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heart, worse than any Apache; and yet omen! ‘I'll come through all right,' I of those around me several were univer- repeated to myself, and rapped with sity graduates; one was a lawyer; two my knuckle upon the rifle-stock, lest were clerks; one a poet of standing; the luck break. one an actor; and there were several No one house in the village was left men of leisure, Americans almost all standing — only bare walls. Near the of them.
end of the street, in the midst of chaos, The talk finally settled upon the Ger- we passed a windmill. The gaunt steel mans. Many and ingenious were the frame still stood. I could see the black forms of torture invented upon the spur rents in the mill and the great arms of the moment for the benefit of the where the shrapnel had done its work; ‘Boches.' 'Hanging is too good for but still the wheel turned, slowly, them,' said Scanlon. After a long dis- creaking round and round, with its cussion, scalping alive seemed the most shrill metal scream. satisfactory to the crowd.
The column turned to the left and It had come to be 11 P.M. We were again disappeared in a trench. After a at the mouth of the communicating short distance we turned to the right, trench and entering it, one by one. then once more to the left, then on, and Every so often, short transverse trench- finally, not unwillingly, we came to a es opened up to right and left, each rest. We did not have to be told that one crammed full of soldiers. Talking we were now in the front line, for and laughing stopped. We continued through the rifle-ports we could see the marching along the trench, kilometre French shells bursting ahead of us like after kilometre, in utter silence. As we Fourth-of-July rockets. moved forward, the lateral trenches be- The artillery had the range perfectly, came more numerous. Every 15 to 18 and the shells, little and big, plumped feet we came to one running from right with pleasing regularity into the Gerto left, and each was filled with troops, man trenches. The din was indescribtheir arms grounded. As we filed slow- able - almost intolerable. Forty, even ly by, they looked at us enviously. It fifty, shells per minute were falling into was amusing to see how curious they a space about a single kilometre square. looked, and to watch their whispering The explosions sounded almost continas we passed. Why should we precede uous, and the return fire of the Germans them in attack?
seemed almost continuous. Only the 'Who are you?' several men asked. great 10-inch long-range Teuton guns ‘La Légion.'
continued to respond effectively. ‘A-a-ah, la Légion! That explains it.' We looked at the show for a while,
Our right to the front rank seemed and then lay down in the trench. Every to be acknowledged. It did every man man used his knapsack for a pillow and
а of us good.
tried to snatch a few hours' sleep. It We debouched from the trench into was not a particularly good place for a the street of a village. It was Souain. nervous sleeper, but we were healthy Houses, or ghosts of houses, walled us and pretty tired. in on each side. Through the windows The next morning, at 8 A.M., hot cofand the irregular shell-holes in the fee was passed around, and we breakwalls, the stars twinkled; while through fasted on sardines, cheese, and bread, a huge gap in the upper story of one of with the coffee to wash it down. At 9 the houses I caught a glimpse of the the command passed down the line, moon, over my right shoulder. Lucky 'Every man ready!' Up went the knap
sack on every man's back, and, rifle in dued rattling of the mitrailleuses and hand, we filed along the trench. the roar of volley fire, but, above it
The cannonading seemed to increase all, I could hear with almost startling in intensity. From the low places in distinctness the words of the captain, the parapet we caught glimpses of shouting in his clear, high voice, 'En barbed wire which would glisten in oc- avant! Vive la France!' casional flashes of light. Our own we could plainly see, and a little farther beyond was the German wire.
Suddenly, at the sound of a whistle, As we marched forward toward our we halted. The command, ‘Baionnette goal, huge geysers of dust spouted into au canon!' passed down the section. A the air, rising behind our backs from drawn-out rattle followed, and the the rows of 75's' supporting us. In bayonets were fixed. Then the whistle front the fire-curtain outlined the whole sounded again. This time twice. We length of the enemy's line with a neatadjusted our straps. Each man took a ness and accuracy that struck me with look at his neighbor's equipment. I wonder, as the flames burst through turned and shook hands with the fel. the pall of smoke and dust around us. lows next to me. They were grinning, Above, all was blackness, but at its and I felt my own nerves a-quiver as lower edge the curtain was fringed we waited for the signal.
with red and green flames, marking Waiting seemed an eternity. As we the explosion of the shells directly stood there a shell burst close to our over the ditch and parapet in front of left. A moment later it was whispered us. The low-flying clouds mingled with along the line that an adjutant and five the smoke-curtain, so that the whole men had gone down.
brightness of the day was obscured. What were we waiting for? I glanced Out of the blackness fell a trickling rain at my watch. It was 9.15 exactly. The of pieces of metal, lumps of earth, knapGermans evidently had the range. Two sacks, rifles, cartridges, and fragments more shells burst close to the same of human flesh. We went on steadily, place. We inquired curiously who was nearer and nearer. Now we seemed hit this time. Our response was two very close to the wall of shells streamwhistles. That was our signal. I felt ing from our own guns, curving just my jaws clinching, and the man next to above us, and dropping into the trenchme looked white. It was only for a sec- es in front. The effect was terrific. I alond. Then every one of us rushed at the most braced myself against the rocking trench wall, each and every man strug- of the earth, like a sailor's instinctive gling to be the first out of the trench. gait in stormy weather. In a moment we had clambered up and In a single spot immediately in front out. We slid over the parapet, wormed of us, not over ten metres in length, I our way through gaps in the wire, counted twelve shells bursting so fast formed in line, and, at the command, that I could not count them without moved forward at march-step straight missing other explosions. The scene toward the German wire.
was horrible and terrifying. Across the The world became a roaring hell. wall of our own fire, poured shell after Shell after shell burst near us, some
shell from the enemy, tearing through times right among us; and, as we moved our ranks. From overhead the shrapforward at the double-quick, men fell nel seemed to come down in sheets, and right and left. We could hear the sub- from behind the stinking, blinding cur
tain came volleys of steel-jacketed bul- down, meant, ‘Halt. Lie Down!' From lets, their whine unheard and their down, up, it meant, ‘Rise!' When his effect almost unnoticed.
hand was thrust swiftly forward, we I think we moved forward simply knew he was shouting, ‘En avant!' and from habit. With me it was like a when he waved his hand in a circle dream as we went on, ever on. Here above his head, we broke into the douand there men dropped, the ranks clos- ble-quick. ing automatically. Of a sudden our own Three times on our way to the second fire-curtain lifted. In a moment it had trench, the captain dropped and we afceased to bar our way and jumped like ter him. Then three short quick rushes a living thing to the next line of the by the companies and a final dash as enemy. We could see the trenches in the curtain of shells lifts and drops farfront of us now, quite clear of fire, but ther away. Then a hand-to-hand strugflattened almost beyond recognition. gle, short and very bloody, some using The defenders were either killed or de- their bayonets, others clubbing their moralized. Calmly, almost stupidly, we rifles and grenades. A minute or two, parried or thrust with the bayonet at and the trench was ours. The earthen those who barred our way. Without a fortress, so strong that the Germans backward glance we leaped the ditch had boasted that it could be held by a and went on straight forward toward janitor and two washerwomen, was in the next trench, marked in glowing out- the hands of the Legion. line by our fire. I remember now how As we swept on, the trench-cleaners the men looked. Their eyes had a wild entered the trench behind and began unseeing look in them. Everybody was setting things to rights. Far down,
six gazing ahead, trying to pierce the aw- to eight metres below the surface, they ful curtain which cut us off from all found an underground city. Long tunsight of the enemy. Always the black nels, with chambers opening to right pall smoking and burning appeared and left; bedrooms, furnished with bedahead — just ahead of us - hiding steads, wash-stands, tables, and chairs;
, everything we wanted to see.
elaborate mess-rooms, some fitted with The drama was played again and pianos and phonographs. There were again. Each time, as we approached so kitchens, too, and even bathrooms. close that fragments of our own shells So complex was the labyrinth that occasionally struck a leading file, the three days after the attack Germans curtain lifted as by magic, jumped the were found stowed away in the lateral intervening metres, and descended up- galleries. The passages were choked on the enemy's trench farther on. The with dead. Hundreds of Germans who ranges were perfect. We followed blind- had survived the bombardment were ly-sometimes at a walk, sometimes at torn to pieces deep beneath the ground a dog-trot, and, when close to our goal, by French hand-grenades, and buried on the dead run. You could not hear a where they lay. In rifles, munitions, word in that pandemonium. All com- and equipment the booty was immense. mands were given by example or by We left the subterranean combat gesture. When our captain lay down, raging underneath us and continued on. we knew our orders were to lie down As we passed over the main trench, we too. When he waved to the right, were enfiladed by cannon placed in arthe right we swerved; if to the left, we mored turrets at the end of each secturned to the left. A sweeping gesture, tion of trench. The danger was formidwith an arm extended, first up, then able, but it, too, had been foreseen. In
a few moments these guns were si- terror-stricken group; some of them, lenced by hand-grenades shoved point temporarily at least, half insane. blank through the gun-ports. Just As the Germans had left the trenchthen, I remember, I looked back and es, their artillery had paused, thinking saw Pala down on his hands and knees. it a counter-attack. Now, as file after I turned and ran over to help him up.
file was escorted to the rear and it beHe was quite dead, killed in the act of
came apparent to their rear lines that rising from the ground. His grotesque the men had surrendered, the German posture struck me at the time as funny, artillery saw its mistake and opened up and I could not help smiling. I suppose again furiously at the dark masses of I was nervous.
defenseless prisoners. We, too, were Our line was wearing thin. Half-way subjected to a terrific fire. Six shells to the third trench we were reinforced landed at the same instant in almost by Battalion E coming from behind. the same place, and within a few minThe ground in our rear was covered utes Section III of our company had with our men.
almost disappeared. I lost two of my All at once came a change. The Ger- own section, Casey and Leguer, both man artillery in front ceased firing, and severely wounded in the leg. I counted the next second we saw the reason why. fourteen men of my command still on In the trench ahead, the German their feet. The company seemed to troops were pouring out in black mass- have shrunk two-thirds. A few mines and advancing toward us at a trot. utes later, we entered the trench lately Was it a counter-attack? ‘Tant mieux,' evacuated by the Prussians and left it said a man near me; another, of a dif- by a very deep communication trench ferent race, said, 'We'll show them!' which we knew led to our destination, Then as suddenly our own artillery Ferme Navarin. Just at the entrance ceased firing, and the mystery became we passed sign-boards, marked in big plain. The Germans were approaching letters with black paint, SCHUTZENin columns of fours, officers to the front, GRABEN, SPANDAU. hands held in the air, and, as they came This trench ran zigzag, in the general closer, we could distinguish the steady direction north and south. In many cry, 'Kameraden! Kameraden!'
places it was filled level with dirt and They were surrendering. How we rocks kicked in by our big shells. From went at our work! Out flew our knives, the mass of débris, hands and legs were and, in less time than it takes to tell it, sticking stiffly out at grotesque angles. we had mingled among the prisoners, In one place, the heads of two men slicing off their trouser buttons, cutting showed above the loose brown earth. off suspenders, and hacking through Here and there, men were sitting, their belts. All the war shoes had their laces backs against the wall of the trench, cut, according to the regulations laid quite dead, with not a wound showing.
a down in the last French Manual, and In one deep crater, excavated by our thus, slopping along, their hands help- 320-millimetres, lay five Saxons, side by lessly in their breeches' pockets, to keep side, in the pit where they had sought their trousers from falling round their refuge, killed by the bursting of a single ankles, shuffling their feet, to keep their shell. One, a man of about twentyboots on, the huge column of prisoners three years of age, lay on his back, his was sent to the rear with a few soldiers legs tensely doubled, elbows thrust to direct rather than to guard them. back into the ground, and fingers dug There was no fight left in them now. A into the palms; eyes staring in terror
and mouth wide open. I could not help our minds were clogged with our own carrying the picture of fear away with work ahead. me, and I thought to myself, that man Making such time as we could, we died a coward. Just alongside of him, finally arrived at the summit of the litresting on his left side, lay a blond tle ridge. Then we left the cover of the giant stretched out easily, almost trench, formed in Indian file, 50 metres graceful in death. His two hands were between sections, and, at the signal, laid together, palm to palm, in prayer. moved forward swiftly and in order. Between them was a photograph. The It was a pretty bit of tactics and exlook upon his face was calm and peace- ecuted with a dispatch and neatness ful. The contrast of his figure with his hardly equaled on the drill-ground. The neighbor's struck me. I noticed that a first files of the sections were abreast, paper protruded from his partly open- while the men fell in, one close bebind ed blouse, and, picking it up, read the the other; and so we crossed the ridge, heading, 'Ein' Feste Burg ist Unser offering the smallest possible target to Gott.' It was a two-leaved tract. I the enemy's guns. Before us and a litdrew a blanket over him and followed tle to our left was the Ferme Navarin, my section.
our goal. As we descended the slope, The trench we marched in wound
we were greeted by a new hail of iron. along in the shelter of a little ridge Shells upon shells, fired singly, by pairs, crowned with scrubby pines. Here the by salvos, from six-gun batteries, they German shells bothered us but little. crashed and exploded around us. We We were out of sight of their observa- increased the pace to a run and arrived tion posts, and, consequently, their fire out of breath abreast of immense pits was uncontrolled and no longer effec- dynamited out of the ground by proditive. On we went. At every other step gious explosions. Imbedded in them our feet pressed down upon soldiers' we could see three enemy howitzers, corpses, lying indiscriminately one on but not a living German was left. All top of the other, sometimes almost fill. had disappeared. ing the trench. I brushed against one We entered the pits and rested for a who sat braced against the side of the space. After a moment we crawled up trench, the chin resting upon folded the side of the hollow and peeked over arms quite naturally — yet quite dead. the edge. There I could see Doumergue It was through this trench that the Ger- stretched on the ground. He was lying mans had tried to rush reinforcements on his back, his shoulders and head supinto the threatened position, and here ported by his knapsack. His right leg the men were slaughtered, without a was doubled under him, and I could see chance to go back or forwards. Hem- that he had been struck down in the act med in by shells in both front and rear, of running. As I watched, he strained many hundreds had climbed into the weakly to roll himself sideways and open and tried to escape over the fields free his leg. Slowly, spasmodically, bis toward the pine forest, only to be mown leg moved. Very, very slowly the foot down as they ran. For hundreds of me- dragged itself along the ground, and tres continuously my feet as I trudged finally the limb was stretched alongalong did not touch the ground. In side the other. Then I saw his rough, many
of the bodies life was not yet ex- wan face assume a look of satisfaction. tinct, but we had to leave them for the His eyes closed. A sigh passed between Red Cross men. We had our orders. his lips and Doumergue had gone with No delay was possible, and, at any rate, the rest.