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The hostile lines enveloping Arras converge at Blangy, where, July 7, they were only twenty yards apart, nearer than at any other point from the channel to the Vosges. The Germans occupied the outbuilding shown above the sand-bags on the left, the French the rest of the brewery
FOUR DRAWINGS MADE AT THE FRONT
1. In the brewery at Blangy
2. The hôtel de ville, Arras, July, 1914
were on sale, with little price-marks sticking in the trays. Women and small girls were standing at the side of the marketcarts. It was a pitifully meager market, but the women were undismayed.
A turn out of the little Rue de Jérusalem brought us up to the cathedral. It had been violently bombarded since early morning. There was an enormous new "marmite" hole in the northern façade, some of the cornices had been shot away, and many of the columns were smashed into a shapeless mass of stone. A cloud of tawny smoke rose from the interior; beneath it was the crimson glow of many small fires started by incendiary bombs. Soldiers had laid lines of hose, and were playing streams upon the ruins. They might as well have tried to put out Vesuvius. As fast as a blaze would be smothered in one part of the building, a bomb dropped, and started another somewhere else.
A tired-looking group of townspeople -there are a thousand of its twenty-five thousand inhabitants still remainingwhispered together as they watched the destruction of the cathedral. A priest stood in the rain with bared head.
The devastation was complete in whatever direction we turned. The girders of the enormous steel train-shed at the railway station were broken in, and every skylight was smashed. The arrival- and departure-platforms were covered with debris, and grass three feet high grew over the tracks of one of the greatest railway centers of northern France. In the Rue Gambetta, near by, the beautiful Ursuline chapel was badly damaged. Pieces of its tower had been shot away, and in its ir regular outlines it somewhat resembled an unsteady spiral staircase of stone.
Following the Rue Douai, in the environs toward Blangy there is nothing left of the town at all. There was not a house standing intact, and only at few of the chimneys. Trees, hewn off as if by an ax, were flung across the streets; everywhere were great holes in the cobblestones where shells had torn up the pavement. One house was gutted, but its
green-tiled fireplaces, one on top of the other, were as carefully polished as though their owners had just left them. Farther out was a little cottage that brought us to a stop with a catch in our throats. Its walls were blown out, and in the rear the ceiling of the second floor had fallen over the kitchen range. The front bedroom remained, with its outside wall swiped off; in it were a little white bed, a table with a reading-lamp, a pair of slippers, a wardrobe hung with women's clothes, with some hat-boxes above. The doorjam underneath was supported by the only part of the front wall still standing. Set in the bricks at the side was a neat brass plate, with the sign, "Madame Houdain, Modes." The story of Madame Houdain would seem to need no further telling.
We were leisurely crossing the square by the railway station when a picket rode out on a bicycle. The open place was directly in the line of the German gun-fire, he said, and he begged us to hurry. We hurried. The fire arrived with us as we entered the Grande Place. We winced at two loud detonations in the low clouds above, and the soldiers in the shelter of the arcade thought it very amusing. It would have been funnier to me, I am certain, had I been under the arches with them.
These arches run completely around the Grande Place, a relic of the Spanish occupation. The troops were bivouacked under them, their guns stacked, and the smoke of their mess-stoves rolling out into the mist. They were passing their moments of relaxation in playing cards or lolling about until dusk, when the time came to relieve their comrades in the trenches just outside the city walls.
VICTOR HUGO says of Arras: "There are two curious squares with scrolled gables in the Flemish-Spanish style of the time of Louis XIII. In one of the squares, the smaller, there is a charming town hall of the fifteenth century adjoining a delightful house of the Renaissance."
I well remember the town hall. Its