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

CHAPTER V



IN WHICH WE DISCERN THINGS "BY THE
DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT"



AT the close of one fair autumn day our car developed tire trouble, in a village "Somewhere in France," not far from the headquarters of the American Army. There are four excellent reasons for deleting the name of the town. First, the censor might not like to have it printed; second, because the name of the place has escaped my memory; third, because there is a munition factory there and it should not be mentioned, and fourth, because even if the name of the place returned to me, its spelling would get lost in transit. In passing it should be said in this connection that it seemed to Henry and me that the one thing France really needed was a pronounceable language and phonetic spelling. The village where we stopped really was not a village in the Kansas sense; it was twice as big as Emporia and nearly half as big as Wichita, which is
175




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70,000. But the thing that made the place seem like a village to us was the town crier. As we sat in the car he came down the street beating a snare drum and crying the official news of the sugar ration; he was telling the people where they could get sugar, how much they should pay for it and how much they should use for each member of a family a month.

"Why," asked Henry of an English speaking bystander," don't you put that in your daily newspaper; why keep up the old custom?"

"We have no daily newspaper," answered the inhabitant.

"All right, then, is there any reason why the news won't wait for the weekly?" asked Henry.

"And we have no weekly and no monthly and no annual. We have no newspaper in this town."

That stumped us both. In America every town of five thousand has its daily newspaper, and frequently two dailies, and in the West every town of five hundred people has its weekly newspaper. With us the newspaper crystallizes public sentiment, promotes local pride, and tries to be the social and intellectual centre of the community. A community of twenty-five thousand without a newspaper--and we found that this community



As we sat in the car...

As we sat in the car he came down the street beating
a snare drum and crying official news of the
sugar ration




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"By the Dawn's Early Light"--179

never had supported a newspaper--was unthinkable to us in terms of any civilization that we knew. How do they know about the births, deaths, and marriages, we asked; and they told us that the churches recorded those things. How do they know about the scandal? And we remembered that scandal was older than the press; it was the father of the press, as the devil is the father of lies. How do they know how to vote? And they told us that newspapers hindered rather than helped that function. How did they record local history? And in our hearts, we knew who had recorded so much local history, that most of it is not worth recording and that tradition takes care of what is left. But how did they manage to create a town spirit, to vote the bonds for the city waterworks, to establish the public library, to enforce the laws, to organize the Chamber of Commerce, to get up subscriptions for this, that or the other public benevolence ? And men shook their heads and said: Water has run down hill many years; perhaps it will keep on running, even without a newspaper.

It was a sad blow to Henry and me, who thought our calling was a torch-bearer of civilization. Indeed, one may digress and say that we found the whole estate of the press in France



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rather disenchanting. For advertising is not regarded as entirely "ethical" in France. The big stores sometimes do not advertise at all; because people look with the same suspicion on advertising drygoods and clothing merchants as we in America look upon advertising lawyers and doctors. So newspapers too often have to sell their editorial opinions, and the press has small influence in France, compared with the influence of the press in what we call the Anglo-Saxon countries.

But in that French village of twenty-five thousand people without a newspaper we found a civilization that compared favourably with the civilization in any American town. While the tire was going on it developed that a cog had slipped in the transgression of the car--or something of the sort, so we were laid up for an hour, and we piled out of our seats and took in the town. We found four good bookstores there--rather larger than our bookstores at home. We found two or three big co-operative stores largely patronized by industrial workers and farmers, and they were better stores by half than any co-operative stores we had seen in America. For with us the co-operative store is generally a sad failure. Our farmers talk big about co-operation, but they



"By The Dawn's Early Light"--181

sneak around and patronize the stores that offer the best bargains, and our industrial workers haven't begun to realize how co-operative buying will help them. We found no big stores, in the American sense, but we found many bright, well-kept shops. In electrical supplies we found the show windows up to the American average, which is high indeed; but in plumbing there was a sag. We discovered that the town had comparatively few sewers. The big, white-tiled bathroom with its carload of modern fixtures which adorns the show window of at least one plumber's shop in every American town--we missed. The bathtub is not a household need in France. Yet some way we surmised that if our towns could have better bookstores and fewer bathtubs we might have felt easier in our minds for the palladiums of our liberties. And it can't be laid to the picture shows--this slump in the American book reading average; for the French towns are just as full of picture shows as American towns. That superiority in bookstores which lies with the French over the Americans, should give us pause. It more than overbalances our superiority in country newspapers. And then as we walked about the town that evening in the sunset pondering upon these things we came to the town park.



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It was not a large park; but it lay close down to the main street--" right in the heart of the city," we would say at home. Everyone in town who moved about, to the stores from the residential streets, had to pass through that park. In it were certain long rows of gray-barked trees--trees with trunks that shimmered like the trunks of sycamores, but that rose sheer from the ground forty feet before branching, and then spread widely and calmly into mighty sprays of foliage. One could not walk under those trees day after day and year after year through life and not feel their spell upon his heart. "From the old grey trunks that mingled their mighty boughs high in the heaven," tothose whose lives lay underneath, in busy and perhaps more or less sordid routine, must inevitably come "the thought of boundless power and inaccessible majesty!" And that is a good thought to keep in the heart. That grove in the midst of that little French town was worth more to it than sewers, more than a daily newspaper, more than a trolley line or a convention hall. For it called incessantly to men a mute inexorable summons to the things outside ourselves that make for righteousness in this earth. We in America, we in the everlasting Wichitas and Emporias, are prone to feel that we can make



"By the Dawns Early Light"--183

for righteousness what or when we will by calling an election, by holding a public meeting, by getting a president, a secretary and a committee on ways and means, by voting the bonds! But they who walk daily through groves like this, must in very spite of themselves give some thought to the hand that "reared these venerable columns and that thatched the verdant roof!" Now in every French town, we did not find a grove like this. But in every French town we did find something to take its place, a historic spot marked with a beautiful stone or bronze; a gently flowing river, whose beauty was sacredly guarded; a group of old, old buildings that recalled the past, a cathedral that had grown almost like the woods themselves, out of the visions of men into the dreams of men. And these dumb teachers of men have put into the soul of France a fine and exquisite spirit. It rose at the Marne and made a miracle.

And ever since the Marne that spirit has ruled France. Essentially it is altruistic. Men are not living for themselves. They are living for something outside themselves; beyond themselves, even beyond the objects of their personal affection. Men are living and dying today not for any immediate hope of gain for their friends or



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families, but for that organized political unit which is a spiritual thing called France. We Americans who go to France are agreed that we have never in our lives seen anything like the French in this season of their anguish. They are treading the winepress as no other modern nation has trodden it, pressing their hearts' blood into the bitter wine of war. They grumble, of course, as they do their hard stint. The French proverbially are a nation of grumblers. Napoleon took them grumbling for fifteen years to glory. He took them grumbling to Moscow, and brought them grumbling back. They grumbled under the Second Empire and into the Republic. In 1916 they all but grumbled themselves into revolution. One heard revolt whispered in a thousand places. But they did not revolt. They will not revolt. Grumbling is a mere outer mannerism. In their hearts they are brave.

Over and over again as we went about France were we impressed with the courage and the tenacity of the French. By very contrast with their eternal grumbling did these traits seem to loom large and definite and certain. We met Dorothy Canfield in Paris, one of the best of the younger American novelists. She told us a most illuminating story. She has been two years in



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--185

France working with the blind, and later superintending the commissary department of a training camp for men in the American Field Ambulance service. She is a shrewd and wise observer, with a real sense of humour, and Heaven knows a sense of humour is necessary if one gets the truth out of the veneer of tragedy that surfaces the situation.1 It seems that she was riding into Paris from her training camp recently, and being tired went to sleep in her compartment, in which were two civilians, too old for military service. She was awakened by a wrangle and then--but let her tell it:

"Then I saw a couple of poilus sticking their heads in our window shaking a beret and asking for contributions to help them enjoy their week's leave of absence in Paris. My two elderly Frenchmen had given a little, under protest, saying (what was perfectly true) that it would go for drink and wouldn't do the poilus any good. And one of the soldiers was declaiming about the fat bourgeois who stayed at home and let himself be defended and then wouldn't give a helping hand to the poor soldier on rest leave! To get rid of them, I put a franc in the beret. This

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

1 This story appeared in Everybody's Magazine in Dorothy Canfield's own words.



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was received with acclamations, and they inquired to whom should they drink a toast with the money. I said, 'Oh, give a good Vive l'Amerique. That'll suit me best!' They both shouted, 'Oh, is Madame an American?' And to the dismay of the two bourgeois, put first one long leg and then another through the window and came in noisily to sit down (they were standing on the running-board all this time with the train going forty miles an hour . . . a thing which was simply unheard-of in France before the war . . . one of the 'privileges' which the poilu take!). Well, they shook hands with me two or three times over and assured me they had never seen an American before . . . and indeed the two bourgeois looked at me curiously. Then one of them began to talk boisterously, expressing himself with great fluency and occasionally with a liberty of phrase which wasn't conventional at all, another poilu privilege! They sat down, evidently for a long visit. They were typical specimens: one was noisy, fluent, slangy, coarse, quite eloquent at times, a real Parisian of the lower classes, the kind which leaves its shirt open at the neck over a hairy chest and calls itself proudly 'the proletariat' The other was a fresh-faced, vigorous country man from Bourgogne,



They were standing on the running board...

They were standing on the running board all this time
with the train going forty miles an hour




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"By the Dawn's Early Light"--189

the type that corresponds to the middle western American, a kind of Emporian! He hadn't much to say, but when he did speak, spoke to the purpose. They both, through all their roughness and coarseness and evident excitement over starting on their 'permission,' had that French instinctive social tact and amenity (of a sort) which keeps decent women from being afraid of them or from hesitating to talk with them; and they were both very sincere, and desperately trying to express something of the strange confusion that is in everybody's mind ever since the war . . . what are we all doing anyhow!

"Here are some of the things the fluent Paris 'cockney' said . . . for the type corresponds in Paris to the lower-class cockney of London. "'See here, you know, we've had enough of it . . . we can't stand it any more! I'm just back from the Chemin des Dames . . . you know what that's been for the last month' . . . then he gave me a terrible description of that battle . . . 'how do you expect men to go back to that . . . do you know what happens to you when you live for twenty-thirty days like that? you go mad! Yes, that's what happens to you . . . that's what's the trouble with me now . . . I know I sound wild. I am wild . . . I can't



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stand any more . . . it's more than flesh and blood can endure to go back into that! Why don't the Americans get in it if they are going to? Oh, yes, I know they can't any sooner . . . but why didn't they get in, before! Oh, yes, I know why. I know . . . but when you are mad you can't stop to reason. We look at it this way. . . . When We're not mad, from having been too many days under fire . . . we say, as we talk it over.... There are the English ... they've done splendidly . . . they've taken two years, it is true, to get their army really in shape . . . but they didn't have anything to begin with . . . they're fine . . . all that we could expect. But all the same, during the two years, Frenchmen were dying like flies . . . just watering the whole North with blood . . . yes, I've seen a brook run red just like the silly poems that nobody believed. And the Americans . . . yes . . . suppose this man and I should get to quarrelling. Of course you can't jump right in and decide which is to blame, if you don't know much about the beginning. You have to stand off and watch, and see which fights fair, and all the rest . . . but while you are deciding, all France is dying. It is time the weight of the defence is taken off France . . . there won't be any French-



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--191

men left alive in France . . . and here she is with all these foreigners over-running her! Do you suppose they are going to leave after the war? Not much. All these Algerians and Senegals and Anamites--not to speak of the Belgians and English and Americans . . . there won't be any Frenchmen left alive, and France will be populated by foreigners . . . that's what we have to look forward to for all the reward of our blood. They keep promising help, but they don't bring it. We have to go back and go back! I tell you, Ma'ame, three years is too long a time! No man can stand three years of war! It makes you into somebody else . . . you've died so many times you're like a walking corpse . . . isn't that just how you feel?' he appealed to his companion, who said impassively,

"'No, damn you, that isn't a bit how I feel. I just say to myself, "It's war," and "That's the way war is," and I don't try to make anything out of it the way you do. That's silly! You just have to stick it out. Understanding it hasn't anything to do with it.'

"The first one went off on another tack . . . still wilder and more incoherent. 'It's the capitalists . . . that's what it is . . . they saw that the people . . . the proletariat . . . that's me,'



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with a thump of his fist on his chest, 'had begun to see too clearly how things were going and so they stirred up this hornet's nest to blind everybody . . . for in war even more than in peace (and that's saying a good deal) . . . it's the proletariat that bears the burdens. Who do you think is in the trenches now . . . is the bourgeois class? No! It's the labouring class. One by one, the bourgeois have slipped out of it. Got themselves the fat jobs at the rear, work in hospitals . . . anything but to stay out in the frontline trenches with us poor rats of working-people! Isn't that so?'

"He appealed to his companion, who answered again very calmly (it was extraordinary how they didn't seem to mind differing diametrically from each other. I suppose they had the long habit of arguing together). 'No, it's not so! In my company there are as many bourgeois as labouring men.'

"The first man never paid the least attention to these brief denials of everything he was saying. 'It's the proletariat that always pays . . . isn't it so, Ma'ame! Peace or war, old times or new, it's always the poor who pay all the debts! And they're doing it to such a tune now in France that there won't be any left, when the war is over . . .



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--193

oh, it's got to stop. There's no use talking about it . . . and it will, too, one of these days . . . who cares how it stops! Life . . . any sort of life . . . is better than anything else.'

"At this the other soldier said, 'Don't pay any attention to him, Madame, he always goes on so but he'll stick it out just the same. We all will. That's the nature of the Frenchman, Madame. He must have his grievance. He must grumble and grumble but when it's necessary, he goes forward just the same. . . . Only he has to talk such a lot before!'

"'Oh, yes, we'll hold them, fast enough!' agreed the first one. 'We'll never let them get past us!' (This type of declaring poilu is much given to contradicting himself flatly!) 'But never, never, never an offensive again, from the French . . . you see, Madame-- Never again an offensive from the French! They've done their share! They've done more than their share. Never an offensive. We'll hold till the Americans get here, but not more!'

"We were pulling into the station at Meaux by this time, and as the train stood there waiting, I heard a sound that brought my heart up into my mouth . . . the sound of a lot of young men's voices singing an American College song!



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Everybody sprang to the windows and there was a group of American boys, in their nice new uniforms, singing at the tops of their voices, and putting their heads together like a college glee-club. Their clear young voices completely filled that great smoky station and rang out with the most indescribably confident inspiriting effect! 'Good God!' cried the dingy, battered soldier at my elbow, 'how little they know what they are going into!' The soldier from Bourgogne said nothing, but looked very stern and sad. The contrast between those two men, one so rebellious, the other so grimly enduring, both so shabby and war-worn, and those splendidly fresh boys outside, seemed to me the most utterly symbolic episode imaginable. There was America--there was France.

"It changed the current of the talk. After that we talked all together, the two bourgeois joining in . . . sober talk enough, of probabilities and hopes and fears.

"As I walked home at one o'clock in the morning through the silent black streets of Paris, turning over and over what that poor disinherited slum-dweller had said as we parted, quite as earnestly and simply as he had poured out all his disgust and revolt, 'Good-bye, Ma'ame, I never



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--195

met an American before. I hope I'll meet many more. You tell the Americans the French will see it through . . . if a new offensive is necessary . . . we'll do it! It's the only chance anybody has to have a world fit to live in!'"

When she had finished her story, Dorothy Canfield concluded something like this: "That's what they all come back to, after their fit of utter horror at their life is over. It does them good, apparently, to talk it all out to a patient listener. They always, always end by saying that even what they are living through is better than a world commanded by the Germans . . . what a perfectly amazing distrust that nation has accumulated against itself!"

They are sick of war; war weary and sad. Yet they will fight on. The will to fight is outside the individual will; yet it is not the will of the leaders, nor is it the will of the many combined in a common will. For the many are tired unto death of war. But for all that they will fight on without flinching. It is the national will--the will deeper than the will of leaders, stronger than the molten will of the many in one purpose It is the tradition of centuries: it is the unexpressed purpose, perhaps unconscious habit of an old, old people, united far down in the



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roots of them; not so much by race, for the Franks are of many breeds; not so much by industrial or geographical ties or even political unity, though it approaches that; but bound most surely by the sense of national tradition. A people is fighting. From a thousand villages with their primeval temples, with their lovely cathedrals grown out of the hearts of the race buried in the shadow of their spires, from the shining rivers that flow through green pastures, from soft hills rich in folk tales of heroes, come the millions; and from Paris, ever radiant in her venerable youth, come other millions who make this fighting soul of the nation. What if it grumbles as it fights; it will still fight on. Of course it is sick of war; but it will not stop. It is a spirit that is fighting in France, the spirit of a brave people.

We have in France a few hundred thousand men and will soon have a million and more who are offering their lives in Service. But the whole French nation is giving thus. And it is without hate. One finds instead of hatred in France a feeling of deep disgust for the German and all his works. The spirit of the French is not vicious. It is beautiful. When the war ceases that may subside, may retire to the under con-



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--197

sciousness of the people. But it will not depart. It also will remain eternally a part of the salvage of this war.

By the time the transgression of our car had been sufficiently atoned for, dusk was falling. And Henry broke away from the gothic arches of the trees and made for a tavern. He had learned that one must take food in France where he can find it, and ten minutes later we came upon him in front of the inn, talking in a slow loud voice to what was either the inn-keeper's daughter or his pretty young wife thus: "I said," Henry paused and nodded his head and beat the thing in with his hand; "we want some supper--de jurnay--toot sweet!" She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders very prettily and said she could not "say pa." And Henry laughed and went on, still enunciating each word distinctly. "Ah, don't tell us you can't 'Say pa': say 'wee wee.'" And again he told her "toot sweet." That was the only part of the French language that Henry was entirely sure of--that and "comb be-ah!" But we could not get it through her head. So we loaded ourselves into the car and headed back for St. Dizier, where at least they understood Henry's gestures, and we could get food!



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Our next journey took us to the greatest training camp in the allied part of the world. It is not the largest camp, of course. It accommodates less than twenty thousand soldiers. But it is what might be called the post graduate college of all training camps. Here ten thousand men come every week from other training camps all over the earth, and are given intensive training. For six days, eighteen and twenty hours a day, these soldiers, trained by many months' labour on other fields, are given the Ph.D. in battle lore, and are turned out the seventh day after a Saturday night lecture on hate, and shot straight up to the front. In all France there is no more grisly place for the weak-stomached man than this training camp--not even the front line trenches will kick up his gorge more sedulously. Yet at first sight the place looks innocent enough. One sees a great basin hollowed among the hills! and in the ten thousand acre plain one sees horsemen galloping, soldiers running, great trucks and tanks lumbering over the field; men digging, men throwing hand-grenades, men clambering over trench walls, stumbling over crater holes, men doing all the innumerable things that are learned by those who carry on the handicraft of war.

But when one starts with the first class and



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--199

goes along through the day's work with it, the deadly seriousness of the training gets to him. The first thing the first class does is to gather around a sergeant major, who in a few simple words tells his pupils how to use the bayonet. Then they go out and use the bayonet as he has taught them. Then the pupils gather around another sergeant major, who tells them how to use the hand-grenade or the knife or the butt of a gun, and the simple-hearted lads go out and use the grenade, the knife, or the butt of the gun. At length they are taken to a part of the ground where some trenches are sunken in the earth. Before the trenches are barbed wire entanglements and deep jagged shell craters. The imitation enemy trenches badly bombed by barrage lie twenty rods beyond. The men are taken in hand by the amiable sergeant major and taught to yell and roar, and growl and snarl, to simulate the most murderous passion, and the simulation of a husky youth in his twenties of a murderous passion is realistic enough to make your flesh creep; for the very simulation produces the passion, as every wise man's son doth know. Then the youths are lined up in the trench, and numbered "one-two: one-two: one-two"; clear down the trench. Then the order is given to go over



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the top. Every gun rattles on the trench-top, and the second lieutenant goes over. In the English papers the list of dead begins "Second lieutenant, unless otherwise designated." And in the war zone the second lieutenants are known as "The suicides' club." Well, the second lieutenants get on top, and, down in the trench, number one hands his leg to number two; clear down the line; number two boosts number one to the top, then number one lends a hand to number two and pulls him out. Meanwhile enemy fire is hot. The line forms in open order. The blood curdling yells begin--and mingle in an animal roar that sounds like the howl of an orang-outang in the circus just before it is fed at the after-show! It is the voice of hell. Then the line walks-- not runs, but walks under machine gun and shell fire to the enemy trench; for experience has proven that if the men run into that fire they will be out of breath and probably go down in the hand-to-hand, knee-to-knee, eye-to-eye conflict with knife and bayonet and gun butt that always occurs when they go over the top to charge the enemy trench. As they near the enemy trench the bestial howl rises, and as they jump into the shell-shattered trenches the howl is maniacal. In the trenches are canvas bags



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--201

made to represent wounded enemies. The first wave over the top leaves these bags for the stretcher bearers. But by the time the next wave comes over, or the third wave comes, the stretcher bearers are supposed to have cleared the trenches of wounded enemies, and after that every soldier is supposed to jab his bayonet in every bag in the trenches, as he is expected to jab every dead body, to prevent an enemy from playing possum and then getting to a presumably disabled enemy machine gun and shooting our soldiers in the back. Every time a student soldier jabs a canvas bag he snarls and growls like a jackal, and if he misses a bag it counts against him in the day's markings. Wave after wave comes over, and prisoners are sent to the rear, if there are guards to take them. If not prisoners are killed, and one does not waste ammunition on them. It may be well to pause here to say that in the gentle art of murdering the business of taking prisoners is not elaborately worked out. They learn that by rote, rather than by note. The Canadians, since two of their men were crucified by the Prussians, take few Prussian prisoners. Here is a snapback of the film. It is the Rue di Rivoli in Paris. Two lanky youngsters in Canadian uniform are talking to Henry and me.



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"What part of the states do you Canadians come from?" we ask. They grin and answer, "San Francisco."

WE: "What's this story about you Canadians not taking any prisoners? "

THEY: "Oh, we take prisoners--all right, I guess!"

WE: "Well, how often?"

THEY: "Oh, sometimes."

WE: "Come on now, boys, as Californians to Kansans, tell us the truth."

The tall one looked at the short one for permission to tell the truth, and got it. Then he said:

"Well, it's like this. We go into a trench after them damn brutes has been playing machine guns on us, knowing as soon as we get in they'll surrender, but trying to kill as many of us as they can before they give up. Then they raise up their hands and begin yelling, 'Kamerade, Kamerade,' and someone says, 'Come on, fellers, let's take this poor bugger,' and we're about to do it when along comes a chap and sees this devil, and up goes a gun by the barrel, and whack it comes down on the Boche's head, and the feller says, 'No, damn him, he killed my pal,' and we



What part of the States...

"What part of the States do you Canadians come
from?"




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"By the Dawn's Early Light"--205

polishes him off! polishes him off and cleans out the trench.'

WE: 'Now, boys, does that always happen? How often do you fellows polish Fritzie off and clean up the trench?"

THEY (after the short one had nodded to the tall one): "Well, mister, I'll tell you. It's got so it's mighty damn risky for any Prussian to surrender to any Canadian!"

When the line out there in the training camp has gone to its objective, which usually is the third or fourth enemy trench, the men begin digging in. Then they go back to the sergeant major for more instructions. The digging in is usually done under a curtain of fire to protect them. It is a great picture.

In another part of the field we saw the engineers learning to make tunnels under the enemy; saw the engineers blowing up enemy trenches--a pleasant and exciting spectacle; saw the engineers making camouflage, and it may interest the gentle reader to know that one of the niftiest bits of camouflage we saw was over a French seventy-five gun. It was set in the field. A railroad siding ran to it. On a canvas over the gun two rails and the usual number of ties were



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painted, and the track ran on beyond. Fifty feet in the air one could not tell that the gun was there.

The liveliest part of this martial cloister was the section devoted to the bayonet practice. And as we watched the men trying to rip the vest buttons off a dummy and expose its gastric arrangements with a bayonet, while loping along at full speed, we recalled a Civil War story which may well be revived here. A Down-easter from Vermont and a Southerner were going around and around one day at Shiloh, each trying to get the other with the bayonet, but both were good dodgers. Finally as the Yankee was getting winded he cried between puffs:

"Watch aout--! Mind what yer dewin'! Ye dern smart aleck! Haint yew got no sense! You'll stick the pint of thet thing in my boawels, if you ain't keerful!"

We heard a lot of shivery stories around that training camp. They told us that the French chasseurs, the famous blue devils, were more or less careless about the way they forgot to take prisoners. They are a proud people, from the French Alps, and exceedingly democratic. A German brigadier, caught under their barrage, came up to a troop of chasseurs and when they



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--207

demanded his surrender asked curtly, "Where's your superior officer?" They pointed down the hill, and he started down. At a safe distance they threw a hand grenade into him and obliteratedhim, remarking, "Well, the world is that much safer for democracy." It is told of a Canadian who came across a squad of Germans with their hands up that he asked: "How many are you?" Eleven, they said. He reached in his pocket; found his hand grenade, and threw it at them, remarking, "I'm sorry I have but the one; but divide it between you! " There is also the story of the Indian Sikhs, who begged to go out on a night raiding party--crawling on their bellies with their knives as their only weapons. Finally two of them returned with new pairs of boots. Showing them proudly to their amazed Captain, they said humbly, "Yes, sire! But you would be pained to learn how long we had to hunt for a fit!" There is also the story of the festive Tommy who tried to play a practical joke on his German prisoner by slipping a lighted bomb in the German's pocket. The Tommy then started to run; the German thought he must keep up with his captor and Tommy realized that the joke was on him, just as the bomb went off and killed them both.



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Such stories are innumerable. They are probably untrue. But they indicate what men at war think is funny; they reflect a certain impoliteness and lack of courtesy that prevails in war. As it wears on it grows more or less unneighbourly. And yet the upheaval of war is just a passing emotional disturbance in the normal life of men. Even in France, even in the war zone, there is no glorifying of war; men in war, at least on our side of the line, hate war more than they hate the Germans. And with the whole heart of the civilized world--if one frankly may call the Turk and the Prussian the savages that they are--set upon maintaining this war to a victory for the allies, civilization may be said to be in the war as a makeshift. Everywhere one hears that it is a war against war. Every one is "longing for the dawn of peace " when it shall come with justice, and in the meantime France is as deeply devoted to healing the wounds of war as it is in promoting the war. Six hundred French societies are devoted to various war works of mercy! Every man and woman in France who is not a soldier or a nurse is working in one of these societies. And yet life goes on with all this maladjustment of its cams and cogs and levers much as in its ordinary routine. There never were more joyous



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--209

dahlias and phlox and china asters than we saw coming back from that training camp where men were learning the big death game. And when we came to Paris the real business of war seemed remote. Of course, Paris is affected by the war. But Paris is not war-like. One doesn't associate Paris with "grim-visaged war!" For if Paris is not gay, still it remains mighty amiable. At noon the boulevard cafes are filled to the sidewalks, and until nine o'clock at night they give a fair imitation of their former happiness. Then they close and the picture shows are crowded, and the theaters are filled. One sees soldiers and their women folk at the opera and at the vaudeville shows more than at the other shows. During the summer and the autumn a strong man put on a show at the Follies with the soldiers that was the talk of the town. His game was a tug of war. He announced that he would give fifty dollars to any soldier who could withstand him. The strong man sat the soldier down on the floor, foot to foot before him. Both grasped a pole, and it was the strong man's "act" to throw the soldier over his head, on to a mattress just back of the strong man. It is a simple act; one that would soon would tire Broadway, but when one remembers that soldiers bring their local pride with them



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to Paris from the ends of the earth, from New Zealand, from India, from Canada, from South Africa, from Morocco, from China, from Australia, and then when one remembers that the men of his country are gathered in the theater to back every local athlete, it is easy to see why the strong man holds week after week, month after month, season after season. Every night some proud nation gathers in the show house to get that fifty dollars with its favourite son. And every night some favourite son almost gets it. And if the strong man didn't fudge a little, pinch the favourite son's hands on the pole and make him let go, almost every night the strong man would be worsted. The struggle sets the house yelling. It is the only real drama in Paris. We noticed that the shows of Paris which appealed to the eyes and ears were far below the American standard. In comedy which appeals to something behind the sense, in the higher grades of acting, the Paris shows were, on the whole, better than Broadway shows. But in the choruses, the dancers lack that finish, that top dressing of mechanical unison required by American taste. Moreover the lighting and colour were poor. The music at the Follies was Victor Herbert of 1911! Old American popular songs seemed



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--211

to be in vogue. One heard "O Johnny" and "Over There" at every vaudeville house this year. Sometimes they were done in French, sometimes in English. In Genoa, one may say in passing that we heard one of the songs from "Hitchy-Coo" done in Italian. It was eery! American artists are popular in Paris. We saw a girl at three show houses in Paris, under the name of Betty Washington, doing a gipsy dance, playing the fiddle. She was barefoot, and Henry, who has a keen eye, noticed that she had her toes rouged! But she always was good for four encores, and she usually got a good start at the fifth from Henry and me; we had just that much national pride! Great throngs of soldiers filled these gay show houses. The French, the English, and the Australians seemed satisfied with them. But the Canadians and Americans sniffed. To them Paris is a poor show town.

One night we fell into a Boulevard show the like of which we had never seen before. It was a political revue! The whole evening was devoted to skits directed at the ministry, at the food administration, at the scandals in the interior department and the deputies, at the high taxes and the profiteering of the munition makers. The skits were done in dialogue, song and dance,



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and the various forms of burlesque. A good crowd--but not a soldier crowd--sat through it and applauded appreciatively. Imagine an American audience devoting a whole evening to a theatrical performance exclusively concerned with Hoover, Secretary Daniels, Colonel Roosevelt, former Mayor Mitchel, and LaFollette. In America we get little politics out of the theater. In France, where they distrust the newspapers, they get much politics from the theater. The theater is free in France--and apparently not so closely censored as the newspapers. We learned that night at the revue of a coming cabinet crisis, before the newspapers announced it. And in learning of the crisis we had this curious social experience, which we modestly hoped was quite as Parisian as the Revue. During the first act of the show it was Greek to Henry and me. We could understand a vaudeville show, and by following the synopsis could poke along after the pantomime in a comedy. But here in this revue, where the refinements of sarcasm and satire were at play and that without a cue, we were stumped. Henry was for getting out and going somewhere else. But we had a dollar a seat in the show and it seemed to me that patience would bring results. And it did! A good-looking, middle-aged couple



By the Dawn's Early Light--213

sat down in the seats next to us, and the woman began talking English. She was sitting next to me, so it was my turn, not Henry's to speak. We asked her if it would be too much trouble to interpret the show for two jays from Middle Western America. She replied cordially enough. and she gave us a splendid running interpretation of the show. The man with her seemed friendly. We noticed that he was slyly holding her hand in the dark, and that once he slipped his arm around her when the lights went clear down. But that spelled a newly married middle-aged couple, and we would have bet money that he was a widower and she, late from his office, was at the head of his household. Between acts he and Henry went out to smoke, leaving me with the lady. We exchanged confidences of one sort and another after the manner of strangers in a strange land. When it occurred to me to ask:

"What does your husband do for a living?"

"My--what?" she exclaimed.

"Your husband, there?"

"Who--that man? Why, I never saw him in my life until I picked him up in a cafe an hour ago!"

And she got from me a somewhat gaspy "Oh." But we had a good chat just the same



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and she told me all about the coming fall of the cabinet. Her type in America would not be interested in politics. But the shows of the boulevards discuss politics and the theaters are free! So her type in France had to know politics. It takes all kinds of people and also all kinds of peoples to make a world. And the war really is being fought so that they may work out their lives and their national traditions freely and after the call of their own blood. If we are to have only one kind of people, the kind is easy to find. There is kultur!

Still the love affairs of the French did bother us. Henry did not mind them so much; but to me they seemed as unreasonable and as improbable as the ocean and onion soup seemed to Henry. Every man has his aversion, and the French idea of separating love from marriage, and establishing it beautifully in another relation, is my aversion, and it will have to stand. Henry was patient with me, but we were both genuinely glad when a day or two later we came back to the sprightly little American love affair that we had chaperoned on the Espagne crossing the ocean. That love affair we could understand. It had been following us with a feline tenacity all over France. When we left the Eager Soul with the



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--215

Gilded Youth in the hospital at--we'll say Landrecourt, because that is not the place--we thought our love affair was gone for ever. The letter she gave us to deliver to the Young Doctor we had to trust to other hands; for he was not at the American hospital where he should have been. He had gone to the British front for a week's experimental work in something with four syllables and a Latin name at that. But the cat came back one day, when we were visiting a hospital four hours out of Paris. The place had that curious French quality of charm about it, which we Americans do not manage to put into our "places and palaces." Down a winding village street--a kind of low-walled stone canyon, narrow and grey, but brightened with uniforms like the streets of most French villages these days--we wormed our machine and stopped at an important looking building--an official looking building. It was not official, we learned--just a chateau. A driveway ran under it. That got us. For when a road leads into a house in America, it means a jail, or a courthouse, or a hotel, or a steel magnate's home or a department store. But when we scooted under the house we came into a wide white courtyard, gravel paved. We left the machine and went from the court-



216--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

yard into a garden--the loveliest old walled garden imaginable. At the corners of the garden were fine old trees--tall, spike-shaped evergreens of some variety, and in the midst of it was a weeping yew tree and a fountain. Around the walls were shrubs and splashed about the walks and near the fountain were gorgeous dabs of colour, phlox and asters, and dahlias and hollyhocks and flowers of various gay sorts. And back of the garden, down a shaded path, lay the hospital--a new modern barracks of a hospital, in a field sheltered from the street by all that grandeur and all that beauty. The hospital was made of rough, brown stained boards; it was one story high, built architecturally like a tannery, and camouflaged as to the roof to represent "green fields and running brooks." Board floors and board partitions under the roof were covered as well as they could be; and stoves furnished the heat. The beds--acres and acres of iron beds--were assembled in the great wards and stretched far down the long rooms like white ranks of skeletoned ghosts. The place was American--new, excruciatingly clean, and was run like a factory. We were proud of it, and of the business-like young medical students who as orderlies and bookkeepers and helpers went



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--217

about in their brand new uniforms--young crown princes of democracy, twice as handsome and three times as dignified as they would have been if they had royal blood. Henry called them the heirs apparent "of all the ages" and enjoyed them greatly. They certainly gave the place a tone, converting a sprawling ugly pile of brown boards into a king's palace. When we had finished our errand at the hospital and were returning through the garden, we met our young doctor. He was sitting on an old stone bench, among the asters and dahlias--wounded. It was not a serious wound from an ordinary man's standpoint; but from the Young Doctor's it was grave indeed. For it was a bullet wound through his hand. He thought it would not affect the muscles permanently--but no one could know. Then he sat there in the mediaeval garden among the flowers under the yew trees and told us how it happened; took us out to the first aid post again, and on out to the first line trenches, and over them into No Man's Land, stumbling over the dead, helping the stretcher bearers with the wounded. In time he came to a wounded German--Prussian officer with a shell-wound in his leg.

He told us what happened, impersonally, as



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one who is listening to another man's story in his own mouth. "I gave him something like a first aid to stop the bleeding," the young Doctor paused, picked a ravelling from his bandage and went on, still detached from the narrative. "Then I put my arm around him, to help him back to the ambulance." Again he hesitated and said quietly, "That was a half mile back and the shells were still popping--more or less--around us." He looked for appreciation of the situation. He got it, smiled and went on without lifting his voice. "Then he did it."

"Not that fellow?" exclaimed Henry.

"Well, how?" from me.

"Oh, I don't know. He just did it," droned the Young Doctor. "We were talking along; and then he seemed to quit talking. I looked up. The pistol was at my head; I knocked it away as he fired. It got my hand! "He stopped, began poking the gravel with his toe, and smiled again as one who has heard an old story and wants to be polite. To Henry and me, it was unbelievable. We sat down on the hoary, moss-covered curb of the ancient fountain regardless of our spanking new uniforms and cried: "Well, my Heavenly home!" He nodded, drew a deep breath and said, "That's the how of it."



He told us what happened...

He told us what happened impersonally as one who is
listening to another man's story in his own mouth




(blank page follows)



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--221

"Well, what do you know about--"

Then Henry checked me with, "You weren't expecting it? Did he make no warning sign?"

"Not a peep--not a chirrup," answered the Doctor, still diffidently. Then he added, as one reflecting over an incident in a rather remote past: "It was odd, wasn't it. You would think that two men who stood where we were together--I, who had put my hands in his live flesh, and had felt his blood flow through my fingers, and he who was clinging to my body for support--you would think we had come together not as foes, but as friends; for the war was over for him!"

The Young Doctor's eyebrows knitted. His mouth set. He went on: "This man should have abandoned his military conscience. But no--," the Doctor shook his head sadly, "he was a Prussian before he was a man! He carefully figured it out, that it takes four years to make a doctor, and three months to make a soldier, so to kill a doctor is as good as killing a dozen men. It's all very scientific, this German warfare--scientific and fanatical; Nietzsche and Mahomet, what a perfect alliance it is between the Kaiser and the Sultan."

Then it came to us again that Germans, on seas,



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in submarines, in air, in their planes bombing hospitals, and on land, looting and dynamiting villages--in all their martial enterprises, think unlike the rest of civilized men. They are a breed apart--savage, material-minded, diabolic, unrestrained by fear or love of God, man or devil. We talked of these things for a time; but something, the quiet beauty of the garden maybe, took the edge off our hate. And gradually it became apparent to me, at least, that the Young Doctor was marking time until we should have the sense to tell him something of the Eager Soul. What did he care for the war? For the Prussians? For their Babylonian philosophy? For his wounded hand? What were gardens made for in this drab earth, if not for sanctuaries of lovers? One does not go to a garden to hate, to buy, or sell, to fight, to philosophize, but to adore something or someone, somehow or somewhere. And the Young Doctor was in his Holy Temple, and we knew it. So Henry asked: "You received your letter?" And when he thanked us for our trouble, Henry asked again: "Did she tell vou that the Gilded Youth was there at her hospital?"

"Only in a pencilled postscript after she had



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--223

decided to send the letter to me by you," answered the Doctor.

That sounded good to me. Evidently she had written to the Young Doctor before the Gilded Youth had appeared. Also presumably she had not written to the Gilded Youth. If she had written to him after the air raid that had killed the head nurse, it would indicate that she had turned to the Young Doctor, in an emotional crisis. and that he was still a safe bet, as against the Gilded Youth. The only question which occurred to me to develop this fact was this: "Did she tell you that she was made assistant to the new head nurse that came to supply the place of the one who was slain by the Germans?" Henry looked at me as if he thought the question was unfair.

"Yes," laughed the Doctor, "in the very first line."

"What odds are you giving now, Bill?" asked Henry bitterly.

"In the very first line,--" we could all three see the Eager face, the proud blue eyes, the pretty effective hands brushing the straying crinkly strands of red hair from her forehead, as she sat there in the bare little nurses' room, bringing



224--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

her first promotion in pride to the young Doctor. Perhaps he did not realize all that it meant. For you see he was very young. Certainly he did not understand about the odds and repeated the word in a question. Henry cut in, "Oh, nothing, only that night after they went walking in the hospital yard, Bill made me give him three to five. Now I ought to have two to one. It's all over but the shouting." And Henry laughed at the Young Doctor's bewilderment; but the young Doctor looked at his bandaged hand and shook his head. The walk in the hospital yard was disturbing news to him.

"Ah, don't worry about that," Henry reassured him. "Why, man, you ought to have heard what she said about you!" And Henry, being a good-natured sort, told the Doctor what the Eager Soul had said to the Gilded Youth in the hospital compound, while the buzzing monsters in the air were singing their nightingale songs of death in the moonlight.

We left the Young Doctor after he had squeezed out of us all the news we had of the girl. Long after we had passed through the garden gate, out into the white, gravel-paved court under the proud arch and into the crooked, low, grey-walled canyon of the street, we thought of



"By the Dawn's Early Light"--223

the Young Doctor sitting there reading blue eyes into china asters, red hair into dahlias, pink cheeks into the phlox, and hearing ineffable things whispered among the leaves of the melancholy yew tree. And all that, in a land of waste and desolation, with war's alarms on every wind.

And we thought that he looked more like a poet than a Doctor even in his uniform; and less like a soldier than either. Such is the alchemy of love in youth!





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