from 'Newnes Illustrated' July 17th, 1915
'Long Live France !'
a True Story of the German Retreat from Paris

illustrations from a French children's magazine 'le Bon Point'


THE British, in their fighting retreat from Mons in the Latter days of August, had passed through the little village of T-----, which lies in France, some thirty miles from the Belgian frontier. They had thankfully taken the food and drink that the villagers had offered "les brav' Anglais," and many of them had snatched a few hours of sleep in the cottages and beneath the walls.

A few hours later the Germans came to T——, hot-foot in pursuit of the retiring British forces, the "contemptible little Army" their War-Lord had commanded them to wipe out. They did not leave T----as they found it, but, flushed with their success at Mons, and eager to snatch the greater victory which seemed just ahead of them, they contented themselves with robbing the inhabitants of what little food and wine wore left after their generous gifts to the tired British troops, mostly with that brutality which seems inseparable from the Hun nature.

And so the tide of war passed by for the time being, and little Jacques Roget, eleven years old, whose mother and father kept a little shop at the eastern end of the village street, having seen "les brav' Anglais" march away through the street westward, and afterwards the coming of the "Boches," returned to his play in the fields outside the village.

Then came rumours filtering through various channels that the Germans were thrown back from Paris and were retiring, burning and pillaging everywhere they passed through.

It was difficult for Jacques' mother and father — whose shop had been cleared of everything portable, in common with the two other little village shops which constituted the commercial life of T-----—to imagine anything worse than the plunder that had taken place when the "Boches" marched through on their way, as they thought, to the conquest of Paris.

But one morning, in the middle of September, there came the sound of distant firing, and then a swarm of disorganised, retreating German soldiery, hungry, fatigued, some of them almost panic-striken, flowed Tike a cruel wave into the village. They seized everything eatable and drinkable; they insulted the women; they shot men who in any way resented their actions; and their last deeds were to fire some of the simple dwellings, almost within sight of the British and French troops that were hastening in pursuit along the flat and dusty roads from the west towards the east.

Most of the Germans had left T-----. hardly more than a handful under the command of a blonde-moustached lieutenant remained to put the finishing touches to the work of destruction.

Jacques' mother stood just outside her door dry-eyed, though she had shed tears since dawn in abundance. For the father of Jacques lay near the corner of the little Grande Place, shot . through the heart while endeavouring to save his young sister from insult.

The blonde-moustached lieutenant came along the street with his men and caught sight of Madame Roget and Jacques. He strode up to them, laid a rough hand on the little lad who gazed up at him so fearlessly, and then, shoving him against the cottage wall just near the little door that led directly into the shop, he said : " Now, little Schweinhund, say 'Long live His Majesty the Kaiser! Long live the German Army! ' "

Jacques' lips trembled, but still his blue-eyes regarded the lieutenant, who towered above him, fearlessly, almost, indeed, with a detached curiosity.

"No, no !" he called out. "I will not say 'Vive Sa Majeste! Vive l'armee allemande !' "

"Say it! " commanded the lieutenant, in a loud voice.

"No, no! " cried Jacques. "I will call 'Vive la France! Toujours vive la France ! '"

The sunshine was very bright, and it glinted in the fair hair of little Jacques, but the picture of childish defiance which he presented made no impression upon the blonde-moustached Hun. The latter turned to Mffle. Roget and said : "Tell the boy to do as I say !"

Mme. Roget did not answer; she only shook her head. There was a terrible fear gripping at her heart, but she was a daughter of France, and she hated the Hun with a hate stronger than love of life, and stronger than the love of her child.

And so, when Jacques piped once more, "Vive la France! " the lieutenant threw his head back as much as to say "Well, take the consequences." There was a flash from a Mauser, and little Jacques tumbled forward at his mother's feet, and the blonde-moustached lieutenant and his men passed away down the dusty street.

Margot Roget knelt beside Jacques. Still no tears fell, but her body was shaken by the terrible sobs of a tearless woman who suffers, a deadly agony.

She did not hear the thump of other feet, nor the murmur of the hurrying British in pursuit of the flying Germans. She did not see the shadow that fell upon her and little Jacques, who lay so still, nor hear the words, "It's damnable !" as the kindly hand of an English captain was laid firmly upon her shoulder.

When she realised it and glanced up, her momentary fear gave way to an agony of. joy. She seized the hard, brown hand and covered it with kisses, and then she answered the questions put to her.

"Yes, Monsieur, they have been here," she said, "and they shot my Jacques. They killed him before my eyes, because he refused to call ‘Long live the German Emperor !' and dared to say 'Vive la France !' "

Then tears came to her aid at last. She cried passionately, her face between her hands, her body shaking. Thus she remained, even when the captain had rallied the neighbours and done what little he could, enjoining them to see to the stricken woman. Thus, still later, she remained — a mother with her heart broken, when a regiment of brown-faced men swung past her.

The eyes of all the marching Tommies turned to her as they passed, for the story had spread among them, and it was as though they saluted her with their silence. And every English heart registered a vow to avenge the little lad who had cried with his last breath, "Vive la France !"


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