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these sailors have the throat of youth. We around waiting in a roar of noise and a must once have had such a race in our bright blaze of burning houses—waiting cow-boys and Texas rangers-level-eyed, till the shelling fades away. careless men who know no masters, only Now for twelve months they have been equals. The force of gravity is heavy on holding wrecked Nieuport, and I have an old man. But marins are not weighted watched them there week after week. down by their equipment nor muffled with There is no drearier post on earth. One clothing. They go bobbing like a cork, as day in the pile of masonry thirty feet from though they would always stay on the our cellar refuge the sailors began throwcrest of things. And riding on top of their ing out the bricks, and in a few minutes lightness is that absurd bright-red button they uncovered the body of a comrade. in their
cap. The armies for five hundred All the village has the smell of desolation. miles are sober, grown-up people, but here That smell is compounded of green ditchare the play-boys of the western front. water, damp plaster, wet clothing, blood,
From Ghent they trooped south to Dix- straw, and antiseptics. The nose took it mude, and were shot to pieces in that as we crossed the canal, and held it till "Thermopylæ of the North.
we shook ourselves on the run home. “Hold for four days," was their order. Thirty minutes a day in that soggy wreck
They held for three weeks, till the sea pulled at my spirits for hours aftercame down and took charge. During ward. But those chaps stood up to it for those three weeks we motored in and out twenty-four hours a day, lifting a cheery to get their wounded. Nothing of orderly face from a stinking cellar, hopping about impression of those days remains to me. in the tangle, sleeping quietly when their I have only Aashes of the sailor-soldiers “night off” comes. As our chauffeur drew curved over and snaking along the bat- his camera, one of them sprang into a bush tered streets behind slivers of wall, hand- entanglement, aimed his rifle, and posed. fuls of them in the hôtel de ville standing I recollect an afternoon when we had
Breton sailors ready for their noon meal in a village under daily shell-fire. At the right stands
Dr. Casper Warren Burton of Cincinnati, who came from Dr. Grenfell in Labrador
word of an attack. We were grave, because the Germans are strong and fearless.
"Are they coming ?" grinned a sailor. “Let them come. We are ready."
We learned early that it is not wise to wings. They will know I am not making treat a marin treacherously. He will light of their pain in writing these words. wade through a machine-gun to wipe it I am only saying that they make light of out. Once the Germans near Nieuport it. The judgment of men who are soon made a sudden sortie and overtook a to die is like the judgment of little chilmarin doctor, wounded, but still caring dren. It does not tolerate foolish words. for his wounded. They gave him and his Of all the ways of showing you care that patients the bayonet.
they suffer there is nothing half so good Then the sailors, reinforced, came back as the gift of tobacco. As long as I had with a counter attack, and reached the
any money to spend, I spent it on packages Red Cross post. There they found their of cigarettes. favorite doctor dead. They swept on, sur- When it came my time to say good-by, rounded the German detachment, and my sailor friend, who had often stopped bayoneted the men and the officer who had by my car to tell me that all was going ordered the murder.
they well, ran over to see the excitement. I spared, and they sent him back to the Ger- told him I was leaving, and he gave me a man lines to tell what marins do to an smile of deep-understanding amusement. enemy that strikes foully.
Tired so soon? That smile carried a live We had known that doctor. Later, at consciousness of untapped power, of the Nieuport, we learned to know many of the record he and his comrades had made. It Fusiliers Marins and to grow fond of showed a disregard of my personal feelthem. How else could it be when we ings, of all adult human weakness. That went and got them, sick and wounded, was the picture I carried away from the dying and dead, two, six, ten of them a Nieuport line—the smiling boy with his day, for many weeks, and brought them in wounded arm, alert after his year to the Red Cross post for a dressing, and and more than a little scornful of one who then on to the hospital? I remember a had grown weary in conditions so prosperyoung man in our ambulance. His right ous for young men. foot was shot away, and the leg above was I rode away from him, past the Coxyde wounded. He lay unmurmuring for all encampment of his comrades. There they the tossing of the road over the eight miles were as I had often seen them, with the of the ride. We lifted him from the peddlers cluttering their camp-candy str her, which he had wet with his men, banana women; a fringe of basket blood, into the white cot in “Hall 15” of merchants about their grim barracks; a Zuydcoote Hospital. The wound and the dozen peasants squatting with baskets of journey had gone deeply into his vitality. cigarettes, fruit, vegetables, foolish, bright As he touched the bed, his control ebbed, trinkets. And over them hovered the and he became violently sick at the stom- boys, dozens of them in blue blouses, ach. I stooped to carry back the empty stooping down to pick up trays, fingering stretcher. He saw I was going away,
and red apples and shining charms, chaffing, said, “Thank you.” I knew I should not dickering, shoving one another, the old see him again, not even if I came early loves of their childhood still tangled in next day.
their being There is one unfading impression made So when I am talking about the sailors on me by those wounded. If I call it as if they are heroes, suddenly something good nature, I have given only one ele- gay comes romping in. I see them again, ment in it. It is more than that: it is a as I have so often seen them in the dunes dash of fun. They smile, they wink, they of Flanders, and what I see is a race of accept a light for their cigarette. It is children. not stoicism at all. Stoicism is a grim "Don't forget we are only little ones," holding on, the jaws clenched, the spirit they say. “We don't die; we are just at dark, but enduring. This is a thing of play.”