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Newspaper Page Text
(Copyright, 1913, by the Frederic A.
I am lying in bed, and counting a
hundred slowly. It must be close on
midnight now, and I am still unable
to get to sleep.
The room resounds to the noise of
snoring. -They are lying to the right
and to the left of me, and if I turn
over on my back, I am staring up at
the wooden planking of a bed. For
the cots extend all along the wall
from door to window, one above the
other, and in every cot a soldier is
Now and again one or other tosses
about, and rolls heavily over to the
Further away, near the window,
some one is mumbling in his sleep.
Suddenly he shouts out aloud: "And
that wasn't me. I ain't touched a bit
of the wire. D'you take me for a
It sounds exactly as if he were
wide-awake. I am on the point of
speaking to him. Then all is silence
again, and I lie listening intently for
what is going to happen next. But he
keeps quiet, and goes on dreaming.
He is still in the midst of his work
shop; yet tomorrow he is going to be
carted out to war.
And nothing but sleeping and snor
ing men all around me. -
Wonder if any one else in barracks
is lying wide-awake and staring into
My thoughts fit homeward. Won
der whether she slept well tonight?
Wonder if she has chanced to be
thinking of me? Wonder how the
little chap' is getting on? His teeth
were giving him trouble. It is
not good to marry so young; the un
married men who are called out now
are better off. Wonder whether the
war will last long? We have put by
a little nest-egg.
But' what's the good of that in
these times of famine prices? The
allowance for wife and children is so
small that it won't even cover rent.
Where's she to turn for money when
the postofflce savings book is finish
ed? She will have to go out sewing.
But what's to happen when hun
dreds of thousands of others have to
go out sewing, too? Well, then she
will have to start a little business,
open a green-grocer's shop. But
what's to happen when hundreds of
thousands of others have to start a
The State is taking charge of your
wives and children, that's what it said
in the regimental orders yesterday.
Well, there is no use in imagining
the very worst at the start. The war
may be over quickly. Perhaps it will
nef er get as far as big battles. Per
haps they will think better of it, and
give way yet
And then my mind feels at ease
aain. In spirit I see myself back
again at my office desk and writing
invoices. A glance at the clock
it's close on the hour only a few
more strokes of the pen. So let's
finish up quickly. Let's hang up our
office doat on the nail and slip into
another. And then get out into the
street, for Dora must be waiting sup
per. By this time we have already
reached the bridge by the Town Hall,
with the two big triple lamps.
Who is standing there by the railing
of the bridge, and gazing down into
the canal so motionlessly? It is a
woman. She must have run straight
out of the kitchen, for her apron
strings are hanging to the ground be
hind her anyhow. And all of a sud
den her red-striped skirt strikes me
as so familiar, and as I pass behind
her she turns round without a word,
and looks at me wild-eyed.
"Dora, is that you?"
Then she bows her face, streaming
with-teare.-and says dully to 'herself: