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jazz band; while those who could not find room to dance sat laughing, smoking, and drinking as if thousands of their fellow human beings were not at that very moment dying upon the blood-drenched battle-fields of France, Belgium, and Venetia.
Suddenly the lights were turned off and a smirking human doll, with a painted face and curls hanging down her bare back, began to dance suggestively beneath a spotlight, beckoning and posturing before the men at the tables. Disgusted, I ascended to the foyer and found myself face to face with the manager. "Hello, Mr. Stanton!" he cried. "Been down for a little turn?"
"Yes," I answered savagely, "and I got one-but not the kind you mean."
"Sh!" he protested. "Look here; we're doing everything humanly possible to save! It's almost a joke what we give our patrons. We've 'saved everything out of the pig except the squeal.' I guess that Mr. Hoover will agree that no body of men has responded so nobly to his appeal for food conservation as the hotel men!"
I laughed a hollow laugh.
"I counted forty waiters serving ices and champagne," I remarked shortly. "Are you aware that there's such a shortage of wire that we may not be able to keep our armies properly supplied for the building of entanglements? Some day the government
may step in here and stop your elevators in order to conserve the wire in the lifting cables! How would you like that?"
He shrugged his shoulders.
"Well," he answered, "have your joke! But you don't want us to close up, do you?"
I sat for a long time before the fire after I got home before going to bed, thinking of what I had heard and seen that day. I recalled how a well-known Englishman had said that his countrymen had made war for a year in their frock coats, and then suddenly had had to get down to their shirt-sleeves.
After I had retired I was unable to sleep. For hours I tossed from side to side, and then at last I must have begun to dream, for I found myself upon the front, somewhere near the Woëvre, looking for Jack. Crouched in the darkness of a narrow passage between two irregular walls of clay, I struggled forward to find my son.
"Bend lower!" muttered the vague shadow crawling beside me. Just ahead, in mid-air, the German star shells were breaking one after another in quick succession, casting momentarily a ghastly light on the inferno beyond the parapets. The dull pain in my ears became agony whenever one of the boche projectiles burst with a shattering roar in the black waste behind us. The earth rocked with the thunder of the guns, and underneath the higher rattle of the mi
trailleuses, the sharp detonations of the shrapnel, and the bark of the field-pieces there was a constant rumbling diapason in which all sounds merged into a deep bellow like that of a hungry war mon
I stumbled on through the communicating trench, following my guide by the reflection of the German flares and ever and again stepping upon human hands and feet, some of which were withdrawn, while others offered no resistance save that of inanimate bone and flesh. Once I slipped in bloody mire and fell flat upon something soft. My companion shrugged his shoulders as I struggled to my feet.
"They haven't given us any flash-lights for months!" he muttered. "Put your hand on my back."
"Where is your coat?" I asked, for it was snowing and the icy mud was above our ankles.
"We have no coats!" he answered mockingly. We crept on, it seemed by inches, until we debouched into the firing trench, under the parapet of which lay what seemed to be a row of human forms in agony. "Where are your doctors? Your ambulances?" I demanded.
He laughed heartlessly.
"We have no ambulances-and no chauffeurs."
I pressed my hands to my temples, for I seemed to be going mad.
"Where is my son?" I shrieked.
A star shell burst over our heads and he pointed to a hatless figure in tattered khaki on the firing shelf. "There!" he replied.
"Jack!" I called in terror. "Jack, come down!"
He turned and looked at me strangely-without recognition. He was white, haggard, tortured, utterly different from the day when I bade him good-by. I fell on my knees in the mud and stretched imploring arms upward.
"It's I-your father! Don't you know me, Jack?" I cried in a voice I could not recognize as mine.
"We have no fathers!" he retorted bitterly. "And no mothers! We have nobody!"
The light faded away and the night clapped down again upon the trench and its occupants. Weird shapes stumbled past, but my own legs seemed fastened immovably in the mud. I tried to shout but could not. Then a few feet beyond where I stood, I saw by the light of a flare a gap in the parapet where some huge shell had blown it in.
Suddenly, above the tumult, a voice yelled:
"Gas coming! Get your masks!"
I turned helplessly to my guide, trembling with fear. But again he laughed in his mocking way.
"We have no masks!" he answered harshly. "We have no guns nor ammunition! Don't you see that only the Germans are firing? Look through that hole! There are no entanglements-for we have no
wire! There is nothing to keep the boches from rushing us! We have no bombs, no pistols, no rifles! There are no tents nor ambulance hoods-for we have no duck! There are no tools to repair our machineryand no mechanics! We have no food! We have nothing but our lives, and those are being thrown away, because the people at home are still asleep!"