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Newspaper Page Text
depriving each other of the air to
breathe. That is a thing -which in
the end can only be settled by Force.
And if it has to be, better it should
be today than tomorrow."
We are mercenaries no longer
those hirelings formurder, who once
sold their blood for money down to
all and sundry. We are gladiators
no longer slaves who enact the
drama of dying as an exciting spec
tacle for the entertainment of the
rich, and for the lust of their eyes.
It is to our native land we took our
oath. And if it must be, we are re
solved to die as citizens, to die in the
full consciousness and full responsi
bility for our acts.
What will the next few days have
in store for us?
Not one of us has probably ever,
with his own eyes, seen a field of bat
tle. But we have heard about it from
others, and we have read in books of
other men what a battlefield looked
like in 1870-71, and, as though with
our own eyes, we have watched the
shells shattering human bodies. And
another thing we know is that forty
years ago in spite of s inferior guns
and rifles, over a hundred and twen
ty thousand dead stayed behind on
the field of honor. What percentage
of living will modern warfare claim?
Armies are being marshalled faster
than the world has ever seen. Ger
many alone can put six million sol
diers in the field; France as many.
Then the war of '70-71 was nothing
more than a long-drawn affair of out
posts! My brain reels when I -try to
visualize these masses starting to
march against one another; I seem to
choke for breath.
Then are we a breed of men other
than our fathers?
Is the reason because we only have
one life to lose? And do we cling so
passionately, to this life? Isn't our
native land worth more than this
scrap of life?
There probably won't be many
among us who believe in the Resur
rection, who believe that our man
gled bodies will rise again in new
splendor. Nor do we believe that our
Father in Heaven will have pleasure -in
our murderous doings, that in that
better world He will regard us other
thau as our brothers' murderers. But
we bend our heads before iron Neces
sity. The Fatherland has called us,
and we, as loyal sons, obey the com-
mand there is no evading, submis- tj
sively. From today onward we
belong to our native land, so the
Major shouted a minute ago as he
read out the articles of war.
And it's going to be the real thing
The Sergeant-Major has already
read the roll and checked it. We are
already told off in fours. Now, in a
long column, we are marching across
the barrack-yard, for this very .day
we are ordered to doff our civilian
dress and don our new kit This very
day we have got to become soldiers.
Things are moving apace with us
On the afternoon of the following
day the company is detailed for bar
rack drill. We are lying on our stom
achs in the barrack-yard and are be
ing drilled in taking aim and firing
I have just been sighting.
In front of me on the barrack wall
over there they have painted targets.
Ring targets, head targets, chest tar
gets. Three hundred yards. "Square
in the chest." That ought to count
as a bull's-eye.
Wonder how many clips of car
tridges ml going to get through?
Wonder if there will be a bull's
eye among them?
If every man of those millions they m
are putting into the field against the WJ
enemy -fees about a hundred car
tridges, and there is one bull's-eye
in every hundred that works out aV
that amounts to and I .
can't help smiling at this neat sum in
arithmetic then the answer is
no one at all. That is a merry sum.
The fifth cartridge tumbles out,