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Title: Journal of Small Things
Author: Mackay, Helen
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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by the Library of Congress)



JOURNAL OF SMALL THINGS



_Other Books by Helen Mackay_


  Accidentals
  Stories for Pictures
  The Cobweb Cloak
  Half Loaves
  Houses of Glass
  London one November



  JOURNAL OF
  SMALL THINGS

  BY
  HELEN MACKAY

  [Illustration]

  New York
  DUFFIELD AND COMPANY
  1917



  Copyright, 1917, by
  DUFFIELD AND COMPANY



  FOR
  MARGARET



PREFACE


Those who have read Mrs. Mackay's book, which she entitled
_Accidentals_, will know exactly what to expect from her new book,
_Journal of Small Things_. Like the early one it consists of a series
of little sketches more or less in the form of a diary, vignettes
taken from a very individual angle of vision, pictures in which the
hand of the painter moves with exquisite fineness. They are singularly
graceful, very delicate and also very pathetic, these random memories
of a sympathetic friend of France, who describes what she saw during
the opening stages of the war in Paris and in provincial towns. The
precise quality of them is that they are extremely individual and
intimately concerned with little things--episodes half observed,
half forgotten, which cluster round a big tragedy. The author's mind
is bent on the record of such little things as might escape some
observer's notice, but which to her give all the salt and savour to her
experiences.

Listen to this. "I want to make notes of things, not of the great
things that are happening, but of the little things. I want to feel
especially all the little everyday dear accustomed things, to take hold
of the moods of them, and gather up their memories, to be put away and
kept, and turned back to from always afterwards. It is as if they were
things soon to be gone away out of the world and never to be again."

Wherever she moves, Mrs. Mackay carries with her this exquisite
sensitiveness to things which we might rashly call insignificant or
unessential, and it adds immensely to the poignancy of her sketches and
to the truth of her record. How valuable is her method we can judge
from another extract concerned with "The River." "I know why the river
goes so slowly, lingering as much as ever she can, and a little sadly.
It is because just here she leaves behind her youth and wildness of
great mountains, her mood of snows and rocks, cascade and woods and
high rough pastures, cow-bells and mountain-horn. Going down into
the classic countries, infinitely old, those deep, rich countries,
she pauses here, between the high clear lift and lilt and thrill of
mountain music and the cadenced melody of Provence."

The figures of the narrative are for the most part only outlined
against this background of vividly remembered things. But however
faint the tracery, the character clearly emerges. Whether it be Madame
Marthe, or the apache girl Alice, or Claire, or the old Curé who was
going to preach a fierce sermon until his eyes fell upon the pathetic
upward look of his congregation, and especially of Madelon, and then
forgot all his harsh words--from beginning to end the various figures
live and move before our eyes. The record is sad of course; it could
not be otherwise than full of a keen pathos almost unrelieved. But
there is never any false sentiment nor any touch of the vulgar or
commonplace. Mrs. Mackay's book is the work of a sincere and genuine
artist.

  W. L. COURTNEY.



PART I

From a House on a Road to Paris



From a House on a Road to Paris


Sunday, July 26th, 1914

When we came back from Mass, up from the village by the rue du Château
and through the park and the garden, the yesterday's papers were
arrived from Paris.

I delayed down in the parterres, it was so beautiful. There had been
rain, and the sunshine was golden and thick on all the wet sweet
things, the earth of the paths, the box edges, the clipped yews, the
grass of the lawns, the roses and heliotrope and petunias in the
stately garden beds.

There is a certain smell in old formal gardens, that seems to me always
to mean France. It is like the stab of an arrow. I feel it, swiftly, in
my heart, and stop and hold my breath, and say, "This is France."

The news in the papers was strange.

We thought we would go to the village, to the Place, and feel what the
village felt.

We went along the terrace and around between the south tower and the
moat to the entrance court, and across the moat bridge, where the
watch-dogs were chained one on either side, to the green court, and out
of the big wrought-iron, vine-covered gates, to the Place aux Armes.

All the village was there in its Sunday dress, under the lime trees.

The swallows were flying, high about the Dungeon Tower and low across
the big old grassy cobbles of the Place. They were crying their strange
little cry. I thought, "They are calling for storm." And yet the sky
was blue and gold behind the Dungeon Tower.

We went to get the papers in the little dark shop that smells of spices
and beeswax and shoe leather.

I asked: What did Monsieur Créty think of the chances of war?

He shrugged his old shoulders, and said he had some fine fresh
chocolate and nougat out from Paris.

We went back and read the papers and ate the chocolates and nougat on
the terrace.

A host of little white butterflies kept clouding over the terrace
steps, between the pots of roses and heliotrope.

There was a great brief thunderstorm while we were at lunch, and then
the sun came out.

We motored through the wet sunshiny country, softly dipped and softly
lifted, blue-green forest and wide ripe harvest fields, blue and purple
and crimson beet fields, long low brown and rust-red towns with square
church towers, Sunday people out in the doorways, and swallows always
flying low and crying.

We had tea in Soissons, at Maurizi's, and went to the cathedral, where
the offices were over, and to the pastrycook's, Monsieur Pigot's, to
buy some cherry tarts.

Home by the long straight road between the poplars.

It was so cold suddenly that one imagined autumn. There was a wind come
up, and some yellow leaves were flying with it.

After dinner we had a fire lighted in the tiled room. The heat brought
out all the sweetness of the roses in the blue bowls, and the flames
sent lovely lights and shadows to play along the old stone walls.

I do not think I would be afraid if it were not for my dreams.

Every night I have dreamed of galloping horses and thunder--or cannon,
I don't know which--and of blood, dripping and dripping down the
château stairs. I see the blood in red pools on the worn old grey
stones of the stairs, and in black stains on the new carpet. Some of
the nights I have stayed up, walking the floor of my room that I might
not sleep and dream so horribly.


Monday, July 27th

The papers make things look better; we think it cannot be, cannot
possibly be.

But I am always afraid, because of my dreams. My dreams have been very
bad all night.

I was in the potager most of the morning, working hard.

In the afternoon some neighbors came to tea. They came from quite far,
motoring across the forests, and none of them had known the house.

I loved showing them the old place that is not mine, the colours that
are faded and worn till they have become beautiful, the things that by
much belonging together are fallen into harmony.

I do not believe that the people of these old houses can love them
quite as hopelessly as strangers do.

There is a certain special peculiar château smell, that trails down
long galleries, and lingers on the stairs, that lurks in far corners of
the rooms, and abides in all the cupboards, and behind the tapestries,
and in the big carved chests, that clings to wood and waxed floors and
stone, and stirs along the heavy sombre walls, and that means France,
like the smell of old gardens of box and yew. It stabs one--always the
arrowy perfume--and makes one feel France with an odd intensity. From a
far way off one would be homesick remembering it.

We had Monsieur Pigot's tarts for tea, and sat for a long time about
the dining-room table, talking of how afraid we had been of war,
yesterday.

We went up into the Dungeon Tower and down into the souterrains, and
then all along the rampart walls.

I love the way the little town crowds up close to the ramparts, the
cobbled grass-grown streets, the roofs all softened and coloured by
ages and weathers.

A child laughed down in the street; a woman called to it; there was a
scamper of little feet, and the two of them were laughing together.

Off beyond the roofs we could see the blonde of the ripe grain fields,
and the purple of the forests.

I had so intensely a sense of its all being for the last time. I said
to Manon, "It can't last, it is too beautiful."


Tuesday, July 28th

One feels, in all these days, as if there were a great storm coming up.
I keep thinking all of the time, there is a great storm coming up. That
is an absurd thing to make note of, as if it had some strange meaning,
as if it were not just that in all these days, really, always there is
a storm coming up.

I never have known such storms, nor yet such sunsets. The sunsets are
like the reflection of great battlefields beyond the world. One is
frightened because of the sunsets, more than because of the storms.
Every day while the sun shines there is the rumble of thunder about all
the horizon. It is like the cannon of my dreams. All the time, while
the sun shines, great thunder-clouds are gathering upon the horizon,
mounting up from the horizon, white and yellow, and purple and black.
The sunshine is heavy, and thick; you do not know if the sky is dark
blue or purple, and at sunset the dark cloud-shapes threaten and menace.

Whatever one does, one has the feeling of doing it before the storm,
in the teeth of the storm. When the storm does come, with its crashing
and blinding, it brings no relief. It is as if these midsummer storms
meant something for which the whole world waited.

And that feeling of the end of things grows always stronger. There is
no reason. Nobody, here at least, troubles about war.

This morning we were caught by a wonderful thunderstorm out in the
fields.

Now from the terrace we are watching the sunset, all of thunder-clouds,
purple and blue and black, and of fire.

Three of the white peacocks have come up to tea with us, under the big
cedar.


Wednesday, July 29th, late of the night

I went up to Paris. I thought if I could feel how Paris felt to-day, I
would know if the menace is real. Here one knows nothing.

There is sunshine and rain, and the fields are white to the harvest,
the heat hangs over the long white roads, and the shade of the forests
is grateful.

The people of the little town go about their ways; their sabots clatter
on the cobbles, and their voices have part with the shrilling of
cigale and the call of the swallows. The children out of school, at
noon and at sunset, play in the Place aux Armes, and the women come
there to market in the mornings, under the limes, and after work the
men lounge there against the moat wall.

But since Sunday I have so strange a feeling, a sense of its being the
end of things. The end of--I don't know what. I want to make notes
of things, not of the great things that are happening, but of the
little things. I want to feel especially all the little everyday dear
accustomed things, to take hold of the moods of them, and gather up
their memories, to be put away and kept, and turned back to always
afterwards.

I want to make notes of the sweetness of my room to wake to, all the
garden coming in through the drawn blinds.

I want to put away and keep my memory of the fragrance of the garden,
and its little voices, bird and bee and grasshopper and cricket and
stirring leaf. I want to remember things I saw from my window--the
terrace with its grey stone mossy parapet; the steps between the pots
of heliotrope and roses; the parterres, the old vague statues, the
crouching sphynxes--beautiful because they are broken and deep in
roses--the trimmed yews, the paths and box borders and formal beds of
flowers; the wall of trees around; the glimpses through the trees of
the town's stained, blurred roofs, and of grain fields and the forests.

I want to remember the little clover leaf table for my breakfast tray,
the bowl of sweet-peas, the taste of the raspberries.

I want to remember the Long Gallery, the château smell in it; the clear
green stir of the limes in the entrance court under its windows; the
stairs that I kept dreaming about, with the dark Spanish pictures hung
along them, and the armour on their turnings.

I want to remember the bird's nest in the lantern over the entrance
door, and the begonias in the beds along the wall; the big dogs
dragging at their chains to come and meet me, the huge tumbling puppy,
the gardener's babies, Thérèse and Robert, bringing Thérèse's new rag
doll to show me.

I started, motoring, only about 10 o'clock for Paris.

It was market day in the Place; there were the rust-red and burnt-umber
awnings and the women's blue aprons and clattering sabots.

There were many magpies in the road. "Une pie, tant pis; deux pies,
tant mieux," and one must bow nine times to each of them.

The country was dim and blue in the gauze lights of the morning.
The road was empty between the poplar trees. It was good to see the
peasants at work in the fields, and the life of the villages going its
way in the morning streets.

I tried to get the papers in Compiègne, but they were not yet come.

There were many soldiers about.

It was the road through Senlis and Chantilly.

The trainers had the race-horses out at exercise in the misty forest
roads.

I thought, "There _can't_ be war."

Luzarches and Ecouen, and St. Denis and then Paris.

I got out of the car on the boulevards. There were many people out and
I went with the swing of the crowd up and down. It was good to be in
the swing of a crowd. People hurried and people dallied; people stood
and looked into shop windows; people sat and sipped things on café
terraces; people pushed and elbowed; people stopped and stood where
they were, reading the noon papers; strangers spoke to one another, if
the swing of the crowd threw them for an instant together; everybody
looked at one another with a queer new sudden need of each the other,
and they all felt, more or less, one thing together.

After a while I went to my own home.

I thought I had never seen the Place de la Concorde more beautiful,
oval and white, or crossed the bridge with a deeper sense of going home.

My own little Place was very quiet, all the big houses closed; nobody
left but the sentinels before the Palace and the concierges in their
doorways with their cats and canaries.

Our concierges and I were more glad even than usual to see one
another. Old Boudet in his habitual shirt-sleeves, feeling, evidently,
particularly socialistic, was yet quite tolerant of me; and sweet,
slow, fat, very respectable mother Boudet, whose gentleness always
seems begging one to excuse shirt-sleeves and politics, was so ready to
cry that I kissed her.

Our rooms were sad, things moved back and covered over, blinds closed.
I did not stay long in those rooms.

I did not try to see any one. It was not people I had wanted, only
Paris. I started back early.

I want to remember all the things of the way back into the country;
every thing of the fields, red warm ploughed earth and fresh-cut grass
and tall clover; every thing of the forests, lights and mists and
shadows, depths of moss and fern; every thing of the villages, stone
stairways and hearth fires, the pot-au-feu, cows and people's living.

At Compiègne I stopped in the Grand' Place to read the news scrawled in
chalk on the blackboard before the Mairie.

A sense of things that were happening came to me less from the words on
the bulletin than from the faces of the people in the crowd before it.


Thursday, July 30th

Early in the morning a friend of mine telephoned from her people's
château across the two forests, to tell me that her husband was
arranging for her to take the babies to-morrow up to Paris.

He said that in '70 the Germans had come that way, by the grand old
historic road, down upon Paris. The château had then passed through
dreadful times. If there were war he would have to go out on the first
day. He would have his babies then far off from the danger he did not,
of course, believe in.

She told me all he said. She thought it was a great bother. Would we
come over that afternoon to tea?

I picked sweet-peas and raspberries down by the well, and wrote a lot
of letters in my north-tower room.

That her husband felt like that about it, filled me with a sense of
disaster--like the thunder and red I kept dreaming of.

We motored over after lunch, through the soft, vague, intimate country
that has no especial beauty and that is so beautiful.

Some one called to us from the children's wing. It was "Miss," and she
said, "No one will come to the door; go straight in, Madame is there.
We are leaving, now, in five minutes."

The children's mother stood half-way down the long white gallery.

She looked very small and young.

She said, "He won't let us wait till to-morrow. He has telephoned. We
are going now, in five minutes."

Down the long white length of the gallery, we saw the children's
grandmother in the billiard-room, sitting against the big south window.

She had the little baby in her arms, and the two bigger ones stood
close against her.

I went to her.

She said, "You see, I am minding the babies."

She said that just because one had to say something and not cry.

We went away quickly.

Wide misty fields under another red war sunset. I thought, how one felt
war in the sunset.

As we went, dusk came, gathering, deepening, very soft and kind. The
fields and sky were darkly blue. There was a clear edge of the world,
between the fields and the sky. And over the edge of the world there
was a slim little new white moon.

There was a small clear singing of field birds in the dusk, and there
were bats abroad, and swallows.


Friday, July 31st

The beggars came as usual to the château for their Friday morning sous.
There were the usual dozen of them; old men, and women with babies,
and old women, and Margotte, the girl who was _innocente_, with her
nodding head and hands that would never keep still. They came out of
their holes in the marble quarries, and from nobody knew quite where,
according to their long custom. All that was just as usual. But they
were not as usual.

They were angry because Venus and Olga, the great Danes of the moat
bridge, barked at them. Venus and Olga always barked at them, but the
beggars never had been angry before. Before, they had been, always,
apologetic and conciliatory.

An old woman with wild white hair screamed at the butler who came with
the sous, and a young woman with a baby in her arms and two babies
hiding in her skirts, shook her fist at the château windows. There was
a sound of growling, snarling voices, more ugly than the dogs' barking,
in the court of the lime trees.

I went out to talk with the beggars. I was afraid of them, ridiculously
and terribly, as one is afraid of things in dreams. That especially
terrible fear which belongs to dreams, exaggerated, absurd, seemed to
be fallen, suddenly, somehow, upon everything.

I was afraid of the wild white hair of the old woman in the shawl, and
of Margotte's twitching, clutching, crazy hands.

I do not want to write about this day. I will always try not to
remember it.

After dinner we walked in the garden and along the rampart walls. We
went to feed the rabbits. How absurd to be heartbroken because it may
be the last time that we ever shall feed cabbage-leaves to the rabbits!

Now, writing in the north-tower room, I feel a strange commotion in the
village. How wide-awake the village is, so late! There are footsteps
going up and down the streets, up and down, and voices, under the
ramparts. The sound of footsteps and voices is strange in the night.
Why are the people going up and down like that? Of what are they
talking? There is the sound of a drum.

The sound of the drum comes across the moat, past the Dungeon Tower,
through the lime trees of the entrance court, along the dim halls and
corridors.

The drumming stops.

A man's voice takes up the reading out, very loud, of something, to the
hush that has fallen on footsteps and voices.


Saturday, August 1st

This has been the day of waiting. Everywhere, every one waited.

In the Place aux Armes people stood and waited. The men waited to be
told what to do. The women waited, each one of them staying close to
her man. The children hung on to their fathers' hands.

In all the little towns along the road to Paris it was like that.

In the larger towns there was much movement of soldiers about in the
streets. All the red képis were covered with blue. I wondered why.

The fields were empty. The work of the fields was left, flung down. The
scythe lay in the sweep it had only half cut.

From Louvres already the men were gone. Only women and old people and
children were left, in the length of the long street.

At the porte de La Chapelle we and a hay-cart going into Paris, and a
small poor funeral coming out to the cemetery of St. Ouen, were all
blocked together. The gendarmes were questioning the peasant of the
hay-cart, who stood in his blue blouse at the head of a big sleepy
white horse, and answered sulkily. One of the croquemorts told us that
the order for general mobilization was posted up on the walls of Paris.
I stared at his shiny top hat and black gloves that were too long in
the fingers, and tried to realize what it meant.

The streets of our quarter are empty, and more strange than the streets
and the boulevards we came through, where crowds were swaying up and
down.

Madame Boudet and I were afraid to go across and read the words of the
white oblong placard that is pasted up on the wall of the Palace.


Paris, Sunday, August 2nd

First day of the mobilization, the state of siege is declared
throughout France.

Already the many gardens of this old quarter are deep in the colours
and odours and melancholy of autumn, and give autumn's fatefulness and
foreboding to all the streets and rooms. I thought when I waked to it,
has this sense of autumn always meant the end of many more things than
summer?

With one's coffee to read--

First day of the mobilization, the state of war is declared throughout
France.

How silent this Paris is, this special part of Paris, of houses that
close proud heavy doors upon all they feel, of streets withdrawn from
thronging and demonstration.

In my room it is like waking to the silence that is beyond the end of
the world.

So this is one way war begins, not with shouting and singing, but with
a great silence.


Monday, August 3rd

They go. They all go. There is nothing I can say of it. I can only feel
it, as they go.

I, I am a stranger, I have no part in it. I have no right to agony and
pride.

I went and sat on a bench in the Cour la Reine, where already the
leaves are falling.

One of my friends came and met me there, and we sat on the bench
together, where the yellow leaves fell slowly. We never talked at all.

Her husband had gone the night before.

She said, "I am so glad that it is _now_, when my boy is just a baby."
She said, "I have prayed, and prayed, all these days, if it has got to
be, let it be now, when my son is just a baby."


Tuesday, August 4th

Other people will write beautiful things of it--it is so beautiful.

How beautiful it is, this going forth of all that is young and gay and
fearless, of all that means our ideal and our faith, without singing
and shouting, to battle.

There are no grand words, they only go.

And none of the women cry, till afterwards.

You see them laughing as they help their boys carry the bundles.

And you see them coming home through the streets afterwards, each one
alone and proud, crying quite noiselessly.

Sometimes the people who feel things most, remember only the smallest
things.

There was an old woman with a push-cart full of pears, this morning, in
the rue Boissy d'Anglas, who ran and ran as fast as she could, panting,
out of breath, to give her pears, all of them, to the blue boys of an
infantry regiment passing with their blankets and knapsacks.

I remember that, and that it was a beautiful blue-and-gold day, with a
flaming, thundering sunset.


Wednesday, August 5th

I keep thinking back over those last days of peace, that were so
precious, and nobody knew.

The Sunday that was to be the last, what memories has it given the
women to treasure, the men to carry away with them? Memories of such
small absurd things have become sacred, or become terrible. The men
may lose those memories in their great spaces of battle, but the women
must stay with them in the rooms.

Against the great background of these days it is queer what small
absurd things stand out. The greatest days of all the world--and how
terribly worried we are that Louis has gone off without his little
package of twenty-four hours' provision, the bread and chocolate and
little flask. It was ready for him and on the table in the hall, and
every one forgot it; and he was gone, and there it was, a ridiculous
thing to sob over.

Those women who did not cry at the station, what absurd things they
sobbed over, afterwards, at home--his golf sticks in the corner, his
untidy writing-table, the clothes, all sorts, he had left flung about
the room. How many of them will remember always that second pair of
boots he had to take with him, that simply couldn't be got, that had to
be hunted over Paris for, desperately, as if of utmost importance, all
his last day? However could she have got through that last day if it
had not been that she must keep up because of the boots?

In the afternoon, at the Rond Point of the Champs Elysées, my fiacre
was held up for the passing of a regiment on its way to some station.
A woman and a little boy were marching along beside one of the men,
going with him just as far as they might go. The woman had no hat, and
the sun was very hot. Her hair was tumbled across her eyes. The little
boy was holding tight to the edge of his father's long blue coat.


Thursday, August 6th

Poor little Charlotte's baby was born to-day, the day after its father
went out. And it is dead. A boy--and he had so wanted it to be a boy.


Friday, August 7th

To-day I went with a friend of mine to Notre Dame des Victoires, where
she prayed. All those starry lights, and all that dusk of kneeling,
beseeching people.


Saturday, August 8th

In the afternoon went with Chantal to the Gare d'Orsay, then to the
Austerlitz, and the Lyon, trying to find a way for her and the babies
to go home to the Vaucluse.

People are camped out about the stations; all the streets are full of
them, waiting to get places in the line before the ticket windows.

Foulques came to dine. It is his last night. He goes out to-morrow.
He was very quiet. I have never seen him quiet like that before.
Last night, down in the country, he had got through with all the
good-byes--Claire, and his home, and the little son; I suppose there
was nothing left for him to feel.

Old Madame Boudet has a letter from her son, who went on Tuesday. She
is very happy because he says his next letter will be from Berlin. She
is a little anxious because he speaks no German. Father Boudet forgets
that he is socialist and anti-militarist, because he is so proud that
his son should be a soldier of France. His shirt-sleeves are no longer
symbolic, they mean just that, for thinking of the hero, he has no time
to think of his coat.


Sunday, August 9th

Mimi's birthday: cake with six candles, and the little girl from
upstairs come with her Miss to tea.


Monday, August 10th

There is a sort of dreadful comfort in knowing that their going off is
over.

They are gone.

The women saw them off, helped them hurry their things together--those
bundles, boots, something to eat in the train. Every one had laughed.

The last things are over--the last night, when he slept so well and she
watched; the last sitting down at the table together; the last standing
together in the room; his last look around it, and her last seeing of
him there; the going out at the door.

The last going out of the door together. There was the bundle to carry,
and to laugh over. Everybody's motor had been taken, everybody's
chauffeur was gone with all the other husbands and sons. Omnibuses and
taxis were gone. The metro was not running, nor the tram. How to get to
the station--such confusion, and such laughing over it.

The station, somehow. And the crowd--such a crowd. And all the crowd
was just one man going off, and one woman who could bear it.

There had been just one bearing of it, and then it was over.

How silent Paris is!

It is one of those hot veiled days, when everything is tensely strung,
high pitched, and yet nothing seems to be quite real.

The leaves are falling in the Tuileries Gardens. I remembered, crossing
there, that this is the anniversary day of a fallen kingdom.

The little Dauphin shuffled his feet through the fallen leaves as he
went to the burial service of kingdoms, across the garden, in the old
riding academy.

I imagine his loving the sound of the dead leaves about his feet, as I
used to love it when I was a child.

The sense of autumn and the end of things is heavy upon Paris.

All the news is good. It is just the sadness of autumn--

  Les sanglots longs
  des violons
  de l'automne.

I went to meet Chantal in the Cour la Reine.

We sat on the top of the river wall. No boats passed along the river,
and few people passed under the slowly falling leaves.

We were very alone with Paris.

An old shabby man came by, reading an evening paper as he walked
slowly. We asked him what the news was. He stopped and stood by the
wall with us and read good news to us. He said, "I fought through '70.
It was just so in '70."

Chantal said to me, "How dreadful to be old! The night of the first
big victory, let's get somebody to take us out with the crowd on the
boulevards."


Tuesday, August 11th

Eliane let me come to-day, for the first time since her boy went, on
the Tuesday. She has changed so, one can scarcely believe it, in just
these few days. She does not look young any more. How badly he would
feel; he always loved his pretty little mother to look young. He loved
it when people took her for his sister, and how delighted he was that
time she went to see him when he was in barracks, and the captain was
shocked. She is no more young and pretty and she does not care.

Her eyes looked as if they never could cry again. She told me that the
last night she had listened outside his door, and when she was quite
sure he was asleep, she crept in, and groped for a chair at the foot
of his bed, and sat there, not seeing him, just knowing him near, all
night long while he slept. She went quietly out of the room before he
waked, when the light began to show the oblong of the windows--she did
not want him to know that she had watched. She said he slept the whole
night long, never stirring, and that she had known she must not cry,
for fear of waking him. She thought something had happened in that
night to her throat and to her eyes, so that she could never have tears
any more.


Arras, August 16th

It was a heavy grey day, very still. People were telling one another
that all the news was good. The first German flag taken had been
brought to Paris: one could go that day to the Ministry of War to see
it. I wished I could have waited in Paris over a day to go to see it. I
thought, it will be the first thing I do, to go to see it, when I come
back next week.

It was interesting to think that we went around by Arras because
British troops were detraining at Amiens.

It was all of it splendid, and one was proud and eager.

But the fields of France frightened me. They looked stricken. They
lay under the soft, grey, close-pressing hours, so strangely empty.
Everywhere the fields lay empty. The fields were ripe with harvest.
The wheat was burnt amber, and fallen by its own heaviness. The wide
swathes lay low along the ground, like the ground-swell of tired seas.
The harvest was left, abandoned. Sometimes one saw troops moving along
the white roads.

The towns had an odd stir of troops in the streets.

At Arras, coming into the town, we saw that droves of cattle had been
herded into a big enclosure, and that soldiers were guarding them. We
saw tents pitched in the fields. It was Sunday. The women of Arras were
out in their Sunday dresses. They seemed all to have come down to the
railroad to watch the trains pass and to have brought all the children.
There were only very old or very young men, except the soldiers. There
were many soldiers. All their képis were covered with blue. They were
come with the others to watch the trains pass.

In the deep cut beyond the station it seemed as if the whole town were
come out to sit on the banks and just look.

They were like children, I thought, not understanding, helpless,
waiting for something that was going to happen.


London, September

The night Ian went out was pretty bad. There were several other
officers with him, and their wives and mothers and sisters and children
all came to see them off.

Every one knew quite well what it meant, and every one pretended not to
know.

I had come to feel, like the rest of them, that one has simply got to
pretend.

We all pretended as hard as we could that it was splendid.

There was a woman on the platform who must have been crazy, I think.

She did not belong to any one going out. She was one of those dreadful
things you see in London, with a big hat heaped with feathers, and
draggled tails of hair. I think she had a red dress.

She came up to us under the windows of the train, and stood nodding her
dreadful feathers and waving her dreadful hands and calling things out.

She called out, "Oh, it's all very fine now, you laugh now--but you
won't laugh long. You won't laugh out there. And who of you'll come
back and laugh, my pretty boys, my gay boys?"

Nobody dared take notice of her. If any one of us had taken notice of
her, nobody could have borne it. There seemed to be no guard about to
stop her, and not one of us dared admit that she was there.

"My pretty boys, my gay boys," she kept calling out, "you laugh now, my
poor boys, but you won't laugh long."

There were some little Frenchmen, cooks, I think, or waiters, from some
smart hôtel, going to join the colours. They were in a third-class
carriage next to the carriage of the British officers.

They heard the woman calling out like that. They were little
pasty-faced cooks or waiters.

But they began to sing. They began to sing the Marseillaise to drown
the woman's voice out.

They did it just for us, our men going out, there on the platform.

Our men began to whistle it and hum it and stamp it. And we tried to.

The crazy woman called out those terrible things, that were so true.

And our men and the little Frenchmen sang and whistled and stamped. And
so did we.

And the train went out like that.


Paris, end of September

I have come home for six days. "I am here," I keep saying to myself, "I
am here, at home," as if I could not believe it.

And those homeless people, that they begged for at all the stations
where the train stopped on our way, those driven, herded people,
stupid from horror they have passed through, helpless, in my home I
keep imagining them. Where the train stopped in the dark at half-lit
stations, people of the Red Cross came asking help, "Pour nos blessés,
pour nos refugiés."

Somehow, in my little rooms, it is the refugees I see the more plainly.
There is the young woman with the wheelbarrow, and the old woman, the
grandmother, with the baby, the young man carrying the old man on his
shoulders, the little brother and sister with the bundle. I see them
toiling down the white road, turning back wild looks toward the smoke
of their home. They had to leave the cow, but the old dog followed
them. I see them in some strange place. They can go no farther. They do
not care where they are, or what happens to them. They have looked upon
the end of all that they had ever known.

Once, when the train stopped at a very small station, where one could
smell the fields all close about and sweet, there was a woman's voice
pleading; one heard her, as she came from door to door, along the
train, in the dark, "For our homeless; we have thousands and thousands
of homeless----" Her voice trailed on in the dark.

I was coming home. Until the boat lay against the quay I had not
let myself believe that I was coming home. It was after sunset. The
heaped-up town at the edge of the sea, with its old roofs and chimneys,
was black, in a livid, cold, desolate sky, that made one think of the
dead. The fields of France were dark as we came through them. The towns
had few lights, one felt them to be in grief, and lonely. In each town
there was the same pleading at the windows of the train, "Pour nos
blessés, pour nos refugiés." We came in the small hours to Paris.

The broken-down fiacre dragged through scarcely lit streets that were
all empty, and across the great Place, where nothing stirred, and
over the bridge of the river, that was as lonely as a river of the
wilderness. And then there was my home, where I must dream, all the
nights, of homeless people, thousands and thousands of homeless people.


London, November

I go to the little Soho church of Our Lady of France, to just stay
there, not praying or anything.

I go just to be with a people who are far from their country in her
great need.

Most of them are very humble people. There is a smell of poverty always
in the little dark church. They are people to whom "home" can mean
only some small poor place and things, a thatched cabin, a vineyard, a
mansarde over a cobbled street.

They kneel in the little dark church and sing--

  Sauvez, sauvez la France
    Au nom du Sacré Coeur--

while alien feet tread hearts down into the stains and bruises of the
roads between shattered poplar trees and thatched roofs burning.


Paris, just before Christmas

I try not to write. The only things worth saying are the things I do
not know how to say.

Every morning people take up the day like a burden. They carry its
weight of dread along the hours, down the length of them to the end.
Night comes at last, and they can lay the burden down, perhaps, for a
little.

When it is over they will look back and know how beautiful this winter
was, and what high places they had sight of from the strange far
journeyings of the days.

When it is over they will know that it was good to work so hard, to
give all, to be tired when night came.



PART II

Small Town Far Off



Small Town Far Off


Monday, August 2nd, 1915

We thought we had to get away. But there is no getting away. One feels
it almost more in the country and in the little towns than in Paris,
where life, somehow or other, keeps on.

The country stands so empty.

The men are gone. They are gone from the cornfields and vineyards and
pastures. They are gone from thatched roofs and tiled roofs. From wide
white poplar-bordered roads, and steep cobbled streets, and hill paths
that are like the beds of mountain torrents, from the wide way of the
river, and from all the little ways of the streams.

The women are left, and the old people, and the children. The oxen are
left. The war has taken the horses and the mules.

The great tawny oxen are beautiful, dragging the plough through the red
fields, or the load of brushwood or green rushes along the Roman road.

The women trudge beside the oxen.

The old people had thought that they were come to the time of resting,
at the long end of it. They had thought to rest, at last, in their
doorways. But here they are, out in the fields of their sons and their
sons' sons, at work, only vaguely understanding why.


The Town

The town is the colour of honey and burnt bread, its walls and gates
and roofs, its castle and tour sarazine and the tall tower of the
cathedral.

The tower, a tall campanile, makes one think of Italy, as do the open
stone loggie, and garlands and trellises of vines.

Sometimes I think the town speaks to me in Italian. I try to
understand, and then I know that it is not Italian, nor yet quite
Latin, but the grand old tongue of the illumined pages of its princes'
Mass books. And then again it speaks to me in the patois its shepherd
saints spoke.


The Saint

The vines and fields come close about the town that for so long has
counted its years by vintages; the good year of the purple grapes, the
poor year of the white grapes.

The town has had its part in many wars, but that was long ago.

It has a patron saint, a shepherd boy, who saved it in three wars,
miraculously. But it does not ask him for help in this war. He is too
intimate and near. The town is too used to asking him that the spring
rains may not wash the vines, that a frost may not come to hurt them,
that a malady may not take the grapes.

The mountains shadow the town, with shadows less blue than they
themselves are, and scarcely more intangible than they are, as one
looks up to them.

The river passes quietly below the town, slowly along the wide, still
valley.


The River

I know why the river goes so slowly, lingering as much as ever she can,
and a little sadly.

It is because just here she leaves behind her youth and wildness of
great mountains, her mood of snows and rocks, cascade and woods and
high rough pastures, cow-bells and mountain-horn. Going down into
the classic countries, infinitely old, those deep, rich countries,
she passes here, between the high clear lift and lilt and thrill of
mountain music and the cadenced melody of Provence.


The old Estampe

There is an old print in the library of the castle, that shows the
town, her hill become a mighty mountain, the river a terrific flood,
the castle guns emitting huge neat clouds of smoke upon the army
of Savoy. You see the army of Savoy, in plumes and velvet cloaks,
withdrawing upon prancing steeds, and the lords of the town issuing
forth from the Roman gate with bugles and banners.

They were gorgeous, gallant little wars that the sons of the town rode
out to in those days.


The Dépôt d'Eclopés


I

The dépôt d'éclopés is just beyond the town, on the Roman road. The
building was once the Convent of the Poor Claires. When the Sisters
were sent away it was used as Communal Schools. There is a great plane
tree outside the door in the yellow wall, and a bench in the shade.
There is room for seven éclopés to sit crowded together on the bench.
They bring out some chairs also.

All day long, and every day, as many of the éclopés as can get about,
and do not mind that the road see them, and can find space in the shade
of the plane tree, sit there, and look up and down the sunshine and the
dust.

Some of them have one leg, and some of them have one arm. There is one
of them who is packed into a short box on wheels. He sits up straight
in the box, and he can run it about with his hands on the wheels. There
is another in such a little cart, but that one has to lie on his back,
and cannot manage the wheels himself. There is one who lies on a long
stretcher, that they fix on two hurdles. There are two who are blind.
The two blind men sit, and stare and stare.

Looking to the right, from the dépôt d'éclopés, you see the Roman
gate of the town and remains of the ancient walls, and the old poor
golden roof, heaped up about the square golden tower of the cathedral.
The many ages have been so golden and slow upon the town that their
sunshine has soaked into it. It is saturated with the sunshine of the
ages and become quite golden. You imagine it in dark winter weather
glowing with a gold of its own. To the left, from the gate of the dépôt
d'éclopés, the road leads between poplars and vineyards and cornfields
to the mountains. The mountains stand very still, one against the
other, one behind the other. They also are golden, having retained
ages and ages of sunshine. They stand splendid, cut out of gold
roughly, shadowed with purple and blue.

I often go and stay with the éclopés at the gate, they like to have
anybody come. It was a long time before I dared go in at the gate.

Inside the gate there is a courtyard that was once the nuns' garden,
with their well in the middle of it and their fruit trees trained along
the walls. And there, there move about all day, or keep to the shadow,
of first the east wall, then the west, those of the éclopés whom the
road must not see.

Some of them look up at you when you come in. But most of them turn
away from you.

The two blind men at the gate who stare and stare, they cannot see the
golden town or the golden mountains. They cannot see the compassion and
the kindness that there is for them in the faces of all those who look
upon them.

But these men in the courtyard, however will they learn to bear, down
all their lives, the looks that there will be for them in the most
kind, compassionate faces?


II

There are not ever enough chairs under the plane tree. There are more
éclopés than there are chairs. How they laugh! They think it very
droll to see a man who has only his left leg and a man who has only his
right leg sharing a chair.

The men who have no legs say that that is not nearly so bad as having
no arms. They say that the men with no arms are ashamed to be seen,
like the men wounded in the face. They say that the men with no arms
will never come out even to the gate.


III

They never will let you stand. It is a dreadful thing to do, to take
one of their chairs. But they like to talk to a stranger.

All of them, except the man whose spine has been hurt, love to talk.

The man whose spine has been hurt lies all day, the days he can be
brought out, on a stretcher, never stirring. He never speaks except to
say one thing. He is very young. He looks as if he were made of wax.

He keeps saying, "How long the days are at this season!"

He will ask, over and over again, "What time is it?" and say, "Only
eleven o'clock?" Or, "Only three o'clock?"

And then always, "How long the days are at this season!"


IV

They are taking out for a walk those of the éclopés who are fit for
it. There must be nearly a hundred of them. In every possible sort
of patched, discoloured uniform, here they come hopping and hobbling
along. They have more crutches and canes than feet among the lot of
them.

One of the men who has no legs goes so fast on his wooden stump and his
crutches that everybody stops to look, and all the éclopés laugh, and
the people stopping to look, laugh, and he laughs more than any of them.

If things are tragic enough, they are funny. I have come to know that,
with the éclopés at the gate. And inside the gate, with those of the
éclopés who keep back against the walls, I have come to know that the
only safety of life is death.


The Cathedral


I

The Place de la Cathédrale is full of hot red sunset, taken and held
there, like wine in the chalice of old golden walls. The old golden
walls of the houses that once were palaces lift up the shape of a cup
to the wine of the sunset, a vessel of silence and slow time.

Now every night at sunset the bells of the Cathedral are ringing, and
people are coming into the Place from the rue St. Réal and the rue
Croix d'Or and the tunnel street, under the first stories of the Palais
du Maréchal, that is called the rue Petite Lanterne.

They are coming to the Cathedral for the prayers and canticles for
France.

There are women and old people and children and soldiers, fine straight
young chasseurs alpins from the garrison, like chamois hunters, with
béret and mountain-horn, and wounded soldiers from the hospitals, and
from the dépôt d'éclopés, with crutches and canes and white bandages.

The swallows are flying low back and forth across the cobbles of the
Place and crying.

Behind the tower of the Cathedral, the great purple mass of the
mountains stands out against the sunset. The smell of the mountains,
of vineyards and cows and cool waters, comes down to the smells of the
town's living in the Place.


II

Inside the church there are no lights, except of so much of sunset as
comes in under the low arches, and of the red lamp, and of the candles,
burning for Our Lady of Victories, and for the new Saint Jeanne d'Arc.
Among the dusky figures, very still, in the church, you see white
things. Sometimes it is the white cap of an old crone and sometimes it
is a white bandage.


III

The church smells like a hospital. There is no more the smell of
incense in the church, that used to linger there from office to office
through the years. You wonder if really ever the church smelled of
incense and wax candles. The smell of hospital has so come to belong
there.


Americans

He did not seem so very ill. He had not that look of being made of wax.
And he talked all the time. Most of them die so silently.

He lay in the bright ward and talked all of the time.

He had enlisted in the Foreign Legion and fought since the beginning,
and was wounded last week in the Argonne.

He wanted me to sit beside him and listen. I hated the things he said.

He said he was a fool, they all were fools, and they all knew it now.
He said there was no glory. They had thought that war was glorious.
And it was hideous; sardine tins and broken bottles, mud or dust, never
a green thing left to live. There was no enemy. Just guns. When a man
fell, nobody had hit him, only a gun. If he was dead, lucky for him.
When they were wounded they made noises like animals. It killed you
to pick them up. He said they "went sorter every which way" in your
hands. If they fell between the trenches you couldn't get to them. It
seemed as if they'd never die. Sometimes they made noises like wolves
and sometimes like cats. That was the worst, the noises like cats. You
never knew if it weren't cruel to throw them bread. If you threw them
bread, they lived and lived. The trenches were full of rats. The rats
came and ate your boots and straps and things while you slept. The
smells were "something fierce." "Gee, what fools we were," he said.

He picked at the bedclothes and grinned at me and said, "Say, kid,
ain't you homesick for back over across the Duck Pond?"

I said, "Oh, no, no."

I looked out of the window to the sky of France that never has failed
me of dreams, and I said, "No, no, no."

Oh, why did I? Why didn't I pretend for him that I was homesick too?


An Altar

From the narrow deep old street you turn in under an arch to a vaulted
passage that is always dark and cold. It looks into a court that once
was very proud. Now a wholesale wine merchant has heaped his tuns one
upon another in one corner, and in another corner a carpenter has his
saws and benches and great logs of mountain oak and pine. There are the
smells of wine and fresh-cut wood together with the smell of stones and
ages in the court.

The houses about the court still keep something of their "grand air."
They are of all the colours that time in the south gives to stones,
saffron and amber and gold, as if the stone were soft for the sunshine
to sink into.

On the left of the court there is a wide high door under an escutcheon.

The sound of the bronze knocker is very stately.

The wine merchant has a blackbird that whistles all day in its osier
cage, and the children of the carpenter are always laughing and
calling, as they play with the fresh curled wood shavings.

But everybody seems to stop and listen when you lift the bronze knocker.

A lame man-servant comes to open the door. He fought through '70 with
his master and was wounded at Sedan, where his master was killed.

There is a wide stone stairway, with a wrought-iron railing, and with
walls discoloured where the tapestries have been taken away.

The tapestries are gone also from the corridor, and from the room to
which the man-servant opens the door.

The old portraits are left in the walls of that room, and the exquisite
wood-carving of the time of the Sun King, but the three or four chairs
and the table on the right by the great carved hearth, are such as one
would find at the Bazar of the Nouvelles Galeries.

The room is empty, except for these chairs and the table, and the
little altar.

The long side of the room, opposite the door, has four tall windows
that look across a garden, with untrimmed yew-trees and box edges,
over green paths, tangles of grass and flowers, to what used to be
conventual buildings and the nuns' orchard.

The little altar is at the end of the room on the left as you come in,
facing the windows.

There is a statue of Notre Dame des Victoires and a statue of Saint
Jeanne d'Arc, and there is the Cross between them. There are two
seven-branched old bronze candlesticks. The altar is spread with "a
fine white cloth."

On the floor before it is laid something covered with the flag of the
Republic.

I know what it is that the flag covers.

She had showed it to me.

One day, I don't know why, she took me there and lifted the flag, and
showed me a heap of toys.

She said, "They were babies when they died." "They died;" she said,
"the two of them in one week together, of a fever. It was in the year
that we called, till now, the 'Terrible Year.' It was in the month of
the battle in which their father was killed." She said, "Look at the
wooden soldiers of my babies, the Hussars and the Imperial Guards. How
long ago! And this was a little model of the cannon of those days. Look
at the bigger one's musket and the little one's trumpet and drum. And
the little uniforms of the Empire I had made for them, and they were so
proud of--My sons, to whom it was not given to die for France."


Hospital

One long side of the hospital looks from its rows of windows to
vineyards and the mountains. The smell of burning brushwood comes in,
to the smell of the hospital.

Through all the vineyards these days they are burning the refuse of the
vines. The smoke stays among the vines, lingering heavily. The purple
smoke and the red and purple wine colours of the vines, and the purple
mists of the distances, gathered away into the purple shadows of the
mountains, make one think at twilight of the music of a violin, or of a
flute.

The Number 18 is very bad. He does not know any one any more. He lies
against a heap of cushions, his knees drawn up almost to his chin, his
eyes wide open all the time, his hands picking at the covers.

The boy in the next bed keeps saying, "If my mother were here, she
would know what to do. If my mother were here, she would save him."

There is a boy who wants some grapes. His whole body is shot to pieces.
They do not dare give him even a sip of water. He keeps begging and
begging for grapes. Very shortly the hillside under the windows will be
heavy and purple with grapes.

There is a boy who talks about riding over everything. He keeps saying,
"We rode right over them, we rode right over them."

There is another who keeps crying, "Oh, no, not that! Oh, no, not that!"

There is the petit père, who is getting smaller and smaller. When they
are dying, they seem always to get smaller and smaller. He had a bullet
through one lung, but it was out and he was getting well. Only, he
caught cold.

He is from the north. His wife and his two little girls are somewhere
in the country from which no news comes. He has had no news of them
since he left them and went away to war, on the second day.

He used to talk of them all the time, and worry terribly.

But now he cannot talk at all, and he does not worry any more. He
smiles quite happily and has no more grief.

When they do the dressings of Number 26 he crams his handkerchief into
his mouth so that he may not scream. He shivers and trembles and the
tears roll down his cheeks, very big tears. But he never makes a sound.

Number 15 is not a boy at all, but just a little sick thing. He is so
very little in his bed. He is like a sparrow--the skeleton of a sparrow.

I feed him crumbs of bread, and sips of water, as if he were a sparrow.

How one loves a thing one has fed with a teaspoon.

I do not like No. 30. I am always so afraid that I shall in some way
show how I dislike him. It is hateful of me, but I cannot like him.
He screams at his dressings, and he is fat, and he sends out and buys
cheeses and eats them.

The little Zouave is better again. That is the most dreadful thing,
that it is so long. He takes so long to die. The days when he is better
are the most cruel days.

To-day in the middle of the morning, he was beckoning to me with a
feeble little thin brown hand.

I went over and bent down, for he can only whisper.

He said, "I said good morning to you when you first came in, and you
did not know."

Number 4 is not going to die. The shade of death is gone from his young
face.

He is going to lie for a long time on a rubber cushion that has a tube
hanging down, quite long, like a tail.

Every day, for a long time, at the dressings I shall have to pull back
the sheets and blankets and take away the hoop, and see that thing that
used to be a big fine man lying quite helpless and of so strange a
shape upon the rubber cushion with the tail.


The Omelet

The vine was red on the white old soft wall.

It was very beautiful. There were masses of purple asters under the red
vine, against the wall. There was a bowl of purple asters on the table
between the carafes of red and white vine.

We had an omelet and bread and butter and raspberries, and water, very
beautiful in the thick greenish glasses.

Under the yellow boughs of the lime tree we could see the misty valley
and the mountains.

The table had a red-and-white cloth.

The little old thin brown woman who served us wanted to talk all the
time with us. She wanted to talk about the omelet; she had made it and
was very proud of it. She wanted to talk about the war and to talk
about her son.

She said that there had been some horrible, strange mistake and that
people thought that he was dead. She had had a paper from the Ministry
of War telling her he was dead. It was very strange. She had had a
letter also from the Aumonier, telling her he was dead. But, of course,
she knew.

She said he would come home, and be so sorry she had had such dreadful
news, and so glad that she had not believed it.

They would laugh together. He had beautiful white teeth, she said, and
his eyes screwed tight up when he laughed.

She told us how she and he would laugh together.


Gentilhommière

The road, up through the vineyards and pastures and fields of maize and
of buckwheat, was like the bed of a mountain torrent, all tossed down,
and grey and stony, between the poplars. In other years it had been a
well enough kept little road, but in this year there was no one to care
for it. And surely it had been a mountain torrent, in the spring's last
melting of snows and in the heavy rains of the summer. Who was there
left to mend it? Or who, indeed, to travel it?

We climbed it slowly in the golden autumn afternoon.

The poplar trees that bordered it were almost bare, the rains and winds
of this most dreadful year had dismantled them already. They were tall
slim candles, tipped with yellow flame. They were candles lit in
sunshine, too early, before candle-light time.

Autumn was come too soon.

The vines had failed. And yet no one had ever seen the colour of the
vines so beautiful.

The road climbs up and up through the vineyards.

The house stands on a ridge, among chestnut trees that were turned
already golden and brown, high against the high wall of the mountains.

The mountains were of the colours of the vintage, purple and topaz and
red.

The clouds made snow peaks high behind the mountains.

The house has a heap of steep, old, uneven blue-tiled roofs. Its walls
are as yellow as the corn. There is a long terrace before it, with a
stone balustrade, worn and soft, and a pigeon tower at one end of the
terrace, and the tower of a great dark yew tree at the other end.

I thought what a withdrawn little place it was, held quite apart, like
a thing treasured and feared for.

The road passes under the pigeon-tower end of the terrace, and round
into a courtyard that the farm and service houses close in on two sides.

The courtyard smelled of clover and of cows. Multitudes of white
pigeons fluttered about the old thatched roofs of the grange, where
the hay was stored in the gable, and corn hung drying in golden
festoons, and the dust of the threshing floor was deeply fragrant. The
wine vats smelled of grapes. And odours of lavender and wild thyme came
close down from the mountain side.

The entrance door stood open, across the grass and cobbles of the
court, to whosoever might trouble to go in.

There was a great chestnut tree on either side of the door, and the
ground about the door was strewn with brown burrs and golden leaves.

A little old peasant woman, who must surely have been the Nounou long
ago, came to the door, in sabots and the white stiff winged cap of the
country.

She said that Madame had gone down to the black wheat fields.

The waxed, black, shining stairs came straight down into the red-tiled
hall.

Across the hall there was a fine carved and painted room, that lay all
along the length of the terrace. That room was closed because of the
war. "Madame had it closed," explained the little old nurse, "since the
day when Monsieur Xaxa went."

In the dining-room there was a big table pushed back to the wall, with
many chairs crowded out of the way against it. The old nurse said, "We
do not use this room, now that Monsieur Xaxa is gone."

She would show us the kitchen with its red-brick tiles, and dark, great
beams, and earthen jars and coppers, and its old stone hearth, like an
altar.

She said, "Nothing is kept as beautifully as it should be. Madame and I
are quite alone."

She would have us go up the shining stairs. "You must see the room
of Monsieur l'Abbé," she said, "it is all ready for him. He comes
to-night. We have been for days and days getting his room and all the
house, prepared for him."

There were purple and white asters in bowls and vases. The floor of the
room shone like a golden floor. The old green shadowy mirror reflected
the room as if it were a dream room, into which one might pass, just
stepping through the tarnished lovely frame. The bed was covered with
a very fine ancient green-and-white striped brocade. On the bed, under
the crucifix and the Holy Water basin and the spray of box, there were
laid out Monsieur l'Abbé's soutane and his soft hat with the tassel.
His embroidered worsted slippers stood on the golden floor beside the
bed.

"He is Madame's eldest son," said the old nurse, "and he is a great
and wonderful saint. A great and wonderful saint."

"But," she said, as we went out of his room to the stairs, "it was
always Monsieur Xaxa that Madame loved best."

As we went down the stairs she added, "He was a wild boy, but we adored
him. He was always wild, not like Monsieur l'Abbé. But how we adored
him!"

She said, "I thought Madame would die the day he went away. But yet it
is he who is dead, since seven months, and Madame and I, we live."


Château

The gates stand open. Some one has broken open the gates. Or perhaps no
one had troubled to close them.

The porter's lodge, under the limes, is empty.

The avenue of ancient, stately lime trees that leads to the château,
is overgrown, in this one year, deep with grass and moss. The trees,
that have not been trimmed, shade it too darkly. The leaves of the
lime-trees are falling. In another year it would seem strange if the
leaves fell so, before the end of August; but in this year no death
seems strange. The dead leaves lie deep in the avenue.

At the end of the avenue the château stands, helplessly. Through long
times and much history, its towers commanded the valley and the great
road of the river. Its name rang in high councils, and its banners knew
the winds of many wars.

Again its sons went out to battle. They were three of them. They went,
just more than a year ago, three gay young chasseurs alpins. They are
all three of them dead, on the field of honour.

The little aged orange trees are all dead in their green tubs in the
courtyard. The ivy has grown across the great barred entrance door. The
lantern over the door is full of swallows' nests.

The old Monsieur and the old Madame are gone away. How could they have
lived on in the house that was not to be for their sons?

We asked many people in the village, but no one knew where they had
gone.


Shopping


I

In the library of the Octagon I found some little etchings of these old
streets and courtyards and allées murées, steep roofs and balconies
and open loggie, carved windows and doorways, corners and turnings,
done beautifully by someone who had surely understood them. He had
known how the smell of old wood and stone strikes out from certain
shadows and stabs you in the heart; and the sudden sharp loneliness you
feel because of dead leaves driven against the tower stairs.

The librarian said, "He was indeed an artist."

The librarian was very old. He wore a little black skull cap and a grey
muffler about his throat. He was bent quite over, and could see what
I had taken only when he held the things close to his eyes. His hands
were twisted like old brown fagots, and they trembled and fumbled as he
held the etchings, one after the other, close to his eyes.

"We were very proud of him," said the librarian, "he was of this town.
He would have given the town fame throughout the world. His right arm
is shot away. And he is so young."

He kept on repeating that while he tied up my etchings.

"He is so young," kept saying the librarian, who is so old.


II

As I was leaving the antiquity shop in the rue Basse du Château,
standing a minute at the door with the antiquary's pretty young wife
and the two fat babies, there came along the street four fantassins,
two of them limping, one with his arm in a sling, carrying a funeral
wreath between them.

It was made of zinc palms and laurels, and the tricolour was laid
across it.

We stood, not saying anything.

The fantassins passed, going up toward the ramparts of the Porte du
Midi and the cemetery, carrying their comrade's wreath and the flag.

The antiquary's little young wife was crying.

She said, "I have a letter to-day from my husband. I have a letter
every ten days. He also is a fantassin. He is in the Argonne." She
threw back her head that the tears might stay back in her eyes, and
said, "He was very well when he wrote. He wrote that he was very well,
and that I was not to be afraid."


III

I went to scold the old woman of the fruit shop because she never
remembers my apricots.

The fruit shop in the rue des Ramparts is a low stone doorway, hung
with scarlet peppers and dried golden corn and yellow gourds, and
onions that are of opal and amethyst and pearl; and heaped about with
cabbages and lettuce and tomatoes and the few fruits of the season,
blackberries and plums and apricots.

The old woman sits in the doorway. She wears the white winged cap
and a blue apron and a brown silk fringed shawl and a big gold cross
on a gold chain. Her husband was killed in '70. She has no son. Her
daughter's three big sons were very kind to her. They are all three of
them chasseurs alpins. From one there has been no news since eleven
months ago.

She was sitting perfectly still in her place, her hands lying together,
hard-worked and tired, on her blue apron. She was looking straight
ahead of her and did not see me at all.

I stood and looked at her, and did not speak and saw far-off things,
and turned and went away.


Mountains


I

The inn, up in the rough stony town of the high mountains, was forlorn
enough. There were some dogs and chickens about the door of it, in the
wet street.

The woman who came to the door of the inn was one of those thin, dark
pale, quiet women about whom there is always something sympathetic and
sad. She said, she feared the inn could do us little honour; we must
forgive, because of the war.

The stone hall was narrow and cold, the stairs went straight up from
the farther end of it, and two doors opened from it on either side of
it.

The woman took our wraps, and put them down on a table that there was
by the entrance door.

Before the door to the right, down by the stairs, there was a small,
fat, blonde baby standing, a little round-headed boy baby, in a black
blouse, knocking on the door and crying and calling "Georgeot." He did
not turn to look at us at all, but went on always knocking and crying.

The woman said, "You see, we never expect any one now, but if Monsieur
and Madame will be indulgent--this is the dining-room, Madame," she
opened one of the doors on the left, and went ahead of us into the dark
room, and groped to the window to throw back the blinds.

We went to one of the bare tables, and she arranged it for us, not
talking to us any more. And after a while fetched us potatoes and
cheese, and sour bread and red wine which tasted of the roots and stems
of vines.

Whenever she left the door a little open behind her, we could hear the
baby in the hall sobbing and calling for "Georgeot." We asked her, "But
the poor little soul, what is the matter that he calls like that?"

She told us it was his father he was calling. She said he had been
hearing her call his father "Georgeot." His father had been home for
six days' leave, and was gone back just this morning. "You understand,"
she said, "my husband had not seen his baby in eleven months, and he
had him every minute in his arms; and since he is gone the baby will
not go away from his door, or stop calling for him."

She did not seem to want to talk any more about it, and we pretended to
find our lunch most excellent.

When we went out into the hall again she had picked the baby up, and
was standing with him in her arms, there by his father's door. She
patted his yellow head down against her shoulder, but he still went on
crying for "Georgeot."

It was raining hard out in the grey street.

In a shop under a vaulting, that the crook of a shepherd Saint had
blessed through hundreds of years, I bought a queer sort of woolly
beast for the baby.

But the baby did not care for it at all.


II

Going on yet higher up into the mountains, we met a dreary little
funeral, coming down under umbrellas. The coffin, under a black cloth,
was pushed along in a two-wheeled cart by a woman and a very old man.
Some women and two or three old people followed, and some children and
dogs.

It was not the funeral of a soldier, only of some one uselessly dead.


III

Rain, sunshine, wet black rock, great blue and black and purple clouds,
clear azure spaces, snows, lifted drifted crests of snow, like waves
arrested--all this as we went up, and up, with a rainbow like a bridge
across the valley we were leaving behind us.

Up and up and up, into the young joy of the mountains, young as at the
beginning of the world, joyous above all things. What do they care, the
great mountains? They stand quite still, and all things pass. They lift
their heads, and do not even know.

A baby cried because its father was gone away to war. Its mother did
not cry at all.

A stranger came by and cried, not because of those especial people, but
because of the world.

A little funeral straggled down the hill in the rain.

None of it mattered.

I thought, we went up high above all griefs.

Some children and a woman, from a hut up in the snow, came to beg of us.

I thought, for what did they need to beg, they, who had the everlasting
snows? I thought, how absurd to beg for bread to live, in a place
where death would be so pure and clear, would ring out so joyously. I
thought, how nice it is that all the roads of life lead up to death.
And that death, however come to, is so high a thing.

It was terribly cold. The snow was over us and under us, as the clouds
were.


IV

In the round basin circled with snows, the ancient hospice--that is
no more a hospice, from which its old possessors have been driven
away--stands white, beside the white road, in the close-cropped
pasture. The sheep and tawny rough cattle were the only things that
stirred. The smoke of the hospice chimneys stayed quite motionless in
the golden air.

The air rang like a golden bell.

The music of the cow-bells was no more distinct a music than that of
just the golden ringing of the air.

They lighted a fire in the stove of the long white refectory, and we
had tea and bread and butter and honey beside it.

There were no guests in the hospice. The little white stone rooms, that
used to be the monks' cells, had floors of red-brick tiles and thick
walls, and each cell had one deep narrow window.

The woman who built our fires, and fetched our tea, and showed us to
our little white stone rooms, was not old, but looked very old and sad.
She had a red knitted shawl and big gold ear-rings, and big brown dumb
eyes.

We went out into the music of the sunset, every mountain peak was
singing. It was utterly still, except for the sheep-bells and
cow-bells. The silence was a great music, joyous and grave.


V

I am sitting up in bed, writing by the light of two candles; it is a
golden light, in the pure white moonlight that fills the cell.

The slit of a window opposite the bed is wide open, and the moonlight
floods in.

I am so cold, I have put on my big travelling coat.

The moonlit air tastes of mountain tops. The stillness is immense in
the small room. All the silences of the world are in the room.

I cannot see the moon, nor the snow peaks; only the sky of sheer
moonlight, and a dark dim mountain, looming.

I am so glad to be awake and cold.


VI

While I was writing, something happened. An ugly sound broke the
spell. Some one was coming to the hospice. There was the sound of a
motor-bicycle, from a long way off, coming through the stillness. There
was the calling of its horn and then it was at the door.

I heard the door open, and a cry of delight; and a man's young voice,
joyous, high-keyed, intense, and a woman's voice, laughing and sobbing.


VII

I saw the sun come up out of the snow, I saw all the marvellous things
that there are between darkness and dawn.

I had made myself stay awake the whole night through, to not lose one
minute of the mountains. The mountains were mine, from sunset through
the dusk and the dark and the moonlight, to the dark again, and through
that other so different dusk that is before the dawn, to the sun's
great silent rising, and the full glory of the day.


VIII

It was the son of the woman of the gold ear-rings and the red shawl,
who had come home in the night, unexpected, for six days' leave.

He was out in the morning pastures, a tall lean mountain boy, with
gleaming white teeth, and brown eyes like his mother's, but laughing,
and with absurd dimples in his brown young face.

His mother was out with him in the dawn, the red shawl over her head,
keeping close beside him as he went swinging across the pastures, her
short step almost running by his long step.


The Little Maître d'Hotel

Our little worried grey butler is gone.

His class has been called out, the class of Quatre-vingt-douze.

It appears he was only forty-three.

I had thought he was sixty at least. It must be because he has been
anxious all his life that he seems so old.

He was terribly worried and anxious when he talked to me, the night
before he went, about the old father and mother he must leave. He
would be going probably only somewhere back of the lines to guard
a bridge or a railway, but for him it meant--who knows what darkly,
helplessly imagined things? He talked a great deal in a high-pitched
voice--standing there, very white in his proper livery--of bayonet
attacks, of the coal he had managed to get in for the old people, of
dying for France, and of his mother's rheumatism, and of the cow they
had had to sell.


The Garage

There are twelve convalescents installed after a fashion in the garage
half-way down the field path. They are so nearly well that they can
make up their beds and sweep out their rooms and wash at the pump and
go down to eat at the canteen of the hospital Sainte Barbe. They go
to the Clinique there every second or third or fourth day. An orderly
comes up from there once in a while with clean linen for them. And that
is all they need be troubled about. They are quite comfortable and very
forlorn.

They spend their days hanging out of the windows of the loft over the
garage or sitting about the big board table of the space underneath,
where the motors used to be kept.

Most of them are men from cities who do not know what to do with the
country, and the three or four who are country boys know so well what
to do with vines and fields, that the vines and fields they may not
labour, so close about them here, only worry them. They are the men who
get most cross and quarrelsome over the games of cards at the board
table.

They all quarrel more or less. Sometimes I wonder, how can men who
are so splendid, so simply, steadily, dumbly splendid, who have been
through so much, seen death so close, and life so close, quarrel like
this over nothing at all. But most times I understand.

The crickets trill all the hot noons in the grass, and the droning of
the bees sounds very hot. Like clouds of white butterflies drift over
the path, make little drifting butterfly shadows on the path. There is
a most wonderful smell of clover in the heat. Down under the fields
there are heaped together the crowded old rust-red and burnt umber and
golden roofs of the town. And all away beyond there is the valley,
opened out, long road and river, to high, far distances of mountains
and snows.

I go and sit with my friends about the big board table, in the place
where the motors used to be kept. I play cards with my friends, the
twelve convalescents. I play badly, for I hate cards, but they like
to have a guest. They try to arrange the game so that I may win. They
want me to win; they think that I will enjoy it better. If they knew
how bored I am they would be dreadfully upset. I wish I loved cards and
could play well, to please them.

Towards evening they are certain to be cross with one another.

One after the other they will soon be going back to the Front, all of
them. There is not one of them who will go unwillingly. They have been
there, they know what it is, but there is not one who will grumble when
he goes back, or fail when he faces _that_ again. Every one of them,
when he goes back, will say the same thing. "Of course I must go back,
all the comrades are there." "Tous les copains sont là-bas." But in the
meantime they quarrel.

From the doors of the garage, wide, one sees the sunset among the
mountains. The bats flit across and the owls call. The dusk comes,
velvet-thick and soft, with smells of fields and vineyards and of the
town's hearth fires, and with the myriad voices of cigale and frog and
sleepy bird, and with the small life noises of the town. Gathering up,
and folding in, the night comes.

There is electric light in the garage that my friends are very proud
of indeed. A huge naked bulb dangles from a cord over the table where
we sit playing cards.


Francine

The son of Francine is home on leave.

Francine comes every day to help in the kitchen. She was scrubbing the
kitchen's grey stone flags when her son came.

He came swinging up the path between the wheat and poppies and
cornflowers. He came up the terrace steps, in his leggings and his
béret, a fine young diable bleu.

Francine came, running, wiping her red hands in her apron, suddenly
beautiful and very proud.


Railway Station, The Days of the 25th

The trains of wounded arrive almost always at dawn, the late autumn
dawn.

The lamps of the station are still burning, but grow pale.

Beyond the open platform, across the tracks, you can see that dawn has
come to the sky, behind the mountains.

There is a star in the midst of the dawn, Hesper, star of both the
twilights, very big and bright and near, like a lamp.

It is very cold.

In the pale light of the dawn and the pale light of the station lamps
they wait for the train of wounded to come in.

The Red Cross has a cantine at the station in what used to be the
buffet. But these men will be past need of coffee and soup.

The cart of the buffet, that used to be pushed along the trains with
breakfasts under the carriage windows, is heaped now, in these days,
with very strange things. There is need of these things, always. There
is this, and that, that cannot wait.

The doctors from the Lycée Prince Victor, now the big military
hospital, are there by the chariot. They stand waiting and talking
together. They turn up their coat collars and sink their hands in their
pockets and stamp their feet in the cold of the dawn.

The orderlies wait with their stretchers, back against the wall, under
the gay posters of places where people used to go to be amused.

The Red Cross nurses keep back in the cantine, where it is warmer.

The train is late. It has been from three to six hours late each one
of these dreadful mornings.

Everything has been ready since long, long ago, in the deepest dark of
the night.

If only there are enough blankets.

The train is terribly, terribly late.


New Ones

It was for this that they evacuated last week all who could possibly be
moved, to fill the wards with other broken things. They gathered up all
the broken things that had lain here so long, and sent them away. And
now the wards are full of other broken things.

The old ones had grown accustomed to the rooms. They had suffered and
been unhappy in these rooms, and when they had to go away they did not
want to go. They had nothing left but the place and people of their
suffering, and they found, when they had to go, that they loved the
place and the people they had grown so used to. They seemed to be
afraid to go away. To all the weariness was added this new weariness.

And now the wards are full of new ones.

The new ones lie very still.


Deaths

It is quite simple.

If it can be that the priest comes, it is very well. All that the
priest does is beautiful. The feet and hands, the eyes, the lips have
sinned, and the touch of forgiveness upon them is exquisite. It is
exquisite, that last entering in of the Divine Body to the body that
is dying. But if for any reason no priest comes, if no one cares or
troubles to ask for him, or if there is no time, God is most surely
there and understands. And one is comforted to find that there is no
need to fear for them, as they die.

They die so quietly. I am glad to know how quiet a thing it is to die.

There was only one who was not quiet.

They bound ice about his head, and then he did not shriek and fling
himself about any more, but lay quite quietly until he died.


Another Winter, Thursday, October 7th

When the rain had gone over, in the late afternoon, and the clouds were
lifted and drifted a little, we saw that there was snow on all the
near mountains, through the pines, upon the pastures.

The cold wet street was full of excited swallows. Here was the cold.
The cold was come too soon. They never yet had gone south so early.

Dear me, dear me--where would they stop the night?

Up under all the old shaggy rusty eaves, that reach out over the narrow
streets, hundreds and hundreds of swallows were crowding each other in
and out of sheltered places, such a fluttering and twittering. Under
thatch and tiles, along the ledges of fine proud old stone windows, and
of wine-red wooden balconies, they pushed and crowded each other, and
in and out of the brown clayey nests that summer had abandoned.

People in the streets stopped to watch, laughing a little.

People in the cold, wet streets stopped to watch the swallows, women
and old people and children.

"They have seen the snow on the mountains," said the people to one
another, laughing a little.

And then always, every one said, each to the other, the same thing.

The one thought of all of them together, "Another winter."



PART III

Paris


Monday, October 11th

I was thinking all night in the train--how can I look at them, how can
I speak to them in their depth of grief? I was thinking--when the old
woman comes to open the door, what can I say to her? When the old man
comes to take my big dressing-case and my little dressing-case, and my
strap of books, how can I face him? Their son is dead.

The son of our concierge is dead. "Mort au Champ d'Honneur."

They were so proud of him. They did so worship him. He was such a
clever boy that he had gone beyond anything they had ever imagined. If
you just in passing saw him with them, you thought he did not belong to
them at all. You thought he was a gentleman who was waiting a minute
for some reason, there in the loge. But you would have known, if you
had had time for it, how he worshipped them and was proud of them; they
had worked so hard, his little fat slow sweet mother in the neat black
dress, and his little stumpy cross father, who made it a point to come
to the door in his shirt sleeves.

In those wonderful first days the son of our concierge went away.

It was on Tuesday, the second day, in the afternoon, about five
o'clock. He had to be at the Gare d'Austerlitz at seven, and getting
there was difficult.

I think that day was the most cruel and most wonderful of all. I shall
always remember how hot it was, and how the leaves were fallen in the
garden.

They told me how it seemed as if he really could not go. He kept
starting, and coming back; and starting, and coming back. He hugged his
little fat old mother, in her neat black dress; and hugged her, and had
to turn back to hug her again. His father was going with him, to help
carry the bundles. He was in his shirt sleeves. He kept blowing and
blowing his nose. His mother had said she would not come to the door.
But she did come to the door. She had said she would not stand to watch
him go. But she did, crying and smiling and waving to him. He got to
the street corner four different times. And three of the times he came
back, to hug her just once again.

And he is killed.

There will be the little stumpy father in his shirt sleeves, and the
little, so very respectable mother, fat and slow.

How can I look at them? What can I say to them?

They must open the door for us, and pay the taxi, and carry up our
things.

How can I tell them that I kneel before their sorrow as if it were a
throne?


Same day, 11th of October

The first thing to do was to go up to my neighbour's queer big
kitchen--up on the roofs--because there were eleven little soldiers at
supper, to whom, though I have not been here to see them until now, I
must say good-bye. It is the last day of their leave, they will be off
to-morrow.

Always my permissionnaires eat with my neighbour's permissionnaires
together in the kitchen on the roof. They are always men from the
invaded countries, who have nowhere to go for their leave.

Before, they have always been men who had been in hospitals and were
sent to us for their sick-leave; but these are little young boys, the
Classe Seize, just from their dépôts, with a few days of leave before
their beginning of battle. The oldest of them is nineteen.

You go up to the kitchen by a little twisted stairway, like the
stairway of a tower. On three sides of the kitchen there are charming
blue mansarde roofs and black crooked chimney-pots, and on the fourth
side there are the treetops of an old garden. When the leaves are
fallen, one can look down from the kitchen terrace, through the
branches of the trees, and see all the design of the garden, paths and
lawns, statues and massifs and the big central basin, as in the ground
plan, drawn so long ago.

To-night the fallen leaves in the sunset made the garden a place all
of amber. One looked down into an amber glow. And all the roofs and
treetops of the quarter, and the two tall towers of Sainte Clotilde,
seemed translucent; for the gold of the sunset to shine through.

The kitchen has a floor of polished red brick tiles and shines with
beautiful copper pots.

Eleven little soldiers were just finishing their coffee at the table
with the red cloth.

What babies they are. And how alike they look, all of them. It is
absurd. Eleven round close-cropped heads; eleven round rosy peasant
faces; eleven pairs of round clear eager questioning eyes; eleven
straight young figures, with stiff gestures, in bleu d'horizon.

Classe Seize, eighteen years, nineteen years, twenty years. It has
become the age to die.


Tuesday, October 12th


The Chocolates

I went to get some chocolates at a little shop near the hospital.

The woman of the shop counted me out the heap of chocolates one by one
in their silver paper.

She was a thin pale little woman with the sort of blue eyes that are
always sad. Her eyes looked as if they had cried and cried, in her
worn faded little face. She had the little woollen cape of the quarter
around her shoulders and her pale hair was rather grey.

While she was counting the chocolates the postman came. He brought a
big square yellow envelope addressed in that special writing, surely,
of a little soldier, and with the franchise militaire.

I thought--It is a letter from her son.

She took it, thanking the postman, and put it down on the table and
went on counting out the chocolates.

"But, Madame," I said, "are you not going to read your letter?"

She turned and I saw that she was crying.

"It is from my son," she said.

She began putting the chocolates in handfuls into a paper bag.

She said, "This morning I had a notice from the Mairie that he is
killed."


The Goldfish and the Watch

On a table in the window there was an opal-blue bowl full of water,
with purple iris floating in it, and little bright goldfish, four of
them, glinting through it.

Some one had given it that day to the children.

René, the eldest boy, stood by the table watching the goldfish, not
thinking of his father at all.

There were minutes in the days when he did not think of his father.

But afterwards it was always the same thing.

He never told any one, because he was seven years old and very shy. No
one would have understood. And it was dreadful to him when people did
not understand.

It was about his father's watch.

On one thick, hot, velvet-black night, his father had come into his
room and waked him with a sudden switching on of the light, and said,
"Hop up, old chap, you've got to go and tell your mother to stop
crying."

"But, father, why? Will she not stop when you tell her?"

"It is because of me that she cries. I have got to go away."

"Oh, father, why have you got to go away?"

"Because there is war, René. I have got to go and fight. And you have
got to stay and look after your mother. Quick now; go to her and say,
'I'm here.'"

"But, father----"

"Here's my watch for you, old chap, and the chain, you see. Mind you
take care of it. Don't let it run down. I want to find it right to
the minute when I come back. And I want to find your mother well, not
crying--and you, my brave little man, taking care of everything for me."

"Like the watch, father?"

"Yes, like the watch."

So he had to take simply terrible care of his father's watch.

If it ran down, if he let it run down, what in the world would not
happen?

The battles might be lost to France. His mother might die. And then
whatever could he say to his father?

In the days he used to hurry home from everything, to the watch. And
in the nights he used to sit up in bed to listen for its ticking. He
would stay awake for hours in the nights, afraid it might stop and he
not know. Often in the nights he would cry from the tiredness of having
to keep awake and listen. But in the days he would forget the watch,
sometimes, for a little.

To-day he was happy because of the goldfish.


Hospital, Friday, October 15th

Just these days the people of several of the men have been coming from
far to see them.

Way off, in some little town of Brittany or the Béarn, or Provence,
there had arrived word that the soldier this or that had been wounded
thus or so, and was at the hospital. Upon months and months of waiting
in dreadful, helpless ignorance, the shock had come as a relief almost.

But how strange and terrible a thing the journey was to people who
could understand so little what they must do. Where to go, what to
do. Perhaps they were people who had never ventured beyond the town
where the diligence stopped, who never had taken a train. They did not
know what the Champagne meant. They did not know where Paris was. The
departure was a tremendous thing. A tearing up of roots and cutting
with a knife. Then the journey, confused and terrifying. Then the great
city, and the great hospital.

There is a moment when it seems as if it were a stranger, the boy lying
there, in the bed that is one of such a long row of beds. His people
stand, a little dazed, down by the door. The long ward, the two long
rows of beds against its walls, the stretcher-beds down the middle
of it; and all those boys who lie so still--how strange it seems to
them! And their boy, who does not wave his hand or shout to them, who
scarcely lifts his head--his smile has changed, has come to be quite a
different smile.


Hospital, Sunday, October 17th


Number 24

Number twenty-four is dying. I am very glad. It is much better for him
that he should die. But it takes so long. It is terrible that it should
take so long to die.

He calls me, "Ma petite dame."

"My little lady, what time is it?"

Strange, how they ask that, so many of them, when they are dying.

There is a clock on the wall opposite his bed. They tell me that for
three weeks he has not been able to see it. He says the room is full of
mist.

He says, "My little lady, can you see the clock?"

I always answer, "No, I cannot see the clock."

He says, "You cannot see it because of the mist."

And I say, "I cannot see it, because of the mist."


La Mort d'un Civil

The old Monsieur is dying. He has been dying for days and days and
days. He is dying at a time when death is very cheap. Every one is
dying. The youth of the whole world is being taken away. What does it
matter at all that an old man, who has no part in the war, is taken
away? Who, except his elderly maiden daughter, has time to care?

Cousine Gertrude is very kind. She comes every evening, after the
hospital, and stays for two hours, sitting in the room, knitting grey
socks, while his daughter rests a little.

Her boy François, aged twenty-one, went out on the first day. He has
been all the time in the trenches, except for one leave of six days. He
is in the trenches now, in Champagne.

The man dying here has everything that is possible done for him. He has
the best that can be had of doctors and nurses.

These boys in the trenches one dares not think of how it may be with
them.

His daughter is very brave. She never cries. She remembers that Cousine
Gertrude would like a cup of tea.

She knows that the son of Cousine Gertrude is young and beautiful.

Death, in these days, is young and beautiful.

And her father is old. His death is only a dreary thing.

She understands that even people as good as Cousine Gertrude must
grudge it its place in the world.


Canal

In all the mornings and nights, going to the hospital and coming back
from it, I love my canals. The canals of Venice, of Holland, rivers and
great waterfalls and fountains and the waterways of kings' gardens,
that people travel far to find beautiful, are beautiful for all the
world. But my canal is beautiful for just me.

Its narrow stone-bound curve is hung over by uncared-for plane-trees,
and by ragged, jagged, rickety, crooked houses, that lilt and tilt
and lean together and over, dingy and dark. The rough cobbled quays
have small traffic now, the litter of the canal's old life is gone
from them. They are quiet, with no more rough calling and shouting of
carters, and turmoil of hoofs and wheels. Sometimes, but rarely, a slow
heavy flat canal boat is towed and poled along, through the locks and
under the high black bridges. But most times the slow tawny water flows
unbroken.

The tawny leaves of the plane-trees are fallen, and lie on the cobbles
and in the water. The stems and branches of the plane-trees have black
reflections in the water, with the reflections of crazy roofs and
chimney-pots, and of tatters and rags of colour from windows and walls.

Sometimes in the mornings, these October mornings of sardius and topaz
and sapphire, I find myself singing as I walk along the edge of my
canal. It is so difficult not to be happy.


Hospital

My hospital was, all of it, built in the time that means lovely things
of red-brick and grey stone and blue gables. The courtyards are paved
with huge ancient cobbles, and there are grass plots that are green and
wet, and big trees and bushes whose leaves are falling slowly in blue
stillness.

There are more than two thousand sick in my hospital, six hundred
wounded of the war, one hundred and fifty of them in our service.

I love to write "my" hospital and "our" service.


Madame Marthe


Hospital, Tuesday, October 19th

Things had been very bad all day. When night came it seemed dreadful
to go away and leave so much suffering. I thought of the night, with
fever and that special helplessness which belongs to the night.

I would have been so glad to stay the night out with the ward.

I said that to Madame Marthe, as we left together.

She said, "But why?"

She always has a cold and wears a little blue woollen cape over her
blouse and apron. When she leaves the hospital she pins up the two
black ribbon streamers of her cap of the tri-couleurs and wraps her
arms around in the blue woollen cape. She looks very small and cold and
poor.

"Why?" she asked.

The hospital is her world and she is thankful for every minute she can
get away from it.

I leave my world to come to it.

I was ashamed to say to her, "It is for my own comfort I want to stay,
to make myself imagine that I really am needed."


Hospital


Things They Say

Perhaps in other, different kinds of hospitals, hospitals of the little
good sisters, or of ladies of the Red Cross, hospitals of beautiful
influences, one could not love the men so much. In hospitals where the
beautiful things of the Faith, prayers and tenderness and peace, are
all around about the pain and death; and there are words for praise of
courage and sacrifice, and words for sympathy and for hope, and words
for high ideals; where it is as poets and painters and all people have
always imagined it, perhaps one could not get quite this understanding
of things that are not said, or come in so rough and vivid a way, upon
unimagined things.

One loves to think of the wounded soldier with the nun beside him, and
of the lady of the great world tending the peasant hero. One loves to
hear of the men saying, "C'est pour la France."

Here there are no pictures I would dare call beautiful. It is crude and
raw. And things are not said. When there is not too much suffering, it
is rough. And when the suffering is great, it is all very dumb.

Here there is no one who knows how to word things. The men do not know,
and the nurses do not know how to tell them. They all only just go on.

The nurses are poor women, of the people. They come, each one of them,
from her own small desperate struggle for life, each from her own
crushing deadening small miseries and cares, without any help of dream
and vision, callously--one, just looking on, might think--to their
work in the hospital. To the great magnificent suffering, each one of
them comes dulled and hardened by some small sordid helpless suffering
of her own. Everything has always been a struggle, and this is just
part of it. They work on every day, and all day long, with no one to
put into words for them, devotion and sacrifice. No one here speaks of
those things, or thinks of them, or even knows.

When I see my little Madame Marthe, my chief, so very tired, I say
to her, "You work so hard." And she always says, shrugging her thin
round shoulders, "Qu'est-ce que vous voulez, i' faut b'en. Nous sommes
là pour ça." If I dared to tell the patronne, who is intelligent to
bitterness, that I admired this she did or that, she would say, "What
of it, we are paid for that."

Odd how often it is the same thing that people say.

When I ask of a man with the Croix de Guerre what he did to win it, he
always says, "Je n'ai fait que comme les autres."

A man going back does not say to us here that he is glad to have his
life to offer again for his country. But he says that thing which
makes me catch my breath with pride in him. "Je veux b'en. Tous les
copains sont là."

They go off like that, to those places of death that they know already,
wherein they have seen things we dare not imagine, and all they say
about it is that all the copains are there.

There are not many of my ward who go back, ours are the very badly
wounded, the men who are out of it.

The men have done all that they could do. Every one of them did all
that he could do, and kept on doing it as long as he could. And when he
could do no more, why then he was out of it, and it was for others to
take up and go on with. He himself was done with it. He would rather
not talk about it. It had been so bad that he does not want to talk
about it. He does not want to think about it any more.

He would rather talk about things that used to happen "dans le pays,"
about the vines or the corn, or the fishing boat with oars or with
sails, and "la vieille" and "les petiots."

"It is pretty bad?" I say, perhaps, to this one or that one, when I see
how he is suffering.

I have never heard one of them say, "C'est pour la France."

But what they always, always say, all of them, is a thing I think very
beautiful.

"You suffer much, my child?"

"Pas trop, Madame."

Always it is, "Not too much."

But sometimes it is too much, and they cannot bear it.

And when I look at the bed that used to be his, I think of him lying
there trying to smile and to say that his suffering was not too much.

And the new man in the bed says those same words, as if it were a
little formula always an answer to the question I cannot help asking.

"You suffer much?"

"Not too much, Madame."

Sometimes they say, "Ca va aller mieux."

"Ca ne va pas, mon petit?"

"Ca va aller mieux."

There is only one thing that is like the things one reads of. It is
that the men, when they are very, very bad, always, always call for
their mothers.

I remember reading that somewhere, and thinking it was just something
somebody had thought pretty to write.

But it is one of the most true and simple and beautiful things that
there can be in the world.

It is strange too. When they suffer desperately, they keep saying, "My
mother, my poor mother," as if it were she who suffered. They seem to
be grieving for her, not for themselves.

When they are frightened they call for her. Some of them are frightened
of taking chloroform. They have fought and not been afraid, they would
not be afraid to die, but chloroform is different.

Joseph opens the double doors of the ward and pushes the stretcher cart
in and calls the number this or that.

He is all ready and waiting.

Joseph lifts him from the bed to the cart. I double a pillow under his
head and wrap the blanket over, and follow.

The doors at the other side of the hall are closed, and I run ahead to
open them, and shut them behind again after the cart.

If I can make an excuse I go down the corridor and wait also at the
door of the operating room. I know the men hate to wait there alone.
Sometimes there is very long to wait. And Joseph has to go to do other
things.

Sometimes the door of the operating room is ajar, and one can see in a
little, and that is horrible. People go in and out, the doctors, and
Madame Laure, fetching and carrying things. The stretcher of the man
who has been taken in is left pulled back against the wall, by that of
the man who is waiting his turn. I stand very close to my cart and pat
the blankets.

The men like to have one wait with them. There is a thing many of them
say. It is a dull thing, and touching, as sometimes dull things are.
They will say, over and over, "If you were not here, I should be alone.
If you were not here, I should be alone."

But when the doctors come, with the chloroform, it is only of his
mother the man thinks. He says, "Oh, maman! Oh, maman!" and keeps all
the time saying it till he sleeps.

The adjutant, the new Number 12, says that you can hear them calling
maman all the time when they lie wounded between the trenches, wounded
and one cannot get to them to pick them up. He says it is the last word
they call before they are still.


The Patronne

I take off my cloak and blue veil in the patronne's room.

The patronne is usually sitting at her desk. Sometimes she says good
morning to me, and sometimes she doesn't.

She used to be fille de salle in this hospital, she used to clean
these stairs and corridors; then she rose to be infirmière in the ward
where I work now, and then panseuse. She is a huge gaunt raw-boned
sorrel-coloured woman, who looks like a war-horse. She is so alive
and quick that you feel her personality stronger than anything in the
hospital, than anything, you think, anywhere. I have seen her seem
stronger than death--driving death away.

When Number 17 was so very ill, I think it was she who drove death
away from his bed. She worked and swore, and worked and swore. It was
hideous. I laugh when I remember. Afterwards I found her outside in the
corridor, sitting on the bench. He was going to get well. I cried; and
she swore at me till I laughed.

Big red blotches come out on her arms when she is excited, and get
purple when she is tired. If you visit the hospital, you do not know
what to think of her. But if you work there you admire her, and are
proud when she speaks to you kindly. It is an illumined day if by
chance she says to you, "Bon jour, ma crotte."


Madame Marthe Again

I don't know at all how it happens that a little white mouse of a woman
of the people, who has worked and worked all her life, and never been
cared for by anybody, should have beautiful hands. But Madame Marthe
has beautiful hands. Her hands are small and quick and absolutely
sure. They tremble when things are bad, but in spite of that they are
certain and sure. They never make a mistake. And they are not afraid of
anything.

Sometimes my hands are afraid to touch things, and then I am ashamed.
Sometimes I pretend not to see things that are fallen on the floor, and
when she picks them up, I am so ashamed.

If my two hands were poisoned so that they had to be cut off, it
would not make any difference. But what would the ward do if anything
happened to the hands of Madame Marthe?


The Ward--All Souls' Day

There are twenty-eight beds against the walls of the ward and ten
stretcher-beds down the middle of its long clear bright length. Between
the beds there is no room to push the dressing cart about, it stands
close up against the apparatus of dressings.

There are some things that make stains on the whiteness of the ward.
When I am away from it, I see those things standing out against the
whiteness.

There is the blue of the sublimé in the glass tank of the dressing
cart, and there is the green of the liqueur de Labaraque in the big jar
on the apparatus.

Sometimes there will be the light blue of a képi or the dark blue of a
béret against the wall, hung on the knob at the top of a bed, or the
red of a Zouave's cap.

There are the black squares of the slates over the beds. I can see, as
if from any distance, the words scrawled in chalk on the slates: "Amp.
de la cuisse gauche et de la jambe droite au dessous du genou." "Amp.
du bras droit à l'épaule," and three "Xs" for the hemorrhages. "Plaie
pénétrante poumon gauche, Op. 20 IX." "Brûlures gaz enflammé visage
poitrine deux bras." "Eclat d'obus dans le ventre." "11 éclats d'obus
côté gauche." And on and on like that, up one side of the ward and down
the other.

Besides the black slates there are the placards, pale yellow, printed
and written over that something may be known about the man on the bed.

And there are the pale yellow temperature charts, with the dreadful
lines of fever that zigzag up and down.

There is exactly room between the beds for the night-tables; the chairs
have been put all out into the corridors and heaped up against the wall
opposite the lift. Madame Bayle is annoyed because they are in the way
when the linen comes up. They are to be sent to the attics as soon as
any one has time to see to it. But now no one has time.


Hospital, Thursday, November 11th

The sparrows were all talking together in the trees of the great
central court of the hospital.

I met Madame Bayle as usual in the first court. We almost always meet
there, as I arrive and she is crossing to the store-house on the other
side of the entrance. Usually we stop and stand a minute, listening to
the conversation of the sparrows.

Madame Bayle is the chief of the linen-room of our pavilion. She is
a dreadful fat shining shuffling person, who hates me because I wear
white shoes. Also because once I made her unlock the linen-room for me
to take out some things I thought were mine, and the things were not
mine, and she was angry with me. She is always trying to get me into
trouble to pay me back. But we both love the birds in the courtyard.
When we meet in the courts these days we say to one another, "Voilà nos
pauvres petits pierrots!" and are friends for a moment.

This morning I ran past. I was afraid if I stopped she might give me
news of my ward.

The buildings of the second court have not been militarised. It is the
pavilion of the defective children. None of the children were out in
the court this morning. The lights in their rooms were still burning,
it was so dark a morning; I could see some of the children making up
the rows of little cots, and some of them clearing away the bowls and
pitchers from the long table. There are some who always sit with their
hands in their laps and their heads hanging. They have dreadful little
faces. Some of the children can do lessons a little, and some of them
seem quite bright, and play always the same game, hands around in a
ring, in a corner of the refectory.

The third court is for the wounded of our service. The recreation-room
and various offices and kitchens open on to it, and the windows of the
two storeys of wards look over it.

The lift was down, and Cordier called to me; but I ran past, and up the
two flights of stairs, away from him as from Madame Bayle.

Cordier had been given charge of the lift. He is one of the wounded in
the face. It is not his eyes. It is the lower part of his face. They
are beginning to take off some of the bandages. He did not mind so much
while the bandages quite hid it. But now he minds dreadfully. This
morning I hated dreadfully the sounds he made calling to me. They say
he will never be able to speak distinctly again. I was afraid he would
be hurt because I ran by. But I would have known from his eyes if what
I had dreaded had happened in my ward.

I took off my things in the patronne's bureau, and went across the
passage to the door of the ward where I help every day with the
surgical dressings.

It is always strange to open the door of the ward when one first comes
on. So much may have happened in the night.

I stood outside the door. The door has glass panes that are washed over
with white paint so one cannot see through. There are places where the
paint has not held at the edges, and one can stoop and look in.

I could not see the bed of Number 29 from there, but I would know
from the look of the men in the ward.

As I stooped, the patronne came out from the chief's bureau.

I heard her step and turned.

She said, "He is very bad. If they amputate he will probably die of the
shock. It will have to be the left leg too, at the thigh. It is you who
must tell him. If they do not do it he will die of poisoning certainly."

She stamped her foot at me and said, "Now don't look like that. You've
got to tell him. He will take it better from you." The blotches of her
arms were very purple. She said, "They are going to do it this morning.
Go and tell him." Then she went back into the chief's bureau.

I went into the ward. I still could not see the Number 29 because of
the hoop, like a little tent, that keeps the weight of the blankets
from his legs.

Madame Marthe, the panseuse, was not in the ward. The infirmière,
Madame Alice, was cleaning the night-tables down by the other door.

Every one called, "Bonjour, Madame; bonjour, Madame!"

"Bonjour, les embusqués!"

That is our great joke, that they are all embusqués.

I went across to Number 29 and looked at him over the hoop.

He was lying with his eyes wide open. They are like the eyes of deer
and oxen. He is a very big man, very ugly, with an old scar over half
of his face. Such an ugly, funny face; the shadow of death has no right
to be upon such a ridiculous face. His face was made for making people
laugh. He always kept the whole ward laughing. He used to make me laugh
in the midst of his horrible pansements. No matter what he suffered, he
never used to make a sound. I almost cannot bear it when they suffer
silently. If they scream, I really don't care much. He used to try to
wink at me to make me laugh.

I knew this about him, that his people are woodcutters in the mountains
between the valleys of the Maurienne and the Tarentaise. I do not know
why he went away to strange new countries. He must be thirty-five
years old. In wildernesses he heard of the war three months after it
began. He was wounded seven months ago, and was sent from hospital to
hospital, getting always worse. He is not the sort of creature to be in
a hospital. He looks absurd in a bed. He used to tell me of throwing
one's blanket over a heap of pine boughs and sweet fern. He had much
fever, and he would tell me about the clear, cool, perfect water of a
certain forest spring.

I thought, standing there, how he would be wanting to drag himself into
some hole of rocks and great tree-trunks, where no one saw.

The clock was striking eight. They would not begin to operate before
ten. He would have to think of it for two hours, lying there. He looked
at me very steadily. I thought, "It is I who must tell him, it is I who
must tell him." He tried to wink at me, and then he shut his eyes. I
thought, "I will wait a little."

I went to the apparatus in the middle of the ward and began to get
things ready for the panseuse.

I tried to talk to the men in the beds near, the 9, Barbet, whose fever
had gone down nicely; and 10, the pepère, who has had his right hand
amputated; and 6 and 7 opposite, who are both young and gay and getting
well fast. But I could not talk.

He is only one of thousands and thousands. In the hospitals, in the
dreadful fields, along the roads, they are dying.

Those of the men who could sit up and use their hands were folding
compresses.

Twenty-one started a song and some of the others took it up. They sing
softly, many of them have very nice voices.

  Père Mathurin
    N'a pas de chaussons!
  Il en aura;
    Il n'en aura pas.
  Roulons-le, Père Mathurin,
    Roulons-le
  Jusqu'à demain!

I got everything ready on the dressing-table. I kept all the time
looking at the clock. Every few minutes I passed where I could see
Number 29. He lay always with his eyes shut. Madame Alice had finished
her cleaning and had gone to tidy up. Madame Marthe would come back and
we would have to begin the dressings.

  Dans une brouette
    Père Mathurin
  Roulons-le
    Jusqu'à demain.

When I was unrolling the big cotton, I felt sure, suddenly, that 29 was
waiting for me. It was odd, for I could not see him round the hoop; I
went to him.

His eyes were open and he tried to say something. His mouth was black
with fever.

I leaned down close.

I was thinking, "I've got to tell him."

But he said, "Don't worry, I know."

I stood there and I did not say anything. I did not even look at him.
I looked quite away out of the windows to the treetops and the blue
roofs and the wet close sky.

He lay perfectly still, and I just stood there.

The men went on singing--

  Père Mathurin,
    Il en aura,
  Il n'en aura pas----

Madame Marthe had come in and was going about her work. She did not
call me. It was nice of her not to call me.

She is quick and very clever and nervous and bad-tempered. She is
rather horrid for me usually, but to-day she has been so nice that I
shall always remember.

She went on with the dressings. I stood quite silently by the bed of 29.

After a while the chief came in with the patronne and all the doctors.
They came to Number 29 Madame Marthe came, and I left her with them.
They talked for a few minutes with her and then went out.

I helped her get him ready, and then Joseph came with the stretcher.

I went with him down the corridor to wait at the door of the operating
room. They give the chloroform usually at the door. It seemed
dreadfully long.

I said, "You don't mind my waiting with you, do you? I'd like to."

It was such a silly thing to say that he tried to laugh at me.

I thought they would give him the chloroform here at the door of the
operating room and that I would run when he was once under. But they
threw open the doors, and wheeled the stretcher cart in, and called
to me to help lift him to the table. And then to help with this, with
that, quickly. And I stayed and helped through it all. They thought he
was going to die there on the table. Afterwards I realized how horrible
it had been. When we got back to the ward, the patronne was there with
Madame Marthe.

The patronne is a wonderful nurse. If any one can get a man through it,
she can. She is dreadful. She screams from one end of the ward to the
other and stamps her foot, and uses hideous words. But she can storm a
man back into life. And suddenly all the rage will be a coaxing, and
you know that she cares about it. "J'ai cela dans la peau," she says.

She shouted the "cinq lettres" at me, "What are you staring at? Get on
with your work. He's through that, and he's not going to die."


Number 14


Sunday, December 5th

The mother of little 14, Louis, has come to see him.

When I came into the ward this morning, I was frightened to see that
there were people about the bed of little Louis.

I don't know why we always call him little Louis, for he is a great
long boy as he lies there in his bed; he must have stood splendidly
tall and strong before.

But it was only that Madame Marthe and Madame Alice were standing
there, talking with a tall fine woman, who wore the black shawl and
small black ribbon cap of the country of Arles. The shawl and the cap
gave to the mother of little Louis that special dignity the peasant
costume always gives, oddly touching in the lonely city and in this
huge strange house of grief.

She was sitting quietly by the bed of little Louis in the corner,
talking to him and smiling, and talking to the nurses.

Little Louis was smiling with big tears rolling down his cheeks.

Madame Alice had the pail of dirty water on the floor beside her and
stood leaning on the handle of her mop. She is a big well-built woman,
handsome and sullen. She is sullen even when she does kind things. You
would not believe that she was kind. She had her skirt pinned up to
her knees and wore the huge wooden sabots she always puts on when she
scrubs the floors.

Madame Marthe stood cleaning her nails with the pansement scissors. She
had not yet put on her cap with the black streamers and the ribbon of
three colours. She has great coils of pale hair.

Once she said to me, "I suppose you wear a hat in the street?" I said,
"Usually." And she said, "I would not wear a hat if I went to see a
king."

She and Madame Alice and the mother of little Louis were all laughing
together over our especial joke, that Louis will be very wicked as soon
as he is a little better, and will make us great trouble in the ward.

Louis' father died two months ago, and Louis does not know. He is so
ill that he cannot be allowed to know. His mother had to answer all his
questions about home, and explain that his father had not been able to
come because it was lambing time. She had to smile, and make it seem
that everything was going well in the house that little Louis would
never see again. She had to make it seem as if the patronne had not
told her that little Louis was dying.

He would have liked to have had her left alone with him. But she was
grateful when one or another of us found a minute to come and stand
there and smile also.


Monday, December 6th

In the cold, rainy, windy early morning there was a regiment of
infantry, with all its camping things, battle things, marching across
the Place de la Bastille, going out.

Long blue coat and blue-covered képi, blanket rolled up in a big wheel,
knapsack and cartridge-belt, flask and drinking-cup, bayonet and gun.

And each man had a bit of mimosa or a few violets or a little tight
hard winter rosebud buttoned into his coat, or stuck in his képi, or in
the muzzle of his gun.

I think most of one smart young officer, who had three roses in his
hand. They were not the sad little roses that the south sends to the
winter streets of Paris, but great full hothouse crimson roses.

He carried his roses in his left hand, held a little before him, that
nothing might touch them, stiffly, and looked straight ahead of him as
he marched.

A woman, standing beside me to watch them go, said to me, "They are so
young."

She had a grey shawl over her head.

The band passed. I do not know what it was playing.

The woman and I stood together to watch those boys go away.


Madame Alice


Thursday, December 9th

These last days Madame Alice has been even more sullen than usual.
She arrives in the morning, they tell me--she arrives at six and I am
never there to see--with a long face, and will say good day to nobody,
and grumbles because somebody's handkerchief, or somebody's bag of
raffia grasses, or somebody's package of letters, had fallen from his
night-table to litter her floor. She grumbles about "pigs," and bangs
things.

When I arrive I find her still grumbling and banging.

This morning she was washing the face of the new 25. She washed his
poor face very gently, no hands in the world could have been kinder or
more careful than hers, or more delicate of touch, though they are big
and red, but she was grumbling all the time.

I said, "Good morning," and she hunched one shoulder.

Madame Marthe came in and said that I had better go and fetch my boiled
water before somebody else emptied the boiler.

When I was coming back with it from the office, Madame Alice was
standing by the window at the turn of the passage. She had put her pail
down on the floor, with 25's soap and things thrown down beside it. She
stood with one arm against the window-pane and her face buried in the
crook of her elbow.

I said, "Oh, Madame Alice, are you ill, Madame Alice?"

She hunched her shoulder. I put my big pitcher down by her pail on the
floor, and patted her shoulder and said, "Please, oh, please."

She said, not turning or raising her head, "They've taken him to the
children's hospital--Jeanjean, my little boy, you know; he has been
very ill all the week. A neighbour said, five days ago, she would take
him to the Clinique, there is no hour when I can get away from here to
take him. It was the neighbour who looked after him the day they sent
him home from school because he was sick. She is very good, but she has
not much time. She has got her work. She did not know how ill he was.
I told her, the first day, to take him to the Clinique, but that day
she had no time. She did not tell me. She told me that at the Clinique
they said it was nothing. She told me that every day. For five days she
did not take him. I only saw him in the nights, you know. Oh, it is
horrible when you can only see them at night."

She stopped a minute and was sobbing, but without making any noise. She
rubbed the tears out of her eyes against the back of her hand, and went
on. It was odd to hear her talk so much, like that--she whom I only
knew as sullen and silent.

"It is nearly eight at night when I get home," said she, "and I have to
leave soon after five in the morning. I was up with him all the nights,
and I was so frightened all the days. Oh, these days here!"

She stood always with her back turned, and I could only stand there,
patting her shoulder. It was queer how such big sobs made no noise at
all.

She said, "The neighbour got frightened yesterday, and took him to the
Clinique, and they said it was spinal-meningitis, and sent him then, at
once, to the children's hospital. When I got home he was gone. It was
night, they would not have let me see him at the hospital. This morning
I had to come here. But I shall get off at noon and go to him for an
hour."

She shook herself and jerked away from me.

"Now do you see?" she said, "now do you see?"

And without saying what it was she meant she took up her pail, and 25's
little bundle of things, and went on along the corridor.


Saturday, December 11th

To-day I have been seeing the little old curé of Jadis-sur-Marne. I
found out, after all this time, where he was; and went and sat with him
for an hour, in a pleasant sunny room of the house where they take care
of him. He did not know me at first, but afterwards he seemed quite
pleased. I want to tell this story of him.

One Sunday, months and months and ages and ages and ages ago, Monsieur
le Curé of Jadis-sur-Marne, began his discourse in a wrath righteous
indeed. It was the Sunday that nobody knew was to be the last Sunday of
peace.

"My dear brethren," began Monsieur le Curé, in his most angry voice.
He snapped the words out, "Mes chers frères," as if each word were a
little sharp stone shot out of a sling to sting the upturned faces of
his listeners. "My dear brethren," he began in righteous wrath, and
stopped short.

He stood in a bar of dust and sun motes, up in the old black carved
pulpit, against the grey stone pillar. Then he was a round, jolly,
rosy, busy old little curé, who got into a temper only reluctantly,
after much goading.

His church was old and beautiful and quite large. There were twenty-one
people in it: ten in the château chapel, opposite the pulpit, Madame
la Marquise and Mademoiselle and two guests in the great red-velvet
chairs, and six of the servants in the benches behind them; old
Ernestine, the curé's bonne, in her round white cap, erect, determined
to stop awake; another white cap or two, here and there, and Père
Pate's black skull-cap; two secularized sisters from the Ecole Libre,
awkward in their black hats and jackets; three little wriggling girls
whom they had managed to capture and retain on the bench between them;
some small boys down by the door; and Madelon, the twelve-year-old
daughter of the château gardener, who forsook the château pew that she
might sit nearer to Monsieur le Curé.

Madelon sat twisted round in her chair to look straight up at him and
adore, her hands in their Sunday gloves clasped intensely upon her
blueprint lap.

It was cool in the church after the last day's rain, and dark, except
where bars of sunshine and dancing sun motes struck across, and where
the altar candles were little stars.

One heard the chickens cackling in the curé's garden, and the locusts
shrilling close at the windows in the acacia trees of the cemetery, and
the children calling and laughing in the street.

"My dear brothers," began Monsieur le Curé, looking down into the round
blue eyes of Madelon.

He clutched the edge of the pulpit in both hands and leaned forward.
It was indeed tremendously that he was going to scold. He had a right
to scold. All night, in his little brown room, under the snores of old
Ernestine, he had been working himself up to the pitch for it.

Next Sunday was the Fête of the Patronage. The Grand Vicaire was to
come, all the way from Meaux. Madame la Marquise was to present a
banner.

The children romped in the street. The women put on hats and went and
stood and gossiped in the market-place. The men went fishing; the boys
went fishing.

Every Sunday it was the same thing.

In a high temper, Monsieur le Curé began, "My dear brothers," and
stopped short.

He let go of the pulpit edge and stood straight and looked over the
heads of the twenty-one of them. All the light there was in the deep
old church seemed to be upon his face.

When he looked down at his people, it was with a lovely shining of
kindliness. It was as if, suddenly, he realized how he loved them. He
loved them too much to scold.

"My dear brothers," he said. All the words became little kind caresses.
They were small humble words, poor little words, simple, like his
listeners. They seemed to have the touch of many little wings across
the faces lifted up, or to fall like showers of blossom petals.

One day, only so little a time afterwards, Monsieur le Curé stood among
a heap of charred things and broken, blackened stones.

This is what used to be the pillar of the pulpit, and under all that,
at the end there, must be buried the altar, with the cross and the
candles that used to be stars. There are things that are burned, all
black and charred, and things that are twisted. The curé cannot make
out what they are. He had not known that there was iron in the church.
Queer iron things are twisted and tortured. The new bright window he
had thought so beautiful is all broken, the reds and blues and yellows
sparkle among the stones.

There are men's boots. What are men's boots doing here, sticking up
straight out of the ruins of altars?

They are the boots of the dead men. Those things among the stones are
dead men. You go to see what the boots are doing here, and you find
that the blue-and-red heaps are dead men.

How they sink into the earth! They are trying to get back into the
earth, whence they came. They came from it and are trying to get back,
as fast as they can, into it.

This was once a church. And once upon a time, ages and ages ago, or
only some days and days ago, Monsieur le Curé stood against the pillar
and began to scold.

The women used to stand and gossip in the market-place; the children
used to romp in the cobbled street; the men used to go fishing.

The graveyard about this heap of stones, that once was a church, is
a strange place, full of trampled straw, and of long heaps of red and
blue, that end in boots. The walls of the graveyard are everywhere
pierced with holes, that often those long heaps lie under. Monsieur le
Curé does not know why the straw is there.

And so Monsieur le Curé has become a little mad.

In one of those days, it seems, he came across Madelon sitting against
a wall, quite dead. It was in the rue du Château. Much of the wall was
fallen down, but just where Madelon sat the bit of it standing was
radiant with roses. Madelon sat on the grass against the wall, her legs
stuck straight out, her hands on the grass, her head hanging forward,
tangled hair over her staring eyes, and her mouth wide open.

The curé says he does not know what it was that happened to Madelon.

By the fire, in a bright room, Monsieur le Curé talked to me of the
church that Sunday morning, and made me see it; and made me see, as if
I stood there that other day with him, the broken things, and black,
twisted things, and the things that the earth was taking back. He
talked quietly, even of Madelon, and said he was so glad that, that
last time, God had not let him scold.


The last Sunday of Peace: Remembering July 26th, 1914

When they came back from Mass, up through the château woods and the
park and across the gardens, Anne Marie and Raoul walked together, and
Anne Marie knew how happy she was.

She had been happy every day of her eighteen years, but that day she
realized it.

Before she was quite awake she had been happy because of birds and
church bells and sunshine and the fragrances of the garden. Snuggled
down in the pillows that smelled of rose petals, she was happy because
of her new white dress and the poppy hat. And as she waked she had
known that she was happy apart from all those things, those lovely
accustomed things, and far, far beyond them, because of Raoul. Because
Raoul would be waking there, under the same roof. Because he would be
waiting for her when she went down the stairs in the white dress and
poppy hat.

He had been waiting at the foot of the stairs. He had had a huge box of
white orchids sent out for her from Paris.

He had gone to Mass with her and his mother, and her mother. She had
sat three chairs away from him in the dusk of the château chapel.

After Mass the two mothers walked ahead together, and she and Raoul
followed close behind, more nearly alone together than they had ever
been before.

He talked all the time; and she dimpled and blushed and was happy, and
knew that she was happy, but could not say a word.

They went slowly through the woods, where there were quantities of
orange toadstools after the rain, and all the birds were singing; and
along the avenues of the park, and across the stiff gardens.

Anne Marie's father was out on the terrace. He was walking up and down
the terrace and gesturing very strangely all by himself as he walked.

Across the sunny spaces of lawn and gravel, box border and clipped yew
and flowers, the château was all sunlit, its steep blue roofs and old
soft yellow walls.

Anne Marie's father came down the terrace steps to meet her mother and
Raoul's mother, and, as they stood together he seemed to be telling
them something.

Anne Marie thought how odd of him to gesture like that. Suddenly a
wonderful idea and daring came to Anne Marie. She stopped and stood
still there in the little gravel path, between the box edges and
beds of roses and heliotrope and petunias that were so sweet in the
sunshine. She found herself possessed of a great courage. She would
stand there, and Raoul would stand there, and they would be quiet,
quite alone together. And she would dare to talk to him. She would
dare to tell him things. There were so many things for her to tell and
ask. Everything of life and of loving. She thought the droning of the
bees was a hot and golden sound. It was the greatest, happiest, most
wonderful moment of all her life.

But Raoul said, "Shall we not go on, Anne Marie; there is something the
matter, shall we not go on and see what it is?"

His mother had turned around where she stood at the top of the steps
and was looking at Raoul.

The grey stone flags of the terrace were scattered over with all the
Paris papers, that Anne Marie's father must have thrown down, and
trampled on as he walked up and down the terrace.

He said to Raoul, coming up the steps, "Well, this time it is certain.
Whatever they try to show, every word in the papers means it. It will
be inside the week, it is I who tell you."

"Raoul, Raoul," said Raoul's mother, very white.

But Raoul, up the steps in two bounds, did not hear her. "If only it
may be! How we've hoped it! Oh, sir, do you really think it?"

Anne Marie's mother had put her parasol and Mass book down on the broad
stone balustrade of the terrace. She stooped over and took up one of
the papers that lay on the flags.

"It can't be," she said, reading. She spread the paper out on the top
of the balustrade and stood pulling off her gloves as she read. "It
can't be," she said again, pulling off first one soft grey glove and
then the other.

"It can't be," said Raoul's mother, always looking at Raoul.

Anne Marie's father, beginning to pace the terrace again, said, "It
will be, it will be!"

Raoul said, "It's got to be," standing very straight and looking at
nobody.

Anne Marie thought, oh dear, oh dear, now they will talk and talk; and
she had so wanted Raoul to stay with her down in the garden.


Cantine, Christmas

All the babies seem to me to be blonde and of exactly the same size and
quite square, about one year old, square, and very adorable. I never
can remember which are the boys and which the girls.

The mothers come from, we don't know where; and are, we don't know what.

Last year there was written on a card and posted on the wall by the
door, a thing that I think rather beautiful--

"Toute femme enciente, ou qui nourrit son enfant, peut venir tous les
jours prendre ici ses repas de midi et du soir, sans craindre aucune
question."

They came, at noon and at dusk, sick, ugly, stupid things, twice a day
like that, from two hundred and fifty to three hundred of them. Bearing
the children of soldiers, the children that will be France, they came
without need of more than making each of them her X in the book on the
shelf by the door.

There is not room for more than forty-five at a time at the tables in
the room that used to be a butcher's shop. They had to wait in turn
outside in the street.

Outside in the ugly, forlorn street they waited, an ugly, forlorn line,
in wind or rain.

They all seemed frightened, not of the things that there really were to
fear, like sickness and poverty and war, but of just opening the door
and coming in and making their mark in the book, and finding places at
the tables.

They would have the door always kept shut. The steam of the soup was
thick and horrid, always, in the room. I hate the smell of the poor. I
hated those deformed, bedraggled, dulled women, as I served their soup.
I hated them, because they would have the door kept shut. But I loved
them, because their children would be France.

This year we keep Christmas for the babies.

It is odd how beautiful any woman is with a baby in her arms.
Especially if she has only a shawl to wrap around herself and the
baby, where it lies in the hollow of her arm. The faded, stained, worn
shawl, drawn close about her head, falls in long lines down over her
shoulders, and is gathered up in new folds around the nestling baby,
the little soft shape of it, the little head, round, against her throat.

Like that each one of the women makes you think of a beautiful,
wonderful thing.


Perfectly Well

The patronne was standing by the bed of little 10.

I said, "It does not go well, little 10?"

He said, "Not too well, madame." His poor face was twitching, and his
poor hands on the sheet.

The patronne said to me, "He has given us a bad night, that sort of a
horror there." She stood with her hands purple on her broad hips and
looked at him, and said, "Espèce d'horreur, veux-tu finir de nous en
m----"

He laughed and I laughed.

It is dreadful, but I can bear it better like that. The little good
sisters of other, different hospitals, the ladies of the Red Cross, the
calm and tenderness and prayers, how strange it would seem.

Little 10 laughed.

"Oh, you laugh!" said the patronne, "and all the trouble you make us!
Wait till you are well!" She said, "Attends que tu sois guéri, et je te
f----trai un coup sur le citron."

Madame Marthe came with the hypodermic syringe and tubes and glasses in
a basin. Her hands were trembling. I love her when her hands tremble.

The patronne said to me, "He is off for another little party of
billiards."

That meant another operation.

I said, "You don't mind, little 10?"

He said, "Not too much, madame."

I said, "You'll be better to-morrow."

He said, "I'll be better to-morrow."

"Name of God," said the patronne, "of course he'll be better to-morrow."

Next day, when I tried not to cry because his bed was empty, she said
to me, "It was no lie: he is better, isn't he?"


Hospital, New Year's Day, 1916

What made me dreadfully want to cry was that they all, every one of
them, wished me good health--little Louis, who is dying, and all the
rest of them.


The Apache Baby--Wednesday, January 5th--Cantine

They telephoned from the cantine that the baby of the girl Alice was
dead at the hospital, and that the funeral was to be from there that
afternoon at three o'clock, and that Alice wanted me to come.

Mademoiselle Renée, the économe, who telephoned, said it was the apache
girl with the ear-rings.

I don't know why she wanted me to come to the funeral of her baby. Of
the nearly three hundred women who came twice every day to the cantine,
she had never been especially my friend. Her baby had been a sick
little thing, and I had been touched by her wild love of it. It had no
father, she told me. We never ask questions at the cantine, but she had
been pleased to tell me that. She had said she was glad, because, so,
it was all her own. She had rocked it as she held it wrapped in the
folds of her red shawl, and shaken her long bright ear-rings, laughing
down at it, over her bowl of soup. And now it is dead.

Claire came to me. We had just time, if we took a taxi, to get to the
hospital, stopping on the way for some flowers. It was raining more or
less, and very dark.

At the hospital they sent us round to the back, to a sort of shed
opening on a street that was being built up, or had been torn down, I
don't know which, desolate in the rain.

In the room of the shed there were two families in black, two mothers
with dingy crape veils, and two dead babies in unpainted pine boxes
that were open.

The baby in the box on the right was quite big, the size of the most
expensive doll one could get for a rich little girl at Christmas. There
was a quite fine white tin wreath on the floor, tilted up against the
pine box. The family of the bigger baby was quite numerous, half a
dozen women, an old man, and several children. They all had shoes, and
several of the women had umbrellas, and one of them had a hat.

In the smaller box was the baby of Alice, very, very small and pinched
and blue, even more small and pinched and blue than when she used to
bring it to the cantine. The family of Alice consisted of a small boy
with bare feet and no hat, a small girl with a queer coloured skirt and
felt slippers and a bit of black crape over her red hair, and a boy of
perhaps seventeen, also in felt slippers, with his coat collar turned
up and a muffler round his chin and his cap dragged down over his
eyes. Alice had a hat and a crape veil and a black coat and skirt, and
down-trodden, shapeless shoes much too big for her.

There was a small bunch of violets in the pine box with the baby.

We put our roses down on the floor at the foot of the box.

Both babies had on the little white slips that the hospital gives.

The family of the bigger baby, and the brother and sister of Alice,
stared at us.

The mother of the bigger baby stood leaning against the wall, her head
against the whitewash, her two hands over her eyes. She was making a
queer little noise through her teeth. She kept it up all the time we
were in the shed, a sort of hissing. She never once uncovered her eyes.

Alice was standing close, close beside her baby in the pine box, just
looking down at it. She never took her eyes from it. She is a tall,
straight girl, but she was bent over, as if she were feeble and old.
Her veil was pushed back from her face. It had been wet, and the black
had run over her face. But it must have been the rain, for she was not
crying at all. All the time in the shed she never moved or cried at all.

Her little brother and sister stood back as if they were afraid of her.

Claire and I waited near the door of the shed.

For a long time we waited like that.

Then two croquemorts came, in their shining black clothes. One of them
had a sort of hammer in his hand.

They went to the box of the bigger baby, and one of them picked up the
cover of the box and put it on, and the other began to drive the nails
in.

When he drove the first nail in, the woman with her eyes covered so she
could not see him, heard, and knew what it was, and began to shriek.
With her hands over her eyes she stood against the wall and shrieked.

The croquemort drove in all the nails, and the woman kept on shrieking.

Then the other croquemort put the tin wreath on the lid of the box, and
then both of them came over to our baby.

Alice had been just looking and looking at her baby. When the men came,
and one of them took up the lid of the box from the floor, and the
other stood with his hammer, she gathered herself up as if she would
spring upon the men who would take her little dead thing from her and
put it away for ever. I thought she would fight over it, quite mad. The
little brother and sister stood away from her, shivering.

But what she did was to stoop and take up our roses from where they
lay on the floor, and put them into the pine box with the baby. She
put them all in about the baby, covering it with them. She hid it away
under roses and then stood close, close to it, while the croquemort
drove the nails in, all the nails, one by one.

Then one of the croquemorts took up the box of the bigger baby and
carried it out of the shed and put it, with the tin wreath on the top
of it, into a hearse that there was waiting on the left of the door.
And the other croquemort took up the box of Alice's baby and carried it
out, and put it into a hearse that was waiting on the right of the door.

The family of the bigger baby followed away, after the hearse and one
of the croquemorts, toward the depths of the city, two of the women
leading the baby's mother, who still kept her hands over her eyes, but
was not shrieking any more, only sobbing. I know no more of them after
that.

Alice went out of the door alone, and turned to the right, after the
hearse in which was her dead child.

Our croquemort would have gone ahead of her, but she would not let him
pass. She would not have him between her and her baby. She kept close,
close to the hearse, almost touching it, all the way.

The croquemort walked behind her, and the brothers and sister walked
behind him, and Claire and I at the end of it.

We went through, a tangle of poor streets, narrow and crowded. People
drew back out of our way; some of them crossed themselves, and all of
them were silent for an instant as the apache baby passed.

We went through wide, forlorn streets of coal yards and warehouses and
factories. The carters and labourers in those streets stopped to look
at us and make the sign of the Cross, for the baby passing.

We went over the canal bridge and the railroad bridges, and along
desolate streets of the outskirts, all in the rain.

We went by barracks, where many blue coats, going about their duties,
or standing idly about, drew up to salute the baby in its poor little
unpainted rough box.

At the fortifications many blue coats were digging trenches, and they
all looked up and stopped their work to salute the baby.

Twice we met groups of blue coats marching along the muddy empty roads,
and both times the officer halted his men to salute the apache baby
going by.

The bigger brother walked like a true apache, slouching and slinking
along, shoulders hunched up, head sunk down, face hidden between his
muffler and the peak of his cap. The smaller brother and the sister
slouched too. But Alice walked quite straight, her head up, close,
close to her child.

So we came to the cemetery, in at the gates, and along a street of
little marble houses, to a field where there were only wooden and black
iron crosses, and to a hole that was dug in the red wet earth.

There was a man waiting for us by the hole. He helped the croquemort to
take the box out of the hearse and put it in the hole.

Alice stood close, close to the edge, looking down into the grave.

The rest of us stood together behind her.

The croquemort gave her a little spade, and told her what to do with it.

Then she stooped down and dug up a spadeful of earth and threw it into
the hole where they had put the box.

Each of us went in turn to give earth to earth, and then it was over.

Alice stood close, close to the edge of the hole, and looked and looked
down into it.

The croquemort said something to Alice, but she did not move. He then
spoke to the bigger brother, who shuffled up to Alice and tugged at her
sleeve.

But still she did not move.

The smaller brother began to cry.

Then the sister went to Alice and pulled at her other sleeve.

"Take her away," the croquemort said to me.

I said, "Dear, we must go."

Without looking at me, she said, "I--I stay here." She stood close,
close to the hole and looked at the little pine box, and said again,
quite quietly, "I stay here."

I said, "You cannot stay," stupidly, as if we were discussing any
ordinary coming or going.

Her little sister, pulling at her skirt, said, "Say then, ask thou the
lady to let thee go to supper at the cantine."

"The cantine is for those who have babies," Alice answered. Then she
looked at me for the first time, her great wild eyes, in her face that
was stained and streaked where the black from the wet crape had run.


Gégène's Croix de Guerre, One Thursday

When Gégène went to the Invalides to receive his Croix de Guerre, in
the great Court of Honour, there was no one to go with him except
Madame Marthe and me.

Gégène belongs to nobody. He is an "enfant de l'Assistance Publique."
There is nobody nearer to him than the peasants he was hired out to
work for, somewhere down in Brittany.

I do not know whether or not they were kind to him, whether or not
they cared about his going off to war, or would take interest in the
honours he has won. We know nothing but what the Assistance knows about
him; and he himself can tell us nothing, for he cannot speak at all.
His wound was in the head; he has been trepanned twice. He may live a
long time, he is such a strong young boy, but he will never be able to
speak. His right side is stiffened, he cannot use that hand, and the
foot drags. Except for that, and not being able to speak, he is quite
well.

Nobody knows how much he understands of it all, or what he thinks and
feels. Sometimes he looks very sad. His boyish face, refined by pain,
haunts me when I am away from the hospital. But sometimes he seems
quite content, happy to be just well housed and fed and petted by us.
We do not know what will become of him when he can no longer stay in
the hospital.

Madame Marthe says, "What would you have? he is not the only one."

But she is very kind to him, and when she has a half-day's leave she
often takes him out with her, for a little treat.

She and I hurried through the dressings this morning and had everything
done, our cylinders sent to the sterilization, the apparatus in order,
the ward quite neat, in time to go and have lunch, the three of us
together, in a big café of the Boulevards.

Gégène was too excited to eat, and so was little Madame Marthe, in her
cap of the "Ville de Paris" and her blue woollen shawl. She had to
leave it for me to cut up Gégène's chicken and pour his red wine for
him.

It rained; the crowd in the Place des Invalides stood under dripping
umbrellas.

In the Court of Honour the arcades were packed with wet people, and out
in the great central space there was no shelter but umbrellas for the
poor great splendid heroes like Gégène.

There they all stood together, those who could stand, in all the pride
and tragedy of their crutches and their bandages--one little blinded
officer with his head cocked sideways like a bird's. And those who
could not stand had chairs and benches; two or three were there on
stretchers.

There was a group of women in deep mourning,--some of them with
children--who had come to receive the decorations of their dead
husbands or sons.

There were the great men of the General Staff,--maybe the Minister of
War, maybe the President, maybe the Generalissimo himself--with all
their high officers around them, already arrived, near the entrance,
astir with preparation.

Out in the centre of the Court, grouped almost motionlessly, were the
men who waited to receive their honours.

We could see our Gégène, standing up very tall and straight among them.

"Isn't he nice?" I said to Madame Marthe, "Isn't he nice?"

But Madame Marthe was crying--funny little tears, and her nose very
red. "Oh!" she said, "Oh, what will happen when that man with the gold
braid comes to Gégène? He will speak to Gégène, and Gégène cannot
answer! He will hold out his hand to Gégène, and Gégène will not be
able to take it!"

We clutched each other in panic, and then the music broke out into all
the splendour of the Marseillaise.


Empty Memories

Seventeen months after the day when he went out for the first time, he
was killed beside his mitrailleuse.

He had been home in the meanwhile twice on leave, and there had
been nothing changed. He had won many honours, and she supposed the
other woman had been proud of him. For herself she had seen him very
little and always pleasantly. She was glad now that it had been only
pleasantly.

But it was the day of that first August, the day of his first going,
that one day, that one hour, she kept living again and again through.
It kept being present with her, curiously.

He had arrived--he had telegraphed--about four of the afternoon, she
did not know from where. He would have to leave again before five
o'clock. She knew, of course, with whom he had been. She thought,
waiting for him, what an irony that it should be like this, after all
the bitterness, he was coming back to her, and to the old house of his
people, in the street of many gardens.

She thought it would be awkward for them both. What could they say to
one another?

She wondered if it had been terrible to him to leave the other woman.
Probably the other woman was beautiful. All those women were beautiful.
She thought, perhaps that other woman loved him and cared what happened
to him.

Her two little boys were playing in the room.

The great closed rooms, to which she had brought them back hurriedly
from the seaside, fascinated them.

The bigger little one, in his sailor suit with the huge collar was
saying, "That's the old witch's cave, Toto, in the snow mountain."

The smaller one, with the curls and the Russian blouse, said, "Oh,
Zizi!"

"Yes; and, Toto, that big lump is the giant, sleeping."

"Oh, Zizi!"

Then their father came.

The little boys hung back and stared at him; they never had known him
really well.

Their mother stood up and went to meet him, across the wide room.
"You've had a horrid journey," she said.

"I've been fifty hours in the train," he answered. "Hallo, small boys,
there!"

"Toto," said Zizi, "he's going to be a soldier!"

"Oh, Zizi!" said Toto.

The bigger boy came over to his father. "I know a chap," he said, "it's
the son of a friend of mademoiselle's, whose father is dead and cannot
be a soldier."

"Poor chap," said his father.

His wife said, "Old Denis has got your things together. All the
other men-servants are gone. He has put you something to eat on the
dining-room table."

He said, "Will you come with me, do you mind? I've things to say to
you, and there is so little time."

But when they sat together at one corner of the big shining table, he
did not seem to know what to say. He tried to eat, but it seemed as if
he could not eat. He pushed the plate away and leaned his elbows on the
table and his head in his hands.

She thought she would like to do something for him, but did not know
what to do. Again she said, "It must have been dreadful in the train."

"It was wonderful," he said. Then, sitting still with his face hidden,
he went on: "We were singing all the time. Wherever the train stopped
people gave us flowers; the whole train was full of flowers, you know.
They were most of them boys of the young classes in the train. We
sang the most absurd things--nursery rhymes, and old cannons, 'Frères
Jacques' and 'Coeur de Lise,' and those, you know. What is the one
about 'Papa Lapin'? None of us could remember the one about 'Papa
Lapin,' you know."

"I don't know," she replied. It had always annoyed her, his trick of
saying, "You know." She sat playing with something on the table.

He said again, "The whole train was full of flowers. 'Papa Lapin,'
'Papa Lapin'--how irritating, you know, when one can't remember."

He sat up suddenly erect, and said, "You'll take the boys and go down
to the old place and look after things. It has always bored you, but
after all it is for Zizi. And be good to my mother, will you, though
you don't like her--she, she remembers '70. And I've not been of much
use to her. I've not been of much use to you, nor to any one." He
stopped short.

It was odd that suddenly she, who never had thought much about him,
or felt things at all about him, should have known this thing. She
had known as she sat there with him, alone in the dining-room, by the
untouched things on the table, that he never would come back. He was
one of those who never come back.


Hospital

Often I am sad because I cannot worry enough about the 11, Charles.
I forget him even when I am in the ward. His is the bed I see first
when I look through the holes of the paint in the glass-topped door,
opposite, away at the far end of the ward. There he has been, always,
every day, through all the endless months since the Marne, propped up
against a table board and two pillows and a sheet of black rubber. He
breathes always more and more painfully, and coughs always more and
more. The fever lines on his chart zigzag up and down, in long dreadful
points. He has become very cross and exacting. He scolds us in little
feeble gasps, with little feeble gestures. He is twenty-one years old,
and has very long eyelashes.

Yesterday when I went to say good-bye to him at the end of the day
he was crying there in his corner, quietly, all by himself. His long
eyelashes were all wet. I said, "Oh, little Charles, oh, little
Charles!" and kept saying it over and over, and had nothing else in
all the world to say. I patted his hands, that always lie both of them
together upon the strap which is fastened round the bar at the foot of
the bed, by which he is sometimes able to pull himself up.

His hands are white and thin and crooked, like the roots of things that
belong in the earth; while I patted his hands I was thinking that they
did not seem to belong in the light and air at all.

This morning I thought, "How absurd to have brought him a little pot of
cream!" A little pot of cream for a man who is dying.


Hautiquet

Hautiquet has gone back to the front. He would not let them tell me
he was going. I never saw him to say good-bye. Last night, I said, as
usual, "Bon soir, tout le monde, au revoir à demain!" And Hautiquet
said with the rest, "A demain, Madame." He left a little package to be
given to me after he was gone.

He was one of the older ones. He had been ill in the first winter
with rheumatism and pleurisy. He went back and fought all summer, and
all through the Champagne, and till Christmas. Then he got rheumatism
again, this time in his eyes. He has been nearly blind since then, here
in the hospital.

He was a clumsy peasant who never talked much. And of what he did say I
could only understand about half. I did not know that he thought about
me at all.

But in the little package he left for me there was an aluminum heart,
made out of the aluminum from a shell. Madame Marthe says he had been
nearly all the time working at it, because he had clumsy hands and
could scarcely see. He had had much trouble getting the shape right. He
had cut my initials on one side of it and his on the other, crookedly,
because he was so nearly blind.


Jean Fernand

He had curly yellow hair and big blue eyes. He got well terribly fast.
I was wishing all the time that he would take longer about it. He was
so young.

His eyes were so blue, and round, and had seen all the horrors of the
great retreat. The look of those things had stayed in his round young
blue eyes.

He told me he was afraid of going back, but that he was glad to go
because "tous les copains sont là." He said he couldn't bear to think
of them there, when he was safe out of it. "It is as if they were
fighting for me," he said, "and being wounded for me, and dying."

I don't know why I write of him in the past tense, for I have always
the most amusing letters from him, from there. He is near Verdun. This
morning I got from him a little snapshot a copain had made of him, down
on all-fours in the bottom of his trench feeding a baby pig out of a
bottle.


Wednesday, February 9th


Post Card

Boinet is very happy to-day. He has news of his people at last. Since
he left them in the first days, all through these months and months, it
has been as if they had been simply swept away out of the world.

Everything that Boinet loved was swept away by the great black wave of
the war. Into what depth of the end of all things all his life has been
swept away! He has been imagining and imagining. He says, all the time
in the trenches he was tortured by imagining things that might have
happened to his three little sisters. Boinet is twenty-two, and the
three sisters were younger than he, and beautiful, he says. Odd, how
one speaks always in the past tense of people whom the war has taken
into its dark spaces. Boinet tells how he loved his mother, as if it
were a thing of another life.

And here is his post card saying that they are all quite well, and
signed by every one of them.

For nearly a year Boinet has been in the hospital, Number 16. He has
troubled about his horrible burns scarcely at all, but we have thought
he would go mad torturing himself with imagining things that might have
happened to his people.

By means of an agency here, and the Mairie at Tourcoing, it was
possible, at last, for his people to send him a post card of six lines.

It came this morning; I have had to read it to him about fifty times
over.

It says that they are all very well, and for him to give news of
Pierre, the husband of his sister Josette, and it is signed with all
their dear, dear names, Père, Mère, Josette, Marie, Cloton.

Only it was sad, for Boinet knows that the husband of poor little
Josette, married that last July was killed long ago in one of the first
battles of the war.


The New 25

He is of Morocco, brown and very lonely, and always shivering with
cold. He speaks scarcely any French. His great dark eyes look to one
with all the sadness of the eyes of animals that are dumb. Nobody
understands him. He smiles up at us, with his beautiful white teeth and
his big dumb eyes, and does not understand what we are saying. He makes
me little magic-lanterns out of orange rinds, and tells me long stories
about them, of which I understand not a word.

Once when I went back, just for an afternoon's visit to the hospital,
I was wearing a bright blue silk scarf, and he took it and held it and
cried over it, and would not give it back to me. I cannot imagine of
what it reminded him, why he cried, or why he loved it.

He has three tiny little wooden dolls, scarcely bigger than almonds
and wonderfully carved, that he never will let us touch. Madame Marthe
thinks that they are strange gods of his; but I think they represent
three children, far away, in lands where skies are blue, like my scarf.

He is only slightly wounded; very soon he will have to unwrap himself
from my big white woollen shawl, and go away again to battles.

And I suppose I shall never know anything more about him.


Marketing

He was standing half turned away from the others, the fat old woman in
the woollen knitted shawl and a girl with a pretty brown bare head. He
was holding a big market basket very carefully in both hands. I thought
there was something odd about the careful way he held it and the way he
stood, his head turned to one side and hanging a bit.

The old woman and the girl were talking very much about the cabbages,
with the woman of the push-cart, also old and also wearing a knitted
woollen shawl.

In the stir and noise of the street market the way the tall broad young
soldier stood so still and silent did seem odd. And he was holding the
basket with such very great care.

There was a live white goose in the basket. It kept stretching its
long neck up over the rim of the basket and peering about, opening and
shutting its yellow bill and hissing at people.

When the old woman and the girl had finished their discussion and
selected their cabbage, they pushed the cabbage into the market basket
along with the goose, and all the time the soldier held the basket
carefully.

Then the old woman put her arm through one of his arms, and the girl
put her arm through the other. As he turned to go where they would
take him, I saw that he was blind; the wound had healed, but it was as
if his eyes were closed. He very carefully let go the basket with one
hand, and with the other hand, the girl's rather impatient touch on his
elbow, he made a salute to where he thought the woman of the push-cart
was standing, and then the old woman and the girl led him away with the
basket.


Hospital

The wards of "our" floor get always all the light there is. When there
is sunlight it all comes in and picks the dust motes up and sets them
dancing, down steep slants and ladders. When there is wind it sobs and
sings along the wards and corridors. The rain makes wide sweeps of the
great windows, and mists press very close against them and get into the
wards and drift there. When there was snow, in these few days the rooms
were all full of its whiteness. Almost it was as if its silence were
there, and its peace.


Saturday, March 5th

The night was full of great bells booming, Verdun, Verdun, Verdun. And
yet there were no bells.

I never saw a darker morning come to Paris. The darkness came into the
room, thick and wet and cold.

I had my breakfast by firelight.

The crows are back already in the garden; the bare black treetops were
full of them this dark morning, and not one of them stirred or made a
sound.

The lamps of the trams were lighted, and the lamps of the streets and
quays and bridges.

The river is very high, the trees of the margins stand drowning.

The snow of these last days has stayed on in places, as yellow as fog
and smoke.

In the old great beautiful courtyards of the hospital the snow is quite
deep, on the roofs and ledges of red brick and grey stone, and on the
huge square old cobbles, and on the black tracery of trees and bushes
and of the vines along the walls.

The buds, that were soft and green last week, are black now; I was
afraid to go and touch them and find them frozen hard.

The blackbird was singing. He has been back for nine days. It was
dreadful in the dark and cold to hear him singing. How terrible all
lovely things are become!


Same day

In the half dark I came home along the canal. In these nights, coming
home from the hospital, I have learned always more and more that the
canal is beautiful, curving down between its old poor black tumbling
houses, under its black bridges.

To-night the few lights of the quays and of windows fell into the water
of the canal, just odds and ends of gold.

I stopped and stood and looked.

It had been a bad day in my ward.

I thought, how beautiful ugly things are become!


Saturday night before Easter

The cool wet fresh smells of the garden, and of all the gardens of the
quarter, come in at my wide window. It is almost midnight, the rain
has stopped, and it is not cold any more. Sometimes the crows talk
together from the top of the trees where their nests are, above the old
low roofs my window looks across. There has been for days now, in all
the rain and cold, a drift of green about the trees, the fine green
mesh of a veil that seems to float, it is so bright and frail, about
the black wintry tree-trunks and boughs and branches. The blackbirds
came back last week to the garden.

But it is only to-night that one can believe in spring.

In the wet sky, over the roofs and chimneys, and the treetops, there
are some stars that hang as big and near as lamps. At dawn perhaps the
nightingale will be singing.


Easter Day

It is wonderful that spring should come on Easter Day.

One waked--and lo, winter was over and passed. There was a moment, in
waking, of not being able to believe at all in unhappiness.

The nightingale was singing, the sun was coming up out of the filmy
leaves of the garden, the bells of all the churches were pouring out
Easter.

The river was misty in the early morning, under the sunshine, mauve and
opal and blue. The trees of the quays, in their fragile leaf, seemed to
drift in the mist and sunshine. I could not tell if the trees were gold
or green in the Tuileries gardens. They were quite golden against the
long purple mass of the Louvre, and quite golden up the river, where
there is an especially bright blur of them under the purple towers and
gable of Notre Dame.

The Halles were full of country and spring.

My own poor ugly canal had colours and lines of spring about it; its
dingy, dark old houses were lifted into a sky so lovely that they
seemed to have become quite lovely too, and its water, under the poor
bridges, was full of gold and blue and purple and deep shining.

All the birds were singing in the great courtyards of the hospital, and
all the opening buds sang too, and the green, green grass in its close
bindings of stone.

Cordier--his face again bandaged, for he has been worse of late--tried
to tell me something. I could make out, "Nouveaux, Verdun, chez vous,
très grands blessés," and then there was to open the door upon the
ward's new tragedies and glories.


Frogs

She, his mother, wished he wouldn't be so sweet. It was what she had
longed for since he was a little boy, an indifferent, cold little
child, and dreamed of. It made it difficult for her not to break down.
And how dreary that would be for him, who was so glad to come home.

Always he had been very bored at home. He never since he was at all
grown-up--he was twenty-one--had stayed an hour more than was necessary
in the old dark sad castle. Now he had six days, just six days, for his
own, to do with whatever he chose, away from those places of death, and
it seemed that there was nothing he wanted but the old dull things that
always before had so bored him.

She had been coming up from the village in the soft wet April
afternoon, by the wide central avenue of the parterres between the
little clipped yew trees, when he came out to the terrace. She had an
instant's sick terror of thinking he was killed, and that this was
her vision of him. But he was calling to her, and laughing. She had
stopped, and stood quite still, and he had come eagerly, running down
the steps to her.

They had six days together.

Often she had thought of the old strong castle that it was a place
meant for great things to happen in, glories and disasters. Small
things were of no matter in it. There had been no room bright and light
enough for a little child to be gay in. Her baby's room had had stone
walls and a high carved ceiling and windows four feet deep. If ever
he had laughed and shouted, his little voice had been lost among old
echoes. How could any child not have been afraid of the shadows that
trailed and lurked along the corridors and upon the stairs.

She specially remembered her little son standing with Miss on the top
of the terrace steps, under the great Watch Tower, never running to
meet her as she came up through the garden, the shadow of the stern old
house prisoning him, like some dark spell, in his little white sailor
dress.

Now, he had come to meet her eagerly, as she had so used to wish he
would.

In the six days he was all the things to her that she had ever dreamed
of. He was her little boy who needed her. He had wild gay moments, when
his gaiety swept her along, and moments that needed her comforting.

Then it was their last day together, a softly raining day.

In the morning they went for a long tramp through their own woods and
on into the forest, deeper and deeper. All the forest ways were full
of wet blue hyacinths and songs of thrushes. The little rain made music
in the April branches, and the wet smells were as incense in the forest
aisles. When they came home he was hungry. Nothing would do but that
they should go down to the village to the Place de l'Eglise and get
spice bread and barley sugar from old Madame Champenot, as he had used
to do when he was a small boy to whom his mother gave five sous for
being good.

They must go down the terrace steps and along the avenue to the Queen's
Bosquet, where the old statues stood together dressed in ivy, and
through the little stern gate in the rampart walls, and across the moat
by the new bridge, that was so old, to the Place of the church.

Thatched roofs and tiled roofs were touched with spring wherever moss
and lichen clung to them, green and grey and yellow.

He had gone into the little shop, and she had waited outside, not able
to talk to any one.

The great Watch Tower of the castle, and the low square grey tower of
the church, and all the crooked old tall black chimney-pots seemed to
swim in the blue of the sky.

Waiting there she felt that the coming of spring was sad almost past
bearing. She thought, soon the frogs in the castle moats would be
singing their lonesome song.

Afterwards they went round to the stables, from which all the horses
were gone, and he was sad to think how long he had forgotten his little
old pony, scarcely bigger than a dog.

In the afternoon he must go everywhere about the house, to all the
old rooms and corridors and stairways, that he never before had known
he loved. She must go with him, through the great dim attics, and up
the tower stairs, and out on to the battlements, to the sunset; down
into the great stone-vaulted kitchens, and the cellars that had been
dungeons. They went laughingly at first. But afterwards they did not
laugh any more. It had come to have the sacredness of a pilgrimage,
their small journeying.

He talked quite gaily while they were at dinner in the long dining-hall
under the minstrel's gallery.

But when they went to her little study afterwards together, they both
were very silent.

There was a fire burning, but all the windows were open.

And as they sat there, almost silently together, they heard the first
frogs singing in the castle moat. He laughed, and would have her tell
him the story of the Frog Princess, that he never had cared for her to
tell him when he was a little boy.

She knew that she would never listen to the frogs again without
remembering that night.

She wondered if the memory would become an agony to her. It seemed to
her strange that, caring so much, she could not know.


Thursday, April 27th

Under the walls of St. Germain des Prés, and the chestnut trees in
their spring misty leaf of amber and topaz and ruby, a vendor of, I
don't know what, had set up a little booth and shaded it with an indigo
blue bit of canvas. The shade was deep purple under the blue canvas,
and brass and bronze and copper and rust-red things had vague shapes in
the shadow.

It was so beautiful that I was happy for all of a minute, passing in
the tram on my way to the cantine.


The Boy with Almond Eyes

They tell me that when they suffer I make little growling noises in my
throat. They laugh and say, "Now the little Madame is angry!"

I am angry, I am furious. I am furious against suffering. I hate
suffering.

If they scream I do not mind so much, but when they suffer silently, it
is terrible.

Once the ward doctor thought I was going to cry.

I was holding the stump of a boy's leg while they dressed it. The leg
had been cut off at the Front, hurriedly, anyhow, and the nerves left
exposed.

The boy shuddered and quivered all over, and would not make a sound,
and grew rigid with pain, stiff, and quite cold, and never made a sound.

The doctor, with the probe in his rubber-gloved hands, looked at me,
and said, "You are going to cry! You must not cry before the wounded,
it unnerves them."

And then I heard myself growling, with dreadful big words of the
patronne's smothered under the growls.

And the little boy laughed out, through everything, just like a
mischievous bad little boy.


Monday, May 1st

To-day is so beautiful, many people must have been happy for a moment
just in waking. It is so difficult not to be happy. It is such a
wonderful thing to open one's blinds to a sunshiny May morning. And
then there has to be the next moment.


May 3rd

In other years also the spring was sad. There was always that exquisite
lovely poignant sadness of spring.

These days are too beautiful. It seems as if one could not bear them.

I think it is because so much beauty makes one want happiness.

One cannot understand, in such loveliness, why one is not happy.

Something is asked of us that we cannot answer.

I remember Roselyne's saying, long before there was war, one sunset,
down by the sea in the south--

"So much happiness would be needed to fill the beauty of the day."


May 4th

Yet perhaps in this cruel year spring is less cruel. Not to be happy
is, in this year, the inevitable thing. One is less lonely in each
his own special lack of happiness. And each one may think he would be
happy, perfectly, if only there were no war.


Hospital, Friday, May 5th

They have taken away all my little soldiers. I did not know at all. I
came just as usual, and did not notice any unusual confusion. I heard
much noise as I ran up the stairs, but there is always noise in the
corridors.

When I got to the top of the stairs, there was the last batch of them,
in their patched faded old uniforms, with their crutches and bandages
and their bundles, all packed into the lift that was just started down.
I could not even see who they were.

Some one called "Madame, oh, Madame!"

I think it was Barbet, the little 4.

I turned to run down the stairs to catch them up at the bottom, as
they would get out of the lift, but Madame Marthe came out of the
patronne's room, with a huge jar, of I don't know what, in her arms,
and called to me, "Quick, the new ones will be arriving. Fetch our
sheets from Madame Bayle!"

Twenty-six beds and ten stretcher beds all left empty.

Every one is gone, except little Charles who is dying, and 14, whose
arm has just been amputated. I don't know where they are gone. Some to
the Maison Blanche and some to St. Maurice, some to their dépôts, some
to country hospitals. The patronne has had no time to tell me where
they are gone. When she has time she will have forgotten, and cannot
trouble to look up the lists of them. Madame Marthe does not know. She
does not care. She is used to it.

But I--I am not used to it. I have loved them. I had nursed them so
long, and done so many odds and ends of things for them, silly things
and tragic things. I had helped them to get well. Really and truly I
had helped them to get well. I had been so happy to have helped them.
And now I do not know what has become of them.


Hospital--Arrival, Saturday, 6th

They are very tired. They want to be let alone. They do not care what
happens to them, or to the little queer odds and ends of things in
their bundles.

They were bathed in the admission room; Madame Marthe and Madame Alice
were called there. Madame Madeline threw out their dirty torn clothes,
and the boots of those who had boots, to Madame Bayle in the hall.

Madame Bayle made Joseph take all that away, and gave me each man's
own little things to put on the night table of his bed, his képi and
his béret, if it were not lost, a pipe, a tobacco pouch, perhaps a big
nickel watch, some letters, the photograph of a girl or an old woman,
a purse with a few sous in it. Several of them have medals, the Croix
de Guerre and the military medal, and one had a chaplet that I had to
hide under the photograph of an old woman in her best bonnet. "Number
9," says Madame Bayle, "Number 16, Number 8," and dumps the poor little
handfuls of things into my apron.

"All your things are here," I say to the men, "look, Monsieur 8, I
have put them so on the table. I will move the table to the other side
because of your arm. Little Alpin, here is your béret hung on the knob
at the top of the bed, waiting for you to go out into Paris. And you,
my little one, here are your two medals, I pin them to the edge of your
chart. How proud you must be!"

But he does not care at all. He is a little young child, of the class
16. He has a round, boy face and big, round, blue eyes like a child's.
He only wants to lie with his eyes shut. He is the number 3. His right
leg is amputated, and his left foot is in plaster.

They are all men from Verdun, wounded eight or fifteen days ago, who
have been moved from one to another hospital of the Front. They do not
want to talk about it. They want to just lie still with their eyes
closed--except the one who screams, the 24.

The 24 screams and screams. He also has had a leg amputated. He is
perhaps twenty years old. He is a big blonde boy. He clutches the bars
of the top of the bed with his two hands, and drags all his rigid
weight upon his hands, and screams, with wide-open eyes that stare and
stare.

Also the man wounded in the head, the Number 6, lies with his eyes wide
staring open and like glass. He has a colonial medal that I do not
know, and the Croix de Guerre. They do not yet know if he can speak
or not. Madame Marthe told me while she was washing her hands at the
chariot that he may live quite long.

She said, "The chief is coming to see the wounds, we must cut all the
dressings. Take your scissors, and begin to the right of the door."


The Chéchia, Monday, May 15th

I suppose because to-day the sunshine is happy, Charles, the little 11,
who has been in his bed in the corner since the days of the Marne, has
taken a fancy to have all his things got ready for him in case he wants
to go out. He says that any day now he may be wanting to go out.

He is of the ler Zouaves, and it is a red cap he must have, a chéchia.
Nobody knows what became of his, it is so long since he had worn it.
He never thought of it himself until to-day. But to-day he thinks of
nothing else.

Number 10 and Number 12--new these last days--say he waked them up
talking about it. When Madame Marthe came on at six o'clock he beckoned
to her at the door, and when she came, he whispered--did she think he
might ask the American for it?

He was very red when he asked me, and then very white, and his hands
clasped and unclasped.

Did I think I could have it to-morrow? Did I think I could have it this
afternoon? And did I think that possibly, possibly I could get a tassel
for it: a big lavender tassel that would hang down all at one side.


Monday, May 29th

I went this afternoon to the Pré Catelan, for the first time in very
long. I went in by the gate near the stone column.

There were quite a lot of motors waiting at the gate; it did not look
war as it did last year. Last year, in May, the gates were always
almost shut, and when people came they had to push through. Last year
the little park was very empty. We used to wander as we pleased across
the lawns and gather primroses that grew for nobody. But now there were
people in the paths; especially Nounou with her broad ribbons and her
campstool, and the baby, and Monsieur l'Abbé, playing blind man's buff
with the bigger children.

Green lawns, bright as live green fire, the trees all in delicate
misty leaf, light greens and dark greens and copper and amber and gold,
filmy and drifting, as veils, about the trunks and boughs and branches.

The flower-beds were full of hyacinths and forget-me-nots.

Never, never, surely has spring meant so much as in these two years of
war.

All the birds of spring were singing. All of them. The grass of the
lawns was full of little starry pink and white daisies.

By the little watercourse there was a bank of blue flowers. They were
reflected in the water, very, very blue. I do not know what they were.
They were of a much more intense blue than the myosotis. I did not go
to see what they were; I thought they might be the blue flowers of
happiness, and that it was better I did not go too near.

The hideous, huge restaurant is a hospital. The paths and the road to
it, and the lawns and garden beds about it are corded off that people
may not go and look. From the distance, you see vague, white shapes
of things, and figures all in white, moving about inside the great
plateglass windows!

What wonderful people used to sit at the tables, in those windows!

What is there now on the raised platform of the music? The music used
to be so gay. Did people ever really dance there?

How queer pain and grief seem to be, in this place that they have taken
over. Was this really ever a place so gay and brilliant, that no other
place of the world symbolized quite as fragile a thing?


Thursday, June 1st

Verdun, Verdun, Verdun. The great bells, that are not really bells, are
still ringing and ringing. One hears them ringing through the streets
of Paris, up and down, all night long. Out in the country they must be
ringing, and ringing across all the fields and forests, and through the
hills, and along all the roads and rivers, and to all the edges of the
land.

Even if they were dirges, tolling, they would yet always have been
triumphant bells.


The Queen: To her

A beautiful thing has happened in a beautiful hospital. Going to that
hospital from mine, what seems most beautiful about it, and very
strange, is its peace. It is so quiet. The little gentle nuns move
softly and have sweet low voices. The women who work there are all of
them women who choose to serve, and they serve lovingly. One feels
there quietness and sympathy, and something that I think must be just
the love of God. My hospital seems like a nightmare in that beautiful
place.

One day there came to visit that beautiful hospital a very gentle lady,
than whose story there is none more tragic in the whole world.

She is a queen who lives in exile. She has known every sorrow that a
woman can know, and that a queen can know, every one. And she lives,
with the memory of her sorrows, in exile.

She may come to France at times for visits of which few people are
aware; and those are the times that are most nearly happy for her, for
she loves France, and the France that knows her, that is so truly her
own, loves her greatly.

The little soldiers of France might have been her soldiers. If they
realized, how they would love to be her soldiers! What would it not
mean to them to have such a queen to fight for?

The soldiers in the beautiful hospital were not told at first that it
was a queen who came that day to see them. They only knew that it was a
very lovely lady. She understood just how to talk to them, just how to
look at them. They were men who had given everything they had to give
for the country that she loved, that was indeed her country, and she
loved them, every one of them, and her love for them was in her eyes
and on her lips and in her voice. She had known so much of suffering
that she could take the suffering of each man for her own to bear with
him.

There was a man who was dying. He was not a beautiful young boy, but
one of those older little soldiers who touch one's heart so. The thin,
worn, stooping little soldier type who has his wife and the children
and the old people to be anxious about while he serves his France. The
bearded, anxious-eyed little soldier type who knows just what it all
means, and who has the flame of the spirit of France shining in his
always rather haggard eyes.

This little soldier was dying; there was no hope at all. He knew
quite well. His wife and babies were far away and could not come to
him. And he was glad of that, he wanted his wife to be spared all she
might be spared of pain. He was glad she would not have to remember
his suffering so. The nurse had promised to tell his wife always that
he had not suffered at all. His nurse had promised him that she would
always keep sight of his wife and the babies, and be sure that no harm
came to the old people. She had comforted him in everything. And she,
and the good little sisters, had so beautiful a faith in God, that he
was sure they knew, and that it all would be quite well.

He had won his Croix de Guerre and Médaille Militaire; they had been
sent, but the officer had not yet come from the President of the
Republic to give them to him. It seemed very sad to the people of the
hospital that his medals should not be given to him before he died. His
nurse had been very troubled about it, and the chief doctor also. They
had sent messages twice to the authorities, but no one had come.

Then, when the queen was there the nurse who herself was a great lady
of the world, thought of a beautiful thing and asked the chief doctor
if it could not be. That the queen should give his decorations to the
man who was dying, and that they should tell him, and all the others,
that it was the queen. She knew what pleasure it would give him. She
knew it would be like a dream to him, a lovely dream thing to happen to
him, just at the end. Of course, it would not be official, but what did
that signify--now? The man was dying.

The doctor and the queen spoke together for a minute.

The queen had never cried for her own sorrows, but she had tears in her
eyes then, and did not mind that every one saw.

When all of those people of the hospital who could come were assembled
in the ward, the hospital staff, and all of the wounded who could walk
or be carried, the doctor told them, very simply, his voice a little
hoarse, that it was the Queen of ---- who was there among them, and
that she was going to give his decorations to their comrade. A thrill
passed through all the ward as the doctor's voice dropped into silence.
No one spoke at all.

The little soldier who was to be so honoured turned his head and looked
at the queen.

She was crying very much, but she smiled, and said to him, "You see, my
little one, I cry because it is so great an honour for me that I may
give his decorations to a soldier of France." She would not have him
know that she cried because he was dying. She smiled down at him.

Then she took his papers from the doctor and read his citations out
aloud, quite steadily, to all the ward.

She bent down over him and pinned the two medals on his poor
nightshirt. "The honour is all mine," she said.

And then she took his head between her hands, as if he had been a
child--as if he had been her own son who was so cruelly dead--and
kissed his forehead.

They say that royalty must go away out of the world. But how can
any one say that who knows beautiful things? There is something so
beautiful that belongs only to kingship, something of ideal and dream.
It was there, in the hospital ward, when the great lady in the plain,
almost poor, dress, her eyes full of tears, was honoured by the honour
she might do a little soldier. Only a queen could have made it all
seem so beautiful. Only a queen could have kissed a little soldier of
the people, who really were her people, so quite as if he had been her
child, or have made of kneeling by his bed for a minute quite so simple
and proud and symbolic a thing.

The little soldier never said one word. His eyes followed her with the
worship that is quite different from any other worship, the worship
that can be given only to a queen.

Afterwards he said to his nurse--it was the only time he spoke, for in
that night he died--"You will tell my wife, will you not? You will tell
her all about my queen?"


Questions and Answers

The wounds in the road are kept filled up. As the road is wounded,
every day, they fill the wounds up and smooth them over. Because, in
case of an advance or a retreat, the way must be kept open and clear.

This I have been told, for I cannot go to see.

They tell me how the work of the fields goes on around the wounds of
the fields. There is no need, of course, to tend the wounds of the
fields. Sometimes in the ploughing the blade of the plough strikes
against an unexploded shell that the grass had hidden, and the old
horse is killed, or the yoke of oxen, and the old peasant.

Sometimes the soldiers, back at repose, help with the work of the
fields.

I ask, are the larks singing over the fields? But, of course. And are
there magpies in the road? Why, yes.

When a shell bursts in the fields, they say, it is scarcely frightful
at all, the spaces are so wide. It seems far from you, and you think of
it as just something of the world's--scream of wind, lightning, that
strikes perhaps; not an enemy thing at all.

Do the bees drone on just the same in the clover? They say they are
absurd things that I want to know.

But I think of the clover growing tall and sweet about the little
tilted wooden crosses, of which the fields are so full; and of the bees
droning their golden, sleepy song, there, like that.


The Dead Town

They say that the grass is growing everywhere in the empty streets of
the town. The streets are kept cleared of the ruins of the houses that
fall into them, and their wounds are carefully healed, like the wounds
of the road. The stones of the broken houses are piled up quite neatly
at the edge of the streets. There is no glass left of the windows of
those houses that still stand--except for that--unhurt. Many of the
houses are terribly hurt, the roof gone, great gaps in the walls.

I ask, do you see the paper of the walls in broken rooms? Are there
pretty little wall-papers, with flowers and ribbons, that you see
through the wounds of the houses? Are there left rags of curtain,
tattered and rain-washed and faded, in some of the windows? Do you see
people's little loved things, abandoned in the broken ruins, betrayed
to strangers?

They tell me that vines are grown across to bar the doors so long
unopened, or the doors left so long open, sagging; and I suppose that
there are cobwebs also.

They say that here and there you see a sign scrawled up over a door, or
over the break in a wall, that says, "En cas de bombardement il y a ici
une cave."

I ask, is the signboard of Monsieur Pigot's, the pastrycook, still hung
out over his door?


The Grass Road

You can keep on for a short distance beyond the town, on the other side
of it. The great road leads on between its poplar trees, white and
straight. Here it has been less wounded because the hills shelter it.
The trees have not been hurt here; they lift their grey-green plumes,
light and proud as ever, above the road.

I remember to ask: Is there much passing along the road, that terrible
grey passing of war things? Do you see many blue troops along the road?
They say: Oh, yes, of course, as far as the old octroi.

What is it like now at the octroi under the edge of the hill?

Just beyond the octroi there is a barbed-wire entanglement across the
road. No one can go farther. There are soldiers in the yellow little
house of the octroi. The sentinel comes out.

They tell me that the road beyond the barbed-wire entanglement leads
straight on, between the poplar trees, as far as any one can see, deep
grown in grass. Nearly two years deep in grass. It is nearly two years
since any one, yes, any one, has gone a step along that road.

They tell me a thing the sentinel said, that is a hideous thing. I
do not know why I want to tell it. I know just how he said it, with
bitterness and irony, but as if it were a thing of small matter that
would be soon arranged for.

He said, "Just along there, about half-way as far as we can see, begins
Germany."


Fifteen Days

Just before the end of the world they were together at the château.

They thought it was to have been for the last time. There had been
many things they needed to talk over and arrange together, and why not
quietly. They were "done with passion, pain, and anger." They thought
to bid one another good-bye when everything was arranged, wishing one
another well, and go their different ways.

There were no children, they were hurting no one. They had been hurting
one another too long, for ten years--they were both still so young that
it seemed to them half a lifetime--and now they thought they would
never hurt one another any more. It was an immense relief to each of
them to feel that it was over, quite over, dead and done with. But it
was not over.

From the first moment of talk of war his one idea was to get himself
taken for the army. When he was a boy, a fall in hunting had hurt his
spine seriously; he had never been able to do his military service. The
trouble had grown worse, and now, with his crooked back and halting
step, there was nothing, exactly nothing, it seemed, he could do.

She stayed with him through those days of the utmost nervous tension.
How could she leave him then? She understood him so well in his
moods, now in despair, now hopeful, now in despair again; disgraced,
he would say, worthless, ashamed before his peasants, before the
castle servants, who were, all of them, going to join the colours;
angry against everything, he had such need of her to tell it all to.
He exhausted himself with hurried, futile journeys hither and yonder
to find some one whose influence might get him "taken." He spent his
nights walking the wide floors up and down, and writing letters to
people he thought might "do something." But none of it was of any use.
He worried himself ill. He fainted twice in one day, the day the papers
told of the taking of the first German flag. It was a flaming white hot
day in their country of the Aisne.

There were days of the passing through of their own troops. For days
the valley was one deep, endlessly drawn-out trail of dust, from which
came unceasingly the turmoil of hoofs and wheels and men's shouting,
the horns and rush of motors, bugle-calls, the hot beating of drums.

Night after night the village took in the men billeted upon it, lodged
them somehow, fed them somehow. The château received the officers, and
did what it could for them.

Those were days of great enthusiasm. Trains passed full of flowers,
of men laughing and singing. Trainloads of great dust-coloured cannon
passed, covered with flowers.

Claire started a canteen at the station, the little country station by
the river, in the fields of August wheat and poppies.

Those were exalted, wonderful days for her. She knew how agonizing they
were for Rémy, and she felt about him very tenderly.

She was a beautiful, strong creature, her beauty and strength for years
now had annoyed and been a grievance to him. But now he seemed to have
need of her strength and quietness. She pitied him for what she meant
to him in those days.

But when bad news came, everything changed for him.

There were so many things for him to do. He was maire of the
village--the village counted on him, he was not useless any more. He
had been really ill with grieving, but now that he was of use, he was
as well as she had ever seen him before. All his small nervous ways
fell from him; she did not understand him any more than if he had been
a child grown up suddenly beyond her; but she was immensely pleased
with him. She was so glad to be able to feel him stronger than she. It
was very good to be able to turn to him now for help and comfort.

Her canteen at the station served trains that were full of wounded.
Some of the wounded were so bad that they had to be taken out of
the trains. She got a hospital arranged as well as she could in the
château. For days it was so full that the wounded and dying lay on beds
of straw on the floor of the great salons, not a scrap of linen in the
château but was used for dressings and bandages.

Then the refugees from the villages of the north and the east began to
pour through, telling of ghastly things. And then came the troops in
retreat.

The hospital had to be evacuated in dreadful haste. It was more
dreadful than anything she had ever imagined. There was a day when the
old town-crier went through the streets, beating a drum, and calling
out the warning to evacuate. All the people who could do so fled. They
fled, and left everything they possessed behind them.

It was said that when the troops were passed, the bridge at the bend of
the river must be blown up after them, and so the village would be cut
off and left to the enemy.

Rémy made the villagers give him the keys of their houses, and he put
up a notice in the Grand' Place that any one wishing to enter the
houses must apply for the keys to the château; he wrote the notice in
German.

Claire was proud that he did not suggest that she should go away, that
he took for granted she was at least as strong as he.

The explosion of the blowing up of the old bridge was like the final
note of all the things that used to be. The dust of the valley settled
down for an hour, and things seemed strangely quiet.

All the people of the village who had not been able to get away came
to the château, the very old people and the sick, and some women with
babies, begging shelter for the night.

Three wounded men, whom it had been impossible to remove, were left
behind in the great Salle des Miroirs. Claire was with them all night.
The curé had stayed, and the sage-femme of the village had also
remained to help her; the doctor and the chemist were both fled.

One of the men died in the night.

Another, who was delirious, kept singing all the time, "Auprès de ma
Blonde."

It frightened Claire. There was a moment when she was uncontrollably
afraid. She was afraid, not of the things that were coming to pass,
but with a nightmare panic of the wounded man, singing, "Auprès de ma
Blonde."

She could not bear it. She rushed in desperate panic to find Rémy.

It was in the moment before dawn; the birds in the garden and park
were waking; the halls and stairs were still dark. She thought she
never would find him; then she thought he must be in the kitchen, where
the village people were huddled together.

She found him there, talking to them quietly.

There was a girl who had St. Vitus dance; she sat by the big kitchen
table, one of her hands, that would not keep still, thumping and
thumping the table. Claire was afraid to go into the kitchen.

Rémy came out into the passage to her, and shut the kitchen door behind
him.

The lamp was still burning in the passage.

She caught his hands; and suddenly she had buried her face in his
shoulder and was crying.

"There, there," he said, patting her hair.

She sobbed, clinging to him.

"You have been so brave," he said, "poor child."

She could have cried for a long time with his arms around her.

But he said, "You must not let them find you like this, you know; they
might think you were afraid."

They came, very shortly after.

There was a galloping of hoofs into the château courts, and a shouting.

Then came the mass of them, surging into the court, greenish-yellow,
with their loud, snarling voices.

Claire saw them from the windows over the court; Rémy had gone down to
meet them.

She came down to the great central hall, not afraid any more. She had
dressed carefully, and arranged her hair specially well. Tall and fine,
she came slowly down the curving staircase, and stopped half-way to
look on what was passing below.

The German officers seemed to her to be all gigantic creatures; Rémy
looked more than ever small and frail among them. They were commanding,
this way and that, roughly. Rémy stood silent, watching them. His look
was so high and cool, so proud in the bitterness of the moment, that
she drew herself up with pride in him.

The colonel was speaking with him, and moved toward the door of the
Salle des Miroirs. Rémy stepped before him. "Not there," he said, "two
men are dying in that room."

Claire came down into the hall and crossed between the officers and
went to stand beside her husband. She was very proud to stand beside
him. Something in her bearing seemed to carry weight with the officers;
they drew back, less insistent before her, from the door of the Salle
des Miroirs.

Again and again, in the fifteen days that followed, she felt that same
effect of her presence upon them, and knew that it was a help to Rémy.

In the fifteen days he and she had opportunity for very few words
together, the Germans always watching them suspiciously.

All the days were full of confusion; Rémy was kept constantly about
with the German officers to arrange for the billeting of the men in the
village, the stabling of horses and motors, interpreting, explaining.
No one but he could get the frightened people, the few there were of
them remaining, to go back to their houses and do the things required
of them. No one but he could protect them, and at the same time see to
it that they gave no offence. The least rousing of the Germans' anger
would, he knew, have to be paid for dreadfully. Their demands were made
at the point of the bayonet. They were angry because the bridge had
been destroyed, and only Rémy's cool, quiet strength of insistence kept
them from carrying out the threat to burn the village in reprisal. To
hold his own, the while obeying as he must obey, yielding this point
and that, submitting, and yet faithfully defending all that depended
on him, was no easy matter of accomplishment. He must keep faith and
dignity, and yet he must not give offence.

There were very desperate moments when the Germans would be asking
for information, about the telephones and telegraphs, and about the
country, the roads, and the marble quarries, the rebuilding of the
bridge. Such help he could not give them, and there were moments when
his refusal to talk, like his refusal to take a cigarette, risked
everything.

Claire came to have a special dread of the colonel's fat leather
cigarette-case. Rémy must wave it aside saying, so that his meaning was
quite clear and yet courteous, that he had given up smoking for the
time. The little scene of it was repeated night after night.

At first the Germans would have him always stand up in their presence.
They would send for him while they dined, and have him stand there
while they questioned and commanded. Then they realized that it was his
wish to stand, that few things would have been more hateful for him
than to have sat down with them.

After that they would have him and Claire dine with them. They sent for
Claire to come down to the dining-room, where they were already seated
at table and Rémy was standing. She must sit on the colonel's right,
and drink a glass of champagne with him.

One of the officers called to her down the table, "There is yet left
many a toast we can drink together, the brave and the fair!"

She thought that Rémy's fury would get the better of him, and she spoke
quickly, before he could speak. She moved quickly between him and the
colonel.

The colonel, sitting at the head of the table, under the portraits of
generations of Rémy's people, glared up at her as she stood, very tall.

"You will do as I command you, madame," he said.

There seemed to be no escape. Desperately chancing it, she said, "But
you will not stoop to command so idly. You know that we have no help
but to obey you. Of what value could be forced obedience to you in so
petty a thing? I know you will not command a thing so trivial and poor."

And he did not ask it of them.

Her days as well as Rémy's were crowded. The Germans required so many
things, and there was no one left to serve them. She had only a few
peasant servants to help her. The Germans demanded food, and there
was scarcely anything to give them. Very little could be got in the
emptied village; there was no more meat or bread. These people must
eat, or they would become ugly. She must manage it somehow. She had
to get the bakery started again, and make the villagers understand
that they must give what they had in their little gardens, and their
chickens and the rabbits. Old Jantot at the castle was quite unable to
do the work of the kitchen-gardens and dairies. She worked hard helping
him.

All the day of the arrival of the Germans she had been pitching hay
from the stable loft to make bedding for the men quartered there; she
scarcely left her work that day, except to go to the funeral of the
soldier who had died in the Salle des Miroirs.

The curé helped old Jantot to carry him, and she followed them out
through the courts, and past the German guard.

The two other wounded men in the Salle des Miroirs died while the
strange alien life of the château went on. Three or four people of the
village were ill; one woman and her newly born child died; there was no
one but Claire to help the sage-femme.

The Germans accused the old curé of signalling from the church tower.
They took him into the market-place, with a rope tied round his neck,
to hang him, they said, under the plane-tree by the fountain. Rémy
stood by him, risking everything to make them delay a few minutes.

Claire found the colonel; she never could remember what she said,
how she pleaded. But the colonel said, "If we find these things true
against him, then it will be your husband who will hang for it."

In one of the rare moments when they were alone together, Rémy said
something which gave her more pleasure to hear than anything that had
ever been told her before. He told her that but for her he did not
think he could possibly endure it, that only her presence there, so
brave and strong, the one thing left in the world, gave him strength to
go on.

He had come up to her room, a small tower room she had withdrawn to
when the Germans arrived. It was late in the evening, the room was
almost dark, and she had lighted two candles on the little table, by
the window, where she was having bread and soup on a tray. He had had
scarcely anything to eat all day, and she made him share the soup and
the bread. They laughed because he was really hungry. Cut off from
the world, completely alone together in the most intense isolation,
having no one, nothing, left, either of them, but each the other, in a
world terrible beyond belief, they laughed together because he was so
absurdly hungry.

They knew nothing but what the Germans told them of things that were
happening in the world.

How could they believe such things? They did not believe, and yet to
hear them said!

Fifteen days passed, that they could not have lived through if there
had not been so much for them to do in every moment, and if they had
not had each of them the comfort and support of the other's presence.
Fifteen days passed, of helplessness and dread, almost despair.

Then, in one day, something was changed for the Germans; there was no
knowing what it was; their mood took on a new ugliness.

It was that day that some of the men hanged Claire's St. Bernard puppy.
They hanged him on the terrace from the branch of the big chestnut tree
and left him there. Claire came up through the park from the village
and found him. They never knew why the men had done it; it seemed so
small and useless a thing to have done.

For two days she and Rémy were kept as prisoners, allowed to leave
their rooms only attended by a soldier, and not to go to the village at
all. There seemed to be a great confusion and commotion in the village
and in the castle, but no explanation was given them.

Then, in one night, the Germans were gone.

Village and castle were left empty for scarcely a morning, and then
came French troops, in hot pursuit from the victory of the Marne.

From the victory of the Marne--there had been a victory, a great
victory! What a thing to hear, after their almost hopeless days!
Hopelessness had been so black and close about them. And now it was
lifted, dispersed, in a moment, by a word. Here come their own people
crying victory. In their own tongue, their own men, dressed in blue,
told them of victory.

Those things the Germans had said were not true. They had never
believed, but now they knew. To think of looking into the faces of
friends, of talking with friends! The humblest little soldier was a
friend, the most wonderful of all things.

Rémy, who had all his life been distant and cold, was inexpressibly
happy to wring a friend's hand, and sit with him, or pace the floor
with him, and smoke with him.

What a pleasure to give all one had to friends!

How happy Claire was to help scrub and cook for friends!

It was a madness of relief and joy.

There was little time for thinking about it though. The new possession
of the château was a desperately risky thing.

But these were friends, to suffer with and die with, if need be.
Nothing could be as terrible as in those past days of isolation among
enemies. Among friends they met what came.

In a few hours death and destruction were upon everything. And then,
day after day, day after day, the battle raged along the river and
under the edge of the hills; the sound of the cannon grew to be a
familiar part of the nights and days; the screech of a shell was no
longer strange.

The Germans had withdrawn to the strongholds of the marble quarries,
just above the village. The village was crossed by the two fires. The
poor people were killed in their little houses.

Men who went up on the château roofs to reconnoitre, were brought back
dead. An officer was killed by a shell on the terrace, under the big
chestnut tree.

Claire had to leave her tower room, and next day it had fallen with
all the roofs of the east wing of the castle. Two men were killed in
the fall of the east wing roofs, and the chestnut tree of the terrace,
that had shaded generations of pleasant dreaming, was struck down under
falling of tiles and stone.

They established the staff of the Etat-Major for greater safety in the
cellars.

More than half the village was destroyed in those days. Claire and her
husband lodged the homeless people as best they could in the dairy, the
ground floor of the château was already crowded with the officers, and
the stables and farm-buildings with the men.

For Rémy and Claire there was left one room, not too exposed, on the
first floor.

From the window of it, together, one night, they watched the burning
of a village over across the valley. It was a village of nearly all
thatched roofs: it must have caught fire from the shells, and in that
one night it was burnt to the ground.

As she and Rémy stood in the window, with nothing left about them but
ruin and death, she remembered how, just before all this, they had
thought they were come to the end of their life together; they had
thought they were nothing to one another any more. And then suddenly
they had come to be everything to each other. How could they either of
them have borne it without the other?

Now their intense, their desperate solitude, together, was at an end.
Others had come to share with them the burden of these things. There
were others to whom they could turn now for comradeship. All of it was
horrible, but now the world was again about them, life was opening its
ways again.

She wondered, standing there by him, if, when some day the dreadful
sounds of war were ceased and there was given them a chance to take
up what they might of life again and go on with it--would they go on
with it together? She wondered if he knew of what she was thinking as
they stood there side by side? They had now become used to feeling one
another's thoughts.

She was thinking that surely, after this, whatever happened they would
have to go on with it together? They had gone through too much together
ever again to break away. She would not have it otherwise, oh, not for
all the world would she have had it otherwise. But she was wondering,
if the great need passed, and life became small again, would they
be changed enough? Would all this they had gone through have given
them greatness enough to face, down length of days, the little things
together?


Hospital, Monday, June 12th

We never see them well. As soon as they are better at all they send
them downstairs to the convalescent ward, and from there they are
marked for other hospitals, and in a day or two, one morning, I come to
find them gone. The men who were evacuated at the beginning of Verdun
did not even make the halt of the ward downstairs. And now those first
Verdun men are gone, all but the very worst of them, to make place for
men from, we don't know where.

The boy with the almond-shaped eyes is one of those who are left.
He was much better for days, and now he has gone down again. He is
tuberculous, and that is why he never will get well. He lies sunk down
in the bed, a very small heap with closed eyes and one cheek always
bright red. His father and mother have come up from the country, from
somewhere in Normandy; they sit together beside his bed and look at
him. His mother wears a dress of the richest black silk, that must
have been the gala dress of her family for two or three generations,
and a cap of lace that the smartest lady in Paris would be proud of.
His father wears a black satin Sunday smock, of which the yoke is
embroidered wonderfully. They have dressed themselves in their very
best to come and sit by their boy, who scarcely notices them.

I like to think how happily the new Number 4--we call them all new
since Verdun began--went off, with his one leg. He will have a
wooden stick leg and be able to get about splendidly in his meadows
of the High Loire. To-day he showed me a little photograph of his
wife, in close-bound muslin cap and folded neckerchief. Her face is
like the face of the Madonna in the simple calm pure paintings of the
old masters. I said, "She is perfectly beautiful." He said, "Oh, no,
madame, she is only a peasant, and not young. It is not even a good
photograph. And it is all cracked and rubbed, madame sees, because I
have worn it all the time of the war, sewn in my coat."

Little Charles is always left--poor little Charles, well used to the
confusion of departures and arrivals.

As I was leaving to-day at noon, the mother and father of the boy with
the almond-shaped eyes got up from beside his bed and stopped me. The
father, who has almond-shaped eyes too, asked if they might have a word
with me when no one could hear. Their gala finery made them the more
pathetic, confused, and timid, strangers in such strange times and
place.

We went out into the corridor, the three of us, and stood by the door
of Madame Bayle's linen-room.

The father asked me, whispering, if I thought that the people of the
hospital were fond of the boy? He said that he and the mother were
obliged to go back that night to the farm, and did I think that these
people they must leave their boy with were fond of him?


Saturday, June 24th

The boy with the almond-shaped eyes is dead. He died day before
yesterday. I have been ill and not at the hospital these days, and I
did not know. I went back to the hospital only this afternoon.

His father and mother arrived too late, this morning. They had had
scarcely time to reach the farm in Normandy, when one of the house
doctors, a kind man, wrote to tell them to come back. At the bureau
they made a mistake in the address they gave the doctor, and his letter
was returned to him in the post the day before the boy died. The doctor
telegraphed then, but it was too late.

I do not know who told the father and mother when they came this
morning. I do not know where they are to-day--this day so terrible
for them in the great strange city. I would have liked to find them.
Madame Marthe says they were surely allowed to go and see their boy,
where he is, but not to stay with him.

I think of them, peasant people, confused and strange in city streets,
frightened, belonging to no one, terribly alone, with nowhere to go in
their grief. Where are they gone in their grief? They, to whom nothing
has ever been explained, who are so unable to tell or to ask.


Sunday, June 25th

I was going to the chapel with my flowers, but I met Madame Marthe in
the archway of our court, and she told me it was not there that I would
find him. We went together around behind the chapel and past buildings
that I had never seen before, of the immense world of the hospital.
What a dreadful world in this June sunshiny morning!

A steep, dusty road goes up past outbuildings of the hospital,
workshops, and yards, where there were some green things growing, and
at the top there were a lot of our soldiers waiting at the door of a
low, long house. My poor little hobbling, lopsided blue soldiers, with
their bandages and slings and canes and crutches! I think they are so
beautiful.

The doors of the house were open. Up two steps, and there were the
father and mother, in their black silk and satin, standing beside the
boy. They were perfectly quiet. The strange thing about the grief one
sees in these days, everywhere, is that always it is so perfectly
quiet. The boy looked just as one had seen him so often, sleeping, with
his almond eyes closed. Only there was no fever in his cheeks any more.

The black hearse came up the road with several croquemorts and eight
Republican Guards; they had two crossed palms for the boy, and the flag
to cover him, and the black wooden cross that was to mark his grave.

We followed down the road and across the courts and out of the hospital
gates.

The Sunday morning market was busy and noisy outside in the street,
but a silence seemed to form itself around us as we went between the
barrows and booths of summer country things. Then we went along a wide
avenue that was empty, where the sound of the wheels of the hearse and
of the horses' hoofs seemed solemn and monotonous, and as if it were
something that never would cease. The boy's father and mother trudged
ahead sturdily, with the strong gait of peasants from the fields, and
my wounded dragged along, already tired. It was a long way from the
hospital to the church.

There were many people in the street of the church, and on the church
steps, and the church inside was crowded. It is the church of an
irreligious quarter, but it was crowded.

A big Suisse with his mace led us along the aisle, through the throng
of people who stood back from us, to the chapel of Our Lady, behind the
high altar. Many of the Suisses of the churches of this quarter are
gendarmes, needed because the roughs who come into the church would
often make disturbance. The big Suisse had the air of a gendarme,
ordering us.

But now the boy's mother and father were in a place they understood.
There was no need to order them. They knew just what to do. They had
been uncertain elsewhere, timid and bewildered, in the hospital, in the
streets, but in the church they were at home.

The boy's mother motioned me into a chair behind hers. She and I were
the only women: Madame Marthe had had to go back to her work in the
ward. I knelt where she told me to kneel. The boy's father helped the
wounded into the chairs across the chapel aisle from us, and took his
place in front of them. In the aisle, between his father and mother,
the boy had his four lighted tapers and his crossed palms and the flag
of his country.

The priest who said the office was old, and fumbled and murmured. I was
glad that he was slow. It gave a longer time for the father and mother
to rest and be comforted.

The Suisse was rather in a hurry at the end of it, perhaps there was
another funeral waiting. He would have had us follow the priest out
quickly.

But the boy's mother would stop to kneel by the boy for a little
moment, there before the altar of the Blessed Virgin. The boy's father
came and knelt also, on the floor of the aisle.

Two calm figures, they knelt there, the Suisse could not hurry them.
Those who would have carried their boy away stood and waited. We stood
back and waited. The stir up and down of people outside the chapel
gates went on, and all the stirs of the church and the streets and the
world.

The two calm figures knelt, for the moment they were, with their
sorrow, at peace; not strangers here, but at home in the house of that
which did not confuse or frighten them.


The Stain

The maid, who had been Giselle's nurse so short a time ago, opened the
library door and announced, unwillingly, one could see, "Madame la
Marquise de St. Agnan, Madame la Comtesse."

Giselle, in her heavy mourning, stood up from the chair by the window.
She did not go forward to meet Paule.

"It is sweet of you to see me," said Paule, crossing the room to her,
slender and tall and lovely.

The baby-boy and girl who had been playing with some wooden toy
soldiers on the floor in a corner, both scrambled up and trotted over
to their mother.

Paule had never seen them before. She wanted to take them both in her
arms and hold them tight. She thought she could never have let the boy
go.

But Giselle said to the maid, "Honorine, please take the children to
Miss."

They went out with the old woman, who closed the door.

"It was very sweet of you to let me come," repeated Paule, because she
had to say something. It was harder than she had thought possible.

"I have seen no one at all," said Giselle. "But your letter--I don't
know--I wondered----"

They stood looking at one another. Of course, they did not touch one
another's hands.

Suddenly the room seemed to swim about Paule, there was a surging in
her ears. She said, "May I sit down?"

"But I beg you! I am sorry, I can't seem to think of things. Here in
the window?"

Paule dragged the chair out of the light of the sunshiny June morning
into the shadow of the curtain. She was wearing a heavy white lace
veil, but she did not want to face the sunshine.

Giselle threw herself into the chair where she had been sitting before.
Her crape and the traces of many tears upon her face only made her look
the more pathetically young.

"You wondered," said Paule, "if my letter were true, really; if it were
possible that I could honestly write like that of him?"

Giselle nodded her head, not speaking.

Paule saw that it would not have been possible for her to speak. She
saw, what she had been sure she would see, that the younger woman was
suffering intensely. She realized, more than ever what the thing meant
to her Bernard's wife; how for her everything of her memory of him, the
memory she was to keep with her all her life, depended on what she
was to learn in this hour. All the memory she was to keep of her dead
husband depended on it. That she might remember him with tenderness
and solace and peace; or that it must be always with uncertainty and
restlessness, and bitter thoughts. To be able to mourn him fully,
fearlessly; or to go on always tormenting herself with doubt. It was of
desperate importance to her. Paule saw that. She knew that the younger
woman kept silent because she could not speak, not because of any
realization she had of the advantage silence gave her.

Giselle, silent, waited.

The older woman, braving the silence, took the thing up.

"You are going to believe what I tell you. I don't know why you should
believe me, but you will. They all talk of it, but I am the only one
who really knows. And I have got to tell you. The things they say
are true, but with such a difference. I must make you understand the
difference. Since the moment Dolly told me that you knew, I have known
that I must make you understand. I cannot let you misunderstand him
when he is dead."

She was holding her parasol across her knees, her hands in their soft
tan gloves clutching the two ends of it very tight.

"It is rather terribly hard for me to tell you," she said, "harder
even than for you to listen. Remember that, if I seem to go over it
cruelly." She stopped, and Giselle nodded again.

"I must go over it," Paule went on, speaking very fast now, "so that we
can have it all clear between us. Don't you see? He came home here for
six days' leave. He told you he had six days' leave. When he went, at
the end of those six days, you thought it was back to the front he was
gone. Then, _three days after he left you_, he was killed in a bayonet
charge. And his colonel, and some of his friends, said, writing to you
and to other people of him, that it was especially sad to think he had
been killed the _very day he came back from his leave_. So you knew
that his leave had been of eight days, that he had had two days' extra
leave of which he had not told you, spent, you did not know where, or
with whom. And then it happened Dolly spoke to you of seeing him with
me in Evreux the _very_ day before he was killed. And so you knew. She
had spoken of it to lots of people--the way people always say, you
know, 'and I saw him only the day before.' And so every one knew. And
you knew. But I have got to make you understand."

She let go her parasol and, leaning forward into the sunshine, threw
her veil back from her face with her two hands. "I will let you see how
I have suffered," she said, "it is written for you in my face." She was
glad to have the younger woman see how much of her beauty was gone.
"And that I loved him. You know--I must let you know--that I loved him.
I loved him when you were a little schoolroom girl. And he did love
me then." She drew herself up with a sudden flaming of pride. "I will
give myself the comfort of saying that he loved me before he knew you,
Giselle." The flame died down instantly, and she leaned forward, almost
beseechingly. The parasol had fallen to the floor. "But he never loved
me afterwards. From the moment he saw you--I was with him at somebody's
dance the first time he saw you--I knew that for me everything was
finished. Everything was swept away by his love of you. You know that,
don't you?"

"I believed it then," said Giselle, speaking at last, "then, and all
the time, in spite of all the things that people said, until this."

"There was one thing I never let go," Paule went on; "it was the
pitying, protecting tenderness a man who is good like Bernard always
continues to feel for the woman he once loved and who goes on loving
him. I kept that alive, I kept him being sorry for me. There's
reason enough in my life for any one to be sorry for me. And I kept
him feeling that he must protect me, protect me from the blackness of
sorrow that, I let him know always, there was in my heart."

Giselle had turned from her, as if she could not look at her, and sat
staring out of the window to the tops of the trees in the avenue. Her
cheeks were burning, as if the shame of the miserable confession were
her own.

"Do you not see, oh, do you not see?" begged the other woman.

There was a dreadful silence.

Paule took it up again. "And the last thing was the accumulation of the
shame and misery of years. I wish I could make you see, a little, what
it meant to me, that you might not quite despise me. I suppose there is
no excuse. But it had been so dreadful, down there in the country, with
my husband, as he is, you know, ill, needing me, hating me, wanting me
every moment. And all these terrible months of war, nearly two years,
never seeing Bernard, scarcely hearing of him. I made him come. I made
him come by telling him that I was in desperate trouble, that if he did
not come I could not face it. I told him he must tell no one, not even
you: that my trouble was a thing I must keep secret. Against his will,
just by abuse of his kindness I made him give me those two days. I want
you to quite, quite understand that it was only that I loved him, that
he loved you. And that those two days were my theft of time he wanted
to give all to you."

"Oh, don't, don't!" cried Giselle, breaking into it. "You need not tell
me any more." She covered her face with her hands, as if it were she
who was ashamed.

"Some day you will wonder why I have told you," Paule said, "why any
woman should so humiliate herself down to the dust. It is because
you have the right to a beautiful memory of him. You must keep that
beautiful memory of him for yourself and for his children. It belongs
to you, and to his home, and to his children. Never doubt him, Giselle,
and let your sorrow be a beautiful sorrow, because he loved you as you
loved him, perfectly. And in death he is yours. That is all."

She stopped and picked up her parasol. It was a green parasol. She
looked from its bright colour to Giselle's black dress. She shivered a
little and stood up.

Giselle took her hands away from her eyes and stood up, too.

Paule would have turned and gone out of the room, but Giselle caught
her hands and held her, and lifted up her young face from which the
tortured look was gone. She was crying, but tenderly.

For an instant it seemed as if Paule would have drawn away from her.
But then she bent from her lovely height and kissed the younger woman.
Then she went away.

Giselle did not go to the door with her. Old Honorine let her out of
the apartment.

She went down the stairs and out into the avenue, where the leaves of
the trees made large shadows.

As she walked very wearily, she did not know where, she was telling
herself that it was over, that she had done what she could. She had
made poor little Giselle believe her. She had given him to Giselle.

The avenue ahead of her seemed very, very long. She wondered if she
would ever get to the end of it. Her thoughts seemed confused. She
wondered what there was so cruel about Giselle's black dress and her
own green parasol with the parrot handle. She would manage somehow to
make the world believe that story she had told Giselle. She had given
him to Giselle to mourn for. Perhaps that would wipe out some of it.


From Verdun

He was grown so used to his mud-hole, and the straw, and the mushrooms,
and rats, that when he was come into the salon of the house in the Parc
Monceau, and the butler he never had seen before had closed the door
behind him saying, in odd French, that he would go and tell Madame la
Comtesse, he just stood there in the middle of the room and laughed.
He stood there, just as he had come out of the trenches, a most
disreputable figure that once had been blue, and laughed to think that
it was to this, all this, he really belonged. This was his house, and
his wife would be coming in a moment into the room.

The room smelled of sandal-wood and amber. Things in it were of black
lacquer and mauve velvet and dull gold. There were lots of books about
on low tables, and Dolly's gold and amber cigarette things, and white
roses, just the heads broken off, floating in flat bowls of smoky jade.
How like Dolly to have cut off the long stems of the roses and their
lovely thorns and leaves! He really must not laugh. There was one
flame-red vase with a white spirit orchid in it.

Then Dolly came in, as fragile and pale and lovely as the orchid. It
was ten months since he had seen her. How delightfully her hair was
done, and her fingers, rose-tipped like sea-shells! She came to him,
her flower-face lifted.

He said, "Oh, my dear, I am so dirty."

Some one had followed her into the room, a woman in deep mourning. It
was the little Juriac, Lisette de Juriac, and she was quite unchanged.
Not even her heavy crape changed her. How was it possible that she was
not changed? How could she still be beautiful?

She came forward saying, "I was here with Dolly; I could not go, and
not see you. I must stop just a moment to speak to you."

He took her hand and held it, and did not know what to say to her. He
was seeing again that which he had seen not six weeks ago. He had seen
many men die horribly, horribly. But if he thought too much of how his
friend, her husband, had died, kept too vividly, too long, seeing it,
he would go mad. Why was she not gone mad? She had loved her husband,
who had loved her. They had been happy together.

He had a sudden hatred of her because she was not gone mad. Because
there was some becoming white thing about her face to soften the
harshness of the crape, and because there were pearls around her
throat; he had a crazy desire to take her, his two hands clutching her
shoulders, and tell her how René died, tell her the horror, burnt,
burnt, burnt, make her see what he could not stop seeing. Because of
the white frill and the pearls, he wanted to make her see it and feel
it, and go down crushed under the realization of it. He would have made
her ugly, as suffering makes ugly. When she was ugly he would believe
she suffered. He could not move or speak, for he would have seized her
and told her.

She was saying, "You were with him in the attack, you saw him fall,
and you went back and tried to save him." She had her black gloves and
parasol in her hand, and a little black bag, soft, like the gloves. She
was trying to open the little black bag to get something out of it. She
was beginning to cry.

Dolly, saying, "Poor dear, poor dear," took the gloves and parasol from
her and found a scrap of a handkerchief for her in the bag. "Poor dear,
poor dear." She put her arm around Lisette and patted her eyes with the
tiny handkerchief. "Darling, it was a glorious death, you know, like
that, in action, beautiful, the death he would have chosen. Jacques,
tell her."

Tell her? He was trying not to tell her. He stood there looking at his
friend's wife and trying not to tell her of the hands that had moved
and moved, beating and beating the air.

"Tell her how fearless he was," Dolly was saying, "and how proud she
must be of him."

Oh, yes, there was that. He thought of the words they always use. He
said, "He died for his country."

She was crying only a little, but with really piteous tears. He knew
that after a while, when he was himself a little farther from it,
he would be sorry for her. Her dimpled chin quivered and her throat
throbbed under the pearls. She looked at him, her eyes big with tears,
and, half sobbing, said, "You were with him just before the attack, the
last to speak with him."

"Yes, we were together."

She was waiting for him to tell her something. But there was nothing
to tell her. He had again that other craziness. Now he was afraid that
he would laugh. They had been crouching behind a heap of dead men, in
the terrible dusk of cannon smoke and the noise that never ceased. He
remembered they had been eating something. There had risen a wild,
strange shriek through the noise of the cannon, and they had leaped up,
had shrieked, and been over the sandbags.

Lisette was waiting, and while he tried to think, she said, "Was he
speaking of me? Were his last words for me?"

"He was always thinking of you, I know, Lisette." That he could say
eagerly, intensely--only why need she have it put into words? "You were
his whole life, Lisette."

She lifted her head with a quite perfect gesture, and smiled, her eyes
bright, the tears gone from them. "I was his whole life," she said,
"and he died for his country." There was no more sob in her voice. She
said, "He was so young and splendid, and he had always been so happy.
He had so much to live for. He gave up so much with his life for his
country. He leaves such a beautiful memory. I can say, 'His life was
the woman who loved him, and for his country he died.' It is beautiful.
That is the only comfort of it all, that it is beautiful." She broke
off and began again, "I'm glad I saw you, Jacques, you have helped me,
I'm so unhappy." She put the little handkerchief back in the bag, and
took up her gloves and parasol. "Now I will leave you," she said. "Poor
boy, you must be too tired to talk. How wonderful for Dolly to have
you! Perhaps you will come with her to-morrow--they have persuaded me
to lend my ballroom for just a little music for the blind. Dolly dear,
you'll not fail me? You know I count on you to look after people. I am
going to hide away in some little corner. Isn't it strange," she said
to Jacques, "how life goes on?"

Dolly and he went to the door with her. There was no one in the big
hall.

Dolly said, "That man is really too stupid."

Lisette said, "You are lucky to have a man-servant at all."

"What a lovely sunset!" said Dolly in the open door.

"Yes," said Lisette, "isn't it?"

"Your car is there?"

"Yes; good-bye, Dolly darling; good-bye, Jacques, and thank you."

As they turned back from the door, Dolly said, "Poor little thing,
isn't she lovely in her mourning?"

She put her arm through his as they went across the hall together. "I'm
so glad to have you, Jacques," she said, "you can't imagine, and I'm so
proud of you. You don't forget me there, Jacques; you love me just as
you always did?"

He was thinking. Six days' leave, perhaps two days extended. In nine
days Dolly might be wearing a little white frill inside a veil of heavy
crape, and just her pearls. And she would say to people that he had
been all her life, and that it was the death he would have chosen. And
in six weeks she would let the salon be used for just a little music
for the blind.

"Do you know," she said as they went up the stairs together, "it was
most beautiful, that thing Lisette said, her little summing up of it:
'His whole life was the woman who loved him, and for his country he
died.' It made me think, you know, of Dante, those four lines of Pia
dei Tolomei."

At the top of the stairs she turned to him, a step or two above him,
standing higher than he. "Look at me, Jacques, and tell me I have not
changed, and that you love me. What are you laughing at?"

"Nothing." He came up the steps and took her hands, and kissed the
fingers of first one hand then the other. "These last weeks I have been
always laughing; you must not mind. And, dear, I'm so glad you do your
hair like that, and remember things from Dante, and play with the tips
of roses, and that you do not understand."


Sunday, July 2nd

Last night Paris streets heard the cannon of the great prelude. The
breeze, that was fresh and sweet from the country, brought in the
sound of the cannon. In the silence of the night the streets listened.
It was a sound regular and even. If Time were a great clock the sound
of its ticking would be like that, on and on. If there were one great
pulse that beat for all the life of the world, its throb would be like
that, unceasing, relentless. It seemed like something that had always
been, that always would be. It seemed as if one were used to it, had
always been accustomed to the burden of sound that, the whole night
through, the sweet fresh breeze brought in to Paris, and would have to
go on bearing it always.

But when the city stopped listening, and took up its way again with the
morning, the sound of the battle was lost in the small immediate sounds
of the day's life.

In the trees I look to from my window, there was a great disturbance of
birds, field birds and forest birds, driven into the city by the smoke
and thunder that possess their land.

My hospital is almost empty. In all the wards there are waiting rows
of empty beds, a nightshirt folded on each pillow. Rows of empty beds
waiting----


Monday, July 3rd

This is a dark day, the colour of battles, for battles are not of
scarlet and gold, only dark.

It is as if the darkness of the day and the darkness of the smoke of
battle are terribly mingled together.


Tuesday, July 4th

The people who went to that church were proud, they were very proud of
him, he had died so beautifully. Each one of them was proud to say, "He
was my friend," or "I knew his people," or "I saw him once," or just,
"He was an American." He had died for an ideal they all had sight of.

It was only a memorial service. There were only the two flags, the flag
of France and the Stars and Stripes, in the aisle before the altar. He
was lying somewhere inside the enemy lines, as he had fallen.

They of the air, they go so far; and if they fall, it is perhaps a
little more sad and lonely because it may be where no one of their own
can go to them. Perhaps the enemy have laid a wreath there on the
place where he fell, as they do sometimes, those men of the air, to
honour one another's memory. They say on the inscription of the wreaths
sometimes: "To our enemy who died for his country." For this boy they
would need to say another thing, "To our enemy who died for his ideal."
I think that we, in the church, were not sorry, but were glad for him,
that we were envying him--we who only live.


Invaded Town, Wednesday, July 5th

To-day I was shown a letter that came--I was not told by what
means--from one of the invaded towns of the North. It was the letter
of a girl who with her father kept an old book-shop in the Place de
l'Eglise. It was written to her sister, married in Paris, from whom
they had had no news since the war began, but to whom they had managed
to get word through--I do not know how--once or twice.

The letter, received only yesterday, was dated January 16. It told of
a thing that had been vaguely rumoured here, that the papers had not
mentioned, and that had passed for the most part unbelieved. The girl
supposed her sister would have heard, and would be terrified for them,
and was anxious to let her know that they were safe. I imagine the girl
with a smooth blonde head and grave blue eyes, and the father, thin
and stooping, with delicate white features and white hair, and a black
skull-cap.

The letter began by saying that they were very well, and that the house
was but slightly damaged. Aunt Emeline was with them, as her house was
quite in ruins: she had been got out from behind the falling of the
stair wall. It was impossible to go to the house of Cousine Thérèse,
but she was safe with the children at the neighbour Payen's. The whole
family had escaped miraculously. The girl said that in the midst of
such terrible suffering they were ashamed to have suffered scarcely at
all. It seemed as if they were not bearing their part of the sacrifice.

She had thought, that night, it was the house falling, and she had
leaped out of bed, thinking she must go to her father. The shock had
lasted ten seconds. She had had time to get in the dark half-way across
the rocking floor, and to realize it was not only the house but the
whole city that was rent and sundered. She had had time to think, "It
must be an earthquake."

"That is what _they_ tried, at first, to say it was," she wrote, "an
earthquake. _But we know that it was an explosion brought about by one
of us._ It was the Arsenal and the casemates of the eighteen bridges
full of powder, between the three chief gates of the town, that were
blown up. It was one of their most important depôts of munitions,
where they had stored enough powder and high explosives to feed their
Northern army for ten months. No one knows who did it. They have posted
up offers of high reward for any one who finds the author of what they
now call 'the criminal accident.'

"In all the towns of the North, where windows were broken and doors
torn out of their frames, and where it was at first thought to be
an earthquake, they have now put up posters on the walls, in their
language and ours, demanding information about the 'criminal.'

"But even if there are some who know, not one will betray. Moreover, he
is surely safe from betrayal, dead and buried somewhere under the ruins
he himself caused for the sake of his country."

The letter went on to tell of the town so sacrificed: streets and
quarters destroyed entirely, not a house anywhere but was more or less
injured, the least harmed streets deep in broken glass and blocked with
fallen tiles and stones. The whole town was become a place of homeless
and wounded and dead.

The young girl kept repeating that no one complained; it was for the
sake of their country. The homeless people in the streets said to one
another, "It is less than our soldiers suffer in the trenches."

She wrote of things she had seen in that night: a father carrying his
boy, of perhaps fifteen years, in his arms, not believing he was dead;
a woman they could not get near, under the ruins, alive, her child
killed beside her; a woman gone mad, running in the streets, shrieking
a man's name; another woman, running also, with her baby in her arms,
begging every one she met to mend it, for its head had been cut off.

All the less unhappy people had taken in the homeless; of the
inhabitants of all the ruined houses, by the next night less than fifty
were left to the care of the town.

The girl wrote: "The people of the town are admirable, the homeless
with the rest; we know that the sacrifice is for our country, and we
make it gladly. The terrible suffering of the town is offered up for
victory and peace."

She went on to tell of little things: "Your room we have given to a
mother with three babies; I have Aunt Emeline with me, sleeping in
father's room, for mine is not safe--the roof of the next house has
fallen against its roof. Father sleeps in the room behind the shop,
and in the shop we have found place to take in ten of the destitute.
The shock threw most of the books out of their cases, and loosened the
cases from the walls, so that we have had to prop them up. The books
are heaped out of the way of the mattresses of the homeless. I thought
father would worry about the books; you know, he has always felt them
to be live things; but he has no thought for them. He is in the Place
all day, trying to help clear away the glass and stones. The tower of
the church has fallen all across the Place. All the windows in the town
are broken, and there is no glass to be had for mending them. We live
behind paper windows, in a gloom that does depress one."

The letter went from one subject to another, nervously and rather
confusedly. She told of immense blocks of stone, hurled from great
distances into the streets; of the fronts of houses ripped out, and the
stories dropped or sagging; of Aunt Emeline's poor little belongings
all lost--the portrait of great-grandfather; how the enormous factories
of ---- and ---- had served as a screen to protect the town, or else it
had been destroyed completely; of one of the little homeless children
in the book-shop who kept all the time saying her prayers, "Little
Jesus, stay with us; little Jesus, stay with us," and how her name was
Cecilette; of the bitter cold that made it all more cruel; and, always,
how they were proud to offer up the sacrifice for their country.
She sent her love, and her father's, always more and more tenderly.
It seemed as if their love for Mariette, of whom they had no word,
increased every day. She kept saying over and over how proud the town
was, to have made the sacrifice; and what a brave thing for, perhaps,
one man alone to have brought about.


That Naughty Little Boy

It was that naughty little boy who was killed, to whose funeral she
went this morning in the church of St. Augustin. That naughty little
boy--grown up, wandered far, always a "bad case," come home because
there was war, and gone out with the rest--is dead magnificently.

He was shot down leading an attack upon the works of Thiaumont; they
say his men would have followed him anywhere. Think of that naughty
little boy, grown up to become a leader men were proud to follow unto
death!

He used to pull her hair, and pinch her, and make faces to frighten her
until she cried. His Miss never could manage him. His Miss and hers
were friends, as were his mother and her mother, and she was obliged to
play with him. She was terrified of him, but he had wonderful toys that
she adored, especially the popgun and rocking-horses. Sometimes when he
was being punished, she was left alone with his toys, and was happy.
Sometimes he would be nice for a minute, and want to kiss and make up,
and let her ride the big rocking-horse.

She was remembering it all this morning in the church.

Through all the years between she had never seen him, and for her he
was still the bad little boy. It was the big rocking-horse she was
particularly remembering in the church.

There was a crowd in the church. There was a whole firmament of
candles; the church was hung with flags, and full of flowers. The
tricolour and the palms were laid upon his bier. And upon the bier also
there was laid his blue cap and jacket, stained and faded and torn by
shell, and his Croix de Guerre and Légion d'Honneur.

There were all his people in the church, mourning for him. For years
none of them had seen him or spoken of him. But now they were all come
to do him honour. The world, that had turned a cold shoulder on him,
was come to kneel beside his blue jacket and his medals.

She remembered vaguely hearing something about some woman he had loved,
and who had loved him, for whom he had been exiled. She wondered if
that woman had been in the church, that woman who could have no place
among his people. If she were there, it must have been in the dusk of
some aisle chapel, apart and alone.

Naughty little boy, despair of every governess; mauvais sujet, who had
erred so far out of the paths of his world; soldier of France, who
fought and led and fell--there he had lain in state, honoured of all,
under his flag and palms.

Now it is over, the bad and the good of it, and of all is left only the
blue cap and jacket, and the medals of war.


Little Mild Gentleman

The little mild gentleman of teacups and cakes--so useful when there
were people who simply had to be asked--always ready to fill a place,
considerate of old ladies--of course, they did not want him at the
Front. He had rather bad lungs, or something, and was shortsighted at
that; it was absurd of him even to try to get out--no army doctor would
pass him.

After months and months of effort, he at last succeeded in getting
himself taken on for ammunition work and the making of poison gases.

Somebody met him the other day, strutting along in his blue coat and
red trousers. Very hurried and important, he had yet to stop and
tell all about it, his tea-party manner quite vanished away, his
shortsighted eyes no longer mild.

"It is I who tell you," he said, "I who know well, there will not a
single one of them be left alive within miles and miles of this new
stuff we are making."


Gossip

Since his death she has been nursing in a typhus hospital, somewhere
just behind the lines. It is now more than ten months. No one has seen
her, scarcely any one has heard from her. Some people say that she is
doing "wonderful work" and some people say that it is all pose, and
some people say that she has an affair with the chief doctor of the
hospital, or is it with the maire of the town? No one has seen her, but
every one says she has lost her looks.

She used to be very pretty, and a great favourite in the world. She
looked absurdly like her two babies.

The babies are at the château with their grandmother, his mother, who
is an invalid--two lovely cherubs at the age of Russian blouses.

The house off the Avenue du Bois, that used to be one of the most
charming in Paris, has been closed since the war.

He enlisted when the war broke out, as a common soldier of infantry.
It certainly was chic of him, for he was réformé because of some grave
enough trouble of the heart, and he might easily have kept out of it
all, or have got something showy but not dangerous. However, he took a
humble place, and his share of great hardship. He had been accustomed
all his life to everything that belongs to wealth and rank, and his
share of the burden must have been very heavy for him.

People said: How proud of him she must be. He had always been thought a
little dull, a dear boy, but perhaps a little dull; one would not have
dreamed he had it in him.

People said: They had always been such a devoted couple, an ideal
young couple. How sad it would be if anything happened to him.

In spite of the difficulties due to his being réformé, he got out at
last to the Front. He was wounded only a short time after, not in any
attack, or with any glory, but in bringing up the comrades' soup to the
trenches. It was a shell wound in the thigh, not especially dangerous.
He was invalided straight through to Paris, to one of the big city
hospitals, and put, of course, in the ward with other common soldiers.

It was a moment of terrible crowding of the hospitals: doctors and
nurses were overworked; there was necessarily much confusion. It was no
one's fault, perhaps, only the inevitableness of things, that for three
days the Surgeon Major had no time himself to attend to the less badly
wounded.

The man with the wound in the thigh asked nothing of any one. He did
not even ask, they say, to have his people sent for.

They were all down at the château; it was only after forty-eight hours
that they got word of what had happened to him and where he was.

His wife came up to town. His mother, of course, was not able to come,
and it had not seemed worth while to bring the little boys.

That was when he had been for two days in the hospital.

Here is a part of the thing that people say they do not understand.

It seems as if his wife might have had him moved out of the common
ward. It is a little dreadful to think of him there, who had always
been used to so much luxury--among the grey blankets, the coarse grey
sheets, the beds and stretcher-beds crowded together, a bottle of the
hospital champagne on the night-table, the black man in the next bed
screaming. She might, it would seem, have had in their own doctor, or
any one of the big doctors. She surely might have got permission to
stay in the ward and sit by him the night he died.

He died the night after the operation. They had amputated too late.
It was only the third day that the chief saw him. They amputated next
morning, and he died in the night.

In that hospital they do not put a screen about the bed of one who dies.

If only some one had done something while there was time. It seems
such a sad waste of a life, and such a dreary end. You see he had had
no glory. It was for bringing up the comrades' soup that he had died.
There were no medals to be left after him, with his blue coat and his
cap. I suppose there was just one of those coarse grey sheets drawn up
over him till they carried him out of the ward.

Some people say he did not want to live. But then he was probably too
ill to concern himself much about anything. Some people say his wife
did not want him to live. But then she may have been too confused and
stunned to be able to concern herself about anything. Some people say
she loved another man, and some people say he loved another woman.

Well, from him no one will ever know. It appears also as if no one were
likely ever to know from her.

And now, no one sees her or hears from her any more.

His mother, who for a time would not speak of her, says now only
that her devotion in the typhus hospital is wonderful, and her
self-sacrifice; that she renders incalculable service there, and is
above all praise.

That much is true.

And people give all sorts of different, amazing reasons for it.

They all agree, however, upon one point--that she has lost her looks
completely.


Smoke

Suddenly, as the motor was passing the Place de la Concorde, Valérie
said, "Would you mind if we just went home? I should like to go home."

Of course Nanette could only say that she did not mind.

Valérie had invited her to drive in the Bois and have tea at the little
chalet of gaufres, by the gate of the Pré Catelan; she had her mother's
motor car for the afternoon, and they need not take anybody with them.
Nanette had thought it would be such fun, just the two of them, without
governesses or maids. She had been looking forward to it for days.

Nanette was still in the schoolroom, whereas Valérie, nearly two years
older, had escaped from all that. The younger girl admired Valérie
immensely. They had seen a good deal of one another three years before
in a summer at Dinard. Then the difference between their ages had
mattered less; but now, dividing the schoolroom girl with her hair just
tied back from the girl who would have been going out if war had not
ended the world, it invested Valérie with a glamour of romance for the
little Nanette. The romance, moreover, was heightened by the fact that
people talked rather much of the older girl and coupled her name most
unhappily with that of a man she never could marry, who was proving
himself to be one of the heroes of the war.

Nanette would have been very proud to have had tea in the Bois with her
beautiful friend. She said she did not mind turning back, but she did
mind rather. She thought it odd indeed of Valérie to change like that.
And Valérie's way of saying it was so odd, as if she had been all the
time trying to keep it back and could not.

Valérie spoke through the tube to the chauffeur, and he turned the car.

She, Valérie, talked much and fast as they went back to the rue de
Varennes, but she did not tell why she had changed her mind so suddenly.

The court of the old hôtel seemed more than usually boring and solemn
to Nanette, and also the dim grave stairway. She would rather have had
tea in the salon of the peacock tapestries, but Valérie told the old
man-servant to bring it up to her little sitting-room.

She went in at her own door ahead of Nanette, and looked about her as
if for something she expected to find in the room. She seemed so odd
that Nanette just stood back against the door watching her.

After quite a minute Valérie turned to her and said, "Tell me, does it
not seem to you that there is smoke in the room?"

The room was full of the afternoon July sunshine. The window that gave
on to the garden was open. There were some arum lilies in a vase, and
their fragrance was heavy in the sunshine.

"Why, no," said Nanette, "there is no smoke here."

Valérie began moving about the room aimlessly. As she moved here and
there she was taking off her long suède gloves that Nanette admired.

"It is very queer," she said, never looking at Nanette, "but for days,
three days, it has seemed to me all the time that my room was full of
smoke. I see it and smell it. At first I thought something must be
burning somewhere. But there was nothing. Besides, it is not that sort
of smoke. It is the smoke of gunpowder."

She had thrown her gloves down on a chair, and was taking off her hat.
She pulled the pins out of it, one after the other, and took it off,
and thrust the pins back into it. "It is quite different from other
smoke," she said, "there is no doubting what it is."

"Gunpowder smoke! Oh, but Valérie----"

Valérie went on, "Sometimes the smoke is so thick in the room that I
cannot make my way about; it burns my eyes most dreadfully, it gets
into my throat and chokes me, it makes me cry." She tossed her hat
into the chair with her gloves, and turned to the mirror over the
mantelpiece, and stood with her hands up, fluffing out her lovely gold
hair. "It is not only that I cry because I am frightened," she said,
"it is also that the smoke actually hurts my throat and eyes."

Nanette, standing behind her, could see her face in the mirror and
thought it was become curiously stiff and dull. Valérie's lovely face,
usually so full of expression, had become quite blank.

It was dreadful. The younger girl was afraid of--she did not know what.
She could think of nothing that would have been of any use to say. She
knew the older girl was telling her this thing only because she had to
tell it to some one.

"You see," Valérie continued, "that is why I wanted to come home. I
cannot bear to be long away from my room, because I am so afraid of
missing the moment." She had turned back from the mirror, and stood
looking past Nanette.

"The moment?" Nanette repeated, as she did not go on.

"Yes, the moment when the smoke will lift. It is every time more dense.
There will be a time when it quite, quite blinds me, and then I shall
see." She sat down in the chair that was nearest her. She sat limply,
leaning back against the cushions, her hands lying loosely together in
her lap.

Nanette had been standing all the time just inside the door. Now she
came nearer, but not quite close, and she did not sit down. It was as
if there were something encircling Valérie and keeping every one and
everything apart from her. Nanette thought of the spells cast about
fairy-tale princesses, a circle of magic drawn around, that no one
could step across.

Valérie sat rigid, her eyes staring. The clock on the chimney began to
strike five.

Nanette sprang forward. "Valérie, Valérie, what is the matter?" But
Valérie did not hear her.

Nanette caught her hand. It was icy cold. "Valérie, Valérie!" She let
the cold hand go, and touched her cheek.

But Valérie did not feel the touch.

Nanette flew to the door and opened it and called into the passage,
"Jeanne-Marie, Jeanne-Marie!"

The old Bretonne nurse came instantly out from her door down the
passage.

"Jeanne-Marie, quick, something has happened to mademoiselle."

The old woman passed her, and was beside Valérie. "God and the saints!
It has came again!" she cried. She put her arms about Valérie and the
girl fell stiffly against her shoulder. "Oh, my lamb, my little lamb!"

"Is she dead?" implored Nanette. "Jeanne-Marie, is she dead?"

"No, no, it has happened before. Go call Francine, quick."

The maid was already at the door; she must have heard the excited
voices.

The old nurse said to the maid, "Help me get her to the sofa." To
Nanette she said, "Go away, mademoiselle; you must go away."

Nanette besought, "No, oh, no!"

But the maid said, "Please, mademoiselle, Jeanne-Marie knows," and
pushed her out of the room as if she had been a child.

Nanette, terribly frightened, waited outside in the passage, walking up
and down.

After a long while Francine came and told her that mademoiselle was
herself again, but very tired and must rest.

From her own home, an hour later, Nanette telephoned, and was told that
mademoiselle was asleep.

The next day Valérie sent asking her to come about five o'clock.

Nanette was taken first to Valérie's mother, in the drawing-room.

The marquise was as stately and frigid as usual, dressed for the
street, rather hurried and most difficult to talk to.

She told Nanette that she was troubled about the fright she must have
had yesterday, and asked her not to speak to any one of what had
occurred. She looked at Nanette through her tortoiseshell lorgnon, and
asked if Valérie had been talking to her of anything in particular
before she fainted. "Had she been agitating herself with any special
confidences?" she asked.

"No," faltered Nanette, wondering.

The marquise went on to explain that Valérie was very much run down
just now and nervous, and, in these last days, had had one or two
fainting spells, such as that of yesterday, but less grave. She again
asked Nanette not to speak of it. She appeared more concerned about
people knowing of it, and about something she evidently feared Nanette
might have imagined, than about what had happened to Valérie.

Nanette was anxious only to get to Valérie, who wanted her.

She found a little white Valérie snuggled down in the pillows of the
big rose-hung bed. She seemed very quiet and rested, not strange as she
had been yesterday, only tired. Her brown eyes looked bigger than ever,
dark-circled, and her golden hair was very soft and curly about her
face, like a child's hair.

She made Nanette sit close to her, and held her hand while she told her
strange things, as if they were not strange at all.

When she spoke of yesterday it was as if she were speaking of something
that happened very long ago. "I ought not to have brought you home
with me," she said, "but you see I was afraid then. I was afraid to
be alone. I knew the smoke was going to lift, I knew I was going to
be shown something, and I was afraid to go through it alone. Old
Jeanne-Marie is a darling, but she is different, of course. And mother
would have been so annoyed if I had spoken of him. Mother has known all
the time how unhappy we were, you see, and was always awfully annoyed
about it."

Nanette, half understanding, could only say, as Valérie paused, "I am
so frightened about you."

"Poor Nanette! You must not be frightened, for I am not frightened any
more. It is all going to be well, very soon. Only I have got to tell
you about it, because I am so lonely. I must tell some one. I am not a
bit unhappy any more, but just to-day lonely. I have got to tell you,
though it is selfish of me."

"I love you to tell me, please, Valérie."

"I was terribly unhappy," Valérie went on, "when I thought it was only
he who would die. I knew, the moment I realized it was gunpowder smoke,
that he was going to be killed. I knew that the smoke would lift for me
when the moment came, and that then I should see him die."

"Valérie, oh, Valérie!"

"But you need not be sad for me, Nanette, because there is a thing I
know that makes it all quite beautiful and right." She lifted herself
up from the pillows, still holding Nanette's hand; the two heavy gold
braids of her hair fell over her shoulders. "You see, we never could
have been happy together, he and I," she said, "there would have been
nothing but unhappiness for us both, always. I must tell you what I
saw. I must have some one know, and you seem to understand things. You
will not speak of it, till afterwards. And now, as I am telling you,
you will not interrupt me, will you? You will not say any of the things
most people would say, to break into my peace?" She stopped and waited,
looking at Nanette intensely.

Nanette could not speak at all.

But Valérie must have understood, for she told it. She told it always
quietly, as if she had passed beyond any shock or grief or sense of its
strangeness: "The smoke was all about him, and about them; he and they
had to fight blindly. They fought with bayonets. It was in the street
of a village; I saw the cobbles under his feet, and a broken doorstep.
He fought and fought. It seemed very long; he was quite alone to fight
against so many of them. There were blue heaps behind him on the
cobbles; I could make out just vaguely through the smoke. I think they
were his comrades, wounded and dead. The others, the grey ones, were
too many. I saw their grey shapes and their bayonets, and his wounds. I
saw his face, just as he went down. His face was all alight, as it was
the last time I saw him." Her own eyes were shining when she stopped,
and her voice was like a singing.

In the quiet of the room Nanette waited, as if there were some spell
she was afraid to break.

Valérie told her: "The last time I saw him was when he went out, nearly
two years ago. I knew the station he would be passing through, with
just some minutes there; and I went, and waited for him. I did not care
if people knew. I ran to him in the crowd, and he saw me, and he said,
'Why, my Valérie, it is you!' as if there were a miracle. In my vision,
his face was just as it had been then. There was no sound at all in my
vision, but from his face, as he died, I knew he was saying, 'Why, my
Valérie, it is you!'" Her warm, live hand held Nanette's hand steadily.
"I know that I shall go to meet him, that I shall be waiting for him
when he dies; I _know_, Nanette. I know because of the look there was
in his face. I shall be waiting there, and he shall see me. And so I
have no grief or fear." She was patting Nanette's hand to comfort her.
"Is not it strange, Nanette; to-day I have a letter from him, a sad
letter. And I have written him a happy one, and he will not understand
why at all. He does not know how soon we will be together. I cannot
tell him. And I am lonely waiting, now I know. Nanette, I am so glad
that it is I who will go first."

Perhaps, when she is older, Nanette will have to wonder if there was
something she might have done.

But nothing would have made any difference.

In the next days they had many doctors. But none of the doctors knew
what it was, or could do anything.

A week from the day when the smoke had lifted, Nanette sent arum
lilies for old Jeanne-Marie to put into Valérie's hands.

And three days after that, the man Valérie never could have married was
killed.

He had gone down, it was known afterwards, in house-to-house fighting,
in a street of the village of X----.


Hospital, Saturday, July 8th

Some new ones are arrived from the Somme, only ten for my ward, the
orderly told me at the gate. They were brought in at four o'clock this
morning. The orderly, Hamond, said, "They are nothing so bad as the
Verduns."

When I came to the top of the stairs, Madame Marthe was in the
corridor, waiting for Madame Bayle to come and unlock the linen-press.
She looked very tired already, at the beginning of the day, and she was
walking up and down between the stairs and the door of our ward, not
able to keep still for a minute.

She told them off on her small fine fingers, stained with iodine: "Two
heads, one of them has a bad leg-wound also; one amputé of the arm,
infected; two of the leg, infected both of them; two faces; a bad
chest-wound, bullet; other two slight. Zut! that Madame Bayle, will
she never come! Run over to the store-house and tell them I have got to
have tubes and funnels to feed the 9 and 14. See that they give them to
you, whatever fuss they make, tell them it is for very bad faces. Quick
now, the chief has been around, and they are going to trepan the worst
head this morning."


Hospital, Sunday, July 9th

The man they trepanned yesterday will not keep still; he worries about
everything. They say he is doing well, but he talks all the time. They
told me to sit by him and try to make him stay quiet. At first he held
my hand and seemed to rest, but he would not shut his eyes, and after a
little he began to talk again.

He was worried because he thought I had not enough to eat; he thought,
because I was so thin, that I must be very poor. He said he had some
biscuits and some rillettes de Tours done up together in a piece of
newspaper. The package had been in his musette when he went into the
charge. Where was his musette? He would have me go and find it, and eat
the biscuits, and the rillettes de Tours. He worried because he had
fallen back into a trench deep with water, and the newspaper package
might have got wet. But I must not mind that, he said, it was better
than starving. What had they done with his musette? I must go and get
it. And I must not mind taking his biscuits and rillettes de Tours, for
he was not hungry at all.


Monday, July 10th

All day long there has been sunshine, and the sky has been blue.
There were great white clouds that mounted up over the city, and that
one kept imagining was the smoke of battle. The blue of the sky was
wonderful, infinite and near, like something of music or of religion,
and the sunshine was like golden wine. But those soft white puffs of
cloud were terrible.

At the top of the Champs Elysées, behind the Arch, the clouds were
driven up as if it were from the mouths of cannon.

It must be just like that the smoke is rising in the sunshine over the
high edge of a field I used to know. They say that field is laid across
everywhere with railroad tracks, along which monster grey cannon crawl
up to their positions, and crawl back across again when their work is
done. Hundreds of horses are corralled in the field, and everywhere
there are dotted little white tents. Sometimes black faces come to the
openings of the tents, and one would think of the Village Nègre people
went to see in Magic City, ages and ages ago.

It seems strange that when the great white clouds mounted up from
behind the Arch of Triumph, the city did not rock beneath them. It
seems strange that the great white clouds rose silently and really were
only clouds.


Thursday, July 13th

People in the streets go slowly, looking up at the flags, and stopping
to stand. They speak to one another wherever they happen to be standing
together, and say that they hope to-morrow will be a fine day.

The streets are getting ready for to-morrow, hanging out flags and
streamers and garlands to the breeze that is strong to-day, and to the
comings and goings of sunshine. Grey minutes and gold minutes follow
one another across the city, where the flags of the different nations
are blending their colours and waving all together.

Many different uniforms, on their way up and down the streets, salute
one another, and stop and linger about together, looking at their flags.

The streets are full of bandages and crutches, pinned-up trouser-legs
and pinned-up coat-sleeves, steps that halt along with tap of canes,
and shuffling, uncertain steps that must be led.

One is always coming in the streets upon an especial type of little
group of people, one might indeed think each time that it was the same
little group over again, so much each different one of them resembles
all the others--four or five women, an old man, a young sick-looking
man, and quite a tagging on of children. One knows that they are
refugees. They have the unmistakable look of refugees. It gives them
all that likeness, every little dragging tribe of them to every other.
It is the look of people who are waiting for something, and to whom
nothing in the meanwhile matters. They are indifferent and dull because
nothing else matters. They make no effort and take no trouble--of what
use? It is not worth their while to better things that will not last.
There is always a woman in poor rusty deep mourning who has tied her
little girl's hair with a Belgian ribbon.

Music comes and goes at odd times through the streets, as pipe and drum
and trumpet of to-morrow's procession are moved this way and that to
their various places.

You get fragments of strange music, sometimes come from very far-away
strange countries, to these streets.


Friday, July 14th: Pink Shoes

It would be too unkind of it to rain, as if the fête were not already
shadowed enough.

One was angry waking in the rain.

It rained when they took their wreaths and flowers to the statues of
Strasburg and Lille, and it rained when the troops were massed before
the Invalides for the prise d'armes.

But afterwards the rain did stop.

A girl and a limping soldier, ahead of us as we went to the Nord-Sud,
were sopping wet. I suppose they had been standing for hours on the
Esplanade. Her knitted cape and cotton blouse were quite soaked
through. She had no hat, and she was laughing because her brown curls
dripped into her eyes.

In the Place de la Concorde people had put down their umbrellas, and
were telling one another that it was really better not to have the heat
of sunshine.

We waited a little with the crowd in the Place, the friendly, orderly
Paris crowd that used to come to fêtes so gaily, grave now, almost
solemn. The crowd was full of wounded. The men flung back out of
the war, broken, were come to watch their comrades pass between two
battles. The crowd gave place to them, and they were proud in it.

Then Diane came, with Miss and the babies, both of them tremendously
excited in their little mackintosh coats.

One of the club servants showed us to the small writing-room, where
a window had been reserved for us. From the window we looked down on
the wide grey stream of the street between banks of people. One way
we could see the great Place kept clear also, in grey reaches, past
islands of crowd, and the other way we could see a heap of people on
the steps of the Madeleine.

The babies sat on the window-ledge and forgot everything at once
because of another baby, down in the crowd on the opposite kerb, who
wore a pink bonnet and pink shoes, and had a little flag in either hand.

"Oh, mummy, her mummy has put down a newspaper for her to stand on, so
the wet won't hurt her shoes."

"Yes, Cricri darling. Don't wriggle so, child; Miss, do watch out for
her."

"I've got pink shoes, too, haven't I, Fafa?"

Diane, holding Fafa very tight on the window-ledge--not because he
wriggled, he was too big, but because he might have been grown up, like
the little boys of other mothers, and gone away to war--was telling him
what a wonderful thing it was he had come to see, and how, when he was
a big man, he would always remember it, and could say to people, "On
the 14th of July, 1916, I saw----"

"Yes, mummy! Oh, mummy, do you suppose that little girl's shoes are
quite new for to-day?"

"Babies, you are going to see Belgian soldiers; you will always and
always remember what they did for us. And there will be British
soldiers; you know how they are fighting for us, just the same as papa
and Uncle Raoul. And you will see the Russians, who have come from so
far away to help us; and beautiful Hindus, and big Africans, and the
little Anamites, and our own men."

Her voice thrilled when she said "our own men."

Her voice has that curious quality of drawing darkness: it made me feel
the shadows when she said like that, "our own men."

She said, "There will be the fusilliers marins, and the cuirassiers,
and the artilleurs. You may see the 75', Fafa. And there will be the
chasseurs à pied, from Verdun, with their fourragère."

"Mummy, was it her mummy who gave her the little flags?"

"I think so, Fafa darling."

"Is it her mummy there with her?"

"I think so."

"Is her papa gone to the war, like my papa?"

Diane put her cheek down against the top of his little fuzzy head as
she stood with her arms around him.

"Is her papa gone to the war too, mummy?"

"I think so."

"She has to stand up all the time, mummy, will she not be tired? I am
afraid she will be tired before the procession comes. When will the
procession come, mummy?"

Diane said to me, "To think it is the first day of flags and music we
have had since the war began----"

I was thinking all the time of the day when the troops will come home.
I was thinking that this day was a promise of that day. I knew that
Diane was thinking of that also. Her eyes filled with tears; I saw
them through the tears that were in my own eyes. We both knew so well.
The men look forward fearlessly to that day, but the women know fear.
Every woman in the crowd was thinking how this day promised that day,
gloriously; and every one was thinking--but if _he_ does not come home.

The people were come to their day of flags and music almost as if it
were to some religious ceremony. They waited in the grey morning to see
their troops go by; coming from battles, going back again to battles,
and always with the war so close that, if it were not for the sounds of
the city, we could have heard its thundering.

Diane said, because she did not want the children to think she was sad,
"The little pink girl must have come very early to have got so good a
place."

"Mummy, did she have a nice breakfast before she came?"

"Oh, yes, a lovely breakfast."

"Will the procession never come, mummy dear? That little girl must be
so tired. Why doesn't the procession come, mummy?"

"Oh, there's the sun," Cricri sang out, wriggling in Miss's arms, and
clapping her hands. "There's the sun come out!"

The sun shone straight into our eyes for a few minutes, and then the
soft grey settled down again.

We heard the sound of music and of marching, from a long way off.

The crowd stirred and thrilled.

"They are coming," cried the babies, "they're coming!"

"Yes, yes, they're coming. What is that the band plays? There's the
Garde Républicaine, and the music--listen, babies! And now it is
Belgian music. There are the Belgians--see the people run out to give
them flowers! There are the mitrailleuses and the Lanciers and the
Cyclistes!"

"Mummy, I've got a bicycle too, haven't I; and I can ride it well,
can't I?"

"Now the English, with their music! Cricri, do keep still and let Miss
see. How beautifully they march! Aren't you proud, Miss? There are the
Ansacs, Fafa; and look at the Indians! The street is carpeted with
flowers: they cannot pick them up, they walk over them. There are the
Russians. Look, babies, the little boys and girls from the crowd run
out and pick up the flowers to give them! Listen, the Russian music
sounds like great seas and winds in forests. It will be our own men
coming now, Fafa."

"Mummy, oh, mummy! I can't see the little girl any more!"

"Now it will be our own men coming! Look, look, babies, to see the very
first of them! There's our own music--listen."

Holding Fafa close against her shoulder, she leaned out past him over
the window-ledge, her eyes lighted with that flame one knows in
soldiers' eyes.

"They will be our own men, who have fought for us, who will go back to
fight for us. Fafa, think of it! Here they are, their music--oh, oh, it
is the Chant du Départ!"

"Mummy, do you think we'll never any more see the little girl with the
pink shoes?"


Monday, July 17th

Twenty-eight beds and ten stretcher-beds, the ward is full again. They
are all from the Somme. They are not nearly so bad as those from Verdun
and the Champagne. There has been only one of them, so far, who died.

He was brought in on Wednesday, they operated next morning, and he died
in the night. The wound had become gangrenous.

He was twenty-five years old. He was from the invaded countries, and
had no one, no one at all, who could come. He had had no news of his
people since the beginning of the war, nor had he been able to send his
news to them. He had never been out of his little commune, except to go
to the trenches. He had no name to give of any friend.

The patronne told me to go to the funeral, for there was no one else
to go. None of the real nurses could be spared, and very few of the
men from downstairs would be able to walk so far. It was to be at
Pantin. We would go first to the church. We would leave the hospital at
half-past three.

I tell of so many funerals. But there are so many, and they impress me
so. Those men die for us, and we, who may not die--how could it be but
that their dying means more to us than other things? There is nothing
we can do for those who fall and lie on the battlefield. But with
these, here, we go a little way.

And what else is there?

I have got some decent clothes, and I go sometimes to see some one, and
we pretend we are amused by bits of gossip. We say, "Oh, that's a hat
from Rose-Marie!" and, "Where did you get your tricot?" But it is as
if we went on a journey, and we come home tired from it, to the dark
shelter of our thoughts.

One rests better following through endless poor streets after a
pine-box with the flag upon it and the palms.

The people stand back, the men salute, the women make the sign of the
Cross, and we keep our own small perfect silence with us as we pass.
The piquet d'honneur walked with arms reversed, four on either side of
him.

There was no one but me to bring him flowers, but he had a big fine
tin wreath from his comrades of our service, and his palms from the
Ville de Paris, and the spray of zinc flowers with the ribbon marked
"Souvenir Français" that, Madame Bayle said, is always sent from the
Ministère de la Guerre.

Madame Bayle came with us. She is fat and always ill, but she could be
spared from the linen-room. I never had seen her before "en civil."
She had a large black hat from which, she told me, she had, for the
occasion, taken off fourteen red roses. I thought, as we walked
together, "Why, she and I are bitter enemies! For nine months we have
quarrelled every day!"

We walked together, close behind the boy, who had no one but we two and
five of his comrades to follow him.

It was hot, there was no air at all. There was a terrible odour of
disinfectant.

Madame Bayle said, "It is because of the gangrene," and quite worried
for fear I could not stand it.

And I worried about her bad knee. Was it bad to-day? I was afraid she
would be very tired.

We felt most sympathetically about each other.

She kept saying, "It is all the same sad, it is all the same sad."

One of the wounded said, "Not so sad as to lie out for the crows in
no-man's-land."

The Garde Républicaine, standing at attention, formed an aisle for him
and for us to pass through into the church. Of course, they never come
into the church.

Madame Bayle, kneeling stiffly beside him, went on whispering, "C'est
tout de même triste," as if it were a sort of prayer. "C'est tout de
même triste d'être seul comme ça."

An old woman appeared from somewhere and put a little bunch of
marguerites on his flag, and went away again. The stems of the
marguerites were done up in white paper. Some women came and stayed;
and some little girls, and a troop of small boys, in black blouses,
just let out from the school opposite.

When it was over, they all filed out, past Madame Bayle and me, as we
stood in the place where would have been his people.

On and on we went, through streets always sadder and more sad as they
frayed out at the edge of the city.

Madame Bayle always shuffled and panted, and the wounded followed more
and more slowly.

The city gate, and the ramparts, and longer, wider, even sadder streets
to pass along, over the cobbles; then an avenue of limes in fragrant
blossom, and the entrance of the great cemetery.

The piquet d'honneur left us at the gate, and we were just ourselves to
go on with him to the place where the soldiers who are lonely like him
lie, so many of them together.

It is a beautiful place. When his people can come to him I think they
will be proud to find him in so beautiful a place.

We put our flowers with him, and went away Madame Bayle always saying,
"C'est triste tout de même, d'être comme ça, tout seul."

The wounded went so fast ahead of us out of the cemetery that Madame
Bayle could not keep up at all.

She panted, "They are so glad to get out of it, poor boys, poor boys.
They will wait for us at the entrance; We will go all of us together to
the café on the right of the entrance for our 'little glass.'"


Thursday, July 20th: Little Florist

Very early this morning, on my way to the hospital, I stopped at the
little florist's shop round the corner, near the church, to get some
blue and purple larkspur and crimson ramble-roses.

It was so early, I was afraid Jeannette would not yet be back with the
day's flowers from the great central markets.

It is Jeannette, the younger, pretty sister, who goes every morning to
choose the fresh flowers, and Caroline, who in the meanwhile puts the
little shop in order to receive them, washing their window and filling
their bowls and vases with water, and scrubbing out the floor.

Caroline is not yet twenty-five years old, and Jeannette is eighteen.
They are quite alone now to keep the little shop.

Their father is paralyzed, helpless, and they must take care of him.

The brother, who used to take care of them all, is at the war.

Just two years ago, in the early summer, before the war, I remember
that Caroline, who is not really pretty at all, suddenly came to be
quite beautiful. Her small dark thin face was aglow, as if her heart
were full of sunlight, and she moved about the shop in a way so glad
that it seemed as if every little humble thing she had to do were
become for her part of a dance. She gave away to one then more than one
bought of larkspur and ramble-roses, and Jeannette and the big brother
looked on leniently.

All that seems now very long ago.

So few people can bear happy colours in these days, that Jeannette
brings back from the market little else but white and purple flowers,
and green leaves for wreaths and crosses.

I was very early this morning, and Jeannette was not yet come back from
the Halles.

Caroline was down on her knees, scrubbing the floor. She was crying as
she scrubbed the floor.

She had not expected any one to come so early, and she was crying just
as hard as she could cry, while she was alone and had the time.

She got up from her knees and rubbed her bare arm across her eyes.

I thought of her brother at the war, and of the some one because of
whom, perhaps, she had been happy, two years ago. I scarcely dared to
ask, "Is it bad news, Caroline?"

"No, Madame," she said, still rubbing her eyes, "No, Madame, it is
nothing special. It is only as if there were nothing but tears in the
world."


Trains

Two trains are side-tracked in the fields, beyond the little country
station, where the wheat is already bronzed and heavy-headed, and
the poppies flame through it, and where there is all the music of
grasshoppers and crickets and birds.

One is a train of men coming back from the Front on leave, and very
gay. They are all laughing and singing in the carriages. They are all
getting themselves tidied up, for shortly they will be in Paris. The
officers in several of the carriages have managed to get some water,
and are scrubbing luxuriously, with tin-cups and soup-plates for
basins. Soapy faces appear at the windows. The men have opened the
carriage doors all along the train and got out to tumble about in the
grass at the edge of the train. They pick buttercups that grow close to
the rails, and some of them have wandered off into the tall wheat to
gather poppies.

The second train on the siding is full of wounded, who must wait, like
the permissionnaires, to let pass the munition and troop trains going
out. The wounded are quite comfortably arranged on their tiers of
stretchers; the doctors and orderlies have all the needed things, and
move about competently, up and down the train. It is strange how quiet
the train of wounded is. It is only here and there along it that one
hears moaning or a cry.

A munition train crawls by, all grey. It is nothing that the
permissionnaires or wounded need notice.

Then, after a time, that seems very long, comes a troop-train going
out. The men in the troop train hang out of the windows and look
silently upon all the things they are passing in the fields, that seem
so full of peace and so kind.

They wave to the permissionnaires, who are silent for a moment,
watching them as they go. And then they pass the train of wounded, some
of whom look up at them.


Monday, July 24th--5.30 of the morning

Pérot has just gone.

He was noiselessly creeping down the outside stairs from his attic
room. But I was waiting at the door on the landing, and made him come
in for a minute to the apartment.

He sat, loaded down with all his campaign things, in the little yellow
chair, and I sat in the big yellow chair, and we looked at one another.

It is odd how one never can say any of the things to them; and how,
always, they understand perfectly all the things one would say if one
could.

He looked very ill, poor boy. Ten days' leave of convalescence after
five months in the hospital has really not given him enough time to
pick up. And he worries so. He can try to eat, but he cannot sleep at
all. All night he thinks and thinks.

I know so very well just what he thinks.

He has never had many words with which to tell me, for he has had
all his short life to work so hard that he could get little time for
learning to express himself. But sometimes he says, "If I knew they
were dead----"

They are his two little sisters. The mother died five years ago, the
father several years before that. He helped his mother when he was
still a schoolboy to take care of the little sisters, Célestine and
Marie; and when the mother was dead he took care of them alone. Now he
is twenty-four years old, and Célestine is seventeen and Marie sixteen.

Since the day he left, two years less just eleven days ago, he has had
no word of them at all.

Others from those invaded countries have had perhaps messages, a postal
card, some sort of a letter; but he had had no word.

An application we got through for him to the maire of the nearest large
town has had only the answer that the farm exists no more and that
nothing has been known of the two young girls.

It was the "le mauvais sang qu'il faisait," as Madame Marthe said,
that kept him so long from getting well. His wound in the shoulder was
pretty bad, but what was worse was his unceasing grief and dread. He
would have died, of the wound and that, if he had not been so young and
northern and strong.

His wound got itself well. The new ones needed his place in the
hospital. He was given ten days' sick leave, and came to spend it in
the room upstairs, because he had nowhere else to go.

Now his leave has come to an end, and he is going back to his depôt,
and then to the Front. I may never see him again, my poor boy, whose
face goes white and red, and white and red, and whose blue northern
eyes fill with tears if one speaks kindly to him.

He sat in the little yellow chair and I sat in the big yellow chair,
and we looked at each other in the wet grey early morning.

I said, "They gave you a good breakfast?"

"Oh, yes, madame."

"And your little package, for lunch in the train?"

"Oh, yes, madame, and the cigarettes."

"Some letter-paper to write to me on?"

"Yes, madame."

"You have all the money you need, you are sure, my child?"

"Oh, yes, madame, much more than I need. I still have that twenty
francs."

"You promise to let me know if I can do anything for you?"

"Yes, madame."

"And you will take care of yourself, please, Pérot."

"Yes, madame."

The clock struck once, the first quarter hour past five.

"You must go, my child."

He stood up.

I went to the door with him.

"You would not have liked me to come to the train, Pérot?"

"No, madame, because I should have cried; I am so stupid, madame."

"I would have cried too. And so, my child--until a less sad day."

"Madame--thank you."

"No, I thank you, little soldier."


Wednesday, July 26th

This morning, at the hospital, one of the Verdun men came up from the
convalescent ward downstairs, where he was sent when they evacuated for
the Somme, to say good-bye to us. He is well enough, and he is going
back. He is one of the older men, one of those who have the look of
worrying about wives and babies. He has been twice wounded. The first
was a bad wound; he had taken long to get over it in some hospital of
the provinces, and to be able to go back and be wounded again. Now he
is going back for the third time.

I remember his having told me, at first, when he was quite ill and
talked with fever, that he was terribly afraid of Verdun. He said he
did not mind what they did with him if only they did not send him back
to Verdun. He said he was afraid of the bayonet. He could kill with the
gun, he said, but not with the bayonet. He said he stood paralyzed when
it was the moment to strike with the bayonet, and could not strike.

It was after he left my ward that his wife had come up from the
Limousin, and brought the two little girls to visit him. I never saw
her, but I remember how happy he was. He told me his wife could not
stay long because she had to go back and take care of the cows. They
had two cows, he said.

Now he bade good-bye to Madame Marthe, who was washing her hands with
sublimé after a dressing, and who gave him a sharp red elbow to shake.

He said good-bye to the men in the ward, each one in turn, and stood a
minute looking at his old place and said, "One was well off there."

I went to the door with him.

It was very hot in the ward, and there were flies buzzing.

I thought: To be going back to that, when one knows it already;
to be going back to that, when one has no longer youth's élan and
carelessness; when one has to worry over labour and poverty left behind.

I suppose he saw something in my face of what I felt, for he said, in
a kind, pitying way, as if to help me, "Do not be sad, madame." And
he said the thing they all say, all of them, "I' faut b'en, tous les
copains sont là."

"All the others are there."

And then, this afternoon, I heard another soldier say that.

It was in the rue de la Paix. He was giving an order to the chauffeur.
His little boy, in a white piqué dress with a big lace collar, was
standing beside him, dancing up and down and hanging on his hand.

His wife leaned out of the window of the motor and called to me as I
passed, and he turned. I stopped, and we talked for a minute.

He has been home on a six days' leave and is going back to-night.

He is a captain in the chasseurs à pied. Before the war he was an
officer in a smart cavalry regiment, but he had himself transferred
into the infantry when the war began. I have heard the men in the
hospital talk of him. They say, "C'est un type épatant, celui-là." They
say he never sends his men to reconnoitre, but goes himself, always.

He looked very young and splendid in his smart uniform, standing at the
door of the motor.

The little boy, always dancing up and down beside him, said, "We've got
his picture taken! We've got his picture taken!"

His wife tried to laugh but I saw her eyes in the shadow of her white
lace hat. "It's true," she said, "we dragged him to it, poor boy. We
had nothing decent of him at all, you know."

She was very lovely in her lovely things, with a heap of red roses
beside her on the seat of the motor.

Somehow, that it was all so pretty made it sadder. In the bright street
I thought: To go back to that, when one has so much, when one has
everything in the world, and is young and full of radiant life.

His wife and I looked at each other.

He smiled down at her, as if it were only for her one need be sorry.
"We have had six perfect days," he said, "and you know it must be--the
others are there."

I have written those words many times over. But they are the words one
hears every day. As the men go back, each one of them from the however
different circumstances of his life, that is all they seem to find to
say about it. It does not make a fine phrase, but it has come to mean
for me a beautiful thing. Behind the great sweep of battles it is one
of the things I shall always be glad to have known.

I find myself wanting to put each saying of it away with other memories
in this book that for two years has kept me company.

Two years ago--so long ago that I find myself saying, once upon a
time--there was a small square tower room that had three windows,
narrow and deep-set, the loopholes of ancient defences. Once upon a
time the three windows stood open to the night and the garden, and to
a sense, somehow, of the friendly crowding up of the little town about
the rampart walls, and to the country lying away beyond, sweet in the
dark with forest and field.

I know that where war has passed strangers can look into broken houses
and see all that was intimate and small and dear betrayed with ruin
of stones and lives, and that, like that, people who do not care may
glance in passing into the wreck of the north tower room.

The tower had stood for so long, keeping watch over that road to
Paris--how strange to think it will keep watch no more! It had looked
down, in its long time, on much of war, and held its own through three
besiegings--and now it is fallen.

Now it is fallen, the strong tower, in a land that is laid waste, from
which peace has been taken away, and joy, out of the plentiful fields.

Already that night was passed beyond the end of the world.

In the morning of that day, the morning of that last Sunday of peace,
I had stood in my window over the garden and seen the sunshine, thick
and golden after rain, on wet sweet things, lawns and little formal
stately paths and box edges and clipped yews, roses and heliotrope and
petunias. And I had not known. I had seen the close, soft dream-sky of
France full of white clouds above the tops of trees that were green and
golden, or sometimes as dark as purple and black. And I had not known.

The white peacocks were spreading their dreams of tails below the
terrace, between the crouching sphynxes that years and years of moss
and ivy and rose-vines had grown over.

There had been church bells ringing to the voices of the garden, its
birds and bees and grasshoppers. And I had not known.

Against the rampart walls I could see, between the trees, the town
roofs gathered close, rust-red ancient tiles and thatch that time and
weathers had made beautiful, and crooked chimney-pots and blue smoke
rising straight and high in the still, blue air.

I could hear the little sounds of the village, together with the garden
sounds and the bells.

I could smell hearth fires and fresh-baked bread, together with the
new-cut grass and heliotrope and roses.

Every sound had been part of the stillness; all the lines and colours
of things belonged together in that soft harmony which is so especially
of France. I had thought, how it was France! And I had not known.

I had gone to Mass in the little ancient, dusky church of the village.
I had gone down across the parterres, and along the avenue of limes,
through the summer woods that were so happy and alive, out at the
little green gate in the rampart walls, and down the street of big
square old cobbles, between the nestling houses.

And in the church there had been incense and candles, and the white
caps of old women, and the wriggling of the children in their Sunday
clothes.

When I came back, there were the papers arrived from Paris. And nothing
again was ever, ever, to be the same.

That night, not knowing why, I wanted to write down for my own memory
notes of just those little things that seem so small, and that went all
together to the making of a mood we can no more find to turn to.

I wanted to write of the fragrance of delicate years that abode
in my tower room; of the dim, cloudy mirror over the mantel that
had reflected so many stories; of how the writing-table stood in
the north window, and had nothing but a bowl of sweet-peas and my
travelling-desk things on it; and that the window was open, and how
all the wet, sweet, quite cold night came in; and that, over the tops
of the dark trees, and between the dark cloud masses, I could see all
the stars of the Lyre, Vega, blue-white, very big and near, all more
brilliant, I thought, than ever I had known them before. I wanted to
explain how, somehow, one felt the village, down under the rampart
walls, though it slept and made no sound, and how friendly its presence
was as it lay so close, protecting and protected, about its ancient
burg.

Now the houses are roofless, and the rampart walls are broken. The
tower is fallen. Nothing is left unchanged there, to-night, but the
shining down of the August stars.

I had dreamed of the hoofbeats of galloping horses and crash of great
wheels and of thunder. And all that came, and does not cease. I had
dreamed of blood on the castle stairs, dripping and dripping. And they
say that there was one night especially, when the castle was so full
of wounded men, that there was nowhere left to lay them in any of the
rooms, or in the lower halls. They carried them as they were brought in
up the stairs to lie on the floor of the Long Gallery. And the blood
ran down the stairs.

There was fighting, over and over, up and down, those big square
cobbles of the streets and of the market place, and from the doors and
windows and roofs of those little houses.

The people of the streets and houses are gone, who knows where, with
their poor small bundles, fled long ago, before the hoofbeats and
wheels and thunder.

Across these things, how absurd to remember the sweet-peas there were,
that Sunday night, in a bowl on a writing-table!

It was very hot in the ward to-day; the flies buzzed horridly up and
down the window-panes.

It was a very bad day in the ward. Thirty-four was very low. He had
a hæmorrhage yesterday, and all day he seemed to be sinking. It was
to-day he received his Croix de Guerre. The captain came up to the ward
with another officer and gave it to him, and read his citation out,
standing by the bed. But he seemed scarcely to know.

Several other decorations were given also to-day, downstairs in the
Salle de Jeu. We had much to do in our ward, and I could not go down.

Our little 17 received his Cross and also his Military medal. He
managed to get downstairs and stand up with the others, most of them
like himself on crutches. Yesterday he had news of his mother's death.
He told me he had never had a father. "Il du être un salaud, ce
type-là," he told me. His only brother had been reported missing since
more than a year. He kept calling me over every few minutes--when he
was back in the ward, and in his bed, very tired--to show me his medals
in their two green boxes. He had no one of his own to whom to show them.

There was much big work to be done, and the ward was so clouded all
day with the choking blue smoke of iodine from the hot washings and
dressings.

Madame Marthe was very nervous, and Madame Alice seemed especially
sullen.

I wondered--was it that her poor little Jeanjean is worse again, there,
where he has been all these months, in the children's hospital, cared
for by others than she?

I was thinking all the day of it, and never dared to ask her.

Madame Marthe stood all day by the bed of 34. She would say to him,
"Now breathe, breathe. Now breathe." If ever she stopped saying it,
for one instant, he stopped breathing. It was as if the only thing he
understood was that he must obey her.

Madame Alice did all she possibly could of her work for her, sullenly,
together with her own hard work.

It was a very bad day; I am proud to belong in such days.

I was thinking very much of the garden of the sphynxes and white
peacocks, that is in ruin, and of the tower room given over to bats and
swallows.

It was beautiful, that mood which is gone, but this is more beautiful.



Transcriber's Notes


Obvious errors of punctuation and diacritics repaired.

Inconsistent hyphenation fixed.

P. 23: may loose those memories -> may lose those memories.

P. 32: next the carriage of the British officers -> next to the
carriage of the British officers.

P. 105: the slates over beds -> the slates over the beds.

P. 118: rafia grasses -> raffia grasses.

P. 162: trror of thinking -> terror of thinking.

P. 228: Cousin Thérèse -> Cousine Thérèse.

P. 247: stange things -> strange things.





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