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Newspaper Page Text
"THE HUMAN SLAUGHTER HOUSE"
BY WILHELM LAMSZUS
Copyright, 1913, by the Frederick A.
. CHAPTER IV.
We have turned off the main road,
and have to march over a field of
stubble. A battle was fought here
yesterday, for the field is sown with
dead bodies. They have picked up
the wounded. But as yet they have
had no time to bury those who died
where they fell.
The first dead man we saw struck
us dumb. At first we hardly realized
what it meant this lifeless new uni
form spread out there from the way
he was lying you could hardly believe
he was really dead. It gave you a
prickly feeling on the tongue. It
seemed is if you were on maneuvers,
and the fellow lying there in a ditch
had got a touch of the sun. A rough
soldierly jest, a cheery shout was all
that was wanted to raise him to his
"Hullo, you! Got a head? Keep
a stiff neck."
But the words froze in our throat,
for an icy breath was wafted to us
from the dead man, and a chill hand
clutched at our terror-stricken
So that was death! We knew all
about it now. That is what it looks
like, and we turned our heads back
But then there came more and
more of them.
And by this time we have become
accustomed to them.
Strange! I gave at these silent
faces that seem to laugh at us, at
these wounds that seem to mouth at
us fantastically, as if they had noth
ing to do with me. It strikes all. as
so remote, so indifferent. As if all
' these dead bodies were lying in glass,
as if I were in an anatomical museum,
and were staring with dispassion
ately curious eyes at some scientific
Sometimes no -wounds at all are
visible. The bullets have passed
through the uniforms somewhere,
and have gone clean through the
softer parts of the bodies.
They have grown rigid in death in
grotesque postures as if Death had
been trying tp pose figures here.
There are certain schemes of
Death that are always recurring.
Hands outstretched fingers claw
ing the grass fallen forward on to
the face that fellow over there lying
on his back is holding his hand press
ed tight against his abdomen, as if he
were trying to staunch the wound.
In the country I was once watch
ing them killing sheep. There a
beast lay, and was waiting for the
butcher, and as the short knife cut
through his windpipe and jugular
vein, and the blood leaped hot from
its neck, I could see nothing but the
big eye, how it enlarged in its head
to a fearsome stare, until at last it
turned to a dull glass.
r All the bodies lying about here, as
if bleating up to heaven, have got
these glazed eyes, they are lying as if
they were outstretched in the abat
toir. Well, to be hit and to fall down
dead, there's nothing to make a fuss
about that! But to be shot through
the chest, to be shot through the bel
ly, to burn for hours in the fever of
your wounds, to cool your mangled
body in the wet grass, and to stare up
into the pitiless blue heavens because
your accursed eyes go on refusing to
glaze over yet
I turn away from them. I force
myself to look past these mocking,
grotesque poses plastiques of Death.
And I am already spirited far away,
and am sitting in my little study at
home. My coffee cup is standing
snugly in my hand. My book-case
is beaming down on me. My well
loved books invite me, and in front
of me my book of books, "Faust," lies
open. And so I read, and feel the
1 wonderful relaxation that comes