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Antwerp to Gallipoli A Year of the War on Many Fronts—and Behind Them   By: (1876-1935)

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A Year of the War on Many Fronts and Behind Them

by Arthur Ruhl

with Illustrations from Photographs



I. "The Germans Are Coming!" II. Paris at Bay III. After the Marne IV. The Fall of Antwerp I V. Paris Again and Bordeaux: Journal of a Flight from a London Fog VI. "The Great Days" VII. Two German Prison Camps VIII. In the German Trenches at La Bassée IX. The Road to Constantinople: Rumania and Bulgaria X. The Adventure of the Fifty Hostages XI. With the Turks at the Dardanelles XII. Soghan Dere and the Flier of Ak Bash XIII. A War Correspondents' Village XIV. Cannon Fodder XV. East of Lemberg: Through Austria Hungary to the Galician Front XVI. In the Dust of the Russian Retreat

Chapter I

The Germans Are Coming!

The Germans had already entered Brussels, their scouts were reported on the outskirts of Ghent; a little farther now, over behind the horizon wind mills, and we might at any moment come on them.

For more than a fortnight we had been hurrying eastward, hearing, through cable despatches and wireless, the far off thunder of that vast gray tide rumbling down to France. The first news had come drifting in, four thousand miles away, to the little Wisconsin lake where I was fishing. A strange herd of us, all drawn in one way or another by the war, had caught the first American ship, the old St. Paul, and, with decks crowded with trunks and mail bags from half a dozen ships, steamed eastward on the all but empty ocean. There were reservists hurrying to the colors, correspondents, men going to rescue wives and sisters. Some were hit through their pocketbooks, some through their imaginations like the young women hoping to be Red Cross nurses, or to help in some way, they weren't sure how.

One had a steamer chair next mine a pale, Broadway tomboy sort of girl in a boyish sailor suit, who looked as if she needed sleep. Without exactly being on the stage, she yet appeared to live on the fringe of it, and combined the slangy freedoms of a chorus girl with a certain quick wisdom and hard sense. It was she who discovered a steerage passenger, on the Liverpool dock, who had lost his wife and was bringing his four little children back to Ireland from Chicago, and, while the other cabin passengers fumed over their luggage, took up a collection for him then and there.

"Listen here!" she would say, grabbing my arm. "I want to tell you something. I'm going to see this thing d'you know what I mean? for what it'll do to me you know for its effect on my mind! I didn't say anything about it to anybody they'd only laugh at me d'you know what I mean? They don't think I've got any serious side to me. Now, I don't mind things I mean blood you know they don't affect me, and I've read about nursing I've prepared for this! Now, I don't know how to go about it, but it seems to me that a woman who can you know go right with 'em jolly 'em along might be just what they'd want d'you know what I mean?"

One Russian had said good by to a friend at the dock, he to try to get through this way, the other by the Pacific and Trans Siberian. The Englishman who shared my stateroom was an advertising man. "I've got contracts worth fifty thousand pounds," he said, "and I don't suppose they're worth the paper they're written on." There were several Belgians and a quartet of young Frenchmen who played cards every night and gravely drank bottle after bottle of champagne to the glory of France.

Even the Balkans were with us, in the shape of a tall, soldier like Bulgarian with a heavy mustache and the eyes of a kindly and highly intelligent hawk. He was going back home "to fight?" "Yes, to fight."

"With Servia?" asked some one politely, with the usual vague American notion of the Balkan states. The Bulgarian's eyes shone curiously.

"You have a sense of humor!" he said.

This man had done newspaper work in Russia and America, studied at Harvard, and he talked about our politics, theatres, universities, society generally... Continue reading book >>

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