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Young Hilda at the Wars   By: (1878-1923)

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First Page:

YOUNG HILDA AT THE WARS

by

ARTHUR H. GLEASON

Author of "The Spirit of Christmas" "Love, Home and the Inner Life," Etc.

[Illustration: HILDA in her motor ambulance uniform wearing the "Order of Leopold II," conferred on her by King Albert in person.]

New York Frederick A. Stokes Company Publishers

Copyright, 1915, by Frederick A. Stokes Company

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages

September, 1915

TO CHEVALIER HELEN OF PERVYSE

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

EXPERIENCE (by way of Preface) 1

I. YOUNG HILDA AT THE WARS 5 Good Will 37

II. THE RIBBONS THAT STUCK IN HIS COAT 39 The Belgian Refugee 59

III. ROLLO, THE APOLLO 63 The Brotherhood of Man 91

IV. THE PIANO OF PERVYSE 93 Lost 113

V. WAR 115 In Ramskappele Barnyard 141

VI. THE CHEVALIER 143 With the Ambulance 163

VII. THE AMERICAN 165 The Bonfire 189

VIII. THE WAR BABY 191

EXPERIENCE

( By way of Preface )

Of these sketches that tell of ruined Belgium, I must say that I saw what I have told of. They are not meditations in a library. Because of the great courtesy of the Prime Minister of Belgium, who is the war minister, and through the daily companionship of his son, our little group of helpers were permitted to go where no one else could go, to pass in under shell fire, to see action, to lift the wounded out of the muddy siding where they had fallen. Ten weeks of Red Cross work showed me those faces and torn bodies which I have described. The only details that have been altered for the purpose of story telling are these: The Doctor who rescued the thirty aged at Dixmude is still alive; Smith did not receive the decoration, but Hilda did; it was a candlestick on the piano of Pervyse that vibrated to shell fire; the spy continues to signal without being caught; "Pervyse," the war baby, was not adopted by an American financier; motor ambulances were given to the Corps, not to an individual. With these exceptions, the incidents are lifted over from the experience of two English women and my wife in Pervyse, and my own weeks as stretcher bearer on an ambulance.

In that deadlock of slaughter where I worked, I saw no pageantry of war, no glitter and pomp, at all. Nothing remains to me of war pictures except the bleakness. When I think suddenly of Belgium, I see a town heavy with the coming horror: almost all the houses sealed, the curtains drawn, the friendly door barred. And then I see a town after the invaders have shelled it and burned it, with the homeless dogs howling in the streets, and the pigeons circling in search of their cote, but not finding it. Or I look down a long, lonely road, gutted with shell holes, with dead cattle in the fields, and farm houses in a heap of broken bricks and dust.

And when I do not see a landscape, dreary with its creeping ruin, I see men in pain. Sometimes I see the faces of dead boys one boy outstretched at length on a doorstep with the smoke of his burning body rising through the mesh of his blue army clothing; and then a half mile beyond, in the yard of a farm house, a young peasant spread out as he had fallen when the chance bullet found him.

That alone which seemed good in the horror was the courage of the modern man... Continue reading book >>




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