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Antwerp to Gallipoli by Arthur Ruhl

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take one's cholera vaccination--for no one could go to the Galician
front without being geimpft--and just as soon as I could take the
second, a week later, we should start for the Russian front. In this
fashion were strangers welcomed to the "Presse-Quartier," or rather to
that part of it--this little Hungarian village--in which correspondents
lived during the intervals of their trips to the front. The Austrians
have pleasant manners. Their court is, next to that of Spain, the most
formal in Europe, and ordinary life still retains many of the older
courtesies. Every time I came into my hotel in Vienna the two little
boys at the door jumped up and extended their caps at arm's length; an
assistant porter, farther in, did the same; the head porter behind the
desk often followed, and occasionally all four executed the manoeuvre at
once, so that it was like a musical comedy but for the music.

The ordinary salutation in Vienna, as common as our "hello!" is "I have
the honor" (Ich habe die Ehre!). In Hungary--of course one mustn't tell
a Hungarian that he is "Austrian"--people tell you that they are your
humble servants before they say good morning, and those who really are
humble servants not only say "Kiss the hands," but every now and then do
it. It was natural, therefore, perhaps, that the Austro-Hungarians
should treat war correspondents--often, in these days, supposed to be
extinct--not only seriously but with a certain air. They had not only
the air but indeed a more elaborate organization than any of the other

At the beginning of the war England permitted no correspondents at all
at the front. France was less rigid, yet it was months before groups of
observers began to be taken to the trenches.

Germany took correspondents to the front from the first, but these
excursions came at irregular intervals, and admission to them involved a
good deal of competitive wire-pulling between the correspondents
themselves. The Austro-Hungarians, on the other hand, prepared from the
first for a large number of civilian observers, including news and
special writers, photographers, illustrators, and painters, and, to
handle them satisfactorily, organized a special department of the army,
this Presse-Quartier, once admitted to which--the fakirs and
fly-by-nights were supposed to be weeded out by the preliminary red tape
--they were assumed to be serious workmen and treated as the army's

The Presse-Quartier was divided into two sections: an executive section,
with a commandant responsible for the arrangement of trips to the
various fronts, and the general business of censorship and publicity;
and an entertainment section, so to speak, also with its commandant,
whose business it was to board, lodge, and otherwise look after
correspondents when they were not on trips to the front. At the time I
visited the Presse-Quartier, the executive section was in Teschen; the
correspondents lived in Nagybiesce, two or three hours' railroad journey

It was to this village--the most novel part of the scheme--that I had
come that afternoon, and here some thirty or forty correspondents were
living, writing past adventures, setting forth on new ones, or merely
inviting their souls for the moment under a regime which combined the
functions of tourists' bureau, rest-cure, and a sort of military club.

For the time being they were part of the army--fed, lodged, and
transported at the army's expense, and unable to leave without formal
military permission. They were supposed to "enlist for the whole war,"
so to speak, and most of the Austro-Hungarian and German correspondents
had so remained--some had even written books there--but observers from
neutral countries were permitted to leave when they felt they had seen

Isolated thus in the country, the only mail the military field post, the
only telegrams those that passed the military censor, correspondents
were as "safe" as in Siberia. They, on the other hand, had the
advantage of an established position, of living inexpensively in
pleasant surroundings, where their relations with the censor and the
army were less those of policemen and of suspicious character than of
host and guest. To be welcomed here, after the usual fretful dangling
and wire-pulling in War Office anterooms and city hotels--with hills and
ruined castles to walk to, a brook rippling under one's bedroom window,
and all the time in the world--seemed idyllic enough.

We were quartered in private houses, and as there was one man to a
family generally, he was put in the villager's room of honor, with a
tall porcelain stove in the corner, a feather bed under him, and another
on top. Each man had a soldier servant who looked after boots and
luggage, kept him supplied with cigars and cigarettes from the Quartier
commissariat--for a paternal government included even tobacco!--and
charmed the simple republican heart by whacking his heels together
whenever spoken to and flinging back "Jawohl!"

We breakfasted separately, whenever we felt like it, on the rolls with
the glass of whipped cream and coffee usual in this part of the world;
lunched and dined--officers and correspondents--together. There were
soldier waiters who with military precision told how many pieces one
might take, and on every table big carafes of Hungarian white wine,
drunk generally instead of water. For beer one paid extra.

The commandant and his staff, including a doctor, and the officer guides
not on excursions at the moment, sat at the head of the long U-shaped
table. Any one who came in or went out after the commandant was seated
was supposed to advance a bit into this "U," catch his eye, bow, and
receive his returning nod. The silver click of spurs, of course,
accompanied this salute when an officer left the room, and the
Austro-Hungarian and German correspondents generally snapped their heels
together in semi-military fashion. All our goings and comings, indeed,
were accompanied by a good deal of manner. People who had seen each
other at breakfast shook hands formally half an hour later in the
village square, and one bowed and was bowed to and heard the singsong...
"'habe die Ehre!" a dozen times a day.

Nagybiesce is in northern Hungary, and the peasants round about were
Slovaks--sturdy, solid, blond people with legs the same size all the way
down. Many of them still reaped with scythes and thrashed on the barn
floor with old-fashioned flails, and one afternoon there was a curious
plaintive singing under my window--a party of harvesters, oldish men and
brown, barefooted peasant girls, who had finished their work on a
neighboring farm, and were crossing our village on their way to their

The Quartier naturally stirred things up a good deal in Nagybiesce.
There was one week when we could not go into the street without being
surrounded by little girls with pencils and cards asking for our
"autogram." The candy shop kept by two girl wives whose husbands were at
the front did a vast business, and the young women had somebody to talk
to all day long. The evening the news came that Warsaw had fallen,
candles were lighted in all the windows on the square, and the band with
the villagers behind it came to serenade us as we were at dinner. The
commandant bowed from the window, but a young Hungarian journalist
leaned out and without a moment's hesitation poured forth a torrent for
fully fifteen minutes with scarce a pause for breath. I told him that
such impromptu oratory seemed marvellous, but he dismissed it as
nothing. "I'm politiker!" he explained, with a wave of his hand.

One day a man came into lunch with the news that he was off on the best
trip he'd had yet--he was going back to Vienna for his skis, to go down
into the Tyrol and work along the glaciers to the battery positions.
Another man, a Budapest painter, started off for an indefinite stay with
an army corps in Bessarabia. He was to be, indeed, part of the army for
the time being, and all his work belonged to the army first. As this is
being written a number of painters sent out on similar expeditions have
been giving an exhibition in Vienna--portraits and pencil sketches much
like those Frederic Remington used to make. Foreigners not intending to
remain in Austria-Hungary could not expect such privileges, naturally;
but if they were admitted to the Quartier at all they were sent on the
ordinary group excursions like the home correspondents themselves.
Indeed, the wonder was--in view of the comparative ease with which
neutral correspondents drifted about Europe: the naivete, to put it
mildly, with which the wildest romances had been printed in American
newspapers, that we were permitted to see as much as we did.

When a group started for the front, it left Nagybiesce in its own car,
which, except when the itinerary included some large city--Lemberg, for
instance--served as a little hotel until they came back again. The car
was a clean, second-class coach, of the usual European compartment kind,
two men to a compartment, and at night they bunked on the long
transverse seats comfortably enough. We took one long trip of a
thousand miles or so in this way, taking our own motor, on a separate
flat car, and even an orderly servant for each man. Each of these
groups was, of course, accompanied by an officer guide--several were
detailed at the Quartier for this special duty--whose complex and
nerve-racking task it was to answer all questions, make all
arrangements, report to each local commandant, pass sentries, and
comfortably waft his flock of civilians through the maze of barriers
which cover every foot, so to speak, of the region near the front.

The things correspondents were permitted to see differed from those seen
on the other fronts less in kind than in quantity. More trips were
made, but there is and can be little place for a civilian on a "front,"
any spot in which, over a strip several miles wide, from the heavy
artillery positions of one side to the heavy artillery of the other, may
be in absolute quiet one minute and the next the centre of fire. There
is no time to bother with civilians during an offensive, and, if a
retreat is likely, no commander wishes to have country described which
may presently be in the hands of the enemy. Hidden batteries in action,
reserves moving up, wounded coming back, fliers, trenches quiet for the
moment--this is about as close to actual fighting as the outsider, under
ordinary circumstances, can expect to get on any front. The difference
in Austria-Hungary was that correspondents saw these things, and the
battle-fields and captured cities, not as mere outsiders, picked up from
a hotel and presently to be dropped there again, but as, in a sense, a
part of the army itself. They had their commandant to report to, their
"camp" and "uniform"--the gold-and-black Presse-Quartier arm band--and
when they had finished one excursion they returned to headquarters with
the reasonable certainty that in another ten days or so they would start
out again.

Chapter XIV

Cannon Fodder

At the head of each iron bed hung the nurse's chart and a few words of
"history." These histories had been taken down as the wounded came in,
after their muddy uniforms had been removed, they had been bathed, and
could sink, at last, into the blessed peace and cleanness of the
hospital bed. And through them, as through the large end of a
telescope, one looked across the hot summer and the Hungarian fields,
now dusty and yellow, to the winter fighting and freezing in the

"Possibly," the doctor said, "you would like to see one of these cases."
The young fellow was scarce twenty, a strapping boy with fine teeth and
intelligent eyes. He looked quite well; you could imagine him pitching
hay or dancing the czardas, with his hands on his girl's waist and her
hands on his, as these Hungarian peasants dance, round and round, for
hours together. But he would not dance again, as both his feet had been
amputated at the ankle and it was from the stumps that the doctor was
unwrapping the bandages. The history read: While doing sentry duty on
the mountains on March 28, we were left twenty-four hours without being
relieved and during that time my feet were frozen.

The doctor spoke with professional briskness. He himself would not have
tried to save any of the foot--better amputate at once at the line of
demarcation, get a good flap of healthy tissue and make a proper stump.
"That scar tissue'll never heal--it'll always be tender and break when
he tries to use it; he has been here four months now, and you can see
how tender it is."

The boy scowled and grinned as the doctor touched the scar. For our
English and those things under the sheet he seemed to have much the same
feeling of strangeness: both were something foreign, rather
uncomfortable. He looked relieved when the bandages were on again and
the white sheet drawn up. "We had dozens of them during the winter--one
hundred and sixty-three frozen feet and one hundred frozen hands in this
hospital alone. They had to be driven back from the front in carts, for
days sometimes. When they got here their feet were black--literally
rotting away. Nothing to do but let the flesh slough off and then

We strolled on down the sunny, clean-smelling wards. The windows were
open. They were playing tennis in the yard below; on a bench under a
tree a young Hungarian soldier, one arm in a sling, and a girl were
reading the same book. Sunday is a very genial day in Budapest. The
cafe tables are crowded, orchestras playing everywhere, and in dozens of
pavilions and on the grass and gravel outside them peasants and the
humbler sort of people are dancing. The Danube--beautiful if not blue
--flows through the town.

Pest is on one bank and Buda on the other, beside a wooded hill climbing
steeply up to the old citadel, somewhat as the west bank of the Hudson
climbs up to Storm King.

I first came on the Danube at Budapest in the evening after dinner and
saw, close in front of me, what looked to be some curious electric-light
sign. It seemed odd in war time, and I stared for a moment before I saw
that this strange design was really the black, opposite bank with its
zigzag streams of lamps.

Few cities have so naturally beautiful a drop-curtain, and, instead of
spoiling it with gas-works' and grain-elevators as we should do, the
Hungarians have been thoughtful enough to build a tree-covered promenade
between the Danube and the string of hotels which line the river. In
front of each of these hotels is a double row of tables and a hedge, and
then the trees, under which, while the orchestras play, all Pest comes
to stroll and take the air between coffee-time and the late Hungarian

Hundreds of cities have some such promenade, but few so genial and cosey
a one as that of Budapest--not the brittle gayety of some more
sophisticated capitals, but the simpler light-heartedness of a people
full of feeling, fond of music and talk, and ready to share all they
have with a stranger.

The bands play tunes from our musical comedies, but every now and then
--and this is what the people like best--they swing into the strange,
rolling, passionate-melancholy music of the country. Wherever the
tzigany music comes from, it seems Hungarian, at any rate--fiery and
indolent and haphazard, rolling on without any particular rhyme or
reason, now piling up and now sinking indolently back as the waves roll
up and fall back on the sand. People will listen to it for hours, and
you can imagine one of those simpler daredevils--a hussar, for instance
--in his blue-braided jacket, red breeches, and big cavalry boots,
listening and drinking, and thinking of the fights he has won and the
girls he has lost, getting sorry for himself at last and breaking his
glass and weeping, and being very happy indeed.

There is a club in Budapest--at once a club and a luxurious villa almost
too crowded with rugs and fine furniture. When you go to play tennis,
instead of the ordinary locker-room one is ushered into a sort of
boudoir filled with Chippendale furniture. It is a delightful place to
get exercise, with tea served on a garden table between sets; yet, when
I was in Budapest, the place was almost deserted. It was not, it
seemed, the season that people came there, although just the season to
use such a place. For six weeks they came here, and nothing could bring
them back again. They did things only in spurts, so to speak: "They go
off on hunting trips to the ends of the earth, bring back animals for
the Zoo, then off to their country places and--flop! Then there is a
racing season, and they play polo and race for a while, then--flop!"

I have never seen such interesting photographers' show-windows as there
are in Budapest. Partly this is because the photographers are good, but
partly it must he in the Hungarians themselves--such vivid, interesting,
unconventional faces. These people look as if they ought to do the
acting and write the music and novels and plays and paint the pictures
for all the rest of the world. If they haven't done so, it must be
because, along with their natural talent, they have this indolence and
tendency to flop and not push things through.

It was this Budapest, so easy-going and cheerful, that came drifting
through the hospital windows, with the faint sound of band music that
Sunday afternoon.

On all the park benches and the paths winding up to the citadel, in a
hundred shady corners and walks, soldiers, with canes and bandages, were
sitting with their best girls, laughing with them, holding hands. The
boys, with miniature flower-gardens in their hats, tinselled grass and
red-white-and-green rosettes, could sit with their arms round their
sweethearts as much as they wanted to, for everybody knew that they had
just been called to the colors and this was their farewell.

I looked over more of the histories--not in the ward, where one was, of
course, more or less a nuisance, but in the room where they were filed
in hundred lots. Some of the men were still in the hospital, some had
died, most of them gone back to the front. There were many of these
foot cases: "While on outpost duty in the Carpathians during a
snow-storm I felt the lower part of my body becoming powerless. Not
being able to walk, was carried back and put on train. Next day we were
stopped, because Russians were ahead of us, and obliged to leave train.
Waited two days without food or medical attention; then put on train for

"My regiment was in the Carpathians, and on or about January 20 my feet
refused to obey. I held out for four days and then reported ill. Toes
amputated, right foot."

"I belong to German Grenadier Regiment No. ----. On February 6, while
sleeping in open snow, I felt numbed in feet. Put on light duty, but on
8th reported ill and doctor declared feet frozen."

"March 12, during heavy snowstorm, Russians attacked us. One of my
comrades was shot in stomach, and I took off my gloves to bandage him.
All at once our regiment sounded 'Storm!' and I had to rush off to
attack, forgetting my gloves. I had both my hands frozen."

"I am field-cornet of the---German Grenadiers. I was, since the
beginning of the war, in Belgium and France, and at end of November sent
to Russian Poland and January 1 to Carpathians. On February 6, while
retiring to prevent the Russians surrounding us, I was shot In thigh at
1,500 yards distance and fell. Within a few minutes I got two more

"That's just like a German," commented the nurse. "They always begin by
telling just who they are and what they were doing. A Hungarian would
probably just say that he was up in the mountains and it was cold. These
soldiers are like big children, some of them, and they tell us things

"While in Carpathians on January 20 I reported to my lieutenant, feet
frozen. He said dig a hole and when you are quite frozen we will put
you in. I stood it another seven days, then we had to retreat. I went
myself to the doctor; my feet were then black already. Debreczen
hospital six days, then here. Both amputated."

The feet were gone, at any rate, whatever the lieutenant may have said.
We returned to the German field-cornet.

"He came in walking--a fine, tall man. We had only one place to bathe
the men in, then: a big tank--for everything was improvised and there
was no hot-water heater--and one of the doctors told him he could use
his own bath up-stairs, but he said no, he'd stay with his men. He
seemed to be getting on all right, then one morning the doctor touched
his leg and he heard that crackling sound--it was gas infection. They
just slit his leg down from hip to knee, but it was no use--he died in
three hours. Practically all the wounds were infected when the men came
in, but suppose he could have picked up something in that bath? He came
in walking."

Through most of the German histories one could see the German armies
turning now this way, now that, against their "world of enemies," as
they say: "I belong to---Regiment German Infantry and am stationed since
March 1 in Carpathians. I am in active service since the start, having
done Belgium, France, and Russia."

"While at battle of Luneville, with troop of about forty men stormed
battery, capturing them, for which decorated with Iron Cross. Shifted
to Carpathians. After march in severe cold, fingers and feet frozen."

"While in France attacking I was hit in head by shrapnel. In hospital
fourteen days, then sent to Carpathians on December 7 with
Austro-Hungarian troops. Wounded in arm and while creeping back hit
five times in fifteen minutes. Lay all afternoon in trenches."

"I think those are the three who came in together one night, all singing
'Die Wacht am Rhein'; they all had the Iron Cross. They were a noisy
lot. They all got well and went back to the front again."

Here were three pictures from the Galician fighting: "Wounded by
shrapnel near Przemysl, bandaged by comrade, and helped to house; only
occupant old woman. Lay on straw two days, no food. Called to men
passing; they had me moved in cart seventy miles to hospital. Stayed
eight days; started on train, then taken off for three days, then to

"During fighting at Lupkow Pass I was wounded by two pistol-shots.
First one, fired by Russian officer, hit me in chest. Ran back to my
company and in darkness taken by one of our officers for Russian and
shot in arm."

"While digging trenches struck by a rifle-bullet in two places. Lay in
trench two hours when found by Russian infantrymen, who hurriedly
dressed me and put me out of firing-range on horse blanket in old
trench. Later found by our soldiers, carried to base, and dressed
there, then to field-hospital, then in cart to railroad station. Went
few kilometres by train, but became so ill had to be taken off for two
days, then sent to Budapest. Seventeen days. Two months in hospital;
returned to front."

"We called that man 'professor,'" said the nurse. "He was a teacher of
some sort. There was a boy here at the same time, a Pole, but he could
speak English: just out of the university--Cracow, I think. He was in
Serbia, and was shot through the temple; he lost the sight of both

Several in the Serbian fighting had struck river mines. One, who had
been ordered to proceed across the River Save near Sabac, remarked that
he was "told afterward" they had struck a floating mine and that seven
were killed and thirteen wounded. The Serbian campaign was not
pleasant. The Serbians do not hold up their hands, as the big,
childlike Russians sometimes seem to have done. They fight as long as
they can stand. Then there was disease and lack of medical supplies and
service. '"They came in covered with mud and with fractures done up with
twigs--just as they had been dressed on the field. Sometimes a
fractured hip would be bound with a good-sized limb from a tree reaching
all the way from the man's feet to his waist."

Yet the wonder is what nature and the tough constitutions of these young
men will do with intelligent help. We came to what they call a "face
case." "Wounded November 4 in Galicia by rifle-fire on right side of
face and right hand; dressed by comrade, then lost consciousness until
arrived here. ('He probably means,' explained the nurse, 'that he was
delirious and didn't realize the time.') Physical examination--right
side of face blown away; lower jaw broken into several pieces, extending
to left side; teeth on lower jaw loose; part of upper jaw gone, and
tongue exposed. Infected. Operated--several pieces of lower jaw
removed and two pieces wired together in front."

From the desk drawer the nurse picked out several photographs--X-ray
pictures of little round shrapnel bullets embedded in flesh, of bone
splintered by rifle-bullets and shot through the surrounding flesh as if
they had been exploded; one or two black feet cut off above the ankles;
one of a group of convalescents standing on the hospital steps.

"There he is," she said, pointing-to a man with a slightly crooked jaw--
the man whose history we had just read. "We saved it. It isn't such a
bad face, after all."

The worst wounds, of course, do not come to a hospital so far from the
front as this--they never leave the battle-field at all. In Turkey, for
instance, where travelling is difficult, very few of those shot through
the trunk of the body ever got as far as Constantinople--nearly all of
the patients were wounded in the head, arms, or legs. On over a
thousand patients in this Budapest hospital the following statistics are
based: Rifle wounds, 1,095; shrapnel, 138; shell, 2; bayonet, 2; sabre,
1; hand-grenade, 1; frozen feet, 163; frozen hands, 100; rheumatism, 65;
typhoid, 38; pneumonia, 15; tetanus, 5; gas infection, 5. Deaths, 19--
septicemia, 7; pneumonia, tetanus, typhoid, 1. It was dark when I
started down-stairs, through that warm, brooding stillness of a hospital
at night. The ward at the head of the stairs was hushed now, and the
hall lamp, shining across the white trousers of an orderly dozing in his
chair within the shadow of the door and past the screen drawn in front
of it, dimly lit the foot of the line of beds where the men lay

Nothing could happen to them now--until they were sound again and the
order came to go out and fling themselves again under the wheels. The
doctor on duty for the night, coat off, was stretched on his sofa
peacefully reading under a green lamp. And, as I went down-stairs past
the three long wards, the only sign of life was in a little circle of
light cast by a single lamp over the bed of one of the new patients,
lighting up the upturned profile of a man and the fair hair of the young
night nurse bending over him and silently changing the cloths on his

We dined late that evening on an open balcony at the top of the house.
People in Vienna and Budapest like to eat and drink in the open air.
Below us lay the dark velvet of the park, with an occasional lamp, and
beyond, over the roofs of Pest, the lights of Buda across the river.

Up through the trees came the voices of men singing. I asked what this
might be. They were men, my friends explained, who had had their legs
amputated. There were fifty-eight of them, and the people who owned the
big, empty garden across the street had set it aside for them to live
in. There they could sit in the sun and learn to walk on their
artificial legs--it was a sort of school for them.

I went to see it next morning--this Garden of Legless Men. They were
scattered about under the trees on benches two by two, some with
bandaged stumps, some with crutches, some with no legs at all. They
hobbled over willingly enough to have their pictures taken, although one
of them muttered that he had had his taken seventy times and no one had
sent him a. copy yet. The matron gathered them about her, arranging
them rather proudly so that their wounds "would show. One looked to be
quite all right--because he had artificial legs, boots and all, below
the knee.

"Come," said the matron, "show the gentleman how you can walk." And the
obedient man came wabbling toward us in a curious, slightly rickety
progress, like one of those toys which are wound up and set going on the
sidewalk. At the matron's suggestion he even dropped one of his canes.
He could almost stand alone, indeed, like some of the political
arguments for which millions of healthy young fellows like him
obediently go out to fight.

The Augusta Barracken Hospital is on the outskirts of Budapest--a
characteristic product of the war, wholesale healing for wholesale
maiming--1,000 beds and all the essentials, in what, two months before,
was a vacant lot by the railroad tracks. The buildings are long,
one-story, pine barracks, just wide enough for two rows of beds with an
aisle down the centre. The space between the barracks is filled, in
thrifty European fashion, with vegetable-gardens, and they are set on
neat streets through which the patients can be wheeled or carried to and
from the operating and dressing rooms without going up or down stairs.
Trains come in from the observation hospitals near the front, where all
wounded now stay for five days until it is certain they have no
contagious disease, and switch right up to the door of the

The men give their names, pass at once to another room where their
uniforms are taken away to be disinfected, thence to the bathroom, then
into clean clothes and to bed. It is a city of the sick--of healing,
rather--and on a bright day, with crowds of convalescents sitting about
in their linen pajamas in the sun, stretcher-bearers going back and
forth, the capable-looking surgeons with their strong, kind faces,
pretty nurses in nun-like white, it all has the brisk, rather jolly air
of any vigorous organism, going full blast ahead.

We had been through it, seen the wards of strapping, handsome, childlike
Russians, as carefully looked after by the Hungarians as if they were
their own, when our officer guide remarked that in an hour or two a
transport of four hundred new wounded would be coming in. We waited in
the receiving-room, where a young convalescent had been brought out on a
stretcher to see his peasant family--a weather-beaten father, a mother
with a kerchief over her head, two solemn, little, round-faced brothers
with Tyrolean feathers in their caps. Benches were arranged for those
able to sit up, clerks prepared three writing-desks, orderlies laid a
row of stretchers side by side for fifty yards or so along the railroad

The transport was late, the sun going, and I went down to the other end
of the yard to get a picture of some Russians I had seen two days
before. We had walked through their ward then, and I remembered one very
sick boy, to whom one of the nurses with us had given a flower she was
wearing, and how he had smiled as he put it to his face with his gaunt,
white hand. "It doesn't take long," she had said, "when they get like
that. They have so little vitality to go on, and some morning between
two and five"--and sure enough his bed was empty now.

A troop-train was rushing by, as I came back, covered with green
branches and flowers. They went by with a cheer--that cheer which
sounds like a cheer sometimes, and sometimes, when two trains pass on
adjoining tracks so fast that you only catch a blur of faces, like the
windy shriek of lost souls.

Then came a sound of band music, and down the road, outside the high
wire fence, a little procession led by soldiers in gray-blue, playing
Chopin's "Funeral March." Behind them came the hospital hearse, priests,
and a weeping peasant family. The little procession moved slowly behind
the wailing trumpets--it was an honor given to all who died here, except
the enemy--and must have seemed almost a sort of extravagance to the
convalescents crowding up to the fence who had seen scores of their
comrades buried in a common trench. Opposite us the drums rolled and
the band began the Austrian national hymn. Then they stopped; the
soldier escort fired their rules in the air. That ended the ceremony,
and the hearse moved on alone.

Then the convalescents drifted back toward us. Most of them would soon
be ready for the front again, and many glad of it, if only to be men in
a man's world again. One of the nurses spoke of some of the others she
had known. One man slashed his hand with his knife in the hope of
staying behind. Even the bravest must gather themselves together before
the leap. Only those who have seen what modern guns can do know how much
to fear them.

"For a week or so after they come in lots of them are dazed; they just
lie there scarcely stirring. All that part of it--the shock to their
nerves--we see more of than the doctors do. When the word comes to go
out again they have all the physical symptoms of intense nervous
excitement, even nausea sometimes." The train came at last--two long
sections of sleeping-cars. An officer stepped off, clicked his heels,
and saluted, and the orderlies started unloading the men. Those who
could walk at all were helped from the doors; the others--men with
broken hips, legs in casts, and so on--were passed out of the windows on
stretchers held over the orderlies' heads. In the receiving-ward they
were set down in rows before the three tables, most of them clutching
their papers as they came. Each man gave his name and regiment, and
such particulars, and the address of some one of his family to whom
notice could be sent. It was one clerk's duty to address a post-card
telling his family of his condition and that he was in the hospital.

These cards were already ruled off into columns in each of which the
words "Lightly wounded," "Wounded," "Severely wounded," "Ill," "Very
ill" were printed in nine of the languages spoken in Austria-Hungary.
The clerk merely had to put a cross on the proper word. Here, for
instance, is the Lightly wounded column, in German, Hungarian, and the
other dialects: "Leicht verwundet, Konnyen megse-besult, Lehce ranen,
Lekko raniony, Lecko ranenki, Leggiermente Jcrzto, Lako ranjen, Lahko
ranjen, Usor ranit."

A number were Russians--fine, big, clear-eyed fellows with whom these
genuine "Huns" chatted and laughed as if they were their own men. On
one stretcher came a very pale, round-faced, little boy about twelve,
with stubbly blond hair clipped short and an enchanting smile. He had
been carrying water for the soldiers, somebody said, when a piece of
shrapnel took off one of his feet. Possibly he was one of those little
adventurers who run away to war as boys used to run away to sea or the
circus. He seemed entirely at home with these men, at any rate, and
when one of the Hungarians brought him a big tin cup of coffee and a
chunk of black bread, he wriggled himself half upright and went to work
at it like a veteran.

As soon as the men were registered they were hurried out of their
uniforms and into the bathroom. At the door two nurses in white--so
calm and clean and strong that they must have seemed like goddesses, in
that reek of steam and disinfectants and festering wounds--received
them, asked each man how he was wounded, and quickly, as if he were a
child, snipped off his bandages, unless the leg or arm were in a cast,
and turned him over to the orderlies. Those who could walk used
showers, the others were bathed on inclined slabs. Even the worst
wounded scarcely made a sound, and those who could take care of
themselves limped under the showers as if they had been hospital
boarders before, and waited for, and even demanded, with a certain
peremptoriness, their little bundle of belongings before they went on to
the dressing-room.

Discipline, possibly, though one could easily fancy that all this
organized kindness and comfort suddenly enveloping them was enough to
raise them for the moment above thoughts of pain.

As they lifted the man on the dressing-table and loosened the
pillow-like bandage under his drawn-up thigh, a thick, sickening odor
spread through the room. As the last bit of gauze packing was drawn
from the wound, the greenish pus followed and streamed into the pan.
The jagged chunk of shell had hit him at the top of the thigh and
ploughed down to the knee. The wound had become infected, and the
connecting tissues had rotted away until the leg was now scarcely more
than a bone and the two flaps of flesh. The civilian thinks of a wound,
generally, as a comparatively decent sort of hole, more or less the
width of the bullet itself. There was nothing decent about this wound.
It was such a slash as one might expect in a slaughtered ox. It had
been slit farther to clean the infection, until you could have thrust
your fist into it, and, as the surgeon worked, the leg, partly from
weakness, partly from the man's nervousness, trembled like a leaf.

First the gauze stuffed into the cavity had to be pulled out. The man,
of an age that suggested that he might have left at home a peasant wife,
slightly faded and weather-worn like himself, cringed and dug his nails
into the under side of the table, but made no outcry. The surgeon
squeezed the flesh above and about the wound, the quick-fingered young
nurse flushed the cavity with an antiseptic wash, then clean, dry gauze
was pushed into it and slowly pulled out again.

The man--they had nicknamed him "Pop"--breathed faster. This panting
went into a moan, which deepened into a hoarse cry, and then, as he lost
hold of himself completely, he began a hideous sort of sharp yelping
like a dog.

This is a part of war that doctors and nurses see; not rarely and in one
hospital, but in all hospitals and every morning, when the long line of
men--'"pus tanks' we called 'em last winter," muttered one of the young
doctors--are brought in to be dressed, There was such a leg that day in
the Barracken Hospital; the case described here was in the American Red
Cross Hospital in Vienna.

Such individual suffering makes no right or wrong, of course. It is a
part of war. Yet the more one sees of it and of this cannon fodder, the
people on whom the burden of war really falls, how alike they all are in
their courage, simplicity, patience, and long-suffering, whether
Hungarians or Russians, Belgians or Turks, the less simple is it to be
convinced of the complete righteousness of any of the various general
ideas in whose name these men are tortured. I suspect that only those
can hate with entire satisfaction and success who stay quietly at home
and read the papers.

I remember riding down into Surrey from London one Sunday last August
and reading an editorial on Louvain--so well written, so quivering with
noble indignation that one's blood boiled, as they say, and one could
scarcely wait to get off the train to begin the work of revenge.
Perhaps the most moving passage in this editorial was about the smoking
ruins of the Town Hall, which I later saw intact. I have thought
occasionally since of that editorial and of the thousands of sedentary
fire-eaters and hate-mongers like the writer of it--men who live forever
in a cloud of words, bounce from one nervous reaction to another without
ever touching the ground, and, rejoicing in their eloquence, go down
from their comfortable breakfasts to their comfortable offices morning
after morning and demand slaughter, annihilation, heaven knows what not
--men who could not endure for ten minutes that small part of war which
any frail girl of a trained nurse endures hour after hour every morning
as part of the day's work.

If I had stayed in London and continued to read the lies of but one
side, I should doubtless, by this time, be able to loathe and despise
the enemy with an entire lack of doubt, discomfort, or intelligence.
But having been in all the countries and read all the lies, the problem
is less simple.

How many people who talk or write about war would have the courage to
face a minute, fractional part of the reality underlying war's inherited
romance? People speak with pleasant excitement of "flashing sabres"
without the remotest thought of what flashing sabres do. A sabre does
not stop in mid-air with its flashing, where a Meissonier or a Detaille
would paint it--it goes right on through the cords and veins of a man's
neck. Sabre wounds are not very common, but there was one in the Vienna
hospital that morning--a V-shaped trench in which you could have laid
four fingers fiat, down through the hair and into the back of the man's
neck, so close to the big blood-vessel that you could see it beat under
its film of tissue--the only thing between him and death. I thought of
it a day or two later when I was reading a book about the Austrian army
officer's life, written by an English lady, and came across the phrase:
'"Sharpen sabres!' was the joyful cry."

Be joyful if you can, when you know what war is, and, knowing it, know
also that it is the only way to do your necessary work. The absurd and
disgusting thing is the ignorance and cowardice of those who can
slaughter an army corps every day for lunch, with words, and would not
be able to make so trivial a start toward the "crushing" they are
forever talking about as to fire into another man's open eyes or jam a
bayonet into a single man's stomach. Among the Utopian steps which one
would most gladly support would be an attempt to send the editors and
politicians of all belligerent countries to serve a week in the enemy's

Chapter XV

East Of Lemberg--Through Austria-Hungary to the Galician Front

We left Nagybiesce in the evening, climbed that night through the high
Tatras, stopped in the morning at Kaschau long enough for coffee and a
sight of the old cathedral, rolled on down through the country of robber
barons' castles and Tokay wine, and came at length, in the evening, to
Munkacs and the foot of the high Carpathians.

This was close to the southernmost point the Russians touched when they
came pouring down through the Carpathian passes, and one of the places
in the long line where Germans and Austro-Hungarians joined forces in
the spring to drive them back again. Munkacs is where the painter
Munkacsy came from. It was down to Munkacs, through Silesia and the
Tatras, that the troop-trains came in April while snow was still deep in
the Carpathians. Now it was a feeding-station for fresh troops going up
and wounded and prisoners coming down.

The officers in charge had no notion we were coming, but no sooner heard
we were strangers in Hungary than we must come in, not only to dinner,
but to dine with them at their table. We had red-hot stuffed paprika
pods, Liptauer cheese mixed salmon-pink with paprika, and these and
other things washed down with beer and cataracts of hospitable talk.
Some one whispering that a bit of cheese might come in handy in the
breakfastless, cholera-infested country, into which we were going that
night, they insisted we must take, not merely a slice, but a chunk as
big as a small trunk. We looked at the soup-kitchen, where they could
feed two thousand a day, and tasted the soup. We saw the
dressing-station and a few wounded waiting there, and all on such a
breeze of talk and eloquent explanation that you might have thought you
had stepped back into a century when suspicion and worry and nerves were

The Hungarians are like that--along with their indolence and romantic
melancholy--lively and hospitable and credulous with strangers. Nearly
all of them are good talkers and by sheer fervor and conviction can make
almost any phrase resemble an idea and a real idea as good as a play.
Hungarians are useful when trenches must be taken by storm, just as the
sober Tyrolean mountaineers are better for sharp-shooting and slow

One of the interesting things about the Austro-Hungarian army, as well,
of course, as an inevitable weakness, is the variety of races and
temperaments hidden under these blue-gray uniforms--Hungarians,
Austrians, Croatians, Slovaks, Czechs. Things in universal use, like
post-cards and paper money, often have their words printed in nine
languages, and an Austro-Hungarian officer may have to know three or
four in order to give the necessary orders to his men. And his men
cannot fight for the fatherland as the Germans do; they must rally round
a more or less abstract idea of nationality. And one of the surprises
of the war, doubtless, to many people, has been that its strain, instead
of disintegrating, appears to have beaten this loose mass together.

At the table that evening was a middle-aged officer and his aid on their
way to a new detail at the front. They were simple and soldier-like
and, after the flashing bosoms of the sedentary hinterland, it was
pleasant to see these men, who had been on active service since the
beginning, without a single medal. The younger Hungarian was one of
those slumbering daredevils who combine a compact, rugged shape--strong
wrists, hair low on the forehead--with the soft voice and shy manners of
a girl. He spoke a little German and English in the slow, almost
plaintive Hungarian cadence, but all we could get out of him about the
war was that it had made him so tired--so 'mude'. He had gone to school
in Zurich but could not tell our Swiss lieutenant the name of his
teacher--he couldn't remember anything, any more, he said, with his
plaintive smile. He had a little factory in Budapest and had gone back
on furlough to see that things were ship-shape, but it was no use, he
couldn't tell them what to do when he got there. Common enough, our
captain guide observed. He had been in the fighting along the San until
invalided back to the Presse-Quartier, and there were times, then, he
said, when for days it was hard for him to remember his own name.

We climbed up into the mountains in the night and he had us up at
daylight to look down from creaking, six-story timber bridges built by
the Austro-Hungarian engineers to replace the steel railroad bridges
blown up by the Russians. We passed a tunnel or two, a big stockade
full of Russian prisoners milling round in their brown overcoats, and
down from the pass into the village of Skole. Here we were to climb the
near-by heights of Ostry, which the Hungarians of the Corps Hoffmann
stormed in April when the snow was still on the ground, and "orientiren"
ourselves a bit about this Carpathian fighting.

I had looked back at it through the "histories" and the amputated feet
and hands in the hospital at Budapest--now, in the muggy air of a late
August morning we were to tramp over the ground itself. There were, in
this party of rather leisurely reporters, a tall, wise, slow-smiling
young Swede who had gone to sea at twelve and been captain of a
destroyer before leaving the navy to manage a newspaper; a young Polish
count, amiably interested in many sorts of learning and nearly all sorts
of ladies--he had seen some of the Carpathian fighting as an officer in
the Polish Legion; one of the Swiss citizen officers--one can hear him
now whacking his heels together whenever he was presented, and fairly
hissing "Oberleutnant W---, aw Schweiz!" and a young Bulgarian
professor, who spoke German and a little French, but, unlike so many of
the Bulgarians of the older generation who were educated at Robert
College, no English. The Bulgarians are intensely patriotic and there
was nothing under sun, moon, or stars which this young man did not
compare with what they had in Sofia. German tactics, Russian novels,
sky-scrapers, music, steamships--no matter what--in a moment would come
his "Bei uns in Sofia"--(With us in Sofia) and his characteristic
febrile gesture, thumb and forefinger joined, other fingers extended,
pumping emphatically before his face.

Then there was our captain guide from the regular army, a volunteer
automobile officer, a soldier servant for each man--for the Austrians do
such things in style--and even, on a separate flat car, our own motor.
The Carpathians here are in the neighborhood of three thousand five
hundred feet high--a tangle of pine-covered slopes as steep as a roof
sometimes, and reminding one a bit of our Oregon Cascades on a
much-reduced scale. You must imagine snow waist-deep, the heights
furrowed with trenches, the frosty balsam stillness split with screaming
shells and shrapnel and the rat-tat-tat of machine guns; imagine
yourself floundering upward with winter overcoat, blanket, pack, rifle,
and cartridge-belt--any one who has snow-shoed in mountains in midwinter
can fancy what fighting meant in a place like this. Men's feet and
hands were frozen on sentry duty or merely while asleep--for the
soldiers slept as a rule in the open, merely huddled in their blankets
before a fire--the severely wounded simply dropped in the snow, and for
most of them, no doubt, that was the end of it.

Puffing and steaming in our rain-coats, we climbed the fifteen hundred
feet or so to the top of the mountain, up which the Russians had built a
sort of cork-screw series of trenches, twisting one behind the other.
We reached one sky-line only to find another looking down at us.
Barbed-wire entanglements and "Spanish riders" crossed the slopes in
front of them--it was the sort of place that looks to a civilian as if
it could hold out forever.

The difficulty in country like this is, of course, to escape flanking
fire. You fortify yourself against attack from one direction only to be
enfiladed by artillery from some ridge to right or left. That was what
the Austrians and Germans did and, following their artillery with an
infantry assault, captured one of the upper Russian trenches. From this
it was only a matter of a few hours to clear out the others. Except for
the visits of a few peasants the battle-field had scarcely been touched
since the snow melted. The hillside was peppered with shell holes, the
trenches littered with old hand-grenades, brown Russian over-coats, the
rectangular metal cartridge clip cases---about like biscuit tins--which
the Russians leave everywhere, and some of the brush-covered shelters in
which the Russians had lived, with their spoons and wet papers and here
and there a cigarette box or a tube of tooth-paste, might have almost
been lived in yesterday.

The valley all the way back to Skole was strung with the brush and
timber shelters in which the Russians had camped--the first of thousands
of cut-up pine-trees we were to see before we left Galicia. All the
drab and dreary side of war was in that little mountain town--smashed
houses; sidewalks, streets, and fences splashed with lime against
cholera; stores closed or just keeping alive, and here and there signs
threatening spies and stating that any one found carrying explosives or
building fires would be shot. I went into one fairly clean little cafe,
where it seemed one might risk a cup of tea--you are not supposed to
drink unboiled or unbottled water in such neighborhoods--and the dismal
old Jew who kept the place told me that he had been there since the war
began. He made a sour face when I said he must have seen a good deal.
A lot he could see, he said, six months in a cellar "gesteckt."

There was a certain amount of cholera all through eastern Galicia,
especially among the peasants, not so well housed, often, as the
soldiers, and not nearly so well fed and taken care of. Every one who
went into Galicia had to be vaccinated for cholera, and in the army this
had all but prevented it. In a whole division living in a
cholera-infected neighborhood there would be only one or two cases, and
sometimes none at all. The uncomfortable rumor of it was everywhere,
however, and one was not supposed to eat raw fruit or vegetables, and in
some places hand-shaking, even in an officers' mess, was prohibited.

Russian prisoners were working about the station as they were all over
eastern Austria-Hungary--big, blond, easy-going children, apparently
quite content. Our Warsaw Pole talked with one of them, who seemed to
mourn only the fact that he didn't have quite so big a ration of bread
as he had had as a soldier. He had come from Siberia, where he had left
a wife and three children--four, maybe, by this time, he said; some
rascally Austrian might have made another one.

Beyond Skole we left the mountains--looking back at that imposing wall
on the horizon, one could fancy the Russians coming down from the north
and thinking, "There we shall stand!"--and rode northward through a
pleasant, shallow, valley country, past Ruthenian settlements with their
three-domed churches and houses steep-roofed with heavy thatch. Some of
these Ruthenians, following the Little Russians of the south, Gogol's
country, were not enthusiastic when the Russians came through. Among
others, the Russian Government had made great propaganda, given money
for churches and so on, so that the apparently guileless peasants
occasionally revealed artillery positions, the Austrians said, by
driving their cattle past them or by smoke signals from cottage
chimneys. We stopped for dinner at Strij, another of those drab, dusty,
half-Jewish towns filled now with German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers,
officers, proclamations, and all the machinery of a staff headquarters,
and the next morning rolled into Lemberg. The Russians captured it in
the first week of the war, held it through the winter, and then, after
the Czar had, from a balcony in the town, formally annexed it to the
empire forever and a day, in April, the Austro-Hungarians retook it
again in June.

There were smashed windows in the railroad station, but otherwise, to a
stranger coming in for the first time, Lemberg seemed swinging along, a
big modern city of some-two hundred thousand people, almost as if nothing
had happened.

With an officer from General Bom-Ermolh's staff, and maps, we drove out
to the outlying fortifications, where the real fighting had taken place.
The concrete gun positions, the permanent infantry protections with
loopholes in concrete, and all the trenches and barbed wire, looked
certainly as if the Russians had intended to stay in Lemberg. The full
explanation of why they did not must be left for the present. What
happened at one fortified position, a few miles southwest of Lemberg,
was plain enough.

Here, in pleasant open farming country was a concrete and earth fort,
protected by elaborate trenches and entanglements, in front of which,
for nearly a mile across the fields, was an open field of fire.
Infantry might have charged across that open space until the end of the
war without getting any nearer, but the offensive did not, of course,
try that. Over behind distant clumps of trees and a wooded ridge on the
horizon they planted their heavy batteries. On a space perhaps three
hundred yards long some sixty of these heavy guns concentrated their
fire. The infantry pushed up under its protection, the fort fell, and
the garrison was captured with it.

It is by such use of artillery that herds of prisoners are sometimes
gathered in. Just before the charging infantry reaches the trench, the
cataract of artillery fire, which has been pouring into it, is suddenly
shifted back a few hundred yards, where it hangs like a curtain shutting
off escape. The success of such tactics demands, of course, finished
work from the artillery-men and perfect co-ordination between artillery
and infantry. At lunch a few days later in Cracow, a young Austrian
officer was telling me how they had once arranged that the artillery
should fire twenty rounds, and on the twenty-first the infantry, without
waiting for the usual bugle signal to storm, should charge the trenches.
At the same instant the artillery-men were to move up their range a
couple of hundred yards. The manoeuvre was successful and the Russians
caught, huddled under cover, before they knew what had happened.

Though Lemberg's cafes were gay enough and the old Jews in gaberdines,
with the orthodox curl dangling before each ear, dozed peacefully on the
park benches, still the Russians were only a few hours' motor drive to
the eastward, and next morning we went out to see them. All of the
country through which we drove was, in a way, the "front"--beginning
with the staff head-quarters and going on up through wagon-trains,
reserves, horse camps, ammunition-stations, and so on, to the first-line
trenches themselves.

Sweeping up through this long front on a fine autumn morning is to see
the very glitter and bloom of war. Wounds and suffering, burned towns,
and broken lives--all that is forgotten in the splendid panorama--men
and motors and fliers and guns, the cheerful smell of hay and coffee and
horses, the clank of heavy trucks and the jangle of chains, all in
beautiful harvest country; in the contagion of pushing on, shoulder to
shoulder, and the devil take the hindmost, toward something vastly
interesting up ahead.

Every one is well and strong, and the least of them lifted up and
glamoured over by the idea that unites them. All the pettinesses and
smallness of every-day existence seem brushed aside, for no one is
working for money or himself, and every man of them may be riding to his

Flippant young city butterflies jump to their feet and gravely salute
when their elders enter, the loutish peasant flings up his chin as if he
would defy the universe. What a strange and magic thing is this
discipline or team-work or whatever you choose to call it, by which some
impudent waiter, for instance, who yesterday would have growled at his
tips, will to-day fling his chin up and his hands to his sides and beam
like a boy, merely because his captain, showing guests through the camp,
deigns to peer into his mess-can and, slapping him affectionately on the
cheek, ask him if the food is all right!

We whizzed into the village of Kamionka, on the upper Bug, across which
the Russians had been driven only a few days before. Their trenches
were just within the woods a scant mile away, and the smoke of their
camp-fires curled up through the trees. Across the much-talked-of Bug,
which resembles here a tide-water river split with swampy flats, were
the trenches they had left. They trailed along the river bank, bent
with it almost at a right angle, and the Austro-Hungarian batteries had
been so placed that a crisscross fire enfiladed each trench. From the
attic observation station into which we climbed, the officers directing
the attack could look down the line of one of the trenches and see their
own shells ripping it to pieces. "It was a sight you could see once in
a lifetime," said one of the young artillery-men, still strung up with
the excitement of the fight--exactly what was said to me at Ari Bumu by
a Turkish officer who had seen the Triumph go down.

That attic was like a scene in some military melodrama, with its
tattered roof, its tripod binoculars peering at the enemy, the
businesslike officers dusty and unshaven, the field-telegraph operator
squatting in one corner, with a receiver strapped to his ear. We walked
across the rafters to an adjoining room, where there were two or three
chairs and an old sofa, had schnapps all round, and then went out to
walk over the position.

In front was the wabbly foot-bridge run across by the pioneers, and on
the swampy flats the little heaps of sod thrown up by the first line as
they pushed across--wading up to their necks part of the way--under

On the near bank the Austro-Hungarian trenches had run between the tombs
of an old Jewish burying-ground, and from the earth walls, here and
there, projected a bone or a crumbling skull. The Russian trenches on
the other bank wound through a farmyard in the same impersonal way--
pig-pens, orchard, chicken-coops, all thought of merely as shelter. It
was just to the left of a pig-pen that a Russian officer had held his
machine gun until the last minute, pouring in a flank fire. "He did his
work!" was the young officer's comment.

We lunched with a corps commander and dined with a genial old colonel
and his staff, and between times motored through level farming country
to a position to the northward on the Rata, a tributary of the Bug.
Both sides were watching each other here from their sausage-shaped
captive balloons, and a few aeroplanes were snooping about but at the
moment all was quiet. The Austro-Hungarians had been waiting here for
over a fortnight, and the artillery-men had polished up their battery
positions as artillery-men like to do when they have time. Two were in
a pasture, so neatly roofed over with sod that a birdman might fly over
the place until the cows came home without knowing guns were there.
Another, hidden just within the shadow of a pine forest, was as
attractive as some rich man's mountain camp, the gun positions as snug
as yacht cabins, the officer's lodges made of fresh, sweet-smelling pine
logs, and in a little recess in the trees a shrine had been built to St.
Barbara, who looks out for artillery-men.

The infantry trenches along the river, cut in the clean sand and neatly
timbered and loopholed, were like model trenches on some exposition
ground. Through these loopholes one could see the Russian trenches,
perhaps a mile away, and in between the peasant women, bright red and
white splashes in the yellow wheat, were calmly going ahead with their
harvest. All along the Galician front we saw peasants working thus and
regarding this elaborate game of war very much apparently as busy
farmers regard a draghunt or a party of city fishermen. At one point we
had to come out in the open and cross a foot-bridge. "Please--
Lieutenant," one of the soldiers protested as the officer with us
stepped out, standing erect, "it is not safe!" The officer crouched and
hurried across and so did we, but just before we did so, up out of the
field where they had been mowing, straight through this gap, came a
little company of barefooted peasant women with their bundles of
gleanings on their heads, and talking in that singsong monotone of
theirs, as detached as so many birds, they went pat-patting across the
bridge. If one of these women could but write her impressions of war!

They had done their part, these peasant women and old men and children.
All over Galicia, round the burned villages, right through barbed-wire
entanglements up to the very trenches, stretched the yellow wheat.
Somehow they had ploughed and sowed and brought it to harvest, and now
with scythes, with knives even, sometimes, they were getting it under
cover. At home we know gleaners generally only in rather sentimental
pictures; here we saw them day after day, barefooted women and children
going over the stubble and picking up the forgotten wheat heads and
arranging them in one hand as if they were a bouquet. There will be no
wheat wasted this year.

And with them everywhere were the Russian prisoners, swinging scythes,
binding grain, sometimes coming down the road, without even a guard,
sprawled in the sun on a load of straw. It would be hard to find a
place where war seemed more a vast theatricalism than in some of these
Hungarian and Galician neighborhoods. There seemed to be no enmity
whatever between captors and prisoners. Everywhere the latter were
making themselves useful in the fields, in road-making, about railroad
yards, and several officers told me that it was surprising how many good
artisans, carpenters, iron-workers, and so on, there were among them.
The Russians got exactly the same food as the Hungarian soldiers, and
were paid a few cents a day for their work. You would see men in the
two uniforms hobnobbing in the open freight-cars as the work-trains
rolled up the line, and sometimes a score or so of husky Russians
working in the wheat, guarded by some miniature, lone, Landsturm man. Of
all the various war victims I had seen, these struck me as the most
lucky--they could not even, like the wounded, be sent back again.

We drove back through the dark that night, and in the bright, waving
circle of an automobile search-light, with the cool breath from the
pines in our faces, saw that long "front" roll back again. Now and then
a soldier would step into the white circle and, holding up his arm,
struggle between his awe of this snorting motor with its imperial
double-eagle flag and its sharp-voiced officers muffled in gray coats--
between his peasant's habit of taking off his hat and letting such
people blow by, and his soldier's orders to stop every-thing that
passed. He stopped us, nevertheless, and the pass was laboriously read
in the light of his electric lamp before we went on again.

In the dark and quiet all the countless joints and wheels of the vast
organism were still mysteriously turning. Once, in a cloud of dust, we
passed troops marching toward the front--tired faces, laughing faces--
the shout "Man in the road !" and then the glimpse of a couple of Red
Cross men kneeling by a soldier who had given out on the way; once, in
the black pines, cows driven by two little frightened peasant children;
once a long line of bearded Jews, bound, with packs on their backs, for
what was left of their homes; a supply-train, a clanking battery, and
now and then other motors like ours with shrouded gray figures,
streaking by in a flashing mist of dust.

Next day, swinging southward into another sector of the front, over
beautiful rolling hills, rather like the Genesee Valley, we drummed up a
hill and came out at the top in a village square. It had once been a
white little village clinging to the skirts of an old chateau--the
village of Swirz and Count Lavasan's chateau--and both were now black
and tumbled walls.

In the centre of the square people were singing--a strange little crowd
and strange, mournful singing. We thought at first it was a funeral
service, for the women were weeping as they sang, but as the auto-mobile
swept up beside them, we saw that it was men the women were crowding
round--live men, going away to war.

They were men who had not been called out because the Russians held the
country, and by one of fate's ironies, now that the enemy had been
beaten and driven home, they must go out and fight. At a little table
by the side of the square sat the recruiting officer with his pen and
ledger, and the village school-master, a grave, intelligent-looking
young man, who must have held such a place in this half-feudal village
as he would have done a hundred years ago, was doing his best to glamour
over the very realistic loss of these wives and sweethearts with
patriotism's romance. He sang and obediently they all wailed after him
the old song of scattered Poland--"Poland is not lost" "Yeszcze Polska
me Zginela Poki my zygemy..."

The song stopped, there was a word of command, and the little squad
started away. The women clung to their men and cried aloud. The
children hanging to their skirts began to wail, too. There was
something creepy and horrible, like the cries of tortured animals, in
that uncontrolled crying there in the bright morning sunshine. The
schoolmaster spoke to them bluntly, told them to go back to their homes
and their work, and obedient, and a little quieter now, they drifted
away, with aprons to their faces and their little children clinging to
their skirts--back to their cottages and the winter ahead.

This picture did not fit in very well with our rollicking military
panorama, but we were soon over the hills, and half an hour later were
breakfasting on pate-de-foie-gras sandwiches and champagne, with a
charming old corps commandant, at a round table set outdoors in a circle
of trees that must have been planted for that very purpose. Cheered and
stiffened by many bows and heel clickings and warming hospitality, we
hurried off to an artillery position near the village of Olszanica.

Just under the brow of a hill we were stopped and told that it was
dangerous to go farther, and we skirted off to the right under cover, to
the observation station itself. More little Swiss chalets, more
hospitable officers, and out in front, across a mile of open country,
the Russian trenches. Through a periscope one could see Russians
exercising their horses by riding them round the circle--as silent and
remote and of another world as a picture on a biograph screen.

"You see that clump of trees," said the young officer, "one of their
batteries is just behind there. Those aren't real trees, they were put
there by the Russians." I swung the glass to the left, picked up a
company of men marching. "Hello, hello," he whispered, then after a
moment's scrutiny: "No--they're our men." After all, war isn't always so
different from the old days, when men had a time for fighting and a time
for going in to powder their wigs! The division commander, standing a
little behind us, remarked: "We shall fire from the right-hand battery
over behind the hill and then from the left--the one you passed near the
road." Then turning to an officer at the field telephone he said; "You
may fire now."

There was a moment's pause, from over the woods behind us came a
"Whr-r-rong !" and out over the sunny fields a shell went milling away
to send back a faint report and show a puff of cotton above the trenches
to the right. It was a bit short--the next fell better. Another nod,
another "Whr-r-row?/" from somewhere behind us, and this time the
cottony puff was just short of the clump of trees where the Russians had
concealed their battery. I picked up the spot through the glass and--
one might have known !--there was One of those eternal peasants calmly
swinging his scythe about fifty yards short of the spot where the
shrapnel had exploded. I could see him straighten up, glance at it,
then go on with his mowing again.

There was a certain elegance, a fine spaciousness about these
artillery-men and their work which made one more content with war again.
No huddling in muddy trenches here, waiting to be smashed by jagged
chunks of iron--everything clean, aloof, scientific, exact, a matter of
fine wires crossing on a periscope lens, of elevation, wind pressure,
and so on, and everything in the wide outdoors, and done, so to say,
with a magnificent gesture.

People drive high-power motor-cars and ride strong horses because of the
sense of power it gives them--how about standing on a hill, looking over
miles of splendid country to where a huddle of ants and hobby-horse
specks--say a battalion or two--are just crawling around a hill or
jammed on a narrow bridge, and then to scatter them, herd them, chase
them from one horizon to another with a mere, "Mr. Jones, you may fire
now," and a wave of the hand!

The division commander took us back a mile or so to his headquarters for
lunch, the Russians slowly waking up and sending a few perfunctory
shells after us as we went over the hill, and here was another genial
party, with three "Hochs" for the guests at the end. Even out here in
empty Galicia the soldiers got their beer. "We're not quite so
temperate as the Russians," the general smiled. "A little alcohol--not
too much--does 'em good."

A young lieutenant who sat next me regaled me with his impression of
things in general. The Russians had squandered ammunition, he said, in
the early days of the war--they would fire twenty rounds or so at a
single cavalryman or anything that showed itself. They were short now,
but a supply would come evidently every now and then, for they would
blaze away for a day or so, then there would be a lull again. They were
short on officers, too, but not so much as you might think, because they
kept their officers well back of the line, generally. Their artillery
was better than the infantry, as a rule; the latter shot carelessly and
generally too high.

Both he and the officer at my left--a big, farmer-like commissary man--
spoke most amiably of the Russians. The latter told of one place where
both sides had to get water out of the same well. And there was no
trouble. "No," he said, in his deep voice, "they're not hose," using
the same word "bad" one would apply to a naughty boy. They were a
particularly chipper lot, these artillerymen, and when I told the young
lieutenant, who had been assigned to speak French to me under the notion
that I was more at home in that language, that I had stopped at Queens
Hotel instead of the St. Antoine in Antwerp, and that the Belgian army
had crossed the Scheldt, and the pontoon bridge had been blown up
directly in front of the hotel, he said that he would "certainly engage
rooms there for the next bombardment," as he waved good-by.

We were presented, while in Lemberg, to General Bom-Ermolli, and lunched
at the headquarters mess. We also met Major-General Bardolf, his chief
of staff, and chief of staff of the assassinated Crown Prince. The
latter described to us the campaign about Lemberg, and it was
interesting to hear the rasping accent he gave to a word like
"Durchbrechung," for instance, as if he were a Prussian instead of an
Austrian, and to observe the frankness with which he ascribed the
difference that had come over the spirit of the Austro-Hungarian army to
the coming of Mackensen and the Germans.

West of Lemberg the pleasant country lost its war-time air and in
Przemysl the two or three lonely Landsturm men guarding the wrecked
fortifications, twice taken and twice blown up by retreating armies, lit
candles to take us through the smashed galleries, and accepted a few
Hellers when we came out, with quite the bored air of professional
museum guides.

The town of Przemysl itself was untouched. The greater part of the
visible damage to the forts, some distance outside the town, was done by
the dynamite of the retreating army. In one place, however, we saw the
crater of one of the 42-centimetre shells which have been talked about
oftener than they have been used. The Austrian "thirty-point-fives"
have done much of the smashing ascribed to the "forty-twos," and
ordinary work, like that of bombarding a city or infantry trenches, by
cannon of smaller caliber. A genuine forty-two had been dropped here,
however, we were told, on a building used by the Russians to store
ammunition, and the building had simply disappeared. There was nothing
left but a crater sixty or seventy feet across and eighteen to twenty
feet deep.

We trailed westward, through Tarnow, where the great drive first broke
through, and on to the pleasant old university city of Cracow on the
frontier of the Poland of which it was once the capital, and to which it
belonged until the partition of 1795. It was toward Cracow that the
Russians were driving when they first started for Berlin, and they were
but a stone's throw away most of the winter. We got to Cracow on the
Emperor's birthday and saw a military mass on the great parade-ground
with the commandant of the fort standing uncovered and alone facing the
altar, behind him his staff, and perhaps a hundred yards behind them and
stretching for a quarter of a mile down the field, the garrison. At the
intervals in the mass the whole garrison fired salutes, the volleys
going down the field, a battalion at a time, now and then reinforced by
the cannon on Kosciusko Hill.

Cracow is Polish in atmosphere and feeling, and even in the few hours we
were there one heard a good deal of Polish hopes and ambitions. The
independence which Russia was to grant must come now, it would appear,
from some one else. The Poles want a king of their own, but apparently
they preferred to be under the wing of Austria rather than of Germany.
The Germans, who had laid rather a firm hand on the parts of Poland they
had occupied, might not fall in with this notion and one could detect
here one of those clouds, "no bigger than a man's hand," which
dramatists put in the first act, and which often swell to interesting
proportions before the final curtain goes down.

Chapter XVI

In The Dust Of The Russian Retreat

Warsaw had fallen, and Ivangorod, and the centre of the German and
Austro-Hungarian armies, sweeping across eastern Europe like beaters
across a prairie, was now before Brest-Litovsk. This was the apex of
this central triangle of Russian forts, a city and a rail-road centre as
well as a fortress, and the last strongly fortified place on the direct
road to Moscow. It seemed as if the Russians must make a stand here,
and even though we were four or five days getting there, the heavy
artillery was not yet up, and there might still be time.

We wound through the green hills and under the ruined castles of
northern Hungary in the afternoon, rolled slowly up across Silesia and
into Russian Poland in the night, and came at noon to Radom, only
sixty-five miles south of Warsaw. Hindenburg had been here in October,
1914, when he invaded Poland to draw off the Russians from Galicia, then
the Russian offensive had rolled over the place. The Russians had held
it all the winter; now they were a hundred and fifty miles eastward--
beyond the Vistula and the Bug--"boog," not "bug," by the way--and just
hanging to the edge of Poland.

The war had scarcely touched Budapest and Vienna--scarcely touched the
ordinary city surfaces, that is to say. In hotels and cafes, streets
and parks, life flowed on almost as brightly as ever. Farther north, in
the Hungarian towns and villages, life still went on as usual, but one
felt the grip of war--you might not go there nor move about without a
military pass. Beyond Radom, where now in the pleasant park the very
literary Polish young people were strolling, reading as they walked,
there was, so to speak, no ordinary life at all--only the desert of war
and the curious, intense, and complicated life of those who made it.
Our car was hitched to a long transport-train--for it would be another
two days before the automobiles would come back for us from the front--
and we rode into this deserted Polish country toward Ivangorod.

It had all been fought over at least twice--railroad stations and farm
buildings burned, bridges dynamited, telegraph-poles cut down. The
stations now were mere board shelters for a commandant and a soldiers'
lunch-room; the bridges, timber bridges flung across by the pioneers;
and the sawed-off telegraph-poles, spliced between railroad rails to
save cutting new ones, were stuck back into the ground like forks. The
Russians had a rather odd way of burning stations and leaving the rails,
the important thing, intact, but here and there they had neatly
destroyed them for miles by exploding a cartridge under the end of each.

The country is level here--fields interspersed with dark pine forests,
planted in the European fashion, to be grown and harvested like any
other crop--parks of living telephone-posts, thick as the quills of a
porcupine. And through these pines and across the fields were the
eternal Russian trenches, carefully built, timber-lined, sometimes
roofed and sodded over, with rifle holes under the eaves. Barbed-wire
entanglements, seven rows deep sometimes, trailed in front of them,
through timber, through the long grass and flowers of marsh-land, a
wicked foggy band against the green as far as one could see. Along the
Galician front and in the Carpathians I had seen mile after mile of such
trenches, timber-work, wires, and Spanish riders left behind, good as
new, until it began to seem as if war were a peculiarly absurd game,
consisting principally in chopping down good trees and digging ditches,
and then going somewhere else.

In front of Ivangorod great preparations had been made. There was no
town here, but the great fortress, with its citadel, barracks,
machine-shops, gardens, church, and protecting forts, was almost a city
in itself. It had a garrison of twenty thousand, and its gigantic
concrete walls, covered over with earth and grass, its, moat and barbed
wire, looked formidable enough. It had no modern heavy artillery,
however, and even if it had, artillery in a fixed, known spot is
comparatively helpless against the mobile guns, screened by hills and
timber, besiegers can bring against it. Elaborate earthworks had,
therefore, been thrown up several miles to the west of the fortress, but
these became useless when the enemy, crossing the Vistula to north and
south, swung round to cut off the one way out--the railroad to

The Russians might have shut themselves in and waited--not very long,
probably--until the big "thirty-point-fives" smashed the fort to pieces.
They chose to get out in time, blew up the railroad bridge across the
Bug, burned the barracks, and, with enough dynamite to give a good
imitation of an earthquake, tumbled the walls and galleries of the
fortress into melancholy heaps of rock.

It was dusk when we rolled into Ivangorod and into the thick of that
vast and complicated labor which goes on in the rear of an advancing
army--all that laborious building up which follows the retreating army's
orgy of tearing down--bridge builders, an acre or two of transport
horses, blacksmiths and iron-workers, a semi-permanent bakery, the
ovens, on wheels, like thrashing-machine engines, dropping sparks and
sending out a sweet, warm, steamy smell of corn and wheat. It never
stopped, this bakery, night or day, and the bread was piled up in a big
tent near by like cord-wood.

And here you could see the amount of trouble that can be made by blowing
up a railroad bridge. First, of course, a new timber bridge has to be
flung across, and the Vistula is a good two hundred yards wide here and
the river was high. Up ahead the army was fighting forward, dependent,
for the moment, on what came across that bridge. A train arrives,
hundreds of tons of freight which normally would roll across the river
in a few puffs of a cigarette. The cars must be opened, each box and
sack taken out by hand, carried down a bank, loaded into a wagon; the
wagons creep over the pontoons, struggle through the sand on the other
side, then each piece must be unloaded and put on a train again.

An axle breaks, the returning line waits an hour for the other to cross,
a sixty-foot pine log for the new railway bridge wedges fast in turning
a corner and stops everything--you must imagine them at it all day,
sweating and swearing in all the dialects of the dual monarchy--all
night, with fagged horses and drivers dazed with sleep, in the blaze of
a search-light reaching out over the river. Meanwhile a tall timber
railroad bridge was creeping across. There was no pile-driver engine,
and at each cluster of piles fifteen or twenty Russian prisoners, in
their brown service uniforms, hung to as many ropes--"Heave... whack!
Heave... whack!"--in quaint retribution for what a few sticks of
dynamite had done a fortnight before.

A thousand fresh Hungarian troops had just come in next morning, and
were waiting for their coffee, when the word came by field-telephone
that a Russian flier was dropping bombs about twenty kilometres away.
It was fine hunting-ground--men, horses, stores, and the new bridge--but
he sailed away, and we drove a dozen miles up the Vistula to New
Alexandria, burned during the enveloping movement on Ivangorod.

All along the way were trenches, telltale yellow lines of sand winding
among the pines, gun positions, barbed wire, and every now and then a
big plane-tree, with ladders running up to an artillery observation
platform. I climbed up one of them on cleats worn by Russian boots for
a look at the Vistula and the string of Red Cross barges, filled with
wounded, going up the river. The children hereabout, at any rate, will
revere the Russians, for their pioneers had carried that winding
stairway up to the very tip-top of the tree in a manner only seen in
dreams or picture-books.

All the farmhouses had been burned, and the peasants were just
returning. We passed several tired mothers with babies in shawls
hanging from their shoulders and little boys trudging behind with some
rusty kettle or coffee-pot, and once a woman, standing in the ruins of
her house, of which only the chimney was left, calmly cooking her

New Alexandria, a pleasant little town, grown up round an old chateau,
and used as a sort of summer resort by Warsaw people, was nothing but
blackened chimneys and heaps of brick. The Russians had burned
everything, and the inhabitants, who had fled into the pines, were just
now beginning to straggle back. Some had set up little stands in front
of their burned houses and were trying to sell apples, plums, pears,
about the only marketable thing left; some were cleaning brick and
trying to rebuild, some contented themselves with roofing over their
cellars. And while we were observing these domestic scenes, the army,
which had taken the outer forts by assault the preceding night, was
marching into burning Brest-Litovsk.

It was another day before the motors came and we could get under way and
whirl through such a cross-section of a modern army's life as one could
scarcely have seen in the west of Europe since the Germans first came
rolling down on Paris. No suburban warfare this; none of that hideous,
burrowing, blowing up, methodically squashing out yard after yard of
trenches and men. This was war in the grand old style--an army on the
march, literally, down roads smoky with dust and sunshine, across
bridges their own pioneers had built, a river of men and horses, wagons
and guns, from one hazy blue horizon to another.

And all these men had come from victory and knew they were marching to
it. How far they were going none could tell, but the gods were with
them--so might the Grand Army have looked when it started eastward a
hundred years ago. Men and horses had been pouring down that road for
weeks--on each side of the macadam highway the level, unfenced fields
were trampled flat. It was fully one hundred and twenty miles, as the
motor road ran, to Brest-Litovsk, and there was scarce a moment when, if
we were not in the thick of them, we were not at least in sight of
wagons, motors, horses, and men. And, of course, this was but the rear
of the army; the fighting men proper were up in front. The dust hung
like fog in the autumn sunshine. Drivers were black with it; in the
distance, on parallel roads, it climbed high in the still air like smoke
from burning villages. And out of this dust, as we whizzed on, our
soldier chauffeur, whistle in mouth, shrieking for room, appeared
pontoon trains--big steel scows on top, beams underneath, cut, numbered,
and ready to put together; trains of light farm wagons, wide at the top,
slanting toward the middle, commandeered from all over Austria-Hungary
at the beginning of the war and driven, some by soldiers, but oftener by
civilians with the yellow Austrian bands on their arms; heavy ammunition
wagons drawn by four horse; with a soldier outrider astride one of the
leaders, and from time to time columns of reserves, older men for the
most part, bound for guard duty, probably, shuffling along in loose
order. Round and through these wagon-trains, in a swirl of dust,
rumbled and swayed big motor-trucks, and once or twice, scattering
everything with a lilting "Ta-te... Ta-da" the gray motor, the flash of
scarlet, pale blue, and gold, and the bronzed, begoggled, imperial
visage of some one high in command.

Once we passed a big Austrian mortar, covered with tarpaulin, by the
side of the road, and again two big 20-centimetre guns, which had not
had time to get up to Brest-Litovsk. This is where you find the heavy
artillery nowadays, quite as likely as in a fort, on some hard highway,
where it can easily be moved and sheltered, not behind concrete, but
some innocent-looking apple-tree. Each fence corner was chalked with
letters and numbers intelligible to the drivers, who passed that way;
each bridge, down to the few boards across a ditch, had been examined by
the pioneers, rebuilt if necessary, and a neat little sign set up on it,
telling whether or not the heavy artillery could safely cross. Flowing
back toward this huge, confident, onrushing organism, the peasants--
timid, halting, weary, and dust-covered, with wagons heaped with
furniture, beds, hay for the horses, with the littlest children and
those too old to walk--were returning to the charred ruins of their
homes. They, too--like the grass--had their unconquerable strength.

The same patience and quiet courage which had struck me in Antwerp as
peculiarly Belgian, was here again in these Poles, Slovaks, and
Ruthenians, whose boys, perhaps, were fighting with the armies which had
driven the Belgians out. You would see peasant mothers with their
children hanging from their shoulders--women who had been tramping for
days, perhaps, and might have days yet to tramp before they reached the
heap of charred bricks that had once been a home. Nearly all had a cow,
sometimes pulling back on its halter and filling the air with
lamentation, sometimes harnessed with the horse to the family wagon.
They had their pet dogs and birds, the little girls their kittens; from
the front of one wagon poked the foolish head of a colt. Babies
scarcely big enough to sit up crammed their little fingers into their
eyes to shut out the dust; bigger children, to whom the ride would be,
no doubt, the event of their lives, laughed and clapped their hands, and
old men on foot took off their caps, after the fashion of the country,
and bowed gravely as we whirled past. It seemed as if it were we who
should do the saluting.

From the fields, as we whirled into and out of layers of air, sharply,
as one does in a motor, came now the odor of ripe straw, now a whiff of
coffee from a "goulash cannon," steaming away behind its troop like the
calliope in the old-fashioned circus, and now and then, from some
thicket or across a clover field, the sharp, dismaying smell of rotting
flesh. The countryside lay so tranquil under the August sun that it was
only when one saw a dead animal lying in an open field that one recalled
the fire that, a few days before, must have crisscrossed this whole
country, as now, doubtless, in constant cavalry fights and rear-guard
skirmishes, it was crisscrossing the country up ahead.

Half an hour short of Brest-Litovsk an unfinished bridge turned us off
into a potato field. The soft ground had long since been pounded flat,
as the army, swinging round to the north, had crossed on a pontoon a
mile or two lower down. The motor plunged, snarled, and stopped, and
again, as we shovelled in front and pushed behind, we knew why armies
burn bridges behind them.

Past us, as we sweated there, the slow but surer wagon-trains ploughed
forward. One, a German train, stopped beside us to bait their horses--
officers of the Landwehr or Landsturm type, who looked as if they might
be, as doubtless they were, lawyers, professors, or successful business
men at home. They were from a class who, with us, would generally be
helpless in the field, yet these bronzed, bearded, thoughtful-looking
men seemed just as familiar with the details of their present job as
with the work they had left behind.

Ever since we had crossed into Poland this sober, steel-gray stream had
been mingling with and stiffening our lighter-hearted, more boyish,
blue-gray stream of Austrians and Hungarians. Here were men who knew
what they were doing, believed in it, and had the will to put it
through. One thought of Emerson's "Earnest of the North Wind" whenever
they came in sight.

Those who talk of "frightfulness" and get their notions of German
soldiers from the vaporings of sedentary publicists, who know no more of
them than may be seen through the pipe smoke of their own editorial
rooms, are destined to a melancholy awakening. You may prefer your own
ways, but you cannot make them prevail by blackguarding the other man's
weaknesses; you must beat him where he is strong.

Lies and the snobbish ridicule with which our magazines and papers have
been full, run off men like these like water off a duck. These men are
in earnest. They have work to do. No one who has heard them singing the
"Wacht am Rhein" through the starlight of garrisoned towns all the way
from the Channel to the Carpathians, will talk of their being "stolid";
but they have, it is true, no coltishness. They are grown up. And this
discipline of theirs does not mean, as so many people seem to think it
does, being compelled to do what you don't want to do. It means doing
what you are told to do as well as it possibly can be done, no matter
how small it is nor who is looking on--a sense of duty which makes every
switchman behind the lines act as if he were Von Hindenburg. The thing
of theirs, this will-power and moral earnestness, is one of the things
that last--something before which the merely frivolous has always gone
down and always will.

The road down which we were going was, in a general way, the path
already taken by the Austrian and Hungarian troops which had stormed the
outer works at Kobilany two days before and been the first to enter the
town. What happened was much like what had happened at Ivangorod. A
German corps crossed the Bug to north and south and closed in on the
rail-road, the Sixth Austro-Hungarian Corps under Corps General of
Infantry Arz attacked the centre. The Russians sent the entire civil
population eastward, removed their artillery and everything of value
they could take, and set fire to the city. There was a brief artillery
preparation to which the Russians, who all through this retreat appeared
to be short in ammunition and artillery, replied for a time; then the
outer forts were stormed, and when the Sixth Corps entered the burning
city the Russians, except for the rear-guard prisoners, were gone.

We swung past a freight yard littered with over-turned cars, through a
tangle of wagons--army wagons pushing one way and distracted peasants
the other--over a pontoon across the narrow Bug and on into the town.

A city of sixty-five thousand people, with the exception of a church or
two and houses that could almost be counted on one's fingers, was a
waste of gaping windows and blackened chimneys. The Russians' purpose
was not altogether clear, for the town was their town, and its
destruction at this time of the year could not seriously embarrass a
well-provisioned, confident enemy, but they had, at any rate, wiped it
off the map. Not a woman, a child, a glimmer of peaceful life; only
smouldering ruins, the occasional abandoned rifles and cartridge-boxes
of the army that had retired, and the endless wagon-trains of the army
pursuing them.

All the dust through which we had ridden since morning seemed to have
gathered over that dismal wreck. It was a fog in the streets, on which
darkness was already settling--streets without a lamp or a sound except
that from the onflowing trains. Through this dust we tried to find the
headquarters of the Sixth Army Corps. To its commander our passes took
us and without him we had no reason for being in Brest-Litovsk. Nobody
knew where the Sixth was. Two Hungarian officers, hurrying by in a
commandeered carriage, shouted back something about the "church with a
blue cupola"; somebody else said "near the schnapps factory"; a beaming
young lieutenant, helping to disentangle wagon-trains at the main street
comers, said that the Sixth had marched at three that morning. We had
driven all day with nothing to eat but a bit of war bread and chocolate,
we were black with dust, there was not a crumb in the place that did not
belong to the army, and we sat there in the thickening dusk, almost as
much adrift as a raft in mid-ocean,

The two armies--wagon-trains, that is to say--were crossing each other
at that corner. The Germans were going one way, the Austro-Hungarians
the other--tired, dust-covered horses and men, anonymous cogs in the
vast machine, which had been following the man ahead since the day
before, like enough, and might go on into another day before they could
make camp.

Young Hungarian officers greeted one another gayly, and exchanged the
day's adventures and news; young Germans rode by, slim, serious, and
self-contained. Now the stream would stop as one line tried to break
through the other, puzzled drivers would yank their horses back, then
some determined section commander would come charging back, fling his
horse into the tangle--wagon tongues jammed into the canopy in front,
protestations in German, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, goodness knows what,
until at last one line gave way and the other shot forward through the
dust again.

I had been in another captured city, with the besieged then, and when I
think of Antwerp it is of the creepy, bright stillness during the
bombardment--the autumn sun, the smell of dead leaves, the shuttered
streets, without a sound except when a shell came screaming in from the
country or, a block or so away, there was a detonation and some facade
came rumbling down. But when I think of Brest-Litovsk it will be of
dust--dust like fog and thickened with the smoke and twilight--and that
strange, wild, creaking stream of wagons fighting through it as they
might have fought in the days when Europe was young and whole races of
men came pouring over the frontiers.

We started off finally on foot through streets silent as the grave--not
a person, not a lamp, not so much as a barking dog, as queer and as
creepy as some made-up thing in a theatre. Once we stumbled past a
naked and dismembered trunk set up beside a doorway--a physician's
manikin that chance or some sinister clown had left there. Once--and
one of the strangest sounds I ever heard--behind the closed up-stair
shutters of an apothecary's shop, whose powders and poisons were strewn
over the sidewalk, a piano haltingly played with one finger.

At last a light, an open door, a sentry--and this was, indeed,
theatrical--a lighted room and a long table set with candles, flowers,
and wine. The commander of the Sixth Corps had just been decorated with
the order "Pour le merite" and he and his officers were dining before
taking up the march. He welcomed us in the true Hungarian style,
grabbed me by the arms and asked if I was hungry, apologized for their
frugal war-time fare, told how splendidly his men had behaved, had a
word and a place for every-body, as if we were all old friends.

There were three rooms full of officers, and every-one half rose and
bowed in military fashion as we made our way between the tables to our
seats at the end of the third. An amiable young signal-officer who had
been at his telephone some thirty kilometres away when the city was
taken and was off at three next morning, sat opposite me and told with
great spirit how the only common language between him and some of his
polyglot men was the English he had learned in school and they had
picked up in America.

We slept on commandeered mattresses that night on the floor of a vacant
house, with a few Hungarian hussars still singing over the victory in
the back yard, and got up to find the crowded town of the night before
as empty as the old camp-ground the day after the circus.

We strolled through some of the empty streets and into the citadel,
where a handful of German soldiers were guarding a placid, tan-colored
little herd of Russian prisoners; recrossed the pontoon bridge, as
crowded as it had been the afternoon before, and then stopped at
Kobilany fort on the way back to Ivangorod.

The brief Austrian fire had been accurate. There were shell holes
inside the fort, along the parapet, and one frightful bull's-eye, which
had struck square on the inner concrete rim and blown chunks of
concrete, as well as its own steel, all over the place. The rifle-men
left in this embrasure were killed at a stroke, and their blood remained
freshly dried on the stones. Of various uncomfortable places I have
seen in the war this was one--left behind in an open concrete fort to
cover the retreat of artillery, and wait with a pop-gun rifle until the
enemy decided that his artillery had "silenced" you and that it was time
to storm.

One outer angle of the fort had been blown up and the rest was to have
been dynamited, but a nimble Pole, fearing that he might be blown up,
too, before the order came to retire, had, so we were told, cut the
electric wire. Just why Brest-Litovsk was given up must be left for
those who have had a more comprehensive view of all the causes behind
the Russian retreat. It was plain to any one, however, that although
this outer fortress had been taken by storm and a certain amount of
damage done to the attacking force by mines laid in front of it,
scarcely more than nominal resistance, considering the original
preparations, had been made.

Again we whirled down the Ivangorod road, through a stream of wagons and
peasants' carts almost as thick as the day before. We took a new road
this time, but the deserted trenches still crossed the fields, and
creeping up toward them, behind trees, through the greasy, black mud of
pasture-land, were those eloquent little shelters, scarcely more than a
basketful of earth, thrown up by the skirmishers as they ran forward,
dropped and dug themselves in.

We came to Radom and turned southward again. There were people, smoke
coming from cottage chimneys, goose-girls with their spotless and
absurdly peaceful geese, once a group of peasants--young men and
barefooted girls--sitting on the grass resting from their work in the
fields. As the train passed one of the boys flung his arm round the neck
of the tanned young nymph beside him, and over they rolled, fighting
like good-natured puppies. They were the very peasants we had seen
dragging through the dust of the Brest-Litovsk road and this the same
country, though it looked so strangely bright and warm and full of
people. War had blown over it, that was all, and life, which is so much
stronger than the strongest field-marshal, which can be bent, beaten
down, and crushed some-times, like the grass, was growing back again.

The End

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