KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me by William Allen White

CHAPTER IV



WHEREIN WE FIND THAT "OUR FLAG IS
STILL THERE"



THIS chapter will contain the story of our visit to General Pershing and the American troops. But before we came to that part of France which holds our men we passed through divers warlike and sentimental enterprises which lay across our path, and while we relate the story of these adventures, the reader must wait a few moments before we disclose the American flag. But the promise of its coming may buoy him up while the preliminary episodes clog the narrative. One afternoon we were chugging along in our Red Cross ambulance coming down from the first aid posts where we had been talking to some American Ambulance boys on the French Front, when we noticed the arrives were landing regularly so we knew that the Germans were after something in the neighbourhood--perhaps a big gun, perhaps an ammunition dump. We were
122




"Our Flag is Still There"--123

speculating upon the nature of the target when we whirled around a corner and saw it. It was a cross-road. Four roads forked there; the Germans, of course, had it marked. It was getting its afternoon pour parler; for they believed that the ammunition trains would be passing that crossroad at that time. And as we looked out of the windows of the ambulance our hearts jumped-- at least Henry's and mine jumped--as we saw that between us and the forks of the road a great French camion had skidded and stalled, with two wheels over the embankment that raised the road from the swamp about us, effectually blocking our way. "This," said Major Murphy, taking in the situation quickly, "is a mighty dangerous place." As the word "place" escaped him he was on the ground. He had slid through a window of the ambulance. The ambulance drivers--Singer and Hughes--neglecting to unlock the ambulance doors, ran up the road and began working with the drivers of the camion to get the great van on the road again. The other occupants of the ambulance also hurried to the camion--through the windows of the ambulance; no one was left to unbutton the thing for Henry and me. Henry insists that he was there alone; that he was afraid to follow me through



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the window for fear of sticking in it. He had not been avoiding fats, sugars and starches for a year and had no girlish lines in his figure. And the arrives were certainly bouncing in rather brashly. The rest of us were out in the open where we could duck and perhaps avoid the spray of shrapnel. But an ambulance was no more protection against fifty pounds of German junk than an umbrella. And there sat Henry in the ambulance wistfully looking through the window of the vehicle and realizing that his exposure was less in a dignified sitting posture in the ambulance than it would be horizontally half in and half out of the thing, held fast in the vain endeavour to get away. So he waited for the next "arrive" to come with commendable fortitude. And then it came. It sounded like the old granddaddy of all shells. We fancied we could sense its direction; possibly that was imagination. But anyway we looked toward the German lines and realized Henry's grave danger. And then it struck--whanged with an awful roar about seventy-five feet from us, against the bare trunk of a shell-stripped tree. We knew without looking that the shell had hit the tree. Then our consciousness recorded the fact that a French soldier had been standing by that tree. And slowly



"Our Flag Is Still There"--125

and in terror we turned our eyes tree-ward. The tree was a mass of splinters. It looked like a special sale of toothpicks in a show window. Then we turned our eyes toward the place where we had last seen the French soldier. We hardly dared to look. But instead of seeing a splatter of blood and flesh upon the earth by the tree stump, we saw the soldier rise from the buckbrush where he had been ducking, and light a cigarette. The shell had hit not a dozen feet above him, but had sprayed its fountain from him, instead of toward him. He had some trouble lighting his cigarette and was irritated for a second at his inconvenience. But so far as we could see, the fact that death had reached for him and missed him by inches had left no impression upon his mind. Three years in war had wrought some deep change in him. Was it entirely in his nerves or was it deeper than nerves, a certain calmness of soul--or was it merely a dramatic expression of a soldierly attitude? We did not know. But to Henry and me, who had been rescued from death by that tree that stopped the shell headed straight for us, it seemed that we should come back after the war was over and nail a medal of honour and a war cross on the stump, and put up a statue there with an all-day



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program! We had no desire to hide our fright! It relieved us to chatter about the tablet on that tree stump!

The French soldier strolled over to us; helped to straighten out the camion, and when we learned that he was going down the hill we gave him a lift. He was a hairy, dirty, forsaken looking poilu who, washed and shaved and classified, turned out to be an exchange professor from the Sorbonne, who had spent a year at Harvard, and it was he who told us of the bombing of the hospital at Landrecourt; we'll call it Landrecourt to fool the censor, who thinks there is no hospital there. At the mention of the hospital the Major turned to us and said: "That s where we sent that pretty red-headed nurse who came over with you on the boat. And," added the Major, "that is the hospital equipped by Mrs. Chesman, of New York!" whose name is also changed to fool the censor. It was a better known name!

"Say," exclaimed Henry, "the Aunt of the Gilded Youth!"

"You mean our ambulance boy who came over on the boat with you--the multimillionaire?" asked the head of the American Ambulance service.

"The same," answered Henry, who turned to



He had some trouble...

He had some trouble lighting his cigarette and was
irritated for a second at his inconvenience




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"Our Flag is Still There"--129

me and said in his oratorical voice: "The plot thickens." Then the Frenchman told us the story of the raid: How the airmen had come at midnight, dropped their bombs, killing nurses and doctors, and how the discipline of the hospital did not even flutter. He said that the head nurse summoned all her nurses, marched them to the abri at the rear of the hospital, and stood at the door of the abri, while the girls filed in, and just as the last nurse was going into the dugout with the head nurse standing outside, the airmen dropped a bomb upon her and erased her! None of the nurses inside was hurt. Two doctors were killed and a number of patients. Landrecourt was on our way and we hurried to it.

Was there ever a martial adventure without a love story in it? Little did it seem to Henry and me as we left our humble homes in Wichita and Emporia to make the world safe for democracy, that we two thick-set, sedentary, new world replicas of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza should be the chaperons and custodians of a love affair. We were not equipped for it. We were travelling light, and our wives were three or four thousand miles away. No middle-aged married man gets on well with a love affair who is out of daily reach of his wife. For when he gets into the barbed



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wire tangle of a love affair, he needs the wise counsel of a middle-aged woman. But here we were, two fat old babes in the woods and here came the Gilded Youth, the Eager Soul and the Young Doctor--sping! like a German shell--right into our midst, as it were.

There at Landrecourt we found the Eager Soul, a badly scared young person--but tremendously plucky! And mad--say, that girl was doing a strafing job that would have made the kaiser blush! And the fine part of it was, that its expression was entirely in repression. There was no laugh in her face, no joy in her heart, and we scarcely knew the sombre, effective, business-like young person who greeted us. And then across the court we saw something else that interested us. For there, walking with his patrician aunt, we saw the Gilded Youth. Evidently he had heard of the raid, had run over from Valaincourt on some sort of military permission.

"Oh, yes," answered the Eager Soul to our enquiring eyes. "Mrs. Chesman--this is practically her hospital. I mean she and her group are keeping it equipped and going--a wonderful work. I mean here is a real thing for a woman to do. And, oh, the need of it!"

"Nice sort?" This from Henry, observing



Oh, yes, answered the Eager Soul...

"Oh, yes" answered the Eager Soul to our enquiring
eyes. "Mrs. Chessman--this is practically her
hospital"




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"Our Flag Is Still There"--133

that there was no move toward us, on the part of the Gilded Youth and Auntie. Henry may have had his theory for their splendid isolation. But it received no stimulus when the Eager Soul answered:

"Oh, yes, I believe so. I haven't met her yet. They all say she is charming." Henry looked at me. She caught the glance. Then to cover his tracks he grinned and said: " Charm seems to run in their family."

"Yes," she returned amiably. " One meets so many nice people on the boat."

And Henry, still in pursuit of useful social information, insisted: "Well, are they as nice in the war zone as they are--on the boat?"

We got our first dimple then, and the Eager Soul tucked in a wisp of red hair, as she answered:

"Well, really, I've been too busy to know." She turned absent-mindedly toward the figure of the Gilded Youth, across the court. But the dimples and the smile faded and she closed the door firmly and finally on romance, when she said: "On the record of service shown by my entrance card, they have made me assistant to the new head nurse who is coming over from Souilly tonight."



134--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

After we had told her that we were going to American headquarters soon, she smiled again, to show us that she knew that when we went probably we would see the Young Doctor. But she let the smile stand as her only response to Henry's suggestion of a message. In another moment she turned to her work.

"Well," said Henry, "some pride! 'One meets so many nice people on the boat!' The idea being that her outfit at home is just as good as Auntie's group in New York, even if he didn't introduce her! You know I rather like the social spunk of our Great Middle West!"

While we were talking the Gilded Youth began moving Auntie slowly but rather directly around the court to us. It occurred to me that perhaps he realized that we were the only social godfathers that the Eager Soul had in Europe, and that if he introduced us to Auntie it would be an indication that the affair of the boat, if it was an affair, was to be put upon a social basis! And in two minutes more he had docked Auntie at our pier. A large, brusk, well-groomed, good-looking woman of fifty was Auntie. Her Winthrop and Endicott blood advertised itself in her Bostonese, but she was sound and strong and the way she instantly got at the invoice price of



"Our Flag Is Still There"--135

Henry and his real worth, pleased me. She was genuine American. The thing that troubled me was the fear that Henry would begin too soon to lambast onion soup. But he didn't and in a few moments we were having this dialogue:

HENRY: "Oh, yes, indeed; we've grown fond of her. Her father was--"

AUNTIE: " Oh, yes, I knew her father. Mr. Chesman and he were interested together in New Mexican mining claims in the eighties; I believe they made some money. But--"

THE GILDED YOUTH: " Well, Auntie--would you mind telling me how--?"

AUNTIE: "Why, on her application blank, of course, with her father's name, age and residence."

THE GILDED ONE: "But you never mentioned it to me?"

AUNTIE: " Nor to her, either. Why should I? This is hardly the place to organize the Colonial Dames! I believe you said a few minutes ago that you had met her on the boat."

HENRY: "One meets so many nice people on the boat!"

ME: "You've heard of the woman who said she didn't know the man socially, she had just met him coming over on the boat!"



136-- Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

The Gilded Youth looked quickly at me, catching me suppressing a wink at Henry, who grinned at the expiring ghost of it. Then Auntie led the talk to the raid of the night before; and invited us to come up for a night's sleep in a civilized bed in the hospital. We were quartered for the night with the Ambulance boys, sleeping in a barn loft, so naturally, we accepted her invitation. Just as we were leaving to get our baggage, out into the court came the Eager Soul bearing a letter. We did not see the address, but it was, alas, plainly dimpled in her face, for the Gilded Youth to see, and after greeting him only pleasantly, she handed the letter to us, saying: "Would you be good enough to deliver this for me at Gonrecourt next week, as you are passing? It is to a friend I met on the boat!"

"Yes," said Henry; "one meets so many nice people on the boat."

"Sometimes," she answered, as she turned to her work.

That night we slept like logs until after midnight; then the moon rose, and the hospital began to come to life. The stir and murmur of the place wakened us. And we realized what a moonlight night means in a hospital near the front line. It means terror. No one slept after moon-



"Our Flag Is Still There"--137

rise. It was a new experience for Henry and me. So we rose and met it. And we realized that in scores of hospitals all over the war zone, on the side of the allies, similar scenes were enacting. The Germans were literally tearing the nerves out of hundreds of nurses by their raiding campaign--nurses whom the raiders did not visit, but who were threatened by every moonlight night!

It must have been after two in the morning, when we saw the Eager Soul and the Gilded Youth walking around the court as they used to pace the deck together. Once or twice they passed our window, and we heard their voices. They were having some sort of a tall talk on philosophical matters, which annoyed Henry. The ocean and onion soup and philosophical theorizing never seemed reasonable, normal expressions of anything properly in the cosmos to Henry; he professed to believe that persons who tolerated these things would sooner or later be caught using the words "group" and "reaction" and "hypothesis," and he would have none of them. But for all that she used the word group and once confessed that she was a subscriber to the New Republic, Henry did like the Eager Soul; so he waked me up from a doze to say: "Bill,



138--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

she's putting him through the eye of the needle all right. And he's sliding through slick as goosegrease. I heard him telling her a minute ago that the war isn't for boundaries and geography; but for a restatement of human creeds. Then she said that steam and electricity have over-capitalized the world; that we are paying too highly for superintendence and that the price of superintendence must come down, and wages must come up. Then he said that he and his class will go in the fires burning out there--melted like wax. And she told him that they both had a lot of stolen goods on them--bodies and minds, and hearts cultivated at the expense of their fellow creatures whose lives had been narrowed that theirs might be broadened. And you should have heard her talk about the Young Doctor--a self-made man, who had earned his way through college and medical school, and made his own place professionally. She said he was the Herald of the New Day. "Bill," sighed Henry, "what would you give if you could talk like that--again?" But from me, drowsily, came this: "Henry--do you suppose she will get around to that slapping tonight she promised him on the boat? That would be worth staying up to see!"



"Our Flag Is Still There"--139

"She'll never slap him. He'll never need it. She's talked him clear out of the mood!"

"Yes, she has--yes, she has," came from me. And Henry insisted:

"She may have to slap the Doctor; but she has steered this boy out of the danger zone into the open sea of friendship."

"Oh, yes, she has; oh, yes, she has," came the echo from the other bed! And Henry subsided.

But the buzzing about the hospital would not let us sleep. At three o'clock evidently they were serving tea to the nurses, or lunch of some kind. The moon was shining straight down into the court; the Gilded Youth and the Eager Soul had gone in, and another couple, a stenographer and a hospital orderly were using it as a parlour.

"Queer, queer business, this love-making under the rustle of the wings of death," said Henry. A French plane flying across had filled the compound for a moment. But everyone soon recognized its peculiar buzz. Then for a few seconds from afar came the low ominous hum of the German planes. But they circled away from us. Perhaps the French drove them back. However it was the excitement in the court that caused Henry's remark. For the young people



140--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

did not deflect their monotonous course about the compound, when the sky-gazers had returned indoors. Around and around they went, talking, talking, talking, with the low insistent murmur of deeply interested people. Their nerves were taut; emotion was raw; they were young, and their blood moved riotously. And there was the moon, the moon that, since man could turn his face upward, has been the symbol of the thing called love. And now all over that long line slashed across the face of Europe, the moon is the herald of death. Men see it rise in terror, for they know that the season of the moon is the season of slaughter. Yet there they walked in the hospital yard, two unknown lovers, who were true to the moon.

Henry's next remark was: "Bill, fancy when you were young doing your courting out there where a shell is liable to wipe you out any second. We at least had the advantage of elm trees to protect us from the shafts of death."

"Do you suppose, Henry," answered his friend, "that they miss the drip of oars, the shade of the overhanging willows, the suggestive whisper of waters frisking over the ripples at the ford? How can they make love in such a place?"



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"'Gold,'" replied Henry, quoting from Solomon, who was wise, "'is where you find it!'"

Then we heard the insistence of the lovers' babble drawing near us again. As they turned a corner, Henry heaved a sigh at the perversity of youth in the flaunting neglect of sleep and death, which ever are vital to middle years. We both looked out to the white courtyard, heard the snarl of another plane, obviously French, but still disconcerting, saw the slow even pace of the lovers, unaffected by the approaching growl of the plane, and it came to me to quote one wiser even than Solomon: "O death, where is thy sting!"

We took but a cat-nap that night, and in the morning set down the score on our love affair. The record indicates that during the day Henry had lost; during the night he had won. He put it down in his black book against the time when we should get to Paris, where money would buy things. For we ate at camps, slept in hospitals or in barns or in mess rooms of the ambulance men, and day by day and night after night we saw much misery and were "acquainted with grief." There are so many kinds of hospitals in France! The great streams of broken men that flow unceasingly down from the front are divided



142--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

as they reach the base hospitals and field hospitals into scores of smaller currents, each flowing to a separate place, where specialists treat the various cases. The blind go one way; those dumb with shell-shock go another; jaw cases separate from men with scalp wounds, and hip fractures are divided from shoulder fractures as the sheep from the goats. Travelling about among the hospitals one picks up curious unrelated and unexplained bits of information; as, for instance, that the British Tommy is the most patient man in Europe under pain. He likes to distinguish between himself and his wound and is likely to reply to the doctor any fine morning, "Me? Oh, I'm right at the top form, Sir; but my leg is bothering me a bit, Sir!" The Canadian isn't so game under a roof as he is under the open sky and in the charge. And the American grunts more than he should. But here is a queer thing. The French tubercular soldier is despondent. With Americans, tuberculosis breeds hope. Perhaps it is the buoyancy of the young blood of our country; but no American feels he is ever going to die with tuberculosis. He feels he is hit hard; that it may take six months or a year to get on his feet: after that--he goes on dreaming his dream. But the tuber-



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cular French soldiers are the saddest looking men in Europe.

Back in Kansas last spring we had heard a story to the effect that the Germans were inoculating the French and Belgians behind the lines of the allies with tubercular bacteria. We asked French and American and British doctors about that story, and they all answered that there was nothing to it. The doctors told us that the Germans have a cheaper and better way to fill France with tuberculosis than by wasting serum on their enemies. And then, one day in a tuberculosis hospital we picked up this story, which explained what the doctors meant.

We met a young man from Lille. It was his birthday; Henry bought him a bouquet. He told us his story. He said:

"Three years ago when the war broke out I was 19 years old and was living in Lille with my parents. The Germans came to our house one day with their guns and took me away. They took me to a town in Germany; I think it was Essen, where they made me work in an iron or steel mill. I worked fourteen hours a day, slept on straw outside the works in a shed, had only the clothes they took me in and had only bran to eat!"



144--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

"Only bran?" we asked, doubting it.

"Only bran," the interpreter repeated, and from half a dozen cots near by, where others who had suffered as he had, heard our question, came the echo of his confirmation, "Only bran to eat!" He soon caught cold, and soon the "cold" became tuberculosis, and after three years of this his sick days exceeded his work days, and in due course he and five hundred others were assembled, put on a train and shipped out of Germany through Switzerland to Evian in France. Three hundred thousand of these poor husks, men, women, and children, have been dumped into France in the last seven months. Two trainloads of them arrive at Evian every day. The men and women, mostly tubercular, do not tarry. They push on into France, a deadly white stream.

In time the week ended that marked our first trip to the French front. During that week we lived almost entirely in the war zone, and under war conditions. The food was good--better than good, it was excellent, but not plentiful, and the beds were clean and full of sleep. The only physical discomfort we found was in the lack of drinking water. We were warned against all local water.



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My feelings on the subject of the French coffee and milk were something like Henry's antipathy to onion soup. But we both loved water with our meals. We had been vaccinated against typhoid, and we were rather insistent that we could drink any kind of water, if it was reasonably clean. But men said "this country is no place to drink water. It has been a battle-ground and a cemetery for three years." Still we insisted and then, Mr. Norton, head of the American ambulance, told us this one: "Out behind a barrage once near the Champagne; helping the stretcher bearers; nasty weather, rain, and cold. But there we were. We couldn't get in. We ducked from shell hole to shell hole. Finally I found a nice deep one, with water in the bottom--oh, maybe five feet of water in a fifteen foot hole, and I stayed there; two days and nights. My canteen went dry, and for a day or two I scooped water out of the shell hole and drank it. Good enough tasting water so far as that goes, and fresh too! But at the end of the third day, I decided it wasn't agreeing with me and quit."

"Why?" we asked. "Did you leave the shell hole?"

"No--oh, no. It was a good shell hole. I



146--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

stayed. But you know Fritzie came up! " he answered.

So our taste for water with our meals, which is America's choicest privilege, passed. Henry could drink the coffee, but it didn't taste good to me. The brackish red wine they served with the army ration tasted like diluted vinegar and looked like pokeberry ink. It seemed only good to put in our fountain pens. A tablespoonful would last me all day. Our week's trip ended at Monter-en-Der, where there was a hotel and an Ambulance corps unit that had been over to visit the American troops and had brought back from the commissary department much loot. Among other things was water--bottled water, pure unfermented water. And when we sat at table they brought me a bottle.

Try going seven days on pokeberry ink and boiled coffee yourself and note the reaction. Your veins will be dry; your stomach will crackle as it grinds the food. The water in that bottle, a quart bottle, evaporated. They brought another. It disappeared. They brought a third. The waiters in the hotel were attracted by the sight. No Frenchman ever drinks water with his meals, and the spectacle of this American sousing himself with water while he ate was a



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rare sight. The waiters gathered in the corner to watch me. Henry saw them, and motioned toward me, and tapped his forehead. They went and brought other waiters and men from the bar. He was a rare bird; this American going on a big drunk on water. So they peered in doors, through windows and stood in the diningroom corners to watch the fourth bottle go down. And when at the end of the meal the American rose, and walked through the crowd, they made way for him. A desperate man at least commands respect, whatever his delusion may be.

And that night we left the French front, and nosed our car toward Paris.

There we made preparations to go to the headquarters of the American Army. In Paris also we got into our new regulation Red Cross uniforms. Ever since man first pinned a buffalo tail to the back of his belt, and stuck a rooster feather in his matted hair, he has been proud of his uniform. Sex vanity expresses itself most gorgeously in a uniform, and when they put Henry and me into uniforms, even carefully repressed Red Cross uniforms, open at the neck and with blue dabs on our coat lapels to distinguish us from the "first class fighting man," we were so proud that often five or six consecutive



148-- Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

minutes passed when we weren't afraid of what our wives would say about the $124 each had spent for the togs. At times our attitude toward our wives was not unlike that of drunken rabbits hunting brazenly for the dogs! But when we slipped into citizen clothes, sobriety and remorse covered us, and we shook sad heads. We wore the uniforms little about Paris; for our Sam Browne belts kept us returning salutes until our arms hurt. They couldn't break me of the habit of saluting with a newspaper or a package or a pencil in my hand. And my return of the interminable round of salutes from French, British, and Italian soldiers who throng Paris, probably insulted--all unbeknownst to me--hundreds of our allies, and made them sneer at our flag. So it seemed best for us to wear these uniforms only where soldiers congregated who would know us for the gawks that we were and forgive us our military trespasses. Then a real day came when our Red Cross duties took us to General Pershing's headquarters.

For Americans during the year 1918, "Somewhere in France," will mean the Joan of Arc country. It is not in the war zone, but lies among the hills of Central France, a four or five hours' auto ride from Paris. To reach the American



He was a rare bird...

He was a rare bird; this American going on a big
drunk on water




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"Our Flag Is Still There"--151

"Somewhere in France" from Paris, one crosses the battle-field of the Marne, and we passed it the day after the third anniversary, when all the hundreds of roadside graves that marked the French advance were a-bloom and a-flutter with the tri-colour. Great doings were afoot the day before on that battle-field. Bands had played triumphant songs, and orators had spoken and the leaders of France--soldier and civilian--had come out and wept and France had released her emotions and was better for it. We passed through Meaux and hurried on east to St. Dizier, where we stopped for the night. We put up at a dingy little inn, filled to overflowing with as curious a company as ever gathered under one roof. Of course there were French soldiers--scores of them, mostly officers in full dress going to the line or coming from it. Then there were fathers and mothers of soldiers and sisters and sweethearts of soldiers and wives of soldiers bound for the front or coming home. And there we were, the only Americans in the house, with just enough French to order "des oeufs " and coffee "au lait" and "ros bif and jambon and pain" and to ask how much and then make them say it slowly and stick the sum up on their fingers. We were having engine trouble. And our



152--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

car was groaning and coughing and muttering in the gloomy little court of the inn. Around the court ran the sleeping rooms, and under one end, forty feet from the diningroom, was what was once the stable, and what now is the garage. Frenchmen wandered up, looked at our chauffeur (from Utica, N. Y.) tried to diagnose the case, found we did not understand and then moved away. But it was a twelve-cylinder American machine and the Frenchmen, discovering that, kept coming back to it. As we sat on the cement platform of the tavern, kicking our heels against it and bemoaning the follies of youth which had corrupted our Freshman and Sophomore French, there came and sat beside us a pretty woman. She had black snappy eyes, fresh dark skin, and jet black hair, so curly that it was almost frowsy. She listened to us for a moment, then hopped aboard our talk like a boy flipping a street car: "Kansas--eh? I once lived in Oklahoma City. My father ran the Bee Hive!"

"Angels of mercy, angels of light!" This from me. "Say, will you interpret for us?"

"Sure mike! sir," she said. And then added: "And if it's engine trouble my husband upstairs is a chauffeur. Shall I get him?" And when



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she returned with him, he fell to, glad enough to get a look into a twelve-cylinder American car. Henry stood by him, and with the woman acting as interlocutor, between our driver and her husband we soon had the trouble located and the dissimulator--Henry maintains that all engine trouble is connected in some way with a dissimulator--rectified, and while the job was going on, he expounded the twelve cylinders to the French, puffed on his dreadnaught pipe, and left the lady from Oklahoma City to me. She was keen for talk. Between her official communiques to her husband and our driver, she got in this:

"Yes, I know Frank Wickoff in Oklahoma City--knew him when he was poor as Job's turkey, and then my folks used to borrow money at his bank. Before we came to Oklahoma City we lived in Austin. We ran the Good Luck, or was it the Fair; no, we ran the Fair in Dallas." At a quick look at her face from me she laughed and said: "Oh, yes, I'm Jew all right. No," she returned to a query, "I never was in Wichita. But when we moved to Blackwell we used to take the Beacon!

"Henry, come here," came the call from me. "Here is old Subscriber and Constant Reader!" Then Henry came up and the subsequent proceed-



154--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

ings interested me no more. For Henry took the witness. And the three of us, kicking our heels on the cement wall below us, sat swapping yarns about mutual friends in the Southwest. It seems that in France the lady is a pedlar who goes from town to town on market day with notions and runs a little notion wagon through the country between times. She told us of an air raid of the night before on St. Dizier where eleven people had been killed and urged us to stay for the funeral the next day. It was to be a sight worth seeing. Most of the dead were women and children. There was nothing military in the little town but the two hotels that housed soldiers and their friends and relatives going to the front and coming back. Yet the Germans had come, dropped a score of bombs on the town, then had flown away for another town, dropping their hateful eggs across country as they went. Luneville had lost half a dozen, Fismes half a score, and other towns of the neighhourhood, accordingly--all civilians, mostly women and children; and not a town raided had any military works or if it had a munition factory, the bombs had hit miles from the plants.

We were beginning to realize slowly what a hell of torture anddisease and suffering this war



Henry puffed on his dreadnaught...

Henry puffed on his dreadnaught pipe and left the
lady from Oklahoma City to me




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means to France. Half a million tuberculars in her homes, spreading poison there; two million homeless refugees quartered beyond the war zone; millions of soldiers living in the homes fifty miles back from the line, every month bringing new men to these homes left by their comrades returning to the battle front; air raids by night slaying women and babies; commerce choked with the offering to the war god; soldiers filling the highways; food, clothing and munitions taking all the space upon the railroads; fuel almost prohibitively high; food scarce; and always talk of the war--of nothing, absolutely nothing but the war and its horrors. That France has held so long under this curse proves the miracle of her divine courage! As we sat under the shrouded torches in the inn courtyard and considered what life really means to the men and women of St. Dizier, once more we wondered how we at home would react under the terrific punishment which these people are taking; what would Wichita do with her houses bombed, her homes crowded with refugees; her parks and schools and public buildings turned into barracks, her stores filled with gaping empty shelves, her railroad yards clogged with munitions, and ever the mourners going about the street and man to



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his long home. How would Emporia act with the pestilence that stalketh in darkness for ever near her; with her women and children slaughtered, merely to break the morale of the people and cause them to plead for peace; with cripples from the war hidden away in a hundred sad homes, with fatherless children and children born out of wedlock among the things that one had to face daily? Perhaps our young Jewish friend thought we were wearying of her. For she rose and said, "Well, good-night, gents--pleasant dreams!"

Pleasant dreams--indeed!

But in the morning we arose refreshed and hurried along a misty plain, forty miles or so from the American troops. Always in the background were great bushy trees, and lush green grass, and the thing was composed. How the French manage to compose their landscape is too much for me. But at any of a thousand points the scene might have been photographed for a Corot, by getting a few good-looking girls in nighties to dance on the grass of the middle distance! American landscape has to be picked apart to have its picture taken; a tree selected here, a hill there, a brook yonder, and if ladies in nighties are needed, they are brought from afar! They are



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not indigenous to the soil. But one feels that in France they might come sidling out from behind any willow clump with their toes rouged ready for the dance!

The road that morning seemed traversing a great picture gallery, unwinding into life as from a dream within a dream! And then, after two hours of joyous landscape, we waked and saw America! Now America was not a vision; it was substantial, if not beautiful. As we switched around a bend in the road we came upon America full-sized and blood raw--a farmer boy--bronzed, milk-eyed, good-natured, with the Middle West written all over him. He wore a service hat at a forward pitch over his eyes; in his hands, conched to tremulo the sound, he held an harmonica; his eyes were aslit in the ecstasy of his own music; from the crook of his arm dangled a bridle, and he sat cross-legged high up on the quarter deck of a great four-story, fullrigged Missouri mule. He didn't salute us but called "Hi" as we passed, and then we knew that "our flag was still there" and that we were near our troops.

The boys must be popular in the neighbourhood. For in the next village, which by the way was a town of ten thousand, our American Red



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Cross uniforms were treated with distinguished courtesy. Henry wanted a match. He could talk no French but a little boy at the inn, seeing him fumbling through his clothes with an unlighted pipe, came running to us with a little blue box of matches. Henry gave the boy a franc--more to be amiable than anything else. The boy flashed home to his mother proud as Punch! And just as we were pulling out of the village the boy came running to us with another little blue box of matches. We thought the boy had discovered that matches would bring a franc a box from Americans and was preparing to make his fortune. So Henry took the box, and as the car was moving handed the boy another franc. We noticed him waving his hands and shaking his head. And when we were a mile out of the village Henry opened his second box and found his original franc in it. The boy's mother was ashamed that he should have taken any money for a box of matches, and had made him bring back the money with another box to show how much the French appreciate the Americans coming to France. We met many instances like that.

Soon the road was cluttered up with American soldiers. They were driving motors, whacking mules, stringing along the by-paths and sweating



And he sat...

And he sat cross legged




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copiously under the autumn sun. We wondered in passing what an American farmer boy and his self-respecting mule thought of the two-wheeled French carts they were using. Then we turned the corner and came into a new view; we saw our first troop of American soldiers quartered in a French village. They were busy building barracks. We stopped and visited them, and they showed us their quarters: In barns, in lofts of houses, in cellars, in vacant stores--everywhere that human beings could slip in, the American soldiers had installed themselves. The Y.M.C.A. hut was finished, and in it a score of boys were writing letters, playing rag-time on the pianos, and jollying the handsome, wise-looking American women at the counter across one end of the room. An Irish Catholic padre in a major's uniform was in charge of the sports of the camp and he literally permeated the Y.M.C.A. hut. He was the leader of the men. The little village where this troop lived faded into the plain and we rode again for five miles or so, and then came to another and another and still another. At that time thirteen villages in an arc of forty miles or so contained most of our American troops. We stopped many times on our long day's journey. Once we stopped for mid-day



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dinner and there came to Henry and me our first estrangement. It is curious, as the poet sings, "how light a thing may move dissension between hearts that love--hearts that the world in vain has tried and sorrow but more closely tied." Well--the thing that came between us was cooking--cooking that has parted more soul mates than any other one thing in the world! For two weeks more or less we had been eating in the French mess, or eating at country hotels or country homes in France, eating good French country cooking, and it was excellent. A mid-day meal typically was a melon, or a clear soup, or onion soup, brown and strong; a small bit of rare steak or chop, or a thin sliced roast in the juice with browned potatoes or carrots, a vegetable entree--peas, spinach, served dry and minced, or string beans; then raw fruit, and cheese. The bread, of course, was black war bread, but crusty and fine. That was my idea of a lunch for the gods. What we got at the American mess was this: a thick, frowsy, greasy soup--a kind of larded dish--water; thin steak fried hard as nails, boiled beans with fried bacon laid on the beans--not pork and beans, but called pork and beans--with the beans slithery and hard and underdone; lettuce, cabbage, and onions soused in vinegar, white bread



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cut an inch thick, soft and spongy, boiled potatoes that had stood in the water after they were cooked done, and then bread pudding, made by pouring water on bread, sticking in some raisins, stirring in an egg, and serving a floury syrup over it for sauce! There was enough, of course, to keep soul and body together. But the cooking had spoiled a lot of mighty good food. And Henry liked it! There were two preachers with us, and they bragged about the "good old American cooking!" And when they heard me roar they said, "He is insulting the star-spangled banner," and Henry threatened to take my pajamas out of his black valise!

After passing through many villages crowded with our troops we came to the headquarters of the American Expeditionary forces. We found General Pershing in a long brick building--two or three stories high, facing a wide white parade ground. The place had been used evidently as a barracks for French soldiers in peace times, and was fitted to the uses of our army. We met a member of his staff, a sort of outer guard, and with scarcely a preliminary halt were taken to the general. He seems easy of access, which is a sign that he plays no favourites and has no court. Anyone with business can see him. He



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met us in a plain bare room with a square new American-looking desk in the midst of it. He sat behind the desk, cordial enough but with the air of one who will be pleased to have business start, and politenesses stop. So we plunged straight to the business in hand. We were from the American Red Cross in Paris, and our leader had come to get a definite idea of what part the Red Cross was to play in the recreation activities of the army. The Y.M.C.A. was spending millions upon recreation problems. The Red Cross had millions to spend.

Recreation in Paris, of course, means soldier hostels, homes, clubs, houses where American soldiers can go while in Paris on leave of absence. The Red Cross had one single donation of one million dollars to be devoted to a club for American soldiers in Paris. The Y.M.C.A. had started to equip two or three great Parisian hotels as clubs. The Red Cross had money donated for certain other recreation purposes in camp. The Y.M.C.A. believed it should control the camp and Parisian recreation activities of the American troops.

We stated our case about as briefly as it is here written, and in three minutes. In two minutes more General Pershing had assured us that there



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would be no need to spend money for hotels or clubs in Paris, that few soldiers would be given leave to go to Paris, and that the lavish expenditure of American money in Paris would be bad for America's standing in France.

And then he allotted the recreation problems of men in the hospitals to the Red Cross, and the recreation enterprises for men outside of hospitals to the Y.M.C.A.

He was brief, exact, candid and final. He stood for the most part, as he talked; spoke low, fumbled for no word, and looked into his hearers' eyes. The politician looks over their shoulders. We spoke for two or three minutes with him about the work of our troops this winter, and were impressed with the decision of the man. He seemed--perhaps subconsciously--afraid that public opinion at home would demand that he put our men into the trenches to hold their own sector too early. He evidently believed that during our first winter the men should go in by squads and perhaps companies or later in regimental units for educational purposes, working with the English and the French learning the trench game. But we felt clearly that he believed strongly that it would be spring before we should occupy any portion of the line ourselves. There was a firm-



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ness about him, not expressed in words. No one could say that he had said what we thought he had conveyed to us. Yet each of us was sure that the General would not be moved from his decision. He breathes confidence in him into people's hearts. He never seems confidential; though he is entirely candid. Again one feels sure that there is no court around him. He seems wise with his own wisdom, which is constantly in touch with the wisdom of every one who may have business with him. He will not be knocked off his feet; he will do no military stunts. The American soldiers will not go into action until we have enough troops to hold our part of the line and we will not start an offensive until we can back it up. This all came glowing out of the firm, kind, wise, soldierly face of General Pershing, and it needed no words to verify it. Superfluous words might have contradicted the message of his mien; for they might have added boast to simple statement.

It is all so orderly, so organized, so American, this thing we are doing in France. It is like the effective manipulation of a great trust. The leadership of the American forces in France in the army and in the Red Cross and the Y.M.C.A. is made up of men known all over the



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United States; the names of those leaders who are soldiers may not be mentioned. They have dropped out of American civilian life so quietly that they are scarcely missed. Yet for weeks we lived in the hotel with one of the prominent figures in American finance who is working eighteen hours a day buying supplies, assembling war material--food, fuel, clothing--putting up scores of miles of barracks, building a railroad from tidewater to the American headquarters, equipping it with American engines, freight cars, and passenger coaches; sinking piles for the first time in a harbour which has been occupied for two thousand years, and unloading great ships there which were supposed to be too big for that port. He is the marvel of the French. Hundreds like him are over there lending a hand. They are about to handle in a year an army half as large as the other allies have been three years building. Houses, furniture, fuel, food, guns, ammunition, clothing, transportation, communication, medicine, surgeons, recreation--the whole routine of life for a million men and more must be provided in advance by these organizing men. This work, so far as these men consider it, is purely altruistic. They are sacrificing comforts at home, money-making opportunities at



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home, and they are working practically for nothing, paying their own expenses, and under the censor's wise rules these men can have not even the empty husks of passing fame. For their names may not be mentioned in the news of what the Americans are doing in Europe. Yet wherever one goes in Europe he is running across these first-class men. Their sincerity and patriotism may not be questioned.

But they are getting something real out of it all. The renewal of youth in their faces through unstinted giving is beautiful to see. They are going into a new adventure--a high and splendid adventure, and while many of them may snap back after the war to the old egoistic individualistic way of looking at life, their examples will persist, and their lives, when they go back to the old rut, will never be the same lives that they were before.

But here is a story, an American story which has in it the makings of a hero tale. It came to us in Paris, bit by bit. We saw it and no one told it to us. Yet here it is, and it should begin in form. Once upon a time in America when the people were changing their gods, a certain major god of finance named James Hazen Hyde, head of a great insurance company, fell into dis-



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favour; and the people, changing their gods, cast him away. If men had been serving the old gods they would have said, "Go it while you're young," to the youth, but instead they said unpleasant things. So he went to France and vanished from the map, but he did not entirely understand why he was banished. He had done nothing that other young gods did not do and he was amazed, but he faded. He lived in Paris as an exile, not as a god, and he couldn't for the life of him tell why. But when the war came he had a mighty human desire to serve his country; just to serve, mind you, not to be exalted. He was fifty years old, too old to pack a rifle; too old to mount an airship; too old to stop a bullet without taking two or three other good men and true, younger than he, to watch him. So he had hard work to find service. Then along came the American Red Cross and it wanted servants--not major generals, not even captains; but just chauffeurs and interpreters and errand boys and things. And young Jimmy Hyde, who had been the Prince of Wales of the younger gods of fashionable finance, and who was cast out when the people changed their gods, came to Red Cross headquarters with his two cars. and offered them and himself to serve. And they



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put him in a uniform, with a Sam Browne belt, and a Red Cross on his cap; and it was after all his country s uniform, and he was a servant of his country. And men say that even in the days of his young godhood he was not so happy, nor did his face shine in such pride as it shines today. For he is a man. He serves.

After our visit to the American troops we went down to Domremy, the birth place of Joan of Arc. It was good to view her from the aspect of her Old Home Town. There is a church, restored, where she worshipped, and the home where she was born and lived. It was a better house than one is led to suppose she lived in, and indicates that her people were rather of more consequence than common. We visited the home, went into the church, and walked in the garden where she met the angel; but we met postcard vendors instead. Yet it is a fair garden, back from the road, half hidden by a wall, and in it is a lovely drooping tree. A fair place it was indeed for an angel to choose. Some way Joan leaves me without much enthusiasm. Perhaps it is because she has had two good friends who have done her bad turns. The Pope, who made her a saint, and Mark Twain, who made her human. It is difficult to say, off-hand, which did



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her the worse service. Some way, it seems to me, she could live in our hearts more beautifully in the remote and noble company of myths like the lesser gods, made by men to express their deepest yearnings for the beautiful in life. The pleasant land in which she lived, the gentle hills whereon she watched her flocks, and the tender sky of France, all made me happy, and if Joan did not get to me, perhaps it was because one can take away from a place only what he brings there.

When we left Domremy, the mills--soft green hills, high but never rugged, stretched away in the misty purple distance and we dropped into those vales where Joan watched her sheep and heard the voices. It did not seem impossible, nor even difficult to hear voices amid such beauty. So we fell to discussing the voices that reach this world. And Henry said: "Always there are voices in this earth--always they come in youth, calling us forward and upward. And if we follow hem, though they lead to long marches and hard bivouacs, and to humiliation and sorrow, yet are we happy and triumphant."

"But Germany?" insisted someone. " Where were her voices?"

"Her voices came when Heine sang, and Bee-



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thoven made music, and Goethe and Schiller wrote and Schopenhauer thought! If ever a land had the philosophy and the poetry of democracy Germany had it. Democracy tried to bloom in the revolutionary days of the forties, but Germany strangled her voices. And now--"

"And now there are no voices in the world!" sighed one of our party: but even as he spoke from out of the purple distance came the thin faint sound of a bugle trembling among the hills. It was an American bugle. And Henry caught its significance, and cried: "There is the new voice--the voice that the world must follow if we find the old peace again on earth."





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