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savor again the coolness of the shade as we dropped beneath it on our way home from the swimming-hole. That oak and the old Emerson homestead were unthinkable apart. If I, who merely had lived a mile or more down the road, could so thrill to a picture of that tree in after years, what, I reflected, must be the affection in which an Emerson holds it? Is it still there? Surely it must be, for the oak outlives our little spans, and that any one could lay an ax to it is inconceivable.
So I lingered through the book, greeting each picture as I would greet the likeness of a boyhood friend, each bringing back to me not only its own image, but what a wealth beside of associated memories! Surely every man holds certain trees thus warmly in his affection-trees he planted, or his father or his grandfather planted, trees which gave him shade and shelter, trees which were an integral part of his home, trees which had some grace of limb or charm of character which forever endeared them to him through the subtle channels of esthetic satisfaction. "Trees have no personality?" I said, as I
closed the pamphlet. "Then there is no such thing as the influence of line and contour on the mind, and no such thing as affection for the inanimate, which is nonsense."
But one tree this pamphlet did not pic
It was a great chestnut, fully five feet through, storm-torn and lightningscarred, which stood high upon a windy. summit, the shepherd of a hundred hills. They were little hills, green and rolling, and from the first great limb of the chestnut, a limb as big as a barrel, they looked like a patchwork quilt stitched with stone walls. Over them the cattle browsed, or the reapers clicked their midsummer locust song, or just the breeze passed whispering. And four feet dangled from the great limb of the chestnut, and four eyes looked out across the little hills to a far pond and the misty horizon, and two hearts sang a song as old as the hills themselves. When the sun declined, the shadow of the great tree swept out eastward, the cattle filed down to the bars and lowed, the leader shaking her bell protestingly, one pair of arms must needs be raised to
assist the more encumbered climber down to the top of our ladder, which was a huge piece of broken limb propped against the trunk, and then again be raised from the ground to swing a burden all too light to earth. Then there must follow a little ceremony-the cutting of a tiny notch in a deep and secret recess of the bark to signify one more day of happiness spent in that protecting shelter, and sometimes a warm pink cheek was laid against the furrowed trunk, and a voice whispered, "Nice old Grandpa Chestnut!"
That was many years ago. I wonder if that noble old tree is standing yet, or whether the chestnut blight, the ax, or the lightning has robbed the little hills of
their shepherd? I shall never know; I shall never count again the little notches in a secret recess of the bark, or hear the sweet, silly secrets the old tree would not betray. I could go there now, to the very spot, yes, on the darkest night; a memory in the soles of my feet would wake and tell me the path. But I shall never take the risk. Some memories must never be dusted, some paths never retrod. For me that storm-scarred grandfather of a tree shall forever stand shepherd over the little hills, the little, green rolling hills where the cattle browse and the wind whispers to the mullen-stalks, and against its hoary bark a soft pink cheek is pressed, and I am twenty-one again.
Pictures by Harry Townsend
THE boy soldier is willing to make any day his last day if it is a good day. It is not so with the middle-aged man. He is puzzled by the war. What he has to struggle with more than bodily weakness is the malady of thought. Is the bloody business worth while?
SAW him first, my middle-aged man, one afternoon on the boards of an improvised stage in the sand-dunes of Belgium. On that last thin strip of the shattered kingdom English and French and Belgians were grimly massed. He was a Frenchman, and he was cheering up his comrades. With shining black hair and volatile face, he played many parts that day. He recited sprightly verses of Parisian life. He carried on amazing twenty-minute dialogues with himself, mimicking the voice of girl and woman, bully and dandy. His audience had come in stale from the everlasting spading and
marching. They brightened visibly under his gaiety. If he cared to make that effort in the saddened place, they were ready to respond. When he dismissed them, the last flash of him was of a smiling, rollicking improvisator, bowing himself over to the applause till his black hair was level with our eyes.
And then next day as I sat in my ambulance, waiting orders, he trudged by in his blue, "the color of heaven" once, but musty now from nights under the rain. His head of hair, which the glossy black wig had covered, was gray-white. The sparkling, pantomimic face had dropped
He was patient and old and tired. Perhaps he, too, would have been glad of some one to cheer him up. He was just one more territorial-trenchdigger and sentry and filler-in. He became for me the type of all those faithful, plodding soldiers whose first strength is spent. In him was gathered up all that fatigue and sadness of men for whom no glamour remains.
They went past me every day, hundreds of them, padding down the Nieuport road, their feet tired from service and their boots road-worn-crowds of men beyond numbering, as far as one could see into the dry, volleying dust and beyond the dust; men coming toward me, a nation of them. They came at a long, uneven jog, a cluttered walk. Every figure was sprinkled and encircled by dust-dust on their gray temples, and on their wet, streaming faces, dust coming up in puffs from their shuffling feet, too tired to lift clear of the heavy road-bed. There was a hot, pitiless sun, and every man of them was shrouded in the long, heavy winter coat, as soggy as a horse blanket, and with thick leather gaiters, loose, flapping, swathing their legs as if with bandages. On the man's back was a pack, with the huge swell of the blanket rising up beyond the neck and generating heat-waves; a loaf of tough black bread fastened upon the knapsack or tied inside a faded red handkerchief; and a dingy, scarred tin Billy-can. At his shapeless, rolling waist his belt hung heavy with a bayonet in its casing. On the shoulder rested a dirt-caked spade, with a clanking of metal where the bayonet and the Billy-can struck the handle of the spade. Under a peaked cap showed the bearded face and the white of strained eyes gleaming through dust and sweat. The man was too tired to smile and talk. The weight of the pack, the weight of the clothes, the dust, the smiting sun-all weighted down the man, leaving every line in his body sagging and drooping with weariness.
These are the men that spade the trenches, drive the food-transports and ammunition-wagons, and carry through the
detail duties of small honor that the army may prosper. When has it happened before that the older generation holds up the hands of the young? At the western front they stand fast that the youth may go forward. They fill in the shell-holes to make a straight path for less-tired feet. They drive up food to give good heart to boys.
War is easy for the young. The boy soldier is willing to make any day his last if it is a good day. middle-aged man.
It is not so with the He is puzzled by the
war. What he has to struggle with more than bodily weakness is the malady of thought. Is the bloody business worth while? Is there any far-off divine event which his death will hasten? The wines of France are good wines, and his home in fertile Normandy was pleasant.
As we stood in the street in the sun one hot afternoon, four men came carrying a wounded man. The stretcher was growing red under its burden. The man's face was greenish white, with a stubble of beard. The flesh of his body was as white as snow from loss of blood. It was torn at the chest and sides. They carried him to the dressing-station, and half an hour later lifted him into our car. We carried him in for two miles. Four flies fed on the red rim of his closed left eye. He lay silent, motionless. Only a slight flutter of the coverlet, made by his breathing, gave a sign of life. At the Red Cross post we stopped. The coverlet still slightly rose and fell. The doctor, brown-bearded, in white linen, stepped into the car, tapped the man's wrist, tested his pulse, put a hand over his heart. Then the doctor muttered, drew the coverlet over the greenish-white face, and ordered the marines to remove him. In the moment of arrival the wounded man had died.
In the courtyard next our post two men were carrying in long strips of wood. This wood was for coffins, and one of them would be his.
A funeral passes our car, one every day, sometimes two: a wooden cross in front, carried by a soldier; the whiterobed chaplain chanting; the box of light
wood, on a frame of black; the coffin draped in the tricolor, a squad of twenty soldiers following the dead. That is the funeral of the middle-aged man. There is no time wasted on him in the brisk business of war; but his comrades bury him. One in particular faithful at funerals I had learned to know-M. Le Doze. War itself is so little the respecter of persons that this man had found himself of value in paying the last small honor to the obscure dead as they were carried from his Red Cross post to the burialground. One hopes that he will receive no hasty trench burial when his own time
I cannot write of the middle-aged man of the Belgians because he has been killed. That first mixed army, which in thin line opposed its body to an immense machine, was crushed by weight and momentum. Little is left but a memory. But I shall not forget the red-haired veteran sergeant of the first army, near Lokeren, who kept his men under cover while he ran out into the middle of the road to see if the Uhlans were coming. The only Belgian army today is an army of boys. Last night we had a letter from André Simont, of the "Obusiers Lourdes, Belges," and he wrote:
If you promise me you will come back for next summer, I won't get pinked. If I ever do, it does n't matter. I have had twenty years of very happy life.
If he were forty-five, he would say, as a French officer at Coxyde said to me:
"Four months, and I have n't heard from my wife and children. We had a pleasant home. I was well to do. I miss the good wines of my cellar. This beer is sour. We have done our best, we French, our utmost, and it is n't quite enough. We have made a supreme effort, but it has n't cleared the enemy from our country. La guerre-c'est triste."
He, too, fights on, but that overflow of vitality does not visit him, as it comes to the youngsters of the first line. It is easy for the boys of Brittany to die, those sailors with a rifle, the stanch Fusiliers Marins, who, outnumbered, held fast at Melle
and Dixmude, and now for ten months have made Nieuport, the extreme end of the western battle-line, a great rock. is easy, because there is a glory in the eyes of boys. But the older man lives with second thoughts, with a subdued philosophy, a love of security. He is married, with a child or two; his garden is pleasant in the afternoon sun. He turns wistfully to the young, who are so sure, to cheer him. With him it is bloodshed, the moaning of shell-fire, and harsh command.
One afternoon at Coxyde, in the camp of the middle-aged-the territorials-an open-air entertainment was given. Massed up the side of a sand-dune, row on row, were the bearded men, two thousand of them. There were flashes of youth, of course-marines in dark blue, with jaunty round hat with fluffy red centerpiece; Zouaves with dusky Algerian skin, yellow-sorrel jacket, and baggy harem trousers; Belgians in fresh khaki uniform; and Red Cross British Quakers. But the mass of the men were middle-aged—territorials, with the light-blue long-coat, good for all weathers and the sharp night, and the peaked cap. Over the top of the dune where the soldiers sat an observation balloon was suspended in a cloudless blue sky, like a huge yellow caterpillar. Beyond the pasteboard stage, high on a western dune, two sentries stood with their bayonets touched by sunlight. To the south rose a monument to the territorial dead. To the north an aëroplane flashed along the line at full speed, while gun after gun threw shrapnel after it.
As I looked on the people, suddenly I thought of the Sermon on the Mount, with the multitude spread about, tier on tier, hungry for more than bread. It was a scene of summer beauty, with the glory of the sky thrown in, and every now and then the music of the heart. Half the songs of the afternoon were gay, and half were sad with long enduring, and the memory of the dear ones distant and of the many dead. Not in lightness or ignorance were these men making war. When I saw the multitude and how they hungered, I wished that Bernhardt could