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The_Bravest_of_the_Brave

34 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST January 16, 1915 ll-011 N I 1 “ L-I N otice the curved ends bring the curtain sash, excluding side prevent the curtain right up lights; The rod and from sup-. fixtures are invisible. FREEMT=M1 in our big catalog (sent on request) if you just give us the names of three player-piano ownen. That all—no other bother. 1 It' creeping. cir We undersell world on for ;4,, music rolls and player-pianos. N(W ERrininsrog TheLisztCo..1328Broadway,N.Y. -Maternity Gowris and Stouts • „.c ,q7s Write for latest style book and ; samples of "FINE-FORM" mater- to your nit), gowns and stouts for street Wear °moue and home. "Let out" instantly as de- 110, Of gas sired. Satisfaction guaran- Vilaeteedd. Address me personally, Snug Mrs. Grace Minor, Dept. 28 $ 1.50 &nark WilliamtGarment Co., lac., Buffalo. N. Y. UP / Student Agents \ wanted for TAYLOR ATHLETIC GOODS I n ..ttil Iti.,imgers or captains preferred. Send for catalog and details \ ALEX. TAYLOR & Co. Agency Dept., 30 E. 42d St., New York I 1$ - 1 They to the also porting ,keUrVeX eurtain Rods x X PAT. PENDING represent the modern idea of simple, harmonious house furnishing. They are extensible, fit any window, are stronger than old-fashioned rods and will last much longer. Guaranteed not to tarnish, rust, or sag. They are especially recommended to people who "did not know there were any good curtain rods." Ask to see them at your department store or decorator's. Or if you prefer, write us for a descriptive booklet. TURNER & SEYMOUR MFG CO TORRINGTON CONN Health o Climate gibTheSEST"ILIGIIT A brilliant, cheap, portable light. Used In every country on the globe. Makes and burns its own gas. Casts no shadows. Clean and odorless. Absolutely safe. Over 200 styles. 100 to 2000 Candle Power. Fully Guaranteed. Write for catalog. AGENTS WANTED EVERYWHERE. THE BEST LIGHT CO. 5-25 E. 5th St., Canton, 0. Print Your Own Cards, circulars, book, newspaper, &c. PR ESS $5, Larger $18, Rotary $&l. Save money. Print for others. All easy, rules sent. Write factory for press catalog, TYPE, cards, paper..amples. &c. THE PRESS CO., Menden, Conn. The coachman was in a panic. He was suddenly filled with suspicion of the two women seated behind him. Something was -wrong! It was not natural for women not to be afraid in such a place. We were either spies or fools. He fairly dragged his horse round in his effort to escape. The best we could do was to induce him to drive back through the forest. This wood, which entirely surrounds Compiegne and the nearer fields, had been here "since the beginning of all things," he told us. And I can believe that. It stands like a great piece of literature written by Nature—no little words, a sublime epic of trees, scarred to the tops of their boles with the marks of other battles—and of the last one, when the Germans came through in September—with the initials of lovers and with secret dates. The ground beneath was covered with the feathery plumes of ferns, stark and brown now, giving out a sweet, acrid odor. Presently we passed piles of them recently cut for the soldiers' beds. And then we came on a camp of French soldiers. Their fires were low, glowing red in the darkness—long rows of wagons and motor cars; hundred of horses ready harnessed; and, in the midst of all, hundreds of men. They were having their evening meal; drinking coffee from tin cups, their bread stuck up in a convenient bush, or the whole loaf held in their hands; very quiet— not the rattle of a spoon, not a word; only the stamping of the horses' feet broke a stillness so profound that we should not have known any living thing was near if we had not seen the fires and heard the horses stamping. Every man carried his gun, his blanket roll and his knapsack. It was dark, but they were ready to march, to fight—not to sleep. No one seemed to observe us. A mist drifted down and covered us. We could not see a yard in front of us—only the trees on each side, ghostly dim in the fog. Presently I looked down and saw that the carriage had three wheels, instead of two, on one side. I felt a hot breath against my neck. And the next moment I was staring into the face of a man; he may have looked like one in daylight, but in that darkness, whitened with fog, he seemed terrible beyond words. His face came up grim and red out of a black beard. His eyes were black, and behind his head I saw the gleam of a bayonet. He was riding a bicycle. I do not know how long he had been there, holding firmly to the side of the carriage, listening to what we were saying. Our conversation stopped, with a gasp. We went on, it seemed to me for miles, in silence, with that man beside us. Then the gentle lady said softly in her drawingroom voice: "It is a cold night." "Oui," answered the voice of the man very sternly. "Have you come far?" she asked. "Not very far. I'm looking for spies," he explained. And I thought he tightened his grip on the iron rod that supported the lifted hood of the carriage. He had followed us from the camp we passed. Waiting for the Dawn He continued to escort us, I believe, until we came within the light of the sentries' fire on the outskirts of Compiegne, but I do not really know when he disappeared. I only know my teeth were chattering when we reached the hotel; but that may have been from the cold. One thing is certain— the next time I take a drive through the Forest of Compiegne it will be at high noon on a cloudless day, when even the trees cannot cast a shadow. I could not sleep that night. There was a storm outside; but, above the rattle of hail against the windows and the wind in the forest, I could hear the horrific thunder of those guns at Soissons. I thought of the men falling somewhere out there in the dark. I had seen the trenches. I knew now how they must drop down in them; how crowded it must be in there between the living and the dead. What scenes of horror the dawn must bring! The something dreadful I had heard of so often was happening. The storm subsided at last, only to bring the thunder of the guns nearer, as though they were on the very outskirts of Compiegne; in fact, they were not nearer. I reasoned with myself; I recalled the explanation I heard a woman once give as to why she was afraid of a mouse: "It is not the mouse—it's the idea of the thing that unnerves me." So it was not the cannon I feared—it was the idea they conveyed to my mind. I thought it out on that basis and fell asleep at last, only to be wakened time and again with that racking roar in my ears, so soft, yet so deafening, as though it filled the whole earth with the awful mystery of death. The next morning, very early, I heard the muffled sound of slowly moving motors on the pavement below. I went to the window and saw one Red Cross ambulance after another entering the gates of the Castle. I saw men lifting other men out of them—supine forms with lolling heads—and carrying them in through the wide doorways. This was the night's harvest the German guns had reaped at Soissons; but not all of it. Another long grave would be over there above the quarries before the day was done. The Mayor of Soissons It was not until after we returned to Paris that I learned what did happen, and no report of it has ever appeared in the press. The French had mined a certain part of the ground near Vic-sur-Aisne. The plan was to draw the enemy to their destruction when the mines exploded. The Germans were evidently informed of the danger. They avoided the mines, but they cut a force of seven hundred Frenchmen to pieces in that night's battle. Two days later I met Madame Macherez in Paris. She had braved a hail of bullets and shells to get out of Soissons long enough to secure supplies for her hospitals. She was returning the same day, as unconcerned for her safety as though she were already immortal. She was a very tall woman, with every line and angle of her spelling woman instead of mere lady. She has accomplished her figure with all the amplitudes of feminine old age. Her broad shoulders are set back from the rest of her as though she were accustomed to bear the burdens of life without shrinking. She wore a gray coat and skirt, and a hat that did not become her. I doubt whether any hat would; she was designed by Nature to remain bareheaded. She had a face that was like a monument she raised to herself, with no-concern at all about whether it should be finely designed— one of those great countenances that some men and very few women achieve. Her nose was a straightforward declaration of war. Her chin was long. Her thick underlip stuck out and up. Her brow was wrinkled, as though duty had written honor and strength there. Only the eyes, gray, deeply sunken, remained tender, as though she admitted that love was not to be conquered in the heart of a woman. She was altogether homely and she was altogether beautiful—of that rare and ancient "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" type; a Martha woman—not a Mary. One could never think of her as giving lectures about her experiences, even for the good of her cause, or imagine her clinging in prayer to the feet of the Virgin. She was sixty-four years of age and did not appear to be more than fifty. When I entered the room she was engaged with a man who wished to adopt nine children. Their father had been killed during the siege of Soissons and the mother had been killed by a shell shortly afterward. When one has sixty children to feed and shelter, it is important to will nine of them to somebody else. Still, she would make sure of this man's fitness. She merely glanced at his papers and recommendations. She went through him, as though she herself had been the Shorter Catechism, concerning what a father of nine children ought to be; and, though the emergency was great, she was in no hurry to make up her mind. She waved him aside for further consideration while she addressed me. "How did you become the Mayor of Soissons, Madame Macherez?" I asked. She did not smile. She told the story as though it were something not to be proud of, but which she ought to explain by way of excusing her assumption of municipal authority. "Everybody was gone from the town. I was alone, very busy in my house. The door is open. The Germans see it and they come—officers in a big car, with the streets full of their soldiers. They ask for the mayor. But that was difficult. I am not willing to tell them that the mayor is absent. So I make some excuse. Then they say they must see a representative of the mayor. If there is no government they will go and break open the shops and take all. They must have food, everything, at once. I thought of what would happen if no one went with them to save a little perhaps for the women and children, hiding in their cellars. So I said: 'I am the Mayor of Soissons. I will go with you." "Were you frightened?" I asked. "But no, not for myself—for the people who might starve. The bridges had been destroyed—no trains; no more supplies. We could not live if they took all we had. So I got into the car with those Germans. We went to every shop. They wanted all of this and all of that; but I said: `No— you can't have all the flour in this shop.' I laid my hands on the sugar; I held back all I could. And the lard—but madame, they are greasy—they want all of that. I could save only a little." The man who wanted the children took advantage of a pause to press his suit. He was seated a little distance behind her. She reached out one powerful hand and flattened him back into his chair. She was roused by her memory of those dreadful hours; she would finish the story. "The next day," she went on, "they came again. They demanded to know why I had not delivered the stores—fifty thousand cigars; fifty thousand pounds of flour; five hundred pounds of sugar—all the lard. But they were absurd. I told them so. 'How can I, messieurs? You have killed all the horses which you have not taken. Shall I send the women and children to your trenches with these things? But no; it is too much for them. Besides, they shall not go!' They were very angry. They made a great fuss. I was frightened then; but I stood before them. Let them kill me too ! At last they agreed that we should place all the stores in the railroad station. We did that." She began to smile. It was like sunlight on an old gray wall—that smile. Mothering a City "The next day they were all gone; the French came and drove them out. Then we went and carried all the stores back to the shops." This, however, was only the beginning of her gallant defense of Soissons against the ravages of the war. So far as the food supply was concerned, it was nearly as bad to have the French troops quartered there. They took all the Germans had left. Out of a population of fifteen thousand, twelve hundred remained, mostly women and children. The people elected a mayor, but only on condition that Madame Macherez should become president of the council. And, besides filling this office, she has somehow managed to secure food and clothes for the people for three months. It is not an easy task, with no railroads, and almost no horses to bring in the provisions for them. She has two hospitals with four hundred beds, and two workrooms—one for the women, who earn a franc a day by making clothes for the soldiers, and one in which she employs sixty girls from ten to sixteen years of age. "They mend the soldiers' clothes. That keeps them out of the streets," she explained. "But the poor little ones!" she added. "We cannot get milk. They die— die— so many!" This woman of sixty-four, burdened with cares and difficulties before which strong men might quail, still has time .to keep a sharp eye for spies and for the safety of the garrison that protects the town. It was Madame Macherez who discovered that a certain captain of the French troops stationed there was also a captain in the I left her pulling on her thick woolen Kaiser's army. gloves and preparing to return to Soissons. She had conceded the nine children to that incredibly paternal man who wanted them. She explained why she was in a hurry to ge"t bI tacisks ho ome: difficult to keep the people from gathering in the street. They meet one another; they stop to talk. Then the Germans see them, and they drop a bomb on them. Yesterday they killed two. But, m adna m tiii tld i sbderlieeavdef utlh! al And what ado e could ad- miration, what reverence, one must feel for this woman who, with no pretense at all, gathered them beneath her wings cf love as a hen gathereth her brood ! OBTAINING RELIEF FROM PULMONARY TROUBLES IS A MATTER OF PROPER CARE IN A SUITABLE CLIMATE. ALBUQUERQUE, N. M., possesses the necessary combination of high altitude and low humidity to a greater degree than any other spot on the Western Hemisphere. Main line railroad facilities, comparatively low living expenses and unexcelled accommodations for healthseekers. Write to HEALTH DEPARTMENT, Albuquerque Commercial Club, for attractive booklet.


The_Bravest_of_the_Brave
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