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A_Communique

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 15 wounded. This reminds me to set down the following tribute sent to her recently by Theodore Botiel: Blue as the skies of our glorious land, White as the hearts of our little ones, and Red as the blood of those dead, sword in hand, The flowers of Love, Hope, Devotion supreme Bloom e'er in our souls for you. Long live the Queen! But when all is said that can be told, the story of the women's part in this war lacks the splendor of war history for men. There is no glory in their suffering, no distinction. They just suffer. The skies above France are gray now. The wind is bitter cold. The earth is rimed with frost. All the leaves have fallen from the trees. All the flowers are dead in the gardens. But there are more women and children homeless in the streets of Paris. They also are fallen leaves, perishing flowers, blown in from everywhere by the hurricane of battles. The Cirque de Paris is filled with Belgian refugees. You may employ a Flemish woman, who a little while ago had a home of her own, to do all the work in yours for half a franc a day. Even then few of them find employment. Many of the domestic servants in France have received no wages at all since the first of August. They are fortunate to hold their places and so obtain food and shelter. There is another town not far from Paris which has received thousands of Belgian refugees in addition to its own population of sixty thousand. No one knows or can believe the privations these people are suffering. No one knows how they will be fed or clothed. The funds of France are going to the support of the army. The food that five million men consume is like so much money literally consumed. The supply of food must continually decrease. So far it has been plentiful, because there was no way to export much of it, especially vegetables and fruit, which are grown in quantities for foreign markets. French Reticence About Real Conditions ALARGE portion of the land cannot be cultivated next year. It has been " requisitioned" by two great armies to be fought upon and killed upon. It is cut up into a thousand trenches, plowed by shells, filled with graves so shallow that to dig at all is to uncover the dead. There is no money, scarcely any stock with which to cultivate the remainder. All the horses fit for work have been taken by the French or stolen by the Germans. And many of the peasants in Northern France are in danger of freezing to death, even if they have food, for every blanket, quilt, sheet and mattress has been taken from them, even the straw from which they might make beds. For weeks thousands of women and children have been pouring into Paris from Arras and from Lille. After all, war is not the worst thing these people face. Pestilence, that poisoned breath of death, is far more terrible. Lille is closed now like a tomb filled with corruption. No one may enter it, and those who remain there cannot escape. Every hospital and every house is overflowing with victims of the fever scourge. It is impossible to exaggerate the ravages of disease in many of these towns bombarded by the Germans. There were thirteen hundred cases of typhoid fever in Senlis and the neighboring villages during the month of October. The germs of every disorder fill the air. Every rain floods the waterways with them. They are in the dust on the grass. They poison all the milk. To touch one's lips with bread in these places is to invite death. The women consider themselves fortunate to escape these horrors by coming to Paris. For Paris is still clean. The water is pure. The great Rothschild depots supply milk which is not tainted. There is still bread enough. We know what will become of the men on the fighting line. Three hundred and seventy-five thousand French soldiers have already perished in battle, or they lie wounded in hospitals, or they have been taken prisoners. But who can predict the fate of these women and children? They are the fugitives which the Allies no less than the Germans are depriving of their homes and means of sustenance. War closes factories and makes an end of peaceful industries. It reduces to a minimum the opportunities of those who must earn their own support. Many women have taken the places of the men who are now in the army. They gathered the crops. They are teamsters, messengers, clerks and carriers. They are conductors on all the street cars and in all the subways of Paris. But even then there are not nearly enough places for them. Besides, thousands of them are not trained and have not the physical endurance necessary for this kind of work. The abler women do what they can. But how can they cope with such a situation? They have no government of their own, no funds beyond their small contributions, no authority. What they accomplish one day is undone the next. Early in August, Mme. Frank-Puer, president of the Vacation Colonies for Poor Children, traveled through the towns threatened by invasion from the Germans, gathered in all the children she could, and sent them with hundreds of other children from Paris into the southern part of France. These little refugees were hidden there for weeks, but now they are obliged to return. This organization has not the means to keep them. There are other difficulties in the way besides the lack of funds and the inexperience of women in performing social service on a national scale. The French people are secretive. They have an instinct for concealing their affairs, both as individuals and as a nation. No one knows this better than newspaper correspondents who have struggled in vain for months to pierce the impregnable wall of their reserve. They are not only determined to withhold information which might reach the enemy—they are equally determined not to inform the world of their condition. This is a part of their dignity and self-respect in the hour of affliction. Their emotional mannerisms, dramatic speech, are far from revealing. It is the dust of words which they cast into the eyes of prying strangers. They hasten to fabricate with all the eloquence of veracity, because they conceive that this is the best method of withholding information to which you are not entitled. They do not care what the world thinks of them. They are the only people engaged in this war who make no plea for either admiration or sympathy. This is especially true of the women. They abhor publicity in their present condition. Their experience of publicity extends no further than to each season's proclamation of their fashions in clothes and to a sort of general admission, in the form of light literature, of their romantic intrigues. But when the fashions are stripped from them and romance becomes the tragedy of war and death they have no medium of communication with the world beyond France. And they do not wish for any. They are good women in sorrow, dignified and silent. Therefore, more than any other women of the Allied Nations, the Frenchwomen are facing their problems alone and without the assistance they deserve and might receive if conditions in France were better known. They are the allies of the Allied Army in France, who are being neglected and who are themselves giving all they have to the cause. There is absolutely no way for a nation to engage in war without neglecting the women. Now, when all is said, this is a man's war. Every war is. Women are incapable of committing such a wholesale crime against life and love and peace. But the men of every nation belong to the women. These are their capital. They themselves are not worth nearly so much to the men as the men are worth to them, because the latter represent shelter, food, love and life to women. This is virtually what the War Office says to the women: "We must have your husbands and sons for the army. We must have all the resources of the country. Your men must be killed, wounded, taken prisoners. By this means we may save France and England and our honor, but not you." The point is to save the country and that treaty from violation, no matter what it costs the women who have no choice but to suffer and endure. Why then should women devote so much of their strength and their means for the purpose of helping to support the army? What right has a government to call men out to fight if it cannot furnish hospitals for the wounded and graves for the dead, and even socks and mufflers for the rest of them? France and England can do this. What excuse have they for evading the burden of providing properly for the women and children? Twelve shillings to the wife of a soldier and sixpence for each child is as much as even England pays, and the amount is far less in France—to say nothing of the thousands who can receive no help at all. Much Misdirected Charity STILL we hear every day of splendid gifts from American women to the Red Cross, but of almost nothing contributed to these other soldiers, interned by war, deprived of their homes and often of every means of support. There is some excuse, some natural reason, for the gifts from English and French women to the troops. They have sons among them. But I can think of no adequate one for our women. It springs from the same kind of sentimentality that led certain rich American residents in Paris to offer their homes for military hospitals at the beginning of the war when their own countrymen and countrywomen were walking the streets of that city for days and nights without money or food or beds. And they are constantly urged to increase their gifts to the Red Cross, even to join it themselves. The Duchess of So-and-So is pointed out as a shining example. If an earl's daughter can nurse wounded soldiers, why cannot an American Duchess of Dollars do the same thing? She can. But she would serve better if she spent herself and her money caring for the poor women and children in England who are more and more neglected as the war goes on. The only women who are fit for service in a frontier military hospital are the doctors and trained nurses. Continue to help the war offices to provide for their armies if you feel you must. But there is such a thing as the sense of proportion even in charity, which is one of the most distorted ideals in this world. Still, it is well to remember that for every wounded soldier there are perhaps fifty women and children suffering for the necessities of life. The war office does not protect them. There is no commissary department to provide them with food or clothes, mi surgeons or doctors or nurses to attend them in sickness. (Continued on Page 41) .01"0.1" brn Int,h, %L. ,r1K CIT PHOTO. BY BROWN ifRuTnERS, NEW YORK CITY Polish Girls Marching to Work Under Their Overseer on a Large German Estate Women Attend to the Garden Work


A_Communique
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