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Over the Front in an Aeroplane and Scenes Inside t

On this first page was written the name of Epernay


When

you think of this hungry horde of newspaper men collected from the ends of the earth on this one assignment, receiving curt cables and telegrams every few days from their papers asking where their stories are, all as suspicious and jealous of each other as prima-donnas, each trying to "put over a beat" on the other, and each terrified lest some other "put over a beat" on him, you can perhaps imagine that Monsieur P----'s official duties do not constitute a sinecure.

Behind the back of Monsieur P---- they grouch; before his face they grovel. They try on him all the arts and practices of their profession, from bluff, through blandishments to supplication. And Monsieur P---- sits and smiles at them with tender sympathy and gives them their trips fairly and squarely without fear or favoritism. The room echoes with their pleas and protests, the telephone buzzes with their wheedlings and reproaches; but Monsieur P---- deals out even-handed justice among them and never turns a hair. There is probably not an hour of the day or night that some war correspondent in any language from English to Japanese is not calling down very horrible curses upon this autocrat's head. And yet they all cherish for him the most sincere affection and respect.

I myself was fortunate enough to be introduced to Monsieur P---- within a couple of hours of reaching Paris, my special trip to the front having already been arranged for the following

morning. Its machinery was the same as that of the regular trips. Monsieur P---- got out an official printed form of military pass for war correspondents. My photograph was pasted on its cover. I was asked to write my signature on the next page, which was devoted to this trip. There were several more pages for possible other trips. On this first page was written the name of Epernay, the city behind the front to which I was to go by train the following morning. It was specified that the trip was to last three days. The name of the staff-officer who was to accompany me was written in, and subsequently his signature was appended. The whole thing was signed, stamped by Monsieur P---- and handed over to me to carry with me on the trip, to be handed back to him immediately upon my return, and to be used again should I later make other trips.

Then the staff-officer who was to be my chaperon came in and we were introduced. In private life he happened to be a prince. In the army he was at present plain Captain d'A----. Incidentally, he proved to be a fine fellow and a very pleasant companion.

Following his instructions, I was at the railroad station the following morning at eight o'clock, together with Lincoln Eyre, whom I had been permitted to invite on the trip. I presented my military pass to the ticket-seller, who scrutinized it closely before selling me a railway ticket to Epernay. It is the rule in France that correspondents must pay for their railway tickets themselves, so that the Government cannot be accused of paying their way for propagandist purposes. After you reach the front the military authorities furnish army motors, and themselves take care of your meals and bedrooms.


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