Puslapio vaizdai

In all the devastation in or near the without result. We went inside. Sainsacathedral, Dubois's statue of Jeanne d'Arc lieu, the architect, and the others did not in front of the great doors is yet (June remove their hats. I wondered why. It 26) untouched. The legs of the horse was because the sanctuary had been vioare chipped by fragments of flying shell, lated and the sacrament removed; the but the maid rides serenely above. In her great cathedral was no longer a house of hands she holds the tricolor, and at the God. It was Sunday morning, but there foot of the pedestal had been placed were no services, no priests intoning the wreaths and fresh Aowers. The people mass, no heavy roll of the organ, only of Rheims look upon her invulnerability the echo of our muffled voices in the as a good omen.

vaulted spaces above. Returning to Epernay for the night Sainsalieu, who has been working steadthrough the dusk, we passed companies of ily inside the building on his plans for its infantry moving up to relieve those at the restoration through so many weeks of front,--the French trenches at Bétheny bombardment that the whistle of shells are only a little over a mile outside of means nothing to him, gave me his chair Rheims, -and motor-transports and wag- and table to aid me in my drawing; then ons waiting at the depots to carry up their he gave me a key. The cathedral is caresupplies to the lines under cover of the fully locked up at all times. There is a darkness.

gate in the fence beyond the sand-bags We spent a restless night in an uncom- that protect the sculpture at the base of fortable little hotel kept by a very pretty the building, and a small wooden door in landlady. There was a glow in the sky place of the heavy one in the right portal. over Rheims, and through the wakeful The same key opens both, and also anhours sounded the drone of an aëroplane other little door on the right as you enter. on patrol duty over the town.

This little inside door is as tempting as the one that led to Bluebeard's closet for

his headless wives. I was asked to give Our staff-captain waked me at dawn. my word of honor that I would not open Through a crisp, dewy morning we drove it, for it leads to the stairway that climbs back over the same road to Rheims. The up through the southwest tower to the cars were halted at the gates. There was roof. No one is allowed on the roof, so some doubt about our being allowed to careful are the French authorities that pass in. The French had captured some the Germans shall not be given the slighttrenches in the Argonne, and the Ger- est excuse for bombarding the building mans had retaliated by a Sunday-morning under the pretext that it is being used for bombardment of the cathedral; the shell

observation purposes. ing had begun at daybreak. After a little Sainsalieu made me promise not to give discussion, our Indian-fighter of the day the key to any one, but to keep it until I before relented, and we went ahead. This met him at déjeuner at the Hôtel du time the cars did not bring us up to the Nord. Then he went with the others to cathedral doors; we left, them in a more Bétheny, and I locked myself in. It was sheltered spot in a narrow street near at awesomely quiet within the great buildhand.

ing as I went on with my work. The Borne down on the wind, which had desultory fire of the guns to the north was changed to the northwest, was the crackle muffled. It was apparently no more of artillery fire and the noise of explosive threatening than the cooing of the pigeons shells from the plateau and the valley. in the vast dome overhead. There was a We walked about the cathedral. A six- flutter of wings when a shell exploded in inch shell had dropped in the little shel- the direction of the Place Royale, and I tered spot in the rear and torn a hole in started when a shower of glass, loosened the ground; except for this, the salvo was from its setting by the wind, crashed

June 27.


down on the flagstones of the nave. This were sunken in well-concealed emplacewas the only interruption. When I left, ments, that the heavy foliage hid the posiI carefully locked the door, then I closed tion of the 41st Battery of Artillery. the gate, and locked it behind me. A man They had the usual complement of "75's,' who had apparently been waiting outside with an anti-air-craft gun and a huge asked me for the key to the cathedral. "caterpillar," with its gray nose pointed Remembering my promise, I refused to down into the ground to avoid detection give it to him. He was willing enough to by the watchful Germans on the hills engage me in conversation, but this was beyond. no place, I thought, for a parley. The The stables were cunningly hidden in parvis was strangely silent, and, except the thick of the wood. The stalls were for us two, deserted. There was a pro- covered with green boughs. The battery found stillness in the town, the midday has been in the same position since last Nolull in the firing while both sides were vember, and every horse had its name at dinner; but there was never any tell- over the stall, like an old-time fire-engine ing when the racket might start up house in New York-LeBeau, Victoire, again.

L'Hermite, Marie Louise. I went on through lonely streets, past The quarters of the men were in wellhouses with broken shutters, windows protected underground huts covered with agape, walls spattered with shot-holes, timbers and saplings. They had rough and chimneys leaning precariously over sketches on the walls and flowers in vases. the street, to the rendezvous at the Hôtel In cages were magpies and small songdu Nord, the only hotel now open in birds, and a musician had rigged up a Rheims. Sainsalieu was not there. We xylophone by hanging wine-bottles conwere almost through luncheon when a taining different amounts of water on a hasty courier arrived in the person of a sapling suspended between two trees. On boy on a bicycle, who, clothed with the this he played selections from the operas. proper authority, begged that the Amer- Near by, almost at his feet,

grave ican gentleman give him the key to the of one of his comrades. cathedral.

On the grave were fresh flowers and a Afternoon found us scooting along the wreath, and an inscription roughly cut road to Soissons, the same route nationale with a knife on a piece of board, “FranI had known in my motor-tours that had çois, our friend, dead on the field of carried me westward to Compiègne, Beau- honor." The artilleryman tinkled the vais, Rouen, and Havre. Long lines of “William Tell” overture on his musical poplars shot by in a blur; the roar of the glasses. He wore a tight-fitting jacket motor echoed in the swish, swish as we like a Zouave's, and as I stood listening rushed past the boles of the trees. A fock to his concert I was reminded of that of sheep turned out of a lane, an incon- splendid story of the Zouaves I had just gruously peaceful note in an atmosphere heard in Paris. A regiment of them overof big guns and destruction. We left the reached itself in a charge in the Argonne. main road shortly, and edged our way to- It was cut off by the enemy, and virtually ward the front through protected byways wiped out. The Germans, adopting tacor between the walls of old, gray villages. tics that have been unheard of in modern We climbed a slope, interviewed another warfare, costumed themselves in the unibrigade commander, left the cars in a pro- forms of the dead men. As they moved tected place, and walked into the depths back to attack the French lines, they of a thickly wooded forest. From the out- pushed a few of the survivors in front of side it looked peaceful enough-a mass of

them. From the trenches the missing regdark green on a ridge above a slumbering iment of Zouaves appeared, straggling hamlet. There was nothing to suggest along the hillside. It closed in until, as that within its shadows bristling guns it was almost upon them, the French

was the





— а

heard a voice from the advancing host the peculiar gray-green of the German inshout, “In the name of God! Fire!" fantry. They were prisoners from that

The name of the soldier who died in other France across the river Aisne. They the volley from his own lines is unknown. seemed to accept their new environment His exploit was read to the armies in the philosophically, and with the resignation order of the day.

of stoics they went methodically about the It was a quiet afternoon along this part unmartial task of sweeping out the stableof the front. It was quiet, rather, until, yard. as we were looking at a blue-gray “75," with its muzzle pointed out of a bough of leaves, an order came by telephone, and a ONLY once in my motor-tours had I shell was slipped into the timing mechan- driven through Soissons. I had a hazy ism. A dial was set; in a few seconds the memory of a sleepy little town, of staring shell was withdrawn and locked in the white houses, of narrow streets with unbreech of the gun, and an officer pulled a steady chimneys above the tiled roofs, a lanyard. There was a report, -not so lime-bordered market-place, partly loud a report as I had expected, whiff ruined abbey, and a fine old cathedral -a of smoke came from the breech, and the town at peace with the world after a shell had gone on its mission to an invisi- strenuous history, prosperous, but not agble enemy beyond the slope, while the gressively so. In the present war Soissons leaves overhead, hiding the gray muzzle, has suffered far more than Rheims, its settled back into place.

neighbor to the east. Again, as at Rheims, I read the story of a correspondent who there is a wide swath cut in the line of the boasted that five shells were fired for his German fire. Again, part of the former special benefit. I prefer to think that this prosperous business section is laid waste. one was fired for France.

In the Rue du Commerce, the Rue de la

Congregation, the Rue du College, and June 28.

the district to the northeast near the river Sweaters and raincoats were needed in most of the houses are mere shells, and the morning, for a cold wind out of the fires are smoldering in the debris. northwest brought with it a dismal rain To make a ruin out of a ruin seems a

a day more like October than June. waste of time. A shell, with only its twin We were up near the front an hour after towers and part of its thirteenth-century we had left the hotel. With the general cloisters remaining, St. Jean des Vignes and his staff we were perched on the ob- could serve no strategic purpose. The reaservation-platform at division headquar- son for the heavy fire directed at it is inters. The general, with the aid of a large comprehensible. In the war of 1870 the scale-map, which he held down with diffi- façade was damaged by the heavy Gerculty in the wind, described the fighting man projectiles and the points of the in his sector. A mist hung over the valley arches were calcined by the fames. In the in front of us. Little white puffs rolled present series of bombardments there has back from time to time as the curtain been a more systematic effort to demolish lifted-shrapnel exploding

the what was left of the structure. French trenches close to the river.

of the stone shaft surmounting the left At our feet were the extensive stables tower has been carried off, and there are and courtyard of an old farmstead, not ragged gashes in the arched openings. unlike the fortified manoirs of Nor- The top of the tower on the right has been mandy. The yard was filled with cav- shot away, and the hammering of shells alrymen grooming their horses. One sel- and incendiary bombs has left its marks dom sees horses so close to the front lines. across the entire façade. The little statue Directly below, with a guard watching at the central apex of the arch is gone, the nonchalantly over them, was a group in platform supporting the arched portals


A part badly cracked, and the tiles smashed into tempted to drive a wedge through the powder.

Arras sector. They have been hammerThe wreck of the cathedral is more ap- ing away with a definite object in view, palling. A solid old pile, it dates from namely, to turn the left wing of Mauthe twelfth century, and is an excellent d'huy's noth Corps and cut off the Britexample of combined Gothic and Ro- ish army to the north, leaving it with manesque design. It has withstood many an overwhelming German force in front sieges, but its massive construction was no and with only the channel ports behind it. proof against the assaults of modern guns. The drive has not succeeded. But what Eighty shells were thrown into the build- of Arras in the meantime? It would take ing by high-angle fire in the first few days the imagination of Doré to visualize the after the enemy was established on the saddening ruins of the former capital of plateau to the north. The fine stained- Artois. glass of the Gothic windows is smashed, We approached the town from the diand the tombs are crushed in. There is rection of Doullens, where our headquaran enormous hole in the roof of the apse, ters had been established. We clung to through which a flood of sunlight streams the route nationale for only a short disacross a fallen column. Though every tance, because for virtually all of the stone of it is separate, the column still pre- thirty-six kilometers it comes within range serves its outline, with the carved capital

of the German guns. intact, like a fallen giant.

So after a short dash we turned off to The French particularly resent the the left, to edge our way forward through devastation of Soissons. In the Franco- sheltered country byways. We passed Prussian War, when the Germans en- through Lucheux, a little hamlet with a tered the town after a four days' siege, picturesque arched stone gate standing in they shot up some of the citizens, the roadway. monument to their memory stood in the I had no sooner remarked


the Place de la Republic, - but the damage peasants working in the fields and the they inflicted on its ancient monuments farmers' carts in the inn courtyards before was comparatively slight. Though civili- both disappeared. In their places apzation has advanced nearly half a century peared the tents of the farriers' camps, since then, this time the Germans have Red-Cross trucks, commissary-wagons, spared neither the civil population nor the military motors, artillery batteries in reancient monuments.

serve, repair-shops, horses, men, and muIn the present case the threadbare ex- nitions-all the numerous cogs that fit cuse of military necessity falls flat. In into the vast organization behind the acParis, the minister of fine arts, M. Dali- tual fighting-line of the army. mier, particularly called our attention to Other small villages passed. We drove

. the fact that the cathedral tower and the into little valleys and out again, or crept Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes would be along embankments where the road had useless for observation purposes for the been cut deeper to afford protection. The simple reason that a ridge higher than crackle of the guns, which at first was their highest pinnacles intervenes between only a distant roar, was growing nearer. the northern edge of the town and the Our motors advanced in a series of German lines.

charges, dashing past an open space at July 7.

cup-race speed, slowing down in a ravine After the long Allied line that begins or where the walls at the roadside shelat Ypres and stretches south until it turns tered us, then shooting ahead again. I eastward above Compiègne was straight- was becoming accustomed to these short ened out, the heaviest fighting centered spurts, but I never ceased to wonder why about Arras and the surrounding country. we were not as likely to run into a shell The Germans have again and again at- as to be caught on the wing by one.



A blight had fallen upon the landscape, curtains moved gently in the breeze that and the sun had disappeared, when, be- came in through the opening. yond Dainville, we crept gingerly back to The general took us to his sleepingthe route nationale. At the end of the apartment in the cellar. A very cool and long white road ahead a fierce bombard- pleasant place, he said, but he had to ment was in progress. Straightened out bolster up with sand-bags the grating on the highway, we waited for a signal, upon which he depended for light and air and then rushed through the zone raked because of the flying shrapnel in the street by the enemy's fire up to the town gates

outside. of Arras.

In a drizzle of rain we crossed a desoA sentry stepped out of the box at the late little square. Arras was like a city octroi and demanded the password. The of the dead: it gave one something of the sign-posts of the Touring Club of France, sensation of walking through the ghostly "Doullens 25 kilometers," "Amiens 60 cairns of Pompeii, or St.-Pierre, Martikilometers," still marked the distances nique. Lowering clouds and the yellow along the road, but the blue of the signs smoke of incendiary bombs hung like a was faded, and the lettering indistinct. pall overhead. Despite the intermittent The tire and chocolate advertisements on crackle of gun-fire, we unconsciously lowthe sign-boards lining the roads still re- ered our voices. A leaning chimney, all mained, scarred with shrapnel and full of that remained of the one-time residence of shot-holes.

some prosperous merchant, toppled over We went in, the cars turning aside as we looked at it. A cloud of dust rose from time to time to avoid the debris of it crashed into the ruins below. toppled walls and chimneys that littered Through the wet blanket of rain the outthe streets.

The cobbles were strewn lines of broken walls and blackened roofwith rusty fragments of shell, grass grew trees were hazy and indistinct, in the interstices and in the cracks be- At the end of a cul-de-sac, the shells tween the paving-stones, and broken tele- tearing through the narrow street had phone and telegraph wires hung in fes- blown out the walls of a house from betoons from their fastenings. There was neath its roof. Beyond the gaunt opening no sign of life, unless you call the clatter tottering chimneys and blackened rafters of shells overhead a sign of life, until, showed through the yellow haze in the after leaving the cars in a protected spot, distance. Underneath, in the smoking we went to headquarters to pay our re- ruins, window-blinds, doors, stairways, spects to the general in command. He was old bed-posts, and bits of furniture were a cheerful, stout man, so like General shuffled


with bricks and stones in artisJoffre in appearance that my photograph tic confusion. Above, the red-tiled roof, of him might easily pass for one of the undamaged, and with a little white curgeneralissimo himself.

tain still hanging in the dormer-window, He complained of the spies. His head hung suspended like a bridge from the quarters had been moved two days before, walls on each side. and already the Germans knew the where- There was a sudden lull in the canabouts of the staff. In proof of this he

In proof of this he nonading, as though both sides, breathshowed us a large cavity in the garden at less, had stopped at a given signal. We the rear where a "marmite" had exploded could hear the echo of our footsteps on that morning. He also showed us a shell- the cobbles. We came out into the dishole in the wall of the house. The shell trict of shops. An épicerie displayed tins had swept down the cut-glass chandelier, of American canned goods in its broken loosened the plaster of the walls, and de- windows; there was not a whole pane of molished a mahogany sideboard, a beauti- glass in the city. The grocer conducted ful mahogany table, and mahogany chairs. his business in the cellar. In a narrow Still undamaged, the old-rose window- street a few vegetables and some fruit

« AnkstesnisTęsti »