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In_the_Rut_of_War

'optic Antis eL Ti t Iai CCt D151° Kids Gee Helpful Booklet, "Home Hygiene," Mailed FREE It Is full of practical helps for preserving health. Address Lela & Fink Mannfartur- Mg Chemin, SS William Strut Nrw Yolk Canadian Office: l and 4 St. Helen St., Montreal rerltrarlatitlirtrif, It Depends on the Carbon Paper Some business men ignore the vital importance of permanent carbon records until stung by the loss following a faded or illegible carbon copy. Some insure themselves with THE SATURDAY EVENING POST EN TEE .21g7r OP 77:22 "It was very fine," he added. "Very glorious." " Did you have any losses in the charge? " asked one of our party. "Oh, yes," he answered, as though that part of the proceeding was purely an incidental detail and of no great consequence. "We lost many men here—very many— several thousands, I think. Most of them are buried where you see those long ridges in the second field beyond." In a sheltered corner of a redoubt, close up under a parapet and sheathed on its inner side with masonry, was a single grave. The pounding feet of many fighting men had beaten the mount flat, but a small wooden cross still stood in the soil, and on it in French were penciled the words: "Here lies Lieutenant Verner, killed in the charge of battle." His men must have thought well of the lieutenant to take the time, in the midst of the defense, to bury him in the place where he fell, for there were no other graves to be seen within the fort. It was late in the short afternoon, and getting close on to twilight, when we got back into the town. Except for the soldiers there was little life stirring in the twisting streets. There was a funeral or so in progress. It seemed to us that always, no matter where we stopped, in whatsoever town or at whatsoever hour, some dead soldier was being put away. Still, I suppose we shouldn't have felt any surprise at that. By now all Europe was one great, vast funeral. Daily in these towns back behind the firing lines a certain percentage of the invalided and the injured, who had been brought thus far before their condition became actually serious, would die; and twice daily, or oftener, the dead would be buried with military honors. So naturally we were eyewitnesses to a great many of these funerals. Somehow they impressed me more than the sight of dead men being hurriedly shoveled under ground on the battle front where they had fallen. Perhaps it was the consciousness that those who had these formal, separate burials were men who had come alive out of the fighting, and who, even after being stricken, had had a chance for life and then had lost it. Perhaps it was the small show of ceremony and ritual which marked each one—the firing squad, the clergyman in his robes, the tramping escort—that left so enduring an impress upon my mind. I did not try to analyze the reasons; but I know my companions felt as I did. I remember quite distinctly the very first of these funerals that I witnessed. Possibly I remember it with such distinctness because it was the first. On our way to the advance positions of the Germans we had come as far as Chimay, an old Belgian town just over the frontier from France. I was sitting on a bench just outside the doorway of a parochial school conducted by nuns, which had been taken over by the conquerors and converted into a temporary receiving hospital for men who were too seriously wounded to stand the journey up into Germany. All the surgeons on duty here were Germans, but the nursing force was about equally divided between nuns, and Lutheran deaconesses who had been brought overland for this duty. Also there were several volunteer nurses—the wife of an officer, a wealthy widow from Diisseldorf and a school-teacher from Cologne among them. Catholic and Protestant, Belgian and French and German, they all labored together, cheerfully and earnestly doing drudgery of the most exacting and unpleasant sorts. The Cologne Lady's Quest One of the patronesses of the hospital, who was also its manager ex officio, had just left with a soldier chauffeur for a guard and a slightly wounded major for an escort. She was starting on a three-hundred-mile automobile run through a half subdued and dangerous country, meaning to visit base hospitals along the German frontier until she found a supply of anti-tetanus serum. Lockjaw, developing from seemingly trivial wounds in foot or hand, had already killed six men at Chimay within a week. Four more were dying of the same disease. So, since no able-bodied men could be spared from the rwed s taffs of the lazarets, she was goovieng ofrokr a stock of the serum (Continued from Page 7) which might save still other victims. She meant to travel day and night, and if a bullet didn't stop her and if the automobile didn't go through a temporary bridge she would be back, she thought, within fortyeight hours. She had already made several trips of the sort upon similar missions. Once her car had been fired at and once it had been wrecked, but she was going again. She was from near Cologne, the wife of a rich manufacturer now serving as a captain of reserves. She hadn't heard from him in four weeks. She didn't know whether he still lived. She hoped he lived, she told us with simple fortitude, but of course these times one never knew. It was just before sundown. The nuns had gone upstairs to their little chapel for evening services. Through an open window of the chapel just above my head their voices, as they chanted the responses between the sonorous Latin phrases of the priest who had come to lead them in their devotions, floated out in clear sweet snatches of sound, like the songs of vesper sparrows. Behind me, in a paved courtyard, were perhaps twenty wounded men lying on cots. They had been brought out of the building and put in the sunshine. They were on the way to recovery; at least most of them were. I sat facing a triangularshaped square, which was flanked on one of its faces by a row of shuttered private houses and on another by the principal church of the town, a fifteenth-century structure with outdoor shrines snuggled up under its eaves. Except for the chanting of the nuns and the braggadocio booming of a big cockpigeon, which had flown down from the church tower to forage for spilt grain almost under my feet, the place was quiet. It was so quiet that when a little column of men turned into the head of the street which wound past the front of the church and off to the left, I heard the measured tramping of their feet upon the stony roadway fully a minute before they came in sight. I was wondering what that rhythmic thumping meant, when one of the nursing sisters came and closed the high wooden door at my back, shutting off the view of the wounded men. The Soldier Without a Wreath There appeared a little procession, headed by a priest in his robes and two altar boys. At the heels of these three were six soldiers bearing upon their shoulders a wooden box painted a glaring yellow; and so narrow was the box and so shallow-looking, that on the instant the thought came to me that the poor clay inclosed therein must feel cramped in such scant quarters. Upon the top of the box, at its widest, highest point, rested a wreath of red flowers, a clumsy, raggedy wreath from which the red blossoms threatened to shake loose. Even at a distance of some rods I could tell that a man's clumsy fingers must have fashioned it. Upon the shoulders of the bearers the box swayed and jolted. Following it came, first, three uniformed officers, two German nurses and two surgeons from another hospital, as I subsequently learned; and following them half a company of soldiers bearing their rifles and wearing side arms. As the small cortege reached a point opposite us an officer snapped an order and everybody halted, and the gun-butts of the company came down with a smashing abruptness upon the cobbles. At that moment two or three roughly clad civilians issued from a doorway near by. Being Belgians they had small cause to love the Germans, but they stopped in their tracks and pulled off their caps. To pay the tribute of a bared head to the dead, even to the unknown dead, is in these Catholic countries of Europe as much a part of a man's rule of conduct as his religion is. The priest who led the line turned my way inquiringly. He did not have to wait long for what was to come, nor did I. Another gate farther along in the nunnery wall opened and out came six more soldiers, bearing another of these narrow-shouldered coffins, and accompanied by a couple of nurses, an officer and an assistant surgeon. At sight of them the waiting company brought their pieces up to a present, and held the posture rigidly until the second dead man in his yellow box had joined the company of the first dead man in his. Just before this happened, though, one of the nurses of the nunnery hospital did a thing which I shall never forget. She must have seen that the first coffin had flowers upon it, and in the same instant realized that the coffin in whose occupant she had a more direct interest was bare. So she left the straggling line and came running back. The wall was draped with woodbine, very glorious in its autumnal tintings. She snatched a trailer of the red and yellow leaves down from where it clung, and as she hurried back her hands worked with magic haste, making it into a wreath. She reached the second squad of bearers and put her wreath upon the lid of the box, and then sought her place with the other nurses. The guns went up with a snap upon the shoulders of the company. The soldiers' feet thudded down all together upon the stones, and with the priest reciting his office the procession passed out of sight, going toward the burial ground at the back of the town. Presently, when the shadows were thickening into gloom and the angelus bells were ringing in the church, I heard, a long way off, the rattle of the rifles as the soldiers fired good-night volleys over the graves of their dead comrades. On the next day, at Hirson, which was another of our stopping points on the journey to the front, we saw the joint funeral of seven men leaving the hospital where they had died during the preceding twelve hours, and I shan't forget that picture either. There was a vista bounded by a stretch of one of those unutterably bleak backways of a small and shabby French town. The rutted street twisted along between small gray plaster houses, with ugly, unnecessary gable-ends, which faced the road at wrong angles. Small groups of townspeople stood against the walls to watch. There was also a handful of idling soldiers who watched from the gateway of the house where they were billeted. Seven times the bearers entered the hospital door, and each time as they reappeared, bringing one of the narrow, gaudy, yellow boxes, the officers lined up at the door would salute and the soldiers in double lines at the opposite side of the road would present arms, and then, as the box was lifted upon the wagon waiting to receive it, would smash their guns down on the bowldered road with a crash. When the job of bringing forth the dead was done the wagon stood loaded pretty nearly to capacity. Four of the boxes rested crosswise upon the flat wagon-bed and the other three were racked lengthwise on top of them. Here, too, was a priest in his robes, and here were two altar boys who straggled, so that as the procession started the priest was moved to break off his chanting long enough to chide his small attendants and wave them back into proper alignment. With the officers, the nurses and the surgeons all marching afoot marched also three bearded civilians in frock coats, having the air about them of being village dignitaries. From their presence in such company we deduced that one of the seven silent travelers on the wagon must be a French soldier, or else that the Germans had seen fit to require the attendance of local functionaries at the burial of dead Germans. More of the Yellow Boxes As the cortege—I suppose you might call it that—went by where I stood with my friends, I saw that upon the sides of the coffins names were lettered in big, straggly black letters. I read two of the names— Werner was one, Vogel was the other. Somehow I felt an acuter personal interest in Vogel and Werner than in the other five whose names I could not read. Wherever we stopped in Belgium or in France or in Germany these soldiers' funerals were things of daily, almost of hourly occurrence. And in Maubeuge on this evening, even though dusk had fallen, two of the inevitable yellow boxes, mounted upon a two-wheeled cart, were going to the burying ground. We figured the cemetery men would fill the graves by lantern light; and knowing something of their hours of employment we imagined that with the first job disposed of they would probably turn to and dig more graves that night, making them ready against the needs of the following morning. The new graves always were ready. 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In_the_Rut_of_War
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