removing of one meaning the displacement of all, as when one heedlessly
snatches a potato from the middle of a bushel basket. But very few got
down except the soldiers, the objective point for all being Paris.
The twilight shadows were welcome, for they swallowed up all the
phantasmagoria of the day and we relapsed into silence. It was one of
those moments when Reality, or the fear of it, battles with our courage
and each one grew thoughtful as he neared the great city, dreading to
meet the spectre he feared.
The wheels of the cars sang on in a hollow, monotonous tune, the windows
rattled systematically and outraged brakes screeched at every recurrent
jolt. Finally we saw a dim row of lights and a long, thin whistle from
our engine told us that the journey was done. Again was that noticeable
lack of excitement: everyone calmly took his personal belongings and
prepared to get down when the guard, in an unimportant voice, should
call out "_Paree_," which you would not hear if you were not listening.
After the Customs, I was in a frenzy to get out into the street, to be
welcomed back, as one always is here, and to be cheered and warmed by
the bright lights--the flashing eyes of Paris. But the streets were dim,
the shops and restaurants closed and few people circulating about. How
different it all was! I felt like Rip van Winkle after his twenty-years'
sleep, for at the apartment (I thought I had come to the wrong house)
was a new concierge, young and pretty, replacing the old, white-haired
one. Had we gone back twenty years instead? The rooms were empty--all my
friends had disappeared, the dust was inches thick, the furniture pushed
mostly into the middle of the rooms and some of the beds were gone.
Thickly sprinkled over the floor of my room and on my bed were pieces of
the window glass, broken like all the others in the house, by a German
bomb which fell and exploded in front of the Prince of Monaco's house,
two doors from us--not one hundred and fifty feet away. Half dazed, I
dusted a place large enough for my hat and coat, extracted some clean
linen from the closet and went to bed, sick at heart.
_November 12th, Thursday._
Paris! after a four days' tiring journey which in happier times takes
only five hours. But it doesn't matter--it is home again. Anywhere is
home which is out from under that yoke of infamous tyranny. I rage in
proportion as the minutes separate me from this odious thing that closes
its iron fingers around the necks of my friends.
No! It is not to be borne. Let every man, woman and child on the earth
rise up until we have right. Do I not know? Have I not experienced the
mailed fist? And yet, how little in comparison to others; but it is
The concierge gave me coffee and rolls and I dressed quickly in order
to get out into the street where I knew the dismal impression of the
indoors would be dispelled by the habitual smile of the enchanted city.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>