« AnkstesnisTęsti »
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
I. In the brewery at Blangy
3. The hôtel de ville, Arras, July, 1915
were on sale, with little price-marks stick- green-tiled fireplaces, one on top of the ing in the trays. Women and small girls other, were as carefully polished as though were standing at the side of the market- their owners had just left them. Farther carts. It was a pitifully meager market, out was a little cottage that brought us to but the women were undismayed.
a stop with a catch in our throats. Its A turn out of the little Rue de Jérusa- walls were blown out, and in the rear the lem brought us up to the cathedral. It ceiling of the second floor had fallen over had been violently bombarded since early
the kitchen range.
The front bedroom morning. There was an enormous new remained, with its outside wall swiped "marmite” hole in the northern façade, off; in it were a little white bed, a table some of the cornices had been shot away, with a reading-lamp, a pair of slippers, a and many of the columns were smashed wardrobe hung with women's clothes, into a shapeless mass of stone. A cloud of with some hat-boxes above. The doortawny smoke rose from the interior; be- jam underneath was supported by the neath it was the crimson glow of many only part of the front wall still standing. small fires started by incendiary bombs. Set in the bricks at the side was a neat Soldiers had laid lines of hose, and were brass plate, with the sign, “Madame Houplaying streams upon the ruins. They dain, Modes.” The story of Madame might as well have tried to put out Vesu- Houdain would seem to need no further vius. As fast as blaze would be smoth- telling. ered in one part of the building, a bomb We were leisurely crossing the square dropped, and started another somewhere by the railway station when a picket rode else.
out on a bicycle. The open place was diA tired-looking group of townspeople rectly in the line of the German gun-fire, - there are a thousand of its twenty-five he said, and he begged us to hurry. We thousand inhabitants still remaining - hurried. . The fire arrived with us as we whispered together as they watched the entered the Grande Place. We winced at destruction of the cathedral. A priest two loud detonations in the low clouds stood in the rain with bared head.
above, and the soldiers in the shelter of The devastation was complete in what
the arcade thought it very amusing. It ever direction we turned. The girders of would have been funnier to me, I am certhe enormous steel train-shed at the rail- tain, had I been under the arches with way station were broken in, and every them. skylight was smashed. The arrival- and These arches run completely around the departure-platforms were covered with Grande Place, a relic of the Spanish ocdebris, and grass three feet high grew over cupation. The troops were bivouacked the tracks of one of the greatest railway under them, their guns stacked, and the centers of northern France. In the Rue smoke of their mess-stoves rolling out into Gambetta, near by, the beautiful Ursuline the mist. They were passing their mochapel was badly damaged. Pieces of its ments of relaxation in playing cards or tower had been shot away, and in its ir- lolling about until dusk, when the time regular outlines it somewhat resembled an
to relieve their comrades in the unsteady spiral staircase of stone.
trenches just outside the city walls. Following the Rue Douai, in the environs toward Blangy there is noth- Victor Hugo says of Arras: “There are ing left of the town at all. There was two curious squares with scrolled gables not a house standing intact, and only a in the Flemish-Spanish style of the time few of the chimneys. Trees, hewn off as of Louis XIII. In one of the squares, the if by an ax, were flung across the streets; smaller, there is a charming town hall of everywhere were great holes in the cobble- the fifteenth century adjoining a delightstones where shells had torn up the pave- ful house of the Renaissance." ment. One house was gutted, but its I well remember the town hall. Its