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"I shall have the pleasure of sending you home in my automobile. I am sorry to have given you so much trouble.”
He rose and made me a little bow.
I smiled and glanced at the sandal lying on his desk. Noting my look, he became again the eager enthusiast.
"You are not thinking of taking that with you, I hope," he said, with a shade of anxiety in his voice.
"I cannot promise, Monsieur, but I agree with you that it should be in a safe place for the present."
“It shall be sent by a special messenger to Paris to-morrow,” he assured me.
“But I do not like to give it up,” I demurred. "It is mine and has been in our family for many, many years. I must consider it."
He stood thoughtful for a moment. "Forgive me, Mademoiselle,” he said, “my
COBENISOINCKNIPO "THE OFFICER, BENDING OVER THE RELIC, SEEMED QUITE OBLIVIOUS OF US.”
"Indeed I am thinking of it, Monsieur,” I replied. “It is my dearest treasure.”
"I can well understand that," he said. “But think, child,” he went on hurriedly, “think how near you came to losing it, and what may happen in the future. Such a precious thing as this should not be left to the care of a girl. No, no, no! It must be placed in the museum for safe-keeping."
"In the museum ?" I repeated vaguely.
“Of course, Mademoiselle,” he replied; then, noting my puzzled expression, "You do not understand. I was not born an intelligence officer. Indeed not! I am an archæologist. I am the Curator of the Paris Museum. Since the war I am what you find me here; but that is incidental. Ordinarily, you see, I deal with things, like the sandal here—old things that are precious. You will let me keep it, Mademoiselle."
enthusiasm has carried me away. quite right. The matter should wait for final decision until after the war. The sandal will, of course, always be yours. There was never any question in my mind about its ownership. The museum would only be its guardian. But I pray you, allow us to take care of it until the country is safe.”
There was no disguising the fact that all he said was true. My treasure would be safer in his hands, and after a little further talk it was so decided.
"I was sure you would be wise, Mademoiselle,” he said at the end. And I parted from my relic again, assured that it would always be awaiting me if I should wish to claim it later. The officer was patient while I took a long, careful look at it, rather reluctant to let it go, after all, but knowing in my heart that it was the most sensible thing to do.
"VIVE LA FRANCE !”.
He escorted me to the automobile, instructed the war until we neared the hospital on our the two soldier chauffeurs to see me safely way back. Here a German aēroplane attracted home, then stepped back and bowed stiffly. our attention. It was flying very low and
“Adieu, Mademoiselle de Martigny,” he said, seemed particularly interested in the buildings. “I shall have an interesting report to make to “Now what do you suppose he is looking the general."
for?” Mademoiselle Peters remarked, as we “After all, I 'm glad we did n't wake him,” watched the enemy airman making wide circles I remarked.
above the rocfs painted with huge red crosses. "You are very good to mention it,” he “No one can tell what the Boches have in acknowledged, and the car started.
mind to do," I said bitterly. "Perhaps he 's It took no more than ten minutes to reach getting ready to bomb the place." our street, and I was on the pavement beside Mademoiselle Peters laughed. our hole in the ground ere I knew it.
“You French surely believe the worst of the “Good night, and thank you,” I said to the Germans !” she declared. “I admit they are chauffeurs. "I hope we did n't disturb the
pretty bad; but I'm certain they won't harm a general."
hospital. That would be too brutal. The Red “No fear of that, Mademoiselle,” one of them Cross will protect us.” answered with a chuckle. “The general has “They fired upon it when it was flying from n't been there for weeks; but everybody thinks the cathedral,” I reminded her. he is, so it 's all right. Good night.” And the “That was n't a real hospital,” she insisted, machine moved off into the darkness.
and, as if to prove me in the wrong, the aëroI turned to go down into our cellar, feeling plane rose and went swiftly away to the north. that I had spent the evening in a dream in When it had disappeared we forgot all about which everything went by contraries.
it for the time being.
Always, on Sundays, the nurses and doctors CHAPTER XXXIII
gathered to have tea together in the English
fashion. We all looked forward with much -CROSS
pleasure to this half-hour, and it was a happy
little party of men and girls who laughed and WITHOUT doubt I deserved the scolding I re joked at the privations they were forced to ceived from Eugénie. Nor did Madame Gar endure. nier find any excuse for my having given them “If we were not cheerful,” Mademoiselle two hours or more of great anxiety. Doubt Peters said to me, as we listened for a moment less I had been careless of their feelings, for to the hum of busy tongues about us, “if we did which I was sorry; but of course I did say that not try to see the lighter side of our work, I I should do the same thing again in similar think, Jeannette, we should all go crazy.” circumstances, trying to explain Monsieur She had scarcely ceased speaking when there Guyot's predicament. But this did not satisfy came a terrific crash, followed by another and them; and when Eugénie grasped the fact that then another. The house we were in shook it was the orderly of the German major of with the shock of it, and on the instant every whom I spoke, she insisted that he was a Boche lip was sealed. We eyed each other for a secspy, in spite of my reiterated denials.
ond with startled faces. To tell the truth, it was not so much the Three other explosions rent the air, so near scolding I minded as their indifference to my that we instinctively shrank back, shuddering. adventure. I wanted to talk about it, but Every one in that room had had some experithey refused to show the slightest interest; so ence with shells in one part of France or anwhen Sunday came I went out to the military other; but the unexpectedness of this attack hospital certain that in Mademoiselle Peters appalled us all for the moment. Then one of I should find a sympathetic listener.
the doctors recovered his wits. It was one of our few fine days, and early “I guess it 's our turn,” he remarked calmly. in the afternoon we went for a little walk, “A Boche aëroplane is bombing us." when I talked and talked to my heart's content, In the hush that followed we heard the fallwhile Mademoiselle Peters put in a question ing of glass, the clatter of splintered wood, folnow and then and laughed with me over the lowed by sharp cries of pain and fear. climax to my queer experience with the French This brought us to our feet and there was a officer.
rush for the door. At the sound of those pleas We had grown so indifferent to the constant for help we forgot ourselves on the instant. booming of the guns that we forgot all about In the open, the purring of the engine was
“VIVE LA FRANCE!”
plainly audible, and I looked up to see an aëro "Where are the rest ?" demanded Mademoiplane almost directly over my head. Even as selle Peters. my eyes were upon it, a dark object was “This is the last one,” came the answer out dropped to the ground, a flash and a detona of the murk of smoke. “All out! Hurry !” tion resulting that shook the earth under my With a thankful heart that all were saved, feet.
I turned and found my way into the air, filling Then came a shout of "Fire !” and I saw my lungs with a deep breath of it. Mademoismoke rising from the building at the end of selle Peters stood panting at my side. the little group. Inside it, I knew that there "Thank Heaven, we 've saved them !" she were a dozen prostrate men who could not es half sobbed. “Oh, Jeannette, how can the cape unaided. Their only salvation lay in the Germans do such things?” devotion of the men and women who rushed to I did not answer, for once more there came their rescue without thought of their own peril. the throb of an aëroplane engine above our
Somehow or other I had stayed near Ma heads. demoiselle Peters and now found myself run “They 've come back!” some one shouted. ning at her side.
“Look out! Here 's another bomb !" "They are deliberately bombing us!" she It burst so close to us that I reeled, and in shouted in my ear. "I could not have believed my eyes there was a flash as of lightning, hot that there were such people living. They care
and terrible. In that blinding light two or nothing for the Red Cross or anything else. three figures closer to the point of explosion They are murderers !"
fell like wooden images, so unlifelike did they Her tone was one of deep anger and resent appear against the background of flaming gas. ment. She was an American, with none of the Mademoiselle Peters was flung to the earth, feelings that years of insult and attempted op
but juinped to her feet the next moment. pression had bred in the French, yet I could “The brutes are bombing us again!” she add nothing to the tone of loathing, contempt,
cried, with flashing eyes. “Oh, how I wish and horror that this girl from across the sea
I were a man!” had now for the Boches.
Morc bombs were dropping, and again the But this was no time to talk. All of us had flames began to crackle, this time on the roof work to do. Mademoiselle Peters and I en of the building where we had a few moments tered the smoke-filled building with the others, before placed our rescued patients. All the and strove desperately to remove the wounded work had to be done again, and now by fewer as quickly as possible. We found a poilu who hands. Some were lying prone, nurses, doccould not put foot to the ground. There was tors, and ambulance men, who would never only one way for us to save his life and that help in this world again. was to carry him out in his blankets and sheet. It was dreadful. How we managed it I do not know. I was
After a time I lost touch with Mademoiselle at one end and Mademoiselle Peters at the Peters and was aiding another nurse to bear other, and somehow we reached the air with a stretcher upon which lay an unconscious our maimed burden slung between us as in a poilu. As I was making for the door I colhammock. We staggered with him to the next lided with a huge fellow with a bandaged building, and as there was no empty bed we head, whose wide, uncertain gestures showed laid him gently on the floor.
me at once that he was blind. “Thank you, thank you,” he said, through "Stay here and I 'll come back for you!" I set lips. “I am all right here. Go back to the shouted. others. I wish I could help you.”
“Good, Mademoiselle,” he answered, and That the man suffered intensely I know, yet stood still, while I struggled out once more he had the courage to thank us and think of into the air. others.
It was some minutes, I suppose, before I was We rushed back, but by this time the entire free to return, but as I ran back to enter the building was ablaze, and a draft of hot air burning building a hand stayed me. stopped us on the threshold. For an instant “You must not go in," a voice shouted in my it seemed impossible to breathe.
ear. "It 's impossible !" “Come on, Jeannette, cried Mademoiselle “I must! I must!" I cried, and wrenched Peters; "we must go in !” and with her head myself free, remembering the helpless poilu lowered she entered the smoke-filled room. I waiting for me. followed, but we had scarcely taken a step A heavy black cloud poured through the when some one bumped into us.
door as I plunged in. I felt the acrid vapor
“VIVE LA FRANCE!”
LA CROIX DE GUERRE
clutch my throat with a smothering grip. For
CHAPTER XXXIV an instant I faltered. It did seem impossible; but I had bidden the blind soldier stay till I returned. I must find him.
BEFORE I opened my eyes again I was dimly Only by instinct did I reach the man, stand aware of a most pleasing sensation of tranquiling rigidly on the spot where I had last seen lity. It was as if I had laid myself down on a him. I grasped him by the arm and turned deep bed of moss in a cool and shady place toward the dim glow in the thickening smoke after a long hot walk in midsummer. It was which indicated the doorway.
a most delightful feeling, and I lay quiet, smilAs I started to lead him, my giant began to ing with the dreamy comfort of complete relaugh uproariously.
laxation. I had no desire to move. No wish “This is n't funny, Monsieur !” I cried out to open my eyes. No thought but of this wonin irritation, choking with the hot fumes that derful restfulness and blissful bodily ease. enveloped us.
Gradually, after what seemed long hours, “Oh, is n't it?" he shouted. “Here am I, there came to me a hint of speculation as to the strongest man in my regiment, being led what had happened; but I put it from me for like a dancing bear by a girl. That 's funny, is a time, satisfied to let myself drift along withn't it? Either I must laugh, Mademoiselle, or out care and without sensation, save that of I shall cry.”
perfect serenity. But little by little a curiosity Even in the confusion of that ghastly, reek grew upon me. I was not aware of any life ing room, the thought came to me that my outside of my own hardly conscious existence. huge poilu was right. In this dreadful busi There was no sound, not even the shadow of ness of war, as fought today, we must either a world beyond my dim perceptions. Yet my laugh or cry. There is no middle way to live mind gradually awakened to the realization through it.
that there was something more about me than But that was the last connected thinking I simply a vague and fleeting knowledge of my did for some time. The smoke was blinding own identity. I shortly began to remember mc, too, and my senses were reeling. On our that I was Jeannette de Martigny and with way to the door we struck against a cot. It that memory came a reawakening to what seemed to be of enormous size. The second had been happening in my little world before I groped in the darkness was to me an inter this period of serene passiveness. Then, like minable hour. Flashes of light sprang up be a scene, half hidden by a cloud of fog, I picfore my eyes, and I knew not whether they tured that last mad effort to save the wounded were flame or the delusions of my fast ebbing in the hospital. The choking grip of the smoke consciousness. I gasped for more air to fill at my throat when I had tried to lead my blind my laboring lungs, struggling against threaten poilu out of the building; the great glare of ing suffocation. In my ears was a Babel of that last bomb and the sudden blackness that sounds, bewildering and chaotic. Yet through had enveloped me. I knew what had happened this mad muddle of my senses I held to one now, and smiled at the thought. I was dead, thought. I must save my poilu! And some and there was a glad feeling in my heart that how or other we reached the door. Out into all this wonderful calmness of spirit could the blessed sunlight we stumbled, safe, at have but one explanation—I was in Heaven. least for the moment. My mind cleared as To me it was a beautiful thought. I opened two nurses and a doctor came running up to my eyes and looked up into the face of my
father, bending toward me with a smile upon “A thousand thanks for saving me," my his lips. There he was, my dear papa, looking blind soldier shouted above the din, "when the just as I had known him upon the earth, with war is over, Mademoiselle, your bear will warm love for me shining in his eyes. There dance for you.”
could be no doubt now as to where I was. I I laughed with him, hardly knowing what I had left my body behind me and was with him did, and then I became aware of the now whom I had loved best in the world, high above dreaded humming of an aëroplane.
all cares and troubles. What more could I “Look out! Here's another !” some one ask of Heaven than to give him back to me? cried, and that was all I heard.
Curiously enough, I was content to lie and For, the next instant, a great blinding flash look up at him. It was sufficient that we were of light pierced my brain, followed by a deep together again. There was plenty of time to and velvety blackness.
put my arms about him. For the present I was
“VIVE LA FRANCE!”.
too happy to move; too blissful to break the wonderful spell that seemed to hold me.
But presently, out of the corner of my eye, I saw another figure standing a little way off. It was Mademoiselle Peters, in her uniform, and the red cross she wore seemed to gleam as if it were alive. For a moment, sadness filled
It was too bad that she should have died too. For myself there was nothing to regret, on the contrary, I was joyful that I was with Papa again; but for her I was conscious of a great sorrow, so that I felt the tears brimming my eyes.
Poor Mademoiselle Peters, they would miss her very much, I was certain. She was so quick to help and so cheerful in the hospital. There would be difficulty in filling her place.
Then I became aware of rustling sounds, as of people walking about, careful not to make a noise. A murmur of low-pitched voices afar off came to me with gentle familiarity, as if I had heard it many times before. I wondered for a while what they could signify, and then, with something of a shock, I remembered hearing just such murmurs in the hospital at Neuilly.
Yes, that was it! The hushed hum of voices was characteristic, and there was Mademoiselle Peters just as she always was, for when I looked again the red cross had lost its radiance.
Of a sudden a great fear seized my heart, and, turning my head a little, I saw that beside me was a white bed; beyond it was another; and so on, an endless row. At the foot of the long room there was a door, a wide doubledoor so that stretchers could enter easily. Around one of the beds there was a screen, and behind it, I knew, there was one struggling with death, a patient whose case was desperate. All about me were the old familiar things which make the bare furnishings of a ward. I had not left the earth after all. I was in a hospital and not in heaven, as I had supposed.
With a pang in my heart, I turned my eyes to seek Father's face, dreading to find it gone; but there it was, smiling lovingly as before. Yet I knew that he was dead. What could it mean? Was it only a dream? Was I very ill, and was this dearly loved face the product of an imagination made vivid by my weakness? He seemed so real and strong and alive—and oh, the loving smile upon his lips !
Then came the thought that if I could only take hold of him, put my arms about him and cling with all my strength, I would be able to keep him with me always. That he would not
vanish as does a dream when one awakens.
But when I tried to move, my body seemed to have lost the power to stir itself, and the anguish in my heart was more than I could bear. I must embrace Papa to keep him with me, else would I be left alone again, and summoning all my will I struggled against the dead load of my passive body. With an effort that seemed to wrench my very soul I lifted myself from the pillow and flung my heavy arms about his neck, my own cry echoing in my ears:
"Oh, Papa, Papa! I cannot let you go! I cannot let you go. Stay with me, please stay with me!”
I felt his arms about me, strong and alive. and in my ear his murmured words of comfort.
“My dear, my dear! It's all right. I'm not going away. I 'm going to stay a long time. It was all a mistake about my being dead. My little Jeannette! Ma petite fille ! Don't sob so. See, it 's all right. I've come back to you as well as I ever was.”
I clung to him, shaking from head to foot, fearing for a time that my very ears were playing me a trick; but in a little the realization came to me that we were both alive and in each other's arms. Nothing mattered after that, though I still clung to him desperately, while he patted and comforted me till I grew calm again. Then I heard Mademoiselle Peters speaking to me.
"Jeannette, dear, you must lie quiet or I shall have to send your father away.”
She needed to say it but once, for at that threat I lay down like a lamb, ready to do anything that I was told rather than that he should go away from me.
“May I talk?" I asked with a smile.
"I 'll do most of the talking,” Father cut in. “I must tell Jeannette how it happens that I am still here. Is n't that what you wanted to know, dear?” he asked me.
I nodded my head.
"That is just what I wanted to know," I whispered.
"In that case I 'll leave you to yourselves,” Mademoiselle Peters suggested, and went off to her duties.
Then Father told me about his adventure which, as he said, was quite simple after all. He was n't killed, as André supposed, though he had been pretty badly wounded; but the Germans had taken him prisoner and for weeks he had lain in one of their hospitals. After he was strong enough, they sent him