuyon or Longwy. And Bar received them coldly. It dubbed them,
without distinction of person, "ces sales émigrés," forgetting that
the dirt and squalor of their appearance was due to adversity and not
to any fault of their own. Forgetting, too, that it had very nearly
been _émigré_ itself. For the Germans came within five miles of it.
From the town shells could be seen bursting high up the valley; the
blaze of burning villages reddened the evening sky. Trains poured out
laden with terrified inhabitants fearing the worst, all the hospitals
were evacuated, and down the roads from the battle, from Mussey,
from Vassincourt, from Laimont and Révigny came the wounded, a long
procession of maimed and broken men. They lay in the streets, on
door-steps, in the station-yard, they fell, dying, by canal and river
bank. Kindly women, thrusting their own fear aside, ministered to them,
the cannon thundering at their very door. And with the wounded came the
refugees. What a procession that must have been. Women have told me of
it. Told me how, after days--even weeks--of semi-starvation, lying in
the open at night, exposed to rain and sun, often unable to get even a
drink of water (for to their eternal shame many a village locked its
wells, refusing to open them even for parched and wailing children),
they found themselves caught in the backwash of the battle. To all the
other horrors of flight was added this. Men, it might be their own
sons, or husbands, or brothers, blood-stained remnants of humanity
plodding wearily, desperately down the road, while in the fields and in
the ditches lay mangled, encarnadined things that the very sun itself
must have shuddered to look upon. Old feeble men and women fell out and
died by the way, a mother carried her dead baby for three nights and
three days, for there was no one to bury it, and the God of Life robed
himself in the trappings of Death as he gathered exhausted mother and
new-born babe in his arms.

And so they came to Bar. In the big dormitories of the Caserne Oudinot
straw was laid on the floor, and there they were lodged, some after a
night's rest to set wearily forth again, others to remain in the town,
for the tide had turned and the Germans were in retreat.

There must have been an unusually large number of houses to let in Bar
before the war; many, we know, had been condemned by the authorities,
and, truth to tell, I don't wonder at it. "House to let" did not imply,
as you might suppose, that it was untenanted, especially if the house
was in the rue des Grangettes, or rue Oudinot, rue de Véel, or rue
de l'Horloge. The tenants paid no rent. They had been in possession
for years, possibly centuries. They were as numerous as the sands of
the sea-shore, and they had all the _élan_, the _joie de vivre_, the
vivacity and the tactical genius of the French nation. They welcomed
the unhappy refugees--I was going to say vociferously, remembering the
soldier who, billeted in a Kerry village, complained that the fleas sat
up and barked at him.

The rooms, though dirty, unsanitary and swarming with the terror that
hoppeth in the noonday (there were other and even worse plagues as
well), were a shelter. The war would be over in three months, and
one would be going home again. In the meantime one could endure the
palliasse (a great sack filled with straw and laid on the floor, and on
which four, five, seven or even more people slept at night), one could
cower under the single blanket provided by the town, not undressing,
of course; that would be to perish. One could learn to share the
narrowest of quarters with nine, eleven, even fifteen other people;
one could tighten one's belt when hunger came--and it came very often
during those first hard months--but one could not endure the hostile
looks of the tradespeople, and the _sales émigrés_ spit at one in the
streets.

The refugees, however, had one good friend; monsieur C., an ex-mayor of
the town and a man whose "heart was open as day to melting charity,"
made their cause his own. And perhaps because of him, perhaps out of
its own good heart, the town, officially considered, did its best for
them. It gave them clean straw for their palliasses; it saw that no
room was without a stove; it established a market for them when it
discovered that the shopkeepers, exploiting misery, were scandalously
overcharging for their goods; it declined to take rent from mothers
with young families; and it appointed a doctor who gave medical
attention free.

All very good and helpful, but mere drops in the bucket of refugee
needs. You see the war had caught them unawares, and at first, no
doubt for wise military reasons, the authorities discouraged flight.
People who might have packed up necessaries and escaped in good order
found themselves driven like cattle through the country, the Germans
at their heels, the smallest of bundles clutched under their arms, and
the gendarmes shouting "Vîte, Vîte, Depêchez-vous, depêchez-vous," till
reason itself trembled in the balance.

Some, too, had remembered the war of _Soixante-Dix_, when the
Prussians, marching to victory, treated the civilians kindly. "They
passed through our village laughing and singing songs," old women have
told me. Some atrocities there were, even then; but, compared with
those of the present war, only the spasmodic outbursts of boyhood in a
rage.

Consequently, flight was often delayed till the last moment, delayed
till it was too late, and, caught by the tide, some found themselves
prisoners behind the lines. Those who got away saved practically
nothing. Sometimes a few family papers, sometimes the _bas de laine_,
the storehouse of their savings, sometimes a change of linen, most
often nothing at all.

"Mais rien, Mademoiselle. Je vous assure, rien du tout, du tout, du
tout. Pas ça," and with the familiar gesture a forefinger nail would
catch behind a front tooth and then click sharply outwards. When
talking to an excited Meusienne, it is well to be wary. One must not
stand too near, for she is sure to thrust her face close to your own,
and when the finger flies out it no longer answers to the helm. It
may end its unbridled career anywhere, and commit awful havoc in the
ending, for the nail of the Meusienne is not a nail, it is a talon.

No wonder the poor souls needed help. No wonder they besieged our door
when the news went forth that "Les Anglaises" had come to town and were
distributing clothes and utensils, chairs, _garde-mangers_ (small safes
in which to keep their food, the fly pest being sheerly horrible),
sheets, blankets--anything and everything that destitute humanity needs
and is grateful for. Their faith in us, after a few months of work,
became profound. They believed we could evolve anything, anywhere and
at a moment's notice. If stern necessity obliged us to refuse, they had
a touching way of saying, "Eh bien, ce sera pour une autre fois"[3]--a
politeness which extricated them gracefully from a difficult position,
but left us struggling in the net of circumstance and unaccountably
convinced that when they called again "our purse, our person, our
extremest means would lie all unlocked to their occasion."

 [3] "Oh, well, you will give it to me another time."


III

But these little amenities of relief only thrust themselves upon me
by degrees. At first, during the torrid summer weeks, everything was
so new and so strange there were no clean-cut outlines at all. Before
one impression had focused itself upon the mind another was claiming
place. My brain--if you could have examined it--must have looked like a
photographic plate exposed some dozens of times by a careless amateur.
From the general mistiness and blur only a few things stand out. The
stifling heat, the awful smells, the unending succession of weeping and
hysterical women, and last, but not least, _les puces_.

Did you ever hear the story of the Irish farmer who said he "did not
grudge them their bite and their sup, but what he could not stand was
the continule thramping"? Well, the thramping was maddening. I believe
I never paid a visit to a refugee in those days without becoming the
exercising ground for light cavalry. People sitting quietly in our
Common-room working at case-papers would suddenly dash away, to come
back some minutes later in rage and exasperation. The cavalry still
manœuvred. A mere patrol of two or three could be dealt with, but the
poor wretch who had a regiment nearly qualified for a lunatic asylum.

Every visit we paid renewed our afflictions, and the houses, old
and long untenanted, being so disgustingly dirty, we endured mental
agonies--in addition to physical ones--when we thought of the filth
from which the plague had come. Oddly enough, we did not suffer so much
the next summer, and we were mercifully spared the attentions of other
less active but even more horrible forms of entomological life.

You see, it was a rule--and as experience proved a very wise rule--of
our Society that no help should be given unless the applicant had been
visited and full particulars of his, or her, condition ascertained.
Roughly speaking, we found out where he had come from, his previous
occupation and station in life, the size of his farm if he had one and
the amount of his stock, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, rabbits,
etc.; we made notes on his housing conditions, tabulated the members of
his family, their ages and sex, their present employment and the amount
of wages earned. All of which took time.

Armed with a notebook and pencil, we would sally forth, to grope our
way up pitch-dark staircases, knock at innumerable doors, dash past the
murky corner where the cesspool lay--I know houses in which it is under
the stairs--and at last run the refugee to earth.

Then followed the usual routine. A chair--generally broken or minus a
back--or a stool dragged forth with an apology for its poverty: "Quand
on est émigrée, vous savez, Madame--ou Mademoiselle, je ne sais pas?"
and then the torrent. A word sufficed to unloose it. Only a fool would
try to stem it.

"Ah, Mademoiselle, you do not know what I have suffered."

So Madame would settle herself to the tale, and that was the moment
when ... when ... when doubt grew, then certainty, and "Half-a-league,
half-a-league, half-a-league onward" hammered an accompaniment on the
brain.

In the evening we sorted out our notes and made up our case papers.
These latter should yield rich harvest to the future historian if
they are preserved, and if the good God has endowed him with a sense
of humour. He could make such delicious "copy" from them. For the
individuality of the worker stamped itself upon the papers even
more legibly than the biography of the case. There are lots of gems
scattered through them, but the one I like best lies in the column
headed Medical Relief, and runs as follows--

 _Aug_. 26. Madame Guiot has pneumonia. Condition serious.

 _Aug_. 31. Madame quite comfortable.

 _Sept_. 2. Madame has died. (Nurse's initials appended.)

In the papers you may read that such and such a house is infested
with vermin; that Mademoiselle Wurtz is said, by the neighbours, to
drink; that Madame Dablainville is filthy and lives like a pig; that
the life of Madame Hache falls regrettably below accepted standards
of morality; and that Madame Bontemps, who probably never owned three
pocket-handkerchiefs in her life, declares that she lost sixty pairs
of handspun linen sheets, four dozen chemises, and pillow and bolster
cases innumerable when the Germans burnt her home.

You may also read how Mademoiselle Rose Perrotin was nursing a sick
father when the Boches took possession of her village; how the
Commandant ordered her to leave, and how she, with tears streaming
down her large fat face, begged to be allowed to remain. Her father
was dying. It was impossible to leave him. But German Commandants care
little for filial feelings. Mademoiselle Rose (a blossom withering
on its stem) had a figure like a monolith but a heart of gold. Even
though they shot her she would not go away. They did not shoot her.
They quietly placed her on the outskirts of the village and bade her
begone. Next day she crept back again. She prayed, she wept, she
implored, she entreated. When a monolith weeps even Emperors succumb.
So did the Commandant. A day, two days, passed, and then her father
died. They must have been very dreadful days, but worse was to follow.
No one would bury the dead Frenchman. She had to leave him lying
there--I gathered, however, that a grave was subsequently dug for him
in unconsecrated ground--and walk, and walk, and walk, mile after mile,
kilométre after kilométre, longing to weep, nay, to cascade tears;
but, "Figurez-vous, Mademoiselle. Ah, quelle misère. I had not got a
pocket-handkerchief!"

That a father should die, that is Fate, but that one should not have
a pocket-handkerchief!... She wept afresh because she had not been
able to weep then, and I believe that I shall carry to my grave
a vision of stout, monolithic, utterly prosaic Mademoiselle Rose
toiling across half a Department of France weeping because she had no
pocket-handkerchief in which to mourn for her honoured dead.

Or you may read of little André Moldinot, who was alone in the fields
when he saw the Germans coming, and who ran away, drifting he doesn't
know how to Bar-le-Duc, where he has remained in the care of kindly
people, hearing no news of his family, not knowing whether they are
alive or dead. Or of the old man, whose name I have forgotten--was it
Galzandat?--who fought with the English in the Crimea, and who lived
with fourteen other people (women and children) in a stifling hole in
the rue Polval. Or of that awful room in the street near the Canal
where thirty people ate and drank and slept and quarrelled a whole
winter through--a room unspeakable in its dirt and untidiness. Old rags
lay heaped on the floor, dirty crockery, potato, carrot and turnip
peelings littered the greasy table, big palliasses strewed the corners,
loathsome bedclothes crawling on them. On strings stretched from wall
to wall clothes were drying (one inmate was a washerwoman), an old
witch-like creature with matted, unkempt locks flitted about, and in
the far corner, on the day I went there, two priests were offering
ghostly counsel to a weeping woman.

Misery makes strange bedfellows, and the cyclone of war flung together
people who, in ordinary circumstances, would have been far removed from
one another's orbit. At first the good and the bad, the clean and the
dirty, the thrifty and the drunken herded together, too wretched to
complain, too crushed and despondent to hope for better things. But
gradually temperament asserted itself, and one by one, as opportunity
arose and their circumstances improved, the respectable ceased to
rub elbows with the dissolute, and they found quarters of their own
either through their own exertions or through the help of their
friends. Monsieur C. and Madame B. (wise, witty, kindly Madame B.) were
especially energetic in this respect.

So we soon began to feel comfortably assured that the tenants of
Maison Blanpain and of one or two other rookeries were the scum of the
refugee pool, idle, disreputable, swearing, undeserving vagabonds every
one. They took us in gloriously many a time, they fooled us to the top
of our sentimental bent--at first--but we could not have done without
them. For though Virtue may bathe the world in still, white light, it
is Vice that splashes the dancing colours over it.


IV

Yes, I suppose we were taken in at times!

On the outskirts of Bar, beyond the Faubourg Marbot, lies a wood called
the Bois de Maestricht. The way to it lies through a narrow winding
valley of great beauty, especially in the autumn when the fires of the
dying year are ablaze in wood and field. Just at the end of the road
where the woods crush down and engulf it is a long strip of meadow, a
nocturne in green and purple when the autumn crocus is in flower, and
in the woods are violets and wild strawberries, and long trails of
lesser periwinkle, ivy crimson and white, and hellebore and oxlips and
all sorts of delicious things, with, from just one point on one of the
countless uphill paths, a view of Bar, so exquisite, so ethereal it
almost seems like a glimpse of some far dream-silvered land.

And it was here, just on the edge of the wood, in a small rough shack,
that Madame Martin and her family took up their abode. The shack
consisted of one room, not long and certainly not wide, a slice of
which, rudely partitioned off, did duty as a cow-house. Here lived
Madame Martin and her husband, her granddaughter Alice, a small boy
suffering from a malady which caused severe abdominal distention, and
one or two other children. Le Père Battin, whose relationship was
obscure but presumably deeply-rooted in the family soil, shared the
cow-end with his beloved _vache_, a noble beast and, like himself, a
refugee.

Le Père Battin always averred that he had adopted the cow, it being
obviously an orphan, homeless and a beggar, but my own firm conviction
is that he stole it. It was a kindly cow and a generous, for it
proceeded speedily to enrich him with a calf which, unlike most refugee
babies, throve amazingly, and when I saw it took up so much space in
the narrow shed there was hardly room enough for its mother. How Le
Père Battin squeezed himself in as well is a pure wonder. But squeeze
he did, and when delicately suggesting that a gift of sheets from
"Les Anglaises" would completely assuage the miseries of his lot, he
showed me his bed. It was in the feeding-trough. One hurried glance was
enough. I no longer wondered why the first visitor to the Martin abode,
having unwisely settled down for a chat, spent the rest of the day and
the greater part of the night in fruitless chase. I did not settle
down. "It was fear, O Little Hunter, it was fear."

Nor did I give the sheets. The cow would have eaten them.

I remarked that the day was hot, and repaired to the garden (a
wilderness of weeds and despairing flowers), and there Madame
entertained me.

She was an ideal "case." Just the person whose photograph should be
sent to kindly, generous souls at home. She was small, active, rather
witty, a good talker, with darting brown eyes and a bewitching grin.
She wore a befrilled cap, and oh, she could flatter with her tongue!
A nice old soul in spite of the villainy with which Père Battin
subsequently charged her. Her first visitor--she who unfortunately sat
down--fell a victim on the spot. So did we all. Heaven had made Madame
that way. It was inevitable. So all the riches of our earth were poured
forth for her, and she devoured largely of our substance. Then the girl
Alice developed throat trouble and was ministered to by our nurse, and
she, I grieve to say, coming home one day from the Bois, hinted dark
things about Alice--things which made our righteous judgment to stand
on end. We continued to pet Madame Martin; we did everything we could
for her except eat her jam. Having seen the shack, and le Père Battin
and that one overcrowded room where flies in dense black swarms settled
on everything, where dogs scratched and where age-old dirt gathered
more dirt to its arms with the dawning of every day, that jam pot
contained so many possibilities, we felt that to eat its contents would
be sheer murder.

And so the autumn wore away and winter came, and then one day as I
was going through the valley to visit some woodcutters in the Bois, I
met le Père Battin driving home his cow. And he stopped me. Once when
speaking of the Emperor of Austria he had said, "Il est en train de
mourir? Bon. On a eu bien assez de ces lapins-là." (He is dying? Good.
We have had enough of such rabbits.)

A man who can discuss an Emperor in such terms is not lightly to be
passed by, but I stood as far from him as possible. I did not till then
believe that anybody could be as dirty as Father Battin and live.

But he thrust himself close, looking fearfully about him, sinking his
voice to a hoarse whisper.

"Did I know the truth about the Martins? That Alice had gone to
Révigny? There were soldiers there." He nodded sapiently. "But Alice
was la vraie Comtesse de----" He mentioned a hyphenated name. "Yes. It
was true. She was married. A young man, a fool. Mon Dieu, but a fool.
She might live in a shack in the Bois and her grandmother might be an
old peasant woman, but she was a Comtesse, wife of the Comte de----."

I took leave to suppose that Père Battin was mad.

But he was circumstantial. "Yes. Her husband had left her. An affair
of a few weeks. Every gendarme in the town knew. And Madame knew. Knew
and made money out of it. Many a good franc she had put in her pocket.
But the gendarmes were watching, and one day the old woman and Alice
would...." Again he murmured unprintable things.

"Monsieur, you are ridiculous." Alice Martin a Comtesse! No wonder I
laughed. But he insisted. He kept on repeating it.

"La vraie Comtesse de----" But now she was....

The dark sayings of the district nurse came back to my mind and I
wondered. But Père Battin was offensive to ear and eye. I wished
him _bonjour_, watching him trailing down the path, his _vache_
ruminatingly leading, and then went on my way to the wood.

An hour later Madame Martin came running down the hill to greet me. She
had seen me go by and waited. In her hand was a bunch of flowers, the
best, least discouraged from her untended garden.

"For Mademoiselle," she said, and as she held them out her smile
scattered gold dust upon my heart.

Now do you think le Père Battin's story was true?



CHAPTER IV

À TRAVERS BAR-LE-DUC


Whether it was or not, it has come rather too soon in my narrative, I
am afraid. It has carried me far away from the days when the quaint
individual charm of Bar-le-Duc began to assert itself, little by
little, slowly, but with such cumulative effect that in the end we grew
to love it.

Our work took us into every lane and street, but it was the Ville-Haute
that I loved best. I wish I could describe it to you as it lies on the
hill; wish I could take you up the steep narrow lane that leads to the
rue St Jean, and then into the rue de l'Armurier which bends like a
giant S and is so narrow you fancy you could touch the houses on either
side by stretching out your arms. Small boys tobogganed down it in
the great frost last year. It was rare sport for the small boys, but
disastrous to sober-minded propriety which occasionally found that it,
too, was tobogganing--but not on a tray--and with an absence of grace
and premeditation that were devastating in their results.

Indeed, the Ville-Haute was a death-trap during those weeks. There
were slides everywhere. The Place St Pierre was scarred with them,
the wonderful Place which, pear-shaped, wide at the top, narrowing to
its lower end, lies encircled in the arms of the rue des Dues de Bar
and of the rue des Grangettes. And at the top, commandingly in the
centre stands the church of St Pierre--once St Maze--where the famous
statue, the "Squelette," is now buried so many fathoms deep in sandbags
nothing can be seen of it at all. It is said that Mr. Edmund Gosse
once came to spend a night in Bar and was so bewitched by its beauty
he remained for several weeks, writing a charming little romance about
it in which the "Squelette" plays a prominent part. And, indeed, the
only way to know Bar is to live in it. It would be quite easy to tell
you of the Tour de l'Horloge standing on guard on the hill; of the
fifteenth-and sixteenth-century houses; of the Pont Nôtre Dame; of
the Canal des Usines which always reminded me of Bruges; of the river
winding through the Lower Town, tall poplars standing sentinel along
the banks; of the great canal that cuts a fine almost parallel to that
of the river and which, if only you followed it far enough, would bring
you at last to the Rhine; of winding Polval that is so exquisite in
snow and on a moonlit night, with its houses piled one above the other
like an old Italian town; or of the fine arched gate that leads to the
Place du Château and that led there when the stately Dukes of Bar held
court in the street that bears their name, and led there, too, when
Charles Stuart lived in the High Town and dreamed perhaps of a kingdom
beyond the seas. Of all these things and of the beautiful cloistered
sixteenth-century College in the rue Gilles de Trêves one might speak,
exhausting the mines of their adjectives and similes, but would you be
any closer to the soul of the town? I doubt it, and so I refrain from
description. For Bar depends for its beauty and its distinctive charm
on something more than mere outline. Colour, atmosphere, some ghostly
raiment of the past still clinging to its limbs, and over all the views
over the valley--yes, the soul is elusive and intangible; you will find
it most surely under the white rays of the moon.

The views are simply intoxicating, but if you want to see one of the
finest you must make the acquaintance of a certain Madame--Madame,
shall we say, Schneider? Any name will do if only it is Teutonic
enough. She loomed upon our horizon as the purveyor of corduroy
trousers. Oh, not for a profit. She, _bien entendu_, was a
philanthropist disposing of the salvage of a large shop, the owner of
which was a refugee. The trousers being much needed at the moment we
bought them, but many months afterwards she came with serge garments
that were not even remotely connected with a refugee, so I am prone to
believe that she was not quite so disinterested as she would have had
us believe.

To visit her you must climb to the Ville-Haute, and there in a house
panelled throughout (such woodwork--old, old, old--my very eyes water
at the thought of it), you will find a long low room with a wide window
springing like a balcony over the gulf that lies under the rue Chavé.
And from the window you can look far over the town which lies beneath
you, over the silver path of river and canal to the Côte Ste Catherine,
the steep hill, once a vineyard, that rises on the other side; you
can see the aviation ground, and you can follow the white ribbon of
road that runs past Naives to St Mihiel. And you can look up and down
the valley for miles--to Fains, to Mussey and beyond, on one hand to
Longeville, and Trouville on the other. And Marbot lies all unlocked
under your eyes, and Maestricht, and the beautiful hill over which, if
you are wise, you will one day walk to Resson.

From Place Tribel, from innumerable coigns of vantage, the view is
equally beautiful, though not, I think, quite so extensive. Which,
perhaps coupled with her aggressively Teutonic name, accounted for the
suspicious looks cast last winter upon Madame Schneider. A spy! Oh,
yes, a devout Catholic always at the Mass, but a spy. Did she not leave
Bar on the very morning of the big air raid, returning that night? And
didn't every one know that she signalled by means of lights movements
of troops and of aeroplanes to other spies hidden on the hill beyond
Naives? The preposterous story gained ground. Then one day we thrilled
to hear that Madame Schneider had been arrested. She disappeared for a
while--we never knew whether anything had been proved against her--and
then when we had forgotten all about her I met her in the Place St
Pierre. She was coming out of the church, but she bowed her head and
passed by.

Perhaps, after all this, you won't care to visit her? But then you
will go down to your grave sorrowing, because you will never see those
Boiseries, nor that view.

Other things beside the beauty of the town began to creep into
prominence too, of course, and among them the supreme patience and
courage of our refugee women. In circumstances that might have crushed
the strongest they fought gamely and with few exceptions conquered. I
take my hat off to the French nation. We know how its men can fight,
some day I hope the world will know how its women can endure. Remember
that they were given no separation allowances until January 1915, and
the allowance when it did come was a pittance. One franc twenty-five
centimes per day for each adult, fifty centimes a day for each child up
to the age of sixteen; or, roughly speaking, 1_s._ a day and 4½_d._
per day. What would our English women say to that? It barely sufficed
for food. Indeed, as time went on and prices rose I dare to say it did
not even suffice for food. The refugee woman, possessed of not one
stick of furniture--except in the case of farmers who were able to
bring away some household goods in their carts--of not one cup or plate
or jug or spoon, without needles, thread, or scissors, without even a
comb, and all too often without even a change of linen, had to manage
as best she could. That she did manage is the triumph of French thrift
and cleverness in turning everything to account. We heard of them
making _duvets_ by filling sacks with dried leaves; one woman actually
collected enough thistle-down for the purpose. They clung desperately
to their standards, they would trudge miles to the woods in order to
get a faggot for their fire, they took any and every kind of work that
offered, they refused to become submerged.

And gradually they began to assume individuality. Families and family
histories began to limn themselves on the brain as did the life of the
streets, things as well as people.

Some of these histories I must tell you later on; to-night, for some
odd reason, little Mademoiselle Froment is in my mind. She was not a
refugee, but I owe her a debt of eternal gratitude, for when I fled
to her immediately on arrival she condoled with me in my sartorial
afflictions and promptly made me garments in which without shame I
could worship the Goddess of Reason. Later on the uniform was chopped
up and re-made, becoming wearable, but never smart. Even French magic
could not accomplish that.

Poor little Mademoiselle Froment, so patient with all my ignorances,
my complete inability to understand the value of what she called "le
mouvement" of my gown, and my hurried dips into Bellows as she volubly
discursed of the fashions. Last summer when she was making me some more
clothes she was sad indeed. Her only and adored brother, who had passed
scatheless through the inferno at Verdun, was killed on the Somme.

"My hurried dips into Bellows." Does that mean anything, or does it
sound like transcendental nonsense? Bellows, by the way, is not a thing
to blow the fire with, it is a dictionary--a pocket dictionary worth
its weight in good red gold. And to my copy hangs a tale. Can you
endure a little autobiography?

During my week-end at Sermaize I heard more French than I had heard,
I suppose, in all my life before, or at least I heard new words in
such bewildering profusion that I really believe Bellows saved my
life. I carried him about, I referred to him at frequent intervals.
I flatter myself that with his aid I made myself intelligible even
when discussing the technique of agriculture and other such abstruse
subjects.

But it is Bellows' deplorable misfortune to look rather like a Prayer
Book, or a Bible. And so it befell that when I had been some weeks
at Bar a Sermaizian Relief Worker made anxious inquiries as to my
character. "She seems such an odd sort of person because, though she
reads her Bible ostentatiously in public, she smokes, and we once heard
her say...." After all, does it really matter what they heard me say?

After which confession of my sins I must tell you about the Temple,
the shrine of French Protestantism in Bar. There we stood up to
pray, and we sat down to sing the most lugubrious hymns it has ever
been my lot to listen to. The church is large, and the congregation
is small. On the hottest day in summer it struck chill, in winter
it was a refrigerator. The pastor, being _mobilisé_, his place was
generally taken by an earnest and I am sure devout being, who having
congratulated the present generation, the first time I went there,
upon having been chosen to defend the cause of justice and of truth,
proceeded to dwell with the most heartrending emphasis upon every
detail of the suffering and sorrow the war--the defence upon which
he congratulated us!--has caused. He spared us nothing. Not even the
shell-riven soldier with white face upturned questioningly to the
stars. Not even the fear-racked mother or wife to whom one day the
dreaded message comes. Then when he had reduced every one to abysmal
depression and many to silent pitiful tears, he cried, "Soyez des
optimistes," and seemed to think that the crying would suffice. Why?
Ah, don't ask me that! Perhaps the war is too big a thing for the
preachers to handle. The platitudes of years have been drowned by the
mutter of the guns and the long sad wail of broken, shattered humanity.

Yes, the Temple depressed me. Writing of it even now sends me into the
profundities. It was all so cheerless, so dreary. In spite of the drop
of Huguenot blood in my veins, the Temple and I are in nothing akin.

So let us away--away from the cold shadows and the cheerless creed,
from the joyless God and the altar where Beauty lies dead, out into
the boulevard where the trees are in leaf and the sun is shining, and
where you may see a regiment go by in its horizon blue, or a battery of
artillery with its camouflaged guns. Smoke is pouring from the chimney
of the regimental kitchen, how jolly it looks curling up against the
sky! and sitting by the driver of the third ammunition cart is a fox
terrier who knows so much about war he will be a field-marshal when he
lives again. Or we may see a team of woodcutters with the trunks of
mighty trees slung on axles with great chains and drawn tandemwise by
two or three horses, and hear the lame newsvendor at the corner near
l'église St Jean calling his "Le Gé, le Pay-Gé, et le Petit-Parisien."
Pronounce the g soft in Gé, of course, for it stands for _Le Journal_,
and Pay-Gé for _Le Petit Journal_, all of which, together with the
_Continental Daily Mail_, can be bought in Bar each day shortly after
one o'clock unless the trains happen to be running late. During the
Verdun rush they sometimes did not arrive at all.

A more musical cry, however, is that of the rabbit-skin man, "Peau
de li-è-vre, Peau de li-è-vre," with a delicious lilting cadence on
li-è-vre. I never discovered what he gave in exchange for the skins,
but it was certainly not money.

Or the Tambour may take up his position at the corner of the street,
the Tambour who swells with pride and civic dignity. A sharp tap-tap
on his drum, the crowd collects and then in a hoarse roar he shouts
his decree. It may concern mad dogs, or the water supply, or the day
on which the _allocation_ will be given to the _emigrés_, or it may
be instructions how to behave during an air raid. Whatever it is,
it is extremely difficult to make sense of it, as a motor-car and a
huge military lorry are sure to crash past as he roars. But nothing
disconcerts him. He shouts to his appointed end, and then with a
swaggering roll on his drum marches off to the next street-crossing.

If luck is with us as we prowl along we may see--and, oh, it is indeed
a vision!--our butcheress Marguerite dive into a neighbouring shop.
Dive in such a connection is a poetic license, for if a description
of Marguerite must begin in military phrase it must equally surely
end in architectural. If on the front there were two strong salients,
in the rear was a flying buttress. Marguerite--delicious irony of
nomenclature--was exceedingly short, her hair was black as a raven's
wing, her eyes were brown, and her cheeks, full-blown, were red as a
ripe, ripe cherry. Over the salients she wore vast tracts of white
apron plentifully besmeared with blood. So were her hands, so was her
shop. It was the goriest butchery I have ever seen. As "Madame" (I
shall tell you about her later on) did all our shopping, it was my
fortune to visit Marguerite but once a month. Had I been obliged to
visit her twice I should now be a vegetarian living on nuts.

Sometimes Marguerite cast aside the loathsome evidences of her trade
and donned a smart black costume and a velvet hat with feathers in
it. Then indeed she was the vision radiant, and never shall I forget
meeting her on the boulevard one day when a covey of Taubes were
bombing the town. Hearing something like a traction-engine snorting
behind me, I turned and beheld Marguerite, whose walk was a fat,
plethoric waddle, panting down the street. Every feather in her hat was
stiff with fright, her mouth was open, she was breathing like a man
under an anæsthetic, and--by the transcendental gods I swear it!--the
buttress was flying. Marguerite RAN.

But she has a soul, though you may not believe it. She must have, for
on the reeking offal-strewn table that adorns her shop she sets almost
daily a vase of flowers. Perhaps in spite of her offensive messiness
she doesn't really enjoy being a butcher.

During that first summer, although so near the Front, Bar was rather a
quiet place where soldiers--Territorials?--in all sorts of odd uniforms
drifted by (I once saw a man in a red cap, a khaki coat, blue trousers
and knee-high yellow boots), while civilians went placidly about
their affairs. Our flat was on the Boulevard de la Rochelle, and so
on the high road to Verdun and St Mihiel, a stroke of good luck that
sometimes interfered sadly with our work. For many a regiment went
marching by, sometimes with colours flying and bands playing, gay and
gallant, impertinent, jolly fellows with a quip for every petticoat in
the street and a lightly blown kiss for every face at a window. But
there were days when no light jest set the women giggling, days when
the marching men were beaten to the very earth with weariness, stained
with mud, bowed beneath their packs, eyes set straight in front of
them, seeing nothing but the interminable road, the road that led from
the trenches and--at last--to rest. Far away we could hear the ominous
mutter of the guns, now rising, now falling, now catching up earth and
air and sky into a wild clamour of sound. No need to ask why the men
did not look up as they went by, no need to wonder at the strained,
set faces. Perhaps in their ears as in ours there rang, high above the
dull heavy burden of the cannon-song, the thin chanting of the priests
who, so many desolate times a day, trod the road that leads to the
Garden of Sacrifice where sleep so many of the sons of France. Ah, I
can hear them now, and see the pitiful little processions winding down
from every quarter of the town, the priest mechanically chanting, a few
soldiers grouped round the coffin, a weeping woman or two following
close behind. Of late--since Verdun, I think--the tiny guard of honour
no longer treads the road, and the friendless soldier dying far from
home goes alone to his last resting-place upon the hill.

There the open graves are always waiting. The wooden black crosses
have spread far out over the hill-side, climbing up and across till no
one dare estimate their number. Five thousand, a grave-digger told us
long, long ago. Since then Verdun has written her name in blood across
the sky, Verdun impregnable because her rampart was the heart of the
manhood of France, Verdun supreme because the flower of that manhood
laid down their lives in order to keep her so.

Yes, the chanting of the priests brings an odd lump into one's throat,
but one day we saw a little ceremony that moved us more deeply still.

It was early morning, a strain of martial music rose on the air. We
hurried to the windows and saw a company of soldiers coming down the
boulevard. They passed our house, marched to the far end, halted,
and then turning, ranged themselves in a great semicircle beyond the
window. To say that their movements lacked the cleanness and precision
which an English regiment would have shown is to put the matter mildly.
Their business was to form three sides of a square. They formed it,
shuffling and dodging, elbowing, scraping their feet, falling into
their places by the Grace of God while a fat fussy officer skirmished
about for all the world like an agitated curate at a Sunday School
treat.

The fourth side of the square consisted of the pavement and a crowd of
women, children and lads, a crowd with a gap in the middle where, like
a rock rising above the waters of sympathy, stood two chairs on which
two soldiers, _mutilés de la guerre_, were sitting. Brave men both.
They had distinguished themselves in fight, and this morning France was
to do them honour.

An officer read aloud something we could not hear, and then a general
stepped forward and pinned the Croix de Guerre upon their breasts, and
colonels and staff officers shook them by the hand, and the band broke
into the Marseillaise and the watching crowd tried to raise a cheer.
But their voice died in their throat, no sound would come, for the
Song of the Guns was in their ears and out across the hills their own
men were fighting, to come home to them, perhaps, one day as these men
had come, or it might be never to come home at all. The cheer became a
sob, the voice of a stricken nation, of suffering heart-sick womanhood
waiting ... waiting.

So the band played a lively tune and the soldiers marched away,
the crowd melted silently about its daily work and for a time the
boulevard was deserted, deserted save for him who sat huddled into his
deep arm-chair, the Croix de Guerre upon his breast and the pitiless
sunlight streaming down upon the pavements he would never tread again.

A few weeks later the bands march by again. It is evening, and the
shadows are lengthening. We mingle with the crowd and see a tall, stern
man with aloof, inflexible, unsmiling face pass up and down the lines
of the guard of honour drawn up to receive him. A shorter, stouter man
is at his side.

"Vive Kitchenaire!"

The densely packed crowds take up the cry. "Vive l'Angleterre!" Ah, it
is God Save the King that the band is playing now. "Vive Kitchenaire."
Again the shout goes up. The short, stout man greets the crowd, and
a mighty roar responds. "Vive Joffre." He smiles, but his companion
never unbends. As the glorious Marseillaise thunders on the air, with
unseeing eyes and ears that surely do not hear he turns away, and the
dark passage of the house swallows him up.

"Vive Kitchenaire!"

The echoes have hardly died away when a tear-choked voice greets me.
"Ah, Mademoiselle, but the news is bad to-day." Tears are rolling down
the little Frenchwoman's face. So deep is her grief I fear a personal
loss. But she shakes her head. No, it is not that. She hands me a paper
and, stunned, I read the news. As I cross the street and turn towards
home the world seems shadowed. Sorrow has drawn her veils closely about
the town--sorrow for the man whom it trusted and whose privilege it had
been to honour.



CHAPTER V

SETTLING-IN


Our first duty on arriving in the town was to go to the Bureau de
Police and ask for a _permis de séjour_. We understood that without it
there would be short shrift and a shorter journey into a world which
has not yet been surveyed. So we sallied forth to the Bureau at break
of day, and there we interviewed an old _grognard_--the only really
grumpy person I met in France--who scowled at us and scolded us and
called the devil to witness that these English names are barbarous, the
chatter of monkeys, unintelligible to any civilised ear. We soothed
him with shaking knees; suppose he refused us permission to reside
in the town? And presently he melted. He never really liquified,
you know, there was always a crust; but once or twice on subsequent
occasions a drop, just a teeny, weeny drop of the milk of human
kindness oozed through. He demanded our photographs, and when he saw
my "finished-while-you-wait" his belief in our Simian ancestry took
indestructible form. The number of my photographs now scattered over
France on imposing documents is incalculable, and the number of times
I have had to howl my age into unsympathetic ears so great that all my
natural modesty in dealing with so delicate a subject has wilted away.

The _grognard_ dismissed us at length, feeling like the worm that
perisheth, and a fortnight or so later presented us with our _permis de
séjour_ (which warned us that any infringement of its regulations would
expose us to immediate arrest as spies), and with an esoteric document
called an _Extrait du Registre d'Immatriculation_ whose purpose in
history we were never able to determine. No one ever asked to see it,
no one ever asked to see our _permis de séjour_, in fact the gendarmes
of the town showed a reprehensible lack of interest in our proceedings.

In addition to these we were provided as time went on with a _carte
d'identité_, a permission to circulate on a bicycle in districts
specified, a permission to take photographs not of military interest,
and later on with a _carnet d'étranger_ which gripped us in a tight
fist, kept us at the end of a very short chain, and made us rue the day
we were born. And of course we had our passports as well.

Not being a cyclist, I used that particular permission when tramping
on the Sabbath beyond the confines of the town. Once a bright military
star tried to stop some one who followed my example. "It is a
permission to cycle. You are on foot," he argued.

"But the bicycle could not get here without me," she replied, and her
merciless logic dimmed his light.

As for me, I carried all my papers on all occasions that took me past
a sentry. It offended my freeborn British independence to be held up
by a blue-coated creature with a bayonet in his hand on a road that I
choose to grace with my presence, and so I took a mild revenge. The
stoutest sentry quailed before such evidence of rectitude, and indeed
we secretly believed that sheer curiosity prompted many a "Halte-là."

Once as I trudged a road far from Bar two gorgeous individuals mounted
on prancing chargers swept past me. A moment later they drew rein, and
with those eyes of seventh sense that are at the back of every woman's
head I knew they were studying my retreating form. A lunatic or a spy?
Surely only one or the other would wear that grey dress. A shout,
"Holà." I marched on. If French military police wish to accost me they
must observe at least a measure of propriety. Again the "Holà." My
shoulders crinkled. Would a bullet whiz between? A thunder of galloping
hoofs, a horse racing by in a cloud of dust, a swirl and a gendarme
majestically barring the way.

"Where are you going, Madame?"

Stifling a desire to ask what business it was of his, I replied
suavely--

"To Bar-le-Duc."

"Bar-le-Duc? But it is miles from here."

"Eh bien? What of it? On se promene."

"I must ask to see your papers."

Out they all came, a goodly bunch. He took them, appalled. He fingered
them; he stared.

"Madame is English?"

"But certainly? What did Monsieur suppose?"

The papers are thrust into my hand, he salutes, flicks his horse with a
spur, and I am alone on the undulating road with the woods just touched
by spring's soft wing, spreading all about me.

But this happened when sentries and bayonets had lost their terror.
There were days when we treated them with more respect. Familiarity
breeds contempt--when one knows that the bayonet is not sharpened.

Our papers in order, our heads no longer wobbling on our shoulders,
our next duty was to call on the _élite_ of the town. In France you
don't wait to be called upon, you call. It was nerve-racking work for
two miserable foreigners, one of whom had almost no French, while that
of the other abjectly deserted her in moments of perturbation. But we
survived it, perhaps because every one was out. Only at Madame B.'s
did we find people at home, and she--how she must have sighed when we
departed! We all laboured heavily in the vineyard, but fright, shyness,
the barrier of language prevented us--on that day at least--from
gathering much fruit. Exhausted, humbled to the dust, thinking of all
the brilliant things we might have said if only we could have taken
the invaluable Bellows with us, we crawled home to seek comfort in
a _brioche de Lorraine_ and a cup of China tea which we had to make
for ourselves, as "Madame" had not yet learned the method. In fact
there were many things she had not learned, and one of them was what
the English understand by the word rubbish. It was a subject on which
for many a day her views and ours unhappily rarely coincided. Once
we caught her in the Common-room, casting baleful eyes on cherished
treasures.

"Do you wish that I shall throw away these _ordures_, Mademoiselle?"
she asked.

ORDURES! Ye gods! A bucketful of gladioli and stocks and all sorts
of delicious things gathered in the curé's garden at Naives, and she
called them _ordures_. With a shriek we fell upon her and her broom.
Did she not know they were flowers? What devil of ignorance possessed
her that she should call them rubbish?

"Flowers! _bien entendu_, but what does one want with flowers in a
sitting-room? The petals fall, they are _des ordures_." Again the
insulting word.

"Don't you _like_ flowers, Madame?" we asked, and she turned resigned
eyes to ours. These English! Perhaps the good God who made them
understood them, but as for her, Odille Drouet ... With a shrug she
consigned us to the limbo of the inscrutable. A garden was the place
for flowers, why should we bring them into the house?

French logic. Why, indeed?

Madame never understood us, but I think she grew to tolerate us in the
end, and perhaps even to like us a little for our own queer sakes.
Once, when she had been with us for a few weeks, she exclaimed so
bitterly, "I wish I had never seen the English," we wondered what we
could possibly have done to offend her. Agitated inquiries relieved
our minds. We were merely a disagreeable incident of the war. If the
Germans had not pillaged France we would not have come to Bar-le-Duc.
Cause and effect linked us with the Boche in her mind, and I think she
never looked at us without seeing the Crown Prince leering over our
shoulder.

A woman of strange passivity of temper, a fatalist--like so many of
her countrymen--she had a face that Botticelli would have worshipped.
Masses of dark hair exquisitely neat were coiled on her head (why,
oh why, do our English women wear hats? Is not half a French woman's
attraction in the simple dignity of the uncovered head? I never
realised the vulgarising properties of hat till I lived in France), her
eyes were dark, her brows delicately pencilled, her features regular.
Gentleness, resignation, patience were all we saw in her. She had one
of the saddest faces I have ever seen.

No doubt she had good reason to be sad. Her husband, a well-to-do
farmer, died of consumption in the years before the war, and she who
now cooked and scrubbed and dusted and tidied for us once drove her own
buggy, once ruled a comfortable house and superintended the vagaries
of three servants. In her fine old cupboards were stores of handspun
linen sheets, sixty pairs at least, and ten or twelve dozen handspun,
handmade chemises. Six _lits montés_ testified to the luxury of her
home; on the walls hung rare pottery, Lunéville, Sarréguemin and the
like.

A _lit monté_ is a definite sign of affluence, and well it may be so.
The French understand at least two things thoroughly--sauces and beds.
Incidentally I believe that the French woman does not exist who cannot
make a good omelette. I saw one made once in five minutes over a smoky
wood fire, the pan poised scientifically on two or three crosswise
sticks. An English woman cooking on such an altar would have offered
us an imitation of chamois leather, charred, toughened and impregnated
with smoke. Madame the wife of the Mayor of Vavincourt offered us--dare
I describe it? Perhaps one day I shall write a sonnet to that omelette;
it must not be dishonoured in prose.

Yes, the French can cook, and they can make beds, and unless you have
stretched your wearied limbs in a real _lit monté_, unless you have
sunk fathoms deep in its downy nest and have felt the light, exquisite
warmth of the _duvet_ steal through your limbs, you have never known
what comfort is.

You gaze at it with awe when you see it first, wondering how you are to
get in. I know women who had to climb upon a chair every night in order
to scale the feathery heights. For my own part, being long of limb, I
found a flying leap the most graceful means of access, but there are
connoisseurs who recommend a short ladder.

Piled on the top of a palliasse and a mattress are a huge bed of
feathers, spotless sheets, a single blanket, a coverlet, and then the
crimson silk-covered _duvet_, over which is spread a canopy of lace.
The cost must be fabulous, though oddly enough no one ever mentioned
a probable price. But no refugee can speak of her lost _lits montés_
without tears.

Madame had six of them, and cattle in her byre, and horses in her
stable, and all the costly implements of a well-stocked farm. Yet for
months she lived with her little girl, her father, and her mother in a
single room in the Place de la Halle, a dark, narrow, grimy room that
no soap and water could clean. Her bed was a sack of straw laid upon
the ground, and--until the Society provided them--she had no sheets,
no pillow-cases, indeed I doubt if she even had a pillow. Her farm is
razed to the ground, and no doubt some fat unimaginative sausage-filled
Hausfrau sleeps under her sheets and cuddles contentedly under her
_duvet_ o' nights.

The little party of four were six weeks on the road to Bar from that
farm beyond Montfaucon, and during the whole time they never ate hot
food and rarely cooked food. No wonder Madame seldom laughed--those
weeks of haunting fear and present misery were never forgotten--no
wonder it was months before we shook her out of her settled apathy and
saw some life, some animation grow again in her quiet face.

If sometimes we felt inclined to shake her for other reasons than those
of humanity her caution was to blame. Never did she commit herself. To
every question inviting an opinion she returned the same exasperating
reply, "C'est comme vous voulez, Mademoiselle." I believe if we had
asked her to buy antelopes' tongues and kangaroos' tails for dinner she
would have replied equably, tonelessly, "C'est comme vous voulez."

Whether the point at issue was a warm winter jacket, or a table, or a
holiday on the Sabbath, or cabbage for dinner, the answer was always
the same. Once in a moment of excitement--but this was when she had got
used to us, and found we were not so awful as we looked--she exclaimed,
"Oh, mais taisez-vous, Mademoiselle," and we felt as if an earthquake
had riven the town.

Later she developed a quiet humour, but she always remained aloof.
Unlike Madame Philipot who succeeded her, she never showed the least
interest in the refugees who besieged our door. "C'est une dame." The
head insinuated through the door would be withdrawn and we left to
the joys of conjecture. The "lady" might be that ragged villain from
the rue Phulpin, wife of a shepherd, a drunken dissolute vagabond who
pawned her all for liquor, or it might be Madame B., while "C'est un
Monsieur" might conceal a General of Division, or the Service de Ville
claiming two francs for delivery of a parcel, in its cryptic folds.

She had no curiosity, vulgar or intellectual, that we could discover.
She was invariably patient, sweet-tempered, gentle of voice, courteous
of phrase. She came to her work punctually at seven; going home, unless
cataclysms happened, at twelve. If the cataclysms did occur, even
through no fault of our own, we felt as guilty as if we had murdered
babies in their sleep, Madame being an orderly soul who detested
irregularity. And punctually at half-past four she would come back
again, cook the dinner, wash up _la vaisselle_ and quietly disappear at
eight.

The manner of her going was characteristic.

French women seem to have a horror of being out alone after dark
(perhaps they have excellent reason for it, they know their countrymen
better than I do), and Madame was no exception to the rule. Perhaps she
was merely bowing her head to national code, the rigid _comme il faut_,
perhaps it was a question of temperament. Anyway the fact emerged,
Madame would not walk home alone. Who, then, should accompany her? Her
parents were old and nearly bedridden, she had no husband, brother, or
friend. The crazy English who careered about at all hours of the day
and night? We had our work to do.

Juliana was ordered to fetch her. This savouring of adventure and
responsibility fell in with Juliana's mood. She consented. Now she
was her mother's younger daughter and her age was twelve. Can you
understand the psychology of it? This is how I read it. A child was
safe on the soldier-frequented road, a mother with her child would not
be intercepted, but a good-looking woman alone--well, as the French
say, that was quite another _paire de bottines_.

What would have happened had Juliana declined the honour, I simply
dare not conjecture. For that damsel did precisely as she pleased. Her
mother's passivity, fatalism, call it what you will, was the mainspring
of all her relations with her children. "Que voulez-vous? She wishes
it." Or quite simply, "Juliana does not wish it," closed the door
against all remonstrance. Madame was a strong-willed woman, she never
yielded an iota to us, but her children ruled. When the elder girl,
aged fourteen and well-placed with a good family in Paris, came to Bar
for a fortnight and then refused to go back, Madame shrugged. Some one
in Paris may have been, indeed was, seriously inconvenienced, but "Que
voulez-vous?"

"Don't you wish her to go back, Madame?"

"But certainly. What should she do here? It is not fit for a young
girl, but que voul----" We fled.

Parental authority seems to be a negligible quantity in France. So far
as I could see children did very much as they liked, and were often
spoiled to the verge of objectionableness. Yet the steadfastness,
courage, thoughtfulness and whole-souled sanity of many a young
girl--or a child--would put older and wiser heads to shame.

A puzzling people, these French, who refute to-morrow nearly every
opinion they tempt you to formulate about them to-day.

If English women struggling with "chars" and "generals" knew the value
of a French _femme de ménage_ there would be a stampede across the
Channel in search of her. She does your marketing much more cheaply
than you could do it yourself, she keeps her accounts neatly, she is
punctual, scrupulously honest, dependable and trustworthy. She may
not be clean with British cleanness, her dusting may be superficial
(her own phrase, "passer un torchon," aptly describes it), but she
understands comfort, and in nearly twenty months' experience of her I
never knew a dinner spoiled or a dish unpalatably served.

Of course it is arguable that Madame was not a _femme de ménage_, nor
of the servant class at all. Granted! But there were others. There was
the _bonne à tout faire_ (general servant) of the old curé at N. who
ruled him with a rod of iron and cooked him dinners fit for a king.
And there was Eugénie, the Abbé B.'s Eugénie, who, loving him with a
dog-like devotion, was his counsellor and his friend. She corrected
him for his good when she thought he needed it, but she mothered and
cared for him in his exile from his loved village--French trenches run
through it to-day--as only a single-minded woman could.

Yes, Madame--whether ours or some one else's--is a treasure, and we
guarded ours as the apple of our eye. There were moments when we
positively cringed before her, so afraid were we that she might leave
us; for she hated cooking, hers having always been the life of the
fields, and though no self-respecting Frenchwoman regards herself as
a servant or as a menial, there must have been many hours when the
cruelty of her position bit deep. Nevertheless she bore with us for
a year, and then the air raids began. And the air raids shattered
the nerves of Juliana--a brave little soul, but delicate (we feared
tainted with her father's malady); and flight in the night to the
nearest cellar, unfortunately some distance away, brought the shadow
of Death too close to the home. So the elders counselled flight.
Juliana begged to be taken away. Madame wished to remain. The matter
hung in uncertainty for some days, then eight alarms and two raids in
twenty-four hours settled it.

The alarms began on Friday morning; on Saturday Madame told us that
the old people would stay in Bar no longer and she had applied for the
necessary papers. They were going south to the Ain on the morrow. Not
a word of regret or apology for leaving us at a moment's notice, or
for giving us no time in which to replace her. Why apologise since she
could neither alter nor prevent? She went through no wish of her own,
went at midday, just walked out as she had done every day for a year,
but came back next morning to say good-bye and ask us to store some
odds and ends. When she had a settled address would we send them on?

So she went away, and our memory of her is of one who never fought
circumstances, never wrestled with Fate. When the storms beat upon her,
when rude winds blew, she bowed her head and allowed them to carry her
where they listed. I think the spring of her life must have broken
on that August day when she turned her cattle out on the fields and,
closing the door behind her, walked out of her house for ever.



CHAPTER VI

THE BASKET-MAKERS OF VAUX-LES-PALAMIES


The long hot days of summer pursued their stifling way, yet were all
too short for the work we had in hand. There were families to be
visited, case-papers to be written up, card-indexes to be filled in,
and bales to be unpacked. There were clothes to be sorted, there were
people in their hundreds to be fitted with coats and trousers and
shirts and underlinen and skirts and blouses, and the thousand and one
things to be coped with in the Clothes-room. When Satan visits Relief
workers he always lives in the Clothes-room. And there he takes a
malicious delight in turning the contents of the shelves upside down
and in hiding from view the outfit you chose so carefully yesterday
evening for Madame Hougelot, or Madame Collignon, so that when you come
to look for it in the morning, lo! it is gone. And Madame is waiting
with her six children on the stairs, and the hall is a whirlpool of
slowly-circling humanity, who want everything under the sun and much
that is above it.

Truly the way of the Relief worker is hard. But it has its
compensations. You live for a month, for instance, on one exquisite
episode. You are giving a party; you have invited some fifteen hundred
guests. You spread them out over several days, _bien entendu_, and
in the generosity of your heart you decide that each shall have a
present. You sit at the receipt of custom, issuing your cards with the
name of each guest written thereon, and to you comes Madame Ponnain.
(That is not her real name, but it serves.) Yes, she is a refugee and
she has two children. She would like three cards. _Bon._ You inscribe
her name, you gaze at her questioningly.

"There is Georgette, she has two years."

_Bon._ Georgette is inscribed.

And then?

Madame hesitates. There is the baby.

_Bon._ His are?

"Eh bien, il n'est pas encore au monde."

You suggest that the unborn cannot ...

"Mais mademoiselle--si il y a des étrennes (gifts)?"

Perhaps, perhaps; one doesn't know. The Ponnains were a people of much
discrimination. He might arrive in time. _Quel dommage_, then, if he
had no ticket!

He discriminated.

He gets his ticket, and you register anew your homage to French
foresightfulness and thrift.

And then you go back to the Clothes-room. You climb over mountains of
petticoats and chemises, all of the same size and all made to fit a
child of three. There are thousands of them, they obsess you. You dream
at night that you are smothering under a hill of petticoats while irate
refugees, whose children are all over five and half-naked, hurl the
chemises and--other things at you, uttering round French maledictions
in ear-splitting tones. You wade through the wretched things, you eat
them, sleep them; your brain reels, you say things about work-parties
which, if published, would cause an explosion, and the Pope would
excommunicate you and the Foreign Office hand you your passports. You
write frantic letters to headquarters, then you grow cold, waxing
sarcastic. You hint that marriage as an institution existed in France
before 1912, and that the first baby was not born in that year of
blindfold peace. And you add a rider to the effect that many, indeed
most, of your cherished _émigrées_ are not slum-dwellers fighting for
rags at a jumble sale, but respectable people who don't go about in
ragged trousers or with splashes of brown or yellow paint on a blue
serge dress. Then you are conscience-stricken, for some of the bales
have been packed by Sanity, and the contents collected by Reason. There
are many white crows in the flock.

A ring at the door interrupts, perhaps happily, your epistolary
labours. It is the Service de Ville, a surly person but faithful. He
has six bales. They are immense. You go down, you try to roll one up
the stairs. Your comrade in labour is four feet six and weighs seven
stone. The bale weighs--or seems to weigh--a ton. Sisyphus is not
more impotent than you. Then an angel appears. It is Madame. "I heard
the efforts," she remarks, and indeed our puffings and pantings and
blowings and swearings must have been audible almost at the Front.
She puts her solid shoulder under the bale. It floats lightly up the
stairs. Then you begin to unpack. It is dirty work, and destroys the
whiteness of your hands. Never mind. Remember _les pauvres émigrées_,
and that we are _si devouée_, you know.

Everything under heaven has, I verily believe, come at one time or
another out of our bales--except live stock and joints of beef.
Concertinas in senile decay, mandolines without keys, guitars without
strings, jam leaking over a velvet gown, tons of old newspapers
and magazines--all English, of course, and subsequently sold as
waste-paper, hats that have braved many a battle and breeze, boots
without soles, ball dresses, satin slippers (what DO people think
refugees need in the War Zone?), greasy articles of apparel, the mere
handling of which makes our fingers shine, dirty underlinen, single
socks and stockings, married socks that are like the Irishman's
shirt--made of holes, another hundred dozen of petticoats for children
aged three, and once--how we laughed over it!--a red velvet dress that
I swear had been filched from an organ-grinder's monkey, and with it a
pair of-of--well, you know. They were made of blue serge, and when held
out at width stretched all across the Common-room. The biggest Mynheer
that ever smoked a pipe by the Zuyder Zee would have been lost in them,
and as they were neither male nor female, only some sort "of giddy
harumphrodite" could have worn them.

Sometimes we fell upon stale cough lozenges, on mouldering biscuits,
on dried fruits, on chocolate, on chewing-gum, on moth-eaten bearskin
rugs, or on a brilliant yellow satin coverlet with LOVE in large green
capitals on it. The tale is unending, but it was not all tragic. There
were many days when our hearts sang in gladness, when good, useful,
sensible things emerged from the bales and we fitted our people out in
style.

But all the rubbish in the world must have been dumped upon France
in the last two years. Never has there been such a sweeping out of
cupboards, such a rummaging of dust-bins. The hobble skirts that
submerged us at one period nearly drove us into an early grave. Picture
us, with a skirt in hand. It is twenty-seven inches round the tail,
perhaps twenty-three round the waist. And Madame, who waits with such
touching confidence in the discrimination of Les Anglaises, tells you
that she is _forte_. As you look at her you believe it. It is half a
day's journey to walk round her. You pace the wide circle thoughtfully,
you make rapid calculations, you give it up. The thing simply cannot
be done. And you send up a wild prayer that before ever there comes
another war French women of the fields will take to artificial means
of restraining their figures. As it is, like Marguerite, many of them
occupy vast continents of space when they take their walks abroad. And
when they stand on the staircase, smiling deprecatingly at you, and you
have nothing that will fit....

And when it does fit it is blue, or green, and they have a passion for
black. Something discreet. Something they can go to Mass in. I often
wonder why they worship their God in such dolorous guise. Something,
too, they can mourn in. So many are _en deuil_. Once a woman who came
for clothes demanded black, refusing a good coat because it was blue.
The cousin of her husband had died five months before, and never had
she been able to mourn him. If the English would give her _un peu de
deuil_? She waited weeks. She got it and went forth smiling happily
upon an appreciative world, ready to mourn at last.

The weather is stifling, the Clothes-room an inferno. The last visitor
for the morning has been sent contentedly away--she may come back
to-morrow, though, and tell us that the dress of Madeleine does not
fit, and may she have one the same as that which Madame Charton got?
Now the dress of Madame Charton's Marie was new and of good serge,
whereas that of Madeleine was slightly worn and of light summer
material. But then Marie had an old petticoat, whereas Madeleine had a
new one. But this concession to equality finds no favour in the eyes
of Madeleine's mother. She has looked upon the serge and lusted after
it. We suggest that a tuck, a little arrangement.... She goes away. And
in the house in rue Paradis there is lamentation, and Marie, I grieve
to say, lifts up her shrill treble and crows. It is one of the minor
tragedies of life. Alas, that there are so many!

But as Madame the mother of Madeleine departs, we know nothing of the
reckoning that waits us on the morrow. We only know that we promised
to go and see the Basket-makers to-day, that time is flying, and haste
suicidal with the thermometer at steaming-point.

"Madame, we are going out. We cannot see any one else."

_Bon._ Madame is a Cerberus. She will write down the names of callers
and so ease our minds while we are away.

We fling on our hats, we arm ourselves with pencil and notebook, and
wend our way up the Avenue du Château to the rue des Ducs de Bar. It is
well to choose this route sometimes, though it is longer than that of
the rue St. Jean, for it goes past the old gateway and shows you the
view over the rue de Véel. It is wise to look down on the rue de Véel;
it is rather foolhardy to walk in it. For motor-lorries whiz through it
at a murderous speed, garbage makes meteoric flights from windows, the
drainage screams to Heaven, every house is a tenement house, most of
them are foul and vermin-ridden, and all are packed with refugees.

Well, perhaps not quite all. Even the rue de Véel has its bright
particular spots, one of them being the house, set a little back from
the street, in which Pétain, "On-les-aura Pétain," lived during the
battle of Verdun. The street lies in a deep hollow, with cultivated
hills rising steeply above it. Higher up there are woods on the far
side, while above the sweeping Avenue du Château the houses are piled
one above the other in tumbled, picturesque confusion.

Once in the rue des Ducs we go straight to No. 49, through a
double-winged door into a courtyard, up a flight of worn steps into a
wee narrow lobby, rather dark and noisome, and then, if any one cries
_Entrez_! in response to our knock, into a great wide room.

That some one would cry it is certain, for the room is a human hive.
It swarms with people. Short, thickset, sturdy, rather heavily-built
people, whose beauty is not their strong point, but whose honesty is.
And another, for they have many, is their industry; and yet another,
dear to the heart of the Relief worker, is their gratitude for any
little help or sympathy that may be given them.

And, poor souls, they did need help. Think of it! One room the factory,
dining-room, bedroom, smoking-room, sitting-room of forty people. Some
old, some young. Women, girls and men.

It appalled you as you went in. On one side, down all its length, and
also along the top palliasses were laid on the floor, so close they
almost touched. Piled neatly on these were scanty rugs or blankets.
No sheets or linen of any kind until our Society provided them. There
was only one bed--a gift from the Society--and in that sat a little
old woman bolt upright. Her skin was the colour of old parchment, it
was seamed and lined and criss-crossed with wrinkles, for she was over
eighty years of age. But her spirit was still young. She could enjoy a
little joke.

"Yes, I remember the war of Soixante-dix," she said, "but it was not
like this. Ma fois, non! Les Prussiens--oh, they were good to us." Her
eyes twinkled. "They lived in our house. They were like children."

"Madame, Madame! Confess now that 'vous avez fait la coquette' with
those Prussians."

Whereupon she cackled a big, "Ho, ho! Écoutez ce qu'elle dit!" and a
shrivelled finger poked me facetiously in the ribs.

But if the Basket-makers made friends with the Germans in those far-off
days, they hate them now. Hate them with bitter, deadly hatred. "Ah,
les barbares! les sauvages! les rosses!" Madame Walfard would cry, her
face inflamed with anger. Her mother, badly wounded by a shell, had
become paralysed, so there is perhaps some excuse for her venom.

But for the most part they are too busy to waste time in revilings. The
little old woman is the only idle person in the room. Squatting on low
stools under the windows--there are four or five set in the length of
the wall--the rest work unceasingly, small basins of water, sheaves
of osier, tools, finished baskets, and piles of osier-ends strewn all
about them. Down the middle of the room runs a long table, littered
with mugs, bowls, cooking utensils, odds and ends of every description.
There is only one stove, a small one, utterly inadequate for the size
of the room. On it all their cooking has to be done. I used to wonder
if they ever quarrelled.

As time went on and I came to know them better, Madame Malhomme
and Madame Jacquemot told me many a tale of their life in
Vaux-les-Palamies, of the opening days of war and of their subsequent
flight from their village. Madame Malhomme, daughter of the little old
lady who had once dared to flirt with a Prussian, lived in the big room
in the rue Des Ducs for nearly a year. Then Madame B. established her
and her family in a little house about half a mile from the town, where
they had nothing to trouble them save the depredations of an occasional
rat, a negligible nuisance compared with the (in more senses than one)
overcrowded condition of No. 49. For that historic mansion had gathered
innumerable inmates to its breast during the long years of emptiness
and decay. And these inmates made the Basket-makers' lives a burden to
them.

The cold, too, was penetrating, it ate through their scanty clothes,
it bit through flesh to the very bone. The stove was an irony, a tiny
flame in a frozen desert. Every one was perished, Madame Malhomme not
least of all, for, seeing her daughter shivering, she stripped off her
only petticoat and forced her to put it on.

At night they lay in their clothes under their miserable blankets.
(Bar-le-Duc is not a very large nor a very rich town, and in giving
what it did to such numbers of people it showed itself generous indeed.
In ordinary times its population is not more, and is probably less,
than 17,000, so an influx of 4000 destitute refugees taxed it heavily.)

The unavoidable publicities of their existence filled the women with
shame and dismay. Sleeping "comme des bêtes sur la paille,"[4] or, more
often still, lying awake staring out into the unfriendly dark, what
dreams, what memories must have been theirs! How often they must have
seen the village, its cosy little homes, each with its garden basking
in the sun, the river flowing by, and the great osier beds that were
the pride of them all.

 [4] Like beasts, on straw.

They seem to have lived very much to themselves, these sturdy artisans,
rarely leaving their valley, and intermarrying to an unusual extent.
You find the same names cropping up again and again: Jacquemot, Riot,
or Malhomme. Like Quakers, every one seemed to be the cousin of every
one else. And they were well-to-do. It is safe to presume that there
was no poverty in the village. Their baskets were justly famous
throughout France, and the average family wage was about £3 a week.
In addition they had the produce of their garden, the inevitable pig
being fattened for the high destiny of the _soupe au lard_, rabbits and
poultry. If Heaven denied them the gift of physical beauty it had not
been niggardly in other respects. Best of all, it gave them the gift
of labour. In the spring pruning and tending the osier, then cutting
it, and piling it into great stacks which had to be saturated with
water every day during the hot weather, planting and digging in their
gardens, looking after the rabbits and the pig, and in winter plying
their trade. Life moved serenely and contentedly in Vaux-les-Palamies
until the dark angel of destruction passed over it and brushed it with
his wings.

The Basket-makers don't like the Boche; indeed, they entertain a
reasonable prejudice against him. He foisted himself upon them, making
their lives a burden to them; he was coarse, brutal and overbearing,
he no more considered their feelings than he would those of a rotten
cabbage-stalk thrown out upon the refuse-heap of a German town. He
stayed with them for a week. When he went away he bequeathed them a
prolific legacy. Madame Malhomme will tell you of it if you ask her--at
least she will when she knows you well. She is not proud of it.

"Ah, qu'ils sont sales, ces Boches," she says with a shudder. She
bought insecticide, she was afraid to look her neighbours in the face.
It did not occur to her at first that her troubles were not personal
and individual. Then one day she screwed up her courage and asked the
question. The answers were all in the affirmative. No one was without.

So when news came that the Boche was returning, Vaux-les-Palamies
girded up its loins and fled. Shells were falling on the village, so
they dared not spend time in extensive packings; in fact, they made
little if any attempt to pack at all. Madame's sister-in-law was
wounded in the shoulder, and the wound, untended for days, began to
crawl. Her description of it does not remind you of a rose-scented
garden. It was thrust on me as a privilege. So was a view of the
shoulder. The latter was no longer crawling. It was exquisitely white
and clean, but it had a hole in it into which a child might drive its
fist.

And so after much tribulation they found themselves in Bar-le-Duc, and
theirs was the only instance that came under our notice of a village
emigrating _en masse_, and settling itself tribally into its new
quarters. Even the Mayor came with them, and it was he who eventually
succeeded in getting a supply of osier and putting them into touch with
a market again. But their activities are sadly restricted, and they
make none of their famous baskets _de fantaisie_ now, the osier being
dear and much of it bad, so their profit is very, very small.

I was in Bar for some months before I met Madame Jacquemot. And then
it was Madame B. who introduced me to her. Her mother, an old lady
of eighty-two, had been in hospital; was now rather better, and back
again with her family in the rue Maréchale. Would the Society give her
sheets? As the dispenser of other people's bounty I graciously opined
that it would, and calling on Madame Jacquemot, told her so. Her mother
was startlingly like the old lady at No. 49, small, thin, wiry, and
bird-like in her movements. She had had shingles, poor soul, and talked
of the _ceinture de feu_ which had scorched her weary little body.
She talked of the Germans too. Ah, then you should have seen her! How
her eyes flashed! She would straighten herself and all her tiny frame
would become infused with a majesty, a dignity that transfigured her.
Once a German soldier demanded something of her, and when she told
him quite truthfully that she had not got it, he doubled his fist and
dealt her a staggering blow on the breast. And she was such a little
scrap of humanity, just an old, old woman with a brave, tender heart
and the cleanest and honestest of souls. She got her sheets and a
good warm shawl--I am afraid we took very special trouble with that
_paquet_, choosing the best of our little gifts for her--and soon
afterwards I went to see her again. As we sat in the dusky room while
Madame Jacquemot told stories, describing the method of cultivating
the osier, showing how the baskets are made, the old lady began to
cough and "hem" and make fluttering movements with her hands. Madame
Jacquemot, thickset and broad-beamed like most of her people--she had
a fleshy nose and blue eyes, I remember, hair turning grey, a pallid,
rather unhealthy complexion and a humorous mouth--got up, and going to
an inner room returned almost immediately with a quaintly-shaped basket
in her hands. The old lady took it from her and held it out to me.

"It is for you," she said. "And when you go home to England you will
tell people that it was made for you by an old woman of eighty-two,
a refugee, who was ill and in hospital for months. I chose the osier
specially, there is not a bad bit in the basket. And it is long, long
since I have made a basket. I haven't made one since we left home. But
I wanted to make one for you because you have been kind to us."

I have that basket now; I shall keep it always and think of the feeble
fingers that twined the osier, fingers that were never to twine it
again, for the gallant spirit that fought so gamely was growing more
and more weary. The old bear transplanting badly, they yearn for their
chimney corner and the familiar things that are all their world. The
long exile from her beloved village told upon her heart, joy fell from
her and, saddened and desolate, she slipped quietly away.

"She just fluttered away like a little bird," her daughter said, and I
was glad to know she had not suffered at the last.

"Ah, if only I could see the village again," she would often say. "If
only I might be buried there. To die here, among strangers.... Ah,
mademoiselle, do you think the war will soon be over? Si seulement...."
To die and be buried among her own people. To die at home. It was
all she asked for, all she had left to wish for in the world. She
would look at me with imploring, trustful eyes. Les Anglaises, they
must know. Surely I could tell her? And in the autumn one would say,
"It will be over in the spring," and in the winter cry, "Ah yes, in
the summer." But spring came and summer followed, and still the guns
reverberated across the hills, and winter came and the Harvest of Death
was still in the reaping.

Surely God must have His own Roll of Honour for those who have fallen
in the war, and many a humble name that the world has never heard of
will be written on it in letters of gold.



CHAPTER VII

IN WHICH WE PLAY TRUANT


I

Without wishing in the least to malign my fellow-men, I am minded to
declare that a vast percentage of them are hypocrites. Not that they
know it or would believe you if you told them so. Your true _poseur_
imposes acutely on himself, believing implicitly in his own deceptions;
but the discerning mind is ever swift to catch an attitude, and never
more so than when it is struck before the Mirror of Charity.

Consequently, when people tell me they go to the War Zone in singleness
of purpose, anxious only to succour the stricken, I take leave to be
incredulous. The thing is impossible. Every one who isn't a slug likes
to go to the War Zone, every one who isn't an animated suet-pudding
wants to see a battlefield, or a devastated village, or a trench, or a
dug-out, and we all want _souvenirs de la guerre_, shell cases, bits
of bomb or shrapnel, the head of the Crown Prince on a charger, or the
helmet of a Death's Head Hussar. And do we not all love adventure,
and variety--unless fear has made imbeciles of us, and the chance
of distinguishing ourselves, of winning the Legion of Honour in a
shell-swept village, or the Croix de Guerre under the iron rain of a
Taube?

I believe we do, though few of us confess it. We prefer to look
superior, to pretend we "care nothing for all that," and so I cry,
"Hypocrites! Search your hearts for your motives and you will find them
as complex as the machinery that keeps you alive."

Search mine for my motive and you will find it compounded of many
simples, but of their nature and composition it is not for me to speak.
Has it not been written that I am a modest woman?

And methinks indifferent honest. That is why I am going to tell you
about Villers-aux-Vents. You must not labour under a delusion that life
was all hard work and no play in the War Zone.

It was no high-souled purpose that led us to Villers. It was just
curiosity, common curiosity. Later on we spent a night (Saturday night,
of course) at Greux, and visited the shrine of Jeanne D'Arc at Domremy,
but that was not out of curiosity. It was hero-worship coupled with a
passion for historical research.

And we planned to go to Toul and Nancy. Now when people make plans they
should carry them out. The gods rarely send the dish of opportunity
round a second time, and when the _Carnet d'Étranger_ chained us body
and soul to _l'autorité compétente militaire_ there was no second time.
The dish had gone by; it would never come again.

Wherefore I am wrath with the gods, and still more wrath with myself,
for I have not seen Nancy, and I have not seen Toul, and if the old
_grognard_ had been in good humour I might even have gone to Verdun.
Maddening, isn't it? Especially as then, when our work was only, so to
speak, getting into its stride, we might have virtuously spared the
time. Later on when it increased, and when we bowed to a _Directrice_
who has found the secret of perpetual motion, we worked Saturday,
Sundays and all sometimes; but in 1915 we were not yet super-normal
men. We could still enjoy a holiday. And so we decided to go to
Villers-aux-Vents. To go before winter had snatched the gold mantle
from the limbs of autumn, to go while yet the sun was high and the long
day stretched before us, languorous, beautiful.

And the manner of our going was thus, by train to Révigny at 7.20 a.m.,
and then on foot over the road.

Now it is written that if you get into a westward-bound omnibus train
at Bar-le-Duc, in fulness of time you will arrive at Révigny. The
train will be packed with soldiers, so of course you travel first-or
second-class, thereby incurring a small measure of seclusion and a
larger one of boredom. In Class Three it is never dull. You may be
offered cakes or a hunk of bread which has entered into unwilling
alliance with sausage, you may be invited to drink the health of the
Allies in rank red wine, or you may be offered a faithful heart,
lifelong adoration and an income of five sous a day. Or (but for this
you must keep your ears wide open, for the train makes _un bruit
infernale_, and speech is a rapid, vivacious, eager thing in France)
you may hear tales of the war, episodes of the trenches, comments upon
the method of the Boche, things many of them hardly fit for publication
but drawn naked and quivering from the wells of life.

Unless he has been refreshing a vigorous thirst, the poilu is rarely
unmanageable. He is the cheekiest thing in the universe, he has a
twinkle in his eye that can set a whole street aflame, and he is filled
with an accommodating desire to go with you just as far as you please.
Nevertheless, he can take a hint quicker than any man I know, and his
genius in extricating himself from a difficult situation is that of the
inspired tactician.

Madame B., pursuing her philanthropic way, came out of a shop one day
to find a spruce poilu comfortably ensconced in her carriage. With arms
folded and legs crossed he surveyed the world with conquering eyes.

"I am coming for a drive with you," he remarked genially, and his smile
was the smile of a seductive angel, his assurance that of a king.

"Au contraire," replied Madame B. (the poilu was not for her, as for
us, an undiscovered country bristling with possibilities of adventure),
and his abdication was the most graceful recorded in history.

Now, I wouldn't advise you to accept every offer of companionship you
get from a poilu, but you may accept some. More than one tedious mile
of road is starred for me with memories of childlike, simple souls,
burning with curiosity about all things English, and above all about
the independent female bipeds who have no apparent fear of man, God
or devil, nor even--_bien entendu_--of that most captivating of all
created things, the blue-coated, trench-helmeted French soldier.

"You march well, Mademoiselle; you would make a fine soldier." Thus a
voice behind me as I swung homewards down the hill one chilly evening.
A sense of humour disarms me on these occasions. One day, no doubt, it
will lead me into serious trouble. I didn't wither him. One soon learns
when east winds should blow, and when the sun, metaphorically speaking,
may shine. We walked amicably into Bar together, and before we parted
he told me all about the little wife who was waiting for him in Paris,
and the fat baby who was _tout-à fait le portrait de son père_.

So ponder long and carefully before you choose your carriage, but if
your ponderings are as long as this digression you will never get to
Révigny. Even an omnibus train starts some time, and generally when you
least expect it.

At Mussey if you crane your head out of the window you may see two
wounded German prisoners, white-faced, mud-caked wretches who provoke
no comment. At Révigny you will see soldiers (if I told you how many
pass through in a day the Censor would order me to be immersed in a vat
of official ink); and you will see ruins. The Town Hall is an eyeless
skeleton leering down the road, the Grande Place--there is no Grande
Place, there is only a scattered confusion of fire-charred stones and
desiccated brick.

It was rather foggy that Sunday morning and the town looked used up.
Not an attractive place in its palmiest days we decided as we slung our
luncheon bags over our shoulders and set out for Villers. Away to the
left we could see Brabant-le-Roi, and it was there some weeks later
that I assisted at the incineration of a pig. He lay by the roadside
in a frame of blazing straw. Flames lapped his ponderous flanks, and
swept across his broad back, blue smoke curled around him, an odour of
roasting pig hung in the air. A crowd of women and soldiers stood like
devotees about a shrine. The flames leaped, and fell. Then came men
who lifted him up and laid him on a stretcher. In his neck there was
a gaping wound, and out of the fire that refined him he was no longer
an Olympian sacrifice, he was mouldering pig, dead pig, black pig,
nauseating, horrible. I turned to fly, but a voice detained me.

"Madame Bontemps will be killing to-morrow. If Mademoiselle would like
to see?"

But "to-morrow" Mademoiselle was happily far on her way to Troyes,
and the swan-song of Madame Bontemps' _gros cochon_ fell on more
appreciative ears.

However, on that Sunday morning in September there was no pig, and our
"satiable curiosity" led us far from poor battered Brabant. Our road
was to the right and "uphill all the way." The apple trees on the Route
Nationale were crusted with ripe red fruit, but we resisted temptation,
our only loot being a shell-case which we discovered in a field, which
was exceedingly heavy and with which we weighted ourselves for the sake
of an enthusiastic youngster at home. My arm still aches when I think
of that shell-case, for by this time the sun had burst out, it was
torridly hot, the apple trees gave very little shade, and our too, too
solid flesh was busily resolving itself into a dew.

However, we persevered, the object of our pilgrimage being a square
hole dug in a sunny orchard on the brow of the hill above Villers.
Some rude earthen steps gave access to it, the roof was supported by
two heavy beams, and the floor and sides were lined with carved panels
wrenched from priceless old _armoires_ taken from the village. It is
known as the Crown Prince's Funk Hole, and the story goes that from
its shelter he ordered, and subsequently watched, the destruction
of the village. The dug-out, a makeshift affair, the Crown Prince's
tenancy being of short duration, is well placed. The hill falls away
behind it, running at right angles to the opening there is a thick
hedge, trees shelter it, the line of a rough trench or two, now filled
in, runs protectingly on its flank. The fighting in this region was
open, a war of movement lasting only a few days, so trench lines are
not very plentiful. Just opposite the mouth of the dug-out there is a
fenced-in cross, a red _képi_ hangs on the point, a laurel wreath tied
with tri-coloured ribbon is suspended from the arms. "An unknown French
soldier." Did he fall there in the rush of battle, or did he creep up
hoping to get one clean neat shot at the Prince of Robbers and so put
him out of action for ever?

As for Villers itself, it was wiped out of existence. One house, and
only one, remains, and even that is battered. One might speculate a
little on the psychology of houses. The pleasant fire-cracker pastilles
that wrought so much havoc elsewhere were impotent here. The Germans
flung in one after another, we were told, using every incendiary device
at their disposal, but that house refused to burn. There it stands
triumphantly in its tattered garden, not far from the church, and when
I saw it an old woman with a reaping-hook in her hand was standing by
the hedge watching me with curious eyes. We had separated, my companion
and I, farther down the long village street, she to meditate among the
ruins, I to mourn over the shattered belfry-tower, the bell hurled to
the ground, the splintered windows, the littered ruined interior. In
the cemetery were many soldiers' graves; on one inscribed, "Two unknown
German officers," some one had scribbled "À bas les Boches," the only
instance that came to my knowledge of the desecration of a German
grave. And even here contrition followed fast upon the heels of anger,
and heavy scrawlings did their best to obliterate the bitter little
phrase. The French--in the Marne at least--have been scrupulous in
their reverence for the German dead, the graves are fenced in just as
French graves are, and the name whenever possible printed on the cross.
I suppose that even the soppiest sentimentalist would not ask that they
should be decorated with flowers?

As I left the graveyard and looked back at the desolation that once was
Villers, but where even now wooden houses were springing hopefully from
the ground, the old woman with the reaping-hook spoke to me. My dress
betrayed me; she knew without asking that I was British. And, as is the
way with these French peasants, she fell easily and naturally into her
story. I wish I could tell it to you just as she told it to me, but I
know I shall never find her simple dignity of phrase, or her native
instinct for the _mot juste_. However, such as it is you shall have it,
and if it please you not, skip. That refuge is always open to the bored
or tired reader.


II

Old Madame Pierrot was disturbed in spirit. She could see the flames
leaping above burning villages across the plain, the earth shook with
the menace of the guns, the storm was rising, every moment brought the
waves of the encroaching sea nearer to her home. Yet people said that
Villers was safe. The Germans could never get so far as that, they
would be turned back long before they reached the hill. She was alone
in her comfortable two-storied house (the house she had built only a
few years before, and which had a fine yard behind it closed in by
spacious stables, cow-houses and barns), and she was sadly in need of
advice. She had no desire whatever to make the personal acquaintance
of any German invader. Even the honour of receiving the Crown Prince
made no appeal to her soul. She had heard something of his arch little
ways and his tigerish playfulness, and though she could hardly suppose
that he would favour a woman of her dried and lean years with special
attention, she reasonably feared that she might be called on to assist
at one of his festivals. And an Imperial degenerate will do that in
public which decent women are ashamed to talk about, much less to
witness. So Madame was perturbed in soul. The battle raged through the
woods and over the plain, it crept nearer ... nearer....

"Madame, Madame, come. Is it that you wish the Germans to get you?" A
wagon was drawn up at the door, in it were friends who lived higher up
the street. "Come with us to Laimont. You will be safer there."

So they called to her and put an end to her doubt. Snatching up a
basket, she stuffed into it all the money she had in the house,
various family papers and documents, and then, just as she was, in her
felt-soled slippers with her white befrilled cap on her head, in her
cotton dress without even a shawl to cover her, she clambered into the
wagon and set out. Laimont was only a few miles away; indeed, I think
you can see the church spire and the roofs of the houses from the
hill. There the wagon halted. In a few hours the Germans would be gone,
and then one could go peaceably home again. But time winged away, the
battle raged more fiercely than ever, soon perhaps Laimont itself would
be involved and see hand-to-hand fighting in its streets.

Laimont! Madame was _desolée_. _Où aller?_ Farther south, farther east?
The Germans were everywhere. And _voyager comme ça_ in her old felt
slippers, in her working clothes, without wrap or cloak to cover her?
Impossible. The wagon must wait. There was still time. _Ces salauds_
would not reach Laimont yet. Why, look! Villers itself was free. There
was no fire, no smoke rising on the hill. Her friends would wait while
she went back _au grand galop_ to put on her boots, and her bonnet and
her Sunday clothes. "Hé, mon Dieu, it is not in the petticoat of the
fields that one runs over France."

Away she went, her friends promising to wait for her. Laden down by
the shell, we who were lusty and strong found the road from Villers
to Laimont unendingly long, yet no grisly fears gnawed at our
heart-strings, no sobs rose chokingly to be thrust back again ... and
yet again. Nor had we the hill to climb, and no shells were bursting
just ahead. So what can it have been for Madame? But she pressed on;
old, tired and, oh, so dismayed, she panted up the steep hill that
curls into the village, and walked right into the arms of the Crown
Prince's men. In a trice she was a prisoner, one of eighty, some
of whom were soldiers, the rest civilians, who, like herself, had
committed the egregious folly of being born west of the Rhine, and were
now about to suffer for it.

What particular crime Villers-aux-Vents had committed to merit
destruction I cannot tell. Perhaps it never committed any. The Crown
Prince was not always a minister of Justice promulgating sentence
upon crime. He was more often a Nero loving a good red blaze for its
own sake, or it may be an æsthete of emotion, a super-sensualist of
cruelty, or just a devil hot from the stones of hell.

Whatever the reason, Villers was doomed. Out came the pastilles and
the petrol-sprayers: the most determined destruction was carried on.
Not only were the houses themselves destroyed but the outhouses, the
stables, solid brick and mortar constructions running back to a depth
of several feet. And I gathered that the usual pillage inaugurated the
reign of fire.

Of this, however, Madame knew nothing. She and her seventy-nine
companions in misery were marched away to the north, mile after mile to
Stenay, and if you look at the map you will see that the distance is
not small, it was a march of several days.

Madame, as I have told you, was old, and her slippers had soles of
felt, and so the time came when her feet were torn and bleeding, and
when, famished and exhausted, she could no longer keep step with her
guards. Her pace became slower and slower. Ah, God, what was that? Only
the butt-end of a rifle falling heavily across her back. She nerved
herself for another effort, staggered on to falter once more. Again the
persuasion of the rifle. Again the shrewd, cruel blow, and a bayonet
flashing under her eyes.

A diet of black bread three times a day does not encourage one to take
violent exercise, but black bread was all that they got, and I think
the rifle-butts worked very hard during that long weary march.

On arrival they were herded into a church and then into a prison, where
they were brutally treated at first, but subsequently, when French
people were put in charge, found life a little less intolerable. And
later on some residents still living in the town were kind to her, but
during all the months--some eight or nine--that she was imprisoned
there she had no dress but the one, nothing to change into, nothing to
keep out the sharp winter cold.

Madame Walfard the basket-maker told me some gruesome tales about
Stenay, and what happened there, but this is not a book of atrocities.
Perhaps it ought to be, perhaps every one who is in a position to do
so should cry aloud the story in a clear clarion call to the civilised
world, but--isn't the story known? Can anything I have to say add a
fraction of a grain of weight to the evidence already collected? Is
the world even now so immature in its judgment that it supposes that
the men who sacked Louvain, the men who violated Belgium behaved
like gallant gentlemen in the sunnier land of France? Do we not know
all of us that, added to the deliberate German method, there was the
lasciviousness of drunkenness? That the Germans poured into one of the
richest wine-growing countries in the world during one of the hottest
months of the year, that their thirst at all times is a mighty one, and
when excited by the frenzy of battle it was unassuageable? They drank,
and they drank again. They rioted in cellars containing thousands of
bottles of good wine, and they emerged no longer men but demons, whose
officers laughed to see them come forth, sure now that no lingering
spark of human or divine fire would hold them back from frightfulness.

Of course we know it was so, and therefore I am not going to dilate
upon horrors. Let the kharma of the Germans be their witness and their
judge. Only this in fairness should be told--that the behaviour of the
men varied greatly in different regiments. "It all depended upon the
Commandant," summed up one narrator, "and the first armies were the
worst."

"And the Crown Prince's army?" I asked; "what of that?"

He shrugged. What can be expected from the followers of such a leader?
Their exploits put mediæval mercenaries to shame.

Stenay must find another historian; but even while I refuse to become
the chronicler of atrocities, every line I write rises up to confute
me. For was not the very invasion of France an "atrocity"? Is the word
so circumscribed in its meaning that it contains only arson, murder
and rape? Does not the refinement of suffering inflicted upon every
refugee, upon every homeless _sinistré_, upon the basket-makers of
Vaux-les-Palamies as upon Madame Lassanne, and poor old creatures
like the Leblans fall within it too, and would not the Germans stand
convicted before the Tribunal of such narratives even if the gross sins
of the uncivilised beast had never been laid at their door?

Madame Pierrot told me nothing about Stenay--perhaps she saw nothing
but the inside of her prison walls--but she told me a great deal about
the kindness of the Swiss when she crossed the frontier one happy day,
and the joy-bells were ringing in her heart. They gave her food and
drink, they overwhelmed her with sympathy, they offered her clothes.
But Madame said no. She was a _propriétaire_, she had good land in
Villers.

"Keep the clothes for others, they will need them more than I. In my
house at Villers-aux-Vents there are _armoires_ full of linen and
underclothing, everything that I need. I can wait."

I often wonder whether realisation came to her at Révigny, or whether,
all ignorant of the tragedy, she walked blithely up the hill, the
joy-bells ringing their Te Deum in her heart, her thoughts flitting
happily from room to room, from _armoire_ to _armoire_, conning over
again the treasures she had been parted from so long. Did she know only
as she turned the last sharp bend in the road and saw the village dead
at her feet? Ah, whether she knew as she trudged over the much-loved
road, or whether knowledge came only with sight, what a home-coming was
that! She found the answer to the eternal question, "What shall we find
when we return?" ... How many equally poignant answers still lie hidden
in the womb of time to be brought forth in anguish when at last the day
of restoration comes?


III

Even the longest story must come to an end some time, and so did Madame
Pierrot's. Conscience, tugging wildly at the strings of memory, spoke
to me of my lost comrade; the instinct of hospitality asserted itself
in Madame's soul. We were strangers, we must see the sights. Would I go
with her to her "house," and to the dug-out of the Crown Prince? Yes?
_Bon. Allons._ And away we trotted to gather up the lost one among
the ruins, to inspect the dug-out, to eat delicious little plums which
Madame gathered for us in the orchard, and finally to be seized by
the pangs of a righteous hunger which simply shrieked for food. Where
should we eat? Madame mourned over her brick and rubble. If we had come
before the war she would have given us a _déjeuner_ fit for a king.
A good soup, an omelette, _des confitures_, a cheese of the country,
coffee, but now? "Regardez, Mademoiselle. Ah que c'est triste. Il n'y
a rien du tout, du tout, du tout." And indeed there was nothing but a
mound of material that might have been mistaken for road rubbish.

Eventually she found a stone bench in the yard, and there we munched
our sandwiches while she flitted away, to come back presently with
bunches of green grapes, sweet enough but very small. The vine had not
been tended for a year, it was running wild. They were not what _ces
dames_ should be given, but if we would accept them? We would have
taken prussic acid from her just then, I believe, but fortunately it
did not occur to her to offer it. She cut us dahlias from her ragged
garden (once loved and carefully tended), and hearing that one of us
was a connoisseur in shell-cases, bits of old iron and other gruesome
relics, rooted about until she found another shell-case, with which
upon our backs we staggered over to Laimont.

And now let me hereby solemnly declare that if any one ever dares to
tell me that the French are inhospitable I will smite him with a great
and deadly smiting. I am not trying to suggest that they clasped us in
their arms and showered riches upon us within an hour of our meeting.
They showed a measure of sanity and caution in all their ways. They
waited to see what manner of men we were before they flung wide their
doors, but once the doors were wide the measure of their generosity was
only limited by the extent of our need.

Was it advice, an introduction to an influential person, a string
pulled here, a barrier broken down there, Madame B. and Madame D. were
always at our service. Gifts of fruit and flowers came constantly
to our door, our _bidons_ were miraculously filled with paraffin
in a famine which we, being foolish virgins, had not foreseen, or,
foreseeing, had not guarded against, and once in the heavy frost, when
wood was unobtainable in the town and the supply ordered from Sermaize
was over-long in coming, our lives were saved by a bag of oak blocks
which scented the house, and _boulets_ that made the stove glow with
magnificent ardour. In every difficulty we turned to Madame B. She
helped us out of many an _impasse_, and whether we asked her to buy
dolls in Paris or, by persuading a General and his Staff that without
our timely aid France could never win the war, to reconcile an Army
Corps to our erratic activities in its midst, she never failed us. When
two of our party planned a week-end shopping expedition to Nancy, it
was Madame B. who discovered that the inhabitants of that much-harassed
town were leading frozen lives in their cellars, and if she was
sometimes electrifyingly candid in her criticism, she was equally
unstinted in her praise. Madame D., with her old-world courtesy, was no
less hospitable, and many a frantic S.O.S. brought her at top speed to
our door.

From Monsieur C., who used to assure us that we dispensed our gifts
with a _délicatesse_ that was _parfait_, and Madame K. showering
baskets of luscious raspberries, to the poorest refugee who begged
us to drink a glass of wine with her, or who deeply regretted her
inability to make some little return for the help we had given her,
they outvied one another in refuting the age-old libel on the character
of the French.

"But," cries some acidulated critic, "you would have us believe that
the poilu is a blue-winged angel, and the civilian too perfect to
live." Far from it. The poilu is only a man, the civilian only human,
and I have yet to learn that either--be he man or human--is perfect any
more than he, or his equivalent is perfect even in this perfect English
island in the sea. There are soldiers who.... There are civilians
who....

I guess the devil doesn't inject original sin into them with a
two-pronged hypodermic syringe any more than he injects it into us. The
good and the evil sprout up together, or are they the spiritual Siamese
twin that is born of every one of us to be a perpetual confusion to our
minds, a bewilderment to our bodies and a most difficult progeny to
rear at the best of times? For as surely as you encourage one of the
twins the other sets up a roar, sometimes they howl together, sometimes
one stuffs his fist down the other's throat. And the bad one is hard
to kill, and the good one has a tendency to rickets. No wonder it is a
funny muddle of a world.

And the French have their twin too, only theirs say _la-la_ and ours
say damn, and if they keep an over-sharp eye on the sous, do we turn
our noses up at excess profits?

Of course some of them are greedy, perhaps greedier on the whole
than we are. Would any English village lock its wells when thirsty
children wailed at its door? I know an Irish one would not. But the
French are thrifty, and the majority of them would live comfortably on
what a British family wastes. They work hard too. They are incredibly
industrious, perhaps because they have to be.

France has not yet been inoculated with the virus of philanthropy,
an escape on which she may possibly be congratulated. The country
is not covered with a network of charitable societies overlapping
and criss-crossing like railway lines at a junction, nor have French
women of birth, independent means and superfluous energy our genius
for managing other people's affairs so well there is no time to look
after our own. The deserving poor run no risk of being pauperised,
the undeserving don't keep secretaries, committees and tribes of
enthusiastic females labouring heavily at their heels. The French
family in difficulties has to depend on its own resources, its own
wit, its own initiative and energy, and when I think of the way our
refugees dug themselves in in Bar-le-Duc, and scratched and scraped,
and hammered and battered at that inhospitable soil till they forced a
living from its breast, my faith in philanthropy and the helping hand
begins to wane.

Of course there are hard cases, where a little intelligent human
sympathy would transform suffering and sorrow into contentment and joy,
cases that send me flying remorsefully back to the altar of organised
charity with an offering in outstretched hand, but above all these,
over all the agony of war the stern independence of French character
has ridden supreme.

So let their faults speak for themselves. Who am I that I should
expose them to a pitiless world? Have I not faults of my own? See how
I have kept poor Madame Pierrot gathering dahlias in her garden, and
my comrade in adventure eating grapes upon a very stony seat. So long
that now there is no time to tell you how we walked to Laimont and
investigated more ruins there, and then how we walked to Mussey where
we comfortably missed our train, and how a Good Samaritan directed
us to a house, and how in the house we found a little old lady whose
son had been missing since August 1914, and who pathetically wondered
whether we could get news of him, and how a _sauf-conduit_ had to be
coaxed from the Mayor, and the little old lady's horse harnessed to a
car, and how two chairs were planted in the car and we superficially
planted on the chairs, and how the old lady and a brigand clambered
on to the board in front, and how we drove down to Bar as the sun was
setting. Nor can I tell you how nearly we were run into by a motor-car,
nor how the old lady explained that the brigand was _malheureusement_
nearly blind, and that she, still more _malheureusement_, was rather
deaf, nor how we prayed as we clung desperately to the chairs which
slid and wobbled and rocked and oscillated, and rattled our bones while
all the military motor-cars in France sought our extermination.

Nor can I tell you how at a dangerous crossing the brigand drew up
his steed, and set up a wail because he had forgotten his cigarettes,
nor how one escapading female produced State Express which made him
splutter and cough, and nearly wreck us in the ditch (though English
tobacco is not nearly so strong as French), nor how we came at last
to Bar-le-Duc, nor how the old lady demanded a ridiculously small fee
for the journey, nor how I lost a glove, and the sentries eyed us with
suspicion, and the brigand who was blind and _la patronne_ who was deaf
drove away in the fading light to Mussey, the aroma of State Express
trailing out behind them, and the old horse plodding wearily in the
dust.



CHAPTER VIII

THE MODERN CALVARY


I

One day, not long after our visit to the battlefield, our composure was
riven to its very foundations by an invitation to play croquet in the
garden of Madame G. Could we spare an hour from our so arduous toil?
For her it would be a pleasure so great, the English they love "le
sport," they play all the games, we would show her the English way.
Monsieur her husband he adored croquet, but never, never could he find
any one to play with him. Madame, a little swarthy woman who always
dressed in rusty black, clasped her shiny kid gloves together and gazed
at us beseechingly. The Arbiter of our destinies decided that we must
go. There is always _l'Entente_, you know, it should be encouraged at
all hazards, a sentiment which meets with my fullest approval when the
hazard does not happen to be mine.

Madame yearned that we should throw ourselves into "le sport" at four,
but the devil of malice, who sits so persistently on my shoulder,
arranged that I should be the only one free at that hour. The others
promised to come at half-past four.

"But, my dear women," I cried, "I haven't played croquet for ages."

"Never mind. Hit something, do anything. But go."

I went. I was ushered into a tiny and stuffy parlour, and there for
twenty interminable, brain-racking minutes I confronted Madame G. Then
an old lady in a bath-robe sidled into the room, and we all confronted
one another for ten minutes more. Madame G. may be a devil of a fellow
with a croquet-mallet in her hand, but small talk is not her strong
point. Neither is it mine, for the matter of that, when I am slowly
suffocating in a foreign land. However, we finally adjourned to the
garden. Where, oh where was the croquet ground? Where, oh where were my
faithless companions? Where, oh where was tea? A quarter to five rang
out from the tower of Nôtre Dame, and here was I marooned on a French
grass plot adorned with trees, real trees, apple trees, plum trees, an
enterprising pergola, several flower-beds and, Heaven help me! croquet
hoops--hoops that had just happened, all anyhow, no two looking in the
same direction. In direct line of fire rose a tall birch tree. I gazed
at it in despair. A niblick, or a lofter, or a crane might get a ball
over it, but a croquet mallet?... Circumvention was impossible. There
were three bunkers.

"It is like your English croquet grounds?" Madame asked. "We play all
the Sundays----"

"Ah, yes, through the Looking-glass," I murmured, and she responded--

"Plaît-il?"

I hastily congratulated her on the condition of her fruit trees.

Five o'clock. What I thought of the faithless was by now so sulphuric,
blue flames must have been leaping out of me. Five-fifteen. A Sail!
The Arbiter, full of apologies, which did nothing to soften the steely
reproval in my eye. Then Madame disappeared. At five-thirty she came
back again accompanied by delinquent number two. She held a hurried
consultation with the bath-robe, then melted again into the void.

"Can I go?" I signalled to the Arbiter. She shook a vigorous head. The
rattle of tea-cups was coming from afar. At a quarter to six Madame
announced tea. It was served in the dining-room. We all sat round a
square table very solemnly--it was evidently the moment of Madame's
life; there was no milk, we were expected to use rum--or was it
gin?--instead. Anyway I know it was white, and one of us tried it, and
I know ... well, politeness conquered, but she has been a confirmed
teetotaller ever since.

At six-five Madame was weeping as she recounted a tale she had read in
the paper a day or so before, and six-twenty-five we came away.

"And we never played croquet after all. But you will come again when
Monsieur mon mari is here, for Les Anglaises they love 'le sport.'"

But we never went back. Perhaps the tree-tops frightened us, or perhaps
we were becoming too much engrossed in sport of another kind. You see,
M. le Curé of N. came to visit us the next day, and soon after that
Madame Lassanne inscribed her name on our books. Which shall I tell
you about first? Madame Lassanne, who was a friend of Madame Drouet,
and actually succeeded in making her talk for quite a long time on the
stairs one day? I think so.

Perhaps to-morrow I shall tell you of M. Le Curé.

You see, it was really Madame Lassanne who first brought home to me
what war means to the civil population in an invaded district. One
guessed it all in a dim way before, of course, every imaginative person
does, but not in the way in which pain, desolation of spirit, agony of
soul, poignant anxiety drive their roots deep down into Life; nor does
one realise how small a thing is human life, how negligible man when
compared with the great god of War.

A French medical officer once said to me, "Mademoiselle, in war les
civiles n'ont pas le droit d'être malade," and I dared to reply,
"Monsieur, ils n'ont guère le droit de vivre." And he assented, for he
knew, knew that to a great extent it was true, only too pitiably true.
For the great military machine which exists in order that an unshakable
bulwark may be set up between the invader and the civilians whom he
would crush is, in its turn, and in order to keep that bulwark firm,
obliged to crush them himself. In the War Zone (it is not too much to
say it) the civilian is an incubus, an impediment, a most infernal
nuisance. He gets so confoundedly in the way. And he is swept out of
it as ruthlessly as a hospital matron sweeps dust out of her wards.
That he is confused and bewildered, thoroughly _désorienté_, that he
may be sick or feeble, that his wife may be about to give birth to a
child, that his house is in ashes and that he, once prosperous, is now
a destitute pauper, that his children trail pitifully in the dust,
footsore, frightened, terror-haunted to the very verge of insanity,
all these things from the military point of view matter nothing. And
it must be so. They dare not matter. If they did, energies devoted to
keeping that human bulwark in the trenches fit and sound might be
diverted into other channels, and the effort to ameliorate and save
become the hand of destruction, ruining all in order to save a little.

Think of one village. There are thousands, and any one will do. Anxiety
and apprehension have lain over it for days, but the inhabitants go
about their work, eat, sleep, "carry on" much as usual. Night comes. It
is pitch dark. The world is swathed in a murky shroud. At two o'clock
loud hammering is heard, the gendarmes are going from house to house
beating upon the doors. "Get up, get up; in half an hour you must be
gone." Dazed with sleep, riven with fear, grief slowly closing her icy
fingers upon their hearts, they stumble from their beds and throw on a
few clothes. They look round the rooms filled with things nearly every
one of which has a history, things of no intrinsic value, but endeared
to them by long association, and it may be by memory of days when Love
and Youth went hand in hand to the Gates of Romance and they opened
wide at their touch. Things, too, that no money can buy: old _armoires_
wonderfully carved, old china, old pottery, handed down from father to
son, from mother to child for generations.

What would one choose in such a moment as that?

"You can take nothing but what you can carry." Nothing. The children
clutch at hand and skirt. How can Marie and Germaine and Jean and
Robert walk fifteen or twenty kilomètres to safety?

The prudent snatch at their family papers, thrust a little food into a
bag and go out into the night. Others gather up useless rubbish because
it lies under their hand. The gendarmes are growing impatient. They
round up their human flock as a dog rounds up his sheep. Shells are
beginning to fall here and there. Some one has been killed--a child.
Then a woman. There are cries, a long moan of pain. But the refugees
must hurry on.

"Vîte, vîte, depêchez-vous." They stumble down the roads, going they
know not whither, following the lanes, the woods, even the fields, for
the main road must be kept clear for the army. Hunger, thirst, the
torment of an August day must be endured, exhaustion must be combated.
Death hovers over them. He stoops and touches now one, now another
with his wings, and quietly they slip down upon the parched and baking
earth, for they are old and weary, and rest is sweet after the long
burden of the day.

But even this is not all. One may believe that at first, engulfed by
the instinct of self-preservation, tossed by the whirlwind from one
emotion to another and into the lowest pit of physical pain, the mind
is too confused, too stunned to realise the full significance of all
that is happening.

But once in their new quarters, with the long days stretching out ahead
and the dark night behind, in wretchedness, in bitter poverty, ah! then
Thoughts, Memories, Regrets and Infinite Lonelinesses throng upon them,
and little by little realisation comes and at last they KNOW.

Know that the broken threads of life can never be taken up again in the
old good way. "On était si heureux là-bas."[5] How often I have heard
that said! "On vivait tout doucement. On n'était pas riche, ma fois,
but _we had enough_!" Poignant words those, in Refugee-land.

 [5] We were so happy!

Added to the haunting dread of the future there is always the
ghost-filled dream of the past. Women who have spoken with steady
composure of the loss of thousands of francs, of the ruin of
businesses built up through years of patient industry and hard work,
of farms--rich, productive, well-stocked--- laid waste and bare,
have broken down and sobbed pitifully when speaking of some trivial
intrinsically-valueless possession. How our hearts twine themselves
round these ridiculous little things, what colour, what meaning they
lend to life!

To lose them, ah, yes! that is bad enough; but to know that hands
stained with blood will snatch at them and turn them over, and that
eyes still bestial with lust will appraise their value.... That is
where the sharpest sting lies. The man or woman whose house is effaced
by a shell is happy indeed compared with those who have seen the
Germans come, who have watched the pillage and the looting and the
sacrilege of all they hold most dear.

But the _émigré's_ cup must hold even greater sorrows and anxieties
than these. "C'est un vrai Calvaire que nous souffrons, Mademoiselle."
So they will tell you, and it is heartbreakingly true. Crucified upon
the iron cross of German ambition, they pray daily that the cup may be
taken from them, but the mocking god of War still holds it to their
lips. They must drink it even to the very dregs.

For not always could all the members of a family get away together.
It has been the fate of many to remain behind, to become prisoners in
the shadowed land behind the trenches, at the mercy of a merciless
foe. Between them and their relatives in uninvaded France no direct
communication can be established. An impenetrable shutter is drawn
down between. Only at rare intervals news can come, and that is when
a soldier son or father or other near relative becomes a prisoner of
war in Germany. A French woman in the _pays envahi_ may write to a
prisoner in Germany, and he to her. He may also write to his friends in
the free world beyond. And so it sometimes happens that news trickles
through, but very rarely. The risk is tremendous, detection heavily
punished. Only oblique reference can be indulged in, and when one has
heard nothing for months, perhaps years, how meagre and unsatisfying
that must be. Do we in England realise what it means? I know I did not
before I met Madame Lassanne, and only very inadequately as I sat in
the kitchen of the Ferme du Popey and listened to her story.


II

She was the daughter of one farmer, the wife of another and successful
one, the richest in their district, so people said. When the war broke
out her husband was mobilised, she with her three children, a girl of
four, a boy of two and a month-old baby, remaining at the farm with
her father and mother. A few days, perhaps a week or two passed, then
danger threatened. Harnessing their horses to the big farm wagons, she
and the old man packed them with _literie_, _duvets_, furniture, food,
clothes, everything they could find room for, and prepared to leave the
village. But the gendarmes forbade it. I suppose the road was needed
for military purposes: heavy farm wagons might delay the passage of the
troops. Throughout the whole of one day they waited. Still the barrier
was not withdrawn. Shells began to rain on the village; first one
house, then another caught fire.

"You may go." The order came at last. The children, with their
grandmother and an aunt of the Lassannes, were placed in the wagons and
the little procession set out; but they were not destined to go far
that day. At the next village the barrier fell again. Believing that
the Germans were following close behind, they held hasty consultation,
as the result of which the old women decided to walk on with the
children, leaving M. Breda and Madame to follow as soon as the way was
clear.

So the horses and wagons were put into a stable, and Madame and her
father sat down to wait. The slow hours ticked away, a shell screamed
overhead, another, then another. Soon they were falling in torrents
on the little street. Houses began to crash down, the stable caught
fire, the four horses and the wagons were burned to a cinder. Then the
house in which the refugees had sheltered was struck. They escaped by a
miracle, crawling on hands and knees. So terrific was the bombardment
they dared not go down the road. A barrage of shell-fire played over
it. With some dozens of others as miserable as themselves they lay all
night in a furrow in a beet-field, Madame trembling in her father's
arms, for shells were falling incessantly on the field and all around
them. At dawn the hurricane ceased, and they crept away. The road was
open now, they were on foot. They walked fast, then faster, hoping
every minute to overtake the children. The old women surely could not
have gone very far. But mile after mile was conquered and no news
of them could be found. No sentries had seen them, no gendarme had
watched them go by. They asked every one they met on the road, at first
hopefully, then, as fear grew, with clutching hands and fevered eyes.
But the answer was always the same. They had not passed that way.
Chance, Fate, call it what you will, brought Madame and the old man
to Bar-le-Duc, and there, soon after her arrival, she heard that her
husband had been wounded in the earliest of the fighting and was now
a prisoner in Germany. A prisoner and ill. Day after day dragged by.
She found employment on the farm near the town, she made inquiries,
exhausted every channel of information, but no trace of the children
could be found.

And her husband, writing from Germany, demanded news of them! He did
not know that the farm was demolished, and that she was beggared. He
asked for parcels, for comforts. She sent them to him, by what supreme
effort of self-denial only she and the God she prayed to know. And she
wrote him little notes, gay, brave little notes. She told him all about
the children--how fat and how strong they were.... And Marie--ah, Marie
was growing tall--so tall.... And Roger was able to talk now....

God only knows what it cost her to write those letters; God only knows
with what agony she forced her tears back to their source lest one,
falling on the paper, betray her. She went about her work white-faced
and worn, hungering for the news that never came, and autumn faded
into winter and spring was born and blossomed into summer, and then,
and then only, did the shutter lift and a tiny ray of light come
through.

Confused and frightened, the old women, burdened with the children, had
lost their way in the darkness and wandered back into the German lines.
They were now prisoners in Carignan (near the frontier); they managed
to smuggle a letter through. The baby was dead. There was no milk to be
had, so it died of starvation. Madame Breda had been offered freedom.
If she wished she would be sent back into France through Switzerland.
But the children's names were not on the list of those selected for
repatriation.

"Could they go with her?"

"No."

"Eh bien, j'y reste."

The shutter snapped down again, the veil enclosed them, and Madame
resigned herself to the long, weary waiting.

Was it any wonder that such stories as this--and there were all too
many of them--filled us with hatred of everything German? In those
first months of personal contact with war we were always at white heat,
consumed with rage and indignation, and for my own part, at least,
desirous of nothing less than the extermination of kultur and every
exponent of it. As I walked home through the quiet afternoon, dark
thoughts filled my mind. What a monster one can be! What longing for
vengeance even the mildest of us can cherish! I thought of another
village not far from that of Madame Lassanne's home, from which three
hundred people had been driven into virtual slavery. Nearly all were
old--over sixty, some few were boys and girls of fourteen, sixteen,
eighteen, and of the old, eighty died in the first six months.

It was a long time now since any news had come through, and those who
waited had almost given up hope of seeing their loved ones again.

And we were impotent. With an effort I shook off despondency. I would
go and see Madame Leblan and rest a while in her garden. She was lonely
and loved a little visit. It would amuse her to hear about the Curé and
our visit to N.; any gossip would serve to drive away her memories. "Ça
change les idées," she would say. "It is not well to sit and brood."

Neither is it well to walk and brood; yet here was I, foolish virgin
that I was, brooding like a moulting hen. Taking myself firmly in hand,
I turned down the rue de L'Étoile and opened the garden gate.


III

Madame was only a poor peasant woman, but she had once been very
beautiful, and the old face was handsome still. The aquiline features
are well-modelled, the large blue eyes clear and steady, flashing now
with a fine pride, now with delicious humour; the head is well poised,
she is essentially dignified; there are times when she has the air of a
queen.

Her husband is tall and thin, with a drooping moustache, and in
accordance with prevailing custom he keeps his hat on in the house, and
he is seventy-two and she is seventy, and when I saw her first she was
in her quaint little garden sitting under the shade of a mirabelle tree
with an ancient dame to whom only Rembrandt could have done justice.
Like Madame, she was short and broad, and without being handsome, she
was just bonny. She had jolly little eyes and a chubby, dimpled face,
and wore a spotlessly white and befrilled cap with strings that tied
under her chin and made you rather want to kiss her. She was just a
little _coquette_ in her appearance, and she must have been born in
prehistoric times, for she was "la tante de Madame Leblan." She didn't
live in the little cottage, she had a room just across the way, and
there I would see her sitting in the sun on a fine day as I turned in
at the garden gate.

Of course we went down before her, and gave her of our best, for
she was an irresistible old thing, who could coax you into cyclonic
generosity. She would come trotting over to see us with a small basket
on her arm, and having waited till the crowd that besieged our morning
hours had melted away, would come upstairs looking so innocent and
so picturesque our hearts were as water before her. And then out of
the basket would come apples, or pears, or walnuts, with a honeyed
phrase, the little vivid eyes searching our own. Refusal was out of the
question, we were in the toils, knowing that for Madame we were the sun
in the heavens, the down on the wings of the Angel of Life; knowing,
too, that surely as she turned away would come the tactful hint, the
murmured need. And though periodically we swore that she should have no
more, she rarely went empty away.

At last, because of the equality of things, we hardened our hearts.
She returned with walnuts. Our thanks being meticulously verbal, she
retreated thoughtfully, to reappear a few days later with three pears
and a remote _malaise_ that successfully defied diagnosis. We knew she
had her eyes on medical comforts, eggs, _bons_ for meat, etc., so the
_malaise_ deceived no one, while a cold gift of aspirin tabloids nearly
destroyed her faith in humanity.

And all the time she was "rich"! No wonder she was _coquette_, she
could afford to be, for she had small _rentes_, and money laid by, and
had saved all her papers and her bank-book. So Madame Leblan, who had
left home with exactly twenty-seven francs in her pocket, told me, but
not, loyally enough, until she was sure that our gifts to La Tante had
ceased.

She herself never asked for anything, save once, and that was for a
_paletot_ for Monsieur. In spite of his three-score-years-and-twelve,
in spite of the severe attack of internal hæmorrhage from which he was
recovering, he went to work every morning at six, returning at six
at night. Hard manual toil it was, too, much too hard for a man of
his years. How Madame fretted over him! How she scraped and saved to
buy him little comforts. And he did need that coat badly. I think I
shall never forget her face when she saw the warm Cardigan jacket the
Society provided for him. Her eyes filled with tears, she flushed like
a girl, she looked radiantly beautiful and then, with the most gracious
diffidence in the world, "You will permit me?" she said, and drew my
face down to hers.

There was something about that old creature that made me feel ashamed.
What one did was so pitifully little, but she made it seem like a gift
of star-flowers bathed in the dews of heaven. It was her unconquerable
sense of humour that attracted me to her, I suppose. French wit playing
over the fields of life with an indomitable spirit that would not be
broken.

When she was a girl her father used to say to her, "You sing too much,
some day you will cry," but though the tears did come she never lost
her gaiety of heart. When she married she was very poor; Monsieur's
father had been foolish, loving wine, and they had to make their own
way in the world, but she held her head high and did her best for her
boys. It should never be said of them that they were educated at the
cow's tail (à la queue des bêtes). Her pride came to her aid, and
perhaps much of her instinctive good breeding too. _Le fils_ in the
Garde Republicaine in Paris has much of his mother's manner.

Leaving the cottage was a terrible wrench. They packed a few
odds-and-ends into a bundle, and she tidied everything, saying farewell
to the little treasures they had collected in forty-odd years. Silently
they locked the doors behind them, her eyes dry, the catastrophe too
big for tears. But in the garden Monsieur paused. "Les bêtes," he said;
"we mustn't leave them to starve. Open the cow-house door and let them
go free." As she turned to obey him her feet faltered, the world swam
in a mist of tears. She thrust the key blindly into his hands and
stumbled like a drunken woman down the road.

Then for six weeks they trudged together. They slept in fields, in the
woods, under carts, in barns, they were drenched with rain and with
dew, they were often hungry and thirsty and cold. But they struggled
on until they came to Vavincourt, and there the owner of the little
house in Bar met them, and seeing what manner of people they were, lent
it to them rent free on condition that they looked after the garden.
How grateful Madame was, but how intensely she longed for home! How
wistfully she turned her eyes northward across the hills! How often the
question, When? trembled half spoken on her lips! What mattered it that
home was a ruin and she penniless? Just to be in the valley again, to
see the sun gleaming on the river.

To help the time to pass less sluggishly by we had invented a little
tale, a tale of which I was the unworthy heroine, and the hero an
unknown millionaire. The millionaire with gold _jusqu'au plafond_, who
was obligingly waiting for me beyond the sea, and who would come some
day and lay his heart, his hand, and his gold-mine at my feet. And
then a _petit palais_ would spring miraculously from that much-loved
rubbish-heap at Véry, and one day as Madame and _le patron_ stood by
the door, they would see a great aeroplane skimming through the sky, it
would swoop and settle, and from it would leap the millionaire and his
blushing bride. And Madame would lead them in and give them wine and
coffee and a salad and _saucissons de Lorraine_, which are better and
more delicious than any other _saucissons_ in all the wide world.

Only a foolish little story, but when one is old and one's heart is
weary it is good to be foolish at times, good to spin the sun-kissed
webs, good to leave the dark chamber of despair and stray with timid
feet over the gleaming meadows of hope.

Her greeting rarely varied. "Je vous croyais morte," a reproach for the
supposed infrequency of my visits. She cried it now, though scarcely a
week had sped since I saw her last, and then with mysterious winks and
nods she hobbled into the house, to return a few minutes later with two
or three bunches of grapes and some fine pears. "Pendant la guerre
tous les scellés sont levés,"[6] she laughed, but I knew she had not
robbed her benefactor. The fruit she kept _en cachette_ for us, she and
M. Leblan deprived themselves of, nor could any remonstrance on our
part stay her.

 [6] During the war all seals are broken.

"Where is your basket?" She had ordered me to bring one on my next
visit, yet here was I, most perplexingly without. But the fruit must be
carried home. She had no basket, no paper. _Méchante_ that I was, to
come without that basket. Had not she, Madame, commanded it? In vain I
refused the gift. She was inexorable.

"Ah, I have it." She seized me with delighted hands, and it was then
that the uniform earned my bitterest reproach, for into its pockets,
whose size suggested that they were originally intended to hold the
guano and rabbits of agricultural relief, went the pears. One might as
well argue with a megatherium as with Madame when her mind was made
up. So I had to stand in the kitchen growing bulkier and bulkier, with
knobs and hillocks and boulders and tussocks sprouting all over me,
feeling like a fatted calf, and longing for kindly darkness to swallow
me up. Subsequently I slunk home by unfrequented ways, every yard of
which seemed to be adorned with a gendarme taking notes. I am convinced
that I escaped arrest and decapitation only by a miracle, and that
every dog in the town bayed at my heels.

My agonies, needless to say, met with scant sympathy from my
companions. They accused me of flirting with M. Leblan, even while they
dug greedy teeth into the pears, an accusation it was difficult to
refute when he called at the house one evening and, hearing that I was
out, refused to leave a message, but turned up later and demanded an
interview with such an air of mystery Madame came to call me fluttering
so we thought the President of the Republic must be at the door.

Still more difficult was it to refute when Monsieur had gone away,
leaving me transfixed on the stairs with two huge bottles of mirabelle
plums in my hands. I never dared to tell the three villains who made
life such a happy thing on the Boulevard de la Rochelle that Monsieur
was wont to say that if only he were twenty years younger he ... he....
Can you guess what he?...

Madame did. She knew, and used to tease me about it. She is one of the
few people in the world who know that I still can blush! Do you? No?
Ah, but then you have never seen Monsieur! You have never heard him say
what he ... what he ... well, you know what he....

There were no dark thoughts in my mind as I sped circuitously
homewards, skimming down a by-street every time a gendarme loomed in
view; I was thinking of Madame and of the twinkle in her eyes when she
talked of _le patron_, and of the long day spent at N., the story of
which had helped to drive away for the moment the most persistent of
her _idées noires_.



CHAPTER IX

IN WHICH WE BECOME EMISSARIES OF LE BON DIEU


Now the coming of M. le Curé was in this wise.

We were making up _paquets_ in the Clothes-room, we were grimy,
dishevelled and hot, we were in no mood for visitors, we were pining
for tea, and yet Madame insinuated her head round the door and
announced, "M. le Curé de N." She would have announced the Czar of
Russia, or President Wilson, or General Joffre, or the dustman in
exactly the same emotionless tones, and with as little consideration
for our feelings.

"You go."

"No. You."

The tug of war ended, as such tugs generally do, in our going together,
smoothing hair that flew on end, flinging overalls into a corner
and praying hastily that the Curé might be an unobservant man. He
was. There was only one vision in the world for him; the air, the
atmosphere, life itself were but mirrors reflecting it; but conceding
that it was a large one, we found some excuse for his egoism. Large?
Massive. He was some inches over six feet in height and his soutane
described a wide arc in advance. His hands were thick and cushiony, you
felt yours sink into their pneumatic fastnesses as you greeted him; he
had a huge head, very little hair, a long heavy jowl, small eyes, and
he breathed fatly, thickly. His voice was slightly smothered. Many
years ago he had retired from his ministry, living at N. because he
owned property there, but the war, which called all priests of military
age and fitness to the colours, drew him from his life of ease and put
the two villages, N. and R., under his spiritual charge. His gestures
were large and commanding, he exuded benevolence--the benevolence of a
despot. There would be no divided authority in the Curé's kingdom. It
was not a matter for surprise to hear that he was not on speaking terms
with his mayor, it would have been a matter for surprise if, had he
been Pope, he had ever relinquished his temporal power.

He wasted little time on the usual preliminaries, plunging directly
into his subject. At N. and R. there were refugees, _pauvres victimes
de la guerre dans la grande misère_, sleeping on straw _comme des
bêtes_, cold, half-clothed, in need of every necessary. He had heard
of us, of our generosity (he called us "mes bonnes dames," with just a
hint of condescension in his manner), he wished us to visit his people.
Wished? He commanded. He implied, by an art I had not thought him
capable of, that we were yearning to visit them, that our days would be
storm-tossed, our nights sleepless unless we brought them relief. From
mendicant, he transformed himself into benefactor, bestowing on us an
opportunity which--it is due to our reputation to suggest--we craved.

It was well that our inclination jumped with his desire, for he was
quite capable of picking us up, one under each arm, and marching off
with us to N., had we refused. But how refuse in face of such splendid
faith in our goodwill, and under a shower of compliments that set us
blushing to the tips of our toes? We punctuated the flood or shower
with murmurs of, "C'est un plaisir," or, "On ne demande pas mieux." We
felt like lumbering elephants as we tried to turn aside his flattery,
but he merely waved a benediction and swept on. We would go to N. next
Wednesday; he, Monsieur, would meet us, and conduct us personally over
the village. He would tell us who were the good Catholics--not that he
wished to deprive the careless or sinful of our help; still, it would
be as well for us to know. We read "preferential treatment" on this
sign-post, and carefully reserved our opinion. When the visits were
over, we would go to his house and eat an _œuf à la coque_ with him,
and some _confitures_. His modest establishment ... a gesture indicated
an ascetic régime, the bare necessities of life, but if we would
accept?...

"With pleasure, if Monsieur was sure it would not inconvenience him."

"Mes bonnes dames," he replied grandly, "rien ne me dérange dans le
service du bon Dieu."[7]

 [7] Nothing inconveniences me when it is in the service of God.

Of course it rained on Wednesday--rained quietly, hopelessly,
despairingly, but persistently. Nevertheless we set out, chiefly--so
great was Monsieur's faith in us--because it did not seem possible
to remain at home. We put on the oilskins which, with the uniform,
we had been led to understand would save our lives in France, but
the sou'westers we did not wear. There are limits. And when later
on we saw a worker clad in both, we did not know which to admire
most, the courage which enabled her to wear them, or the utter lack
of imagination which prevented her from realising their devastating
effect.

So we left the sou'westers on the pegs from which they were never
taken, and arrived at N. in black shiny oilskins that stood out stiffly
like boards from our figures, and were almost as comfortable to wear.
We were splashed with mud, and we dripped audibly on the Curé's
beautiful parquet floor.

We wished to begin at once? _Bon. Allons._ He, the Curé, had prepared
a list, the name of every refugee was inscribed on it. Oh, yes, he
understood _parfaitement_, that to make _paquets_ we must know the age
and sex of every individual. All was prepared. We would see how perfect
the arrangements were.

No doubt from his point of view they were perfect, but from ours
chaotic. We climbed the village street, he like a frigate in full sail,
his wide cloak gathered about him, leading the way, we like two rather
disreputable punts towing along behind. You know what happened at the
first house--that illuminating episode of the _seau hygiénique_? Worse,
oh, much worse was to befall us later! He discussed the possibilities
of family crockery with a bluntness that was conducive to apoplexy, he
left nothing to the imagination; perhaps he thought the Britishers had
no imagination.

In fact, his methods were sheerly cyclonic. Never had we visited in
such a whirl. Carried along in his wake, we were tossed like small
boats upon a wind-tormented sea; we had no time to make notes, we had
no time to ask questions, and when we had finished we had scarcely one
clear idea in our minds as to the state, social position, profession,
income, or need of those we had visited. Not a personal note (we who
made copious personal notes), not a detail (we who had a passion
for detail), only a blurred memory of general misery, or rooms
behind cow-houses and stables, through the filthy, manure-soddened
straw of which we had to pick our way, or rooms without glass in the
window-frames, of dark, noisome holes where human beings herded, of
sacks of straw laid on the floor, of rags for bedding, of human misery
in its acutest, most wretched form. The Curé talked of evil landlords
who exploited these unfortunate people, "Mais Dieu les punira," he
added unctuously. We wondered if the prophecy brought consolation to
the refugees. And above all the welter of swiftly-changing impressions,
I can see even now, in a dark room lighted only by or through the
chimney-shaft, a room filled with smoke that choked and blinded us,
a small child, perhaps eighteen, perhaps twenty-four months old, who
doubled her fists into her eyes and laid her head on her grandmother's
shoulder, refusing to look up.

"She has been like that since the bombardment," her mother explained.

When the priest raised the little head the child wailed, a long, thin,
almost inhuman wail; when her grandmother put her down she lay on the
floor, her eyes crushed against her fists.

"She will not look at the light, nor open her eyes."

"How long has she been like this, Madame?"

"Since we left home. The village was shelled; it frightened her."

"We will ask our _infirmière_ to look after her," we promised, knowing
that the nurse in question had successfully treated a boy in Sermaize
who had been unable to open his eyes since the bombardment of the town.
And some weeks later we heard that the baby was better.

Into every house the Curé made his way, much as Justice Shallow might
have done. In every house he reeled off a set piece about the good
English who had come to succour France in her distress, about our
devotion, our courage, our wealth, our generosity. He asked every woman
what she needed. "Trois couvertures? Bon. Mettons trois. Un seau? Bon,
mettons un seau. Sheets? Put down two pairs."

We put down everything except what we most desired to know, the names
and ages of the half-clothed children--that he gave us no opportunity
of doing, was there not always the list?--we saw the Society being
steered rapidly towards bankruptcy, but, mesmerised by his twinkling
eyes, we promised all he required. Then he, who had been sitting on the
only chair, would rise up, and having told the pleased but bewildered
lady of the house that we were emissaries of Le bon Dieu, would stalk
out, leaving us to wonder, as we followed him, whether Madame ever
asked why the good God chose such strange-looking messengers. The
oilskins were possessed of no celestial grace--I subsequently gave mine
to a refugee.

Luncheon! The good Curé stopped dead in his tracks. The _œuf à la
coque_ was calling. Back we trailed, still dripping, still muddy, even
more earthly and less celestial than before, back to the house that had
such a delicious old garden, and where fat rabbits grew daily fatter
in their cages. The table was spread in a panelled room hung with
exquisite old potteries. Seated solemnly, the Curé trying to conceal
himself behind a vast napkin, the end of which he tucked under his
collar, to us entered the _bonne_ carrying six boiled eggs in a bowl.
Being sufficiently hungry, we each ate two; they were more or less
liquid, so Monsieur tilted up the egg-shell and drank his down with
gulping noises, while we laboured unsatisfyingly with a spoon. Then
came the _bonne_ with a dish of grilled rabbit (it was delicious); we
ate rabbit. Then came a large dish of beans; we ate beans. We were
sending out wireless messages by this, but no relief ship appeared on
the horizon. The priest groaned over the smallness of our appetites,
and shovelling large masses of beans into his mouth, explained that
it is sinful to drink too much because the effects are demoralising,
depraving, bringing ruin on others, but one may eat as much or more
than one wants or likes, as a superfluity of food does no harm. A
little physical discomfort, perhaps, but that passes. Injury to the
spirit? None.

Then he commented on the strides Roman Catholicism was making in
England, the most influential people were being converted--we thought
he must be apologising to himself for his country's alliance with a
people of heretical creed, but later on I realised that this idea is
very prevalent among the priests of the district. An old man at Behonne
congratulated me on the same good tendency. It had not occurred to
him that I was of another faith, so there was an awkward moment when
I--as in honour bound--admitted the error, but he glided over it with
characteristic politeness, and our interview ended as amicably as it
began.

At N. we volunteered the information that I was Irish, which shed balm
on the Curé's perturbed soul. Though not of the right way of thinking,
one of us came of a nation that was. That, at least, was something, and
a compliment to the evangelising Irish saints of mediæval times--had
not one of them settled in the district, teaching the people and
bringing the Gospel-light into paths shadowed by infidelity?--steered
us round what might have been an awkward corner.

The beans finished, there came a cheese of the country, rich and creamy
and good. We ate cheese, but we no longer looked at each other. The
cheese finished, in came a massive cherry tart; we ate tart, then we
drank coffee, and then Monsieur, rising from the table, opened the
door, stood in the hall and said ---- No. I think I had better not tell
you what he said, nor where he waved us to. If ever you go to N. and
have a meal with him you will find out for yourself. During lunch one
of us admired his really very beautiful plates. "You shall have one,"
he said, and taking two from the wall, offered us our choice. Of course
we refused, and the relief we read in his eye as he hung them up again
in no way diminished our appreciation of his action.

Then we paid more visits, and yet more, and more, and finally, the rain
having cleared, we walked home again in a balmy evening down the wide
road under the communal fruit trees, where the woods which clothed the
hill-side were to look like wonderful tapestry later on, when autumn
had woven her mantle of russet and red, and dull dark crimson, and
sober green, and browns of rich, light-haunted shades and flung it over
the trees. Walked home soberly, as befitted those who had dined with a
gourmand; walked home expectantly, for was not the list, the careful,
exhaustive, all-comprehensive list of the Curé to follow on the morrow?

It was and it did, and with it came the following letter which we
perused with infinite delight. How, oh, how could he say that the miry,
inarticulate bipeds who trotted dog-like at his heels did their work
_avec élicatesse_? How, oh, how aver that we did it under his "modest"
guidance?

Yet he said it. Read and believe.

  "Mesdames, et excellentes dames,

 "J'ai l'honneur de vous offrir l'hommage de mes sentiments les plus
 reconnaissantes et les plus devoués pour tout le bien que vous faites
 autour de vous avec tant de délicatesse et de générosité. Je prie Dieu
 de vous benir, vous et tous les membres de vos chères families, de
 donner la victoire aux vaillantes armées de l'Angleterre, de Russie,
 et de France et n'y avons nous pas le droit car vous et nous nous
 representons bien la civilisation, l'honneur et la vraie religion. Je
 vous envoie ci-joint la liste (bien mal faite) des pauvres émigrés
 que vous avez visités sous ma modeste direction. Il en est qui manque
 de linge et pour les vieux qui out besoin de vêtements on pourra leur
 donner l'étoffe, ils se changeraient de la confection ce qui je crois
 serait meilleur.

 "Veuillez me croire votre tout devoué."

The list was by no means all comprehensive, it was not careful, it was
indeed _bien mal faite_, and it exhausted nothing but our patience. Our
own demented notes were the best we had to work upon, and so it befell
that one day some soldiers drove a vast wagon to our door and in it
we piled, not the neat _paquets_ of our dreams, but blankets, sheets,
men's clothes, women's clothes, children's clothes, _seaux_ and other
needful things and sent them off to N., where they were dumped in a
room, and where an hour or two later, under conditions that would have
appalled the stoutest, we fitted garments on some three hundred people,
while M. le Curé smiled wide approval and presented every _émigré_
child in the village with a cap, a bonnet or a hat filched from our
scanty store.

And then because the sun was shining and several batteries of
_soixante-quinze_ were _en repos_ in the village, we went off to
inspect them. The guns were well hidden from questing Taubes under
orchard trees, the men were washing at the fountain, or eating a
savoury stew round the camp kitchen, or flirting desperately with the
women. They showed us how to load and how to train a gun, and then the
priest, whom they evidently liked, for he had a kindly "Hé, mon brave,
ça va bien?" or an affectionate fat-finger-tap on the shoulder for
them all, bore us off to visit an artillery officer who had been doing
wonderful things with a _crapouillot_. We found him in a beautiful
garden in which, on a small patch of grass, squatted the _crapouillot_,
a torpedo fired from a frame fixed in the ground. Alluding to some
special bomb under discussion, the lieutenant said, "It isn't much, but
this--oh, this has killed a lot of Boches."

He helped to perfect it, so he knew. We left him gazing affectionately
at it, a fine specimen of French manhood, tall and slender, but
strongly made, with clear humorous eyes, and breeding in every line of
him.

I often wonder whether he and his _crapouillot_ are still killing "lots
of Boches," and whether he ever exclaims as did a woman who saw them
breaking over the frontier in 1914, "What a people! They are like ants:
the more of them you kill, the more there are."

We would have liked to linger in the sunny flower-encrusted garden, but
R. awaited us. There with consummate skill we evaded M. le Curé, and
did our visiting under no guidance but our own. A quaint little village
is R., deep enbosomed in swelling uplands, with woods all about it,
but, like N., stricken by neglect and poverty. The inhabitants of both
seemed rough and somewhat degraded, a much lower type than the majority
of our refugees, but perhaps they were only poor and discouraged. The
war has set so many strange seals upon us, we may no longer judge by
the old standards, no longer draw conclusions with the light, careless
assumption of infallibility of old.



CHAPTER X

PRIESTS AND PEOPLE


I

Having tasted the delights of a mild vagabondage, we now turned our
thoughts to other villages, modestly supposing that by degrees we could
"do" the Meuse. (Had we but known it the whole of France lay before us,
refugees everywhere, and every refugee in need). Having requisitioned a
motor-car we planned tours, but first we investigated Behonne on foot.
It lies on the hill above the aviation ground, so let no man ask why it
came first in our affections.

I suppose it would be impolitic to say how many sheds there were, or
how many aeroplanes we used to see squatting like great winged beetles
on the ground, and then rising so lightly, so delicately, spiralling
higher and higher, and then darting away with swift wing far into the
shimmering blue.

Although Behonne is at the top of a hill, it has managed to tuck
itself into a hollow--so many French villages have this burrowing
tendency--and all you can see of it as you approach is the top of the
church spire rising like a funny candle-extinguisher above the ridge
of the hill. The village itself is dull and uninteresting, but the
surrounding country beautiful beyond measure, especially when the corn
is ripening in the sun; the refugees for the most part not necessitous,
having driven from home in their farm carts, magnificently throned on
feather beds and _duvets_, with other household goods.

Two houses, however, made a lasting impression. In one, in a room in
the centre of which was a well (boarded over of course), lived a woman,
her two children, and an old man in no way related to them. The walls
were rotting, in many places straw had been stuffed in to fill fissures
and holes, the ceiling was broken, enterprising chunks of it making
occasional excursions to the floor below, and one window was "glazed"
with paper. The doors, through which rats gnawed an occasional way,
were ill-fitting; in bad weather the place was a funnel through which
the wind whistled and tore. The woman had one blanket and some old
clothes with which to cover herself and her children at night, the old
man had a strip of carpet given him by the Curé, a kindly old man of
peasant stock and very narrow means. The room was exceedingly dirty,
the children looked neglected, the woman was ill.

In the other house was a cheery individual whose husband had been
a cripple since childhood. She told us she had four children, the
youngest being three years old. He came running in from the street,
a great fat lusty thing, demanding to be fed, and we learned to our
astonishment that he was not yet weaned. Eugenically interesting, this
habit of nursing children up to the age of two or even three years of
age is not uncommon, and it throws a strong light upon the psychology
of French Motherhood.

A few miles beyond Behonne lies Vavincourt, sacred to the omelette of
immortal memory--but oh, what a day it was that saw us there! A fierce
wind that seemed to tear all the clothes from our bodies blew from the
north, there were some inches of snow on the ground, light powdery
snow fell incessantly. We were frozen as we drove out, we froze still
harder as we made our way from house to house, slipping and sliding on
the treacherous snow, absorbing moisture through our boots, staggering
like wooden-legged icicles into rooms whose temperature sensibly
declined with our advent. A day of supreme physical discomfort; a day
that would surely have been our last had not the Mayor's wife overtaken
us in the street and swept us into her kitchen, there to revive like
flies in sunshine, under the mellifluous influence of hot coffee and
omelette, _confitures_ and cheese.

It was in Vavincourt that we first saw women embroidering silk gowns
for the Paris shops. The panels in pale pink were stretched on a frame
(_métier_), at which they worked one on either side; a common method,
as we discovered during the winter. In Bar-le-Duc we had come upon a
few women who worked without a _métier_, but as time went on more and
more _brodeuses_ of every description came upon our books, and so an
industry was started which lived at first more or less by taking in its
own washing, but later blossomed out into more ambitious ways. Orders
came to us from England, and a consignment of dainty things was sent to
America, but with what result I cannot say, as I left Bar before its
fate was decided.

The Verdun and Nancy districts appear to be the chief centres of the
_broderie_ industry, the latter being so famous that girls are sent
there to be apprenticed to the trade, which, however, is wretchedly
paid, the rate being four sous, or rather less than twopence, an
hour, the women finding their own cotton. We gave six sous and cotton
free--gilded luxury in the workers' eyes, though sweating in ours, and
trusted to their honesty in the matter of time, a trust which was
amply repaid, as with one or two exceptions they were scrupulous to
a degree. The most amusing delinquent was a voluble lady from Resson
who glibly replied, "Oh, at least sixty hours, Mademoiselle," to every
question.

"What, sixty hours to do THAT?" we would remonstrate, looking at a
small tray-cloth with a _motif_ in each corner.

"Well, à peu près, one does not count exactly; but it was long, long,
vous savez." A steely eye searched ours, read incredulity, wavered;
"Six francs fifty? Eh, mon Dieu, on acceptera bien cela." And off she
would go, to come back in faith with the same outrageous story on the
next market day. Perhaps there is excuse for a debt of six francs
swelling to eighteen when one walks ten miles to collect it.

Quite a hundred women inscribed their names on our _broderie_
wages-sheet, the war having dislocated their connection with their
old markets. The trade itself was languishing, the workers scattered
and unable to get into touch with former employers, for Paris shops
do not deal direct as a rule, they work through _entrepreneuses_, or
middlewomen, who now being themselves refugees were unable to carry on
their old trade. It was almost pitiable to see how the women snatched
at an opportunity of working, only a very few, and these chiefly
_métier_ workers, being still in receipt of orders from Paris. Some
whom we found difficulty in employing were only _festonneuses_, earning
at the best miserable pay and doing coarse, rough work, quite unfit for
our purpose--buttonholing round the necks and arms of cheap chemises,
for instance. Others were _belles brodeuses_, turning out the most
exquisitely dainty things, fairy garments or house-linen of the most
beautiful kind.

Of all ways of helping the refugees there was none better than this.
How they longed for work! The old people would come begging for
knitting or sewing. "Ça change les idées," they would say. Anything
rather than sit day after day brooding, thinking, going back over the
tragic past, looking out upon the uncertain future. Every franc earned
was a franc in the stocking, the _bas de laine_ whose contents were to
help to make a home for them once more when the war was over. And what
could be better than working at one's own trade, at the thing which
one loved and which lay in one's fingers? When the needle was busy
the mind was at rest, and despair, that devourer of endurance, slunk
abashed out of sight. For they find the time of waiting long, these
refugees. Can you wonder? Wherever we went we heard the same story; in
village or town we were asked the same question. Each stroke of good
fortune, every "push," every fresh batch of prisoners brought the sun
through the low-hanging clouds; every reverse, the forced inactivity
of winter, drew darkness once more across the sky. In the villages
the people who owned horses were fairly well off, they could earn
their four francs a day, but the others found little comfort. Work was
scarce, their neighbours often as poor as themselves. There are few, if
any, big country houses ruled by wealthy, kind-hearted despots in these
districts of France. In all our wanderings we found only one village
basking in manorial smiles, and enjoying the generosity of a "lady of
the house." The needy had to fend for themselves, and work out their
own salvation as best they might. The reception given to the Belgians
in England read to them like a fairy tale, and fostered wild ideas of
England's wealth in their minds. "All the English are rich," they would
cry; "have we not heard of les milords anglais?" They received accounts
of the poverty in our big cities with polite incredulity; if our own
people were starving or naked, why succour foreigners?

Sometimes they smiled a little pityingly. "The English gaspillent
tout." Spendthrifts. And they would nod sapient heads, murmuring things
it is not expedient to set down. It may even be indiscretion to add
that between the French and the Belgians no love is set, some racial
hatred having thrust its roots in deep.

It is in the winter that vitality and resistance-power run lowest,
especially in the villages, for though work may be found in the fields
during the summer, the long dark winter months drag heavily by.
_Brodeuses_ would walk eight miles in and eight out again in the most
inclement weather to ask for work, others would come as many weary
miles to get a hank or two of wool with which to knit socks and shawls.
Sometimes one woman would take back work for half a dozen, and always
our field of operations spread as village after village was visited and
the Society became known.

They came in their tens, they came in their hundreds, I am tempted to
swear that they came in their thousands. Madame soon ceased to announce
them, they lined the hall, they blocked the staircase, they swirled
in the Common-room. There were days when all the resources of the
establishment failed, when _broderie_ ran short and wool ran short,
when there were no more chemises or matinées waiting to be made up, and
when our hair, metaphorically speaking, lay in tufts over the house,
plucked from our heads by our distracted fingers. They came for work,
they came for clothes, they came for medicine and medical attendance,
they came for food--only the very poorest these--they came for
condensed milk for their babies, or for _farine lactée_, or for orders
for admission to the Society's hospitals at Châlons and Sermaize, or to
ask us to send their children to the _Colonies des Vacances_, or for
paper and packing to make up parcels for husbands at the Front. They
came to buy beds and pillows and bolsters at reduced prices and on the
instalment plan, paying so much per month according to their means;
they came for chairs and cupboards, or for the "trousseau," a gift--it
may be reckoned as such, as they only contributed one franc fifty
towards the entire cost--of three sheets, four pillow-cases and six
towels, each of which had to be hand-stitched or hemmed, and marked or
embroidered with the owner's name. They came to ask for white dresses
and veils--which they did not get--for candidates for confirmation,
they came for sabots and boots, and sometimes they came for the whole
lot.

"Well, Madame, ça va bien?" Thus we greeted a hardy old campaigner in
the street one day.

"Eh bien, ça va tout doucement." Then with an engaging smile, "I am
coming to see you to-morrow."

"Indeed? And what do you want now?" This looks crude, but we laboured
under no delusions where Madame Morge was concerned. It was not for the
sake of our _beaux yeux_ that she visited us.

"Eh, ma fois, un peu de tout," she replied audaciously, and we shot
at her a mendacious, "Don't you know that distributions have ceased?"
which left her calling heaven and her gods to witness that the earth
was crumbling.

Villagers who lived too far away for personal visits wrote, or their
Mayor or their priest wrote for them. We had by this time organised our
system, and knew that the person who could supply us with a complete
and detailed list was the Mayor, or his secretary the schoolmaster.

Sometimes these worthies were hard of heart, assuring us that no one
in the commune was necessitous, but we knew from experience that the
official mind is sometimes a superficial mind, judging by externals
only, so we persisted in our demand, and were invariably satisfied in
the end. Others, and they were in a large majority, met us with open
arms, cheerfully placed their time and their knowledge at our disposal,
were hospitable, helpful and kind, and careful to draw our attention to
specially deserving cases. Once when on a tour of inquiry we stumbled
into a village during the luncheon hour. A regiment was resting there,
and, as the first English who presumably had set foot in it, we
were immediately surrounded by an admiring and critical crowd, some
imaginative members of which murmured the ominous word Spy. The Mayor's
house indicated, we rapped at the door, and in response to a gruff
_Entrez_ found ourselves in a small and very crowded kitchen, where
a good _pot-au-feu_ was being discussed at a large round table. The
situation was sufficiently embarrassing, especially as the Mayor, being
deaf, heard only a few words of our introductory speech, and promptly
wished all refugees at the devil. A list? He was weary of lists. Every
one wanted lists, the Préfet wanted lists, the Ministre de l'Intérieur
wanted lists. And now we came and demanded them. Who the--well, who
were we that he should set his quill a-driving on our behalf?

"Shout 'Anglaises' at him." It was a ticklish moment. He was on the
point of throwing us out neck and crop. The advice was taken, the roar
might have been heard in Bar.

"English? You are English?"

Have you ever seen a raging lion suddenly transform itself into a nice
brown-eyed dog? We have, in that little kitchen in a remote village of
the Meuse. Our hands were grasped, the Mayor was beaming. A list? He
would give us twenty lists. English? Our hands were shaken till our
fingers nearly dropped off, and if we had eaten up all the _pot-au-feu_
Monsieur would have deemed it an honour. However, we didn't eat it.
Monsieur's family was gazing at it with hungry eyes, and even the best
of Ententes may be strained too far.

When we reached the street again the crowd had fraternised with our
chauffeur, and we drove away under a pyrotechnical display of smiles.

Another day a soldier suddenly sprang off the pavement, jumped on the
step of the motor-car, thrust some freshly-roasted chestnuts into my
hand and was gone before I could cry, "Thank you."

We met many priests in these peripatetic adventures, the stout,
practical and pompous, the autocratic, the negligent (there was one who
regretted he could tell us nothing: "I have only been fifteen months
here, so I don't yet know the people"), the old--I remember a visit
to a presbytery in the Aube, and finding there a charming, gentle,
diffident creature, a lover of books, poor, spiritual, half-detached
from this world, very close to the next. He had a fine church, pure
Gothic, a joy to the eye of the connoisseur, but no congregation. Only
a wee handful of people who met each Sunday in a side chapel, the great
unfilled vault of the church telling its own tale of changed thought
and agnostic days.

But most intimately of all we came to know the Abbé B. who lived in our
own town of Bar, because, greatly daring, we rang one evening at his
door and asked him to teach us French.

We had heard of him from Eugénie, and knew that he taught at the École
St Louis, that he was a refugee--he escaped from M. on his bicycle a
few minutes before the Germans entered it--and that his church and his
village were in ruins. But we had never seen him, and when, having rung
his bell, escape was no longer possible, an awful thought shattered us.
Suppose he were fat and greasy and dull? Could any ingenuity extract
us from the situation into which we had thrust ourselves? We felt sure
it could not, so we followed Eugénie with quaking hearts, followed her
to the garden where we found a short, dark man with a humorous mouth
and an ugly, attractive face, busily planting peas. We nodded our
satisfaction to one another, and before we left the arrangement was
made.

Our first lesson was devastating. The Abbé credited us with the
intelligence of children, telling us how to make a plural, and how
by adding "e" a masculine word can be changed into a feminine; fort,
forte; grand, grande; and so on. Then he gave us a _devoir_ (home
work), and we came away feeling like naughty children who have been put
into the corner. His parlour was stifling, and how we rejoiced when the
weather was fine, and we could hold our class in the garden. I can see
him now standing by the low wall under the arbour, his gaze turned far
away out across the hills. "It is there," he pointed, "the village. Out
there near St Mihiel."

For twenty-seven years he had ministered there, he had seen the
children he baptised grow to manhood and womanhood, and had gathered
their children, too, into the fold of Christ. He had beautified and
adorned the church--how he loved it!--year after year with tireless
energy and care, making it more and more perfect, more and more fit
for the service of the God he worshipped. And now it is a ruin blown
to fragments by the guns of friend and foe alike, and his people are
scattered, many of them dead. He came to Bar penniless, owning just the
clothes he stood up in, and he told me once that his income, including
his salary at the school and a grant from some special fund, was just
one hundred francs a month. Scarcely a pound a week.

Once hearing me say that I was not rich, he asked me the amount of my
income, adding naïvely, "I do not ask out of curiosity," and I felt
mean as I dodged the question, for an income that is "not riches" in
England looks wonderfully like wealth in a refugee's parlour in Bar.

All his dream, all his desire is to go back to M. and build his
church again. The church the central, the focussing point, then the
schoolhouse, then homes for the people, that is his plan; but he has
no money, his congregation is destitute--or nearly so--he cannot look
to the Government. Whence, then, will help come? So he would question,
filling us with intense desire to rush back to England and plead for
him and his cause in every market square in the land. He would go back
to M. now if they would allow him to, he will go back with or without
permission when the slaughter ends.

"The valley is so fertile," he would say; "watered by the Meuse, it is
one of the richest in France. Such grass, such a _prairie_. And after
the war we must cultivate, cultivate quickly; they cannot allow land
like ours to be idle, and so we shall go back at once."

"But," we said, "will you be able to cultivate? Surely heavy and
constant shell-fire makes the land unfit for the plough?"

We knew what the ground is like all along the blood-stained Front,
hundreds of miles of it fought over for four interminable years, its
soil enriched by the hallowed dead, torn and lacerated by shells,
incalculable tons of iron piercing its breast, and knew, too, that
Death lurks cunningly in many an unexploded bomb or mortar or shell,
and that prolonged and costly sanitation will be necessary before man
dare live on it again. Yes, the Abbé knew it too, but knew that a strip
of his richest land lay between two hills, the French on one, the
Germans on the other, and not a trench dug in all the length between.
No wonder hope rode gallantly in his breast, no wonder he saw his
people going quietly to their labour, and heard his church bell ringing
again its call to peaceful prayer. And then he would revert again to
the ever-present problem, the problem of ways and means.

Ah, we in England do not know how that question tortures the heart
of stricken France. Shall I tell you of it, leaving the Abbé for the
moment to look out across the hills, the reverberant thunder in his ear
and infinite longing in his loyal heart?


II

A little poem of Padraic Colum's springs to my mind as I ask myself how
to make you realise, how bring the truth home to those who have never
seen the eternal question shadow the eyes of homeless men. One verse
of it runs--

    "I am praying to God on high,
      I am praying Him night and day,
    For a little home, a home of my own,
      Out of the wind and the rain's way."

and it just sums up the refugee desire.

You--if you are a refugee--had a home once, you earned a livelihood;
but the home is laid waste and bare, your livelihood has vanished, and
in all probability your savings with it.

You buried what money you had in the cellar before you left, because
you thought you were only going away for a few weeks, and now the
Germans have found it. You know that they pour water over cellar
floors, watching carefully to see whether any percolates through. If it
does it is clear that the earth has recently been disturbed, so away
they go for shovels and dig; if it doesn't they try elsewhere. There
is the well, for instance. A carefully-made-up packet might lie safely
at the bottom for years, so what more suitable as a hiding-place?
What, indeed, says the wily Hun as he is cautiously lowered into the
darkness, there to probe and pry and fish, and if he is lucky to drag
treasure from the deeps. Or you may have hidden your all under that
white rock at the end of the garden. The rock is overturned to-day, and
a hole shows where the robber has found your gold.

A gnarled tree-trunk, a post, a cross-road, anything that might serve
as a mark lures him as sugar lures the ant; he has dug and delved, and
searched the surface of France as an intensive culturist digs over
his patch of ground. He has cut down the communal forests, the famous
cherry and walnut trees of Les Éparges have all been levelled and the
timber sent into Germany; he has ripped up floors, torn out window
frames; he falls on copper and steel and iron with shrieks of joy; he
is the locust of war, with the digestion of an ostrich; he literally
"licks the platter clean," and what he cannot gorge he destroys.

So if you are a refugee you ask yourself daily, "What shall we find
when we go back? How shall we start life afresh? Who will rebuild our
houses, restock our farms and our shops, and indemnify us for all we
have lost? France? She will have no money after the war, and Germany
will be bankrupt."

What can we, sheltered and safe in England, know of such sorrow as
this? To say we have never known invasion is to say we have never known
the real meaning of war. It may and does press hardly on us, but it
does not grind us under foot. It does not set its iron heel upon our
hearts and laugh when the red blood spurts upon the ground; it does
not take our chastity in its filthy hands and batten upon it in the
market-place; it doesn't rob us of liberty, nor of honour, nor does
it break our altars, spuming its bestialities over the sacred flame.
Our inner sanctuaries are still holy and undefiled. Those whom we have
given have gone clear-eyed and pure-hearted to the White Temple of
Sacrifice, there to lay their gift upon the outstretched hand of God:
not one has died in shame.

Whatever the war may have in store for us--and that it has much
of suffering, of hardship, of privation and bitter sorrow who can
doubt?--if it spares us the violation of our homes and of our
sanctuaries, if it leaves our frontiers unbroken, if it leaves us FREE,
then, indeed, we shall have incurred a debt which it will be difficult
to pay. A debt of gratitude which must become a debt of honour to be
paid in full measure, pressed down, and running over to those, less
fortunate than ourselves, who will turn to us in their need.

And in the longed-for days to come France will need us as she needs
us now. She will need our sympathy, our money, our very selves. She
will no longer call on us to destroy in order to save, she will call
on us to regenerate, redeem, to roll away the Stone from her House of
Death, and touching the crucified with our hand, bid them come forth,
revivified, strong and free.

Yes, there will be fine work to do in France when the war is over!
Constructive work, the building up of all that has been broken down;
work much of which she will be too exhausted to undertake herself, work
of such magnitude that generations yet unborn may not see it completed.

A new world to make! What possibilities that suggests. Rolling away
the Stone, watching the dead limbs stir, the flush of health coming
back into the grey, shrivelled faces, and light springing again into
the eyes. Seeing Joy light her lamps, and Hope break into blossom,
seeing human hearts and human souls cast off the cerecloths and come
forth into the fruitful garden. Surely we can await the end with such a
Vision Beautiful as that before us, and--who knows?--it may be that in
healing the wounds of others we shall find balm for our own.

The Return. If the French visualise it at all, do they see it as a
concrete thing, a long procession of worn, exhausted, but eager men
and women winding its way from every quarter of France, from the far
Pyrenees, from the Midi, from the snow-clad Alps, from the fertile
plains, winding, with many a pitiful gap in its ranks, back over
the thorn-strewn road? Is that their dream? Yet it may be that the
reality is only the beginning of another exile, as long, as patient, as
difficult to endure.

Hard-headed, practical, unimaginative reformers of the world's woes
sometimes blame the refugees who have remained so near the Front.

In Bar house-rent is high, living exceedingly dear. Legends such as
"_Le sucre manque_: _Pas de tabac_: no matches; no paraffin," are
constantly displayed in the shop windows, wood has more than doubled
in price, coal is simply _hors de prix_. Milk, butter and eggs are
frequently unobtainable, and generally bad; gas is an uncertain
quantity as coal is scarce, and has a diabolic knack of going out just
when you need it most. All of which things do not lend to the gaiety
of nations, still less to that of the _allocation_-supported refugee.
If troops are being moved from one part of the Front to another, the
_Petite Vitesse_ ceases from its labours and supplies are cut off from
the town. Farther south these lamentable things do not happen, but
farther south is farther from home. And there's the rub! For home is a
magnet and would draw the refugee to the actual Front itself, there to
cower in any rude shelter did common sense and _l'autorité compétente
militaire_ not intervene.

So as many as possible have stayed as near the barrier as possible.
And--this is a secret, you mustn't divulge it--these wicked, wily,
homeless ones are plotting. They are afraid that after the war the
Government will bar the road now swept by German guns; that orders
will go forth forbidding return; that railway station _guichets_ will
be barred and roads watched by lynx-eyed policemen whom no bribe can
corrupt--they will be very special policemen, you know--no tears
cajole.

And so they plan to slip back unobserved. If one is at the very door,
not more than the proverbial hop, skip and jump away--well, the magnet
is very powerful, and even Jove and Governments nod sometimes. And
just as the head drops forward and the eyes close, _hey presto_! they
will be over the border, and when the barrier closes down they will be
inside, and all the gendarmes in France will not be able to put them
out again. If they can't GO home, they will SNEAK home. They will get
there if they have to invent an entirely new mode of locomotion, even
if they have to live in cellars or shell-holes and eat grass--but there
may not be any grass. Didn't Sermaize live in cellars and exist on
nothing at all?--live in cellars and grow fond of them? There is one
old lady in a jolly little wooden house to-day, who suffers from so
acute a nostalgia for her cellar she is afraid to walk past the ruins
that cover it. If she did, she declares, the beautiful little wooden
house would know her no more. The cellar was as dark and as damp as the
inside of a whale, and it gave her a rheumatism of the devil in all
her bones, but she lived in it for three years, and in three years one
attaches oneself, _ma foi_, one forms _des liaisons_. So she sits and
sighs while the house-builders meditate on the eternal irony of things,
and their pride is as a worm that daws have pecked.

So be sure the refugees will go back just as soon as ever they can go,
as the Abbé plans to go, caring little if it is unwise, perhaps not
realising that even if Peace were declared to-morrow, many years must
pass before the earth can become fruitful again, many years must set
behind the hills of Time before new villages, new towns, new cities can
spring from the graves of the old.

Personally, I hope that some of these graves will be left just as
Germany has made them, that a few villages, an historic town or two
will be carefully guarded and preserved, partly because ruin-loving
America will pay vast sums to see them, and so help to rebuild others,
and partly because--am I a vindictive beast?--I want them to remain,
silent, inexorable witnesses of the true inwardness of the German
method and the German soul, if anything so degraded as she is can be
said to have a soul. "Lest we forget," these ghosts of towns should
haunt us for ever, stirring the memory and quickening the imagination,
a reproach to conscience, an incorruptible judge of blood-guiltiness,
which we should neither pardon nor forget till the fullest reparation
has been made, the utmost contrition has been shown. And it must be no
lip-service either. By its deeds we must know it. I want to see Germany
humbled to the very dust; I want to see Germany in sackcloth and ashes
rebuilding what she has destroyed, sending new legions into France, but
armed this time with shovel and with pick, with brick and with mortar;
I want to see those legions labouring to efface the imprints of the
old; I want to see Germany feeding them and paying them--they must
not cost France one sou; I want to see her in the white shroud of the
penitent, candle in hand, barefoot and bareheaded before the Tribunal
of the World, confessing her sins, and expiating them every one in an
agony not one whit less poignant than that which she has inflicted upon
others. Yes, let the destroyer turn builder. And until she does so let
us ostracise her, cut her out of our Book of Life. Who are we that we
should associate with the Judas who has betrayed civilisation?

A refugee rarely spoke of the Germans without prefixing the adjective
dirty--_ces sales Boches_--and the Abbé was no exception to the
rule; indeed, he was plain-spoken to bluntness on most occasions. His
criticisms of our French compositions would have withered the vanity of
a Narcissus, and proved altogether too much for one timid soul, who,
having endured a martyrdom through two lessons, stubbornly refused to
go back any more. Which was regrettable, as on closer acquaintance he
proved to be rather a lovable person, with a simplicity of soul that
was as rare as it was childlike.

Like the Curé of N., he presumed us Roman Catholic, asked us if
England were not rapidly coming into the light, and commented upon
the "conversion" of Queen Victoria shortly before her death. Though
it shook him, I think he never quite believed our denial of this
remarkable story, and have sometimes reproached myself for having
deprived him of the obvious comfort it brought him; but he took it all
in good part, and subsequently showed us that he could be broad-minded,
and tolerant as well.

"Charity knows no creed," he cried, and it was impossible to avoid
contrasting his implicit faith in our honesty, his steady confidence
that we would never use our exceptional opportunities for winning the
confidence and even the affection of the people for any illegitimate
purpose, with the deep distrust of the average Irish priest. The
hag-ridden fear of Proselytism which clouds every Irish sky dares not
show its evil face in France, nor did we ever find even a breath of
intolerance tainting our relations with priests or with people.

But then perhaps they, like the Abbé, realise that our error of faith
is a misfortune rather than a fault. Having been born that way, we were
not wholly responsible. Indeed the Abbé went so far as to assure me
that I was not responsible at all.

"Then who is, M. l'Abbé?" I questioned, reading condemnation of some
one in his eye.

"Henry the Eighth," he replied, with exquisite conviction, and I
gasped. Henry the Eighth!

"Assurement." Had he not a quarrel with his Holiness the Pope, and
being greedy for temporal power renounced Catholicism in a fit of rage,
and so flung the English people into the profundities of spiritual
darkness? We--we other Protestants--are his victims; our error of faith
is one for which we shall neither be judged nor punished, but he ... I
realised that Henry deserved all my sympathy; he is not having too good
a time of it _là bas_. Of course it was comforting to know that we were
blameless, but privately I thought it was rather unfair to poor old
Hal, who surely has enough sins of his own to expiate without having
those of an obscure bog-trotting Irishwoman foisted upon him as well.

"Yours," went on the Abbé, "is natural religion, the heritage of your
parents; ours is revealed. Some day I will explain it to you, not--this
very naïvely--with any desire to convert you, but in order to help you
to understand why truth is to be found only in the arms of the Roman
Church."

It puzzled him a little that we should be Protestant, it was so
austere, so comfortless, so cold. "La scène-froide" was the expression
he used in describing our services, "les mystères" when talking of his
own. He denounced as the grossest superstition the pathetic belief of
many an Irish peasant in the infallibility, the almost-divine power of
the priesthood, and, unlike his colleagues in that tormented land, he
is an advocate of education even on the broadest basis. "Let people
think for themselves; if you keep too tight a rein they will only
revolt."

That he detests the present form of Government goes without saying,
his condemnation being so sweeping the big pine tree in the garden
positively trembled before the winds of his rage. "Anything but this,"
he cried, "even a monarchy, même un Protestant, même le Roi Albert.
Atheists, self-seekers all, they are ruining France," and then he
repeated the oft-heard conviction that the war has been sent as a
punishment for agnosticism and unbelief.

For Prefêts and Sous-Prefêts he entertains the profoundest contempt,
even going as far as to designate one of the former, whom I heroically
refuse to name, a _gros, gras paresseux_,[8] and the Sous-Prefêts the
_âmes damnées_ of the Minister of the Interieur. How he hates the whole
breed of them! And how joyfully he would depose them every one! The
feud between Church and State has ploughed deep furrows in his soul,
and I gather that brotherly love did not continue long--supposing that
it ever existed--in M. when its waves swept the village into rival
factions. The Mayor, needless to say, was agnostic, and loyal to his
Government; the Abbé furious, but trying hard to be impartial, to
eschew politics, and serve his God. He might have succeeded had not the
spirit of mischief that lurks in his eye betrayed him and dragged him
from his precarious fence. He plunged into the controversy, but--oh, M.
l'Abbé! M. l'Abbé!--in patois and in the columns of the local Press.
Now his knowledge of patois, gathered as a boy, had been carefully
hidden under a bushel, and so the authorship of the fierce, sarcastic,
ironical letters was never known, nor did M. le Maire ever guess why
the priest's eyes twinkled so wickedly when he passed him in the street.

 [8] A big, fat, lazy thing.

They twinkled as he told the story, thoroughly enjoying his little
ruse, but grew fierce again when he talked of Freemasons. To say
that he thinks Freemasonry an incarnation of the devil is to put his
feelings mildly. They are, he declares, the enemy of all virtue,
purity and truth; criminal atheists, hotbeds of everything evil, their
"tendency" resolutely set against good. They are insidious, corrupt;
defilers of public morals and public taste.

"But, M. l'Abbé," I cried, "that is not so. In England----" I gave him
a few facts. It shook him somewhat to hear that the late King Edward,
whom he profoundly admires, was a Mason, but he recovered himself
quickly.

"Perhaps in England they may seem good, there may even be good people
among them, poor dupes who do not see below the surface. THERE all is
corruption, the goodness is only a mask worn to deceive the ignorant
and the credulous. Ah, the evil they have wrought in the world! It was
they who brought about the war (its Divine origin was for the moment
forgotten), they were undermining Europe, they would drag her down into
the pit, to filth and decay."

It was odd to hear such words from the lips of so kindly, so wise a
man, and one with so profound a knowledge of human nature. He told me
that in all his years of ministry at M. there was only one illegitimate
birth in the village--a statement which students of De Maupassant will
find it difficult to believe.

We were talking of certain moral problems intensified by the war, the
perpetually recurring "sex-question," not any more insistent perhaps
in France than elsewhere, but obtruding itself less ashamedly upon
the notice. It was the acceptance, the toleration of certain things
that puzzled me, an acceptance which I am sometimes tempted to believe
is due to some deep, wise understanding of human frailty, of the
fierceness of human passions, the weakness of human will when Love has
taken over the citadel of the heart. Or is it due to fatalism, the
conviction that it is useless to strive against what cannot be altered,
absurd to fight Nature in her unbridled moods?

The priest, needless to say, neither accepted nor condoned. He blamed
public opinion, above all he blamed the unbelief of the people, and
then he told me of M. and the purity of the life there. Only one girl
in all those years, and she, after her baby was born, led so exemplary,
so modest a life that its father subsequently married her, and together
they built up one of the happiest homes in the village. (You will
gather that the Abbé was not above entertaining at least one popular
superstition in that he insinuated that all the blame rested on the
shoulders of the woman.)

One other story he told me which flashed a white light upon his soul.
A certain atheist, one of his bitterest enemies, came to him one day
in deep distress of mind. His wife, an unbeliever like himself, was
dying, and, dying, was afraid. The man was rich, and thought he could
buy his way and hers into the Kingdom of Heaven. But the Abbé refused
his gold. "You cannot buy salvation nor ease of conscience," he said
sternly. "Keep your money; God wants your heart, and not your purse."
He attended the woman, gave her Christian burial, and asked exactly
the legal fee. Not one penny more would he take, nor could all the
atheist's prayers move him.

He told me that he would not bury a man or a woman living in what he
called _le concubinage civile_, people married by the State only and
not by Church and State. For these, he said, there could only be the
burial of a dog, for they lived in sin, knowing their error as do the
contractors of mixed marriages if they do not ask for and receive a
dispensation. The rules governing these latter appear to be much the
same as those which hold good in Ireland. No service in a Protestant
church is permitted, and the Protestant must promise that all children
born of the union shall be baptised and brought up in the Catholic
faith. There is no written contract, and the promise may, of course, be
broken, but if the Catholic is a party to it he is guilty of mortal sin.

You will see that as our classes ran their course--and circumstances
decreed that I should take the final lessons alone--we got very far
away from "s" for plural and "e" for feminine. Exercises corrected,
many an interesting half-hour we passed in the little parlour, and
many a tale of the trenches the Abbé gathered up for us, and many a
"well-founded, authentic" prophecy of the speedy termination of the
war. Ah, he was so sure he would be in his beloved M. this winter.
Did not his friend the Editor of--he mentioned a leading Paris
journal--tell him so?

But this is the war of the unforeseen. Perhaps that is why some of us
dare to believe that when the end comes it will come suddenly, swiftly,
like thunder pealing through the heavy stillness of a breathless,
sullen night.



CHAPTER XI

REPATRIÉES


I

"Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle, the children are coming!"

Christmas had come and gone in a convulsion of parties, January
had dripped monotonously into the abyss of time. The day was dank
and cheerless, rain--the imperturbable rain of France--was falling
placidly, persistently, yet through the unfathomable seas of mud that
engulf Bar-le-Duc in winter I saw Madame Lassanne running towards me. I
was miry, wet and exceedingly cross; Madame was several times mirier,
her clothes were a sodden sop, but her eyes were like a breeze-ruffled
pool that the sun has been kissing. She clutched a telegram in one
shaking hand, she waved it under my eyes, she cried out something quite
unintelligible, for a laugh and a sob caught it and smothered it as she
fled. I watched her splash through the grey liquid sea--she was running
but she did not know it. The train was not due for an hour yet.

Some days later I swam out to the farm (you don't walk in Bar in
winter unless you have webbed feet, and then you fly), and there I
found Madame Breda and the aunt whose name I have most reprehensibly
forgotten, and Roger and Marie, and yet another old lady, and Madame,
and they were all living in one small room and they all talked
together, and Roger--discerning infant--howled at my uniform, and
Marie stared at me out of great round eyes, and gradually little by
little I pieced together the story.

When shells were falling on the village Madame Breda, as you know,
set off with the children, but turning north instead of south, walked
right into the line of battle. A handful of French (it was in August
1914) were flying before vastly superior German forces. They rode down
the road at breakneck speed. "Sauve qui peut!" The cry shattered the
air. One man's horse was shot under him. He scrambled to his feet,
terror in his eyes, for the Germans were close behind. A comrade reined
up, in a moment he had swung himself behind him and the mad race for
life swept on, the men shouting to Madame Breda to fly. "Sauvez-vous,
sauvez-vous." What she read in their eyes she never forgot. But flight
for her and the children was out of the question, they were literally
too frightened to move. A few minutes later they were toiling back
along the road to a little village called, I think, Canel, with German
soldiers mounting guard over them. There they were kept for six days,
during three of which no bread was obtainable, and they nearly died of
hunger. Then they were taken to Nantillois, their old home, where they
remained for two months. Food was scarce, the soldiers brutal. "There
are no potatoes," they cried to the Commandant; "what shall we eat?"
"Il y a des betteraves,"[9] he replied coarsely as he turned away.

 [9] Literally, "There is beet," but the peasants sometimes used the
 word indifferently for any kind of root-vegetable such as turnips, etc.

These French peasants must come of a sturdy stock, they are so
difficult to kill. They existed somehow--only the baby died.

And then they were marched off again, this time to Carignan, once a
town of perhaps 2,500 inhabitants, of whom some 1,100 remained. Here
they were not treated badly, the garrison consisting of oldish men,
reservists, with little stomach for the atrocities that followed in the
wake of the first army. At Nantillois some ugly things appear to have
happened, but at Carignan the Mayor managed to _tenir tête_, behaving
like a hero at first and later like a shrewd and far-seeing man.

Some day, I hope a volume will be written in honour of these French
mayors. Sermaize, left defenceless, was an exception. For the most
part they stuck to their posts, shielding and protecting them in
every way, raising indemnities from the very stones, placating irate
commandants, encouraging the stricken, and all too often dying like
gallant gentlemen when the interests of Kultur demanded that the blood
of innocent victims should smoke upon its altars.

Madame Breda told me that the Mayor of Nantillois bought up all the
flour he could find in the mills and shops during the first week of
war, hiding it so successfully the Germans never found it. I confess I
received this information with frank incredulity, for knowing something
of the ways of the gentle Hun, I am profoundly convinced that if you
set him in the middle of the Desert of Sahara, telling him that a grain
of gold had been hidden there, he would nose round till he found it.
And it wouldn't take him long, for his scent is keen. But Madame was
positive. French wit was more than a match for German cunning, and the
flour was distributed by a man whose life would not have been worth
five minutes' purchase if his "crime" had been found out.

In spite of the flour, however, and in spite of the washing that
brought Madame in a small weekly wage, "ce n'était pas gai, vous
savez." One doesn't feel hilarious on a ration of half-a-pound of
meat per week, half-a-pound of black bread per day, and potatoes and
vegetables doled out by an irascible Commandant.

I wonder what we would feel like if we were obliged to go to a German
officer and beg from him our food? We would starve first? But what
if two small hungry children clutched at our skirts and wailed for
bread? When the American Relief came in and the people were able to buy
various necessaries, including bacon at one franc sixty a pound, things
were a little better. To those who were too poor to buy, that gem of a
Mayor gave _bons_ (free orders).

And so the months went by. Then one day soldiers tramped about
selecting two people from one family, three from another, separating
mother from daughter, sister from sister, but happily this time
including the whole Breda family on their list.

"You are to go away."

"Away? Ah, God, where?"

"Oh, to Germany, and then to Morocco."

The poor wretches, believing them, were filled with infinite grief and
dismay. They were crowded into wagons and driven to Longuyon, herded
there like cattle for sixteen days, and finally taken through Germany
into Switzerland and thence into France. In Germany women wearing Red
Cross badges gave them food, treating them well; at the Swiss frontier
they were rigorously searched, a man who had one hundred and fifty
francs in German gold being given paper money instead, and losing, if
Madame Breda was correctly informed, thirty-six francs on the exchange.

At Annemasse there is a _Bureau des Réfugiés_ so splendidly organised
that _repatriés_ can be put into immediate touch with their relatives,
no mean feat when you think of the dismemberment of Northern France.

So behold Madame Breda joyfully telegraphing to Madame Lassanne, and
the latter waiting at the station with tears raining down her face, and
limbs trembling so much they refused to support her!

Poor soul! The end of her calvary was not yet. Roger did not know
her. And his nerves had been so much affected by what he, baby though
he was, had gone through that for weeks he hid his face in his
grandmother's arms and screamed when his mother tried to kiss him.
Screamed, too, at sudden noises, at the approach of any stranger, or at
sight of a brightly-lighted room. No wonder he howled at the uniform.

And old Madame Breda, staunch, loyal thing that she was, had been too
sorely tried. The long strain, the months of haunting anxiety and dread
had eaten away her strength, and soon after coming to Bar she sank
quietly to rest.

She talked to me of Carignan once or twice, saying it was a vast
training-camp for German recruits, mere boys (_des vrais gosses_), few
over seventeen years of age.

Once a French aviator, hovering over the town, was obliged to descend
owing to some engine trouble. He was caught, tried as a spy and
condemned to death. Asking for a French priest to hear his last
confession, he was told it could not be permitted. A German ministered
to him instead (what a refinement of cruelty!), and remaining with
him to the end, declared afterwards that he died "comme un héros, un
Chrétien, et un brave."

Another aviator, similarly caught, was also shot, though both, by every
rule of the game, should have been treated as prisoners of war.

"Ah, Mademoiselle, c'est un vrai calvaire qu'on souffre là bas," cried
Madame Breda, tears standing thick in her eyes; and thinking of other
_repatriées_ whom I had met and whose stories burned in the memory
I knew that she spoke only the truth. For _là-bas_ is prison. It is
home robbed of all its sacredness, its beauty, its joy, its privacy;
it is life without freedom, and under the shadow of a great fear.
Shall I tell you of those other _repatriées_? I promised to spare you
atrocities, but there is a martyrdom which should call forth all our
sympathy and all our indignation, and they, poor souls, have endured it.


II

Madame Ballay is a young, slight, dark-eyed woman, wife of a railway
employee, into whose room I stumbled accidentally one day when looking
for some one else, an "accident" which happened so frequently in Bar
we took it as a matter of course. No matter how unceremonious our
entry, our reception was invariably the same, and almost invariably
had the same ending--that of a new name inscribed upon our books, a
fresh recipient gratefully acknowledging much-needed help. Almost
invariably, but not quite. Once at least the ending was not routine. A
dark landing, several doors. I knock tentatively at one, a voice shouts
_Entrez_, and I fling open the door to see--well, to see a blue uniform
lying on the floor and a large individual rubbing himself vigorously
with a towel. "Pardon, Madame!" he exclaimed, pausing in his towelling.
He was not in the least nonplussed, but for my part, not having come
to France to study the nude, I fled--fled precipitately and nearly
fatally, for the stairs were as dark as the landing, and my eyes were
still filled with the wonder of the vision. And though many months have
gone by, I am still at a loss to know why he told me to come in!

But nothing will ever teach me discretion, and so I still knock at
wrong doors, though not always with such disastrous results, and often
with excellent ones, as it has enabled us to help people who would
have been too shy or too proud to knock at _our_ door and ask to be
inscribed upon our books.

When the war broke out the Ballays, whose home was down Belmont way,
were living in Longuyon, where Monsieur had been sent some two years
before. They had very few friends, so when the mobilisation order
came, when from every church steeple rang out the clear, vibrant,
emotion-laden call to arms, Madame was left alone and unprotected
with her baby girl. There was no time to get away. The Germans surged
over the frontier with incredible swiftness, and almost before
the inhabitants knew that war had begun were in the streets. Then
realisation came with awful rapidity, for Hell broke loose in the town.
Shots rang out, wild screams of terror, oaths, shoutings, the rush of
frightened feet, of heavy, brutal pursuit. Women's sobs throbbed upon
the air, the wailing of children rose shrill and high; drunken ribald
song, hammering upon doors, orders sharply given! Madame cowering in
her kitchen saw ... heard.... She gathered her child into her arms.
Where could they fly for safety? The door was broken open, a German,
drunk, maddened, rushed in and seized her. Struggling, she screamed
for help, and her screams attracted the attention of some men in a
room below. They dashed up, and the soldier, alarmed, perhaps ashamed,
slunk away. Snatching up the child, the unfortunate mother fled to
the woods. There, with many other women and children, she wandered
for two days and two nights. They had no food, nothing but one tin
of condensed milk, which they managed to open and with which they
coloured the water they gave the children. Starving, exhausted, unable
to make her way down through France, she was compelled to return to
the town, three-quarters of which, including the richer residential
portions, had been wantonly fired. The few people she had known were
gone, her own house destroyed. She wandered about the streets for five
days and nights, penniless and starving, existing on scraps picked up
in the gutter, sleeping in doorways, on the steps of the church. Then
she stumbled upon a Belmont woman living in a street that had escaped
destruction. The woman was kind to her, taking her in and giving her
lodging, but unable to give her food, as she had not enough for herself.

Madame was nearly desperate when some German soldiers asked her to do
their washing, paying her a few sous, with which she was able to buy
food for herself and the child. But she was often hungry, there was
never enough for two. The men were reservists, oldish and quiet, doing
no harm and living decently. It was the first armies that were guilty
of atrocities, and in Longuyon their score runs high. They behaved
like madmen. Ninety civilians were wantonly shot in the streets, among
them being some women and children. A woman, Madame said, took refuge
in a cellar with several children--five, I think, in all; a soldier
rushed in with levelled rifle. She flung herself in front of the little
ones, but with an oath he fired, flung her body on one side and then
killed the children. Soldiers leaning from a window shot a man as he
walked down the street. They caught some civilians, told one he was
innocent, another that he had fired on them, shot some, allowed others
to go free; they quarrelled among themselves, they shot one another.
Women, as a rule, they did not shoot. But the women paid--paid the
heaviest price that can be demanded of them; nor did the presence of
her children save one mother from shame. I have heard of these soldiers
clambering to the roofs and crawling like evil beasts from skylight to
skylight, peering down into dark attics and roof-rooms, searching for
the shuddering victims who found no way of escape. And then, their rage
and fury spent, they swept on, crying, "Paris kaput, À Paris, Calais,
Londres. London kaput. In a fortnight" ... and the reservists marching
in took their places.

For seven months Madame Ballay was unable to leave the town. She knew
nothing of what was happening in France, heard no news of her husband,
did not know whether he was dead or alive.

"But I was well off," she said, "because of the washing. There were
women--oh, rich women, Mademoiselle, bien élevées--who slowly starved
in the streets, homeless, houseless, living on scraps, on offal and
refuse. Sometimes we spared them a little, but we had never enough for
ourselves."

Seven months jealously guarding the two-year old baby from harm and
then repatriation, a long, weary journey into Germany, a night in a
fortress, then by slow stages into Switzerland and over the frontier to
France.

What a home-coming it might have been! But the baby had sickened;
underfed and improperly nourished, it grew rapidly worse, it had
no strength with which to fight, and M. Ballay, hurrying down from
Bar-le-Duc in response to his wife's telegram (she discovered his
whereabouts through the _Bureau des Réfugiés_), arrived just two hours
after the last sod had been laid upon its tiny grave.

"She was my only comfort during all those months," the poor creature
said, tears raining down her face, "and now I have lost her." When she
had recovered her self-control I told her I knew of people who refused
to believe stories of atrocities, and would certainly refuse to believe
hers.

"It is quite true," she said simply, "I SAW it," and then she added
that the reservists sometimes gave food to the starving women who were
reduced to beg for bread. "When they had it they would give soup to
the children, but often they had none to spare, and the women suffered
terribly."

Think of it, in all the rigour of a northern winter. Think of this for
delicately nurtured women. Madame shivered as she spoke of it, and it
was easy to tell what had painted the dark shadows under her eyes and
the weary lines--lines that should not have been there for many a long
year yet--round her mouth.


III

For us the whole system--if, indeed, there is any system--of
repatriation was involved in mystery. Convoys were sent back at erratic
intervals, chosen at haphazard, young and old, strong and weak, just
anyhow as if in blind obedience to a whim. No method appeared to govern
procedure, convoys being sometimes sent off just before an offensive,
sometimes during weeks of comparative calm.

Probably the key to the mystery lay in the military situation; we
noticed, for instance, that many were sent back just before the
offensive at Verdun. Food problems, too, may have exerted an influence,
as every _repatriée_ assured us that Germany was starving. In the
winter of 1915-1916 so many of these unfortunate people crossed the
frontier, the Society decided to equip a Sanatorium for them in the
Haute-Savoie, near Annemasse. Many were tubercular, others threatened
with consumption, but no sooner was the Sanatorium ready than the
Germans, as might be expected, stopped the exodus, and it was not until
the following winter or autumn that they began to come in numbers
again. Of these, a doctor who worked among them for many weeks gave
me a pathetic account. Their plight, she said, was pitiable. They
wept unrestrainedly at finding themselves on French soil again;
even the strongest had lost her nerve. Shaken, trembling in every
limb, starting at every sound, they had all the appearance of people
suffering from severe mental shock; many were so confused as to be
almost unintelligible, others had lost power of decision, clearness of
thought, directness of action. The old were like children. There were
women who sat day after day, plunged in profound silence from which
nothing could rouse them. Others chattered, chattered unceasingly
all day long, babbling to any one who would listen, utterly unable
to control themselves. Some were thin to emaciation, others, on the
contrary, were rosy and plump. Of food they never had enough. That
was the complaint of them all. The American supplies kept them from
starvation. "One would have died of hunger only for that," they said,
but the Germans would not allow free distribution. What they got they
had to pay for, but in some Communes the Mayors were able to arrange
that penniless folk should pay after the war, _i. e._ the Commune lent
the money or paid on condition that it would be refunded later.

Coffee made chiefly from acorns, black bread, half-a-pound of meat per
week (a supply which sometimes failed), these Germany provided--that is
to say, allowed to be sold, and it is but just to add that though every
woman declared that the Boches themselves went hungry, those I spoke to
added that they never tampered with the American supplies, though one
or two mentioned that inferior black flour was sometimes substituted
for white of a better quality. Paraffin was rarely obtainable, and fuel
scarce.

Martial law, of course, prevails. House doors must never be locked,
windows must be left unbarred, there are fixed hours for going to
the fields, fixed hours after which one must be indoors at night. Any
soldier or officer may walk into any house at any hour he chooses. "You
never know when the butt-end of a rifle will burst your door open and
a soldier walk in." A man passing down the street and looking in at
a window sees a woman with her children sitting down to their midday
meal. It is frugal enough, but it smells good.

He realises that he is hungry, he stalks in and helps himself to what
he wants. If they go without, what matter? Falsehoods of every kind are
freely circulated. France has been defeated; England has betrayed her;
the English have seized Calais; the English have been driven into the
sea; London has fallen. With the utmost duplicity every effort is made
to undermine faith in the Alliance, to persuade people that England is
a traitor to their cause, hoodwinking them in order to gain her own
ends.

A peasant told one of our workers that she, too, had been a prisoner,
and though hungry, was not otherwise ill-treated. One day when she and
the other women went to get their soup the Germans, as they ladled
it out, said, "There is dessert for you to-day" (the dessert being
repatriation). "Yes, you are going back to France; but there is no
bread there, so we don't know how you will live. You must go through
Switzerland, where there is no food either. The best thing for you to
do is to throw yourselves into Lake Constance."

It is by such apish tricks as these that the lot of the unhappy people
is made almost intolerable.

No letters, no newspapers, no news, only a few guarded lines at rare
intervals from a prisoner in Germany--is it any wonder that the
strongest nerves give way, and that hysterical women creep over the
frontier to France? They are alone, they are cold and hungry, and oh,
how desperately they are afraid! They dare not chat together in the
street, a soldier soon stops all THAT, and at any moment some pitiful
unintentional offence may send them under escort into Germany.

A woman owns a foal, chance offers her an opportunity of selling it;
she does so, and is sentenced to imprisonment in Germany for a year.
She has sinned against an unknown or imperfectly understood law. She
has no counsel to defend her; her trial, if she is honoured with one,
is the hollowest mockery.

There is living in the rue St Mihiel in Bar-le-Duc, or there was in the
spring of 1917, a woman who spent six months in a German prison. Her
offence? A very natural one. She had heard nothing of her husband for
two years; then one day a neighbour told her she had reason to believe
that he was a prisoner in Germany. A hint to that effect had come in a
letter. If Madame wrote to a soldier in such and such a prison he might
be able to give her news of him.

The letter was written, despatched, and opened by the German censor.
Now it is a crime to try and elicit information about a prisoner even
if he happens to be your husband, and even if you have heard nothing
of him for two long years. Madame was separated from her children and
speedily found herself in a German prison--one, too, which was not
reserved for French or Belgian women, but was the common prison of a
large town. Here she was classed with the "drunks and disorderlies,"
the riff-raff, women of no character, and classed, too, with Belgian
nuns and gentlewomen, many of them of the highest rank, whose offence
was not that of writing letters, but of shielding, or being accused of
shielding, Belgian soldiers from the Germans who were hunting them down
like rats.

Compelled to wear prison clothes, to eat the miserable prison fare,
work and associate with women of the worst character, many of them
had been there for years, and some were serving life-sentences.
Representations had been made on their behalf, but for a long time in
vain. Then as a great concession they were given permission to wear
their own clothes and exercise in a yard apart, but the concession was
a grudging one, and when one of the nuns dared to ask for more food she
was promptly transferred back again to the main building.

When the release of prisoners is being discussed round the Peace Table,
it is to be hoped that the needs of these women will not be forgotten.


IV

It happened to be my fortune to visit within a fortnight two women,
natives of Conflans-Jarny, both _repatriées_ and neither aware that
the other was in the town. Indeed, I think they were unacquainted.
Yet each told me identically the same story. One was the wife of a
railway employee, the other of rather better position and a woman of
much refinement of mind. Both came to Bar early in 1917, and both were
profoundly moved as they told their tale.

"We did not know the Germans were coming," they said. "People thought
they would pass over on the other side of the hill." And so, in spite
of heavy anxiety, Conflans went about its usual affairs one brilliant
August day. There were only a few troops in the town--even the military
authorities do not seem to have suspected danger; but the sun had not
travelled far across the cloudless sky when down from the hill a woman,
half distraught, half dead with fear came flying.

"The Germans!" she gasped, and looking up Conflans saw a wide tongue
of flame leaping upwards--the woman's farmhouse burning--and wave upon
wave of grey-coated men surging like a wind-driven sea down every road,
down the hill-side. The soldiers seized their rifles, their hasty
preparations were soon made, they poured volley after volley into the
oncoming mass, they fought till every cartridge was expended and their
comrades lay thick on the ground. Then the Germans, who outnumbered
them ten, twenty, fifty to one, clubbed their rifles and the massacre
began. There was no quarter given that day. "They beat them to death,
Mademoiselle, and we--ah, God! we their wives, their sisters, their
mothers looked on and saw it done." Conflans lay defenceless under the
pitiless sun. Some twenty-seven civilians, including the priest, were
promptly butchered in the streets, and one young mother, whose baby,
torn from her arms, was tossed upon a bayonet, was compelled to dig a
hole in her garden, compelled to put the little lacerated body in a
box, compelled to bury it and fill in the grave. Other things happened,
too, of which neither woman cared to speak.

And so Conflans-Jarny passed into German hands.

As time wore on Russian prisoners were encamped there. They worked in
the fields, in the mines and in the hospitals.

"Ah, les pauvres gens! Figurez-vous, Mademoiselle, in the winter when
snow was on the ground, when there was a wind--oh, but a wind of ice!
they used to march past our street clad only in their cotton suits.
Some had not even a shirt. They were dying of cold, but they were so
strong they could not die. They were blue and pinched. They shook as if
they had an ague. Sometimes, but not often, we were able to give them
a little hot coffee; they were so grateful, they tried to thank us....
(Tears were pouring down Madame Cholley's face as she spoke.) I worked
in the hospital because I had no money with which to buy food--they
gave me two sous an hour--and I used to see _les pauvres Russes_
grubbing in the dust-bins and manure heaps looking for scraps; they
would gnaw filth, rotten vegetable stumps, offal, tearing it with their
teeth like dogs. Once as they marched I saw one step into a field to
pick up a carrot that lay on the ground. The guard shot him dead. And
those that worked in the mines--ah, God only knows what they suffered.
They lived underground, one did not know, but strange stories reached
us. So many disappeared, they say they were killed down there and
buried in the mine."

Then silence fell on the little room, silence broken only by the sound
of Madame's quiet weeping.

Presently she told me that the allowance of food was one pound of
coffee a month, coffee made chiefly from acorns, four tins of condensed
milk at nineteen sous a tin, for three people, and one pound of fat per
head per month. Haricot beans were not rationed, and bread she must
have had, too, but I omitted to make a note of the amount. There was no
paraffin, so in the winter she tried to make candles out of thread and
oil, but the latter was dear and scarce. Meat "had not been seen in the
commune for a year."

"Oh yes, the Germans are starving."

This was the text from which every _repatrié_ tried to draw comfort,
and it may be inferred that there was shortage in the villages. Once
I even heard of shortage in a hospital, my informant being a young
man, manager of a big branch store in the Northern Meuse, who had been
married just three months before war was declared. He was wounded in
August 1914 and taken to Germany, where one leg was amputated, the
other, also badly injured, being operated on at least twice. Yet in
December 1916 it was not healed. He was well treated on the whole, he
told me, but his food was wretched. Coffee and bread in the morning,
thin soup and vegetables at midday, coffee and bread at night.

"When we complained the orderlies said we got exactly the same food as
they did," and he, too, added the unfailing, "Germany is starving."

A pathetic little picture he and his wife made in their shabby room,
she a young, pretty, capable thing who nursed him assiduously, he
helpless on his _chaise-longue_ with yet another operation hanging
over him. The wound was suppurating, it was feared some shrapnel still
remained in the leg. Pension? He had none, not even the _allocation_.
He had applied, of course, but was told he must wait till after the
war. He had not even got the _Medaille Militaire_ or the _Croix de
Guerre_, though he said it was customary in France to give either one
or the other to mutilated and blinded men.

There must be many sad home-comings for these _repatriés_. So many get
back to find that those they loved have been killed or have died while
they were away, so many return to find Death wrapping his wings closely
about the makeshift home that awaits them.

"They sent me to Troyes because my husband was working on the railway
there, but for a whole day I could get no news of him. Then they said
he was at Châlons in the hospital. I hurried there--he died two hours
after my arrival in my arms."

How often one hears such stories. And yet one day the world may hear a
still more tragic one, the day when the curtain of silence and darkness
that has fallen over the kidnapped thousands of Lille and Belgium is
lifted, and we know the truth of them at last.



CHAPTER XII

STORM-WRACK FROM VERDUN


I

"The French are evacuating some villages near Verdun, and I hear there
are a number of refugees at the Marché Couvert to-night," one of the
coterie remarked as she came in one evening from her rounds. It seemed
a little odd that villages should be evacuated by the _French_ just
then, but we had long since ceased to be surprised at anything. In the
War Zone everything is possible and the unexpected is the probable, so
we piled on waterproofs and goloshes and woollies, for it was a cold,
wet night, and set forth in all our panoply of ugliness for the Covered
Market.

The streets were as dark as the pit, only a pale cold gleam showing
where the river lay. The sky was heavily overcast, a keen wind cut
down from the north. The pavement on the quay was broken and rough,
we splashed into pools, we jolted into crevasses, we bent our heads
to the whistling storm, we reached the market at last. The wide gates
were open, and the vast floor, with its rows of empty stalls, loomed
like a vault before us. The heavy, sickly odour of stale vegetables,
of sausage and of meat, of unaired space where humanity throngs on
several days a week clutched at us as we went in. We were to become
very familiar with it in the weeks that followed--weeks during which
it daily grew heavier, sicklier, more nauseating, more horrible.

On the left of the market as you enter from the quay there is a broad
wooden staircase which leads to a still broader wooden gallery that
runs right round the building. At the top we turned to the right. The
gallery was dimly lighted, dark figures huddled on it here and there;
we crossed the lower end and found ourselves in a wide space, really a
large unenclosed room which had been hastily improvised as a kitchen. A
short counter divided it into two very unequal portions, in the smaller
being some old _armoires_, two large steamers or boilers, a table piled
with plates, dishes and small and handleless bowls, used instead of
cups. Another littered with glasses, and in the corner a big barrel of
wine.

Two or three women were probing the contents of the boilers; men
rushed excitedly about, one was chopping bread, another filling jugs
with wine, a _garde-champêtre_ with a hoarse voice was shouting
unintelligible orders, a gendarme or two hung about getting in
everybody's way, and in the outer space seethed a mob of men, women
and children in every condition of dishevelment, mud, misery and
distress. Five or six long tables with benches of the light garden-seat
variety crossed this space. Seated as tightly as they could be squeezed
together were more refugees devouring a steaming soup. Everything wore
an air of confusion; the light was bad, one paraffin lamp swaying
dimly over the scene. We saw a door, guarded by two officials,
_garde-champêtres_, or something of the kind; we passed through, and
there we saw a sight which I am convinced no one of us will ever
forget.

Picture an enormous room, like a barrack dormitory. There are
windows--some five or six--on each side. Half-way down and opposite
one another there are two stoves in which good fires are burning. The
glow from the open doors falls on the gloom and throws into relief the
stooped figures, broken with fatigue, that cluster dejectedly round
them. A lamp throws fitful shadows. The air is brown. Perhaps you think
this an absurd thing to say, but it was so. It hung like a pale brown
veil over the room, and as weeks went by the colour deepened, and in
breathing it one had the sensation of drawing something solid into
one's lungs. It smelt, too, with an indescribable smell that became
intensified every day, until at last a time came when it required a
definite effort to penetrate it. It seemed to hurl you back from the
doorway; you began to think it must be sentient. It was certainly
stifling, poisonous, fœtid, and as I write I seem to feel it in my
nostrils again, seem to feel the same nausea that seized us when we
breathed it then. Over all the floor-space there is straw, thick,
tossed-up straw, through which, running past the stoves, are two narrow
lanes, one down either side. And on the straw lie human beings, not
many as yet, only those who have supped, or who, waiting for the meal,
have thrown themselves down in the last stages of physical and mental
exhaustion. Babies wail, women are sobbing, the _gardes-champêtres_
shout in rough voices. Bales, bundles, hand-grips, baskets lie on the
straw; there an old woman is lying wretchedly, her head on a canvas
bag; here two boys are sprawling across one another in heavy, uncouth,
abandoned attitudes.

We go about among the people talking to them, but they are dazed
and weary. Did we learn that night that the great attack upon Verdun
had begun, or did we only know of it some days later? So packed with
incident were those first days I cannot remember, but it seems to
me now that knowledge came later, and that we came home that night
wondering, questioning, our hearts filled with pity for those we had
left homeless upon that awful straw.

We came again into the outer room. More refugees were arriving, little
groups of bewildered creatures, muddy, travel-stained, dog-weary, yet
wonderfully patient and resigned. There are no sanitary arrangements of
any kind in the building, there is not a basin, nor a towel, nor a cake
of soap of which the refugees can make use.

The next evening we go again, supposing that the evacuation must be
complete, that this river of human misery will cease to flow through
the town, but little by little we realise that it is only beginning.

Days lengthen into weeks, and still the refugees come through. We know
now that Verdun is in danger, that the Germans have advanced twelve
kilomètres; we watch breathlessly for news, the town is listening,
intent, anxious, and every day the crowds at the market grow denser.
We spend much of our time there now, we have brought over basins, and
soap and towels; we have put a table in the inner room, so that those
who will may refresh themselves and wash. The rooms are packed. There
must be at least three hundred or four hundred people, and still more
drift in. Some have been in open cattle trucks for thirty-six hours
under rain and snow, for the north wind has become keener and the rain
has hardened into fine sleety snow; it is bitterly cold, the roads and
streets are awash with mud, women's skirts are soddened to the knee,
men are splashed shoulder high. A number of people have fallen ill
_en route_, others, seriously ill, have been compelled to leave their
beds and struggle as best they might with the healthy in their rush
to safety. We hear that the civil hospital is full, that babies have
been born on the journey down--been born and have died and were buried
by the way. Despair rides on many a shoulder, fear still darkens many
eyes. Some have escaped from a storm of shell-fire, many have had to
walk long distances, for the railway lines have been cut. Verdun is
isolated--Nixieville is the nearest point to which a train may go--and
all have left their homes unguarded, some being already blown to atoms,
others momently threatened with a like fate.

In spite of all our anxiety as we made our way to the market that
second night, laden with basins and jugs, _seaux hygiéniques_, and
various other comforts, we could not help laughing. We must have
cut funny figures staggering along in the darkness with our uncouth
burdens. Happily it WAS dark, and then not happily, as some one trips
over an unseen obstacle and is only saved from an ignominious sprawl in
the mire by wild evolutions shattering to the nerve. At the market we
cast what might be called our "natural feelings" on one side and bored
our way into the throng, our strange utensils and luggage desperately
exposed to view. _Que voulez-vous? C'est la guerre!_ The phrase covers
many vicissitudes, but it did not cover the shyest of our coterie
when, having deposited her burden on the gallery for a moment in order
to help a poor woman, she heard a crash and a round French oath,
and turning, beheld a certain official doing a weird cake-walk over
things that were never intended to be trodden upon by man. It was the
same shy member whose indignation at the lack of proper accommodation
bore all her native timidity away and enabled her to persuade the
same official to curtain off a small corner at the far end of the
gallery and furnish it as a toilet-room for the women, a corner which
to our eternal amusement was ever afterwards known as "le petit coin
des dames anglaises." However, the _petit coin_ was not in existence
for two or three days, and while it was in process of manufacture we
were more than once moved to violence of language, though we realised
that physical fatigue may reach a point at which, if conditions be
unfavourable, no veneer of civilisation can save some individuals from
a lapse into primitive ways.

In the inner room the crowd was dense as we struggled in with our
apparatus for washing. There was something essentially sordid in the
scene. The straw looked dirty, the people were muddier, more wretched.
Many were weeping, and very many lying in unrestful contorted attitudes
upon the ground. In such a crowd no one dare leave her luggage
unguarded, and so it was either gripped tightly to the body, even in
sleep, or else was utilised as a pillow. And no one of those who came
in by train or _camion_ was allowed to bring more than he or she could
carry.

All the misery, all the suffering, all the heart-break of war seemed
concentrated there, and then quite suddenly out of ugliness and squalor
came beauty. A tall woman with resigned, beautiful face detached
herself from the throng, a naked baby wrapped in a towel in her arms.
As unconcernedly, as unselfconsciously as if she were at home in her
own kitchen she came to the table, filled a basin with warm water, and
sitting down, bathed the lusty crowing thing that kicked, and chewed
its fists, gurgling with delight.

It was the second time she had been evacuated, she told us. She had
seven children, her husband was a farmer and well-to-do. Their home
destroyed, they had escaped in August 1914, taking refuge in Verdun,
where they had remained, gathering a little furniture together again,
trying to make a home once more. She neither wept nor complained. I
think she was long past both. Fate had taken its will of her, she could
but bow her head, impotent in the storm. Her children, in spite of
their experiences, looked neat and clean, they were nicely spoken and
refined in manner. Soon the dusky shadows of the room swallowed her up
and the human whirlpool swirled round us once more, from it emerging
Monsieur B., the "certain official," and his wife who merely came to
look round, who made no offer to help, and who must not be confounded
with THE Madame B. who was the special providence of our lives.

What Monsieur B. thought when he found us more or less in possession
I cannot say, but this I know--that he, in common with every one
with whom our work brought us into official contact, showed himself
sympathetic, helpful, forbearing and kind. He fell in with suggestions
that must have seemed to him quixotic to a degree; he never insinuated,
as he might have done, that our activities bordered upon interference,
nor did he ask us how English officials would have received French
women if the situation had been reversed! At first, thinking, no doubt,
that the evacuation was only an affair of two or three days, none of
the charitable women of the town thought it necessary to visit the
Market, so all the care of the unfortunates was left in the hands of
some half-dozen men; but later on, as the stream continued to pour
through, and the congestion became more and more acute, many women,
some after a hard day's work, came in the evenings and helped to serve
the meals. Of course, as soon as they took things in hand we slid into
the background, though we found our work just as engrossing and as
imperative as ever, but how Madame B. could have walked through those
rooms that evening and have gone away without making the smallest
effort to ameliorate the conditions baffled our comprehension. However,
she added to the gaiety of nations by one remark, so we forgave her.
Seeing some respectably-dressed women who had obviously neither washed
nor combed for days, we indicated the "washing-stand."

"We are too tired to-night," they said. "In the morning...."

"One would have thought they would have found it refreshing," we
murmured to Madame B., who was essaying small talk under large
difficulties.

"Ah, yes, I cannot understand it. For me, I wash myself every night,
even if I am tired." The exquisiteness of that "_même_ si je suis
fatiguée" carried us through many a hectic hour.

And hours at the market were apt to be hectic. The serving of meals
was a delirium. In vain we begged the guards to keep the door of
communication closed, and allow only as many as there was room for
at the tables to come to the "dining-room" at a time. They admitted
the soundness of the scheme, but they made no attempt to carry it out.
Consequently, no sooner was a meal ready than ravenous people poured
out in swarms, snatched places at the tables and filled up every inch
of space between, ready to fall into a chair the moment it was vacated.
We had to elbow, push, worm or drive a way from table to table, from
individual to individual; we grew hoarse from shouting "_Attention!_"
We lost time, patience, breath and energy, and meals that might have
been served with despatch were a kind of wild scrimmage, through which
we "dribbled" with cauldrons of boiling soup or vast platters of meat,
with plates piled like the leaning Tower of Pisa--be it written in gold
upon our tombstones that the towers never fell--or with telescopic
armsful of glasses and bowls. And against us rose not only the solid
wall of expectant and famished humanity, but the incoming tide of new
arrivals, all of whom had to pass between the tables and the serving
counters in order to reach the inner room. Sometimes six hundred had to
be fed, sometimes as many as twelve hundred passed through in a day,
and--triumph of French organisation--very rarely did supplies run out,
very rarely were the big tins of "singe"[10] (which the shy member
really supposed was monkey!) brought into play. The meals themselves
were excellent. Hot soup from a good _pot-au-feu_ made from beef with
quantities of vegetables, then the beef served with its carrots and
turnips, leeks, etc., that cooked with it, then cheese or jam, and
wine. Coffee and bread in the morning, a three-course meal at midday,
another at six--no wonder Bar-le-Duc was eulogised. Never had such a
reception been dreamed of. "The food was delicious, excellent.... We
shall have grateful memories of Bar."

 [10] Singe (monkey), the soldier-slang for bully-beef.

But the awful sleeping accommodation weighed heavily on our
consciences--the brown pall of atmosphere, the fœtid SOLID smell, the
murky lamp, the fitful glow of the fires, and on the floor on the dirty
inadequate straw a dense mass of human beings. Lying in their clothes
just as they came from the station, or as they left the big _camions_
in which many were driven down, not daring even to unlace their boots,
they were wedged so tightly we thought not even a child could have
found space. Some, tossing in their sleep, had flung themselves across
neighbours too exhausted to protest; acute discomfort was suggested
in every pose; many were sitting up, propped against their bundles;
children lay anyhow, a heterogenous mass of arms and legs, or pillowed
their heads against their mothers.

"Surely," it was said as we came away, "surely the cup of human misery
has never been so full."

Yet we were told the next day that during the night a fresh convoy
had come in, and that the _garde-champêtre_, tramping up and down the
narrow lane in the straw, shouted, "Serrez-vous, serrez-vous," forcing
the wretched creatures to be in still closer proximity, to sleep in
even greater discomfort.


II

Soon the numbers grew too large for the space, and the long gallery
running down from the "dining-room" was converted into a sleeping
apartment, a screen of white calico or linen serving as an outer wall.
The upper end through which we passed in order to gain access to
the original rooms was utilised for meals, a number of tables being
brought in and ranged as closely as possible together. Even then the
congestion and confusion continued; they were, indeed, an integral part
of all Marché Couvert activities, but to our great relief the sleeping
quarters were improved. A number of palliasse cases, the gift of a
rich woman of the town, were filled with straw, and over most we were
able to pin detachable slips made from wheat bags, an immense number
of which--made from strong, but soft linen thread--had been offered
to us at a moderate price by the Chamber of Commerce acting through
the Mayor. Three of these, or four, according to the size required,
sewn cannily together made excellent sheets--greatly sought after by
the refugees--indeed, we turned them to all kinds of use as time went
on. The slips were invaluable now, as, needless to say, the palliasse
covers would have been in a disgusting condition in a week, but it
was not until the Society presented the new dormitory with twelve
iron bedsteads and some camp beds that we felt that Civilisation was
lifting up her head again. The beds were placed together at the far end
of the dormitory and were primarily intended for sick people or for
better-class women who, unable to find a lodging in the town, had to
accept the doubtful hospitality of the market. Unhappily there were
many of these, and it was heartrending to see women sitting up in the
comfortless chairs all night in the cold eating-place rather than face
the horror of the straw and the crowded common-room.

Once the beds were installed that contingency no longer arose, though
Heaven knows the new apartment was squalid and miserable enough; the
beds ranged at the lower end, the palliasses running in close-packed
rows by each wall, space enough in the middle to walk between, but no
more.

One day we found one of our camp beds at the upper end with a
fox-terrier sitting on it, and on inquiry were told that a _garde_
had taken it, evicting two poor old women as he did so. Now we had
never intended those beds for lusty officials, so we very naturally
protested, but a more than tactful hint reduced us to silence. The
_gardes_ had it in their power to make things very unpleasant for us
if they felt so inclined; it would be politic to say nothing. Having
no official standing, we said nothing. What we thought is immaterial.
Later the gendarme was the Don Juan of an incident to which only a Guy
de Maupassant could do justice. There, in all that misery, in that
makeshift apartment packed with suffering humanity, with children and
young girls, with modest and disgusted women looking on, human passions
broke through every code of decency and restraint. The scandal lasted
for three days, then the woman was sent away.

Meanwhile the news from Verdun was becoming graver. The roads were cut
to pieces, motor-cars, gun-carriages, _camions_ were burying themselves
axle-deep in the mire; one road impassable, another was made, but by
the time the first was repaired the second was a slough. The weather,
always in league with the Germans, showed no sign of taking up, wet
snow was falling heavily.... "Three more days of this and Verdun must
fall."

Soldiers subsequently told us that it was the _camion_ drivers who
saved the situation, for they stuck to their wagons day and night,
one snatching rest and sleep while another drove. They poured through
Bar-le-Duc in hundreds, the roar of traffic thundering down the
Boulevard all day long. In the night we would lie awake listening. It
sounded like a rough sea dragging back from a stone-strewn shore. Once,
if soldier tales be true, "the Boches could have walked into Verdun
with their rifles over their shoulders. Four days and four nights we
lay in the open, Mademoiselle. Our trenches were blown to pieces, we
were cut off by the barrage, we had no food but our emergency rations,
no ammunition could reach us. Then our guns became silent. The Boches,
thinking it was a ruse, a trap, were afraid to come on. They thought we
were reserving fire to mow them down at close quarters, so they waited
twelve hours, and during that time our _camions_ brought the ammunition
up, and when they did come on we were ready for them."

One lad of twenty, who told me the same tale, was home on leave when I
chanced to visit his mother and found the family at lunch. To celebrate
his return they were having a little feast--the feast consisting of
a tin of sardines and a bottle of red wine, in addition to the usual
soup and bread. The boy was a handsome creature, full of life and high
spirits, and in no way daunted by experiences that would have tried
the nerve of many an older man. He had been buried alive three times,
twice by the collapse of a trench, once by that of a dug-out into which
he and four others crawled under a storm of shells. "Fortunately I was
the first to go in, for a shell burst just outside, _ploomb_! killed
three and wounded one of my companions. The wounded man and I dug and
scratched our way out at the back."

He, too, he said, had been without food for four days.

"Weren't you hungry?" his mother asked, but he shook his head.

"One isn't hungry when the _copain_ (pal) on the right is blown to
atoms, and the _copain_ on the left is bleeding to death." Then
followed casualty details that filled us with horror.

"I saw men go mad up there. They dashed their brains out against walls,
they shot themselves. Oh, it was just hell! The shells fell so thick
you could hardly put a franc between them--thousands in an hour. The
French lost heavily, but the Germans.... I tell you, Mademoiselle, I
have seen them climbing over a wall of their own dead that high"--he
touched his breast--"to get at us. They came on in close formation,
drunk with ether. Oh, yes, it is quite true, we could smell the ether
in the French trenches. I have seen the first lines throw away their
rifles and link arms as they staggered to attack. Oh, we _fauché'd_
them! But for me, I like the bayonet, you drive it in, you twist it
round"--he made an expressive noise impossible to reproduce--"they are
afraid of the bayonet, the Boches. Ah, it is fine...."

He is the only man I have ever spoken to who told me he wanted to go
back.

Day after day we watched breathlessly for the _communiqués_; evening
after evening we went to the market hoping for better news, but there
was no lifting as yet in the storm-cloud that hung above the horizon.
And still the refugees poured through. We spent the greater part of
each day at the market now, snatching meals at odd hours, and turning
our hands to anything. We swept floors, we stuffed palliasses with
straw--but we don't recommend this as a parlour game--we helped to
serve meals, we washed never-diminishing piles of plates and bowls,
forks and knives, we put old ladies to bed, we made cups of chocolate
for them when they were unable to tackle the _pot-au-feu_, we chopped
mountains of bread and cheese (our hands were like charwomen's), we
distributed chocolate and "scarlet stew"--both gifts from the American
Relief Committee--we sorted the sheep from the goats at night and--the
_garde_ apart--kept the new dormitory select. We became expert in
cutting up enormous joints of meat, our implements a short-handled
knife invariably coated with grease, a fork when we could get one, and
a small wooden board. So expert, indeed, that one day a woman hovered
round as we sliced and cut and hacked, watching us intently for some
minutes. Then, "Are you a butcher?" she asked. It was an equivocal
compliment, but well meant. You see, she was a butcher herself, and I
suppose it would have comforted her to talk to one of the fraternity.

And as we slice the turmoil rises round us. A woman sits down to table
and bursts into violent uncontrolled weeping; a poor old creature
wanders forlornly about, finally making her way past the counter to
the boiler where the soup is bubbling. What does she want? "To put
some wood on the fire. She is cold, and where is her chair? Some one
has taken it away." Her brain has given way under the strain of the
last five days and she thinks she is at home. Snatches of conversation
float above the din. "It is three days since I have touched hot food."
"We slept in the fields last night." "Mais abandonner tout." Tears
follow this pathetic little phrase. A man and woman together, both over
eighty, white-haired and palsied, stray up to the counter. They cannot
eat, they want so very little, just some wine. The woman's skirts
drip as she waits; she has fallen into a stream as she fled from the
bombardment. They are established in a corner where they mutter and
nod, gibberish mostly, for the old man's wits are wandering.

Suddenly the table begins to rock, one end rises convulsively from the
ground, plates and dishes begin to slide ominously. An earthquake?
Only a great brindled hound that some one tied to the table leg when
we were not watching. He lay down, slept happily, smelled dinner, has
risen to his majestic height and a wreck is upon us. The table sways
more ominously, then Fate, in the shape of the pretty Pre-Raphaelitish
_femme-de-ménage_ of the market, swoops down upon him and sends him
yowling into the crowd, through which he cuts a cataclysmal way. Dogs
materialise out of space, we are sometimes tempted to believe. They
live desperate lives, are under everybody's feet, appear, and disappear
meteor-wise, leaving trails of oaths behind them. A small child plants
himself on the floor, and seizing one of these itinerant quadrupeds,
tries to make it eat its own tail. The dog prefers to eat the child;
a wild skirmish ensues, there are shrieks and yowls that rend the
heavens, then a covey of women kick the dog into space, and snatching
up the child, carry him to the inner room, where they hold a parliament
over him amid a babel of tongues that puts biblical history to shame.

A soldier, mud-stained, down from the trenches, comes to look for
his wife; a tall girl in a black straw cart-wheel hat, plentifully
adorned with enormous white daisies, flits here and there; a coarse,
burly man who has looked on the wine when it is red and who is wearing
a _peau-de-bicque_ (goat-skin coat), which I regard with every
suspicion, tries to thrust half-a-franc into my hand. Then comes an
alarm. The refugees are not told of it, but thirty Taubes are said to
be approaching the town. The meal goes on a little more breathlessly,
and we carry soup and meat wondering what will happen if the sickening
crash comes. But the French _avions_ chase the Germans away.... Late
that night I saw the half-witted old woman asleep on the floor, sitting
up, her back propped against a child's body, her knees drawn up to her
mouth.


III

"There are refugees at the Ferme du Popey too."

Surely there are refugees everywhere! The quarters at the market
have long since proved grotesquely inadequate, for not even the
"Serrez-vous, serrez-vous" of the _garde_ could pack three people
upon floor space for one, so schoolrooms and barrack-rooms were
requisitioned elsewhere, and now even the resources of the farm are
being drawn upon. The procession of broken, despairing people seemed
never-ending. We met them in every street, trailing pitifully through
the mire, or leading farm wagons piled high with household goods. Those
at the farm had all come down in carts, it was said, many being days
on the road, so, thinking we might be of use, we waded out to find the
extensive _basse-cour_ a scene of strange confusion.

Soldiers in horizon-blue were cooking food in their regimental kitchens
for famished women and children, others were watering horses at the
pond; through the archway at the end we could see yet others hanging
socks and underlinen upon the fence; beyond ran the canal guarded by
its sentinel trees. Wagons filled the yard, men were shouting and
talking, officials moved busily here and there. We climbed a glorified
ladder to a long, low, straw-strewn loft which was murkily dark, the
windows unglazed, being covered by coarse matting which flapped in the
wind. Here a number of women were lying or talking in subdued groups
while children scrambled restlessly about, the squalor and misery being
heartrending. They were leaving immediately, there was nothing to be
done, so, having chatted with a few, we went away, telling a harassed
official that we were at his service if he had need of us.

A day or two later this offer had strange fruit, for a horde of
excited people descended upon the Boulevard, rang at our door, swarmed
into the hall and demanded sabots. Now it happened that a short time
before a case of sabots had been sent to us by the American Relief
Committee (always generous supporters, supplying many a need)--a
case so vast that both wings of our front door had to be opened to
admit it--so we were able to invite the horde to satisfy its needs.
Instantly the hall became a pandemonium. They flung themselves upon
the box, they snatched, they grabbed, they chattered in high, shrill
voices--Meusienne women of the working-classes generally talk in a
strident scream--they tried on sabots, they flung sabots back into the
box; in short, they behaved very much as people do behave when their
cupidity is aroused and their nervous systems exhausted by an almost
unendurable strain.

The commotion, rising in a steady crescendo, had risen _forte_,
_fortissimo_, when bo-o-om! thud! bo-o-om! bombs began to fall on the
town. The clamour in the hall died away, sabots dropped from nerveless
fingers. Bo-o-om! The cellar? _Où est-ce?_ Some one leads the way, and
then, while clamour of another kind seizes the skies, in the icy cellar
the mob of half-distraught creatures fall on their knees and chant the
Rosary.

As a mist is wiped from a mirror by the passage over it of a cloth,
angers, passions, greeds were wiped from their eyes, their voices sank
to a quiet murmur. Like children they prayed, and the Holy Spirit
brooded for one brief moment over hearts that yearned to God.

Then the raid ended, silence fell on the town, but round the sabot-box,
like gulls that scream above a shoal of fish, rapacity swooped and
dived, and its voice, sea-gull shrill, bit through the air.



CHAPTER XIII

MORE STORM-WRACK


A small volume might be written about those days at the Marché Couvert,
about the war gossip that circulated, the adventures that were related.

In spite of the terrific shelling of Verdun only one civilian
was reported to have been killed during that first week, and she
imprudently left her cellar. The bombardment was methodical. Three
minutes storm, then three minutes calm, then three minutes storm again.
Then the pulse-beat lengthened: fifteen minutes storm, fifteen minutes
calm. A priest told Madame B. that, stop-watch in hand, he was able to
visit his people during the whole of the time, diving in and out of
cellars with a regularity equalled only by that of the Germans. Two
women, on the other hand, ran about their village _comme des fous_
for eight days, shells dropping four to the minute, but no one was
hurt, because the inhabitants had all gone to their cellars. How they
themselves escaped they did not know. They had no cellar, that was why
they ran.

Another woman was in her kitchen when a shell struck the house. Seeing
that her sister was badly hurt she ran out, ran all the way down the
village street, scoured the vicinity looking for a doctor, found
one, brought him back, and as she was about to help him to dress her
sister's wound, realised that her foot was wet, and looking down saw
that her boot was full of blood. Not only had the shell, or a fragment
of shell, torn her thigh badly, but it had shattered her hand as well.
Only the thumb and index finger can be moved a little now, the other
fingers are bent and twisted, without any power, the arm is shrivelled
and cannot be raised above her head.

This woman was one of several who were turned out of the Civil Hospital
one bitter afternoon when the wind cut into our flesh and sharp hail
stung our faces. No doubt the hospital was full, no doubt a large
number of bed or stretcher cases had come in, but somehow we could find
no excuse for the thoughtlessness which turned that pitiful band of
ailing, crippled, or blinded women into the dark streets to stumble and
fumble their way through a strange town and then face the horror of the
market. Some were frankly idiotic from fright, strain and age-weakened
intellect; all were terrified, cold and suffering. One, very old, sat
on the ground talking rapidly to herself. "She is détraquée," they
whispered, so she was tucked up on a palliasse, covered with rugs and
left to her mumbling, her monotonous, wearying babble. Next morning our
nurse, going her rounds, found that the unfortunate creature was not
_détraquée_ but delirious, that her temperature was high and both lungs
congested. It was just a question whether she would survive the journey
to Fains, where, in the Departmental Lunatic Asylum, some wards had
been set aside for the overflow from the hospital.

One of our coterie, burning with what we admitted was justifiable
wrath, gave a hard-hearted official from the Prefecture a Briton's
opinion of the matter.

"It was inhuman to treat these women so. Some of them were wandering
in the streets for hours. Why didn't you send them direct to Fains?"

"There was no conveyance, the hospital was full ..." so he excused
himself.

"But they cannot stay here," she thundered. "It is utterly unfit. They
need nursing, comfort, special care."

"Oh, well, there is always the Ornain," he replied, with a gesture
towards the river, and the Briton, unable to determine whether a snub,
a sarcasm, or an inhumanity was intended, for the only time in our
knowledge of her was obliged to leave the field to France.

But she was restored to her wonted good-humour later on by an old lady
who undressed placidly in the new dormitory, peeling off one garment
after another because she "had not taken her clothes off for three days
and three nights," who then knelt placidly by her bedside and said her
prayers, asking, as she tucked the blankets round her, at what time she
would be called in the morning.

CALLED! In that Bedlam!

Most of them were "called" by the big steam whistle at the factory long
before the cocks began to crow. Zeppelins, tired of inactivity, began
to prowl at night. One, as everybody knows, was brought down in flames
near Révigny--a shred of its envelope lies in my writing-case, my only
_souvenir de la guerre_, unless a leaflet dropped by a Taube counts
as such--causing great excitement among the boys in the hospital at
Sermaize. No sooner did they hear the guns and the throb of its engines
than with one accord they scrambled from their beds and rushed to the
verandah, where a wise matron rolled them in blankets and allowed
them to remain to "see the fun," a breach of discipline for which
she was amply rewarded when, seeing the flames shoot up through the
skies, the boys rose to their feet and shrilled the "Marseillaise" to
the night in their clear, sweet trebles. A dramatic moment that! The
long, low wooden hospital a blur against the moonlit field, behind and
all around the woods, silent, dark, clustering closely, purple in the
half-light of the moon, the boys' white faces, their shrill cheer, and
through the sky the wide fire of Death falling, to lie a mammoth dragon
on the whitened fields. It is said that there was a woman in that
Zeppelin--some fragments of clothing, a slipper were found....

Another, more fortunate, dropped bombs at Révigny and Contrisson,
where by bad luck an ammunition wagon was hit. One at least of the
wagons caught fire, but was quickly uncoupled by heroic souls who
were subsequently decorated. The first explosion shook our windows
in Bar-le-Duc, and then for two or more hours we heard report after
report as shell after shell exploded. In the morning wild tales were
abroad. The main line to Paris had been cut, Trèmont (miles in the
other direction) had been bombed, numbers of civilians had been killed
and injured; Révigny was in even smaller shreds than before; in short,
Rumour, that busy jade, was having a well-occupied morning. But that
is not unusual in the War Zone. She is rarely idle there. The number
of times we were told a bombardment by long-range guns was signalled
for Bar is incalculable. The town passed from one _crise de nerfs_ to
another, some one was always in a panic over a coming event which did
not honour us even by casting its shadow before.

The Zeppelins, to be quite frank, were a nuisance. They never
reached the town, which has reason to be grateful for the narrowness
of its valley and the protecting height of its hills, but they made
praiseworthy attempts at all sorts of odd hours, and generally the
most inconvenient that could well be chosen. The doings at Révigny and
Contrisson warned us that a visit might be fraught with disagreeable
results, for Bar is a concentrated place, it does not straggle, and
when raids occur practically every street is peppered.

So though we did not go to the cellars, we felt it incumbent upon us
to be ready to do so should necessity arise, which probably explains
why the syren invariably blew when one or two shivering wretches were
sitting tailor-wise in rubber or canvas basins, fondly persuading
themselves that they were having a bath.

When there are twenty degrees of frost, when water freezes where it
falls on your uncarpeted bedroom floor, bathing in a canvas basin has
its drawbacks; but if, just as your precious canful of hot water has
been splashed in and you "mit nodings on" prepare to get as close
to godliness as it is possible for erring mortal to do, the syren's
long, lugubrious note throbs on the air, well, you float away from
godliness fairly rapidly on the wings of language that would have
shocked the most condemnatory Psalmist of them all. I really believe
those Zeppelins KNEW when our bath-water boiled. We went to bed at
ten-thirty or we waited till midnight. "Let's get the beastly thing
over, it is such a bore dressing again." We dodged in at odd hours of
the evening, it was just the same. Venus was always surprised. In the
end, and when in spite of nightly and daily warnings, nothing happened,
our faith in French airmen became as the rock that moveth not and
is never dismayed. Though syrens hooted and bugles blew, though the
town guard turning out marched under our windows, the unclothed soaped
and lathered and splashed with unemotional vigour, while the clothed
chastely wondered what would happen if a bomb struck the house and
Venus.... Oh, well, the French rise magnificently to any situation.

Once I confess to rage. We had a visitor. We had all worked hard all
day at the market, we had come home after ten, and, wearied out, had
tucked ourselves into bed, aching in every limb. The visitor and the
smallest member of the coterie returned even later. Slumber had just
sealed my eyelids when a voice said in my ear, "Miss Day, I'm so sorry,
there's a Zeppelin." Just as though it were sitting on the roof, you
know, preparing to lay an egg.

"Call me when the bombs begin to fall." Slumber seized me once more.
Again the voice. "I think you must get up; Visitor says it is not safe."

"Oh, go to--the Common-room."

It was no use. I was dragged out. There are moments when one could
cheerfully boil one's fellow-creatures in a sausage-pot.

At the market when danger threatened every one was ruthlessly hunted to
the cellar. And French cellars are the coldest things on earth. Even
on the hottest day in summer they are cool, in the winter they would
freeze a polar bear. Indeed, we were sometimes tempted to declare that
the cellars did more harm than Zeppelin or Taube.

Air-raids affect different people differently. One woman said
they--well, she said, "Ça fait sauter (to jump) l'estomac," which
must have been sufficiently disagreeable; another declared, "Ça
fait trop de bile." Nearly all developed nerve troubles, and Madame
Phillipot--who succeeded Madame Drouet as our _femme de ménage_,
refused to undress at night. In vain we reasoned with her. She slept
armed _cap-à-pie_, ready for immediate flight, and not until a slight
indisposition gave us a weapon, which we used with unscrupulous skill
and energy, did we wring from her a promise to go to bed like a
respectable Christian. Madame Albert died trembling in the darkness
one night: an old woman, affected by bronchial trouble, flying from
Death, found him in the icy cellar; many a case of bronchitis and lung
trouble was reported as an outcome of these nightly raids, children
especially began to suffer, their nerves breaking down, their little
faces becoming pinched, dark shadows lying under their eyes.

In the War Zone people don't write letters to the Press discussing the
advisability of taking refuge in a raid, nor do they talk of "women
and children cowering in cellars." No one suggests that the well-to-do
"should set an example or show the German they are not afraid." France
is too logical for nonsense of that kind. It knows that soldiers do
not sit on the parapet of a trench when strafing is going on--it would
call them harsh names if they did, and so would we. It believes in
reasonable precautions. After all, the German object is to kill as many
civilians as possible--why gratify him by running up the casualty rate?
Why occupy ambulances that might be put to better use? Why occupy the
time of doctors and nurses who are more urgently wanted in the military
wards? Why put your relatives to the expense of a funeral? Why indeed?
Why court suicide for the sake of a stupid sentiment? Logic echoes
why? Logic goes calmly to its cellar or to that of its neighbour, if
it happens to be out and away from its own when trouble begins. Logic
comes up again and goes serenely about its business when trouble is
over.

Only the nerve-wrecks, people who have sustained long bombardment by
shell-fire for the most part, really lose presence of mind. And for
them there is every excuse. Let no one who has not suffered as they
have presume to judge them.

Once--it was downright wicked, I admit--two of us, both, be it
confessed, wild Irishwomen, with all the native and national love of
a row boiling in our veins, hearing the syren one evening, somewhere
about nine o'clock, put on our hats and coats, and kilting our skirts,
set off up the hill. We left consternation behind us, but then we did
so want to see a Zeppelin!

The valley was bathed in soft fitful light. The moon was almost full,
but misty clouds flitted across the sky, fugitives flying before a
wooing wind. Below us the town lay in darkness. Not a lamp showing.
About us rose the old town, the rue Chavé looming cliff-like high above
our heads. We pressed on, pierced the shadows of that narrow street and
gained the rue des Grangettes, there to be met with a sight so weird,
so suggestive of tragedy I wish I could have painted it. From the tall,
grim houses men and women had poured out. Children sat huddled beside
them, others slept in their mother's arms. On the ground lay bags and
bundles. Whispers hissed on the air. It was alive with sibilant sound.
No one talked aloud. They were as people that watch in an ante-room
when Death has touched one who relinquishes life reluctantly in a room
beyond. In the rue Tribel were more groups. In the rue des Ducs de
Bar still more. We thought the population of those old ghost-haunted
houses must all have come forth from a shelter in which they no longer
trusted. A Zeppelin bomb, it is said, will crash through six storeys
and break the roof of the cellar beneath. Here in the street there
was no safety. But in the woods beyond the town, in the woods high on
the hill.... Many and many a poor family spent long night hours in
the cold, the wet and the storm, their little all gathered in bundles
beside them during those intense months of early spring. We felt--or at
least I know that I felt--as we walked through this world of whispering
shadow, utterly unreal. I ceased to believe in Zeppelins; earth,
material things slid away, in the cloud-veiled moonlight values became
distorted; I felt like a spectator at a play, but a play where only
shadows act behind a dim, semi-transparent screen.

Then we came to the Place Tribel, and the world enclosed us again. A
soldier with a telescope swept the heavens, others gazed anxiously
out over the hills towards St Mihiel. The night was very still and
beautiful; strange that out there, somewhere in the void, Death should
be riding, coming perhaps near to our own souls, with his message
written already upon our hearts. In the streets below a bugle call rang
out clear and sweet, the _Alerte_, the danger signal.... We thought of
the hurried wretches making their way to the woods.... Odd that one
should want to see a Zeppelin!



CHAPTER XIV

AIR RAIDS


I

Where the grey gas-bags failed, Taubes often succeeded. At first they
came "in single spies," but later "in battalions." And after one of
the early and abortive raids which did no damage--a mere bagatelle of
three bombs and one soldier with a cut over his eye--posters of such
exquisite import were plastered over the walls that I must tell you
about them.

They emanated from the Mayor, kind father to his people, who told
us--we thrilled to hear it--"that in these tragic hours--of war--we had
known how to meet the dangers that menaced us with unfailing calmness
and courage" (I translate literally), and that "our presence of mind
in the face of such sterile manifestations would always direct our
moral force." Very flattering. We preened feathers quite unjustifiably,
since admittedly the occasion had called for no emotion save that of a
limited, feminine, and quite reasonable curiosity.

Then, still glowing, we read on. Mayoral praise is sweet, but mayoral
instructions hard to follow. The wisest course to pursue when hostile
aviators aviate is, it seems, to take refuge in the nearest house and
not to gaze at the sky--surely that Mayor had never been born of
woman!--or, should there be no house, "to distance oneself rapidly and
laterally."

We ceased to glow. We remembered we were but dust. Distance oneself
laterally? Good, but suppose one was walking by the Canal? With an
impenetrable hedge on one side, were we to spring to the other? I have
seen the Canal in all its moods. I have never felt the smallest desire
to bathe in it. I have still less desire to drown--suffocate!--in
it. And if one doesn't know in which direction the bomb is going to
fall?... How be lateral and rapid before it arrives? Suppose one jumped
right under it? Suppose one waits till it comes? "Too late. Too late;
ye cannot _distance_ now."

Some one suggests that we ought to practise being rapid and lateral.
"My dear woman, I don't know what being lateral means." Thus the
unenlightened of the party.

"Study the habits of that which can be lateral to all points of the
compass at once when you try to catch it," was the frivolous reply.
Well, opportunities were not wanting. We decided to take lessons. And
then promptly forgot all about Taubes. That is one of the unintentional
blessings incidental to their career. When they are not showering bombs
on you, you eliminate them from consciousness. Perhaps, in spite of
all the damage they have done, they are still too new, too unnatural
to be accepted. A raid is just an evil nightmare--for those who suffer
no bodily harm. It brings you as a nightmare does to the very edge of
some desperate enterprise; you feel the cold, awful fear; you are held
in the grip of some deadly unimagined thing that holds you, forces you
down, something you cannot see, something you do not understand, but
that you know is hideous, terrible in its happening. The noise breaks
on your brain, the noise that is only the symptom of the ill.... Then
silence shuts down ... and you awake....

Once, at least for us, the awakening was a tragic one. Ascension Day.
A clear, warm summer sky, windless, perfect. Dinner just over in the
town. Shops opening again. Life stirring in the streets. An ideal
moment for those who are quick to take advantage of such. There was
no signal to warn us of what was coming, no time for pedestrians to
distance themselves laterally or otherwise. Death found them as they
walked through the streets, or gossiped in the station yard. The Place
de la Gare became a shambles. Women--why dilate on the horror? Forty
people were killed outright, over a hundred were wounded, and of these
many subsequently died. In our cellar we listened to the storm, then
when it was over we went through the town seeking out our people,
anxious to help. We saw horses, mangled and bleeding, lying on the
quay-side, a tree riven near the Pont Nôtre Dame, blood flowing in
the gutters, telegraph wires lying in grotesque loops and coils on
the roadway or hanging in festoons from the façades of houses. (An
underground wire was laid down after this.) Glass--we walked on a
carpet of glass, and in the houses we saw things that "God nor man ever
should look upon."

Saw too, then and in subsequent raids, how Death, if he has marked you
for his own, will claim you even though you hide, even though you seek
the "safe" shelter you trust in so implicitly, but which plays the
traitor and opens the gate to the Enemy who knocks. Madame Albert; the
old sick woman. Now the eldest Savard girl, a tall, graceful, handsome
creature, just twenty years of age. With a number of others including
her mother, younger sister, and several soldiers (oh, yes, soldiers
"cower" too, and are not always the last to dive to shelter), she fled
to the nearest cellar when the raid began, but the entrance was not
properly closed, and when a bomb burst in the yard outside, splinters
killed five of the soldiers, and wounded her so cruelly she died that
night.

Then there was Madame Bertrand, pursued by a malignant spirit of evil.
Twice a refugee, she came to Bar in February, drifting from the market
to the Maison Blanpain, where within six weeks of her arrival two of
her three children had died. (Her husband was a soldier, of course.)
One contracted diphtheria, the other was struck down by some virulent
and never-diagnosed complaint which lasted just twenty-four hours.
Expecting shortly to become a mother again, Madame was standing at her
house door that sunny June day when a bomb fell in the street. She was
killed instantly.

A fortnight later the little boy who brought parcels from the
_épicerie_ died. He, like Mademoiselle Savard, was in a cellar, but
a fragment of shell came through the tiny _soupirail_ (ventilation
grating)....


II

In June, the town looked as if it were preparing for a siege. The stage
direction, "Excursions and alarums," was interpolated extravagantly
over all the drama of our life. If we had been rabbits we might have
enjoyed it, there being something slightly facetious, not to say
hilarious, in the flirt of the white bob as it scurries to cover, but
as actors in the said drama we soon ceased to find it amusing. It
interfered so confoundedly with our work! Worst of all, it unsettled
our people.

The sang-froid of some of the shopkeepers, however, was magnificent.
They simply put their shutters up, pinned a label on the door and went
south or west, to wait till the _rafale_ blew over. Before going,
Monsieur was always at pains to inform us that he, for his part, was
indifferent, but Madame, alas, Madame! Nerves.... An eloquent shrug
that in no way dimmed the brilliance of Madame's smile as she gazed
at us from behind his unconscious back. We, for our part, blushed for
our sex. Then he asked us if we, too, had not fear? Saying no, we felt
unaccountably bombastic. We read braggart in his eye, we scarcely dared
to hope he would not read _froussard_ in ours. Politely he hoped that
when he returned our valuable custom would again be his? Reassured, he
stretched a more or less grimy hand over the counter, we laid ours upon
it, suspicions vanished! With the word _devouée_ gleaming like a halo
round our unworthy heads, we stepped again into the street, there to
admire a vista of shutters.

(It may be of interest to psychologists that shopkeepers without wives,
and shopkeepers without husbands, generally elected to remain in the
town. They kept, however, their shutters down. Monsieur X., running out
to close his during a raid, was blown to atoms. One learns wisdom--by
experience--in the War Zone.)

Stepped out to admire, too, a fantastic collection of boxes and bags
ranged close against the walls at irregular intervals. Since the
affair of the _soupirail_ gratings were no longer left unguarded. Tiny
though they were, almost unnoticeable specks just where the house wall
touched the pavement, they could be dangerous. Consequently, bags of
sand, boxes of sand, and big rockery stones were propped against them
to be a snare to the unwary at night, and, as the hot summer sped
by, to testify (as our shy member cogently remarked) to the visiting
proclivities of the dogs of the town. The bags burst, they added to
that composite Ess Bouquet that rose so penetratingly in warm weather,
but the sand and the stones remained. In the winter, snow buried them.
Then the snow froze. Coming round the corner of the Rue Lapique one
dark Laplandish night, I trod on the edge of a heap of frozen snow....
There are six hundred and seventy-three ways of falling on frozen snow,
and I practised most of them that winter, but, as an accomplishment,
am bound to admit that they seem to be devoid of any artistic merit
whatever.

Following the sandbags came _affiches_. Every cellared house--and
nearly every house had its cellar--blazed the information abroad.
"Cave voutée" (vaulted cellar), 20 _personnes_, 50 _personnes_, 200
_personnes_, even 500 _personnes_, indicated shelter in an emergency.
In a raid every man's cellar is his neighbour's. Once we harboured some
refugees, and that night at dinner the shy member (perhaps I ought to
say that the adjective was entirely self-bestowed), gurgled suddenly.
We looked at her expectantly.

"I was only thinking that Miss ---- (No. I shall not betray her!) is
not supposed to smoke when the refugees are about, but in the middle of
the raid she came swanking down to the cellar to-day with a cigarette
in her mouth."

As one not unremotely connected with the incident I take leave to
disqualify "swank." Professional smokers never swank, it is the
attribute of the mere amateur.

So many precautions were taken, it would seem that any one who got
hurt during a raid had only himself to blame, and for those who may
think warnings superfluous, I may add that never again was the casualty
list as high as on that unwarned Ascension Day. Indeed, in subsequent
raids--while I was in Bar, at least--it decreased in the most arresting
manner. True, the day and night were rendered hideous with noise. To
the _sirène_ was added the steam-whistle at the gas-works, but these
being deemed insufficient, a loud tocsin clanged from the old Horloge
on the hill. I have known people to sleep through them all, but their
names will never be divulged by so discreet a historian.

Though the danger was lessened, the nerve-strain unfortunately
remained. Mothers with children found life intolerable. It was bad
enough to spend one's days like a Jack-in-the-box jumping in and out
of the cellar, but infinitely worse to spend the night doing it.
Flight was--I was going to say in the air! It was at least on many
lips. People were poised, as it were, hesitant, unwilling to haul up
anchor, afraid to face out upon the unknown sea, yet still more afraid
to remain. Then, as I have told you, eight warnings and two raids in
twenty-four hours robbed over-taxed nerves of their last ounce of
endurance. The Prefecture was besieged, and in one day alone three
hundred people left the town. Those who had friends or relatives in
other districts were, as is usual in all such cases, allowed to join
them, others were herded like sheep, and like sheep were driven where
shepherd and sheep-dog willed. Nearly all the Basket-makers fled. The
Maison Blanpain turned its unsavoury contents out of doors. Many of our
fastest and firmest friends came to say good-bye with tears in their
eyes; it was a heartrending time, and one which, if continued, would
have seen an end to all our labour. This fear was happily not realised,
for as fast as one lot of refugees went away another lot drifted in,
and the following winter was the busiest we were to know.

To all who came to say good-bye, clothes were given, and especially
boots, America having come again to our rescue with some consignments
which, if they added to our grey hairs--I would "rather be a dog and
bay the moon" than assistant in a boot-shop--added in far larger
measure to the contentment and happiness of the fugitives.

Boots were, and no doubt still are, almost unobtainable luxuries, for
those who try to make both ends of an _allocation_ meet. As a garment,
it may be said that the allocation (I change my metaphor, you notice)
just falls below the waist-line, it never reaches down to the feet.
How could it when even a child's pair of shoes cost as much as twelve
francs? and are _du papier_ at that.

Our boot-shop was a dark, damp, refrigerating closet at the end of the
hall where boots of all sizes were of necessity piled, or slung over
lines that stretched across the room. What you needed was never on a
line. But the line's adornments beat you about the head as you stooped
to burrow in the heaps underneath.

To add to your enjoyment of the situation, you were aware that the
difference between French feet and American feet is as wide as the
Atlantic that rolls between.

Nevertheless, those that came were shod. I personally can take no
credit for it. My plunges into the refrigerator only served as a rule
to send the temperature up! The miracles of compression and expansion
were performed by the Directrice of the establishment, who will, I
hope, forgive me if I say that I deplore an excellent sportswoman lost
in her. She had the divine instinct of the chase, and when she ran her
quarry to earth her eyes bubbled. At other times, she tried to hide the
softest heart that ever betrayed a woman under a grim exterior, that
only deceived those who saw no further than her protecting pince-nez.


III

Yes, they were going. Old friends of over a year's standing, many of
whom we had visited again and again, and of whom we shall carry glad
memories till the final exodus of all carries us beyond the Eternal
Shadows. Madame Drouet, our _femme de ménage_, was wavering; pressure,
steadily applied, was slowly driving her to the thing she dreaded and
disliked. Then, as you know, the blow fell.

She was gone, and we gazed at one another in consternation. Where would
we find such another? Hastily we ran over a list of names, and then,
Eureka! we had it. Madame Phillipot, of course. On with our hats, and
hot foot at top speed to the rue de Véel. An agitated half-hour--Madame
was diffident, she was no cook, she could never please Les Anglaises--a
triumphant return, all her scruples overruled, and the inauguration
of a reign of peace and plenty such as we shall not see again. There
is only one Madame Phillipot in this grey old world. Only one, and
we loved her. Loved her? Why, we could not help it! Picture a little
robin-redbreast of a woman, short and plump, with pretty dark eyes and
clear skin, and the chirpiest voice that ever made music on a summer
day. I can hear her now lilting her "Bon Soir, Mesdemoiselles," as she
came to bid us good-night. The little ceremony was never forgotten,
nor was the morning greeting. She rarely talked, she chirped, and
she chirped the long day through. The coming of every new face was
an adventure. No longer did the uninterested "C'est une dame," hurl
us from our peace. No. In five minutes, in five seconds Madame,
interviewing the new-comer, had grasped all the salient points of her
history, and we went forth armed, ready to smite or succour as occasion
demanded. And dearly she loved her bit of gossip. What greetings the
old stone staircase witnessed! What ah's and oh's of delight! We would
hear the voluble tide rising, rising, and groan over rooms undusted,
and beds blushing naked at midday. But it was impossible to be angry
with Madame. The work was done sooner or later, generally later,
and when we sat down to her _ragoût_, or her _bœuf mode_, or her
_blanquette de veau_ in the evening her sins put on the wings of virtue
and fluttered, silver plumed, to heaven.

Now, I am a mild woman, but there are hours in which I yearn to murder
M. Phillipot, and Pappa, and Mademoiselle Clémence, for they hold
Madame to the soil of France. If she was a widowed orphan, perhaps we
might console our lonely old age together, but no one could be really
lonely when Madame was by. Is one lonely in woods when birds are
singing?

It was the ambition of her life to be a milliner, but Pappa--you shall
hear about him presently--said No. So she married M. Phillipot instead,
and became the wife of a _commis-voyageur_ who did not deserve to get
her. For he had as mother an old harridan who insisted on living with
him, and who, bitterly jealous of Madame, made her life a burden to
her. The _commis-voyageur_ having a soul like his bag of samples, all
bits and scraps, always sided with his mother.

Once Madame asked me to guess her age. I hazarded thirty-eight quite
honestly, and she flushed like a girl. "Ah, mais non. She was older
than that. She was...." (I shan't "give her away." Am not I, too, a
woman?)

"You don't look it, Madame," I answered truthfully.

"Ah, but if only Mademoiselle had seen me before the war. When I was
dressed in my pretty Sunday clothes. Ah, que j'étais belle! And fresh
and young. One would have given me thirty."

Her speech was the most picturesque thing, a source of unfailing
delight. Once in that awful frost, when for six weeks there was ice
on the bedroom floor and a phylactery of ice adorned my sponge-bag,
when the moisture that exuded from the walls became _crystallisé_,
and neither blankets, nor fur coat, nor hot water bottle kept one
warm at night, Madame, seeing me huddle a miserable half-dead thing
over the stove, cried, "It is under a _cloche_ we should put you,
Mademoiselle Day." And the three villains who shared my misery with
ten times my fortitude chuckled with delight. My five-foot seven and
ample proportions being "forced" like a salad under the bell-glass of
intensive culture! No wonder we laughed. But I longed for the _cloche_
all the same.

As for her good humour it was indestructible. When people came, as
people inconsiderately will come, from other work-centres demanding
food at impossible hours, Madame sympathised with the agonies of the
housekeeper and evolved meals out of nothingness, out of a leek and a
lump of butter, or out of three sticks of macaroni, one _gousse d'ail_
and a pinch of salt. The clove of garlic went into every pot--was it
that which made her dishes so savoury? When the gas was shut off at
five o'clock just as dinner was under way, she didn't tear her hair and
blaspheme her gods; she cooked. Don't ask me how she did it. I can only
state the fact. On two gas-rings, with a tiny hot-plate in between, she
cooked a soup, a meat dish, two vegetables and a pudding every night,
and served them all piping hot whether the gas "marched" or whether it
did not.

If we wanted to send her into the seventh heaven we gave her a
"commission" in the town, or asked her to trim a hat. We would meet
her trotting up the Boulevard, her basket on her arm, her smile
irradiating the greyest day, and know that when she returned every
rumour--and Bar seethed with rumours--every scrap of gossip--it was a
hotbed of gossip--on the wing that day would be ours for the asking.
She never held herself aloof as Madame Drouet did. She became one of
the household, and it would have done your heart good to see her on
Sunday morning trotting (she always trotted) first from one room and
then to another with trays of coffee and rolls, keeping us like naughty
children in bed, ostensibly because we must be tired, we worked so hard
(O Madame! Madame!), but actually we believed to keep us out of the way
while she scuttled through her work in time for Mass.

Her dusting was even sketchier than Madame Drouet's, and when she
washed out a room she always left one corner dry, but whether in
pursuance of a sacred rite or as a concession to temperament, I cannot
say.

Meantime she lived in one room in the rue de Véel, sharing it with her
father and Mademoiselle Clémence. M. Phillipot, his existence once
acknowledged, faded more and more surely from our ken. He was not in
Bar-le-Duc, he was in a misty, nebulous somewhere with his virago of a
mother. We felt that wherever he was he deserved it, and speedily put
him out of our existence. But he occurred later. Husbands do, it seems,
in France.

Frankly, I believe that Madame forgot him too. She never spoke of him,
and she was devoted to M. Godard and Clémence, who are of the stock
and breeding that keep one's faith in humanity alive. Monsieur was a
carpenter, an old retainer of the château near his home. A well-to-do
man, we gathered, of some education and magnificent spirit. When
the Germans captured his village they seized him, buffeted him and
threatened to shoot him. Well, he just defied them. Flung back his old
head and dared them to do their worst. Even when he was kneeling in
the village square waiting the order to fire he defied them. He told
me the story more than once, but the details escaped me. Heaven having
deprived him of teeth, he had a quaint trick of substituting nails,
with his mouth full of which he waxed eloquent. Now, toothless French
causes the foreigner to pour ashes on her head and squirm in the very
dust, but French garnished with "des points" ...!

Of course I ought to have mastered it, as opportunities were not
lacking, but Monsieur, who worked regularly for us, was unhappily
slightly deaf. So what with the difficulty of making him understand me,
and the difficulty of making me understand him, our intimacy, though at
all times of the most affectionate nature, rested rather on goodwill
than on soul to soul intercourse.

A scheme for providing the refugees with chests in which to keep their
scanty belongings having been set afoot, Monsieur was established in
the wood-shed with planes, hammer and nails, and there he became a
fixture. We simply could not get on without him. We flew to him in
every crisis, flying back occasionally in laughter and indignation,
with the storm of his disapproval still whistling in our ears. He
could be as obstinate as a mule, and oh, how he could chasten us for
our good! In the intervals he made chests out of packing-cases, which
he adorned with hinges and a loop for a padlock, while we painted the
owner's initials in heavy lettering on the top. So highly were they
prized and sought after, our stock of packing-cases ran out, and those
who wanted them had to bring their own. It was then that Monsieur's
gift of invective showed itself in all its razor-like keenness. For,
grievous to relate, there are people in the world who presume upon
generosity--mean people who will not play the game. Every packing-case
in process of transformation made serious inroads on Monsieur's time,
and upon the small supply of wood at his disposal, so their cost was
not small. But if you had seen some of the boxes brought to our door!

"That?" Monsieur wagged a contemptuous finger at the overgrown
match-box one despicable creature planted under his enraged eyes.
"That? A chest to hold linen? Take it away. It will do to carry your
prayer book in when you go to Mass."

Or, "It is a chest that you want me to make out of that? That? Look at
it. C'est du papier à cigarette. Your husband can roll his tobacco in
it."

We chuckled as we blessed him. No doubt we were often imposed upon, and
Monsieur had an eye like a needle for the impostor.

In process of manufacture, marks of ownership sometimes became erased,
and then there was woe in Israel.

"That my caisse? Mais je vous assure Mademoiselle the caisse that I
brought was large, grande comme ça"--a gesture suggested a mausoleum.
"Yes, and I wrote my name on it with the pencil of Monsieur, there,
dans le couloir. He saw me write it, Vannier-Lefeuvre. Monsieur will
testify."

We gazed at Monsieur. "Vannier-Lefeuvre? Bon. Regardez la liste. C'est
le numero twenty-two."

"But there is NO number twenty-two, Monsieur."

"Eh bien, il faut chercher."

This to a demented philanthropist who had already wasted a good hour
in the search. (The hall was piled ceiling high with the wretched
cases, you know.) Madame Vannier-Lefeuvre lifted up a strident voice
and sang in minor key a dirge in memory of the lost treasure. Its size,
its beauty, its strength, the twenty-five sous she had paid for it at
the _épicerie_.... No, it was not that, nor that. We dragged out the
best, even some special treasures bigger and better than anything she
could have produced. All in vain. "Monsieur." We appealed to Cæsar.

Boom, bang, boom. With his mouth full of nails, humming a stifled song,
Cæsar drove a huge nail into the case of Madame Poiret-Blanc. Five
minutes later Madame Lefeuvre-Vannier--"or Vannier-Lefeuvre ça ne fait
rien," marched off with our finest _caisse_ on her _brouette_, woe
on her wily old face and devilish glee in her heart. And we, turning
to pulverise Monsieur, whose business it was to mark every case in
order to prevent confusion, found ourselves dumb. We might rage in the
Common-room, but in the wood-shed we were as lambs that baa'ed.

And we forgave him all his sins the day he, with a look of ineffable
dignity just sufficiently tinged with contempt, brushed aside a huge
gendarme at the station. Some one was going away, and Monsieur had
wheeled her luggage over on the _brouette_.

"It is forbidden to go on the platform." Thus the arm of military law,
an _Avis_ threatening pains and penalties hanging over his head.

"Forbidden? Do you not know that I am the valet de ces dames?"

Have you ever seen a gendarme crumple?


IV

Twenty degrees, twenty-two degrees, twenty-five degrees of frost. A
clear blue sky, brilliant sunshine, a snow-bound world.

"Pas chaud," people would declare as they came shivering into our room.
Not hot! Are the French never positive? I think only when it rains, and
then they do commit themselves to a "quel vilain temps."

The ice on the windows, even at the sunny side of the house, refused
to thaw; the water pipes froze. Not a drop of water in the house,
everything solid. Madame put a little coke stove under the tap, and
King Frost laughed aloud. The tap thawed languidly, then froze again,
and remained frozen. A week, two, three weeks went by. Happily there
was water in the cellar.

It was _ennuyant_, certainly, to be obliged to fetch all the water in
pails across the small garden, through the hall and up the stairs, but
Madame endured it, as she endured the chilblains that tortured her
feet, and the nipping cold of her kitchen. Even the frost could not
harden her bubbling good humour.

King Frost gripped the world in firmer fingers, the sun grew more
brilliant, the sky more blue. The Canal froze, the lock gates were
ice palaces, the streets and roads invitations to death or permanent
disablement. Still Madame endured. A morning came when the cold
stripped the flesh from our bones, and we shook as with an ague. The
Common-room door opened, desolation was upon us. Madame staggered
in, fell upon a chair and, lifting up her voice, wept aloud. She was
_désolée_. For two hours she had laboured in the cellar, she had
lighted the _réchaud_ (the little stove), she had poured boiling water
over the tap, she had prayed, she had invoked the Saints and Pappa,
but the water would not come. _Pas une goutte!_ And every pipe in the
Quartier was frozen, there was no water left in all the ice-bound world.

Madame in tears! Madame in a _crise de nerfs_! She who had coped with
disasters that left us gibbering imbeciles, and had laughed her way
through vicissitudes that reduced me, at least, to the intelligent
level of a nerveless jelly-fish! We nearly had a _crise de nerfs_
ourselves, but happily some hot tea was forthcoming, hot tea which
in France is not a beverage, but an _infusion_--like _tilleul_, you
know--and with that we pulled ourselves together. We also resuscitated
Madame, whose long vigil in the cellar had frozen her as nearly
solid as the pipes. Later on, she complained of feeling ill, _un
peu souffrante_. Asked to describe her symptoms, she said she had
"l'estomac embarrassé." Before so mysterious a disease we wilted. But
the loan of a huge _marmite_ from the Canteen restored her; there was
water in the deep well in the Park, Pappa would take the _marmite_ on
the _brouette_ and bring back supplies for the house. He brought them.
As the _marmite_ made its heavy way up the stairs, some one asked where
the queer smell came from.

"That? It is from the water," he replied simply.

Sanitary authorities, take note. We survived it. And we kept ourselves
as clean as we could. When we couldn't we consoled ourselves by
remembering that the washed are less warm than the unwashed. M. l'Abbé
told me that he dropped baths out of his scheme of things while the
frost lasted. Were we not afraid to bathe? We confessed to a reasonable
fear of being found one morning sitting in my square of green canvas,
a pillar like Lot's wife, but of ice, not salt. He brooded on the
picture I called up, I slid like a bag of coal down the hill.

Having administered comfort to "l'estomac embarrassé," we rationed our
supply of water, we prayed for a thaw, Madame began to chirp again,
the world was not altogether given over to the devil. But peace had
forsaken our borders. Going into the kitchen one morning I found Madame
in tears. M. Phillipot had occurred. The deluge was upon us.

Wearying of life in the South, he had come back to Révigny, his mother,
of course, as always, upon his arm, and there, possessed of a thousand
devils, he had bought a wooden house, and there his mother, with all
the maddening malice of a perverse, inconsiderate animal, had been
seized with an illness and was preparing to die.

And she had sent for Madame. No wonder the heavens fell.

"All my life she has ill-treated me," the poor little woman sobbed,
"and now when I am si heureuse avec vous, when I earn good money, she
sends for me. Quel malheur! What cruelty! You do not know what a rude
enfer (hell) I have suffered with that woman. And chez nous, one was so
happy. With Pappa and Clémence all was so peaceful, never a cross word,
never a temper. Ah, what sufferings! Did not the contemplation of them
turn Clémence from marriage for ever? Because of my so grande misère
never would she marry. La belle-mère, she hated me. It was that she was
jealous. But now when she is ill she sends for me. But I will not go.
No, I will not."

"But, Madame, if she is ill? We could manage for a few days." She was
riven with emotion, then the storm passed. Again we reasoned with her.
She must go. After all, if the old woman was dying....

Madame did not believe in the possible dissolution of anything so
entirely undesirable as her _belle-mère_, but in the end humanity
prevailed. She would go, but for one night. She would come back early
on the morrow.

"Ah, Mademoiselle, c'est un vrai voyage de sacrifice that I make." She
put on her Sunday clothes, she took Clémence with her, she came back
that night. Two days later a letter, then a telegram urged her forth
again. We had almost to turn her out of the house. Was not one voyage
of sacrifice enough in a lifetime of sorrow? And the _belle-mère_ would
not die. She, Madame, knew it. Protesting, weeping, she set out, to
come back annoyed, sobered, enraged, _bouleversée_. _La belle-mère_ had
died. What else could one expect from such an ingrate?

And now there was M. Phillipot all alone in the _maudite petite maison_
at Révigny. "Is it that he can live alone? Pensez donc, Mademoiselle!
I, moi qui vous parle, must give up my good place with my friends whom
I love, to whom I have accustomed myself, and live in that desert of
a Révigny. Is it that I shall earn good money there? Monsieur? Il ne
gagne rien, mais rien du tout. Pas ça." She clicked a nail against a
front tooth and shot an expressive finger into the air.

"Then he must come to Bar-le-Duc."

But--ah, if Mademoiselle only knew what she suffered--Monsieur was
possessed of goats--deux chèvres, that he loved. They had followed him
in all his journeyings; when they were tired the soldiers gave them
rides in the _camions_. To the South they had gone with him, back to
Révigny they had come with him. To part with them would be death. You
do not know how he loves them. But could one keep goats in the rue de
Véel?

One could certainly not. We looked at Madame. Physical force might get
her to Révigny, no other power could. Assuredly we who knew her value
could not persuade her. The _impasse_ seemed insurmountable. Then light
broke over it, showing the way. If Monsieur wanted his wife he must
abandon his goats. It was a choice. Let him make it. _Rien de plus
simple._

He chose the goats.



CHAPTER XV

M. LE POILU


I

If you had ventured into Bar-le-Duc during the stormy days of 1916,
when the waves of the German ocean beat in vain against the gates
of Verdun, you might have thought that the entire French army was
quartered there. Soldiers were everywhere. The station-yard was a
wilderness of soldiers. In faded horizon-blue, muddy, inconceivably
dirty, with that air of _je ne sais quoi de fagoté_ which distinguishes
them, they simply took possession of the town. The _pâtisseries_
were packed--how they love cakes, _choux-à-la-crême_, _brioches_,
_madeleines_, tarts!--the Magasins Réunis was a tin in which all the
sardines were blue and all had been galvanised into life; fruit-shops
belched forth clouds that met, mingled and strove with clouds that
sought to envelop the vacated space; in the groceries we, who were
women and mere civilians at that, stood as suppliants, "with bated
breath and whispering humbleness," and generally stood in vain. But
for Madame I verily believe we would have starved. Orderlies from
officers' messes away up on the Front drove, rode or trained down
with lists as long as the mileage they covered, lists that embraced
every human need, from flagons of costly scent to tins of herrings or
_pâté-de-foie-gras_, or _Petit Beurre_, _Lulu_ (the most insinuating
_Petit Beurre_ in the world), from pencils and notepaper to soap, from
asparagus and chickens--twelve francs each and as large as a fair-sized
snipe--to dried prunes and hair-oil. We even heard of one _popotte_
which pooled resources and paid twenty-five francs for a lobster, but
perhaps that tale was merely offered as a tax upon our credulity.

Bar-le-Duc was delirious. Never had it known such a reaping, never had
it heard of such prices. It rose dizzily to an occasion which would
have been sublime but for the inhumanity of the _Petite Vitesse_ which,
lacking true appreciation of the situation, sat down upon its wheels
and ceased to run.

Not that the _Petite Vitesse_ was really to blame. It yearned to
indulge in itinerant action, but there was Verdun, with its gargantuan
mouths wide open, all waiting to be fed, and all clamouring for men,
munitions and _ravitaillement_ of every kind. In those days all roads
led to Verdun--all except one, and that the Germans were hysterically
treading.

However, we wasted no sympathy on the shopkeepers. Their complete
indifference to our needs drove every melting tenderness from our
hearts, or, to be quite accurate, drove it in another direction--that
of the poor _poilu_ who had no list and no fat wallet bulging with
hundred-franc notes. And I think he richly deserved all the sympathy
we could give him. Think of the streets as I have described them
when talking of the Marché Couvert, call to mind every discomfort
that weather can impose, add to them, multiply them exceedingly, and
then extend them beyond the farthest bounds of reason, and you have
Bar in the spring of 1916. Cold, wet, snow, sleet, slush, wind, mud,
rain--interminable rain--did their worst with us, and in them all
and under most soldiers lived in the streets. The _débitants_ and
café-restaurants were closed during a great part of the day, there
was literally nowhere for them to go. They huddled like flocks of
draggled birds in the station-yard, some in groups, some in serried
mass before the barrier, some stamping up and down, some sitting on
the kerb or on the low stone parapet from which the railings spring,
and while some, pillowing their heads on their kits, went exhaustedly
to sleep, others crouched with their backs against the wall. They ate
their bread, opened their tins of _conserve_--generally potted meat or
sardines--sliced their cheese with a pocket-knife, or absorbed needed
comfort from bottles which, for all their original dedication, were
rarely destined to hold water! On the Canal bank they sat or lay in the
snow, on ground holding the seeds of a dozen chilly diseases in its
breast; on the river banks they sprang up like weeds, on the Boulevard
every seat had its quota, and we have known them to have it for the
night. In all the town there was not a canteen or a _foyer_, not a hut
nor a camp, not a place of amusement (except a spasmodic cinema), not a
room set apart for their service. They might have been Ishmaels; they
must have been profoundly uncomfortable.

Yet no one seemed to realise it. That was the outstanding explosive
feature of the case. Late in the spring, towards the end of April or
in May, buffets were opened in the station-yard under the ægis of the
Croix Rouge. At one of these ham, sardines, bread, post cards, tobacco,
chocolate, cakes, matches, _pâté_, cheese, etc., could be bought;
at the other wine, and possibly beer. The space between was not even
roofed over, and, their small purchases made, the men had to consume
them--when eatable--in the open. But of real solicitude, in the British
sense of the word, for their comfort there was none.

France has shown herself mighty in many ways during the war, but--with
the utmost diffidence I suggest it--not in her care for the men who
are waging it. Our Tommies, with their Y.M.C.A. huts and Church Army
and Salvation huts, with their hot baths, their sing-songs in every
rest-camp, their clouds of ministering angels, their constellations of
adoring satellites waiting on them hand and foot, are pampered minions
compared with the French soldier. For him there is neither Y.M.C.A.,
Church Army nor Salvation Army. He comes, some three thousand of him,
_en repos_ to a tiny village, such as Fains or Saudrupt, Trémont or
Bazincourt, he is crowded into barns, granges, stables and lofts, he is
route-marched by day, he is neglected by evening. No one worries about
him. Amusement, distraction there is none. No club-room where he may
foregather comfortably, no cheery canteen with billiards and games,
no shops in which if he has money he can spend it. Blank, cheerless,
uncared-for nothingness. He gets into mischief--what can you expect?
He goes back to the trenches, and shamed eyes are averted and hearts
weighed with care hide behind bravado as he goes.

Sometimes you hear, "The men are so weary and so dispirited they do no
harm." They are like dream people, moving through a world of shadows.
Those who go down into hell do not come back easily to the things of
earth. Sometimes you hear tales that make you wince. The pity of it!
And sometimes you meet young girls who, tempted beyond their strength,
are paying the price of a sin whose responsibility should rest on other
shoulders.

"My friend the Aumonier at F---- does not know what to do with his
men," said the Abbé B. to me one day. "They are utterly discouraged,
he cannot rouse them; they vow they will not go back to the trenches."
And then he talked of agitators who tried to stir up disaffection in
the ranks, Socialist leaders and the like. (France has her Bolos to
meet even in the humblest places.) But I could not help thinking that
the good Aumonier's task would have been a lighter one had plenty of
wholesome recreation been provided for his men in that super-stupid,
dull and uninteresting village of F----.[11]

 [11] It must be remembered that there is no one in such villages or
 their immediate neighbourhood capable of initiating such recreation.
 The inhabitants are of the small farmer class for the most part, the
 mayor a working man, the parish priest old (priests of military age
 serve with the colours), and all are often very poor.

The migratory soldier going to or from leave, or changing from one
part of the Front to another, might, as we have seen, wait hours
at a junction, cold and friendless, without where to lay his head.
And just why it was not particularly easy to discover. We divined a
psychological problem, we never really resolved it.

Does logic, carried to its ultimate conclusion, leave humanity limping
behind it on the road?

Or are the French the victims of their own history? Did not the
Revolution sow the seeds of deep distrust between aristocracy and
bourgeoisie and, more than that, sow an even deeper distrust between
bourgeois and bourgeois? During the Reign of Terror the man who dined
with you to-night all too often betrayed you on the morrow, neighbour
feared neighbour, and with terrible justification, the home became a
fortress round which ran a moat of silence and reserve, the family
circle became the family horizon, people learned to live to themselves,
to mind their own business and let the devil or who would mind that of
their neighbours.

When England was blossoming in a springtime of altruism, when
great-minded men and women were learning that the burden of the poor,
the sick, the suffering was their burden to be shouldered and carried
and passed from hand to hand, France was still maimed and battered by
blows from which she has scarcely yet recovered.

Even to-day French women tell me of the isolation of their upbringing.
"Our father discouraged intercourse with the families about us."

But that narrow individualism--or, more properly, tribalism--is,
I think, dying out, and the present war bids fair to give it its
death-stroke.

Behind the Revolution lay no fine feudal instinct, no traditions save
those of bitter hatred and of resentment on the one hand, of contempt
and oppression on the other. Not, it will be acknowledged, the best
material out of which to reconstitute a broken world. And so what might
be called collective sympathy was a feeble plant, struggling pitifully
in unfavourable soil. The great upper class which has made England so
peculiarly what she is scarcely existed in France. The old aristocracy
passed away, the new sprang from the Napoleonic knapsack; Demos in a
gilt frame, a Demos who had much to forget and infinitely more to
learn.

Some philanthropic societies, of course, existed before the war, but,
so far as my knowledge of them goes, they were run by the State or by
its delegates, the iron hand of officialdom closed down upon them, they
made little if any claim upon the heart of the people. Perhaps in a
nation of such indomitable independence no more was necessary, but what
was necessary--if I may dare to say so--was large-hearted sympathy and
understanding between class and class--a common meeting-ground, in fact.

So, at least, I read the problem, and offer you my solution for what it
is worth, uncomfortably aware that wiser heads than mine may laugh me
out of court and sentence me to eternal derision.

One thing, at least, I do not wish, and that is to bring in a verdict
of general inhumanity and hard-heartedness against the French nation.
A certain imperceptiveness, lack of intuition, of insight, of the
sympathetic imagination--call it what you will--is, perhaps, theirs in
a measure; but, on the other hand, the individual responds quickly,
even emotionally, to an appeal to his softer side. Only he has not
acquired the habit of exposing his soft side to view and asking the
needy to lean upon it! Nor has he acquired the habit of going forth to
look for people ready to lean. He accepts the _status quo_. But prove
to him that it needs altering, and he is with you heart and hand. His
is an attitude of mind, not of heart. When the heart is touched the
mind becomes its staunchest ally. The feeding of the refugees done on
lavish scale, the installation of a hostel for the relatives of men
dying in hospital are instances of what I mean. For months, years,
poor women, wives and mothers coming to take their last farewell of
those who gave their lives for France, had no welcome in Bar. All too
often they were unable to find a bed, they wandered the streets when
the hospitals were closed against them, they slept in the station.
Then a _Médicin-Chef_, with a big heart and reforming mind, suggested
that the refugee dormitories in the market should be converted into a
hostel. No sooner suggested than done. The "Maison des Parents" sprang
into life, a tiny charge was made for _le gîte et la table_, voluntary
helpers served the meals, organised, catered, kept the accounts.
France only needs to be shown the way. One day she will seek it out
for herself. Every day she is finding new roads. And this I am sure
every one who has worked as our Society has done will endorse, no
appeal has ever been made in vain to those who, like our friends in
Bar-le-Duc and elsewhere, gave with unstinting generosity and without
self-advertisement.


II

Think, too, of the hospitals. The call of the wounded was answered
magnificently. Remember that before the war French hospitals were very
much where ours were in the days of Mrs. Gamp, and before Florence
Nightingale carried her lamp through their dark and noisome places.
It is said that the nursing used to be done by nuns for the most
part, a fact of which the Government took no cognisance when it drove
the religious orders from the country, and when they went away it
fell into the hands of riff-raff. Women of no character, imported by
students as worthless as themselves, masqueraded as ministering angels,
and it is safe to assume that they neither ministered nor were angelic.
Gentlewomen, even the _petit bourgeoisie_, drew their skirts aside
from such creatures. The woman of good birth and education who became
a nurse, not only violated her code by earning her living, but cut her
social cables and drifted out upon an almost uncharted sea. Only the
few who were brave enough to attempt it trained (if my authorities are
reliable) in England, and no doubt it was owing in large measure to
them that a movement for re-organising the hospitals was set on foot.
But before the project could mature the church bells, ringing out their
call to arms, rang out a call to French women too, and gathered them
into the nursing profession.

Perhaps that is why the hale, hearty, often dirty, and by no means
always respectful _poilu_ has been neglected. Woman seeing him wounded
had no eye for him whole. Besides, he is rather a bewildering thing;
his gods are not her gods, his standards not her standards, she
is--dare I whisper it?--just a little afraid of him, as we are apt to
be of the thing we do not understand. All her instinct has bidden her
banish him from her orbit, but insensibly, inevitably he is beginning
to move in it, to worm himself in. Wounded, she has him at her mercy,
and when, repaired, patched and nursed into the semblance of a man
again, he goes back to the trenches surely she can never think of
him in the old way, or look at him from the old angle? As your true
democrat is at heart a complete snob, the poor _poilu_ used to be, and
is probably to a large extent still, looked down upon as an inferior
being. Conscription rubbed the hero from him, but the human being is
beginning to emerge.

It is possible that in the hospitals another revolution is taking place
which, if unseen and unguessed at, may be scarcely less far-reaching
in its effects than the old. It has at least drawn the women outside
the charmed circle of the home, it is bringing them hourly into contact
with a side of life which, but for the war, might have remained a
closed book whose pages they would always have shrunk from turning.
Such close contact with human agony, endurance and death cannot leave
them unmoved, and though they have not yet thoroughly mastered the
knack of making hospitals HOMES, though many little comforts, graces
and refinements that we think essential are missing, still, when one
remembers the overwhelming ignorance with which they began and the
difficulties they had to contend with, we must concede that they
have done wonders. For, unlike our V.A.D.s, they did not step into
up-to-date, well-appointed wards with lynx-eyed sisters, steeped in
the best traditions, waiting to instruct them. Experience was their
teacher. They were amateurs doing professional work, and without
discredit to them we may sympathise with the soldiers who, transferred
from a hospital under British management to one run by their own
compatriots, wept like children. Which shows that though we may deny
him the quality, the _poilu_ appreciates and is grateful for a good
dose of judicious petting.


III

Yes! The _poilu_ deserves our sympathy. He is, to my mind, one of
the most tragic figures of the war. He is pursued by a fatalism
as relentless as it is hopeless, and whether he is ill or well is
subjected to much unnecessary discomfort. He hates war, he hates the
trenches, he loathes the life of the trenches, he wants nothing so
much in the world as his own hearthstone. He is often despairing, and
convinced of defeat. ("Mademoiselle, never can we drive the Boche
from his trenches, _never_!") and yet he goes on. There lies the hero
in him--he goes on. Not one in a hundred of him has Tommy's cheery
optimism, unfailing good-humour, cheerful grumble and certainty of
victory. And yet he goes on! He sings _L'Internationale_, he vows in
regiments that "on ne marchera plus. C'est fini"--but he goes on. He is
really rather wonderful, for he has borne the brunt of heavy fighting
for more than three years, and behind him is no warm barrage of
organised care, of solicitude for his welfare, or public ministration
to shield him from the devils of depression and despair. His wife, his
sister, his mother may pinch and starve to send him little comforts,
but he is conscious of the pinching, he has not yet got the great
warm heart of a generous nation at his back. Think of his pay, of his
separation allowances (those of the refugees, one franc twenty-five per
day per adult, fifty centimes per day per child), and then picture him
fighting against heavy odds, standing up to and defying the might of
Germany at Verdun. Isn't he wonderful?

He seems to have no hope of coming through the war alive. In canteen,
in the train, in the kitchens of the refugees you may hear him say,
"At Verdun or on the Somme, what matter? It will come some time, and
best for those to whom it comes quickly."

"Ceux qui cherchent la mort ne la trouve jamais." The speaker was a
quick, vivid thing, obviously not of the working classes. He had been
_cité_ (mentioned) more than once, and offered his stripes with a view
to a commission several times, but had always refused them. "For me,
I do not mind, but think of the responsibility ... to know that the
lives of others hung upon you, your coolness, quickness, readiness
of decision. _Impossible!_ And it is the sergeants who die. The
mortality among them is higher than in any other rank. They must expose
themselves more, you see.... Oh yes, there are men who are afraid, and
there are men who try to die." It was then he added, "But those who
seek death never find it. The man who hesitates, who peers over the top
of the trench, who looks this way and that, wondering if the moment is
good, he gets killed; but the man who is not afraid, the man who wants
to die, he rushes straight out, he rushes straight up to the Boche ...
he is never hurt."

And then he and his companion talked of men who longed to die, who
courted death but in vain. Both expressed a quiet, unemotional
conviction that Death would come to them before long. And both wore the
Croix de Guerre.

Old Madame Leblan--you remember her?--had a nephew whom she loved as
a son. He and her own boys had grown up together, and she would talk
to me of Paul by the hour. He saw all the Verdun fighting, and before
that much that was almost as fierce; he visited her during every leave,
he brought her and her family gifts, napkin-rings, pen-handles,
paper-cutters, finger-rings, all sorts of odds and ends made in
the trenches from shell-cases and the like. He was always cheery,
always sure he would come again. Paul was like a breeze of sunny
wind, he never lost heart, he never lost hope--until they gave him
his commission. He refused it over and over again. Then his Colonel,
taxing him with want of patriotism, forced him to accept it. That
week he wrote to Madame. He told her of his promotion, adding, "In a
fortnight I shall get leave, so I am looking forward to seeing you all,
unless...."

She showed me the letter. She pointed to that significant "unless...."

"Never have I known Paul to write like that. Always he said I will
come." Her heart was full of foreboding, and next time I saw her she
took out the letter with shaking hands. Paul was dead.

"He knew," she said, as she wept bitterly; "he knew when he took his
commission."

A reconnaissance from which all his men got back safely, Paul last of
all, crawling on hands and knees ... raises himself to take a necessary
observation ... a sniper ... a swift bullet ... a merciful death ...
and an old heart bleeding from a wound that will never heal.

"If we see Death in front of us we care no more for it than we do
for that." A Zouave held a glass of lemonade high above the canteen
counter. "For that is the honour of the regiment. Death?" he shrugged.
"One will die, _sans doute_. At Verdun, on the Somme, _n'importe_! My
_copain_ here has been wounded twice. And I? I had two brothers, they
are both in your cemetery here. Yes, killed at Verdun, M'amzelle; I
was wounded. Some day I suppose that we, _nous aussi_...." Again he
shrugged. "Will you give me another lemonade?"

He and his companion wore the _fourragère_, the cord of honour, given
to regiments for exceptional gallantry in the field. They had been
at Vaux. And what marvels of endurance and sheer pluck the Zouaves
exhibited there are matters now of common knowledge. Personally,
I nourish a calm conviction that but for them and their whirlwind
sacrifice Verdun must have fallen.


IV

Fatalists? Yes. But a thousand other things besides. It is useless to
try and offer you the _poilu_ in tabloid form, he refuses to be reduced
to a formula. The pessimist of to-day is the inconsequent child of
to-morrow. You pity him for his misfortunes, and straightway he makes
you yearn to chastise him for his impertinence. His manners--especially
in the street--like the Artless Bahdar's, "are not always nice." He
can be, and all too often is, frankly indecent; indeed there are
hours when you ask yourself wildly whether indecency is not just a
question of opinion, and whether standards must shift when frontiers
are crossed, and a new outlook on life be acquired as diligently and as
open-mindedly as one acquires--or strives to!--a Parisian accent.

It is, of course, in the canteen that he can be studied most easily.
There you see him in all his moods, and there you need all your wits
about you if you are not to be put out of court a hundred times a day.
Canteens are, as we have seen, accidental luxuries on the French front.
They took root in most inhospitable soil. As happy hunting-grounds for
the pacifists and anti-war agitators they were feared, their value
as restoratives (I speak temperamentally, not gastronomically) being
practically unknown. But once known it was recognised. The canteen at
Bar-le-Duc, for instance, has been the means of opening up at least two
others, though the opinion of one General, forcibly expressed when it
was in process of installation, filled its promoters with darkest gloom.

"There will not be an unsmashed bowl, cup or plate in a week. The men
will destroy everything." And therein proved himself a false prophet,
for the men destroyed nothing--except our faith in that General's
knowledge of them!

Once, indeed, we did see them in unbridled mood, and many and deep
were the complications that followed it. It was New Year's Eve, and
as I crossed the station yard I could hear wild revelry ascending to
the night. (Perhaps at this point it would be as well to say that the
canteen was not run by or connected in any way with our Society, and
that I and two members of the _coterie_ worked there as supernumeraries
in the evenings when other work was done. The fourth and by no means
last member was one of the fairy godmothers whose magic wand had waved
it into being.) Going in, I found it as usual in a fog of smoke, and
thronged with men. Now precisely what befell it would take too long to
relate, but I admit you to some esoteric knowledge. The evening, for
me, began with songs sung in chorus, passed swiftly to solos which
blistered the air, and which would have been promptly silenced had not
Authority warned us "to leave the men alone, they are in dangerous
mood to-night." (A warning with which one helper, at least, had no
sympathy.) It may safely be assumed that there was much in those songs
which we did not understand, but, judging by what we did, ignorance was
more than bliss, it was the topmost pinnacle of discretion.

The soloist hoarse (he should have had a megaphone, so terrific was
the din), his place was taken by a creature so picturesque that all my
hearts went out to him at once. (It is as well to take a few hundred
with you when you go to France, they have such a trick of mislaying
themselves.) He was tall and slender, finely made, splendidly poised,
well-knit, a graceful thing with finished gestures, and he wore a
red fez, wide mustard-coloured trousers and a Zouave coat. He was
singularly handsome with chiselled features and eyes of that deep soft
brown that one associates with the South. Furthermore, he possessed no
mean gift of oratory.

He stood on the bench that did duty as a platform. Jan Van Steen might
have painted the canteen then, or would he have vulgarised it? In spite
of everything, in some indefinable way it was not vulgar, and yet we
instinctively felt that it ought to have been. What saved it? Ah, that
I cannot tell. Perhaps the dim light, or the faint blueish haze of
tobacco smoke, the stacked arms, trench-helmets hanging on the walls.
Or else that wonderful horizon-blue, a colour that is capable of every
artistic _nuance_, that lures the imagination, that offers a hundred
beauties to the eye, and can resolve itself as exquisitely against
the dark boarding of a canteen as against the first delicate green of
spring, or against autumn woods a riot of colour.

Now the speech of that graceless creature, swaying lightly above the
crowd, was everything that a canteen or war-time speech ought not
to be. It began with abuse of capitalists--well, they deserved it,
perhaps. It taxed them with all responsibility for the war, it yearned
passionately to see them in the trenches. There, at least, we were in
accord. We know a few.... But when it went on to say that the masses
who fought were fools, that they should "down tools," that the German
is too rich, too powerful, too well-organised, too supreme a militarist
ever to be defeated.... Then British pride arose in arms.... Just what
might have happened I cannot say, for French pride arose too, and as
it rose the orator descended, and holy calm fell for a moment upon the
raging tumult.

It was indeed a hectic evening, and I, for one, was hoarse for two
days after it. Even "Monsieur désire?" or "Ça fait trente-trois sous,
Monsieur," was an exercise requiring vocal cords of steel or of wire in
such a hubbub, and mine, alas! are of neither.

But the descent of the orator was not the end. Somehow, no matter how,
it came to certain ears that the canteen that night had been the scene
of an "orgy," the reputation of France was at stake, and so it befell
that one afternoon when the thermometer sympathetically registered
twenty-two degrees of frost, Colonel X. interviewed those of us who had
assisted at the revels, separately one by one, in the little office
behind the canteen. He wanted, it seems, to find out exactly what had
happened. Well, he found out!

Put to the question, "Colonel X.," quoth I, not knowing the enormity I
was committing, "the men had drunk a little too much."

"But, Mademoiselle," his dignity was admirable, reproof was in every
line of his exquisitely-fitting uniform, "soldiers of France are never
drunk."

"Then"--this very sweetly--"can you tell me where they get the wine?"

And he told me! He ought to have shot me, of course, and no doubt I
should richly have deserved it. But inadvertently I had touched upon
one of his pet grievances. The military authorities can close the
_débitants_ and restaurants, but they cannot close the _épiceries_.

"Every grocer in France," he cried, "can get a license to sell wine.
He sends a small boy--_un vrai gosse_--to the Bureau, he stamps a
certificate, he pays a few francs, and that is all. A soldier can fill
his bottle at any grocer's in the town. Why," he went on, the original
cause of our interview forgotten and the delinquent turned confidante,
"not long ago I entrained a regiment here sober, Mademoiselle, I assure
you sober, but when they arrived at R---- they were drunk. And the
General was furious. 'What do you mean by sending me drunken soldiers?'
he thundered. They had filled their bottles, they were thirsty in the
train...."

But officially, you understand, soldiers of France are never drunk.
Actually they seldom are. Coming home after six months in Bar, I saw
more soldiers under the influence of drink in a week (it included a
journey to Ireland in a train full of ultra-cheerful souls) than in all
my time in France. That men who were far from sober came occasionally
to the canteen cannot be denied, there are rapscallions in every army,
but the percentage was small, and with twenty-two degrees of frost
gnawing his vitals there is excuse for the man who solaces himself with
wine.


V

It was characteristic of the French mind that Colonel X. could not
understand why we did not call the station guard and turn the rioters
into the street. To wander about in that bitter wind, to get perhaps
into all sorts of trouble! Better a rowdy canteen a hundred times over.

We were frank enough--at least I know I was--on that aspect of the
episode, and, all honour to him, he conceded a point though he failed
to understand its necessity. But now, as at so many pulsating moments
of my career, the ill-luck that dogs me seized me in the person of the
Canteen-Chief and removed me from the room. She, poor ignorant dear,
thought I was being indiscreet, whereas I was merely being receptive.
I am sure I owe that Canteen-Chief a grudge, and I HOPE the Colonel
thinks he does, but on that point his discretion has been perfect.

Only in the very direst extremity would we have called in the station
guard. We knew the deep-seated animosity with which the soldier views
the gendarme. I may be wrong, but my firm impression is that he hates
him even more than, or quite as much, as he hates the Boche. I suppose
because he does not fight. There must be something intensely irritating
to a war-scarred soldier in the sight of a strapping, well-fed,
comfortable policeman. You know the story of the wounded Tommy making
his way back from the lines and being accosted by a red-cap?

"'Some' fight, eh?" he inquired blandly.

"Some don't," retorted Tommy, and that sums the situation up more
neatly than a volume of explanation.

Once, after the Walpurgis Night, a man chose to be noisy and slightly
offensive in the canteen. It was a thing that rarely happened, and
could always be dealt with, but, smarting possibly under a reprimand,
the guard rushed in, seized a quiet, inoffensive, rather elderly man
who was meekly drinking his coffee, and in spite of remonstrances and
protestations in which the canteen-workers joined, dragged him off,
cutting his throat rather badly with a bayonet in the scuffle. A little
incident which in no way inclined us to lean for support, moral or
otherwise, upon the guardians of military law. But we gave them their
coffee or chocolate piping hot just the same.

And there were weeks when hot drinks were more acceptable than would
have been promise of salvation.

"Bien chaud" ("Very hot") they would cry, coming in with icicles on
their moustaches and snow thick on their shoulders. Once an officer
asked for coffee.

"Very hot, please."

"It is boiling, Monsieur." He gulped it down.

"It is the first hot food I have tasted for fourteen days."

"From Vaux?" we asked.

"Yes, front line trenches. Everything frozen, the wine in the
wine-casks solid. Yes, another bowl, please."

Once another officer came in accompanied by an older man whom we
thought must be his father. He begged for water.

"It comes straight from the main tap, it is neither filtered nor
boiled," we told him.

"_N'importe._" No, he would not have tea nor coffee. Water, cold water.
He had a raging, a devouring thirst. A glass was filled and given him.

"Suppose Monsieur gets typhoid?"

"He has it now," the elderly man replied. "His temperature is high,
that is why he has so great thirst." The patient drank another glass.
Then they both went away. We often wondered whether he recovered.

Once, at least, our hearts went out to another sick man. He leaned
against the counter with pallid face, over which the sweat of physical
weakness was breaking. Questioned, he told us he had just been
discharged from hospital, he was going back to the trenches, to Verdun,
in the morning. He looked as if he ought to have been in his bed. I
wonder if any society exists in France with the object of helping such
men? We never heard of one (which by no means proves that it does not
exist), but oh, how useful it might have been in Bar! One morning, for
instance, a man tottered into the canteen, ordered a cup of coffee,
drank, laid his head down on the table and fell into a stupefied doze.
So long did he remain the canteeners became anxious. Presently he
stirred, and told them that he had come there straight from a hospital,
that he was going home on leave, that his home was far--perhaps two
days' journey--away, and he had not a sou in his pocket. He was by no
means an isolated case. As a packet of food was being made up for him,
a soldier, obviously a stranger to the sick man, ordered _deux œufs
sur-le-plat_."

"They are not for myself," he said, "but for the pal here." A little
act of good comradeship that was by no means the only one of its kind.

The moment which always thrilled was that in which a regimental
Rothschild treated his companions to the best of our store. How eagerly
and exhaustively the list of _boissons_ was studied!

"Un café? C'est combien? Deux sous? ce n'est pas cher ça." Then to a
friend, "Qu'est-ce-que-tu-prends?"

"Moi? je veux bien un café."

"No, non, un chocolat. C'est très bon le chocolat." The coffee lover
wavers.

"Soit. Un chocolat alors." Then some one else cannot make up his mind.
A bearded man pouring _bouillon_ down his throat recommends that. It
is excellent. The merits of soup are discussed. Then back they go to
coffee again, and all the time as seriously as if the issue of the
war depended upon their deliberations. At length, however, a decision
is made--not without much pleading for _gniolle_ (rum) on the part
of Rothschild. "A drop? Just a tiny drop, Mad'm'zelle. Eh, there is
none? _Mais comment ça?_ How can one drink a _jus_ (coffee) without
_gniolle_? Mad'm'zelle is not kind." He would wheedle a bird from the
bushes, but happily for our strength of mind there is no drink stronger
than _jus_ in the canteen, a fact he finds it exceedingly difficult to
believe. We know that when at last he accepts defeat he is convinced
that fat bottles lie hidden under the counter to be brought forth for
one whose powers of persuasion are greater than his. He loads his
bowls on a tray, carries them by some occult means unbroken through the
throng, and has his reward when the never-failing ceremony of clinking
bowls or glasses with _Bonne chance!_ or _Bonne Santé!_ or _À vous_,
prefaces the feast.

A pretty rite that of the French. Never did two comrades drink together
in the canteen without doing it reverence. Never did I, visiting a
refugee, swallow, for my sins, _vin ordinaire rouge_ in which a lump of
sugar had been dissolved without first clinking glasses with my hosts
and murmuring a "Good health," or "Good luck," and feeling strangely
and newly in sympathy with them as I did so. The little rite invested
commonplace hospitality with grace and spiritual meaning.


VI

However, you must not think that the canteen kept us in a state of
soppy sentiment, or even of perfervid sympathy. Sanity was the mood
that suited it best. Presence of mind the quality that made for
success. A sense of humour the saving grace that made both the former
possible. When a thin, dark individual leans upon the counter for half
an hour or more, silent, ruminative, pondering--it is a quiet night, no
rush--gather your forces together. His eyes follow you wherever you go,
you see revelations hovering on his lips. You become absorbed in ham or
sausage (horse-sausage is incredibly revolting), but your absorption
cannot last. Even sausages fail to charm, and then the dark one sees
his opportunity. He leans towards you ... His faith in himself must
be immense.... Does he really think that a journey to Paris at 2 a.m.
in an omnibus train and a snowstorm can tempt you? If we had consoled
all the lonely _poilus_ who offered us--temporarily--their hands, their
hearts and their five sous a day we should now be confirmed bigamists.

Or it may be that you are busy and contemplation of sausage
unnecessary. Then he sets up a maddening _Dîtes, dîtes, dîtes,
Mad'm'zelle_, that drives you to distraction. To silence him is
impossible. Indifference leaves him unmoved. He is like a clock in a
nightmare that goes on striking ONE!

That he has an eye for beauty goes without saying. "Voilà, une jolie
petite brune! Vas-y." So two vagabonds catching sight of a decorative
canteener, and off they go to discuss the price of ham, for only by
such prosaic means can Sentiment leap over the counter. He addresses
you by any and every name that comes into his head. "La mère," "la
patronne" (these before he grasped the fact that the canteen was an
_œuvre_ and not a commercial enterprise), "la petite," "la belle," "la
belle Marguerite," "la Frisée," "la Dame aux Lunettes," "la petite
Rose," and many others I have forgotten.

Indeed, the French aptitude for nicknames based on physical
attributes was constantly thrust on us. The refugees, finding our
own names uncomfortable upon the tongue, fell back on descriptive
nomenclature. "La Blonde," "la Blanche," for the fair-haired. "La
Grande," "la Belle," "la belle Dame au Lunettes," "la petite bleue,"
"la Directrice," "la grande dame maigre." And once when a bill was in
dispute in a shop the proprietress exclaimed, "Is it that you wish to
know who bought the goods? It was la petite qui court toujours et qui
est toujours si pressée" (the little lady who always runs and is always
in such a hurry). As a verbal snapshot it has never been equalled. It
would have carried conviction in any court in the country.

But most of all the heart of the soldier rejoices when he can call you
his _marraine_ (godmother). That we, mere English, pursued by ardent
souls, should sometimes be compelled to send out S.O.S. messages to our
comrades; that, feeling the mantle of our dignity slipping perilously
from our shoulders, we should cast aside our remote isolation and
engage the worker in the "next department" in animated conversation,
was only to be expected. But our hearts rejoiced and the imps in us
danced ecstatically when Madame D. was discovered one day hiding in the
office. She, splendid ally that she always was, volunteered to sit at
the receipt of custom on certain afternoons each week, and, clad in her
impenetrable panoply, at once suavely polite, gracious but infinitely
aloof, to sell _tickés_ with subdued but inextinguishable enjoyment.
But a lonely _poilu_ strayed by who badly needed a _marraine_, and so
persistent was he in his demands, so irresistible in his pleadings, so
embarrassing in his attentions, Madame, the panoply melting and dignity
snatched by the winds, fled to the office, from whence no persuasions
could lure her till the lonely one had gone his unsatisfied way.

It is the man from the _pays envahi_ who, most of all, needs a
_marraine_, e. g. a sympathetic, sensible woman who will write to him,
send him little gifts and take an interest in his welfare. Because all
too often he stands friendless and alone. His relatives, his family
having remained in their homes, between him and them lies silence
more awful than death. He is a prey to torturing fears, he endures
much agony of mind, dark forebodings hang about him like a miasma
poisoning all his days. No news! And his loved ones, in the hands of
a merciless foe, may be in the very village the French or the British
are shelling so heavily! From his place in the trenches he may see the
tall chimneys, the church spire in the distance. He has been gazing
yearningly at them for two years, has seen landmarks crumble and
steeples totter as the guns searched out first one, then another....
A _marraine_ may well save the reason of such men as these. She can
assuredly rob life of much of its bitterness, and inspire it with hope
and courage to endure.

One of these men who came from Stenay told us of his misery. He had
done well in the army, had been promoted, might have been commissioned,
but his loneliness, the vultures of conjecture that tugged at his
heart, his longing and his grief overwhelmed him one night, and seeking
distraction in unwise ways he fell into dire trouble, and was reduced
to the ranks....

And yet, though I write of these poor derelicts, it is the gay and
gallant who holds my imagination. The thing of the "glad eye," and the
swagger, the jest, "Going _en permission_, Mad'm'zelle," the happiest
thing in France! It is he, the irrepressible, who carries gaiety
through the streets as he rolls by in his _camions_; he sings, he plays
discordant instruments, he buys _couronnes_ of bread, he shouts to
the women. "Ah, la belle fille!" "Mad'm'zelle, on aura un rendez-vous
là-bas." Sometimes he is more explicit:--intermittent deafness is an
infirmity of psychological value in the War Zone! And he thoroughly
enjoys the canteen. He likes "ploom-cak," he likes being waited on by
_Les Anglaises_, he likes the small refinements (though now and then
he "borrows" the forks), he appreciates generosity, he is by no means
ungrateful (see him pushing a few coppers across the counter with a
shamefaced "C'est pour l'œuvre"), and at his worst, least controlled,
most objectionable, he can be shamed into silence or an apology by a
few firm or tactful words.

A bewildering thing! If I wrote of him for ever I should not be able to
explain him.



ENVOI


And so the tale is written, and the story told in strange halting
numbers that can but catch here and there at the great melody of the
human symphony.

Just for one moment one may lay one's finger on the pulse of a great
nation, feel its heart beat, feel the quivering, throbbing life that
flows through its veins, but more than that who dare hope to gain? Not
in one phase, nor in one era, not in one great crisis nor even in a
myriad does the heart of a people express itself fully. From birth to
death, from its first feeble primitive struggles as it emerges from
the Womb of Time to its last death-throe as it sinks back again into
the Nothingness from which it came, it gathers to itself new forces,
new aspirations, new voices, new gods, new altars, new preachers,
new goals, new Heavens, new Hells, new readings of the Riddle that
only Eternity will solve. It is in perpetual solution, and the
composite atoms that compose it are in a state of unending change and
transmutation; it dies but to live again in other forms, is silent
only to express itself through new and--may we not hope it?--more
finely-tuned instruments.

Summarising it to-day you may say of your summary, This is Truth. But
to-morrow it is already falsehood, for the Nation, bound upon the Wheel
of Evolution, has passed on, leaving you bewildered by the way. And
since the war has thrown the nations of the world into the crucible,
until they come forth again, and not till then, may we say, with
finality, "This is gold, or that alloy."

France is being subjected to a severe test; her burden is almost more
than she can bear, but as she shoulders it we see the gold shining,
we believe that the dross is falling away. No defeat in the field--if
such an end were possible--can rob her of her glory, just as no victory
could save Germany from shame. "What shall it profit a Nation if it
gain the whole world, and lose its own soul?" The soul of Germany is
withered and dead. She has sacrificed it on the Altar of Militarism,
and has set up the galvanic battery of a relentless despotism and crude
materialism in its place.

But the Soul of France lives on, strengthened and purified, the Soul of
a Nation that seeks the Light and surely one day shall find it.


 THE END


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  ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NOVELS OF THE SPRING.

 =Captain Dieppe=: By ANTHONY HOPE, Author of "The Prisoner of Zenda,"
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In this novel, Anthony Hope, after a long interval, returns again to
similar scenes that formed the background of his famous novel "The
Prisoner of Zenda."

Captain Dieppe, adventurer, servant of fortune, and, if not a fugitive,
still a man to whom recognition would be inconvenient and perhaps
dangerous, with only fifty francs in his pocket and a wardrobe in
a knapsack might be seen marching up a long steep hill on a stormy
evening. Later he finds himself before a castle bordering on a river
and his curiosity is roused by finding only one half of the house
lighted up. He meets the Count of Fieramondi, hears from him a strange
story, and of course takes an active interest in his affairs.

The story, which has a powerful love interest running through it, tells
of his many adventures.


 =The Test=: By SYBIL SPOTTISWOODE, Author of "Her Husband's Country,"
 "Marcia in Germany," etc. Cloth, 6s. net.

This delightful novel can be thoroughly recommended. It gives a very
true impression of a bit of English life in and about a provincial town
in War time. The story concerns three daughters of a Colonel, of whom
the eldest is the central figure. These and the other characters who
are interwoven into the story are absolutely natural, convincing and
typical, and will be found most interesting company.

All the Author's Profits are to be devoted to Italian Refugees.


 =The Chronicles of St. Tid=: By EDEN PHILLPOTTS. Cloth, and with an
 attractive coloured wrapper, 6s. net.

The scenes in this volume, which contains nearly 100,000 words, are
laid in the West Country, the most popular setting of this famous
author. It shows Eden Phillpotts at his best.


  A FINE NOVEL OF THE SOUTH SEAS BY A NEW AUTHOR.

 =Rotorua Rex=: By J. ALLEN DUNN. Cloth, and with an attractive
 coloured wrapper, 6s. net.

Everybody is on the look-out for a good strong story of love and
adventure. Here is an exceptionally fine one, on the South Seas, which
all lovers of Stevenson's and Stacpoole's novels will thoroughly enjoy.
Each page grips the attention of the reader, and few will put the book
down till the last page is reached.

 =Simpson of Snell's=: By WILLIAM HEWLETT, Author of "The Child at the
 Window," "Introducing William Allison," "The Plot Maker," etc. Cloth,
 with an attractive coloured wrapper, 6s. net.

This is a story, or rather study, of a young clerk, the type of clerk
that the modern commercial machine turns out by the hundred thousand as
a by-product of our civilization. Simpson, invoicing clerk at Snell's,
the celebrated patent-food people, had always seen life through the
medium of thirty shillings a week, and the only oasis in his dreary
desert of existence was his annual fortnight at Margate, where
flannels, cheap excitements and "girls" abounded.

Why did not Mr. William Hewlett leave Simpson in this humble obscurity?
Well, because Destiny had a great and moving part for him in the comedy
of life! I don't think Simpson ever realized it was a "part" he was
playing. It was certainly not the part he planned for himself, and
throughout the period in which, at Mr. Hewlett's bidding he appears as
a public character, he is seen almost invariably doing the thing he
dislikes.

Simpson would have pursued the customary course of clerking and
philandering to the end of his days, had it not been for an
enterprising hosier, an unenterprising actor and the egregious
Ottley--the public-school "Spark" dropped into Snell's like a meteor
from the skies. The hosier and the actor introduced poor Simpson to
"temperament," and temperament is a restive horse in a needy clerk's
stable. But Ottley introduced him to Winnie. Winnie was there before,
of course, a typist in his own office. But it was not until Ottley wove
his evil web for Nancy that Winnie wove her innocent spell for Simpson.
And because Winnie held Simpson securely and loved her friend's honour
better than her own happiness, he rose to the full height of manhood,
and to make the supreme sacrifice which turned him, an avowed enemy of
heroics, into the greatest and most unexpected of heroes.

The story has a strong love-interest running through it with a most
dramatic ending. It cannot fail to increase Mr. William Hewlett's
popularity, and the publishers wish to draw special attention to it.


  A LADY "SHERLOCK HOLMES."

  A FINE NOVEL BY A NEW AUTHOR.

 =The Green Jacket=: By JENNETTE LEE. A thrilling story of a Lady
 Detective who unravels a great Jewel Mystery. Cloth, and with an
 attractive coloured wrapper, 6s. net.

Millicent Newberry, a small, inconspicuous woman in grey, is a clever
lady detective.

She keeps green wool by her and knits a kind of pattern of her case
into the article she is making at the time. When the story opens, she
is asked to employ her wits to the loss of the Mason Emeralds. The
Green Jacket is the bit of knitting she has in hand. Her condition of
undertaking a case is permission to deal privately with the criminal as
she thinks best--reforming treatment rather than legal punishment--and
she makes it work.

This detective story can be thoroughly recommended. The Author combines
an exciting story with the charm of real literary art; the mystery
is so impenetrable as to baffle the cleverest readers until the very
sentence in which the secret is revealed.


  A REMARKABLE FIRST HISTORICAL NOVEL.

 =Claymore!=: By ARTHUR HOWDEN SMITH. A Story of the '45 Rebellion.
 Cloth, and with an attractive coloured wrapper, 6s. net.

Here is a first novel which, we believe, will bring to the Author
immediate popularity. It is an attractive story of the Stuart Rebellion
of the '45, full of love and adventure and with a good ending. The
hero, young Chisholm, of English birth, joins Prince Charlie and the
Stuart cause. How he meets and loves Sheila, the young girl chieftain
of the Mac Ross Clan, and their many perils and adventures with rival
claimants and traitors, together with happenings of many historical
persons and incidents appearing throughout the story, make "Claymore"
one of the best and arresting historical novels published for many a
year.


 =Tales that are Told=: By ALICE PERRIN, Author of "The Anglo-Indians,"
 etc. Cloth, and with an attractive coloured wrapper, 6s.

This volume consists of a short novel of about 25,000 words and several
fine Anglo-Indian and other stories.

  EARLY REVIEWS.

"Ten of her very clever tales."--_The Globe._

"This attractive book."--_Observer._

"We can cordially recommend this book."--_Western Mail._

"An admirable and distinguished bit of writing. Mrs. Perrin at her
best."--_Punch._

"I can recommend these stories."--_Evening News._


 =Sunny Slopes=: By ETHEL HUESTON. Author of "Prudence of the
 Parsonage." 6s. net. with an attractive 3-colour wrapper.

This story is an inspiration to cheerful living. Not the impossible,
sentimental, goody-goody kind, but the sane, sensible, human and
humorous. Take it up if you are down-cast and learn how to keep the
sunny slopes in sight, even if the way seems to lead into the dark
valley.

Its appeal is to all who love clean, wholesome, amusing fiction. Both
young and those not so young will glory in Carrol's fight for her
husband's life, and laugh over Connie's hopeless struggle to keep from
acquiring a lord and master. The quotations below will show you that
Ethel Hueston has something to say and knows how to say it.

"If one can be pretty as well as sensible I think it's a Christian duty
to do it."

"He is as good as an angel and as innocent as a baby. Two very good
traits, but dangerous when you take them both together."

"The wickedest fires in the world would die out if there were not some
idle hands to fan them."

"The only way to keep your husband out of danger is to tackle it
yourself."

"Read Chapter IV and see how Carol does it."


  TWO ENTIRELY NEW NOVELS, 3s. 6d. NET EACH.

 =The Cabinet Minister=: By WILLIAM LE QUEUX. Cloth, and with an
 attractive coloured wrapper, 3s. 6d. net.

Mr. Le Queux's famous detective novels need no introduction to readers;
they sell by the tens of thousands. The "Cabinet Minister" is a new
novel with a weird and fascinating plot which holds the reader from
the first page to the last. His Majesty's Cabinet Minister, Mr. George
Chesham, has disappeared in very mysterious circumstances, and in his
place is a dead stranger, who let himself into the house with Mr.
Chesham's own latch-key. This is the problem set for the public and
readers to unravel. The story is full of highly exciting incidents
of love and adventure, with a strong detective interest--the Covers
unravelling the mystery--in the true Le Queux style.


 =The Secret Monitor=: By GUY THORNE. Author of "The Secret Submarine."
 Cloth, with an attractive coloured wrapper, 3s. 6d. net.

A remarkable, thrilling and swiftly-moving story of love, adventure and
mystery woven round about half a dozen characters on the Atlantic coast
of Ireland, Liverpool and elsewhere, in connection with the invention
of a new material made from papier mâché (destined to take the place of
steel), and the building of a wonderful new ship from it. Finally, when
launched, "The Secret Monitor" goes on a mission to destroy a German
base, and a succession of breathless adventures follow. This novel
ought to considerably increase the popularity which has been gradually
and consistently growing for Mr. Guy Thorne's mystery novels. No one,
after picking up the book, will want to put it down until the last page
is read.


    SKEFFINGTON'S 1s. 6d. NOVELS.

  BOUND, AND WITH ATTRACTIVE PICTORIAL WRAPPERS.

 =Sir Nigel=: By A. CONAN DOYLE.

 =Spragge's Canyon=: By H. A. VACHELL (Author of "Quinneys").

 =The Great Plot=: By WILLIAM LE QUEUX, "The Master of Mystery."

 =The Mysterious Mr. Miller=: By WILLIAM LE QUEUX, "The Master of
 Mystery."

 =The Leavenworth Case=: By ANNA KATHERINE GREEN.

   _Also uniform with the above_:

 =A Woman Spy=: Further confessions and experiences of Germany's
 principal Secret Service woman, Olga von Kopf, edited by HENRY DE
 HALSALLE.


London: SKEFFINGTON & SON, LTD., Publishers, 34, Southampton Street,
Strand, W.C.2.


_Any of the Books in this List can be posted on receipt of a
Remittance._


  [Illustration: S&S monogram]

  TELEGRAMS;
  LANGUAGE-RAND,
  LONDON.

  TELEPHONE NO.
  7435 GERRARD.

  To the Clergy:
  Lent, 1918.

  _34, SOUTHAMPTON STREET,
  STRAND, LONDON, W.C.2._

  _PUBLISHERS TO HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V._


    SKEFFINGTON'S NEW LIST

Including New Sermons for +Lent, Good Friday+ and +Easter,+
many of them with special reference to the +Three Years of War,+
and the special conditions of the times in which we live. Manuals for
+Confirmation, Easter Communion.+

[Illustration; line of decorative crosses to divide page]

 =Thoughts for Dark Days=: By the Rev. H. L. GOUDGE, D.D., Canon of
 Ely. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

The purpose of these excellent sermons is to bring out the value of the
Epistle of St. James in this present time of strain and difficulty. The
writer believes that St. James wrote in circumstances very similar to
our own, and that his teaching is in many instances exactly that which
we require. The sermons are arranged as a course for Lent and Easter,
and contain an exposition of almost every important passage in the
Epistle.


 =Lenten Teaching in War Time=: By the Rev. J. H. WILLIAMS, M.A.,
 Author of "Christmas Peace in War Time," "Lenten Thoughts in War
 Time," etc. Crown 8vo. Cloth, 2s. 6d. net.

These Addresses are eminently practicable. The effects of the War on
the earthly life are closely followed as illustrations of what takes
place in the Spiritual life. Thus, a comparison is drawn between the
present enforced abstinence occasioned by the War and the Church's
command to self-denial during Lent.

They contain many new thoughts, and the subjects dealt with are treated
in new ways. The subjects chosen for Ash Wednesday, the Sundays
in Lent, Good Friday, Easter Eve and Easter Day, are singularly
appropriate, viz.: "Self-Denial," "Conflict," "Help," "Perseverance,"
"Relief," "Sacrifice." "Triumph," "Suffering," "The Body of Jesus,"
"The Conqueror of the Grave."

Many of the thoughts are illustrated by similes and anecdotes very
touching and appropriate.

It will be difficult to find Lenten Sermons better suited to country
congregations and to others who appreciate plain teaching.

They are likely to prove the more palatable because some reference to
the War is contained in each (postage 2d.).

 _Postages to the Colonies are about 25% in excess of Inland Postages._

 =Fruits of the Passion=: A Daily Watch with Jesus through the
 Mysteries of His Sorrow unto the Joy of His Resurrection. By HILDA
 PARHAM. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. net (postage 3d.).

A work of beauty, ability and intense earnestness. It is full of
beautiful thoughts, and presents a new way of regarding the Season of
Lent. There are no "drybones" in this work. It is therefore interesting
as well as devotional. It supplies a very excellent and necessary
meditation on our want of any real sense of sin. It also presents
excellent teaching in the sinfulness of little sins.

The book contains brief meditations for Lent upon the Five Sorrowful
Mysteries, impressing the Father's love as shown forth in the life of
Christ and tracing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in the Passion.

There is one main thought throughout each week (with illustrative
poem). In simple devotional tone _each day_ strikes its clear note of
Catholic teaching. The Publishers wish to draw very special attention
to this beautiful book.


 =Life in Christ=, or What It Is to be a Christian: By the REV. CANON
 KEYMER, Missioner in the Diocese of Southwell, and formerly Rector
 of Headon, Notts. Author of "Salvation in Christ Jesus," "The Holy
 Eucharist in Typeland Shadow," etc. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. net (postage
 3d.).

The Author of this book was for many years engaged in preaching
Missions, and in giving Courses of Instructions. The teachings then
given have been arranged and connected under the general heading of
"Life in Christ."

The book will be specially useful to those who desire to have, or to
give to others, consecutive and plain teaching.


 =At God's Gate=: By the Venerable JOHN WAKEFORD, B.D., Precentor of
 Lincoln. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. net (postage 3d.).

A Series of Addresses suitable for "A Retreat," "A Quiet Day," or for
private reading with many entirely new thoughts and the expressions of
thought. The book is written with marked ability and can be thoroughly
recommended.

It contains eight chapters suggesting thought, and stimulating the
praise and worship of God. In these days of emotion and spiritual
disquiet it is a wholesome thing to be drawn to think about the
relation of body and spirit in the harmony of the life of grace. The
mistaken distinctions of natural and spiritual are here put away, and
man is shown in his common life as the Child of God, intent upon doing
his Father's business.


 =Triplicates of Holy Writ=: By the Rev. J. H. WILLIAMS, M.A. Author
 of "Christmas Peace in War Time," "Lenten Thoughts in War Time," etc.
 Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 2d.).

This book contains fine Addresses for the Sundays in Lent, Good Friday
and Easter Day applicable to the War.

The Publishers cannot do better than give the chapter headings of the
book which is written in this popular writer's best vein:

_Ash Wednesday_: The Three Primary Duties--Prayer, Fasting and
Alms-giving. _Lent I._: The Three Temptations. _Lent II._: The Three
Favoured Disciples. _Lent III._: The Three Hebrew Martyrs. _Refreshment
Sunday_: The Three Witnesses. _Passion Sunday_: The Three-One God.
_Palm Sunday_: The Three Burdens. _Good Friday_: The Three Crosses.
_Easter Sunday_: The Threefold Benediction.


 =Some Penitents of Scripture=: By the late Rev. G. A. COBBOLD. Author
 of "Tempted Like as We are." Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. (postage 3d.).

This book, showing as it does various aspects of that wide subject,
"Repentance," should prove especially useful to the Clergy during the
Season of Lent.

The first address is a powerful appeal and a clear setting forth of the
meaning of a true repentance.

In the other six addresses the author dwells in a very original and
practical way on various notable repentances recorded in Holy Scripture.


 =Piety and Power=: By the Rev. H. CONGREVE HORNE, Author of "The Mind
 of Christ crucified." Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net.

An exposition of "My Duty towards God," as defined in the Catechism,
and of the Eucharist as the means whereby we are empowered to perform
that duty.

A contribution towards the wider appreciation of the Holy Eucharist as
the grand corporate act of redeemed humanity, bending in lowly homage
before the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe and Father of all mankind.

Contents: Introduction--Faith, Fear and Love--Worship and
Thanksgiving--Trustfulness and Prayer--God's Holy Name and Word--True
Service--An Epilogue for Holy Week.

Each chapter is divided into six sections. Those with the four which
form the Introduction will provide a short reading for each week day
of Lent. The Epilogue for Holy Week reviews the leading ideas of the
book by means of outline Meditations on one of the events of each day.
(Postage 2d.).


 =The Language of the Cross=: By the Rev. J. H. WILLIAMS, M.A. Author
 of "Christmas Peace in War Time," "Lenten Thoughts in War Time," etc.
 Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 2d.).

This excellent book contains plain addresses written on new lines of
thought, on "The Seven Last Words."

They have copious reference to the War and are likely to prove useful
for the Three Hours' Service, or as Addresses during Lent and Passion.

The subjects include: "The Word of Intercession," "The Word of Kingly
Majesty," "The Word of Filial Affection," "The Word of Desertion," "The
Word of Agonized Humanity," "The Word of Victory," "The Word of Death."


 =God's Love and Man's Perplexity=: By the Rev. A. V. MAGEE, Vicar of
 St. Mark's, Hamilton Terrace. Author of "The Message of the Guest
 Chamber" (3rd edition), etc. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. net (postage 3d.).

This book, which deals with various aspects of the love of God, will
be specially useful for Retreats and Quiet Days, or for courses of
Sermons. It is also a message of Hope in war time, for all who feel
unable to reconcile the love of God with the horrors of war.

The chapters deal with "The Prodigality of Love," "The Claim and
Response of Love," "The Quality of Divine Love," "The Joy of Love,"
"The Timeliness of Love," "The Tardiness of Love, the Power and
Patience of Love," "Love's Reward of Obedience," "Love's Perplexity."

It is excellent in every way, and can be thoroughly recommended.

Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to say that she will
be pleased to accept a copy of this book on publication.


 =Prayer the Sign-Post of Victory=: Addresses written for January 6th,
 1918, but eminently suitable for general use. By the REV. CANON C. LL.
 IVENS, H. CONGREVE HORNE and J. H. WILLIAMS. 2s. 6d. net.

This book contains five addresses, the chapter headings being:
"A Time Call to Prayer and Thanksgiving," "The King's Command,"
"Prayerfulness," "Clearsightedness," "What the Crib reveals in Time of
War," and an "Appendix of Prayers."


 =Religion and Reconstruction.= Cloth, crown 8vo., 3s. 6d. net (postage
 3d.).

If the War has taught us anything at all, it has most certainly
taught us that many of our national institutions and many phases of
our social life need urgent reform. Men's minds are turning towards
reconstruction. The whole fabric of Church and State is quickly
coming under the ken of an impatient public, and there is a danger
that they will be guided more by the heart than the head. Problems of
Reconstruction call for the consideration of men of stability and high
character. As the Church's contribution to this momentous discussion,
the forthcoming book on "RELIGION AND RECONSTRUCTION" is one that
everybody will find extremely valuable.

It has been written by:

  The RT. REV. C. J. RIDGEWAY, D.D., Bishop of Chichester.
  The RT. REV. J. A. KEMPTHORNE, D.D., Bishop of Lichfield.
  The RT. REV. B. POLLOCK, C.V.O., D.D., Bishop of Norwich.
  The RT. REV. W. W. PERRIN, D.D., M.A., Bishop of Willesden.
  The RT. REV. J. E. C. WELLDON, D.D., Dean of Manchester.
  The VERY REV. W. M. EDE, D.D., M.A., Dean of Worcester.
  The RT. REV. G. H. FRODSHAM, D.D., Canon of Gloucester.
  The HON. and REV. CANON JAMES ADDERLEY, M.A.
  The VEN. JOHN WAKEFORD, Precentor of Lincoln, B.D.
  MONSIGNOR POOCK, D.D.
  The REV. W. E. ORCHARD, D.D. (Presbyterian).
  The REV. F. B. MEYER, B.A., D.D. (Baptist).
  F. C. SPURR (Baptist).

leaders of religious thought, who are something more than students of
social questions.

The book covers a very wide field, from questions of Education and
Imperial Politics to those of Family and Domestic Interest. It is the
book every parish priest, in fact every minister of religion, should
read and discuss with his parishioners and adult classes.


 =Faith and the War=: By ARTHUR MACHEN, Author of "The Bowmen: and
 other Legends of the War." Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 2d.).

This very ably written book contains excellent doctrine which ought to
prove helpful to any Christian of any religious persuasion. The errors
of Infidelity and the absurdities of Spiritualism are exposed in a
courteous manner. The subjects include: "The Contradictions of Life,"
"Faith," "The Freethinker," "The Religion of the Plain Man," etc.


 =The Round of the Church's Clock=: By the Rev. JOHN SINKER, Vicar of
 Lytham, and Rural Dean of the Fylde. Author of "Into the Church's
 Service," "The Prayer Book in the Pulpit," "The War; Its Deeds and
 Lessons," etc. With an introduction by the Right Rev. G. H. S.
 Walpole, D.D., Lord Bishop of Edinburgh. Recently published. Crown
 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net (postage 4d).

An entirely new series of Addresses, including one Sermon for each of
the Church's Seasons from Advent to Trinity.

These addresses are popular in style, and abound in illustrations
and other matter calculated to arrest and hold the attention of any
congregation. Messrs. Skeffington consider them among the very best
they have ever published.

=Dr. Walpole, Bishop of Edinburgh=, writes: "I have no hesitation in
commending these simple addresses to the Clergy, and all those who
have the responsibility of expounding the teaching of the Church's
seasons. 'The Round of the Church's Clock' contains not only clear and
definite teaching, but it also abounds in stories, poems, experiences
and analogies, which not only enable the listener to understand what
is preached, but to be interested. While Mr. Sinker never belittles
the sacredness of the high subjects he treats, he makes them easily
understood."


 =God and His Children=: By the Rev. F. W. WORSEY, M.A., Vicar of
 Bodenham. Author of "Praying Always," "Under the War Cloud," "War
 and the Easter Hope," etc. Just out. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

An entirely new series of simple practical Sermons, including: Six for
Lent on The Child of God, three for Good Friday and Easter, four for
Advent on the Godhead, three for Christmas and New Year on the Divine
Son, and two for Epiphany.

It will be seen that this new volume provides a complete course of
preaching from Advent to Easter, and will be found in all respects
equal to its author's previous volumes.


SIXTH IMPRESSION OF THIS REMARKABLE BOOK, WITH AN ENTIRELY NEW CHAPTER.

 =Prophecy and the War:= By the Rev. E. J. NURSE, Rector of Windermere.
 Price 3s. net (postage 2½d.).

Seven Remarkable Prophecies on the War. This volume, which has proved
so unusually striking and interesting, includes The Divine Potter
Moulding the Nations--The Return of the Jews to Palestine--The
Four World-Empires foretold by Daniel--The Downfall of the Turkish
Empire--The Desolation and Restoration of Jerusalem--The Second
Coming--The Millennium. Also an entirely New Chapter, entitled,
"Armageddon; or, The Coming of Antichrist."


 =Tennyson's "In Memoriam:"= Its Message to the Bereaved and Sorrowful.
 By the Rev. T. A. MOXON, M.A., Editor of "St. Chrysostom, on the
 Priesthood," etc. Assistant Master of Shrewsbury School, formerly
 Vicar and Rural Dean of Alfreton. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net
 (postage 2½d.).

Six Addresses on the subject of Tennyson's Poem in relation to the
present War. The "In Memoriam" is a record of the poet's gradual
struggle from despair to faith, after the blow of the sudden death
of his friend, A. H. Hallam. These addresses are specially composed
to help the bereaved and sorrowful; they deal with the problems of
Suffering, Death, Communion with the Departed, Faith and Hope, and
the Message of Christ, as expressed by the late Lord Tennyson. This
volume may be given to the bereaved; it may also be found useful for
preachers, and those who minister to the sorrowful.


 =Our Lenten Warfare=: For Lent. By the Rev. H. L. GOUDGE, D.D., Canon
 of Ely, with Special Foreword by the Bishop of London. Crown 8vo,
 cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 4d.). Third Impression.

Nine entirely new Sermons for Ash Wednesday, the Six Sundays in Lent,
Good Friday and Easter Day. These most valuable and specially written
Addresses deal with the Lenten Warfare of the Soul against Sin, in
connection with the lessons of the Great War.

=The Bishop of London= says: "This excellent little book will commend
itself by its own merit. The whole idea of the new Christian soldier
as we understand him in the light of the war is so clearly worked out,
without one superfluous word, that 'he who runs may read.' If I may,
however, pick out one chapter out of the rest, I would choose that on
'The New Army.' The teaching of this chapter is VITAL."


 =The Fellowship of the Holy Eucharist=: For Lent. By the Rev. G. LACEY
 MAY, M.A., Author of "What is The National Mission?" Crown 8vo, cloth,
 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

Forty entirely new Devotional Readings on the Sacrament of Love,
specially suitable for the Forty Days of Lent, and most valuable in
connection with the recent Mission Preaching and Teaching on the
Subject. Among the subjects are: Fellowship with Our Lord--with
The Holy Spirit--with The Angels--with Our Fellow-men--with The
Suffering--with The Departed--with Nature. Full of material for
Eucharistic Sermons.


 =The Love of our Lord=: By the Rev. JOHN BERESFORD-PEIRSE, with
 Preface by the Bishop of Bloemfontein. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

An entirely new Set of Addresses to Boys and Young Men, which will
be found invaluable for Teaching and for Mission Work. Among the
twenty-one subjects are Prayer, Thanksgiving, Confirmation, The Holy
Eucharist, Faith, Hope, Love, Service, Friendship, Purity, etc.


 =Christ's Message in Times of Crisis=: By the Rev. E. C. DEWICK, some
 time Vice-Principal of St. Aidan's, Birkenhead Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s.
 6d. net (postage 5d.).

Twenty Sermons originally preached at St. Aidan's College. A singularly
interesting set of Addresses, twelve of which are on subjects connected
with THE WAR. They will be found very useful and valuable at the
present time.


 =Short Village Homilies=: By the Rev. F. L. H. MILLARD, M.A., Vicar of
 St. Aidan's, Carlisle. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

A new Series of short and simple Sermons, specially adapted during
these times for Villages and Evening Addresses in large towns. They
include Six Sundays in Lent, Mourners and Bereaved, a Memorial Sermon,
and several specially for use during War.

N.B.--These Sermons are prepared to give practical help until Trinity.
The volume includes special Sermons on the War; To Mourners; Memorial
Sermon; a complete course for Lent; also Good Friday, Easter, etc.,
etc. They are thoroughly interesting, practical sermons of a Mission
type for villagers and for evening services in large towns.


 =In the Hand of God=: By GERTRUDE HOLLIS. 2s. 6d. net. (postage 2d.).

In Memory of the Departed. This new and beautiful little volume
contains thirty Short Chapters, full of comfort and hope for the
Bereaved in this War. There is a space for the names of the Departed,
and the Meditations on Paradise and the Resurrection are full of
consolation.


 =Praying Always (Eph. vi.--18). Ash Wednesday to Easter in War Time=:
 By the Rev. F. W. WORSEY, Vicar of Bodenham, Author of "Under the War
 Cloud," Nine Sermons, etc. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage
 3d.). Published 1916.

Nine Plain Sermons for Ash Wednesday, each Sunday in Lent, Good
Friday, and Easter Day. These Sermons deal largely with Lenten Prayer
during the War: "The Call--The Object--The Difficulties, The Effect
of Prayer--The Prayers from the Cross--The Easter Triumph of Prayer."
=The Church Times= said of Mr. Worsey's former volume: "We should like
to think that in every Country Church the War has found Parish Priests
ready to give such admirable counsel to their people."


 =The Discipline of War=: For Lent. By the Rev. Canon J. HASLOCH
 POTTER, M.A. 2s. net (postage 2d.). Second Impression. Published 1915.

Nine Addresses, including Ash Wednesday, the Six Sundays in Lent, Good
Friday and Easter Day.


 =Lenten Thoughts in War Time=: By the Rev. J. H. WILLIAMS, M.A.,
 Author of "Village Sermons." Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage
 4d.). Published 1916.

Nine Plain Addresses, specially written for the Lenten Season in
connection with the War. They include Sermons for Ash Wednesday, the
six Sundays in Lent, Good Friday, and Easter Day. These addresses
embrace the duties which we owe to God, to ourselves, to the nation,
and to the Church.


 =The Greatest War=: For Lent. By the Rev. A. C. BUCKELL, of St.
 Saviour's, Ealing. Fcap. 8vo, cloth, 2s. net (postage 2d.).

This most interesting course of Six Lent Sermons will be found valuable
at the present time. Among the subjects most strikingly treated are:
The War--Its Author--Its Cause--The Equipment--The Trial--The End--and
the Glory of the War.


 =The Prayer of the Lord and the Lord of the Prayer=: For Lent. By the
 Rev. T. A. SEDGWICK, M.A. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

Six Addresses on the Lord's Prayer, and also a complete Set of
Addresses on the Seven Last Words. A striking volume for Lent and Holy
Week.


 =The World's Destiny=: By a LAYMAN. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

A challenge by a Layman to the Clergy of the Church of England. The
writer deals with the question of Our Lord's Return. In a catholic
spirit, he asks whether the clergy are not seriously neglecting an
important part of Catholic Truth in failing to teach the literal
fulfilment of prophecy. The book is scholarly and arresting; the
arguments are marshalled clearly and with legal fairness and acumen;
the challenge is one which demands attention and an answer.


 =With the C.L.B. Battalion in France=: By the Rev. JAMES DUNCAN,
 Chaplain to the 16th K.R.R. (C.L.B.). With Frontispiece and a most
 interesting Preface by the Rev. EDGAR ROGERS. Cloth, 2s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

This intensely interesting book gives an account of the doings of the
Battalion raised from the Church Lads' Brigade. Among the vivid and
striking chapters are Going to the Front--In France--In Billets--In the
Firing Line--The Trenches--The Red Harvest of War, etc.


TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE TIME NEW AND CHEAP EDITIONS HAVE BEEN ISSUED
OF THE FOLLOWING SIX VALUABLE AND INTERESTING VOLUMES.

 =1. Mission Preaching for a Year=: 86 Original Mission Sermons. Two
 Vols. Crown 8vo, cloth, 10s. net (postage 7d.) The whole work probably
 constitutes the most complete Manual of Mission Preaching ever
 published.

 VOL. I., containing forty-one Sermons, from Advent to Whit Sunday,
 separately. 5s. net (postage 5d.).

 VOL. II., containing forty-five Sermons, for all the
 Sundays in Trinity and many occasional (_e.g._, All
 Saints--Holy Communion--Sunday Observance--Opening of an
 Organ--Harvest--Flower Service--Service for Men--Service for
 Women--Missions--Temperance--Funeral--Social Clubs--Empire Sermon,
 etc.), separately. 5s. net (postage 5d.).

These Sermons are by the most practical and experienced Mission
Preachers of the day, including amongst many others the Archbishop of
York, Bishops of London, Manchester, Chichester, Birmingham, Bishop
Ingham, Deans of Bristol and Bangor, Canons Hay, Aitken, Atherton,
Barnett, Body, Scott Holland, Lester, Archdeacons Sinclair, Madden
and Taylor, The Revs. W. Black, F. M. Blakiston, H. J. Wilmot-Buxton,
Robert Catterall, W. H. Hunt, A. V. Magee, A. H. Stanton, P. N.
Waggett, John Wakeford, Paul Bull, A. J. Waldron, Cyril Bickersteth,
etc., etc.


 =2. The Sunday Round=: By the Rev. S. BARING-GOULD, M.A., Author of
 "Village Preaching." Two Vols. Crown 8vo, cloth, 6s. net (postage 6d.).

 VOL. I., Advent to Fifth after Easter. 3s. net (postage 5d.).

 VOL. II., Ascensiontide to the end of Trinity, etc. 3s. net (postage
 5d.).

Being a Plain Village Sermon for each Sunday and some Chief Festivals
of the Christian Year, after the style and model of the same Author's
first series of "Village Preaching for a Year." Printed in Large Clear
Type, and brimful of original thoughts, ideas and illustrations, which
will prove a mine of help in the preparation of Sermons, whether
written or extempore.

"From beginning to end these simple, forcible and intensely practical
sermons will give pleasure and instruction. They are written with
scholarly freshness and vigour, and teem with homely illustrations
appealing equally to the educated and the honest labourer."--_Guardian._

NOTE.--The above series of Village Sermons forms a perfect storehouse
of Teaching, Illustration, and Anecdote, for the Sundays of the whole
Year and will be found invaluable to the Preacher in Country Towns and
Villages.


 =3. The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year=: By the Rev. Dr. A.
 G. MORTIMER. Two Volumes. Crown 8vo, cloth, 9s. net (postage 7d.).

 VOL. I., Advent to Fifth Sunday after Easter (60 Sermons, being two
 sermons for every Sunday) separately. 4s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

 VOL. II., Ascension Day to Advent. 4s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

Sixty Sermons for the Sundays and Chief Holy Days, on Texts from
the OLD Testament Lessons, and Sixty Sermons on Texts from the NEW
Testament, appropriate to the occasion, thus forming a complete Year's
Sermons, 120 in number, for Mattins and Evensong.

=The Church Times= says: "We like these Sermons very much. They are
full of wholesome thought and teaching, and very practical. Quite as
good, spiritual and suggestive, as his 'Helps to Meditation.'"

=The Guardian= says: "We do not often notice a volume of Sermons we can
praise with so few reservations."


 =4.Sorrow, Hope and Prayer=: By the Rev. Dr. A. G. MORTIMER. THIRD
 THOUSAND. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

This beautiful book forms a companion volume to the same Author's most
popular work, "It Ringeth to Evensong." It will be found a great help
and comfort to the bereaved, and to those in sorrow and suffering.

N.B.--An edition of this book, most handsomely bound in rich leather,
with rounded corners and gold over red edges, lettered in gold, forming
a really beautiful Gift-book. 7s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

"Many books exist with similar aim, but this seems exactly what is
wanted."--_Church Times._


 =5.Bible Object-Lessons=: By the late Rev. H. J. WILMOT-BUXTON,
 M.A. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

Thirty Plain Sermons, including Four for Advent, Six for Lent,
Christmas, Easter, etc., etc., and many General Sermons.

"These Sermons have sound doctrine, copious illustrations, and
excellent moral teaching. They are particularly suited for Village
Congregations."--_Church Times._

"These Sermons on divine object-lessons are justly published, for
they are infused with a spirit of sensible as well as devotional
churchmanship, with simple practical teaching. Mr. Buxton is a
recognized master of the simple and devotional."--_Guardian._


 =6.Till the Night is Gone=: By the late Rev. J. B. C. MURPHY.
 SECOND IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

A volume of Thirty Sermons, including Four for Advent, Christmas, Six
for Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and many General Sermons.

  OPINIONS OF MR. MURPHY'S SERMONS.

"Sermons of a very straightforward and forcible kind, much wanted in
the present day."--_National Church._

=A Rector in the Midlands= writes: "_These are perfect Sermons for
Villagers_, and calculated to do an enormous amount of good. A
congregation that listens to such sermons is to be envied indeed."

"Can be heartily praised. Never uninstructive and never dull. The
sermons have force, directness, actuality, with simplicity of style.
Full of brightness and vivacity. Nobody could go to sleep where such
sermons are delivered."--_Guardian._


TWO VOLUMES OF SERMONS ON HYMNS.

 =Popular Hymns: their Authors and Teachers=: By the late CANON DUNCAN,
 Vicar of St. Stephen's, Newcastle-on-Tyne. CHEAP Edition. Crown 8vo,
 cloth, 4s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

A Series of thirty-six Sermons on popular hymns. Most attractive and
instructive Sermons.

"We can bear very strong personal testimony to the great delight and
usefulness of Canon Duncan's beautiful and impressive work."--_Record._

"A deeply interesting and helpful book."--_Church Family Newspaper._


 =Hymns and their Singers=: By the late Rev. M. H. JAMES, LL.D., Vicar
 of St. Thomas', Hull. SECOND IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth, 4s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

Twenty-one Sermons on popular Hymns. These very original Sermons deal
not only with the meaning of the words, but are full of interesting
information as to the Authorship and History of the various Hymns.

=The Church of Ireland Gazette= says: "The writer is to be
congratulated. There are twenty-one extremely interesting and
attractive Sermons."


 =On the Way Home=: By the Rev. W. H. JONES. THIRD IMPRESSION. Crown
 8vo, cloth, 4s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

Sixty Sermons for Life's Travellers, for all the Sundays and Chief Holy
Days in the Christian Year.

"We believe that everyone on reading these short Addresses will agree
with us in the high opinion we have formed of them. They are replete
with anecdotes drawn from life, and such as are calculated to fix the
attention of homely folk for whom especially they are intended. Written
as they are by a Priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, they breathe much
of that spirit of love which one has learned to associate with that
favoured See."--_Church Times._


 =The Country Pulpit=: By the Rev. J. A. CRAIGIE, M.A., Vicar of
 Otterford. Crown 8vo, cloth, 4s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

This excellent volume of Village Sermons includes Advent, Christmas,
Epiphany, and the Sundays from Septuagesima to Easter, besides General
Sermons.

"We feel convinced that these sermons were listened to, and that their
author will be heard again."--_National Church._


 =The Good Shepherd=: The last book by the late Rev. Canon GEORGE BODY.
 SECOND IMPRESSION. Cloth, boards, 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

A Series of Meditations. (The Pastorate of Jesus--The Fold--Personal
Knowledge of Jesus--Guidance--Sustenance--Healing--Paradise, etc.).


BOOKS FOR THE FORTY DAYS OF LENT

 =New and Contrite Hearts=: By the late Rev. H. J. WILMOT-BUXTON, M.A.
 EIGHTH IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

Forty brief Meditations, one for every day in Lent, from Ash Wednesday
to Easter Eve. A new and cheaper Edition of these most popular
Readings, which include a Set of Seven Short Addresses on the Seven
Last Words.

"Just such readings as will help the devout soul to realize the
blessing which follows a well observed Lent."--_Church Family
Newspaper._


 =Lenten Lights and Shadows=: By the Author of "The Six Maries," etc.
 Fcap. 8vo, cloth, bevelled boards, 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

Meditations for the Forty Days of Lent, with additional readings for
the Sundays in Lent and Easter Day. This book of Short and Beautiful
Readings for the days of Lent is strongly recommended.


 =The Last Discourses of Our Lord=: By the Rev. DR. A. G. MORTIMER. NEW
 AND CHEAPER EDITION. THIRD IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net
 (postage 5d.).

In Forty Addresses or Readings for the Forty Days of Lent.

A New Edition of this valuable book, which is now published at 3s. 6d.
net instead of 5s. net.


 =The Halo of Life=: By Rev. HARRY WILSON, formerly Vicar of St.
 Augustine's, Stepney. ELEVENTH IMPRESSION. Cloth, 1s. 6d. net (postage
 2d.).

Forty Little Readings on Humility, specially suitable for the Forty
Days of Lent. Suited for general distribution.

"This is a valuable little book, which we most highly recommend. How
many thousand families might be blessed by this invaluable work if its
noble rules were applied to daily life."--_Church Review._


  BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

 =Catholic Teaching=; or, Our Life and His Love. A Series of Fifty-six
 Simple Instructions in the Christian Life. FOURTEENTH IMPRESSION.
 Cloth, 2s. net (postage 2d.).

=The Church Review= says: "Has the true ring of Catholic Teaching,
persuasively and eloquently put in the plainest English. This valuable
little book is as good as any we can recommend."


 =A Treasury of Meditation=, or Suggestions, as Aids to those Who
 Desire to Lead a Devout Life. By the REV. CANON KNOX LITTLE.
 THIRTEENTH IMPRESSION. Printed throughout in red and black, on
 specially made paper, and bound in crimson cloth, bevelled boards,
 with burnished red edges, 4s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

A Manual of brief Meditations on various subjects, _e.g._, On Sin--On
the World--On Things of Ordinary Life--On Nearness to God--On the
Perfect Life--On the Life and Offices of Christ--On the Cross of
Christ--On the Holy Ghost--On Saints and Angels--On the Blessed
Sacrament--On Life, Death, and Eternity, etc.

N.B.--Each one includes brief Directions, Meditation, Question,
Resolve, Prayer, Work of Christ, Verse of Hymn. This Manual is
invaluable for the whole Christian Year.


 =The Guided Life=; or, Life Lived under the Guidance of the Holy
 Spirit. By the late Rev. CANON GEORGE BODY. EIGHTH IMPRESSION. Fcap.
 8vo, cloth, 1s. 6d. net (postage 1½d.).

The Way of Contrition; The Way of Sanctity; The Way of Patience; The
Way of Ministry, etc.

"Of very great value."--_Guardian._

"Very bright, cheering, helpful, and valuable meditations."--_Church
Review._


 =The Mystery of Suffering=: By Rev. S. BARING-GOULD. A NEW AND CHEAP
 EDITION FOR LENT (the Tenth). 2s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

A Course of Lent Lectures: 1. The Mystery of Suffering. 2. The Occasion
of Suffering. 3. The Capacity for Suffering. 4. Suffering Educative. 5.
Suffering Evidential. 6. Suffering Sacrificial.

"This is the very poetry of Theology; it is a very difficult subject
very beautifully handled."--_Church Quarterly._


 =The Mountain of Blessedness=: By DR. C. J. RIDGEWAY, Bishop of
 Chichester. FIFTH IMPRESSION. Cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

A Series of Plain Lent Addresses on the Beatitudes.


  FOR CHILDREN'S SERVICES.

 =The King and His Soldiers=: By M. E. CLEMENTS, Author of "Missionary
 Stories." Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. net (postage 4d.).

Twenty-six Talks with Boys and Girls, from Advent to Whit Sunday. These
Addresses will be found of the greatest possible interest for Children,
and will be invaluable for Addresses in Church, in School, or for Home
Reading for the Sundays in Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter,
and up to Whit Sunday. They cannot fail to seize and hold the attention
of young people.


 =The Children's Law=: By Rev. G. R. OAKLEY, M.A., B.D. 2s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

Plain Talks to Children on the Commandments, the Sacramental
Ordinances, and on Rules of Life and Worship, of the greatest value in
instructing and helping the Young; for use in Church, Sunday School, or
at Home.

_A strikingly beautiful little book._


 =Missionary Stories of the Olden Time=: By MARY E. CLEMENTS. 2s. net
 (postage 3d.).

A Series of deeply interesting Stories specially suited for
Young People, full of picturesque incidents in the Story of the
Evangelization of the British Isles. Among the contents are the Stories
of St. Alban--St. Patrick--The Boys in the Slave Market--Of Gregory
and the Young Angles--The Conversion of Kent--Sussex--Wessex, etc. A
delightful book for children and others.


   TWO VOLUMES OF SERMONS TO CHILDREN.

 =Sermons to Children=: First Series. By the Rev. S. BARING-GOULD.
 THIRTEENTH IMPRESSION. 4s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

Including a set of Six on Children's Duties and Faults
(Tidiness--Idleness--Wilfulness--Obedience--Perseverance--Idle Talk,
etc.), and also a set of Four on the Seasons of the Year.

=The Church Quarterly= says: "These are really Sermons suited _for_
Children, alike in mode of thought, simplicity of language, and lessons
conveyed, and they are very beautiful. No mere critical description
can do justice to the charm with which spiritual and moral lessons are
made to flow (not merely are drawn) out of natural facts or objects.
Stories, too, are made use of with admirable taste, and the lessons
taught are, without exception, sound and admirable. We cannot doubt
that the volume will be, and will remain, a standard favourite."


 =Sermons to Children=: Second Series. Crown 8vo, cloth, 4s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

Twenty-four Sermons, including Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter,
Whitsunday, Trinity, and many General Sermons.

The immense success of Mr. BARING-GOULD'S former Series of Sermons to
Children, of which thirteen editions have already been sold, will make
this new volume doubly welcome.

=The Church Times= says: "There will be a run on this volume. The
stories are most cleverly told, and the lessons are all that they
should be. No child who reads or hears these Addresses will be left in
doubt as to what he ought to believe and do."


  TWO VOLUMES OF SERMONS TO CHILDREN.

 =Led by a Little Child=: (Isaiah xi. 6). By the late H. J.
 WILMOT-BUXTON. SIXTH IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

A Series of Fifteen Short Addresses or Readings for Children. Among
the Subjects and Titles of the Addresses are "The Lion and the Lamb,"
"The Serpent and the Dove," "Wolves," "Foxes," "The Sparrow and the
Swallow," "Eagles' Wings," "Sermons in Stones," "Four Feeble Things"
(Prov. xxx. 24), "What the Cedar Beam Saw," etc., etc.

"Bright, simply-worded homilies for children, with plenty of
anecdotes and illustrations, which are not dragged in, but really
do help the lesson to be enforced. Very useful for reading aloud to
children."--_Guardian._

"Models of what children's sermons should be."--_Ecclesiastical
Gazette._


 =Parable Sermons for Children=: A Cheap Edition. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s.
 6d. net (postage 3d.).

These beautiful Sermons generally begin with a Story or Parable, and
cannot fail to arrest and hold the attention of children. The original
Edition was published at 3s. 6d. It is now reduced to 2s. 6d. net.


 =The Boys and Girls of the Bible=: By Rev. CANON J. HAMMOND. Two
 Vols., 12s. net (postage 5d.).

Two Volumes of Sermons on Old and New Testament Characters.

  VOL. I., Old Testament, 6s. net (postage 4d.).
  VOL. II., New Testament, 6s. net (postage 4d.).


 =The Church Catechism in Anecdote=: Collected and Arranged by the late
 Rev. L. M. DALTON, M.A. FOURTH IMPRESSION. Cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage
 4d.).

Providing one or more anecdotes illustrating each clause of the Church
Catechism, the teacher being left to apply the materials thus provided.
An endeavour has been made to find good anecdotes which have not been
used in other well-known books on the Church Catechism, and the volume
cannot fail to delight and interest the children who are being taught.


  CHURCH MUSIC FOR LENT AND EASTER.

 =The Benedicite, for Septuagesima and Lent=: (Shortened Form.) Six
 simple chant settings, the second half of each verse being repeated
 after every third verse only, thus repeating it _eleven_ instead of
 thirty-two times.

NO. 1, in D, by MARTIN S. SKEFFINGTON. NO. 2, in G, by MARTIN S.
SKEFFINGTON.--NO. 3, in B Flat, by MARTIN S. SKEFFINGTON.--NO. 1, in
E Flat, by H. HAMILTON JEFFERIES.--NO. 2, in A Flat, by H. HAMILTON
JEFFERIES.--NO. 3, in G, by H. HAMILTON JEFFERIES.

The price of each of the above, Words and Music complete, is 2d., or 25
Copies of any one setting for 3s. net (postage 2d.). One Copy of each
of these Six Settings post free for 1s.


  MUSIC BY H. HAMILTON JEFFERIES.

 =Vesper Hymn=: "Part in Peace," to be sung kneeling, after the
 Benediction. The Words by SARAH F. ADAMS, author of "Nearer, my God,
 to Thee," and the Music by H. HAMILTON JEFFERIES. Complete with Music,
 1d., or Twenty-five Copies for 1s. 9d. net (postage 1d.). The Words
 separately, price ½d., or 1s. 6d. net per 100 (postage 2d.).


 =The Morning Service in Chant Form= in D Major, including Kyrie. Price
 2d., or Twenty-five Copies for 3s. net (postage 4d.).

A simple Service in Chant Form for Village and Parish Choirs, including
chants for the Venite, quadruple for the Te Deum (the Words printed in
full), for the Benedictus or Jubilate, and a Kyrie. A melodious and
attractive Service for congregational use.


 =The Story of the Cross=: A beautiful setting for Parish Choirs, by
 H. HAMILTON JEFFERIES. Price 1d., or Twenty-five Copies for 1s. 9d.
 net (postage 2d.). The Words separately, ½d., or 1s. 6d. net per 100
 (postage 2d.).

This devotional and lovely setting, both in compass and simplicity, is
perfectly suited for Choirs in Towns or Villages.

=A Midland Vicar writes=:--"I have tried nearly all the settings used,
but yours is the most tuneful of all."


 =An Easter Service of Song=: Complete with Music. Price 4d. The Words
 separately, price ½., or 3s. 6d. net per 100 (postage 4d.).

A complete Order of Service, short and simple, for Eastertide, with
Hymns and Carols. Special tunes by Sir J. F. BRIDGE, etc.


 =The Late Canon Woodward's Children's Service Book=: 394th Thousand.
 Services, Prayers, Hymns, Litanies, Carols, etc.

The Complete Words Edition, stitched, price 3d. net. Strong limp cloth,
6d. net. Handsome cloth boards, 8d. net. Complete Musical Edition, 3s.
6d. net (Inland postage 5d.).

 Clergymen desirous of making CHILDREN'S SERVICES REALLY POPULAR and
 THOROUGHLY ATTRACTIVE both to children and their elders should send
 for Specimen Copy. Post free, 3-½d.


  VOLUMES OF SERMONS, ADDRESSES OR READINGS ESPECIALLY SUITABLE FOR LENT
  AND EASTER, MANY CONTAINING COMPLETE COURSES.

 =The Prodigal Son=: By Rev. A. C. BUCKELL, M.A. of St. Saviour's,
 Ealing. Fcap. 8vo, cloth, 2s. net (postage 2d.). SECOND IMPRESSION.

Six new and most picturesque Sermons for Lent and Easter, the various
events being vividly described in six scenes.

Act I. The Two Sons. Scene. A Home.--Act II. The Far Country. Scene.
A Hotel.--Act III. The Awakening. Scene. A Pigsty.--Act IV. The
Reconciliation. Scene. A Garden.--Act V. The Feast. Scene 1. A Dining
Room. Scene 2. A Study.


 =The Men of the Passion=: By T. W. CRAFER, D.D. Author of "The Women
 of the Passion." Fcap. 8vo, cloth, 2s. net (postage 2d.).

A Series of Holy Week Addresses. (The Friends--The Enemies--The
Betrayer--The Judges--The Friends in Death--The Friends after
Death--The Men of the Resurrection.) These Addresses form a complete
course for use during the Sundays in Lent or the Days of Holy Week.


 =The Women of the Passion=: By the Rev. T. W. CRAFER, D.D., Vicar of
 All Saints, Cambridge. SECOND IMPRESSION. Fcap. 8vo, cloth, 2s. net
 (postage 2d.).

Holy Week Addresses, including: "The Blessed Virgin--Mary of
Bethany--The Daughters of Jerusalem--Pilate's Wife--Mary Magdalene and
her Companions," etc.

"Marked by great freshness, point, and originality of conception, and
are eminently practical. We highly commend them."--_Church of Ireland
Gazette._


 =Some Actors in Our Lord's Passion=: By the Rev. H. LILIENTHAL. NEW
 AND CHEAPER EDITION. SIXTH IMPRESSION. 2s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

A Course of very beautiful and striking Lent Addresses or Readings
(Judas--Peter--Caiaphas--Pontius Pilate--Herod--Barabbas), together
with two special additional Sermons, viz.: "The Meaning of the Cross,"
for Good Friday, and "Christ's Resurrection," for Easter.

=Bishop Clark= writes: "The characters stand before us with wondrous
vividness.... I wish that these discourses might be read in every
Parish during Lent, for they have touched me more deeply than any
sermons I have ever read. They must appeal to the young, as well as to
the mature mind."

"Excellent Sermons--dramatic in treatment--and well fitted to hold the
attention."--_Church Times._


 =Lenten Preaching=: Lent Sermons by the Rev. DR. A. G. MORTIMER,
 Author of "Helps to Meditation." FOURTH IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth,
 3s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

Three Courses of Sermons for Lent and Holy Week, viz.: 1st--Six
Addresses on the Sunday Epistles for Lent. 2nd--Six Sermons on the
Example of Our Lord. 3rd--Eight Addresses on the Seven Last Words.

"A series of Sermons, all of which are admirable."--_Church Times._


 =The Highway of the Holy Cross=: By the Author of "The Six Maries."
 1s. 6d. net (postage 2d.).

The Path of Self-Surrender, The Path of Sorrow, The Path of Prayer, The
Path of Service, The Path of Suffering, The Path of Hope.


  BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

 =The Six Maries.= THIRD IMPRESSION. Foolscap 8vo, Cloth, 2s. net
 (postage 2d.).

This beautiful little book includes Six Devotional Readings, viz.:
Mary the Virgin--Mary of Bethany--Mary Magdalene--Mary the Wife of
Cleophas--Mary the Mother of James and Joses--Mary the Mother of Mark.

"Tender, sympathetic and helpful."--_Church Family Newspaper._


 =The Message of the Guest Chamber=; or, The Last Words of Christ. By
 the Rev. A. V. MAGEE, Vicar of St. Mark's, Hamilton Terrace. 2s. 6d.
 net (postage 4d.). THIRD IMPRESSION.

These beautiful Meditations on St. John, Chapters xiii and xiv, include
Fourteen Chapters which can be subdivided into Sections so as to
provide for their daily use during Lent.


 =The Seven Parables of the Kingdom=: By the Very Rev. PROVOST H.
 ERSKINE HILL. 2s. net (postage 2d.). SECOND IMPRESSION.

These most attractive Sermons are especially suitable for Lent. They
include Sermons on the Parable of the Sower, The Tares, The Mustard
Seed, The Leaven, The Hidden Treasure, The Pearl of Great Price, The
Draw Net.


 TEARS: By the Rev. J. H. FRY, M.A., Vicar of Osgathorpe. Foolscap 8vo,
 cloth, 2s. net (postage 2d.).

Ten Sermons for Lent and Easter Day: The Tears of the Penitent
Woman; of Esau; of St. Peter; of Jesus at the Grave of Lazarus, over
Jerusalem, in Gethsemane; of Mary Magdalene at the Sepulchre; No more
Tears, etc.

"These Sermons possess the threefold merit of brevity, strength and
originality."--_Church Times._


 =The Chain of our Sins=: By the late Rev. J. B. C. MURPHY, M.A. FIFTH
 IMPRESSION. 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

Nine Sermons for Lent, Good Friday, and Easter Day: The Chains of
Habit, of Selfishness, of Indifference, of Pride, of Intemperance, of
Worldliness, etc. The Bands of Love.


 =The Parables of Redemption=: By the Very Rev. HENRY ERSKINE HILL,
 M.A., Provost of the Cathedral, Aberdeen, Author of "The Seven
 Parables of the Kingdom." Fcap. 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

Thirteen Sermons for Lent and Easter, including Six on the Prodigal
Son, also The Lost Sheep--The Lost Coin--The Procession to Calvary--The
Three Crosses--The Resurrection--The Groups Round Jesus.


  FIVE VOLUMES OF SERMONS TO MEN.
  (SOLDIERS, SAILORS, BOYS, ETC.)

 =The Service of the King=: Addresses to Soldiers and Sailors. By A.
 DEBENHAM. 2s. 6d. net (postage 2d.).

The vivid and picturesque style of these stirring Addresses to Men will
at once arrest and keep the interest of their hearers. They include
Church Seasons, etc.


 =Plain-Spoken Sermons=: Rev. J. B. C. MURPHY'S Sermons, originally
 ADDRESSED TO SOLDIERS. FOURTH IMPRESSION. 6s. net (postage 4d.).

Twenty-eight Sermons--Gambling; Manliness; Sorry Jesting;
Neighbourliness; Gossip, and so on.

=The Church Review= says: "Some of these Sermons are simply
magnificent."


 =Addresses to Men=: By the Rev. C. LL. IVENS, M.A., Hon. Canon of
 Wakefield. THIRD IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. net (postage 3d.).

They include such subjects as Courtesy--The Gambling
Spirit--Intemperance--"The Training of Character"--"Life and some of
its Meaning"--and similarly practical subjects.

=Bishop Eden= says: "Canon Ivens' simple, outspoken and direct
addresses, are specimens of those which he is in the habit of giving
at his well-known Men's Services. They will be found valuable both
to young clergy who are learning how to address men, and to men of
all degrees who are trying to fight Christ's battles in a world of
increasingly subtle temptations."


 =Our Ideals=: By the Rev. V. R. LENNARD. Price 3s. 6d. net (postage
 4d.).

Sermons to Men, including Sermons on Instability, Cowardice, Profanity,
Ability, Concentration, Faith, Friendship, Manliness, Independence,
Ambition, etc., etc.


 =Addresses to Boys and Boy Scouts=: By Right Rev. G. F. CECIL DE
 CARTERET, Assistant Bishop of Jamaica. Price 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).


  SKEFFINGTON'S SERMON LIBRARY.
  Each Price 2s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

The whole Series of Twelve Volumes can be sent carriage paid through
any bookseller, or direct from the publishers, for 31s., and they
contain a complete and varied Library of some 400 Sermons, not only for
Sundays and Church Seasons, but for very many special occasions.

 1.--=The Seed and the Soil.= By the late REV. J. B. C.
 MURPHY.--Twenty-eight Plain Sermons, including Four for Advent,
 Christmas Day, Six for Lent, Good Friday, Easter Day, etc.

 2.--=Sermons to Children=; also =Bought with a Price=. By the late
 REV. H. J. WILMOT-BUXTON, M.A. (Two vols. in one.) Twenty-three
 Sermons to Children, including Advent, Lent, Good Friday, etc., etc.
 "Bought with a Price" includes Nine Sermons from Ash Wednesday to
 Easter.

 3.--=Village Sermons.= By the late CANON R. B. D. RAWNSLEY. Third
 Series. Plain Village Sermons, including Advent, Christmas, New Year,
 Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday, Easter Day, and General Sermons.

 4.--=Twenty-two Harvest Sermons by various Authors.=

 5.--=Helps and Hindrances to the Christian Life.= By the late REV.
 FRANCIS E. PAGET (2 vols). Vol. I. Thirty Plain Village Sermons,
 including Four for Advent, Christmas, Last Sunday in the Year,
 New Year, Epiphany, Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, Ash
 Wednesday, Six for Lent, Good Friday, Easter Day (2) etc., etc.

 6.--=Helps and Hindrances to Christian Life.= Vol. II. Thirty-two
 Plain Village Sermons, including Trinity Sunday, Trinity-tide,
 Harvest, Friendly Society Schools, etc.

 7.--=God's Heroes.= By the late REV. H. J. WILMOT-BUXTON, M.A. A
 Series of Plain Sermons, including Advent, Lent, and many General
 Sermons.

 8.--=Mission Sermons.= (Second Series). By the late REV. H. J.
 WILMOT-BUXTON, M.A. Contains Advent, Christmas, End of Year, Epiphany,
 Lent, Good Friday, Easter, also Harvest, Autumn, and a large number of
 General Sermons.

 9.--=The Journey of the Soul.= By the late REV. J. B. C. MURPHY.
 Thirty-four Plain Sermons, including Four for Advent, Christmas, Six
 for Lent, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, Trinity
 Sunday, Schools, and many General.

 10.--=The Parson's Perplexity.= By the late REV. DR. W. J. HARDMAN.
 Sixty short, suggestive Sermons for the hard-working and hurried,
 including all the Sundays and chief Holy Days of the Christian Year.

 11.--=The Lord's Song.= By the late REV. H. J. WILMOT-BUXTON, M.A.
 Twenty-two Plain Sermons on the best known and most popular Hymns,
 including Lent, Easter, Whitsuntide, etc.; also Children's Services.

 12.--=Sunday Sermonettes for a Year.= By the late REV. H. J.
 WILMOT-BUXTON, M.A. Fifty-seven Short Sermons for the Church Year.


  ADDRESSES ON THE SEVEN LAST WORDS.
  LEAFLET FOR DISTRIBUTION BEFORE GOOD FRIDAY.

 =An Invitation to the Three Hours' Service=: ½d., or 2s. 6d. net.
 per 100 (postage 4d.). 150th Thousand.

This excellent four-page leaflet is intended for wide distribution in
Church and Parish before Good Friday.


 =A Form of Service for the Three Hours=: By the Right REV. C. J.
 RIDGEWAY, Bishop of Chichester. ½d., or 4s. net per 100 (postage
 5d.).

Prayers, Hymns, Versicles, etc., for the use of the Congregation. 360th
Thousand.


 =Devotions for the Good Friday Three Hours' Service=: ½d., or 4s.
 net per 100 (postage 4d.).

In connection with addresses on The Seven Last Words, Versicles,
Prayers, Suggested Hymns, etc., for the use of the Congregation at the
Service.


 =The Mind of Christ Crucified=: By the Rev. H. CONGREVE HORNE. Crown
 8vo. cloth, 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

A consideration of _The Seven Last Words_, and their special
significance in time of War. These beautiful Addresses will be
invaluable during the coming Lent and Holy Week.


 =Meditations on the Seven Last Words=: By the Right Rev. C. J.
 RIDGEWAY, Bishop of Chichester. FOURTH IMPRESSION. Fcap. 8vo, 2s. net
 (postage 2d.).

A Set of Addresses for the Three Hours' Service, with Complete Forms of
Service, Prayers, Hymns, Versicles, etc.


 =Seven Times He Spake=: By the Rev. H. LILIENTHAL. Author of "Some
 Actors in Our Lord's Passion," "Sundays and Seasons." 2s. net (postage
 2d.). SECOND IMPRESSION.

A Set of Addresses on the Seven Last Words. These powerful and original
Addresses will indeed be welcomed by those who know the Author's
previous book, "Some Actors in Our Lord's Passion."


 =The Seven Last Words from the Cross=: By the late REV. CANON WATSON.
 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.). SECOND IMPRESSION.

A Striking Course of Meditations for Lent, Holy Week, or Good Friday.

"These sermons contain suggestive thoughts, many noble and
heart-searching utterances. =The Fourth and Sixth Meditations are
most striking--the latter part of the first is very terrible and
heart-searching.="--_The Guardian._


 =The Spiritual Life in the Seven Last Words=: By the REV. DR. A. G.
 MORTIMER. 2s. net (postage 2d.).

A Set of simple Addresses for Lent, and The Three Hours' Service, on
The Words from the Cross.

"These plain sermons are very admirable."--_Churchwoman._


 =The Seven Last Words=: By the Rev. S. BARING-GOULD. 2s. 6d. net
 (postage 3d.). EIGHTH IMPRESSION.

Seven Plain Sermons for the Sundays in Lent, The Days of Holy Week, or
for Good Friday.

"Vigorous, forcible, with illustrations plentifully but freely and
wisely introduced."--_Church Times._


 =The Seven Words from the Cross=: By the Rev. H. E. BURDER, Vicar of
 St. Oswald, Chester. Fcap. 8vo, cloth, 1s. 6d. net (postage 2d.).

An eminently practical set of simple Addresses on the Seven Words.

"Preachers may find some freshening thought in this little
volume."--_Church Times._


 =The Longer Lent=: By the Rev. VIVIAN R. LENNARD, M.A., 3s. 6d. net
 (postage 4d.).

Fourteen Addresses from Septuagesima to Easter, including two for
Easter Day and one for St. Matthias.


  BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

 =Passiontide and Easter=: Thirteen Addresses, including Palm Sunday,
 Holy Week, Good Friday, Eastertide and Low Sunday. Crown 8vo, cloth,
 2s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

"They are simple, direct, helpful."--_The Church Family Newspaper._

"Plain, but practical and vigorously expressed, they are to be
commended."--_The National Church._


 "=One Hour=" (St. Matt. xxvi. 40). A SHORT SERVICE FOR GOOD FRIDAY,
 with Hymns, Versicles, Psalm and Prayers, complete for the use of the
 Congregation. ½d., or 2s. 6d. net per 100 (postage 4d.).

This Service, when a Short Address is given, will occupy ONE HOUR, and
may be used as an alternative to the Three Hours' Service where the
latter for various reasons cannot be adopted. Or it will form an early
or late service _in addition_ to that of the Three Hours', for those
who are unable to attend the longer Office. FOR GOOD FRIDAY.


 =Good Friday Addresses=: By DR. C. J. RIDGEWAY, Bishop of Chichester;
 THE VERY REV. PROVOST HENRY ERSKINE HILL; the REV. CANON C. LL. IVENS,
 and the REV. C. E. NEWMAN. Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. net (postage 2d.).

These Four Short Addresses are specially written either for use with
the above Service, or at any other Good Friday Service; two of them
include very brief, but complete Meditations on the Seven Last Words,
and will be invaluable for Holy Week and Good Friday.


 =Easter Offerings.= To Help the Clergy. By DR. C. J. RIDGEWAY, Bishop
 of Chichester. ½d.; 2s. net per 100 (postage 4d.).

A Four-page Leaflet clearly explaining their character, antiquity,
authority, value and duty; to be placed in the seats before Easter.
Commended to Churchwardens and Clergy by the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.


  TWO NEW CHEAP EDITIONS.

 =1. The Old Road=: By Rev. H. J. WILMOT-BUXTON. Originally 5s. each.
 Now 3s. 6d. net each (postage 4d.). SECOND IMPRESSION.

Thirty Plain Sermons, including Six for Lent--Good
Friday--Easter--Whitsuntide--and many General Sermons.

"Any congregation would welcome them.... We have read them with
interest, and the conviction that their power lies in their plain
outspokenness."--_Church of Ireland Gazette._

 =2. Stories and Teaching on the Mattins and Evensong=: By DR. J. W.
 HARDMAN. 3s. 6d. net (postage 4d.).

A book to make those Services plain to the old and interesting to
the young. This book contains an enormous amount of material for the
Preacher, the Teacher, and the Catechist.

"It teems with a rich fund of pithy and pointed illustrations and
anecdotes."--_National Church._

"A capital book for Catechists."--_Church Times._


 =Village Preaching for a Year=: Sermons by the Rev. S. BARING-GOULD.
 First Series. Sixty-five specially written Short Sermons for all the
 Sundays and Chief Holy Days of the Christian Year, Missions, Schools,
 Harvest, Club, etc., with a supplement of Twenty Sermon Sketches.
 TENTH EDITION. 2 vols. Fcap. 8vo, 12s. net (postage 6d.).

 VOL. I., separately, Advent to Whit-Sunday, Fcap. 8vo, 6s. net
 (postage 4d.).

 VOL. II., separately, Trinity to Advent, Miscellaneous, also Twenty
 Sermon Sketches, Fcap. 8vo, 6s. net (postage 4d.).


 =Homely Words for Life's Wayfarers=: By the late J. B. C. MURPHY.
 SEVENTH IMPRESSION. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d. net (postage 3d.).

Twenty-five Plain Sermons, including Advent, Christmas Day, End of the
Year, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday, Ascension Day, Whit
Sunday, All Saints' Day, Hospital Sunday, etc.


 =Words by the Way=: A Year's Sermons by the late H. J. WILMOT-BUXTON.
 Crown 8vo, cloth, 4s. 6d. net (postage 5d.).

Fifty-seven Short Plain Sermons for the whole Christian year. Only one
edition of these most excellent Sermons has ever been published. It is
one of the very best of all Mr. Buxton's Volumes of Sermons and will be
found of real practical value for the whole year. The original edition
was published at 6s.


  FOR THE EASTER OR FIRST COMMUNION.

 =Short Preparation Service for Holy Communion=: H. C. Manuals by DR.
 C. J. RIDGEWAY, Bishop of Chichester. SIXTH IMPRESSION. 2d., or 14s.
 net per 100 (postage 5d.).

To be used in Church after Evensong on Sunday, or at other convenient
times.


 =Easter Communion.= A four-page Leaflet. 1200th thousand. For
 Distribution in Church or Parish, before any of the great Church
 Festivals. ½d., or 3s. 6d. net per 100 (postage 4d.).

Tastefully printed in red and black: Why shall I come?--What
is H.C.?--What are the Benefits?--In what spirit?--How shall I
Prepare?--When shall I come?--How live afterwards? etc.


 =Instructions and Devotions for Holy Communion=; which includes
 the Two Tracts, "How to Prepare" and "How to Give Thanks," with
 extra Instructions and Devotions, also the Complete Office for Holy
 Communion. 120th thousand. 24mo, cloth boards, 1s. 9d. net (postage
 2d.). Cloth limp, 1s. 3d. (postage 1d.). Crimson roan, round corners,
 and gold over red edges, 3s. net (postage 2d.).

 =N.B.--How to Prepare for the Holy Communion.= Separately, 2d., or
 14s. net per 100 (postage 5d.).

 =How to Give Thanks after Holy Communion.= Separately, 2d., or 14s.
 net per 100 (postage 5d.).

 =The late Bishop Walsham How= wrote: "Mr. Ridgeway's little manuals
 will, I think, be found very generally and practically useful. They
 are thoroughly sensible and excellent for their purpose."


 =Holy Communion.= "How to Prepare," and "How to Give Thanks." Printed
 in red and chocolate, on toned paper. Warmly commended by the late
 Bishop Walsham How. It forms a beautiful little Confirmation Gift
 Book, in Prayer Book size, bound in elegant cloth, lettered in gold.
 In red silk cloth for boys, or white silk cloth for girls. 24mo, price
 1s. net. These two tracts may also be had separately, 2d. each, or
 14s. per 100 (postage 6d.).

The following letter appeared in the _Church Times_: "Sir,--I have been
29 years Vicar of this large agricultural parish, and all the time I
have been in vain looking out for plain simple manuals for the Holy
Communion, suitable to the capacities of an agricultural population,
and have never been able to meet with any till now. I put into the
hands of my Candidates for Confirmation Ridgeway's Manual 'How to
Prepare for the Holy Communion,' with the satisfactory result that
every one of them came to the early Communion yesterday. I could never
before succeed in getting all the confirmed to communicate immediately
after Confirmation."--F. H. CHOPE, _Vicar, Hartland Vicarage, N. Devon_.


 =Church Going.= A four-page Leaflet. 160th thousand. ½d., or 3s. 6d.
 net per 100 (postage 4d.).

Why?--When?--In what spirit should I go?--What shall I do there?--What
good shall I get?--Why do people stay away? etc. A most practical and
persuasive little Tract.


  CONFIRMATION LIST.

 =Four Manuals= by the Right Rev. C. J. RIDGEWAY, D.D., Bishop of
 Chichester. 405th THOUSAND. ½d., or 3s. 6d. net per 100 (postage
 4d.).

 1.--=Confirmation.= A four-page Leaflet, printed on toned paper in red
 and black, forming a companion to the same author's leaflet, "Easter
 Communion." Confirmation: What is it?--Its Nature--What does God
 do?--What does man do?--Why should I be Confirmed?--At what age?--How
 shall I prepare?--What good will it do? For distribution in Church and
 Parish before a Confirmation.

 2.--=How to Prepare for Confirmation.= TWENTY-SEVENTH THOUSAND. Fcap.
 8vo, 2s. 6d. net (postage 2d.). A course of Preparatory Instructions
 for Candidates, in Eight Plain Addresses, each followed by a few Plain
 Questions. The Questions with suggested Prayers separately, 2d., or
 14s. net per 100 (postage 6d.).

 "Will be an invaluable help to the Clergy, who, in these days of
 high pressure, have little time for preparation. The questions are
 reprinted separately, so that each Paper may be easily detached and
 given to the Candidate after each instruction."--_Church Times._

 3.--=Confirmation Questions= (=Plain=). SEVENTIETH THOUSAND. Sewn,
 2d., or 14s. net per 100 (postage 6d.). In Eight Papers, with
 Suggested Prayers; taken from the same Author's book, "How to Prepare
 for Confirmation."

 4.--="My Confirmation Day," at Home and in Church=: including the
 Confirmation Service itself, with Prayers, Thoughts, and Hymns for
 use during the entire day, that is, morning and evening at Home, and
 during the Service at Church. EIGHTIETH THOUSAND. A little gift for
 Confirmation Candidates of a most helpful and valuable kind. 3d. net,
 48 pages. Also an Edition, elegantly bound in cloth, with the Hymns
 printed in full, price 6d. net (postage 1d.).


 =Catechism on Confirmation=: By the Rev. J. LESLIE, M.A., Incumbent
 of St. James', Muthill. ELEVENTH IMPRESSION. 2d., or 14s. net per 100
 (postage 4d.).

Twelfth Edition of these admirably simple Confirmation Questions.


 =Plain Instructions and Questions for Confirmation Candidates=: By
 Rev. SPENCER JONES, Author of "Our Lord and His Lessons." In Seven
 Papers. A set of absolutely simple Confirmation Papers. For VILLAGE
 CANDIDATES. 1-½d., or 10s. net per 100 (postage 6d.).


 =Thoughts for Confirmation Day=: By the late Hon. and REV. W. H.
 LYTTELTON, M.A. NINETIETH THOUSAND. Sewn, 2d., or 14s. net per 100
 (postage 5d.).

Adapted to the use of Candidates in Church during the intervals of the
Service on the day of Confirmation. Printed on thick-toned paper, with
blank space on outside page for Candidate's Name, Date of Confirmation,
etc.


  CONFIRMATION GIFTS AND CERTIFICATES.

 "=I Will.=" "=I Do.=" By the late Rev. EDMUND FOWLE. The Rev. EDMUND
 FOWLE'S most successful Confirmation Memento, of which more than
 80,000 copies have been sold, and which has been so highly commended
 by many of the Bishops and Clergy. Stitched up in an elegant Cloth
 Pocket Case, 9d. net.

=Bishop King of Lincoln wrote=:--"I beg to thank you for your very
pretty-looking gift."

=Rev. W. Muscroft, Thorner Vicarage Leeds, writes=:--"I am very much
obliged to you for the beautiful little Confirmation Memento. I don't
remember ever seeing anything of the kind that I admire so much."


 =Confirmation Triptych.= 122nd thousand, 1d., or 7s. net 100 (postage
 6d.).

A small folding Triptych Certificate Card, with blank spaces for Name
and Date, etc., of Confirmation and First Communion; elegantly printed
in mauve and red with Oxford lines, with appropriate verses and texts,
and special design of the Good Shepherd, on the reverse side, with the
words of the Bishop's Confirmation Prayer. This card is perhaps the
very best of the many Certificate Forms.

"One of the best we have seen."--_Church Times._


 =Boys=: Their Work and Influence. Twelfth thousand. Bound in Elegant
 cloth, 1s. net (postage 1d.).

Specially suitable for Parochial
Distribution. Home and School--Going to
Work--Religion--Courage--Money--Amusements--Self-Improvement--Chums
--Courtship--Husbands, etc.


 =Girls=: Their Work and Influence. Fifteenth thousand. Bound in
 elegant cloth, 1s. net (postage 1d.).

Specially suitable for Parochial Distribution. Home and School--The
Teens--Religion--Refinement--Dress--Amusement--Relations--Friendship--Youth
and Maiden--Service and Work--Courtship--Wives, etc.

"There is so much that is sensible and instructive in these two
little works that we are glad to have the opportunity of cordially
recommending them. The manly, thoroughly practical tone of the advice
given to boys and the womanly unaffected remarks offered to the girls
can but find a welcome acceptance."--_Church Times._


 =A Little Book to Help Boys during School Life=: By the late REV.
 EDMUND FOWLE. TWELFTH THOUSAND. Cloth, 1s. 3d. net (postage 1d.).

This most useful and original little book is intended as a gift from
parents or friends to Boys.

=The late Bishop Walsham How wrote=:--"Your little book is excellent.
I have already ordered a number to keep by me for presents to boys."
=Bishop Hole wrote=:--"Your little book seems excellent and is much
wanted."


 =The Girl's Little Book=: By CHARLOTTE M. YONGE. ELEVENTH IMPRESSION.
 Elegant cloth, 1s. 3d. net (postage 1d.).

A Book of Help and Counsel for Everyday Life at Home or School. This
charming little volume forms a capital gift from the Parish Priest or
from parents or god-parents.

=The Athenæum says=:--"A nice little volume full of good sense and real
feeling."

=The Lady says=:--"Just the sort of little book to be taken up and
referred to in little matters of doubt and difficulty, for the advice
it contains is good, sensible, kindly, and Christian."


_Books in this List can only be posted on receipt of remittance. Books
are not sent on approval._


London: SKEFFINGTON & SON, LTD., 34, Southampton St., Strand, W.C.2,
AND OF ALL BOOKSELLERS.

Transcriber's Notes

 Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected and
 variations in accents and hyphenation standardised. Other variations
 in spelling and punctuation are as in the original.

 Chapter IX
 The sentence "Then came a large dish of beans; we ate beans. We were
 sending out wireless messages by this, but no relief ship appeared on
 the horizon." appears to be missing a word after "this" (possibly time)
 but has been left as printed.

 Repetition of the title on the first page has been removed.

 Italics are represented thus _italics_, bold thus =bold= and underline
 thus +underline+.





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