Georges Duhamel.

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THE LIBRARIES




GIVEN BY



H, W. Wilson



THE ^fEW BOOK OF MARTYRS



THE NEW BOOK
OF MARTYRS

From the French
of

GEORGES DUHAMEL

BY

FLORENCE SIMMONDS







> ' » »



i »
'j » >



NEW YORK.
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



COPYRIGHT. 1918,
BY GEORGE H. DO RAN COMPANY



GIFT CF
H. W. WILSON

MAR 2 2 1929



1 ^

C I.



PRINTED IN THE tNlTED STATES OF AMERICA



CONTENTS

PAGE

THROUGHOUT OUR LAND 9

THE STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU ... 12

MEMORIES OF THE MARTYRS 42

THE DEATH OF MERCIER . 96

VERDUN lOI

THE SACRIFICE . . . ,^\ . • • . I36

THE THIRD SYMPHONY ....••. I63

GRACE 167

NIGHTS IN ARTOIS . . • • _ • ^..•^•E. • • I^S



THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS



THE NEW BOOK OF
MARTYRS

THROUGHOUT OUR LAND

FROM the disfigured regions where the
cannon reigns supreme, to the moun-
tains of the South, to the ocean, to
the glittering shores of the inland sea, the cry
of wounded men echoes throughout the land,
and a vast kindred cry seems to rise responsive
from the whole world.

There is no French town in which the
wounds inflicted on the battle-field are not
bleeding. Not one which has not accepted
the duty of assuaging something of the sum of
suffering, just as It bears Its part In the sum
of mourning; not one which may not hear
within Its own walls an echo of the greater
lamentation swelling and muttering where
the conflict seems to rage unceasingly. The

9



10 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

waves of war break upon the whole surface of
the country, and like the incoming tide, strew
it with wreckage.

In the beds which the piety of the public
has prepared on every side, stricken men
await the verdict of fate. The beds are white,
the bandages are spotless; many faces smile
until the hour when they are flushed with
fever, and until that same fever makes a
whole nation of wounded tremble on the
Continent.

Some one who had been visiting the wounded
said to me: *'The beds are really very white,
the dressings are clean, all the patients seem
to be playing cards, reading the papers, eating
dainties; they are simple, often very gentle,
they don't look very unhappy. They all tell
the same story. . . . The war has not changed
them much. One can recognise them all."

Are you sure that you recognise them? You
have just been looking at them, are you sure
that you have seen them?

Under their bandages are wounds you cannot
imagine. Below the wounds, in the depths of
the mutilated flesh, a soul, strange and furtive,
is stirring in feverish exaltation, a soul which



THROUGHOUT THE LAND 11

does not readily reveal Itself, which expresses
itself artlessly, but which I would fain make
you understand.

In these days, when nothing retains its
former semblance, all these men are no longer
those you so lately knew. Suffering has
roused them from the sleep of gentle life,
and every day fills them with a terrible in-
toxication. They are now something more
thaT\ themselves; those we loved were merely
happy shadows.

Let us lose none of their humble words, let
us note their slightest gestures, and tell me,
tell me that ve will think of them together,
now and later, when we realise the misery
of the times and the magnitude of their
sacrifice.



THE STORY OF CARRE AND
LERONDEAU

THEY came in like two parcels dis-
patched by the same post, two clum-
sy, squalid parcels, badly packed,
and damaged in transit. Two human form,
rolled up in linens and woollens, strapped lito
strange instruments, one of which enclo'iid the
whole man, like a coffin of zinc and wire.

They seemed to be of no partictlar age; or
rather, each might have been a/housand and
more, the age of swaddled raimmies in the
depths of sarcophagi. /

We washed, combed, ard peeled them, and
laid them very cau4*ously between clean
sheets; then we foura that one had the look
of an old man, aid that the other was still
a boy.

* * Hi

Their ^eds face each other in the same grey
roon?. All who enter it notice them at once;
their infinite misery gives them an air of
kinship. Compared with them, the other

12



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 13

wounded seem well and happy. And In this
abode of suffering, they are kings; their
couches are encircled by the respect and si-
lence due to majesty.

I approach the younger man and bend over
him.

'What is your name?"

The answer is a murmur accompanied by an
imploring look. What I hear sounds like :
Mahlhehondo. It is a sigh with modulations.

It takes me a week to discover that the
boyish patient is called Marie Lerondeau.

The bed opposite is less confused. I see a
little toothless head. From out the ragged
beard comes a peasant voice, broken in tone,
but touching and almost melodious. The man
who lies there is called Carre.



They did not come from the same battle-
field, but they were hit almost at the same time,
and they have the same wound. Each has a
fractured thigh. Chance brought them to-
gether in the same distant ambulance, where
their wounds festered side by side. Since then
they have kept together, till now they lie



14. THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

enfolded by the blue radiance of the Master's
gaze.

He looks at both, and shakes his head
silently; truly, a bad business! He can but
ask himself which of the two will die first, so
great are the odds against the survival of
either.

The white-bearded man considers them In
silence, turning In his hand the cunning knife.

* * *

We can know nothing till after this grave
debate. The soul must withdraw, for this is
not its hour. Now the knife must divide the
flesh, and lay the ravage bare, and do its work
completely.

So the two comrades go to sleep, in that
dreadful slumber w^hereln each man resembles
his own corpse. Henceforth we enter upon
the struggle. We have laid our grasp upon
these two bodies; we shall not let them be
snatched from us easily.

* * *

The nausea of the awakening, the sharp
agony of the first hours are over, and I begin
to discover my new friends.



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 15

This requires time and patience. The dress-
ing hour Is propitious. The man lies naked
on the table. One sees him as a whole, as
also those great gaping wounds, the objects of
so many hopes and fears.

The afternoon is no less favourable to com-
munion, but that is another matter. Calm
has come to them, and these two creatures
have ceased to be nothing but a tortured leg
and a screaming mouth.

Carre went ahead at once. He made a
veritable bound. Whereas Lerondeau seemed
still wrapped in a kind of plaintive stupor,
Carre was already enfolding me in a deep
affectionate gaze. He said:

''You must do all that is necessary."

Lerondeau can as yet only murmur a half
articulate phrase :

"Mustn't hurt me.'*



As soon as I could distinguish and under-
stand the boy's words, I called him by his
Christian name. I would say:

"How are you, Marie?" or "I am pleased
with you, Marie."



16 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

This familiarity suits him, as does my use
of "thee" and *'thou" in talking to him.
He very soon guessed that I speak thus only
to those who suffer most, and for whom I have
a special tenderness. So I say to him: "Marie,
the wound looks very well to-day." And
every one in the hospital calls him Marie as
I do.

When he is not behaving well, I say:
"Come, be sensible, Lerondeau."
His eyes fill with tears at once. One day I
was obliged to try "Monsieur Lerondeau,"
and he was so hurt that I had to retract on
the spot. However, he now refrains from
grumbling at his orderly, and screaming too
loudly during the dressing of his wound, for he
knows that the day I say to him "Be quiet,
Monsieur" — just Monsieur — our relations will
be exceedingly strained.

* * *

From the first, Carre bore himself like a
man. When I entered the dressing ward, I
found the two lying side by side on stretchers
which had been placed on the floor^^ j Carre's
emaciated arm emerged from under his



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 17

blanket, and he began to lecture Marie on the
subject of hope and courage. ... I listened
to the quavering voice, I looked at the toothless
face, lit up by a smile, and I felt a curious
choking in my throat, while Lerondeau blinked
like a child who is being scolded. Then I
went out of the room, because this was a
matter between those two lying on the ground,
and had nothing to do with me, a robust
person, standing on my feet.

•P 3jK 3f»

Since then, Carre has proved that he had a
right to preach courage to young Lerondeau.

While the dressing is being prepared, he lies
on the ground with the others, waiting his
turn, and says very little. He looks gravely
round him, and smiles when his eyes meet
mine. He is not proud, but he is not one of
those who are ready to chatter to every one.
One does not come into this ward to talk, but
to suffer, and Carre is bracing himself to suffer
as decently as possible.

When he is not quite sure of himself, he
warns me, saying:

*'I am not as strong as usual tOjjay.^^



18 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

Nine times out of ten, he is *'as strong as
usual," but he is so thin, so wasted, so reduced
by his mighty task, that he is sometimes
obliged to beat a retreat. He does It with
honour, with dignity. He has just said: "My
knee is terribly painful," and the sentence
almost ends In a scream. Then, feeling that
he is about to howl like the others, Carre
begins to sing.

The first time this happened I did not quite
understand what was going on. He repeated
the one phrase again and again : "Oh, the
pain in my knee!" And gradually I became
aware that thls_lament was becoming a real
melody, and for five long minutes Carre Im-
provised a terrible, wonderful, heart-rending
song on "the pain In his knee." Since then
this has become a habit, and he begins to sing
suddenly as soon as he feels that he can no
longer keep silence.

Among his improvisations he will Introduce
old airs. I prefer not to look at his face when
he begins: "II n'est nl beau nl grand mon
verre." Indeed, I have a good excuse for
not looking at it, for I am very busy with
his poor leg, which gives me much anxiety.



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 19

and has to be handled with infinite precau-
tions.

I do "all that Is necessary," introducing the
burning tincture of iodine several times. Carre
feels the sting; and when, passing by his cor-
ner an hour later, I listen for a moment, I
hear him slowly chanting in a trembling but
melodious voice the theme: "He gave me
tincture of iodine."



Carre Is proud of showing courage.

This morning he seemed so weak that I tried
to be as quick as possible and to keep my ears
shut. But presently a stranger came into the
ward. Carre turned his head slightly, saw
the visitor, and frowning, began to sing:

"II n'est ni beau ni grand mon verre."

The stranger looked at him with tears in his
eyes, but the more he looked, the more reso-
lutely Carre smiled, clutching the edges of the
table with his two quivering hands.



Lerondeau has good strong teeth. Carre
has nothing but black stumps. This distresses



20 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

me, for a man with a fractured thigh needs
good teeth.

Lerondeau is still at death's door, but
though moribund, he can eat. He attacks his
meat with a well-armed jaw; he bites with
animal energy, and seems to fasten upon any-
thing substantial.

Carre, for his part, is well-inclined to eat;
but what can he do with his old stumps?

"Besides," he says, "I was never very car-



nivorous."



Accordingly, he prefers to smoke. In view
of lying perpetually upon his back, he ar-
ranged the cover of a cardboard box upon his
chest; the cigarette ash falls into this, and
Carre smokes without moving, in cleanly fash-
ion.

I look at the ash, the smoke, the yellow,
emaciated face, and reflect sadly that it is not
enough to have the will to live ; .one must
have teeth.

JJC T* *F

Not every one knows how to suffer, and even
when we know, we must set about it the right
way, if we are to come off with honour. As



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 21

soon as he is on the table, Carre looks round
him and asks:

''Isn't there any one to squeeze my head
to-day?"

If there is no answer, he repeats anxiously:

"Who is going to squeeze my head to-day?"

Then a nurse approaches, takes his head

between her hands and presses. ... I can

begin; as soon as some one is "squeezing his

head" Carre is good.

Lerondeau's method Is different. He wants
some one to hold his hands. When there is
no one to do this, he shrieks: "I shall fall."
It is no use to tell him that he Is on a solid
table, and that he need not be afraid. He
gropes about for the helpful hands, and cries,
the sweat breaking out on his brow: "I know
I shall fall." Then I get some one to come
and hold his hands, for suffering, at any rate,
is a reality. . . .



Each sufferer has his characteristic cry when
the dressing is going on. The poor have only
one, a simple cry that does service for them
all. It makes one think of the women who,



^2 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

when they are bringing a child Into the world,
repeat, at every pain, the one complaint they
have adopted.

Carre has a great many varied cries, and he
does not say the same thing when the dress-
ing Is removed, and when the forceps are
applied.

At the supreme moment he exclaims: *'0h,
the pain in my knee!"

Then, when the anguish abates, he shakes
his head and repeats:

"Oh, that wretched knee !"

When It Is the turn of the thigh, he is
exasperated.

"Now it's this thigh again!"

And he repeats this incessantly, from second
to second. Then we go on to the wound
under his heel, and Carre begins:

"Well, what is wrong with the poor heel?"

Finally, when he is tired of singing, he
murmurs softly and regularly:

"They don't know how that wretched knee
hurts me . . . they don't know how it hurts



me.



Lerondeau, who Is, and always will be, a
little boy compared with Carre, is ver^ poor



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 23

in the matter of cries. But when he hears his
friend's complaints, he checks his own cries,
and borrows them. Accordingly, I hear him
beginning:

^'Oh, my poor knee! . . . They don't know_
how it hurts!"

One morning when he was shouting this at
the top of his voice, I asked him gravely:

*'Why do you make the same complaints
as Carre?"

Marie is only a peasant, but he showed me
a face that was really offended:

"It's not true. I don't say the same
things."

I said no more, for there are no souls so
rugged that they cannot feel certain stings.



Marie has told me the story of his life and
of his campaign. As he is not very eloquent,
it was for the most part a confused murmur
with an ever-recurring protestation:

'^I was a good one to work, you know,
strong as a horse."

Yet I can hardly imagine that there was
once a Marie Lerondeau who was a robust



24 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

young fellow, standing firm and erect between
the handles of a plough. I know him only as
a man lying on his back, and I even find it
difficult to picture to myself what his shape
and aspect will be when we get him on his
feet again.

Marie did his duty bravely under fire. "He
stayed alone with the wagons and when he
was wounded, the Germans kicked him with
their heavy boots." These are the salient
points of the interrogatory.

Now and again Lerondeau's babble ceases,
and he looks up to the ceiHng, for this takes
the place of distance and horizon to those who
lie upon their backs. After a long, light silence,
he looks at me again, and repeats:

"I must have been pretty brave to stay alone
with the wagons!"

True enough, Lerondeau was brave, and I
take care to let people know it. When
strangers come in during the dressings, I show
them Marie, who is making ready to groan,
and say:

"This is Marie — Marie Lerondeau, you
know. He has a fractured thigh, but he is



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 25

a very brave fellow. He stayed alone with
the wagons."

The visitors nod their heads admiringly, and
Marie controls himself. He blushes a little,
and the muscles of his neck swell with pride.
He makes a sign with his eyes as if to say:
"Yes, indeed, alone, all alone with the wag-
ons." And meanwhile, the dressing has been
nearly finished.

The whole world must know that Marie
stayed alone with the wagons. I intend to
pin a report of this on the Government pen-
sion certificate.



Carre was only under fire once, and was hit
almost immediately. He is much annoyed at
this, for he had a good stock of courage, and
now he has to waste it within the walls of a
hospital.

He advanced through a huge beetroot field,
and he ran with the others towards a fine
white mist. All of a sudden, crack, he
fell! His thigh was fractured. He fell
among the thick leaves, on the waterlogged
earth.



26 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

Shortly afterwards his sergeant passed again,
and said to him:

''We are gohig back to our trench, they
shall come and fetch you later."

Carre merely said:

"Put my haversack under my head."

Evening was coming on; he prepared, grave-
ly, to spend the night among the beetroots.
And there he spent it, alone with a cold driz-
zling rain, meditating seriously until morning.



*



It was fortunate that Carre brought such a
stock of courage into hospital, for he needs it
all. Successive operations and dressings make
large drafts upon the most generous supplies.

They put Carre upon the table, and I note
an almost joyful resolution in his look. To-
day he has ''all his strength, to the last ounce."

But just to-day, I have but little to do, not
much suffering to inflict. He has scarcely
knitted his brows, when I begin to fasten up
the apparatus again.

Then Carre's haggard face breaks into a
smile, and he exclaims:



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 27

^'Finished already? Put some more ether
on, make it sting a^blt^at least."

Carre knows that the courage of which
there was no need to-day will not, perhaps, be
available to-morrow.



And to-morrow, and for many days after,
Carre will have to be constantly calling up
those reserves of the soul which help the body
to suffer while it waits for the good offices of
Nature.

The swimmer adrift on the open seas meas-
ures his strength, and strives with all his
muscles to keep himself afloat. But what is
he to do when there is no land on the
horizon, and none beyond it?

This leg, infected to the very marrow,
seems to be slowly devouring the man to
whom It belongs; we look at It anxiously,
and the white-haired Master fixes two small
light-blue eyes upon It, eyes accustomed to
appraise the things of life, yet, for the mo-
ment, hesitant.

I speak to Carre In veiled words of the
troublesome, gangrenous leg. He gives a



28 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

toothless laugh, and settles the question at
once.

"Well, if the wretched thing is a nuisance,
we shall have to get rid of it."

After this consent, we shall no doubt make
up our minds to do so.

* * *

Meanwhile Lerondeau is creeping steadily
towards healing.

Lying on his back, bound up in bandages
and a zinc trough, and imprisoned by aishions,
he nevertheless looks like a ship which the
tide will set afloat at dawn.

He is putting on flesh, yet, strange to
say, he seems to get lighter and lighter.
He is learning not to groan, not because
his frail soul is gaining strength, but be-
cause the animal is better fed and more
robust.

His ideas of strength of mind are indeed
very elementary. As soon as I hear his first
cry, in the warm room where his wound is
dressed, I give him an encouraging look, and
say:

"Be brave, Marie! Try to be strong!"



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 29

Then he knits his brows, makes a grimace,
and asks:

^'Ought I to say 'By God!'?'*

The zinc trough in which Marie's shattered
leg has been lying has lost its shape; it has
become oxydised and is split at the edges;
so I have decided to change it.

I take it away, look at it, and throw it
into a corner. Marie follows my movements
with a scared glance. While I am adjusting
the new^ trough, a solid, comfortable one, but
rather different in appearance, he^ casts an
eloquent glance at the discarded one, and his
eyes fill with copious tears.

This change is a small matter; but in the
lives of the sick, there are no small things.

Lerondeau will weep for the old zinc frag-
ment for two days, and it will be a long time
before he ceases to look distrustfully at the
new trough, and to criticise it in those minute
and bitter terms which only a connoisseur can
understand or invent.



Carre, on the other hand, cannot succeed
in carrying along his body by the generous



so THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

Impulse of his soul. Everything about him
save his eyes and his liquid voice foreshadow
the corpse. Throughout the winter days and
the long sleepless nights, he looks as if he were
dragging along a derelict.

He strains at it . . . with his poignant
songs and his brave words which falter now,
and often die away in a moan.

I had to do his dressing in the presence of
Marie. The amount of work to be got
through, and the cramped quarters made this
necessary. Marie was grave and attentive as
if he were taking a lesson, and, indeed, it was
a lesson in patience and courage. But all at
once, the teacher broke down. In the middle
of the dressing, Carre opened his lips, and in
spite of himself, began to complain without
restraint or measure, giving up the struggle
in despair.

Lerondeau listened, anxious and uneasy; and
Carre, knowing that Marie was listening, con-
tinued to lament, like one who has lost all
sense of shame.



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 31

Lerondeau called me by a motion of his
eyelids. He said:

^'Carre! . . ."

And he added:

"I saw his slough. Lord! he is bad."

Lerondeau has a good memory for medical
terms. Yes, he saw Carre's slough. He him-
self has the like on his posterior and on his
heel; but the tear that trembles in the corner
of his eye is certainly for Carre.

And then, he knows, he feels that his wounds
are going to heal.

But it is bad for Marie to hear another
complaining before his own turn.

He comes to the table very ill-disposed.
His nerves have been shaken and are un-
usually irritable.

At the first movement, he begins with sighs
and those "Poor devils!" which are his art-
less and habitual expressions of self-pity. And
then, all at once, he begins to scream, as
I had not heard him scream for a long time.
He screams in a sort of frenzy, opening
his mouth widely, and shrieking with all



32 THE NEW BOOK OF MARTYRS

the strength of his lungs, and with all the
strength of his face, it would seem, for it is
flushed and bathed in sweat. He screams
unreasonably at the lightest touch, in an in-
coherent and disorderly fashion.

Then, ceasing to exhort him to be calm with
gentle and compassionate words, I raise my
voice suddenly and order the boy to be quiet,
in a severe tone that admits of no parley-
ing. . . .

Marie's agitation subsides at once, like a
bubble at the touch of a finger. The ward
still rings with my imperious order. A good
lady who does not understand at once, stares
at me in stupefaction.

But Marie, red and frightened, controls his
unreasonable emotion. And as long as the
dressing lasts, I dominate his soul strenuously
to prevent him from suffering in vain, just
as others hold and grasp his wrists.

Then, presently, it is all over. I give him
a fraternal smile that relaxes the tension of his
brow as a bow is unbent.

*i* ^^ ^p

A lady, who is a duchess at the least, came



STORY OF CARRE AND LERONDEAU 33

to visit the wounded. She exhaled such a
strong, sweet perfume that she cannot have
distinguished the odour of suffering that per-
vades this place.

Carre was shown to her as one of the most
interesting specimens of the house. She looked
at him with a curious, faded smile, which,
thanks to paint and powder, still had a cer-
tain beauty.

She made some patriotic remarks to Carre
full of allusions to his conduct under fire.
And Carre ceased staring out of the window
to look at the lady with eyes full of respectful
astonishment.

And then she asked Carre what she could
send him that he would like, with a gesture
that seemed to offer the kingdoms of the earth
and the glory of them.

Carre, in return, gave her a radiant smile;
he considered for a moment and then said
modestly :

"A little bit of veal with new_£otatoes."

The handsome lady thought it tactful to
laugh. And I felt instinctively that her in-
terest in Carre was suddenly quenched.


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