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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, February 03, 1916, LAST EDITION, Image 14

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1916-02-03/ed-1/seq-14/

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Out there in the war country, 1
strangers are rare. Very soon I dis
covered that everyone wanted to talk
to me. They were hungry for news
from the world outside of trenches,
the world they had not seen for over
a year. So, after they had politely
asked whether "Monsieur" would
mind talking a bit, there followed one
of the most interesting conversations
I have ever had. In two tours of Eu
rope, before and after the war,
amongst all nationalities, including
Germans slowly dying from French
bullets, I have never, except once, met
a person who did not love France.
And among these plain soldiers, that
night, was to be found the charm
that accounts for this.
In simple language, each unfolded
his views of the war. They were not
like the views of the non-fighters I
had met in Paris. The most rabid
haters and insane talkers were al
ways those that had found some ex
cuse to stay at home and sell sup
plies to the government
On each of these soldiers' minds,
chastened by suffering, was the im
press of France's thinkers. They all
wanted the war to stop; they all
wanted to get again onto the basis
of friendship with the world, in sharp
contrast to the vindictive spirit of the
war writers that claim to represent
French feeling. How I wished that
some American crowds I've seen
could be as broad and tolerant of an
"enemy" people as these fellows
were!
But France is the home of new,
daring thinking, especially of the
modern cry that the whole world
should contain but one people, with
out kings and without wars. That
was the starting point of the think
ing of each of those soldiers in that
cafe. As the evening wore on and
the talk became more intimate, the
heat from the red-hot stove and the
mild red wine seemed to get the bet
ter of the discretion of one of them.
"The International for me," he said.
And then he began to sing the
French workingman's song, "The In
ternational," the song they sing to .
proclaim fraternity between all na
tions, defiance of rulers, peace and
co-operation. It is the song the po
lice dread to hear in strikes, and it is
absolutely forbidden in time of war.
The other soldiers stirred uneasily.
One got up and came over to the
singer, saying, "It is not the time."
They got about him and persuaded
him to stop. But as I looked about
at the faces of those men I saw in
each that he, too, wanted to sing that
song.
I climbed absentmindedly onto a
train for Nancy, and settled into a
seat to dream about it. It was the
finest thing that I had seen, the most
hopeful sign that all civilization was
not destroyed in this war, that prog
ress was still possible. An officer
was eyeing me curiously. He was
very polite whenever I looked up
sharply, his eyes would politely shift
from my face. He gazed long and
intently at my suit case in the rack
above.
As the train pulled into Nancy, he
disappeared, and when I left the car
I was arrested as a German spy.
When they saw my papers and let me
go, I examined my suit case to dis
cover what had interested the officer.
It was a fragment of an old steam
ship sticker of long ago when I had
made a voyage on the "Kronprinz
Wiilielm," and barely visible was the
word "Nordeutscher."
o o
Deer Missis Cause of Harry fall
in' on his stummuck flat in the barn
he woant bee going too scuul tooda.
Lyke everthing hee is sik also soar
ankel. Harry wil studdy hisn lessons
to home also will appli linimint, also
bandage. Yrs. Mrs. P. . Note
received by a school teacher.
o o
Sir When Joe's mamma told him
not to be so boisterous the other day,
little sister Ethel piped up: "And I
shan't he so girlsterous any more,
ma." Peter B.

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