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AMONG THE SOLDIERS.
(Continued from page 9) celved from the various Synods up to and Including March 14th: Alabama $ 1,082 79 Arkansas 822 10 Florida 1,4 64 22 Georgia 1,319 50 Kentucky 613 12 Louisiana 3,720 66 Mississippi 745 64 Missouri 4,184 96 North Carolina 2,669 53 South Carolina 6,235 41 Oklahoma 114 50 Tennessee 2,320 76 Texas 1,648 41 Virginia 3,185 20 Maryland 336 60 West Virginia 828 77 New Mexico 5 00 Montana 1 00 Chicago 15 00 Boulder, Col 1 00 Lavras Mlnas, Brazil 20 00 Religious papers 164 60 Total $31,488 77 James I. Vance. BEHIND THE FRENCH LINE. By Professor Thomas W. Lingle, Ph. D. During the past year or two I have sought diligently In the American press for a picture of conditions on the western front behind the lines. I knew French provinces well, as they were before the war, and I longed for an article that would give me a clear idea of just what changes have been effected by hostilities in that section of France extending from the battle line, where everything has been ground to powder, back to the regions where at least the many peasant vil lages have suffered no material Injury from violence, and where the entire population still abides at home. But I have looked in vain. I am going to make bold to furnish at least a few traces of the picture, especially referring to our important third of the distance from Switzerland to the North Sea, for the benefit of my friends and other interested parties. The conditions behind the German line are necessarily different in some particulars, but the veil cannot be lifted for the benetfl of Americans until the end of the war, and then conditions will already have changed. I am located just in the rear of a very active section of the two hundred and fifty or more miles of trenches held by the French troops and ex tending from Switzerland to St. Quentln. In coming from Paris to this section I traveled through a large stretch of country that was overrun by the Boches (in France there are no Germans!) in September, 1914. My field of weekly operations for two months and more was a stretch of country that may roughly be described as 20x30 miles, with an area of about six hundred square miles, and in it I still circulate quite freely. In fact, thoroughly than I ever traveled any similar block ot country In North Carolina or anywhere else. I have gone on the trains, by lorry, automo bile, side-car, wagon and afoot. This region may be described in times of peace as beautiful rolling country of about the same elevation as Piedmont Carolina. There is a thin layer of moderately good soil, with strata of white limestone rock not far beneath. The fields reward the laborer's efforts with fair yields of small grain, truck and beets for sugar and for cattle. Fruit trees are quite numerous, and good stretches of beech and maple forests, with some oak, aspen and wild cherry, are found at frequent inter vals. Streams of clear water meander through broad meadows, and many a peaceful grazing scene Is witnessed on the hillsides and between neigh boring forests. Scores of peasant vil lages, with occasional towns of more pretensions, dot tho landscape, always with the church spire piercing the horizon as one approaches the village from afar. In tho early morning, at noon pad again at tho evening hour the ."'uurch bells peal out their tones acrjss hill and dale. Fine roads, generally bordered on either sido by poplars, sycamores or fruit trees, lead from village to vil lage. One has a very home-like feel ing in such a country, and comes to understand the oft-heard statement: "Tout le monde a deux patries, la sienne et la France" (every man has two countries, his own and France). But war has modified the scene, and the picture must be traced with other lines. In September, 1914, the French army retreated rapidly before tho armed hordes of Boches, until the lat ter held more than thirty thousand square miles of France, from Verdun almost to the English Channel, and far south of the river Marne ? an area as large as the State of South Caro lina. In this mad onrush there was relatively little destruction of prop erty by the Boches, though the French army In retiring obstructed the ad vance of the enemy by destroying bridges, railroads, etc., in the rear. It was not necessary for the Boches to destroy villages or buildings, ex cept in relatively few cases. But General JofTre Boon mustered a new army that was rapidly rolling up the western flank of tho invaders, while the French army corps about Verdun threatened to cut the Boches' line at that point, meanwhile FVench pressure on the center grew. This brought on one of the greatest battles of history, during which the French forcibly drove the Boches back north of the Aisne, expelling them from an area of twenty thousand square miles. Many villages changed hands three or four times in the struggle. The machine gun rattled its deadly mis sies across nearly every field. Artil lery and dynamite sealed the fate of many buildings in nearly every vil lage. All live stock that had been left in the land by the retreating French was now slaughtered or driven north by the Boches, as they retired, so that human beings were almost the only living things left in all the region, and not as many of them as there had been. Since that time the Boches have gradually been forced back, until they now hold only a little more than seven thousand square miles of French soil, leaving utter devastation wherever they retired during the past year. No further account of the area abandoned during 1917 is necessary, as tho world knows the facts only too well. Wherever a French soldier fell in pressing the Boches back from the Marne, there he was buried. Over a region of twenty thousand square miles one sees the grave of the French soldier in the field, on the hill-top, be neath the tree, beside the road, in the meadow, in the orchard and garden outside the village. These graves are frequently inclosed, always marked by a cross bearing a metal plate for tho name, which is generally missing, and also a circular tin plate six inches in diameter, the outer ring of which, one inch in width, being red, tho middle one white, and the inner circle blue. From it hang three metal ribbons, red on the right, then white and blue in order. Often the impres sive words are added: "Mort pour la France" (died for France), for probe the heart of a Frenchman and there J'ou will find France. In those days soldiers were not yet wearing name plates, but during the past three years the grave of practically every soldier who has fallen Is marked with his name and rank. Recently I was in a village churchyard. There I found the graves of many soldiers right against the church, the French and their ad versaries being burled alternately in groups. A head-mark cross stated: "Ici reposent 10 Braves Soldats Francais" (here rost ten brave sol diers of France). The next head mark reads: "Ici Sant 9 Albmands" (here are nine Germans). Thofee who fell within villages were usually given burial in the chu'rchyard. At times I roam over the hills around some village that witnessed bloody struggles in 1914, and across the fields, going from grave to grave, all the while marvelling at the pathos of it all! Here is a picture that I had never gotten before. Practically every village within a few miles of the battle line Is a mass of brick, stone and mud. Back a little further occasional shells from long range guns, or bombs from the air men, have about completed the de struction begun by the Boches' retreat in 1914. Some of the villages five miles to the rear of the line and pro tected by a hill have retained their form. But even these have suffered from powerful explosives dropped by hostile airmen on moonlight nights. One such bomb sometimes wrecks half a dozen buildings. The diligence of the airmen is increased by their knowledge that troops are usually billetted in the villages, resting there after their turn In the trenches or at the batteries. The consequence is that airmen diop their bombs on vil lages, as well as camps, quite generally as far back as forty miles from the line. A large town at that distance is an easy target and is liable to suf fer greatly. As one recedes from the region of the battle line, one finds that the con dition of the villages gradually im proves, until at last at a distance of forty miles, more or less, destruction has practically, ceased, except on the Marne. Near the front the civilian population has disappeared, seeking safety further back. Even at a dis tance of fifteen miles from the front I figure that not more than a fifth of the population remains, probably less. Only a few, and they of the poorer classes, are to be seen. Well-to-do people of all ages have fled for safety. The abandoned houses, barns, stables and sheds serve as billets for troops. Not enough people remain to gather the fruit. Consequently the soldier has the freedom of the orchard. I have made the acquaintance of many a poilu from the trenches and bat teries as we met in the autumn under a favorite pear or apple tree. The civilian population gave for the moat part, multitudes of troops bil leted everywhere, the best buildings in ruins, since 1914, or since the last noc turnal visit of a hostile airman, the streets a mass of mud. the normal deterioration of nearly four years in which no repairs have been made, the sky overcast or dripping most of the time for half the year, no light to be seen anywhere at night, multitudes of heavy lorries lumbering through the streets and along the road ? here is the picture. Still, in nearly every village a few shrewd women have re mained and opened up little grocery or supply shops, and from some con venient window opening toward the street do a more thriving business than ever in times of peace. On clear days, especially afternoons, aeroplanes are on the move every where. We love to see the friendly ones going to and fro, some of them oc casionally dropping low as if to bring a greeting to us more humble creatures here beneath. In some instances I have seen small dogs chase pasting aeroplanes, just as they love to chase automobiles at home. I have often wondered what they would do with one in case they should catch it! In the distance we suddenly see puffs of smoke indicating explosions far up in the heavens. Sometimes they are right overhead, and a nearby "seventy-five" or "hundred fifty flve" is pouring forth a volley. We look more closely and there is the hostile airman that the anti-craft guns are searching out. Occasionally the plane is brought down, though far more frequently it seeks safety in flight. Again an opposing airman in tervenes, and a thrilling chase and fight occurs far up in the elements, two or three miles perhaps, often with results disastrous to ono party or the other. Such movements on the part of airmen rivet the attention of both soldiers and civilians for many miles around, and often far to the rear of the line. Another feature of clear days is the observation balloons of each side a few miles behind the lines. They ex tend at intervals as far as the eye can reach. I have watched a friendly balloon as it was being shelled by the enemy, the shells screaming over my head, while a hostile airman directed the firing at the balloon, he in turn being the target of some accurate shooting on the part of French antt craft cannon. Naturally, trains run at night for the most part, and without headlights or any other kind of lights. They take their loads of supplies or of men as near the front as Is safe, and great motor lorries do the rest. Road build ing and repair to a distance of thirty miles back is no small part of war. Who does the road work? Not the capable French soldier. Labor is brought from the Orient, from Africa and the isles of the seas, all being incorporated in the French army. It must not be forgotten that France has a colonial empire In Africa alone that is far larger than the United States. Many men from the various regions, however, are regular soldiers. In ali the region referred to, far enough back for safety, one sees groups of German prisoners, most of whom are employed In lumber yards,, in the forests, in the fields and on the roads. On their backs they wear' two large letters in white, "P. Q.*? (Prisonnler de Querre). To me they do not seem very intelligent looking or very happy. But I suppose that is the case everywhel-e. I have every as surance that they are well fed and well housed, and arc beyond the range of fire. I knew that certain lands behind the lines were being cultivated by sol diers. I had judged from the fuss at home that the extent of this work de pended largely on local commanders. I find, however, that the national gov ernment has the work systematically / organized throughout the whole way zone. In a village near me is a "bu reau de Service Agricole," preside^/ over by a captain in the army andP* \ ) lieutenant, which has jurisdiction ovei.' a considerable district, including a(^ score or more villages and adjacent J' lands. These two men explained to me the organization of the work and showed me their various charts and maps indicating e\ery field sown to wheat in all their district, with area of each field. Many of these fields I knew well, and I bad talked with men running plows in them and applying fertilizer, taking a little turn myself at the plow occasionally, as a re minder of early days. Fields sown to winter wheat were all in red on the maps, and those destined for spring wheat (seed brought from Manitoba) were in yellow. To my inquiry about other crops, tb.o reply was given that