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Over the Front in an Aeroplane and Scenes Inside t

Now a motor full of officers smoking cigarettes


Behind

the soldier watching in the bomb-proof were the innumerable tiny plodding figures, undaunted by the abrupt little puffs of smoke, doing their patient share toward bringing in the harvest.

In the chateau itself as I went down-stairs I passed a bedroom door with "Seine Koenigliche Hoheit" written across it in white chalk. The Duke of Brunswick had slept there at the high tide of the German advance. His staff had had their names chalked across various other doors, but few of them remained.

One by one they were being gradually scrubbed off. It was explained to me that these chalk marks were particularly hard to remove from wooden doors. But with patience it is being done.

The trip which I was taking to the French front had been most kindly arranged for me by the French Government as a special trip for my particular benefit. It had the advantage of enabling us to go into portions of the advanced trenches, where the larger parties could not go for fear of precipitating shelling by the Germans.

Our party consisted of a staff-officer from Paris, a staff-officer from army headquarters, Lincoln Eyre, whom the authorities had allowed me to ask along--and myself.

After leaving the chateau we got into two elephant-gray army motors with Remington carbines swung on their dashboards. The military chauffeurs tore along the

road, which was in easy range of the German artillery, but which for some reason never was shelled.

As we whirled along we passed a variegated procession of vehicles. Now a high peasant cart carrying home the harvest; now a military motor-cyclist; now a motor-ambulance, with a pair of white feet showing through the back, and the wounded man lying on a stretcher slung from the roof by four straps to reduce jolts to a minimum; now a motor full of officers smoking cigarettes; now a cavalryman exercising an officer's mount.

Finally we stopped about a kilometre from a little village, which must be nameless. On leaving our motors we walked a little further along the road and then climbed down into a trench. This was about six feet deep and three feet wide, the bottom and sides of white, chalky soil. We pursued a serpentine course, but there was method in its meandering, for a straight vista of trench leading toward the enemy would be a splendid hunting-ground for bullets.

We had not gone far when I heard a sound like a boy cracking a toy whip. "A bullet striking near us," explained an officer ahead of me.

I found it almost impossible to tell the difference between the report of the French guns and the explosions of German shells. An officer told me that their time-table nickname for French gun reports was "departs" (departures), while that for the German shell explosions was "arrivees" (arrivals).

Of course if either gun or shell explosion or both is very near to you you can easily tell the difference, if there is enough of you left to tell anything.


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