from the book : 'Among the Ruins', 1915
'The Germans At Lunéville'
by Senor Gomez Carillo
Spanish Journalist

a Spanish Journalist Travels the Battlefields

in the French trenches at Pont-a-Moussan



February 23. 1915

When we read the old chronicles of Lorraine, we form a most enchanting idea of Lunéville. From Nancy and Toul and Bar-le-Duc, from all the great aristocratic centres of the Duchy, those who wished to enjoy life made their way to the banks of the smiling Vezouse. The famous groves of Leopold's Château served Watteau's pupils as a model when they painted the gallant fêtes of the East. At the Court, under ceilings gay with Cupids and Venuses, little Marquises formed a swarm of love-bees round Madame de Ligneville and Madame de Boufflers. Even in Paris, courtly philosophers, following the example of Voltaire, and voluptuous abbés, obeying the orders of La Galaizière, eagerly accepted the invitations of the Princesse de Beauvau-Craon or Madame Châtelet. "Ever since the time of Leopold," says Beaumont, "Lunéville has been a Versailles without stiffness, though not without a protocol. The Duke is a true scion of his race, and likes to receive his humblest subjects; he amuses himself by inviting prominent citizens to his sumptuous palace, and he makes his plebeian guests accompany him in his carriages."

Life was really much gayer at Lunéville than at Versailles. The Duke danced; the courtiers took parts in comedies first with Adrienne Lecouvreur, and then with the divine Clairon. They declaimed verses by Corneille, they acted in the plays of Molière, they listened to Lully's music. Gold rolled about on the green table-cloths. Brilliant processions passed along the streets. The people were amused by the intrigues of the aristocracy. When Voltaire found his mistress in the arms of a young officer the citizens laughed at the story throughout the spring. The love-affairs of fair ladies became a public spectacle. The funeral of the beautiful Emilie was as sumptuous as that of a princess, and the people wept over her charms, and her sins more than they would have wept over the virtues of a saint.

This life and joy and exquisite frivolity disappeared with the sovereigns of Lorraine.

But so great is the glamour of ancient traditions, that my disappointment when I found myself in an industrial, grey, middle-class Lunéville filled me with melancholy. Where were the groves of yester-year? Where the houses of patrician dynasties? Where the gallant promenades? The ungrateful city has not even preserved the memory of former splendours in the names of her streets. She flaunts her Rue Thiers, her Rue Bareaudon, her Rue Gambetta, her Rue Carnot. The shops have vulgar wares vulgarly displayed, the modern houses have dark façades, the smoke of factory chimneys obscures the sky. If you think of visiting the church of Jeanne d'Arc, the guide informs you that it was built two years ago. Do you hope to find some fugitive trace of Mlle Clairon at the theatre? The theatre dates from 1911. The castle has long since been converted into a barrack.

In fact all Lunéville is a barrack in peace time. The 5000 men of its garrison constitute its actual animation, and even its sole gaiety, it may be said. The other 20,000 souls that inhabit it are, the majority, workmen belonging to the different factories, and the minority, rich citizens who lead quiet, retired, and silent lives. At the present time, in spite of the tragedy, there is nothing suggestive of fever, anguish, or emotion, and this though no place bears the scars of its recent days of trial more evidently. The whole of the industrial quarter through which we entered has become a mere field of ruins. A great many of its families are in mourning for the victims of the German fury. Its town- hall has been burnt, its prefecture destroyed. For twenty days the enemy was the absolute master of the city. And thinking of this, I recalled the angry faces and exasperated gestures of the inhabitants of the villages near Paris through which the invaders merely passed one night, pillaging the shops, and I compared them with the serenity of these dwellers on the frontier.

The Mayor, M. Keller, received us in his magnificent rooms, which look as if they had been adorned for a festival.

"A glass of champagne?" he suggested.

Then, accompanied by his wife and several ladies in nurse's costumes, he showed us his house, a veritable historic palace in which the Treaty of Lunéville was signed in 1801. The wide staircase still retains the bronze candelabra which lighted the procession of ambassadors. The tapestries in the galleries perpetuate the warriors of the past. Each piece of furniture is a relic of the great centuries.

The conversation became animated under the influence of smiles and evocations.

"This region without sun or gaiety must seem very dismal to you, who come from Spain," exclaimed Mme Keller.

I tried to turn a compliment to the delicate landscapes of the Vosges, but she added:

"I am from the Pyrenees, and I have never become accustomed to this climate."

M. Keller, on the other hand, is the typical man of the east of France, a fanatical worshipper of its soil, its climate, and its race.

"I would willingly have given my life," he said, "to save my fellow-citizens from the atrocities committed by the Germans."

His face is serious, and it is evident that he means what he says. His conduct during the occupation showed indeed that, indifferent to his personal safety, he thought only of protecting his community. When the Prussian troops entered the town on August 21, the worthy Mayor came forward to receive the Staff, and declared himself responsible for all the acts of the population. A general replied:

"The inhabitants have nothing to fear if they refrain from hostile acts towards us. But if they attack a single one of my soldiers, you will be the first person I shall shoot."

"Your words don't frighten me," said the representative of the municipality.

During the first few days the Prussians showed respect for the laws of war, and confined themselves to requisitioning all they wanted in the way of provisions. The superior officers, who were lodged in M. Keller's house, admitted that they had no complaints to make, and said that those who talked of military abuses committed in other towns were not to be believed. According to them the German troops are not a horde of barbarians, but a formidable legion, highly disciplined and cultured.

"I had begun to believe it," said the Mayor, "and I was rejoicing over the relative calm of Lunéville, when on the 25th, on going into the street, I found myself in the presence of a group of soldiers who were firing into the windows of a house. An officer was in command. I approached him, and giving him my name, I told him that his chiefs, who were living in my house, had promised me that no violence should be offered. The officer replied that his men had been fired on from the windows of that house, adding: ( And not only here, but in other streets as well.' I then proposed that we should go round the town and find out if the inhabitants had really risen against the German troops. We had only gone a few yards when we came upon the corpse of a peaceable citizen whom I knew very well. 'This man,' said the officer, 'was killed by the bullets fired from this house.' We were close to the synagogue, and the house he pointed out was that of the Rabbi, a perfect saint, incapable of any angry impulse. 'Let us go in, if you like,' I proposed. 'It is not worth while,' he replied, 'for we have shot all the people who were living there.' I thought at once of the Rabbi's daughter, a charming young girl of fifteen, and I said to the officer: 'I suppose the fair-haired young lady who was with the master of the house is safe?' He replied with the utmost sang-froid: 'We shot her.' I cannot express to you what I felt at this moment. Those who could have killed this innocent child seemed to me capable of any crime. 'Poor city!' I murmured, 'thine executioners will not be turned back on the road they have taken!' The German laughed and ordered his soldiers to make me walk quickly. The flames began to crimson the sky in the distance. The cries and songs of the barbarians came to my ears. 'What is happening?' I asked. The officer laughed again. 'Take me to the Kommandatur where the General is expecting me,' I said at last in a voice full of anguish. When they heard me speak of their commander, those who were around me disappeared, leaving me alone, and I was able to get to the town-hall, which I found on fire. The terrified people came running to me to tell me of the atrocities that were being perpetrated. Over twenty civilians had been murdered. The Jewish synagogue had just been set on fire, and also the Worms factory."

Mme Keller interrupted her husband, saying: "And at the same moment the generals who were living here were talking to me with the utmost calm of German culture, and swearing that the Emperor desired to establish a permanent peace with France."

The Mayor smiled bitterly and continued: "At every street corner that night, some victim lay dead among the ruins of his home. The Germans did not wreak their vengeance on men alone. There were aged persons and children among the killed. In the house of our friends the Dujons I found three dead women and a wounded boy. 'They rushed in like wild beasts,' he told me, 'and attacked us before we had time to hide.' As a fact, it was useless to hide or fly. The soldiers searched attics and cellars, killing all they found, regardless of age or sex. The hapless Mme Kahn, an octogenarian invalid, was run through with a bayonet on her bed. I felt that I was going mad, and I only longed to die avenging my fellow-citizens. But what could I do? The horde, drunk with blood, filled the streets, singing. On my way to my Jiouse, where I intended to seek out a general and throw his infamy in his teeth, I was arrested by a patrol who took me to a café, where I found several other prominent citizens detained as hostages. 'We are going to shoot the lot of you,' cried an officer when he heard my name. From that day I was kept closely confined."

"And the generals?" asked some one. "Did they remain in this house?"

"Yes," replied Mme Keller, "here they stayed as quietly as if nothing had happened. When I expressed my anxiety at the absence of my husband, they told me he was at the Kom-mandatur, where he was quite comfortable.

“Let me go and see him there,” I implored them. 'Impossible, quite impossible,' they murmured.

“Weiss is taking charge of him.' And do you know who this Weiss was? A German tradesman who had had a shop at Lunéville; he disappeared on the eve of the war, and returned in an officer's uniform with the invading troops. As he knew the town very well, he pointed out the rich houses, and had the safes taken by soldiers to the railway station, whence they were sent off to Strasburg. We never knew the exact rank of the rascal, but it is quite certain that all the superior officers paid great deference to him and allowed him to do as he liked. I went to him to ask to see my husband, and he would not allow it. I cannot describe the misery I was in during those first days. Every minute I imagined the incendiaries had come to set fire to our house.

The Mayor stroked his wife's hand, murmuring:

"You must not excite yourself."

Then he offered us another glass of champagne, and glass in hand, and a smile on his lips, always quiet and affable, the Mayor of Lunéville took us to his study and made us read a yellow placard which was stuck on a mirror by four wafers.

"It is the notice the Germans published on September 3, to excuse their crimes and terrorize the population," he said.

It ran as follows:



On the 25th August, 1914, the inhabitants of Lunéville made an ambushed attack against German troops and trains. On the same day the inhabitants fired on certain quarters used by the Medical Staff, over which the Red Cross was flying. Moreover, the German wounded have been fired on, as well as the Military Hospital, which contained a German ambulance.

On account of these hostile acts, a fine of 650,000 francs is imposed upon the commune of Lunéville.

The Mayor is ordered to hand over this sum to the representative of the German military authorities, in gold, by 9 o'clock on the morning of the 6th September, 1914. No protests will be entertained and no delay will be allowed. If the commune does not punctually carry out the order to pay this sum of 650,000 francs, all movable property will be seized.

In case of non-payment, house-to-house searches will take place and the persons of all the inhabitants also will be searched. Every one will be shot who deliberately conceals money, or who endeavours to hide goods from seizure by the military authorities, or who attempts to leave the town.

The Mayor and the hostages taken by the military authorities will be held responsible for strict compliance with these orders.

The Mayor is ordered to notify these instructions to the Commune without delay.


"Amen!" cried M. Keller after emptying his glass oi champagne.

His wife, who is a native, not of Lorraine, but of the south, and who cannot smile with the irony of the northerners in serious circumstances, quivers with excitement as she tells us what the town endured and what she herself suffered during those tragic days.

"My husband was under arrest," she said, "and those people expected him to collect 650,000 francs in gold. I spoke to one of the generals about it, and do you know what terms I got? That, out of the total sum, 50,000 francs might be paid in silver! The wretches!"

"Be calm, be calm," murmured the Mayor, taking us back to the reception-room. Then he added with great philosophy: "The important thing was that they went off never to return, and this we owed to our troops. ... As to the damage they did, we will repair it."

One of the ladies dressed as a nurse, who had not said a word up to this point, now intervened: "There are some things that are irreparable," she said.

And then, controlling her emotion by a great effort, she told us in a very harmonious voice the horrible story of a friend of hers, one Mme W. This unhappy woman, who had ten soldiers billeted upon her, and did all she could for them, walked home one evening with a relative of hers who lived in a rather lonely quarter. On her return, when she was in the centre of the town, she saw with terror that a group of officers were firing at a poor unarmed man. Flames were lighting up the distant horizon. She ran to the entrance of her own street, and found it full of soldiers in great disorder who were firing into the windows. When they saw her, the Prussians thrust her back with the butt-ends of their bayonets. A lieutenant said to her: "Anyone who attempts to pass will be killed." But she had left her old invalid husband and her daughter in the house. Without thinking of the danger or paying any attention to threats, she managed to slip through the crowd, and arrived at her own door, where her martyrdom began. A sentry with fixed bayonet repeated the lieutenant's warning, adding that if she did not go away she would be shot there and then. "My daughter, my poor daughter," she cried. Then an officer, roaring with laughter, showed her that the whole street was on fire. There was a café close by, in which several officers were drinking. The woman approached them, and throwing herself on her knees implored them in God's name to help her to save her family.

One of them asked if her daughter were pretty. Another said: "She's already done for." The mother, not understanding, asked if she had been able to escape. "No," they replied; "no one can escape. They have been trying to kill our men, and they must all die. Your husband tried to come out and we shot him. Your daughter is in the flames." At this moment the owner of the café came up and said: "Yes, it is true. Mlle W. imprudently came to the window and screamed. Some soldiers went in and pushed her back into the middle of the house. She defended herself as well as she could." The officers began to laugh, and Mme W. fell down in a faint. During the night the poor woman found herself near the Château, not knowing how she had got there, and when she came to herself she could not see a soul in the streets. The town seemed to her like a smoking burial ground after the fire. She could not hear a sound, and in her stupefaction she hardly realized what had happened to her. Staggering like a drunken woman, she began to walk along the streets distractedly, not knowing whence she had come nor whither she was going. The wildest visions passed through her brain and she imagined that her daughter was beside her. Soon, when she arrived at the door of her house, she fell again, uttering a piercing cry. A patrol picked her up and took her to the hospital, where the Sisters of Mercy recognized her.

"She is still there," said the lady. "She has. not yet recovered her reason. From time to time she calls her husband and daughter, who are in Heaven; then she will remain for days without giving any sign of intelligence."

Mme Keller, carried away by her southern generosity, exclaimed:

"Oh! the wretches, the brutes!"

Again her husband soothed her. "Be calm, be calm."

When we left the Mayor's house to visit the ruins, these last words of his came back to me at every step like a ritornelle. All Lunéville, in fact, breathes calm. People pass quietly, as if the recent tragedy were a thing of ancient history. In shops where post- cards are sold, women offer views of half-burnt buildings without a trace of emotion. And when we asked the way to the synagogue, the sub-prefecture, the town-hall, or other points of our lugubrious pilgrimage, it was shown with the greatest impassibility, as if the itinerary were a normal and pacific one.

A deserted, melancholy air reigns in the town. M. Keller had been talking to us of the development of business, and gave us some hopeful information on the subject. The manufacture of motor-cars, of railway carriages, of china and chemical salts employs thousands of workmen. The trade is increasing to such an extent that there is a saying to the effect that "it goes 120 to the hour." The population becomes more numerous every day. But there are no signs of all this at present. Half asleep in its grey atmosphere, Lunéville seems only to exist in order to guard Duke Leopold's castle, whose noble arcades stand out at the end of a great courtyard, with a majesty that recalls Versailles.

"In summer," says our guide, "the park is full of lovers. Even from Nancy the gay world comes here for amusement."

The word "gay" in connexion with this grave sad, silent city offends me as an irony.


Pont-A-Mousson Under Bombardment

March 3, 1915

“We cannot go any farther. Listen."

A shell had burst about two hundred yards from us, and a cloud of smoke rose over the roofs beyond, shrouding the lofty towers of the principal church. The street in which we were was one of the most important in Pont-à-Mousson, a comparatively wide, modern street with small two-storeyed houses. It would have led us in five minutes to the Place Duroc, which is the centre of the town, and thence we should have had a good view of the old quarters, which the German guns were bombarding as furiously as if they had been fortresses. Right and left we saw only closed doors and windows. A single wine- shop a few yards off was still open, and the owner stood on the narrow pavement, watching the effects of the explosion from a distance.

In reply to our question as to why we might go no farther, our guide explained:

"These are my orders. I am forbidden to go into the central quarters which are under fire.

The staff had trouble enough over the Reims affair. Fancy what all the world would say if foreign journalists were killed in one of these expeditions!"

A very serious Englishman remarked with pride that we were war-correspondents.

"As far as I am concerned," answered our cicerone, "I see no harm in your going. But my orders."

The owner of the wine-shop approached obsequiously and pointed out the spot where the shell had just fallen.

"It's always about there. Place Saint-Antoine. Rue des Jardins. Place Duroc. They want to finish off the churches as they did at Reims."

It seems so. For six months the historic quarters of Pont-à-Mousson have been subjected to a storm of shell which day by day and hour by hour has battered their aged and inoffensive stones. Beautiful ancient façades, which the artists of the whole world came to admire, have already succumbed. The two local churches are gradually losing their delicate external sculptures, and presently they will be bare ruins blackened by flame.

And it is not only ancient landmarks that provoke the stupid rage of the enemy, but anything new and imposing, even if it is not beautiful. Like its great neighbour, Nancy, this place, some nine or ten kilometres from the frontier, has developed in a surprising manner during the last few years. From the street where we had halted we could see in the distance, on the banks of the Moselle, a number of factory chimneys. Their products are famous not only in France but throughout Europe. The wealth, activity, and enterprise of Pont-à-Mousson are proverbial in Eastern France.

"Another bomb!" cried the wine-seller, pointing out a flame which had just appeared on a height towards the north.

At that moment a formidable explosion shook the air and made the panes in the window on our right rattle.

"You will hear others," he added. Taking into consideration the industrial importance of Pont-à-Mousson, seeing its chimneys mutilated by shells, and hearing with what feverish activity the Lorrain capitalists multiplied their lofty furnaces, their foundries, their cardboard factories, their lacquer factories, their printing presses, which turned out popular prints by the million, one cannot but wonder whether the town had lost all recollection of bygone wars during its days of peace. From the neighbouring hills the towers of Metz, with Prussian soldiers on guard, were visible at all hours. Rich businessmen could get to the frontier in ten minutes in their motor-cars. And when the German forts were testing their new siege-guns, their menacing roar was heard more plainly on the Place Duroc than the thunder of the batteries of Toul. "The very day that war is declared," said the German officers to M. Ardouin-Dumazet, "our shells will wake up the Pont-à-Mousson dragoons in a very unpleasant manner." The dragoons laughed, as was only natural. "We will see which of the two will be wakened first!" they exclaimed, with the fine insouciance of warriors eager for the fray. But what seems strange is that the manufacturers should have been equally light-hearted. The working-class population of the place had been multiplied by five between 1870 and 1914. Iron masters came from comparatively long distances to establish works here. Coal smoke had gradually wrapped the landscape in a perpetual fertilizing cloud. White villas rose in flowery groups among the vineyards and hop-gardens, forming luxurious villages which seemed untouched by anxiety. And it cannot be said that these people were lulled to sleep by the pacifist illusions of Parisian politicians. No one in Lorraine believed in perpetual peace. Living at very close quarters with their enemies, they knew that the latter were strenuously preparing for a sudden attack. But like people who live on mountain slopes, they had acquired a methodical spirit of energy which made them disregard the avalanche always hanging over their heads. "We shall see what will happen," they murmured, when anyone pointed out the dangers that threatened their enterprises. They have been seeing now for the last six months.

"During the last days of July," said the wine-seller, "when the Paris papers were still trying to deceive themselves with illusory diplomatic negotiations, we knew quite well that war had been declared. Every morning when we got up, we asked ourselves if invasion would be an accomplished fact before night. On the 29th, before peace had been officially broken, German patrols crossed the frontier and killed a sentry named Pouget. Orders from Paris were very precise. No one was to stir a finger, negotiations were still going on. On the 30th, Lieutenant Honoré, of a Chasseur regiment, was shot down. Hereupon the garrison troops took the Prussians who had invaded us prisoners, in spite of orders.

“At last, on the 31st, we received the news of the general mobilization and we all rejoiced. It's not that we are so very enthusiastic for war, especially we who are in the first line. But things could not go on as they had been doing, and as we were attacked, we had at least to defend ourselves. When once war was declared, the famous patrols ceased to appear. The Boches, who were well informed of all that was happening, knew that our soldiers would not allow themselves to be killed like poor Pouget. For over a week there was complete silence on the frontier. At last, on August 11, the bombardment began."

The man pointed to the quarters which have suffered most.

"Now," he cried, smiling, "we are at the sixtieth day of the bombardment, and for the last three days they have seemed determined that we shall get no sleep. But we are accustomed to the noise now, and we know which are the dangerous quarters. Only spent shells get as far as this. It is in the centre of the town that the hail of these things is thickest."

As at Reims and Arras, indeed, the Germans have expended their utmost fury, God and the Catholics alone know why, against the large churches and religious establishments. Ever since August, the lofty towers of Saint-Laurent and Saint-Martin have served as targets to the enemy. One Sunday, at the hour of High Mass, when the nave of the principal parish church was full of women praying for their poor absent sons, the shells began to rain upon it. The splendid old stained glass was shivered into thousands of pieces, and the stone saints of the porch fell shattered. In the midst of the natural excitement caused by this incident, the priest went on so calmly with the service that no one moved. When the unhappy parishioners came out from mass, they hardly knew where they were; the venerable houses of the Saint-Laurent quarter, the old sixteenth- century houses which were the pride of the town, had been destroyed. On All Saints' Day the cemetery became the mark of the Kaiser's gunners. The poor, of course, went on that day to visit the graves of their dead, so it was arranged that they should have a concert of bombs for the occasion. From noon, shells began to tear up the graves, scatter the bones of the dead, and exhume the coffins. Many persons who had gone to spend an hour in the cemetery remained there for ever.

"Oh! the cowards!" cried our wine-seller, shaking his clenched fist at the centre of the town, where another shell had just exploded.

Then, controlling himself, and as if in reply to some unexpressed thought, he added:

"Yes, cowards! According to the papers, the Germans have been very brave in some places, but that can't be said of those here. You know we have been at war for six months, and they are still where they were the first day. And they used to say that Pont- à-Mousson would be just an easy walk for their troops. A fine walk they had when they wanted to establish themselves here! I remember that morning of September 5 when the bells, sounding the tocsin, announced the approach of the enemy. It was the moment when Paris seemed lost, when our troops were retiring in the valley of the Seine, and a catastrophe as great as that of 1870 seemed to threaten us. Do you see what the town is like now? It was just the same then; sad, of course, with fewer people than usual, and no shops or cafés open, but it could not be said that it was dead, still less that it was terror-stricken. Living close to the frontier accustoms one to danger, and constant intercourse with the Germans shows that there is nothing very terrible about them if you look them full in the face and talk to them in a loud voice. Accordingly, as soon as the German troops began to advance, our garrison decided to blow up the bridge. It was simply a device to gain time, for, with the troops at our disposal, it would have been impossible to hold back the immense columns that were attacking us. After six or seven hours of fighting, the devils were able to get in through the Saint-Martin quarter. They came on singing, holding each other by the hand in dense masses, while our men retired to concentrate outside by Sainte-Geneviève. In a minute they occupied the houses, installed themselves in the hotels, and emptied the cellars as if everything belonged to them.

“The officers knew the town very well, and presented themselves quite calmly in family circles, saying there was nothing to fear and that they would not commit any excesses. I have not read the report of the atrocities committed in Lorraine; but I don't think it mentions Pont-à-Mousson. Here, as a matter of fact, the soldiers paid for what they had, and did not ill-treat the people. It seems that the Governor of Metz had ordered them to respect the town, because the Emperor had already annexed it. If they had remained quiet, perhaps we should not have driven them out, as our batteries would not bombard us. But they took it into their heads to pursue the French troops, and on the 6th they marched out in very martial trim, singing lustily. I was at my door, and when they saw me they saluted me, and made signs to assure me that they would soon return and empty my bottles. And they did come back; indeed, when our troops routed them in the open, they came back running, without their helmets, many of them without their rifles, as white as a sheet. The battle had cost them 5000 dead and about 10,000 wounded.

“All night long the ambulance wagons were passing, and we heard the groans of the wounded. They did not stop for a moment in the town. They evacuated the centre in great disorder and went off to the outlying districts. What joy for us! It was our turn to drink and sing. I would not let anyone pay their reckoning that night. But on the 9th they came back to the Place Duroc with reinforcements and held a concert with their regimental bands. The worst of it was that they seemed less good-humoured than at first. My wine-shop was full of engineer-cyclists, carrying petrol bombs slung to their belts, ready to fire the town at the first alarm. As I speak German as well as they do, I questioned them, after giving them one or two glasses, and I found the general had given orders that they were not to leave the town as long as one German soldier capable of defending it remained alive. 'We are here for good, comrade,' they said, drinking off glassfuls of brandy. I gave them all they wanted in order to make them talk. One of them called me ' compatriot.' 'I am a Frenchman, I replied.' 'No,' he cried, 'German; you German, I German; all the French, Germans, all brothers. Only the English kaput; we must cut their heads off, because they forced this war upon us.' Presently they told me quite seriously that their commandant had just received a telegram from the Crown Prince in Paris, announcing that Poincaré had given up his sword and placed himself under the Emperor's orders to fight against England. 'Kaput, the English!' he cried, 'kaput, now we are all against them.'

“On the following day the outposts notified the advance of our troops from Jezainville, and the Germans, who had sworn not to retire, began to fly without thinking of defending themselves, without giving themselves time even to throw their incendiary bombs. All through the night of the loth, there was an uninterrupted, disorderly, frantic retreat. The horses trampled those who stayed behind; the superior officers shouted, but could not get anyone to listen; the soldiers were muttering. On the morning of the nth there was not a single Boche left in the town, and since then we have not seen them again."

The wine-seller seemed as proud of what he has been telling as if he himself had driven out the enemy. Suddenly, hearing another shell, his expression changed.

"Ah! the pigs," he cried.

His eyes searched in space for the spot from which the shells were coming. In the mist, the neighbouring hills looked like vague grey clouds floating in the distance.

"This is how they have been bombarding us," he concluded, "ever since they left. We live under a hail of fire that dies down for a few days only to begin again more furiously than ever. Nothing stops them. The white flag of the Red Cross Society? Bah! As soon as they see it, pom, we get a shell. There were hospitals in the schools and factories which were destroyed. The Place Duroc is full of holes. But it doesn't matter. They can't frighten us. Three months ago, when the bombardment blew up the hospitals, you should have seen Major S— walking about the streets, smoking a cigarette, joking with the children, and comforting the wounded. I can't understand why he wasn't killed a hundred times over. They are not so furious now. Listen."

Another shell had just burst, still in the vicinity of the churches, and a column of smoke rose into space, still about two hundred yards from the place where we were. The cannonade never changed in direction. The bombs fell methodically every ten minutes. A few persons passed, however, along the streets that ascend, and went towards the centre, as if nothing particular were happening. The street boys ran off to where there was something new to see, some house, yesterday intact and now destroyed, some fragment of shell, still hot, to pick up.

We alone stood motionless, unable to take a step in advance, unable to see the shattered windows of Saint-Laurent or Saint-Martin, unable to talk to those who live in perpetual danger. We could fancy that there was a smile of mournful irony on the lips of the three or four women who stood near us. Even the most prudent among us felt ashamed of fleeing thus from a peril that old men do not fear.

A few yards farther, to the Place Duroc, we murmured, would not be such a great matter.

But our guide shook his head with his usual inflexible air.

"Don't you think that I, too, should like to see the ruined houses !" he exclaimed at last, irritated by our persistence. "I am just as curious as anyone else, and my feet fairly tingle at being stuck here. But I have had my orders. Come, let us go, to avoid useless temptation."

Silent and melancholy we returned to our motor-cars, having seen nothing but a few almost deserted streets, and having heard nothing but the picturesque story told by our wine-seller; we had not even touched a single fragment of spent shell. The roar of the guns died away gradually as we approached Loisy, and at last we could distinguish nothing in the grey air, when we turned to bid farewell to the brave martyred city, but the two dark towers of the principal church, sending up to Heaven prayers that Heaven refuses to hear.

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