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great relief, began speaking to me. It us. And yet here was a village not far was monsieur the mayor. As best I distant from several aviation schools, could, I explained that I had lost my where a pilot was looked upon with way and had found it necessary to wonder. To have an American aviator come down for the purpose of making drop down upon them was an event, inquiries. I knew that it was awful even in the history of that ancient vilFrench, but hoped that it would be in- lage. To have been that aviator — telligible, in part at least. However, well, it was an unforgettable experithe
mayor understood not a word, and ence, coming as it did so opportunely I knew by the curious expression in his with America's entry into the war. I eyes that he must be wondering from shall always have it in the background what weird province I hailed. After a of memory, and, if health and fortune moment's thought he said, “Vous êtes hold good, it will be one of the pleasAnglais, monsieur?' with a smile of antest of many pleasant tales I shall very real pleasure. I said, 'Non, mon- have in store for my grandchildren. sieur, Américain.'
However, it is not their potentialiThat magic word! What potency it ties as memories which endear these has in France the more so at that adventures of ours now. Rather, it is time, perhaps, for America had placed their contrast to any that we have herself definitely on the side of the known before. We are always comAllies only a very short time before. paring this new life with the old, so Frankly, I did enjoy that moment. I different in every respect as to seem a might have had the village for the separate existence, almost a previous asking. I willingly accepted the rôle of incarnation. ambassador of the American people. Having been set right about my Had it not been for the language bar- course, I pushed my biplane to more rier, I think I would have made a level ground, with the willing help of speech, for I felt the generous spirit of all the boys, started my motor, and Uncle Sam prompting me to give those was away again. Their cheers were so fathers and mothers, whose husbands shrill and hearty that they reached me and sons were at the front, the promise even above the roar of the motor. As a of our unqualified support. I wanted lad in a small, middle-western town, I to tell them that we were with them have known the rapture of holding to now, not only in sympathy, but with a balloon guy-rope at a country fair, all our resources in men and guns and until the world's most famous aeronaut ships and aircraft. Alas! this was im- shouted, 'Let 'er go, boys!' and swung
' possible. Instead, I gave each one of off into space. I kept his memory green an army of small boys the privilege of until I had passed the first age of herositting in the pilot's seat, and showed worship. I know that every youngster them how to manage the controls. in a small village in central France will
The astonishing thing to me was, so keep mine. Such fame is the only that while this village was not twenty
kind worth having. kilometres off the much-frequented air A flight of fifteen minutes brought route between C- and R-, mine me within sight of the large white circle was the first aeroplane which most of which marks the landing field at Rthem had seen. During long months at J. B. had not yet arrived. This was a various aviation schools I had grown great disappointment, for we had planaccustomed to thinking that aircraft ned a race home. I was anxious about were as familiar a sight to others as to him, too, for I knew that the godfather
of all adventurers can be very stern at one wonder whether we shall ever feel times, particularly with his aerial god really at home in the air. I, too, longed children. I waited an hour, and then for the sound of human voices, and all decided to go on alone. The weather that I heard was the roar of the motor having cleared, the opportunity was and the swish of the wind through too favorable to be lost.
wires and struts sounds which have The cloud-formations were the most no human quality in them, and are no remarkable that I had ever seen. I more companionable than the lapping flew around and over and under them, of the waves would be to a man adrift watching at close quarters the play on a raft in mid-ocean. Underlying of light and shade over their great this feeling, and, no doubt, in part rebillowing folds. Sometimes I skirted sponsible for it, was the knowledge of them so closely that the current of air the fallibility of that seemingly perfect from my propeller raveled out frag- mechanism which rode so steadily ments of shining vapor, which streamed through the air; of the quick response into the clear spaces like wisps of filmy which that ingenious arrangement of silk. I knew that I ought to be savor- inanimate matter would make to an ing this experience, but for some reason eternal, inexorable law, if a few frail I could not. One usually pays for a fine wires should part; of the equally quick, mood by a sudden and unaccountable but less phlegmatic response of another change of feeling which shades off into fallible mechanism, capable of registera kind of dull, colorless depression. ing horror, capable, it is said, of pass
I passed a twin-motor Caudron go ing its past life in review in the space ing in the opposite direction. It was of a few seconds, and then — capable
, fantastically painted — the wings a of becoming equally inanimate matter. bright yellow and the circular hoods Luckily nothing of this sort hapover the two motors a fiery red. As it pened, and the feeling of loneliness approached, it looked like some prehis- passed the moment I came in sight of toric bird with great ravenous eyes. the long rows of barracks, the hangars The thing startled me, not so much be- and machine-shops of the aviation cause of its weird appearance, as by the school. My joy when I saw them can mere fact of its being there. Strangely be appreciated in full only by fellow enough, for a moment it seemed impos- aviators who remember the end of their sible that I should meet another avion. own first long flight. I had been away Despite a long apprenticeship in avia- for years. I would not have been surtion, in these days when one's mind prised to find great changes. If the has only begun to grasp the fact that brevet monitor had come hobbling out the mastery of the air has been accom- to meet me holding an ear-trumpet in plished, the sudden presentation of a bit his palsied hand, the sight would have of evidence sometimes shocks it into been quite in keeping with my own a moment of amazement bordering on sense of the lapse of time. However, he incredulity.
approached with his ancient, springy, As I watched the big biplane pass, it businesslike step, as I climbed down was with relief that I became conscious from my machine. I swallowed to clear of a feeling of loneliness. I remember the passage to my ears, and heard him ed what J. B. had said that morning. say, 'Alors, ça va?' in a most disapThere was something unpleasant in pointingly perfunctory tone of voice. that isolation, something to make one I nodded. look longingly down to earth; to make 'Where's your biograph?'
what w momer Anglai very re sieur,
Tha has in time, hersel Allies Fran! might askin amba Had rier, speed Unel fath and
Never before have I come to Paris course of instruction, first on the twinwith so keen a sense of the joy of liv- motor Caudron and then on various ing. I walked down rue Lafayette, then types of the Nieuport biplane. We through rue de Provence and rue du thought the Caudron a magnificent Havre, to a little hotel in the vicinity machine. We liked the steady throb of the Gare St. Lazare. Under ordi- of its powerful motors, the enormous nary circumstances not one of these spread of its wings, the slow, ponderous streets, or the people in them, would way it had of answering to the controls. have appeared particularly interesting; It was our business to take officer obbut on this occasion it was the finest servers for long trips about the country walk of my life. I saw everything with while they made photographs, spotted the enchanted eyes of the permission- dummy batteries, and perfected themnaire, and sniffed the odors of roasting selves in the wireless code. chestnuts, of restaurants, of shops, and At that time the Caudron had almost of people, never so keenly aware of passed its period of usefulness at the their numberless variety.
front, and there was a prospect of our After dinner I walked out on the being transferred to the yet larger and boulevards from the Madeleine to the more powerful Léotard, a three-pasPlace de la République, through the senger biplane carrying two machinemaze of narrow streets, to the river, gunners besides the pilot, and from and over Pont Neuf to Notre Dame. three to five machine-guns. This apI was amazed that the enchantment pealed to us mightily. J. B. was always which Hugo gives it for me should have talking of the time when he would comlost none of its old potency, after com- mand not only a machine, but also a ing direct from the tremendous reali- 'gang of men.' However, being Amerties of modern warfare. If he were icans, and recruited for a particular writing this journal, what a story it combat corps which flies only singlewould be! I ought to give it up, but seater avions de chasse, we eventually that second self which is always urging followed the usual course of training one to do impossible things, keeps say- for such pilots. We passed in turn to ing, 'Of course it's absurd. I grant you the Nieuport biplane, which compares that you're not big enough for the job. in speed and grace with these larger But don't be too ambitious. Remem- craft, as the flight of a swallow with the ber what you started in to do: “Simple movements of a great lazy buzzard. narrative-two members — Escadrille And now the Nieuport has been surLafayette.” Tell it as it falls out of passed, and almost entirely supplanted, your pen. Who asks you to do more by the Spad of 140, 180, 200, and 230 than that?'
horse-power, and we have transferred It will be necessary to pass rapidly our allegiance to each in turn, marvelover the period between the day when ing at the restless genius of the French we received our brevets militaires and in motor- and aircraft-construction. that on which we started for the front. At last we were ready for acrobacy. The event which bulked largest to us I will not give a detailed account of was, of course, the departure on active these trials by means of which one's service. Preceding it, and next in im- ability as a combat pilot is most seportance, was the last phase of our verely tested. This belongs in the training and the culmination of it all at pages of a textbook rather than in the School of Acrobacy. Preliminary those of a journal of this kind. But to to our work there, we had a six-weeks us, who were to undergo the ordeal,
My biograph! It is the altitude- ing what the outcome of it would be. registering instrument which also At the château he met a fine old genmarks, on a cross-lined chart, the time tleman who spoke English with that consumed on each lap of an aerial voy- nicety of utterance which only a culage. My card should have shown four tivated Frenchman can achieve. He neat outlines in ink, something like had no difficulty in clearing himself. this
Then he had dinner in a great hall hung with armor and hunting trophies, was shown to a chamber half as large as the lounge at the Harvard Club, and slept
in a bed which he got into by means of one for each stage of my journey, a ladder of carved oak. This is a mere including the forced landing when I outline. Out of regard for J. B.'s opinhad lost my way. But alas! having ions about the sanctities of his own started the mechanism going on leaving personal adventures, I refrain from A-, I had then forgotten all about giving further details. it, so that it had gone on running while Our final triangle was completed my machine was on the ground, as well uneventfully. J. B.'s motor behaved as during the time it was in the air. splendidly; I remembered my biograph The result was a sketch of a mag- at every stage of the journey, and we nificent mountain-range, which might were at home again within three hours. have been drawn by the futurist son, We did our altitude tests and were age five, of a futurist artist. Silently I then no longer élèves-pilotes but piloteshanded over the instrument. The mon- aviateurs. By reason of this distinction, itor looked at it, and then at me, with- we passed from the rank of soldier of out comment. But there is an inter- the second class to that of corporal. national language of facial expression, We hurried to the tailor's, where the and his said, unmistakably, ‘You poor, wings and star insignia were sewn on simple prune! You choice sample of our collars and our corporal's stripes mouldy American cheese!'
on our sleeves. For we were proud, as J. B. did not return until the follow- every aviator is proud, who reaches the ing afternoon. After leaving me over end of his apprenticeship and enters C—, he had blown out two spark- into the dignity of breveted military plugs. For a while he limped along on pilot. six cylinders, then landed in a field
II three kilometres from the nearest town. His French, which is worse, if that is Six months have passed since I made possible, than mine, aroused the sus- the last entry in my journal. J. B. was picions of a sturdy patriot farmer who asleep in his historic bed, and I was collared him as a possible German spy. sitting at a rickety table, writing by Under a bodyguard of two peasants candle-light, stopping now and then to armed with hoes, he was marched to listen to the mutter of guns on the a neighboring château. And then, I Aisne front. It was only at night that should think, he must have had an- we could hear them, and then not often, other historical illusion, this time with the very ghost of sound, as faint as a French revolutionary setting. He the beating of the pulses in one's ears. says not, however. All his faculties That was a May evening, and now it were concentrated on enjoying this un- is late in November. I arrived at the usual adventure; and he was wonder- Gare du Nord only a few hours ago.