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Over the Front in an Aeroplane and Scenes Inside t

With the departs starting and the arrivees bursting


Looking

into such a periscope one would swear that he was looking straight out through a loophole. There is not the slightest sign of looking at a reflection in a mirror. We walked bent double through an extremely long pitch-black tunnel in an advanced position where some of the officers themselves had never been, and then started back through the open trenches.

At one point a lot of Germans had been buried. Sometimes a shell explosion does a ghastly bit of disinterment, but I saw nothing unpleasant on this occasion. At another point above the heads of each side of the trench stood two shattered ammunition-carts. The Germans shelled this place pertinaciously, believing that the carts were guns.

At another point we walked under a framework of wood, covered with barb wire resting on two transverse timbers stretching across the top of the trench. A rope hung down from one of the transverses. If the enemy broke into the trench the defenders, by pulling this rope, could drop the barb-wire contrivance into the trench, thus blocking it.

Finally we got back to the village. I had asked how the sixteen inhabitants made a living. An officer replied that they sold eggs and milk to the troops. I asked out of what they produced the milk and he replied, "Very certainly out of a cow." As an answer to my polite scepticism I was taken to see the cow. We walked down a little street where I was told that

the Germans were directing most of their shells. They fortunately were napping while we walked through. We suddenly turned into a gateway, and there in the middle of this wreck of a village was a barnyard with chickens clucking, a horse tied to the wall, and three cows.

And on a stool by one of the cows sat an aged woman making the milk hiss down into a tin pail. There she sat, shells sailing to and fro over her head, with the "departs" starting and the "arrivees" bursting. There she sat and rocked with hearty laughter at the story of my scepticism, and went on effectively proving her existence by her cow by the extraction of that very milk which was sold to the soldiers. We left the old lady surrounded by what seemed to her to be all the comforts of home, and a few steps further were introduced to the Mayor of X----.

It was a smiling, bland old man who greeted us most genially. Apparently he had not a care in the world as he stood courteously making conversation. It seemed to me that the humble old woman milking her cow, and the Mayor entertaining visitors to what was no longer his village, were further symbols of the spirit of a nation which was not easily destined to decadence and downfall. Leaving the Mayor, we entered the cemetery. There we were looking at the graves of two German officers, two French officers and seventy French soldiers when an "arrivee" burst with a louder report than we had as yet heard, followed by a deep noise.

"What's that?" I asked.


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