Chapter V. Paris Again - And Bordeaux: Journal of a Flight from a London Fogs

These notes began in a London fog and ended in the south of France. I had hoped, on reaching Calais, to work in toward the fighting along the Yser, but, finding it impossible, decided to turn about and travel away from the front instead of toward it - down to see Bordeaux while it was still the temporary capital, and to see what life might be like in the French provincial towns in war time.

It was not, so the young woman at the hotel desk in London said, what you would call a fog, because she could still see the porter at the street-door - yet day after day the same rain, smoky mist, and unbroken gloom.

One breakfasted and tramped the streets by lamplight, as if there were no such thing as sun - -recalled vaguely a world in which it used to be - woods with the leaves turning, New York on a bright autumn morning, enchanted tropical dawns.

Through this viscous envelope - a sort of fungi thrown off by it - newspapers kept appearing - slaughter and more slaughter, hatred, the hunt for spies, more hysterical and shrill. One looked for fairness almost as for the sun, and, merely by blackguarding long enough men who could not answer back and, after all, were flinging their lives away bravely over there in France, one ended by giving them the very qualities they were denied.

They faded out as one picture on a stereopticon screen fades into another - even as one read "Huns" for the thousandth time the Huns turned into kindly burghers smoking pipes and singing songs. In the same way the England of tradition - Shakespeare, Dickens, Meredith, jolly old rumbling London, rides 'cross country, rows on the river - faded into this nightmare of hate and smoky lamplight. The psychology was very simple, but too much, it seems, for censors and even editors. And, unfortunately, at a time like this not the light-hearted, sportsmanlike fighting men at the front, nor sober people left behind in homes, but newspapers are likely to be an outsider's most constant companions.

A sort of spiritual asphyxiation overtook one at last, in which the mere stony Briticism of the London hotel seemed to have a part. If you awoke again into that taste of soft-coal smoke, went down to another of those staggering lamp-lit breakfasts. But why staggering? "Can you not take coffee and rolls in London as well as in some Paris cafe"? It would seem so, yet it cannot be done. The mere sight and sound - or lack of sound - of that warm, softly carpeted breakfast-room, moving like some gloomy, inevitable mechanism as it has moved for countless years, attacks the already weakened will like an opiate. At the first bewildering '"Q?" from that steely-fronted maid the ritual overpowers you and you bow before porridge, kippers, bacon and eggs, stewed fruit, marmalade, toast, more toast, more marmalade, as helpless as the rabbit before the proverbial boa - except that in this case the rabbit swallows its own asphyxiator.

Another breakfast like this, another day of rain and fog, another '"Q?" - it was in some such state of mind as this that I packed up one night and took the early train for Folkestone.

Folkestone, Friday.

Sunshine at last - a delicious autumn afternoon - clean air, quiet, and the sea. Far below the cliff walk, trawlers crawling slowly in; along the horizon a streak of smoke from some patrolling destroyer or battleship. And all along this cliff walk, Belgians - strolling with their children, sitting on the benches, looking out to sea. Just beyond that hazy white wall to the east - the cliffs of France - the fight for Calais is being fought - they can almost hear the cannon.

In the stillness, as they drift by, you catch bits of their talk:

"It was two o'clock in the morning when we left Antwerp."

"And imagine - it was not three metres from our doorstep that the shell burst."

"We walked forty kilometres that night and in the morning - - - -"

On the balcony of some one's summer-house, now turned into a hospital, four Belgian soldiers, one with his head bandaged, are playing cards - jolly, blond youngsters, caps rakishly tipped over one ear, slamming the cards down as if that were the only thing in the world. In the garden others taking the sunshine, some with their wheel-chairs pushed through the shrubbery close to the high iron fence, to be petted by nurse-maids and children as if they were animals in a sort of zoo.

The Belgians strolling by on the cliff walk smile at this quaint picture, for sun and space and quiet seem to have wiped out their terror - that passed through is as far away as that now hidden in the east. Is it merely quiet and sun? Perhaps it is the look of a "nice little people" who know that now they have a history. "Refugees," to be sure, yet one can fancy them looking back some day from their tight little villages, canals, and beet-fields, on afternoons like this, as on the days of their great adventure - when they could sit in the sun above the sea at Folkestone and look across the Channel to the haze under which their sons and husbands and brothers and King were fighting for the last corner of their country.

Calais, Saturday.

Belgian officers, parks of Belgian military automobiles; up-country a little way the Germans going down in tens of thousands to win their "gate to England" - yet we came across on the Channel boat last evening as usual and had little trouble finding a room. There were tons of Red Cross supplies on board - cotton, chloroform, peroxide; Belgian soldiers patched up and going back to fight; and various volunteer nurses, including two handsome young Englishwomen of the very modern aviatrix type - coming over to drive motor-cycle ambulances - and so smartly gotten up in boots and khaki that a little way off you might have taken them for British officers. At the wharf were other nurses, some of whom I had last seen that Thursday afternoon in Antwerp as they and their wounded rolled away in London buses from the hospital in the Boulevard Leopold.

This morning, strolling round the town, I ran into a couple of English correspondents. There were yet several hours before they need address themselves to the arduous task of describing fighting they had not seen, and they talked, with a good humor one sometimes misses in their correspondence, of German collectivism and similar things. One had spent a good deal of time in Germany.

"They're the only people who have solved the problem of industrial cities without slums - you must say that for them. Of course, in those model towns of theirs, you've got to brush your teeth at six minutes past eight and sleep on your left side if the police say so - they're astonishing people for doing what they're told.

"One day in Dresden I walked across a bit of grass the public weren't supposed to cross. An old gentleman fairly roared the instant he saw me. He was ready to explode at the mere suggestion that any one could think of disobeying a rule made for all of them.

"'Das kann man nicht thun! Es ist verboten!'"

The other quoted the answer of an English factory-owner to some of his employees who did not want to enlist. "They've done a lot for working men over there," the man said. "Accident-insurance, old-age pensions, and all that - what do we want to fight the Kaiser for? We'd just about as soon be under Billy as George." And X - - - said to them: "If you were under Kaiser Billy, you'd enlist right enough, there's no doubt of that!"

Boulogne, Saturday.

He sat in the corner of our compartment coming down from Calais this afternoon, an old Algerian soldier, homeward bound, with a big, round loaf of bread and a military pass. He had a blue robe, bright-red, soft boots, a white turban wound with a sort of scarf of brown cord and baggy corduroy underneath, concealing various mysterious pockets.

"Paris? To-night?" he grunted in his queer French. The big Frenchman next him, who had served in Africa in his youth and understood the dialect, shook his head. "To-morrow morning!" he said. He laid his head on his hand to suggest a man sleeping, and held up three fingers. "Three days - Marseilles!" The old goumier's dark eyes blazed curiously, and he opened and shut his mouth in a dry yawn - like a tiger yawning.

Wounded? No - he pointed to his eyes, which were bloodshot, patted his forehead to suggest that it was throbbing, rubbed his legs, and scowled. "Rheumatism!" said the Frenchman. The Algerian pressed his palms together six times, then held up two fingers. "He's sixty-two years old!" said the Frenchman, and the old warrior obligingly opened his jaws and pointed to two or three lone brown fangs to prove it. They talked for a moment in the vernacular, and the Frenchman explained again, "Volunteer!" and then, "Scout!"

The old Arab made the motion of sighting along a rifle, then of brushing something over, and tapped himself on the chest.

"Deux!" he said. "Two Germans - me!" Evidently he was going back to the desert satisfied.

Train after train passed us, northward bound, some from Boulogne, some from the trenches north of Paris evidently, bringing artillery caked with mud - all packed with British soldiers leaning from doors of their cattle-cars, hats pushed back, pipes in their faces, singing and joking. At the end of each train, in passenger-coaches, their officers - tall, slim-legged young Olympians in leather puttees and short tan greatcoats, with their air of elegant amateurs embarking on some rather superior sort of sport.

The same cars filled with French soldiers equally brave, efficient, light-hearted would be as different as Corneille and Shakespeare, as Dickens and Dumas - and in the same ways!

An Englishman had been telling me in a London club a few nights before of the "extraordinary detachment" of Tommy Atkins.

"Take almost any of those little French soldiers - they've got a pretty good idea what the war is about - at any rate, they've got a sentiment about it perfectly clear and conscious, and they'll go to their death shouting for la patrie. Now, Tommy Atkins isn't the least like that. He doesn't fight - and you know how he does fight - for patriotism or glory, at least not in the same conscious way. He'd fight just as well against another of his own regiments - if you know what I mean. He's just - well, look at the soldiers' letters. The Germans are sentimental - they are all martyrs. The Frenchmen are all heroes. But Tommy Atkins - well, he's just playing football!"

The idea this Englishman was trying to express was put in another way by a British sailor at the time of the sinking of the Aboukir, Cressy, and Rogue.

Imagine, for a moment, that scene - the three great ships going over like stricken whales, men slipping down their slimy flanks into the sea, boats overturned and smashed, in the thick of it the wet nose of the German submarine coming up for a look round, and then, out of that hideous welter, the voice of a sailor, the unalterable Briton in the face of all this modern science and sea magic, grabbing an anchor or whatever it was he saw first, and bellowing:

"Smash the blighter's head!"

There are phrases like these which could only have been said by the people who say them; they are like windows suddenly opening down cycles of racial history and difference. At a Regent Street moving-picture show a few evenings ago two young Frenchwomen sat behind us, girls driven off the Paris boulevards by the same impartial force which has driven grubbing peasant women from the Belgian beet-fields. One spoke a little English, and as the pictures changed she translated for her companion.

There were pictures of the silk industry in Japan - moths emerging from cocoons, the breeding process, the hatching of the eggs, the life history of these anonymous little specks magnified until for the moment they almost had a sort of personality. And one murmured:

"Comme c'est drole, la nature!"


It was dusk when we reached Boulogne last night - frosty dusk, with the distant moan of a fog-horn, and under the mist hilly streets busy with soldiers and bright with lights. It made one think of a college town at home on the eve of the great game, so keen and happy seemed all these fit young men - officers swinging by with their walking-sticks, soldiers spinning yarns in smoky cafes - for the great game of war.

The hotels were full of wounded or officers - to Boulogne comes the steady procession of British transports - but an amiable porter led me to a little side street and a place kept by a retired English merchant-marine officer who had married a Frenchwoman. Paintings, such as sailor-artists make, of the ships he had served in were on the walls, a photograph of himself and his mates taken in the sunshine of some tropical port; and with its cheerful hot stove, the place combined the air of a French cafe with the cosiness of an English inn.

Very comfortable, indeed, I leaned over one of the tables that ran along the wall, while two British soldiers alongside gossiped and sipped their beer, and ran over the columns of La Boulonnaise. Here, too, war seemed a jolly man's game, and I came to "Military Court Sitting at Boulogne," and beneath it the following:

Seventh, eighth, and ninth cases. Thefts by German prisoners of war. The accused are Antoine Michels, twenty-five years, native of Treves, Twenty-seventh German Chasseurs, made prisoner at Lens. Henriede Falk, twenty-seven years, native of Landenheissen (Grand Duchy of Hesse), Fourth Regiment Dragoons, made prisoner at Lille. Max Benninghoven, twenty-two years, Seventh German Chasseurs, made prisoner at Bailleul.

"The three had in their possession at the moment of their capture: Michels, two pairs of earrings, a steel watch, two medals representing the town of Arras, and a cigar-holder; Falk, a woman's watch and chain in addition to his own; Benninghoven, a pocketbook, a pack of cards, and money that did not belong to him.

"All were subjected to a severe examination and condemned: Michels, to five years in prison and a fine of five hundred francs; Falk, to twenty years at forced labor..."

And these few words of newspaper type, which nobody else seemed to be noticing, somehow - as if one had stubbed one's toe - disturbed the picture. They did not fit in with the rakish gray motor-car, labelled "Australia," I saw after dinner, nor the young infantryman I ran across on a street corner who had been in the fighting ever since Mons and was but down "for a rest" before jumping in again, nor the busy streets and buzzing cafes. But across them, for some reason, all evening, one couldn't help seeing Henriede Falk, twenty-seven years old, of Landenheissen, starting down toward Paris last August, singing "Deutschland uber Alles!" and wondering what he might be thinking about the great game of war fifteen years from now.

While I was taking coffee this morning my mariner-host walked up and down the cafe, delivering himself on the subject of mines in the North Sea. The Germans began it, now the English must take it up; but as for him, speaking as one who had followed the sea, it was poor business. Why couldn't people knock each other out in a stand-up fight like men in a ring, instead of strewing the open road with explosives?

Walking about town after breakfast, I ran into a young man whom I had last seen in a white linen uniform, waiting patiently on the orderlies' bench of the American Ambulance at Neuilly. The ambulance is as hard to get into as an exclusive club, for the woods are full these days of volunteers who, leading rather decorative lives in times of peace, have been shaken awake by the war into helping out overtaxed embassies, making beds in hospitals, doing whatever comes along with a childlike delight in the novelty of work. This young man wore a Red Cross button now and paused long enough to impart the following - characteristic of the things we non-combatants hear daily, and which, authentic or not, help to "make life interesting":

1. An English general just down from the front had told him that four thousand soldiers had been sent out as a burial party after the fighting along the Yser, and had buried, by actual count, thirty-nine thousand Germans.

2. In a temporary hospital near the front some fifty German and Indian wounded were put in the same ward. In the night the Indians got up and cut the Germans' throats.

I climbed up through narrow, cobblestoned streets to the higher part of the town. It was pleasant up here in the frosty morning - old houses, archways, and courts, and the bells tolling people to church.

Up the long hill, as I went down, came three hearses in black and silver, after the French fashion, with drivers in black coats and black-and-silver cocked hats. People stopped as they passed, a woman crossed herself, men took off their hats - farther up the hill a French sentry suddenly straightened and presented arms.

The three caskets were draped in flags - not the tricolor, but the Union Jack. No mourners followed them, and as the ancient vehicles climbed over the brow of the hill the people kept looking, feeling, perhaps, that something was lacking, wondering who the strangers might be who had given their lives to France.


Paris again - a gray Paris, with bare tree-trunks, dead leaves on the sidewalk, and in the air the chill of approaching winter.

Across the gray distances one fancies now and then to have seen the first stray flakes of snow, and in some old street, between tall, gray houses leaning backward, sidewise, each after its fashion - as some girl, pale, with shawl wrapped about her shoulders, hurries past with a quick upcasting of dark eyes, one thinks of Mimi and the third act of "La Boheme."

Old sentiments, old songs and verses return in this strange, gray stillness - that spirit so gracious, delicate, penetrating, and personal, which has drawn so many through the years, becomes more moving and real. There is more animation in the streets now: shops are opening, cabs tooting down the Avenue de l'Opera the greater part of the night; but most of the house-fronts are still shuttered and still. Tourists, pleasure-seekers, and the banalities they bring are gone - every thought and energy is with the men fighting on that long line across the north. It is a Paris of the French - of a France united as never before, perhaps, purified by fire, ardent, resolute, defending her life and her precious inheritance.

The Temporary Capital


A journalist actually protests in print against the big loaves of coarse bread, long as half a stick of cord-wood and almost as hard - remember the almost carnivorous joy with which a Frenchman devours bread! - to which the military government, at the beginning of the war, condemned Paris.

The explanation was that rolls and fancy bread took too much time and there were not enough bakers left to do the work - and inspectors see that the law is obeyed, whether amiable bakers think they have time or not. And people want light bread, curly rolls, "pain de fantaisie." All very well for General Gallieni! says the journalist; he likes hard bread; but why must several million people go on cracking their teeth because of that idiosyncrasy?

The government is obdurate. If fancy bread were made, only the big bakers would have time to make it, little ones would be without clients, and that this highly centralized, paternal government cannot allow. Hard bread it is, then, for another while at least - "C'est la guerre!"


We have a dining-car on our Bordeaux express to-day, the first since war was declared. To-morrow night sleeping-cars go back again - more significant than one might think who had not seen the France of a few months ago, when everything was turned over to the army and people sat up all night in day coaches to cover the usual three hours from Dieppe to Paris.

Down through the heart of France - Tours, Poitiers, Angouleme - past trim little French rivers, narrow, winding, still, and deep, with rows of poplars close to the water's edge, and still a certain air of coquetry, in spite of bare branches and fallen leaves - past brown fields across which teams of oxen, one sedate old farm horse in the lead, are drawing the furrow for next spring's wheat. It's the old men who are ploughing - except for those in uniform, there is scarce a young man in sight. And everywhere soldiers - wounded ones bound for southern France, reserves not yet sent up.

Vines begin to appear, low brown lines across stony fields; then, just after dark, across the Garonne and into Bordeaux, where the civil government obligingly fled when the enemy was rolling down on Paris in the first week of September.

Bordeaux, Monday.

Bordeaux is a day's railroad ride from Paris - twelve hours away from the German cannon, which even now are only fifty miles north of the boulevards, twelve hours nearer Spain and Africa. And you feel both these things.

All about you is the wine country - the names of towns and villages round about read like a wine-card - and, as you are lunching in some little side-street restaurant, a table is moved away, a trap-door opens, and monsieur the proprietor looks on while the big casks of claret are rolled in from the street and lowered to the cellar and the old casks hauled up again. You are close to the wine country and close to the sea - to oysters and crabs and ships - and to the hot sun and more exuberant spirits of the Midi. The pretty, black-eyed Bordelaise - there are pretty girls in Bordeaux - often seems closer to Madrid than to Paris; even the Bordelais accent has a touch of the Mediterranean, and the crisp words of Paris are broken up and even an extra vowel added now and then, until they ripple like Spanish or Italian. "Pe-tite-a ma-dame-a !" rattles some little newsboy, ingratiating himself with an indifferent lady of uncertain age; and the porter will bring your boots in no time-in "une-a pe-tite-a mi-nute-a."

The war is in everybody's mind, of course - no one in France thinks of anything else - but there is none of that silence and tenseness, that emotional tremor, one feels in Paris. The Germans will never come here, one feels, no matter what happens, and as you read the communiques in La Petite Gironde and La Liberte du Sud-Ouest the war seems farther away, I feel pretty sure, than it does in front of the newspaper bill-boards in New York.

In fact, one of the first and abiding impressions of Bordeaux is that it is a great place for things to eat - oysters from Marennes, lobsters and langoustes, pears big as cantaloupes, pomegranates, mushrooms - the little ones and the big cepes of Bordeaux - yellow dates just up from Tunis. The fruiterers' shops not only make you hungry, but into some of them you may enter and find a quiet little room up-stairs, where the proprietor and his wife and daughter, in the genial French fashion, will serve you with a cosey little dinner with wine for three francs, in front of the family grate fire, and the privilege of ordering up anything you want from the shop-window below.

There are attractive little chocolate and pastry shops and cheerful semi-pension restaurants where whole families, including, in these days, minor politicians with axes to grind and occasional young women from the boulevards, all dine together in a warm bustle of talk, smoke, the gurgle of claret, and tear off chunks of hard French bread, while madame the proprietress, a handsome, dark-eyed, rather Spanish-looking Bordelaise, sails round, subduing the impatient, smiling at those who wish to be smiled at, and ordering her faithful waiters about like a drill-sergeant.

And then there is the Chapon fin. When you speak to some elderly gentleman with fastidious gastronomical tastes and an acquaintance with southern France of your intention of going to Bordeaux, he murmurs reminiscently: "Ah, yes! There is a restaurant there..." He means the Chapon fin. It was famous in '70 when the government came here before, and to-day when the young King of Spain motors over from Biarritz he dines there. Coming down on the train, I read in the Revue des Deux Mondes the recollections of a gentleman who was here in '70-'71 and is here again now. He was inclined to be sarcastic about the present Chapon fin. In his day one had good food and did not pay exorbitantly; now "one needs a quasi-official introduction to penetrate, and the stylish servants, guarding the door like impassable dragons, ask with a discreet air if monsieur has taken care to warn the management of his intention of taking lunch."

We penetrated without apparent difficulty - possibly owing to the exalted position of the two amiable young attaches who entertained me - and the food was very good. There were diplomats of all sorts to be seen, a meridional head waiter, and an interesting restaurant cat. One end of the room is an artificial grotto, and into and out of the canvas rocks this enormous cat kept creeping, thrusting his round face and blazing eyes out of unexpected holes in the manner of the true carnivora, as if he had been trained by the management as an entertainer. The head waiter would have lured an anchorite into temporary abandon. Toward the end of the evening we discussed the probable character of a certain dessert, suggesting some doubt of taking it. You might as well have doubted his honor. "Mais, monsieur!" He waved his arms. "C'est delicieux! ... C'est merveilleux! ... C'est quelque chose" - slowly, with thumb and first finger pressed together - "de r-r-raf-fi-we!"...

It is to this genial provincial city that the President and his ministers have come. They distributed themselves about town in various public and private buildings; the Senate chose one theatre for its future meeting-place and the Chamber of Deputies another. And from these places, sometimes the most incongruous - one hears, for instance, of M. Delcasse maintaining his dignity in a bedroom now used as the office for the minister of foreign affairs - the red tape is unwound which eventually sends the life-blood of the remotest province flowing up to its appointed place at the front.

There must be plenty of real work, for an army like that of France, stretching clear across the country from Switzerland to the Channel, could not live unless it had a smoothly running civil machine in the quiet country behind. Neither of the chambers is in session, and except that the main streets are busy - one is told that one hundred thousand extra people are in town - you might almost never know that anything out of the ordinary had occurred. Things must be very different, of course, from '71, when, beaten to her knees and threatened with revolution, France had to decide between surrendering Alsace and Lorraine and going on with the war.

The theatres are closed, but there are moving-picture shows, an occasional concert, and twice a week, under the auspices of one of the newspapers, a conference. I went to one of these, given by a French professor of English literature in the University of Bordeaux, on the timely subject: "Kipling and Greater England."

You can imagine the piquant interest of the scene - the polite matinee audience, the row of erudite Frenchmen sitting behind the speaker, the table, the shaded lamp, and the professor himself, a slender, dark gentleman with a fine, grave face, pointed black beard, and penetrating eyes - suggesting vaguely a prestidigitateur - trying, by sheer intelligence and delicate, critical skill, to bridge the gaps of race and instinctive thought and feeling and make his audience understand Kipling.

Said the reporter of one of the Bordeaux papers next day: "Through the Kipling evoked by M. Cestre we admired the English and those who fight, in the great winds of the North Sea, that combat rude and brave. We admired the faithful indigenes, gathering from all her dominions, to put their muscular arms at the service of the empire..."

It would, indeed, have been difficult to pay a more graceful compliment to the entente cordiale than to try to run the author of "Soldiers Three" and the "Barrack Room Ballads," and with him the nation behind him, into the smooth mould of a conference - that mixture, so curiously French, of clear thinking and graceful expression, of sensitive definition and personal charm, all blended into a whole so intellectually neat and modulated that an audience like this may take it with the same sense of being cheered, yet not inebriated, with which their allies across the Channel take their afternoon tea.

A Frenchman of a generation ago would scarcely have recognized the England pictured by the amiable Bordeaux professor, and I am not sure that in this entirely altruistic big brother of little nations the English would have recognized themselves. But, at any rate, polite flutters of applause punctuated the talk, and at the end M. Cestre asked his audience to rise as he paid his final tribute to the people now fighting the common battle with France. They all stood up and, smiling up at the left-hand proscenium-box, saluted the British ambassador, Sir Francis Bertie, with long and enthusiastic applause. A man in the gallery even ventured a "Heep! heep!" and every one drifted out very content, indeed.

In the foyer I saw one lady carefully spelling out with her lorgnette one of the words on the list posted there of the subjects for conferences.

"Ah!" she said, considerably reassured apparently, "Keepling!" But then she may have come in late.


The war has been hard on the main business of the neighborhood, of course - Germany was the heaviest buyer of Bordeaux wine, Russia next, and not as much as usual is going to England. The vintage this year, like that of 70, is said to be good, however, and, though the young men have gone, and the wine-making was not as gay as usual, there were enough old men and women left to do the work. I visited one of the older wine houses - nearly two centuries old - and tramped through cellars which burrow on two levels under a whole city block. There were some two million bottles down there in the dark and dust.

There is something patriarchal and princely about such a house, almost unknown in our businesses at home - from the portraits of the founders, from the caskmakers, at lunch-time, broiling their own fish over a huge fireplace and drawing wine from the common cask as they have done for generations; the stencils in the shipping-room - "Baltimore," "Bogota," "Buenos Aires," "Chicago," "Calcutta," "Christiania," "Caracas" - from things like these to the personality and point of view of the men who have the business in charge.

"Now, wine," began the charming gentleman who showed us round, "is a living thing." And though you could see that he had showed many people about in his day - and was not unaware of what might interest them - that he was, in short, an advertiser of the most accomplished kind, yet one could also see that he liked his work and believed in it, and grew wine as an amateur grows fancy tulips and not as a mere salesman.

To be sure, he was inclined to slur over the importance of white wine, while champagne and its perfidious makers didn't interest him in the least; but of the red wine of Bordeaux, its lightness, bouquet, and general beneficence, and the delicate and affectionate care with which it was handled, one could have heard him talk all day. Now and then younger houses discovered things that were going to revolutionize the wine trade.

"Of course," he said, "we examine such things. We look in our books, where records of all our experiments are kept, and there we find that we tried that new thing in 1856 - or 1756, perhaps."

Far underground we came on some of the huge majorums, big as nine ordinary bottles. "The King of Spain ran over to Bordeaux one day, and came to us and said: 'I've got two hours; what can you show me?' We said: 'We can show you our cellars.' 'Very well,' said he; 'go ahead.' When he came to the majorums he said: 'What on earth do you do with those ?' 'They are used when there is a christening or a wedding or some great event, and when a king visits us we give him two.'"

So they sent the majorums to the young King, and the King sent back a polite note, just as if he were anybody else, and that is all of that story.

Most of the newspapers which followed the government to Bordeaux have returned to the capital, but that intransigeant government-baiter, the venerable Georges Clemenceau, still continues his bombardment from close range. His paper was formerly L'Homme Libre - The Free Man - but on being suppressed this fall by the censor its octogenarian editor gayly changed its name to The Chained Man - L'Homme Enchaine - and continued fire.

The mayor of a Paris commune in '71, prime minister from 1906-9, the editor of various papers, and senator now, Clemenceau is properly feared; and he was offered, it is said, a place in the present government, but would accept no post but the highest. He preferred his role of political realist and critical privateer, a sort of Mr. Shaw of French politics, hitting a head wherever he sees one.

The imperfections of the French army sanitary service, the censorship, and the demoralization of the postal service since the war have been favorite targets recently. There has been much complaint of the difficulty of getting news from men at the front. M. Viviani, the premier, in an address at Reims, ventured to say that it was his duty to "organize, administer, and intensify the national defense." On this innocent phrase the eye of M. Clemenceau fell the other day, and he now flings off a characteristic three-and-a-half-column front-page salvo so adroitly combining the premier's remark with the actual, pitiful facts that the reader almost feels that "intensifying" the suffering of parents and friends of men fighting for their country is something in which the present government takes delight.

I wish there was space to quote the editorial. I may, at any rate, quote from one or two of the letters written to M. Clemenceau, to suggest a stay-at-home aspect of the war of which we do not hear much. This is from the mayor of Pont-en-Royans:

"Officially," he writes, "on September 29 I was asked to notify the family of the soldier Regnier of his death. In the midst of their cries and tears, the family showed me the last letter, received that very morning, and dated the 27th September, two days before. Now, the notice of his death was dated September 7, and I said to the father:

"'I would not give you too much hope; your son probably died the 27th, suddenly, perhaps, and the secretary charged with writing the letter I have received forgot a figure - instead of 27 he put 7. Meanwhile, as a doubt exists, I will do what I can to clear the matter up.'

"The Administrative Counsel replied to me: 'There has been no error. The notice of decease is dated September 27. If, then, the soldier wrote the 27th, he is not dead. We shall inform the ministry, and you, on your side, should write to the hospital where he is being treated.'

"I wrote to the chief doctor at Besancon. No response. I sent him a telegram with the reply prepaid. No response. I wrote him a third letter, this time a trifle sarcastic. I received finally a despatch: 'Regnier is not known at this hospital.'

"I still had the telegram in my hand when to my house came the sister of the dead soldier, in mourning, and beaming, and gave me a letter. 'It is my brother who has written us.' So there was no mistake. The dead man wrote on the 2d October.

"'Very well,' said I to the family. 'Are you sufficiently reassured now?'

"Some days after I received from the Red Cross hospital at Besancon a letter giving me news of Regnier and explaining that there were several hospitals in the town, that they had only just received my letter, etc., etc.

"I did not think more of the matter until October 23, when I received a circular from the prefecture of Isere, asking me to advise the Regnier family that the soldier Regnier, wounded, was being treated at the hospital of Besancon.

"At last I thought the affair was closed, when, to-day, October 30, I received the enclosed despatch, sent by I know not whom, informing me that the soldier Regnier is unknown in the hospital of Besancon!

"Oh, my head, my head!"

You can imagine what this slashing old privateer would do with a letter like this. The censor will not permit him to make any comment. Very well - he wishes to make none. "You see, Mr. Viviani, it isn't one of those execrable parliamentarians who makes these complaints. It is a mayor, a humble mayor, officially designated by you to transmit to his people the striking results of your 'organization,' of your 'administration,' of your 'intensification' in the cruelly delicate matter of giving news to families. He supplies the picture, and you see in plain daylight your 'intensification' at work. What do you think of it? What can you say about it? Do you believe that because you have given to your censor the right - pardon me, the power - to make white spaces in the columns of newspapers that that is going to suppress the fact? Do you believe," etc., etc.

In the same editorial was a letter from a father whose two sons, on the firing-line, had received none of the family letters since the beginning of the war and wrote pathetically asking if their parents and little sister were ill, or how they had offended. A wife enclosed a letter from her husband, telling how he was suffering from the cold because of insufficient clothing; a doctor wrote protesting because there was not a single bottle of antitetanic serum in his field-hospital.

We found M. Clemenceau in his lodgings late one afternoon - a leonine old gentleman bundled up in cap and overcoat before a little grate fire, while a secretary ran through the big heap of letters piled on the bed. In the corner of the room was a roll-top desk - the sanctum, evidently, of The Chained Man.

As M. Clemenceau was insistent that he should not be interviewed, I may not repeat the exceedingly lively talk on all sorts of people and things with which he regaled us once - and it didn't take long - he "got going."

One purely personal little bit of information may be passed on, however, in the hope that it may be as interesting to other practitioners of a laborious trade as it was to me.

We were talking of the facility with which he reeled off, day after day, columns of lively, finished prose, and I asked whether he wrote in longhand, dictated, or used a typewriter.

This question seemed to amuse and interest the old war-horse greatly. He went to his desk and brought back a sheet of paper, half of which was covered with a small, firm handwriting. It was his next day's broadside, not yet finished.

"There is nothing mysterious about it," he said. "I get up at half past three every morning. I am at that desk most of the day; I go to bed at nine o'clock. If I had to write a banal note, it might take time, but there are certain ideas which I have worked with all my life. I worked a good many years without expressing them; they are all in my head, and when I want them I've only got to take them out. I am eighty-three years old, and if I couldn't express myself by this time" - the old gentleman lifted his eyebrows, smiled whimsically, and, with a quick movement of shoulders and hands, concluded - "it would be a public calamity - a malheur public!"

I thought of the padded lives of some of our literary charlatans and editorial gold bricks at home, of the clever young artists ruined as painters by becoming popular illustrators, the young writers content to substitute overpaid banality and bathos for honest work, and I must confess that the sight of this indomitable old fighter, who had known great men and held high place in his day, and now at eighty-three got up before daylight to pound out in longhand his columns of vivid prose, stirred every drop of what you might call one's intellectual sporting blood. Of his opinions I know little, of the justice of his attacks less, and, to be quite frank, I suspect he is something of a trouble-maker. But as he stood there, bundled up in his overcoat and cap, in that chilly lodging-house room, witty, unsubdued, full of fight and of charm, he seemed to stand for that wonderful French spirit - for its ardor and penetration, its fusion of sense and sensibility, its tireless intelligence and unquenchable fire.


The consul of Cognac! It sounded like a musical comedy when we met on the steamer last August; not quite so odd when we bumped into each other in Bordeaux; and now it turns out to mean, in addition to being a young University of Virginia man, thoroughly acquainted with the people he has to deal with, living in a town where the towers of Francis I's castle still stand, rowing on a charming old river in the summer, and in these days hearing a charming old French gentleman, vice-consul, tell how he fought against the Prussians in '70. Cognac is a real place, it appears - an old town of twenty thousand people or so, and it is really where cognac comes from, all other brandies being, of course, as one will learn here, mere upstart eaux-de-vie. We went through some of the cellars to-day, as venerable and vast as the claret cellars in Bordeaux, although not quite as interesting, perhaps, because not so "alive." For wine is a living thing, as the man said in Bordeaux, and it must be ignobly boiled and destroyed before turning into a distilled spirit. To some this pale spiritual essence may possess a finer poetry - the cellars are more fragrant, at any rate.

All the young men had gone to the front - their wages continued as usual - and the work was carried on by women and old servitors, scarcely one of the latter under seventy. They were pointed out as examples of the beneficent effect of the true cognac - these old boys who had inhaled the slightly pungent fragrance of the cellars and bottling-rooms all their lives. You get this perfume all over Cognac. It comes wandering down old alleyways, out from under dark arches, people live literally in a fine mist of it. The very stones are turned black by the faint fumes.

There must be scores of towns south of Paris which look more or less like this - the young men gone or drilling in the neighborhood, the schools turned into hospitals, the little old provincial hotels sheltering families fled from Paris. There are several such at our hotel, nice, comfortable people - you might think you were in some semi-summer-resort hotel at home - Ridgefield, Conn., for instance, in winter time.

The making of cognac occupies nearly every one, one way or another, and it has made the place next to the richest town of its size in France. They make the cognac, and they make the bottles for it in a glass factory on a hill overlooking the town - about as airy and pleasant a place for a factory as one could imagine. The molten glass is poured into moulds, the moulds closed - psst! a stream of compressed air turned in, the bottles blown, and there you are - a score or so of them turned out every minute. As we came out of the furnace-room into the chilly afternoon a regiment of reservists tramped in from a practise march in the country. Some were young fellows, wearing uniforms for the first time, apparently; some looked like convalescents drafted back into the army. They took one road and we another, and half an hour later swung down the main street of Cognac behind a chorus of shrilling bugles. All over France, south of Paris, they must be marching like this these frosty afternoons.

Coming up from Bordeaux the other night we missed the regular connection and had to spend the night at Saintes. The tall, quizzical, rather grim old landlady of the neat little Hotel de la Gare - characteristic of that rugged France which tourists who only see a few streets in Paris know little about - was plainly puzzled. There we were, two able-bodied men, and P - - - , saying nothing about being consul, merely remarked that he lived in Cognac. "In Cognac!" the old woman repeated, looking from one to the other, and then added, as one putting an unanswerable question: "But you are not soldiers?"

We went out for a walk in the frosty air before turning in. There was scarce a soul in the streets, but at the other end of the town a handful of young fellows passed on the other side singing. They were boys of the 1915 class who had been called out and in a few days would be getting ready for war. In Paris you will see young fellows just like them, decorated with flags and feathers, driving round town in rattle-trap wagons like picnic parties returning on a summer night at home. Arm in arm and keeping step, these boys of Saintes were singing as they marched:

"Il est rouge et noir et blanc, Et fendu au derriere - d."

"He's red, white, and black, And split up the back!"

They saw themselves, doubtless, marching down the streets of Berlin as now they were marching down the streets of Saintes - and they kept flinging back through the frosty dark:

"Il est rouge - et noir - et blanc - Et fendu - au derriere - d..."