from the book 'The Scene of the War'
'an Anniversary of the Marne'
by V.C. Scott O'Connor, 1917

Visiting Fields of Battles Past

French dignitaries visit the battlefield of the Marne



In the complex and intricate history of this war, with all its modern embellishments, there is nothing more striking than the way in which, as of olden days, the movements of men have been dictated by the framework of the Earth. It is, I suppose, the last occasion on which this will be so. The Zeppelin and the Aeroplane definitely mark the opening of a new era, and the wars of the twenty-first century will be fought in the uncharted world of the sky.

When our little army fell back before the Vandal hordes at Mons, it found no rest till it had been enabled to place between itself and the headlong rush of the enemy "a line of natural defence," and the history of those mighty days, till the deadlock of the trenches supervened, is the geography of France: of the Oise, the Aisne, the Ourcq, and the Marne; of that Isle of France which is the cradle of the race.

If you look at the map you will see how these rivers bear down upon Paris, the goal of the German armies. The Oise is joined at Compiegne by the Aisne, and at Senlis the great highways from Soissons and Compiegne converge. That is why Senlis, the chosen of kings, has borne the brunt of every invasion directed against Paris from the north; and its fate upon each occasion has been the index of the fate of Paris. In 1870 it was held by the Prussians for thirteen months, and Paris was taken. In 1914 it was held by them for eight days, and Paris escaped.

But the escape was a reprieve that reached her only in the moment of execution. The Prussian infantry entered the beautiful woods of Chantilly, and the Uhlans, their mouths watering with desire, looked upon the city lying at their feet.

It is said that the plan of invasion included a threat to destroy her as the means to an immediate and disastrous peace. It was the fate of Senlis to illustrate to the French people the punishment that awaited their further resistance.

One cannot read the poignant story, as it is told by eyewitnesses to the German occupation, without feeling sure that behind the specious excuses, the cynical regrets, there lay a consistent and determined plan to destroy this little town of the Valois kings.

"The General has decided to make of your city a second Louvain. Not one stone of it shall rest upon another," was the statement made by an officer of his staff. And a second Louvain it would have been had time permitted. As it was, Senlis bears upon her to this day The Mark of the Beast.

Here in a few words is the story of the German occupation.

"On the 30th of August the sound of approaching guns was first heard in Senlis. The British aeroplanes flew over the town; a part of the British staff retreating from Compiegne entered its limits.

Within a few hours they had gone, and Senlis knew that she must face the invader alone. All her citizens who could go had left by train and automobile, with such of their possessions as they could carry into safety. But many remained; and at their head the Mayor, who, with the fidelity of the French official, stayed at his post, as his father had done before him in 1870.

It was the fate of this good and devoted man to die for his native town. The story falls like an old Greek tragedy into the compass of a single day. Early on the 2nd of September the Germans, forcing their way through the forest of Hallate, advanced on Senlis.

The French infantry and guns resisted, and some fighting took place which lasted a couple of hours. The enemy's shells fell within the upper portion of the town, damaging the cathedral and all but destroying its spire. The French then withdrew, the guns ceased firing, and the invader marched into the town.

Upon the steps of the Mairie there stood the Mayor, respectful, devoted, the representative of his people. He was asked if there were any troops still in Senlis. He replied, so far as he knew, that there were none; and assured the General, in reply to the rude and violent questioning to which he was subjected, of the pacific character of the inhabitants. There is no question that he spoke the truth. He had been continuously at his desk since the guns had ceased firing, and could indeed know no more than the General himself. He was ordered to prepare a dinner for thirty at the Grand Cerf, and to go at once with the General to the hotel. This was at a quarter-past three. At half-past three the Germans, advancing in the direction of Paris, were met at the end of the long High Street by a fire from the rearguard of the French, who were concealed in the woods and buildings on the outskirts of the lower town. According to the German account, which is discredited by the French, an officer was shot in the Rue de la Re"publique before the combat began.

The Germans were furious at this unexpected resistance. An exhibition of "Frightfulness" was at once resolved upon, if indeed it had not already been arranged. Over a hundred houses in the lower town were fired, and the townspeople, who were evidently as much surprised by the reopening of the battle as were the invaders, were seized promiscuously as they were found in the streets, and made to march in front of the advancing troops. Amongst them was a woman with her little granddaughter, who was wounded.

It takes a brute to fight behind the cover of a child.

The Mayor and six unfortunate workmen, who were found in the streets, were seized and carried off with other hostages to a field near the Chateau of Chamant. During the journey the Mayor was treated with brutal indignity. His gloves were pulled away from him and flung in his face; he was hit over the head with his own cane. At eleven o'clock, after the General and his staff had dined at the Chateau and done themselves well on its resources, an officer came up to the Mayor.

"Are you," he said, "the Mayor of Senlis?"

"I am," said Monsieur Odent.

"Monsieur le Maire, you have fired upon, and caused others to fire upon our troops. The penalty is death."

"I have done neither the one nor the other," replied he.

But he spoke to no purpose: for his death had already been resolved upon.


Two years have passed since then, but Senlis still bears upon her the scars of those eight days; and even when they are healed, the memory of the Hun will survive in the records of the old town, and in the hearts of its people. It is not possible to forget such things.

We entered Senlis on a soft autumn day from Chantilly, at the very point where the last fight took place in the lower town on the road to Paris. There is an old hospital there, which is half an almshouse-a legacy from other days. We could see upon its walls the marks of the mitrailleuses, a hole made by a shell, and the spatter of the rifle fire. Within it there were long rows of beds, on which wounded men were lying, and the Matron told us of the fight that centred here on that September evening. When the first shots were fired, she said, an old pensioner, stricken by curiosity, went out to the little door that opened on the street. He was deliberately shot as he stood there by a German soldier. Inside the hospital we were shown the ward in which the German wounded were cared for by these devoted Frenchwomen.

As we looked up the street, it was clear that it had been systematically fired. The men had entered the town equipped with the instruments of destruction: with tubes containing inflammable spirits, sponges soaked in petrol, and fire-grenades. In addition to using these, they fired at the houses through the windows. In one house that failed to catch fire we could see the glass of the windows in the upper stories shattered by bullets. Many old houses, some that were relics of the fifteenth century, were destroyed in this way. Five hundred in all were said to have perished. The inhabitants were forced to come out into the open street, into the midst of the hail of bullets, while the combat was still in progress. They were forbidden to take any steps to extinguish the fires or to check them from spreading.

It was strange, in the midst of the general ruin, to see many houses still standing appar- ently untouched. One was taken and another left. Many that were not burned were sacked.

"Everything," says a citizen, who entered the house of his friends in their absence, "was methodically overhauled - even to a locket which contained the photograph and a lock of hair of a dead child. It was forced open to gratify a moment's curiosity. Boxes and cupboards were emptied, drawers were forced open, the silver was stolen. In the children's music-room their instruments lay broken and in a heap, after having been used. The Hun likes music. He had danced and sung in the midst of his thieving and of the destruction of this house and its little domestic joys, and as a final legacy he had left behind him in the drawing-room the impious inscription: 'With God, for Emperor and Fatherland.'"

The Cathedral, of which not only Senlis but the whole of France is justly proud, upon which the piety of so many kings was lavished, narrowly escaped destruction. This beautiful old church, of the days of Philip Augustus and of Francis the First, the shrine of centuries, was made the target of the Hun's artillery, fifty shells falling within its precincts and all but unseating its exquisite spire.

He would have burnt it too. Almost the first thing he did on entering the town was to force his way into it, on the pretext that it had been used for military purposes.

"I was in my house near the Cathedral," says the Curé, "when I heard a loud hammering on one of the doors of the Sanctuary. The Germans had seized a gargoyle that had fallen under their fire, and were using it as a ram to force their way in. I went out to them at once, and, perceiving that they wished to go up into the belfry, made a sign that the door was on the other side. The party consisted of six, of whom one was an officer. They covered me with their revolvers, and, the moment the sounds of firing broke out in the lower town, one of them seized me brutally by the shoulder and told me I was his prisoner. I explained to them that I was very willing to open the door, but that I must go into the Vicarage for the key. Two of them escorted me on this errand. On my return with the key I preceded them up the ladder. They followed close upon me, revolvers in hand, insisting that they had been fired on from the tower. This was not only untrue, it was impossible. I alone had been up in the belfry, from which I had observed the earlier phases of the battle, and the key had remained throughout in my possession. When they were able to satisfy themselves that there was not the slightest trace of its having been put to any military use, and that no one was concealed there, they came down again, and the officer saluting me said I was at liberty to return to my quarters. But I was not there very long before I was ordered to appear at the Grand Cerf as a hostage.

"A Colonel whom I met there said: 'The wisest thing you can do, M. le Curé, is to stay where you are, and not to leave these premises. Within an hour your town will be burnt.'

"'Burnt? Great God, Colonel, is it possible? And why?'

" 'Because your people have fired at our troops from the tower of the Cathedral.' "

The Curé, moved by emotion, convinced the Colonel that there was absolutely no truth in this assertion.

" 'If that be so,' he replied, 'you have rendered an inestimable service to your town. War has cruel necessities; we do not wish to act with severity. The General has resolved to make another Louvain of Senlis, but I will tell him what you have said, and I shall hope to lighten the rigour of his decision.'"

We know with what result.

The Cathedral was spared for the moment, but who can doubt that it would have shared the fate of Eheims, had the tide of battle not swept von Kluck and his guns out of reach of Senlis?

Happily it stands untouched, though wounded, in the fulness of its perfection; a beautiful vision as it soars above this town in which Henri Quatre first saw the light; slender and carven, framed in the gold and brown of its chestnut trees, whose foliage lies at this season of the year, like a carpet on the cobbled close, softening the footfalls of those who pass; a haunt of ancient peace, enriched with memories of the past.

At Chamant, amidst hedges and avenues, and a rural charm that any one who loves an English countryside can imagine for himself, there spreads the field, by a little wood, in which the Mayor and six of his brethren gave up their lives for Senlis. The shallow grave in which he lay, with his feet protruding above the soil-such was their derision of this faithful servant-lies empty now in the turnip-field, his body having been carried into the town; but a marble cross marks the scene of the tragedy.

A little way off the spire of the Cathedral rises high above the trees. It must have been the last thing upon which his eyes rested as the flames of his native town rose up about it into the starry night.

"They brought him here," said my companion, "because it was the nearest convenient spot for a murder."

Of the six others who died with him, one was a lad of seventeen, another an old man nearly seventy years of age: taken haphazard from the streets.

The rest of the hostages lay out in the field all night, in imminent terror of death. The Hun is an expert in mental as well as physical agony.


on the Marne battlefield - graves of French muslim soldiers


The Battlefield of the Ourcq

The Battle of the Ourcq was one of the most impressive and vital of that series of engagements from Paris to Verdun, which in their entity are known as the Battle of the Marne. It was an attack in flank on the German Army so dramatic in its character that it has deeply impressed the imaginations of men. How von Kluck swerved from Paris at the last hour, how Gallieni rushed his garrison up to the Ourcq in 1100 taxi-cabs, and how Maunoury drove the Huns across the river into the arms of the advancing British, - these are become a legend, and savour of the romance of war.

There is no battlefield of these two years that is more legible in its compact and impressive details.

I turned aside from Senlis with the express purpose of following as closely as might be the line of the German swerve, and the principal incidents of those five fierce days from the 5th to the 10th of September 1914, when the fortunes of France were on the turn.

The Forest of d'Ermenonville lay upon our right, dark and sombre upon the horizon. The road to Nanteuil le Hardouin stretched before us through the open fields, a highway of war. We could see that an army moving across the undulating plain from the Oise to the Ourcq must take this way. It was a soft autumn evening with grey clouds in the sky, and a deep silence lay upon this corner of France. We met no travellers on the road. Yet the place was peopled with memories, and with the mind's eye one saw upon the road the grey legions of the invader as he moved upon his way. From Nanteuil we continued on to Betz, which is some seven miles from the Ourcq, and thence we turned at a right angle, moving parallel with the river towards Meaux. Here as nearly as possible was the axis of the battle, though it passed through many phases of attack, retreat, and counter- attack during its momentous progress. The turning took us, I remember, into a golden lane that might have been the approach to the Castle of the Sleeping Beauty, it was so still and perfect in its repose. The trees seemed to be holding their breath and the world under a spell.

Thus we came to the neighbourhood of Villers St Genest and the monument that has been raised here to the dead of France. It stood by the wayside, on the rise of the superb plateau which was the field of Victory, and the graves of the brave filled the landscape, under the lifting edges of the clouds. There were not one or two but thousands; and the black crosses were like an army in mourning amidst the gilded splendours of the sky. Wherever the battle had gone, there lay the French dead: solitary in the tilled fields, in serried ranks and masses where the fight had been hottest.

This monument is one of the first of those tributes that France will raise in stone and marble, in poetry and song, in the imperishable records of her people, to those who died for her in the Great War. No doubt it is well from his own devilish point of view for the Hun to carry War with its cruelties into the fields and homesteads of other lands, but there is at the least some compensation for the Frenchman in this, that when he is dead he sleeps at last in his own soil and in the care of his own people. And France is caring for her graves: wherever a man lies dead there rises a cross, and the little Tricolour flutters beside it. The plough turns aside when it reaches a grave; and the old peasant woman with her hoe amidst the turnip-fields makes the sign of the Cross upon her breast when she pauses here, relentless in her toil.

There was hard fighting here as late as the 9th of September 1914, when the Battle of the Marne was almost won. The German rearguard attacked at Antilly and Betz to cover the general retreat, and an unlooked-for brigade suddenly came down from the north along the Nanteuil road, compelling the French to beat a retreat. But the orders of General Joffre were imperative. The enemy was being driven back all along the line of the Marne, and it was essential to press him to the utmost upon his flank. A supreme effort was necessary, and weary and worn though the French were by the continuous fighting of four days, they fell upon the enemy and forced him to give way. It was upon this luminous Plateau, where the graves lie so thick, that they fought.

Near Villers St Genest the road runs through a little wood, and here again it was evident from the scattered graves, the barbed wire, and the broken walls of the chateaux by the roadside, that there had been close and bitter fighting We turned aside through Acy-en-Multien, one of the pivots of the battle, to visit Rosoy, a little village in the valley of the Gergogne, where it runs down to meet the Ourcq. It lies here in a sheltered hollow, concealed from the eye and apt for a hospital base, for which purpose it was used by the enemy. Eight hundred of his wounded were left here as he fled across the Ourcq.

"How many of the Germans were here?" we asked the women of the village-the men, as all over France, being gone to war.

"How many?" they replied; "a hundred thousand. Ah! ces Messieurs; they committed every villainy, except murder. It was always,'Madame! Madame!' and a revolver at your head; and bring out your eggs and fowls.' Ces cochons. The shells went flying over our heads to Vincy, the aeroplanes passed up and down- oh! we remember those days. And then they went off ma hurry, leaving their wounded to be looked after by our people. 'Madame! Madame!' and always the revolver; but we hid our eggs; ha! the Boche did not get those."

She was a splendid old woman this, with the face of a Roman, who spoke for the party, with an indignation that was superb in its expression. Beside us rose the grey old church of the village, with its crown of fleur-de-lis over the portal; beside it a farmyard in whose inner courts we saw more duck and geese and fowls than I have ever seen together in one habitation-the hidden eggs had evidently made good-and in the small Place under the walls of the church there stood a group of the village boys, with bright smiling faces, the hope of France. Sixty, seventy, eighty years hence, they will tell their grandchildren of how the Hun came to Rosoy and stole the poultry and ran off leaving his wounded, and of the War as they saw it during those eventful days, through the eyes of children.

From Rosoy we went to Vincy and Etrepilly, whose houses were in ruins, and thence a little to the west, to the farmhouse of Champ Fleury, in a commanding position on a hill, which was the headquarters of von Kluck. There is a wonderful view from there of the hill of Monthyon, upon which when the fortunes of the battle hung for a time in the balance, Maunoury was preparing to fall back; and, indeed, of the whole field of action. If you look at the map you will see that it is almost at the centre of the quadrilateral that runs north and south from Betz to Meaux, and east and west from Nanteuil and Dammartin to the Ourcq.

This is one of those commanding places fated to play a part in war. In 1870, when the Prussians came through to Paris, it was also the headquarters of a General, with whom the present owner's father became acquainted through many months of an enforced association.

All about it the barbed wire still rusts in the air, the deep-dug trenches still remain unfilled; but the lower rooms have been made inhabitable. Here in the solemn gloom, with scarcely a light or a fire in the house, two old ladies sit in silence, one on each side of the empty hearth. They have come back to the old home-battered as it is,- the only home they know. We are taken into the billiard-room upstairs. Its walls have been blown in by shells, the table is a wreck. "When we came back," says the owner, "it was full of our dead. The walls and the floors were stained with blood. There had been fierce bayonet fighting inside our house. Outside, the Germans had made a great pile and burnt their wounded alive. How do I know? Because some of them still moved when I came back.

"They left in a hurry, and the grass in the inner court was strewn with the fragments of a dinner that was uneaten-fowls and bread and bottles of wine. Here is an inscription they left behind on my table: 'Why did you not stay to welcome us, dear sir? We could have enjoyed a pleasant game of billiards together. Excuse the damage we have done to your house. But war is war.'" The cynical insolence of these people is beyond expression.

We took the road once more, following the quiet roads,-the searchlight, flinging its arc before us along the avenues, lighting the fluttering pennants over the numberless graves of the dead.

"The Sixth Army," said General Maunoury in the famous proclamation issued to the troops under his command on the 10th of September 1914, "has sustained during five entire days, without respite or rest, the burden of battle against an enemy strong in his numbers and exalted with the sense of victories. The fight has been a hard one: our losses from the enemy's fire, our exhaustion from want of sleep and often from the want of food, have surpassed all that the imagination could have conceived. You have borne with these, with a valour, a firmness, and a tenacity that words cannot express. Comrades! your General-in-Chief asked of you in the name of your country to do more than your duty. You have responded to his call. You have achieved the impossible, and victory has crowned your standards."

Upon this old battlefield, crowded with the memories of those days, these words ring true.


The Marne

Eight o'clock of an October morning, Paris lies behind us, and the long pavé runs on before us through avenues of golden poplars on its way to Meaux. Here in this old town, with its ancient houses standing in the midst of the waters of the river, its market-place busy once more with the life of its people, we touch the limits of the German flood, and the pivot of the great Battle of the Marne.

I was at the other end of the world in those days when the news first came through that the long and bitter retreat from Mons had at last been stayed, that the tide of battle was turning, and the invader being driven back upon his tracks. The memory of those days is inscribed in indelible letters upon the tablets of one's mind. ... If the marching soldier bore the brunt of them in his person, the mental anguish was not less ours.

For we were afar off: we understood-oh! we understood very well-but we could not help.

And to-day I am to look upon the very scene of those events.

I have with me a little narrative paper written by the Curé of Germigny l'Eveque, a village in this diocese, describing his own impressions of that fateful time. He will allow me to borrow from him the mirror in which he reflects the passing of the British army.

"It was on the night of Wednesday, the 2nd of September," says he, "that the British army in full retreat passed through our city of Meaux. Never shall I forget that interminable and melancholy procession. A doleful silence brooded over the city, broken only by the measured tread of the soldiers. On the morning of Thursday, the 3rd of September, the air resounded to the noise of formidable explosions. The bridges and boats were being blown up. A man came running up, his voice choked with emotion: 'Monsieur le Maire,' he said,'the English say that they must blow up the Market Bridge.'

"M. Lugol rushed off at once to the Bridge, and found there General Haig, who had passed the night with his Staff at the house of M. de la Villeboisnet. He begged of him not to destroy the Market Bridge, but rather that of Cornillon, as in 1814- and in 1870. He pointed out the danger to the Mills, which are the beauty and the wealth of Meaux, and the hardship to the people of cutting the city in two. But the General, after consulting his map and his Engineer officers, replied that it was impossible, and that the Bridge would be blown up immediately the last of his soldiers had passed across it.

"All the roads leading to it were now barred by the English; and when I arrived at the Rue du Grand Cerf, a group of working men in their shirt - sleeves clustered about me and began to talk. M. Gustave Huin, a bank clerk, alone wore a coat.

"An English officer looking at them said,' Only the poor have remained.'

"'We are,' he continued,'great marchers/trained to physical pursuits; but the Germans march even faster than we do. For the last five days they have pressed us relentlessly, without a pause even for sleep. They have covered as many as sixty kilometres a day. It is a desperate struggle of endurance, of marching power, in which we are involved.'

"But in the end," adds the good Curé, "it was the English, you see, who prevailed. The Germans were unable either to destroy or to disorganise them; and when the Allies, on the 5th of September, with a marvellous recovery, regained the offensive on the Marne, the English were ready, and they played in the great battle a most brilliant part."

On the 7th of September Meaux was in the midst of the battle. The British guns pursued the enemy, his retreating artillery flung their shells into the town; but by six o'clock in the evening of that day Meaux was freed from the horrors of War.

As we follow the line of the river and its tributary the Petit Morin, it is sacred ground upon which we tread; for many a British soldier lies dead here in the fields, far from his native land, his home and kindred. At Montmirail we stand for a moment under the grey column with its eagle, which the people of France have erected here in memory of the battles of Napoleon a hundred years ago. Along this road the German right wing, under von Kluck, marched in those urgent days which preceded the Battle of the Marne; and as their columns swung past they looked upon this memorial to a great soldier, and left it untouched. In the little inn of the town, as the people who keep it will tell you, von Kluck sat at lunch on the 4th of September, and upon the countryside the blood of the contending armies was poured out in these desperate hours when the world's history was on the turn.

Suzanne upon our right was not occupied by the invaders; but it was here that the divi- sions of General Foch attacked the Prussian Guards and slew them amidst the Marches of St Gond. Thousands of them lie there to this day. The Chateau of Mondément, which lifts its proud front high above these level spaces, was in the very centre of the storm. After a tremendous bombardment which lasted two days and two nights, it was carried by the enemy, but retaken by the French after three furious assaults. For some anxious hours the great Battle of the Marne, working though it was with a superb symmetry of design, hung at this point in the balance; but Foch is a man made for Victory. At the most critical moment he transferred the whole of his 42nd Division from his left to his right wing, and fell upon the German flank which had driven a wedge into his line as far southwards as Fère Champenoise. Mondément was finally taken, and the armies of von Buelow and von Hausen were driven for ever across the Marne.

Behind these great events, whose memory is still so recent, there broods upon these fields, in such names as Montmirail, Vauchamp, Champaubert, the mighty genius of Napoleon. How often have we said in the course of this war: "If Napoleon had been alive!"

We put the map of France on the grass by the wayside, and in the soft autumnal haze, where the barbed wire still rusts in the fields, and the trenches of those days are still visible, try to reconstruct the scene. But it is already two years since the great battle was fought; its scars are hidden in the beauties of the landscape, the people are moving along the roads as of old, and it is hard to believe that the world was in conflict here. The beneficent hand of Nature is wiping away the tears. But we who are of this generation can never forget those urgent hours when the French, and the English under Sir John French, turned in their stride and flung the Boche from them; when Joffre, carrying the fate of Europe on his back, issued his famous order to his people to advance or to die where they stood; when Paris, upon the edge of woe, sighed her relief.

Leaving the wide highway to pursue its unbending course to Chalons on the Marne, we turn towards Rheims, and stay for a moment at the Chateau of Montmort. This superb old place, haughty with its lions at the gate, its moat and ancient keep, its winding stairway within the Castle, so made that a man can ride up to the very Hall, was the headquarters of the German Commander, and his name is still written over the door of the apartment reserved for his use:


"He occupied my little daughter-in-law's room," says Madame, "and, as you see, it is a beautiful chamber; but she will not sleep in it again. Never!

"Yes, that door was broken open by our uninvited guests; we shall leave it as it is. It was where we kept our silver, and I need not add that they stole it, and carried it all away with them.

"No, they did not do what you would call any wilful damage. Our furniture, as you see, our pictures and carpets, were left intact. Their attention was confined to such little things of value as could be easily carried away - our miniatures, for instance;" and with this she opened the door of a little boudoir, in which, in a glass cabinet, the miniatures lay with bits of china and other bibelots of the kind you will find in old houses, endeared to their owners by family memories and ties of sentiment.

The door of the cabinet is still locked, as it was when the Hun entered, but the glass in front of the shelf upon which the miniatures lay lies shivered into a hundred bits, as by the blow of a sword. Through the gaping hole his thieving hand removed the objects of his desire.

The lower shelves with their china remain untouched. Upon the white door of the room there is written in pencil the designation of the person to whom this room was assigned.

It is a damning piece of evidence, which it is open to His Excellency to rebut; and meanwhile we shall take leave to call it a calculated and brutal theft.

"No," says Madame, as she speaks of these things with a quiet and gentle restraint that is in singular contrast with the evidence, "unfortunately I was not here when they came. I had hurried off to Albert to bring my grandchildren into safety at Paris. We had not expected them so soon. But had I known, I should have met them here upon my doorstep, as my father did in 1870.

"You see," she adds, with a smile that is half-proud, half-wistful, "we are accustomed to such incidents; our home stands upon a highway of invasion."

We pass out of the Chateau into its beautiful grounds, in which von Buelow, with the swank of the German Commander, placed his escort of guns, and from the altitude of its inner courts looked down upon the great avenues that reach away from it, east and west, and south and north, like envoys to the four corners of France.

It is a place stamped with dignity, old with memories, bathed at this season in the gold of autumn, steeped in refinement and peace.

Von Buelow, von Kluck, von Hun, what have they in common with places such as this?


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