The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me by William Allen White



IT is curious how the human heart throws out homeseeking tendrils. As we crossed the Italian frontier and came back into France, keen longing for the Ritz--even the Ritz with its gloomy grandeur came to me, and Henry confessed that he was glad to get back to a country where a man could get a good refreshing bowl of onion soup! After dinner, our first evening at the Ritz, we were looking over the theatrical offerings advertised upon the wall by the elevator at the hotel, when whom should we meet but "Auntie," the patrician relative of the Gilded Youth. She recognized us in our civilian clothes, and it fell to me to make the fool blunder of complicating our formal greetings with gaiety. Auntie's troubled face would have caught Henry's quick sensitive eyes. But Auntie's voice brushed aside the levity of the opening.

"Haven't you heard--haven't you heard?" she asked. And we knew instinctively that some-


268--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

thing had happened to the Gilded Youth. And when one is in aviation something happening always is serious. It was Henry's kind voice that conveyed our sympathy to her. And she told us of the accident. Two mornings before, while making his first flight alone, from the training camp near Paris, something went wrong with his engine while he was but a thousand feet in the air--and over Neuilly. He had to glide down, and being over a town he could not make a landing. They took him from the wreck of his plane, to the hospital near by--fortunately an American Red Cross Hospital, where the people recognized him and sent for his aunt. All day and all night he had lain unconscious, and at noon had opened his eyes for a minute to find his aunt beside him. "I brought with me," said Auntie, in a tone so significantly casual that it arrested our attention before she added, "that capable young nurse, the first assistant--" As she spoke she caught Henry's eyes and held him from looking at me.

"You mean the one--" said Henry in a tone quite as casual as Auntie's while giving eye for eye.

"Yes, your pretty mid-western girl. She is with him now." Then Auntie lost Henry's eyes

We Consider the Woman Proposition--269

as tears brimmed into her own. "It has been twenty-six hours since we arrived at Neuilly. I shall return in an hour, and--"

"I wish," cried Henry, "I wish there was something we could do!"

Auntie caught our embarrassed desire to be of service yet not to assume. Her strong fine face lighted with something kind enough for a smile, as she answered: "Couldn't you go out and see him? I think no one else in Paris would be more welcome than you two!"

That puzzled us. She saw us looking our question at each other, and went on: "Life means more to him now than it ever has meant." She really smiled as she quoted: "'It means intensely and it means good!'" Auntie's tired eyes gathered us in again. "When you left Landrecourt last month he told me much about the voyage over here on the Espagne." The tired eyes left us to follow the crippled elevator boy who went pegging down the corridor as she continued: "about his days in Paris before he went back to his ambulance unit; about his meeting you that night near Douaumont,--at the first aid post and--and I know," she paused a second, pulled herself together and continued gently. "We must face things as they are. The boy's hours

270--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

in this earth are short. He has other friends here, of course--old friends, but you--" again she stopped. "You will appreciate why when you see him."

So we gave up the poor travesty upon life that we should have seen behind the footlights for a glimpse into one of life's real dramas.

It was nearly midnight before we came to Neuilly and stood awkwardly beside the white cot in the little white room where the Gilded Youth was lying. How the gilding had fallen off! All white and broken he lay, a crushed wreck of a man, with the cluttering contrivances of science swathing him, binding him, encasing him, holding him miserably together while the tide of life ran out. But when he wakened he could smile. There was real gilding in that smile, the gilding of youth, but he only flashed his eyes upon us for a fleeting second in turning his smile to her--to the Eager Soul, to her who had brought some new incandescence into his life. Then we knew why his aunt had said that we should see him. He would have us who had witnessed the planting of the seed, know how it had flowered. His smile told us that also. He could lift no hand to us, and could speak but faintly. Yet his greeting held something princely in it--

We Consider the Woman Proposition--271

fine and sweet and brave. Then he did a curious thing. He began whistling very softly under his breath and between his teeth a queer little tune, that reminded one oddly of the theme of Tschaicovski's Symphony Pathétique--the first movement. As he whistled he turned from Henry and me and looked at the Eager Soul, who smiled back intelligently, and when she smiled he stopped. We could not understand their signals. But whatever it was so far as it pretended to a show of courage, we knew that it was a gorgeous bluff. In the fleeting glance that he gave us, he told us the truth; and we knew that he was pretending to the others that he did not know. We made some cheerful nothings in our talk, and would have gone but he held us. The Eager Soul looked at her watch, gave him some medicine, which we took to be a heart stimulant; for he revived under it, and said to me:

"Remember--that night at Douaumont?"

"Where you whistled the 'Meditation from Thais,' in the moonlight?"

"Yes," he murmured, "and we--watched--the trucks--come out of the mist--full of life--and go into the mist,--toward death."

"Wonderful--wasn't it!" sighed one of us.

"Symbolic," he whispered. And our eyes fol-

272--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

lowed his to the vivid face of the Eager Soul in the halo of her nurse's cap. She was exceedingly glorious, and animate and beautiful. And he was passing into the mist, out toward death. He saw that he had got the figure to me, and smiled. Then suddenly something came into his face from afar, and he seemed to know that his frail craft had mounted the out-going tide Slowly, very slowly life began to fade from his face. Further and further from shore the tide was bearing him. We seemed to be on the pier. The Eager Soul even leaned forward and put out a pretty hand, and waved at him. He signalled back with a twitch of his lips that was meant for a smile. And then we at the pier lost the last gleam of life and saw only the broken bark, wearily riding the racing tide.

And then we turned from the pier and went our several ways back into the midst of life. We were going home, and getting ready to go home is a joyous proceeding. And there was another significance to our packing to leave Paris. It meant something more than a homeward journey; It meant that for the first time since we left Wichita and Emporia in midsummer we were turning our backs on war. It took a tug to make the turn. From all over the earth the

We Consider the Woman Proposition--273

war draws men to it like an insatiable whirlpool. And as we came nearer and nearer to war we had felt it swallow men into its vortex--men, customs, institutions, civilizations, indeed the age and epoch wherein we lived, we had felt moving into chaos--into nothing, to be reborn some day into we know not what, in the cataclysm out there on the front. We had seen it. But seeing it had revealed nothing. For many nights we had heard the distant roar of the hungry guns ever clamouring for more food, for the blood of youth, for the dreams of age, for the hopes of a race, for the creed of an era. And we left them still ravening, mad and unsated. And we were going away as dazed as we were when we came. But as we packed our things in Paris, the thrall of it still gripped us and the consciousness that we were leaving the war was as strong in our hearts as the joy we felt at turning homeward. But we got aboard the train and rode during the long lovely morning down the wide rich valley of the Seine, past Rouen, through Normandy with its steep hills which seem reflected in the sharp peaked roofs of its chateaux, and through musty mediaeval towns, in which it was hard to realize that modern industry was hiving. The hum of industry seemed badly out of key in a

274--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

town with a cathedral whose architectural roots are a thousand years old, and whose streets have not yet been veined with sewers, and whose walls are gay with the facades of the fifteenth century. The whole face of the landscape, town and country side, seemed to us like the back drop of the first act in a comic opera, and we were forever listening for "The Chimes of Normandy!" Instead we heard the noon whistle. It was tremendously incongruous. How American humour cracks into sardonic ribaldry at the spectacle. The French are the least bit unhappy about this American humour. They don't entirely see it. Once outside of a poor French village near the war zone, that had been bombed from the German lines, bombed from the German airships and ravaged by fire and sword, some American soldiers, looking at the desolation and the ruin of the place, so grotesque in its gaping death, so hopeless in its pitiful finality, painted on a large white board, and nailed on a sign post just at the edge of the town this slogan:

"Watch Commercy Grow! Boost for the Old Town!"

But in that flash of humour the tragedy of Commercy stood revealed clearer than in a flood of tears!

We Consider the Woman Proposition--275

We came at the end of the morning "to a port in France." From there we were to take the boat for England. And it seemed to us that the whole place was bent on the same errand. English soldiers going home on leave jammed the streets. They filled the hotels; they crowded into the shops. And the whole town was made over for them. "French Spoken Here" was the facetious sign someone had stuck on a postcard shop near the grey old church on the main thoroughfare. It is curious how the English put their trade mark upon the places they occupy. These French ports filled with British soldiers look more English than England. The English demand their own cooking, their own merchandise, their own tobacco, their own beer--which is stale, flat and unprofitable enough these days--and they demand their native speech. When he gets in sight of his native land the British Tommy quits saying "Donny mo-i, de tabac! Ma'mselle!" But bellows forth both loud and long, "I say, Lizz, gimme some makin's! and look alive, please!" So when we went to bed in our boat in a French port, and slept through a submarine zone, and waked up in an English port, there was no vast difference in the places. Today Southampton and Dover are much like Calais and Havre; for

276--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

there the English do most congregate. But back of the French ports it is all France, and back of the English ports is England, and worlds lie between them. England, as one rides through it who lives beyond the seas, and uses the English tongue, always must seem like the unfolding of an old, old dream. England gives her step-children the impression that they have seen it all before! And they have; in Mother Goose, in Dickens, in Shakespeare, in Thackeray, in Trollope, in the songs of British poets, in the landscapes of British artists! At every turn of the road, in every face at the window, in every hedgerow and rural village is the everlasting reminder that we who speak the English tongue are bound with indissoluble links of our foster memories from the books and the arts, to ways of thinking and living and growing in grace that we call English. It is more than a blood or breed, more even than a civilization, is this spiritual inheritance that comes from this English soil; it is the realization in life of a philosophy, the dramatization of a human creed. It may be understood, but not defined, yet it is as palpable and substantial in this earth as any material fact. Germany knows what this English philosophy means; and for half a century Germany has been preparing to combat

We Consider the Woman Proposition--277

it. Napoleon knew it, and believed in it, when he declared three-fourths of every fact is its spiritual value. France has it, new Russia is struggling for it. American life has it as an ancient inheritance, and as we Americans rode through the green meadows of England up from the coast to London, for ever reviewing familiar scenes and faces and aspects of life that we had never seen before, we realized how much closer than blood or geography or politics men grow who hold the same creed. So Henry, feeling that restraints no longer were necessary when we were as near home as England, began fussing with an Englishman about something a speaker had said in parliament the day before. We may love the French, like the ladies, God bless 'em! But we quarrel only with the English.

When we came to London we saw, even as we whirled through the grey old streets, surface differences between London and the other capitals of the Allies, so striking that they were marked contrasts. These differences marked the different reactions of personal loss upon the different nations. France expresses her loss in mourning; she relieves her emotions in visible grief. Italy does this also; but her losses have been smaller than the French losses and Italy's sorrow is less

278--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

in evidence than is the woe of France. But England's master passion in this war is pride. "In proud and loving memory" is a phrase that one sees a hundred times every day in the obituary notices of those who have died for England. Ambassador Page tells this: He was asking a British matron about her family, severally, and when he inquired about the son, she replied, "Haven't you heard of the new honour that has come to us through him?" And to her friend's negative she returned: "He has been called upon to die for England!" Now that seems rather French in its dramatics than British. Yet it reflects exactly the British attitude. The women wear no mourning. They do not go about in bright colours by any means. Bright colours in the war distinguish the men. But the women do wear dark blues, lavenders and purples, dark wine colours and neutral tints of various hues. The shop windows of London are bright. There is a faint re-echo of the time when Great Britain said, "Business as usual." The busy life, the shopping crowds, the street throngs, and the heavy streams of trade that flow through the highways of London, prove that London still is a great city--the greatest city in the world: and even the war, black and dread and horrible as it is, cannot over-

We Consider the Woman Proposition--279

come London, entirely. Something of the fact that she is the world's metropolis, more permanent than the war, somewhat apart from the war, and indeed above it, still lingers in the London consciousness, however remotely.

One must not imagine that London is unchanged. It is greatly changed, for the men are gone. One sees fewer men in London out of uniform than in Paris. And the Londoners one does see, all appear to be hurrying about war work. But it is the women constantly in evidence who have changed the face of London. Women keep the shops, conduct the busses, run the street cars, drive the trucks, sit on the seats of the horse-drays, deliver freight, manage railway trains, sweep the streets, wait on the tables, pull elevator ropes, smash baggage at the railway stations, sell tickets, usher at the theaters, superintend factories, make munitions, lift great burdens before forges, plough, reap, and stack grain and grass on farms, herd sheep in waste places, hew wood and draw water, and do all of the world's work that man has ever done. Now, of course, women are doing these things elsewhere in the world. But London and England are man's domain. It seems natural to see the French women, and even the Italian women at work. Man is more

280--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

or less the leisure class on the continent. But London is a man's town if on earth there is one, and to see women everywhere in London is a curious and baffling sight.

Of course the men are not all dead--"they're just away." And they come back on leave. But life is not normal. War is abnormal, and there is an ever-urging desire of life to assume its normal function. So all over Europe we heard whispers about the moral break-down among the women of England. In England we were asked about the dreadful things that were happening in France. The things that were happening in France were not essentially evil things. One could imagine that if God thinks war is necessary for the solution of the world's terrible problems, He will have no trouble forgiving these lapses that follow in the wake of war in France. And in England, similarly we found that the moral break- down was not a moral break-down at all. The abnormal relation of the sexes arising out of war produced somewhat the same results that one found in France, but in different ways. In France too many strange men are billeted in the houses of the people. In England, too many homes are without men at all. And sheer social lonesomeness produces in humanity about the

We Consider the Woman Proposition--281

same conditions that arise when people are thrown in too close contact. There is a sort of social balance of nature, wherein normally desirable results are found. The girl working in the munition factories, working at top speed eight hours a day, filled with a big emotional desire to do her full duty to her country every second of the day, finds it easy in her eight hours of rest to fall in love with a soldier who is going out to offer his life for the country for which she is giving her strength so gladly. She is not a light woman. She is moved by deep and beautiful emotions. And if a marriage before he goes out to fight is inconvenient or impossible--the war made it so, and God will understand. Of course the idle woman, the vain woman, the foolish woman in these times in England finds ample excuse for her folly and vast opportunity to indulge her folly in the social turmoil of the war. And she is going the pace. Her men are gone, who restrain her, and she has nothing in her head or her heart to hold, and she is in evidence. Her type always exaggerates its importance, and fools people into thinking that her name is Legion, and that Mr. Legion is an extensive polygamist, with a raft of daughters and sisters and cousins and aunts, But she is small in numbers and she is

282--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

not important. She is merely conspicuous, and the moral break-down in England, that one hears of in the baited breath of the continent, is an illusion.

The elevator girl at Bucklands Hotel in London was a bright, black-eyed, good looking woman in her late twenties. She wore a green uniform with a crimson voile boudoir cap and as the American stepped inside the slow-going car, she answered his "good morning" with a respectful, "good morning, sir." Being a good traveller, it seemed to me wise to prepare to while away the tedium of the long easy journey to the fourth floor with a friendly chat.

"Any of your relatives in the war?" This from me by way of an ice-breaker.

"Yes, sir, my husband, sir," she replied as she grasped the cable. She gave it a pull, and added "--or he was, sir. He's home now, sir!"

"On leave?"

"O no, sir, he's wounded, sir--he lost his left arm at the shoulder, sir, and he's going down to Roehampton today, sir, to see if they can teach him some kind of a trade there, sir," answered the woman.

The wonders of Roehampton where they reeducate the cripples of war and turn them out

We Consider the Woman Proposition--283

equipped with such trades as their maimed bodies may acquire had been displayed for Henry and me the day before.

"Tell him to try typewriting and stenography, one armed men are doing wonders with that down at Roehampton. Any children?"

"Two, sir," she answered as the elevator approached the mezzanine floor, "three and five, sir!"

"Three and five--well, well, isn't that fine! Aren't you lucky! Tell him to try that stenography; that will put him in an office and he'll have a fine chance to rise there. You must give them an education--a good one; send them to College. If they're going to get on in this new world they will need every ounce of education you can stuff into them. But it will be a splendid thing for both of you working for that. Is education expensive in England?"

"Very, sir. I hardly see how we can do it, sir!"

"That's too bad--now in our country education, from the primer to the university, is absolutely free. The state does the whole business and in my state they print the school books, and more than that they give a man a professional education, too, without tuition fees--if he wants

284--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

to become a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer or a chemist or a school teacher!"

"Is that so, sir," the cable was running through her hands as she spoke. Then she added as the elevator passed the second floor, "If we could only have that here, sir. If we only could, sir!"

"Well, it will come. That's the next revolution you want to start when you women get the ballot. Abolish these class schools like Eton and Harrow and put the money into better board schools. All the kids in my town, and in my state, and in my whole section of the country go to the common schools. Children should start life as equals. There is no snobbery so cruel as the snobbery that marks off childhood into classes! When you women vote here, the first thing to do is to smash that nonsense. But in the meantime keep the kids in school."

"We've talked that all over," she answered. "And we're certainly going to try. He'll have his pension, and I'll have this job and he'll learn a trade and I think we can manage, sir!" The "sir" came belated.

"Go to it, sister, and luck to you," cried her passenger as he rose from his bench. The car was nearing the fourth floor.

"We shall," she answered; "no fear of that."

We Consider the Woman Proposition--285

She stopped the car, and they smiled as friends as she let him out of the door. " Well--good morning," she said as he turned down the corridor. The "sir" had left entirely when they reached the fourth floor. And all the women of Europe, excepting perhaps those still behind the harem curtains in Turkey and Germany of whom we know nothing, are dropping the servile "sir" and are emerging into life at the fourth floor as human beings.

It may be well to digress a moment in this narrative, from our purely martial adventure, that we may consider for a few pages the woman question as it is affected by the war. To me, if not to Henry, who is highly practical, it seemed that in France and Italy, but particularly in England, the new Heaven and the new earth that is forming during this war, has created a new woman. Indeed the European woman of the war is almost American in her liberty. "European women," said a former American grand dame of the old order, sipping tea with me at an embassy in the dim lit gorgeousness of a mediaeval room, "are of two kinds: Those who are being crucified by the war, and those who are abusing the new found liberties which war has brought them!"

286--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

"Liberties?" asked her colloquitor; not Henry. He had no patience with these theoretical excursions into speculative realms. "Liberties rather than privileges?"

"Yes, liberties. Privileges are temporary," purred the lady at the embassy. "They come and go, but the whole trouble with this new situation is that it is permanent. That also is part of the crucifixion of those who suffer under it. These women never again can return to the lives they have left, to the sheltering positions from which the awful needs of this war have driven them. The cultivated European woman, who I think on the whole was the highest product of our civilization, has gone. She has fallen to the American level."

"And the continental mistress system," prodded her American interviewer, ironically, "will it, too, disappear with the departed superiority of continental womanhood?"

"Yes, the mistress system too--if you want to call it a system--and I suppose it is an institution--it too will become degraded and Americanized."

"Americanized?" the middle western eyebrows went up, and possibly the middle western voice flinched a little. But the wise dowager

We Consider the Woman Proposition--287

from Bridgeport, Connecticut, living in Paris on New York Central bonds, continued bitterly: "Yes, Americanized and vulgarized. The continental mistress system is not the nasty arrangement that you middle class Americans think it is. Of course there are European men who acquire one woman after another, live with her a few months or a few years and forget her. Such men are impossible."

She waved away the whole lady-chasing tribe with a contemptuous hand.

"But the mistress system as we know it in Europe is the by-product of a leisure class. Men and women marry for business reasons. The women have their children to love, the man finds his mistress, and clings to her for a lifetime. He cannot afford to marry her--even if he could be divorced; for he would have to work to support her, and be declassed. But he can support her on his wife's money and a beautiful lifelong friendship is thus cherished. It will disappear when men have to work, and when women may go into the world to work without losing their social positions. And this new order, this making the world safe for democracy, as you call it, will rob civilization of its most perfect flower--the cultivated woman who has developed under

288--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

the shelter of our economic system. I might as well shock your bourgeois morals now as later. So listen to this. Here is one of the ways the women of Europe are suffering. I talked to a French mother this morning. Her income is gone--part of it taxed away, and the rest of it wiped away by the Germans in Northern France. Her son has only a second lieutenant's income. In this chaos she can find no suitable wife for him. One who is rich today, tomorrow may be poor, so the dear fellow may not marry. And he is looking for a mistress, and his mother fears he will pick up a fool; for only a fool would take him on a lieutenant's salary. And the weeping mother told me she would almost as soon that her son should have no mistress as to have a fool! For a man's mistress does make such a difference in his life! My friend is almost willing to let him marry some bright poor girl and go to work! The world never will know the suffering the women of Europe are enduring in this war!"

Now we may switch off that record with the snort of woe which Henry gave when he heard it. He was trying to tell a Duchess about prohibition in Kansas, who had never heard of either Kansas or prohibition and who was clearly scandalized at what she heard of both. But

We Consider the Woman Proposition--289

Henry's other ear was open to what the embassy ornament was saying to me. On the other side of this record of the swan song of the lady of the embassy is this record. It is a man's voice. The man has risen from an American farm, hustled his way into a place where as manager of the London factory of an American concern, he works several hundred employés.

"Say, let me tell you something--never again! Never again for mine do the men come back into our shop. We may let a dozen or so of 'em back to handle the big machines. But the next size, which we thought that only men could handle--never again. And when they come back these men will have to work under women foremen. We thought when the war took our men bosses away that we should have to close the shop. But say--never again, I tell you. And let me give you a pointer. You wouldn't know them girls. When the war broke out they were getting ten shillings--about $2.50 a week, the best of 'em, and they were mean and slovenly and kind of skinny and dirty, and every once in awhile one would drop out, and the other girls had a great joke about her--you know. And they would soak the shop whenever they got a chance! The boss had to keep right after 'em, or they'd

290--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

soldier on the job or break a machine, or slight the product, and they'd lie--why, man, the whole works would stand up and lie for each other against the shop. It took five men to boss them where we have one woman doing it now. And say, it ain't the woman boss that's done it. We pay 'em more. Them same girls is getting ten and twelve and fifteen bucks a week now--Lawsee, man--you ought to see 'em! Dressed up to kill; fat, cheerful, wide-awake! Goddle-mighty, man, you wouldn't know 'em for that same measly bunch of grouches we had three years ago. And they work for the shop now, and not against it. They're different girls. I wouldn't-a believed ten dollars a week would-a turned the trick; but it's sure done it."

"Perhaps," suggested his acquaintance, "the girls are cheerful and competent because they aren't afraid of poverty. Maybe they are motived by hope of getting on in the world and not motived by the terror of slipping down. Does that not make them stand by the shop instead of working against it? Isn't it a developed middle class feeling that accepts the shop as 'their kind of people' now?"

"Search me, Cap--I give it up. I just only know what I know and see what I see. And

We Consider the Woman Proposition--291

never again--you hear me, man--never again does our shop go back to men. The ten or twelve dollar skirt has made a hit with me! Have a cigarette?"

The net gain of women in this war, all over the world is, of course, a gain in fellowship. But after all fellowship will be futile if it does not bear fruit. And the first fruit of the fellowship between men and women in Europe surely will be a wider and deeper influence of women upon the destinies of the European world. And who can doubt who knows woman, that her influence will be thrown first and heaviest toward a just and lasting peace.

Often while we were in London, during the last days of our stay, when the meaning of the war gradually was forming in our minds we talked of these things. There are two Henrys--one, the owner of a ten-story building in Wichita, the editor of a powerful and profitable newspaper; the other a protagonist, a sentimental idealist. To me this was his greatest charm--this infinite variety of Henrys that was forever turning up in our discourse. The owner of the Beacon building and the publisher of the news- paper had small use for my theories about the importance of the rise of woman into fellowship

292--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

with men in the new democratization of the world. He refused to see the democratization of the world in the war. To him the war meant adjustment of boundaries, economic advantages, and realignments of political and commercial influence on the map of the world. But to the other Henry, to the crusader whom I had seen many times setting out on the quest for the grail in politics, throwing away his political fortunes for a cause and a creed as lightly as a man would toss aside a cigar stub, the war began to mean something more than its military expression.

And one night as we sat in our room waiting for dinner a letter came up from the Eager Soul, with some trinkets she had sent over to us by messenger to take to her mother in Denver. After telling us the news of the hospital, and of Auntie and of the wound in the Young Doctor's hand, she wrote:

"O how I hate war--hate it--hate it! And this war of all wars, I hate it worst. It is so ruthless, so inexorably cruel; so utterly meaningless, viewed at close range. Yesterday they brought me into Northern France, and I spent the twilight last night looking over the ruins of the local church. It is the most important small church in Northern France and contains

We Consider the Woman Proposition--293

one of the earliest ribbed vaults in France, they say. It was built about 1100, and now the thing is smashed. It is what our artillerymen call a one-shot church. O the waste of it--churches, men, homes, creeds! How many one-shot creeds have perished in this hell-fire! Still out of the old I suppose the new will come. But I have talked to women, to peasant women in their homes, to noble women in hospitals; to women in their shops and women on the farms, and I know that if the new world brings them as its heritage, only the enlarged comradeship they are taking with men in this time of suffering, then one thing is sure: We women will strike an awful blow at future wars! The womanhood of the past, someway, is like these sad, broken churches of France. It is shattered and gone, and in its ruins we see its exquisite beauty, its ineffable grace, its symbolism of a faith that once sufficed. But it will not be restored. We shall build new temples; we shall know new women. The old had to go, that the new might come. And our new women and our new temples shall be dedicated, not merely to faith, not merely to beauty, not merely to adoration but to service, to service and comradeship in the world."

As he finished reading the letter Henry's eyes

294-- Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

glistened. Its emotion had awakened the crusader, who said gently: " Well, Bill, I presume it is the potential mother in every woman that makes her worth while. And if this war will only harness motherhood to the public conscience, the net gain will be worth the war, however it is settled."

Previous  Contents  Next
KanColl  Return to Books