Paths of Glory eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about Paths of Glory.
old home whose names I have forgotten.  We met also a civilian guest of the commandant, who introduced himself as August Blankhertz and who turned out to be a distinguished big-game hunter and gentleman aeronaut.  With Major von Abercron for a mate he sailed from St. Louis in the great balloon race for the James Gordon Bennett Cup.  They came down in the Canadian woods and nearly died of hunger and exposure before they found a lumber camp.  Their balloon was called the Germania.  There was another civilian, a member of the German secret-service staff, wearing the Norfolk jacket and the green Alpine hat and on a cord about his neck the big gold token of authority which invariably mark a representative of this branch of the German espionage bureau; and he was wearing likewise that transparent air of mystery which seemed always to go with the followers of his ingenious profession.

During the evening the mayor of Maubeuge came, a bearded, melancholy gentleman, to confer with the commandant regarding a clash between a German under-officer and a household of his constituents.  Orderlies and attendants bustled in and out, and somebody played Viennese waltz songs on a piano, and altogether there was quite a gay little party in the parlor of this handsome house which the Germans had commandeered for the use of their garrison staff.

At early bedtime, when we stepped out of the door of the lit-up mansion into the street, it was as though we had stepped into a far-off country.  Except for the tramp of a sentry’s hobbed boots over the sidewalks and the challenging call of another sentry round the corner the town was as silent as a town of tombs.  All the people who remained in this place had closed their forlorn shops where barren shelves and emptied showcases testified to the state of trade; and they had shut themselves up in their houses away from sight of the invaders.  We could guess what their thoughts must be.  Their industries were paralyzed, and their liberties were curtailed, and every other house was a breached and worthless shell.  Among ourselves we debated as we walked along to the squalid tavern where we had been quartered, which of the spectacles we had that day seen most fitly typified the fruitage of war—­the shattered, haunted forts lying now in the moonlight beyond the town, or the brooding conquered, half-destroyed town itself.  I guess, if it comes to that, they both typified it.

Chapter 14

The Red Glutton

As we went along next day through the town of Maubeuge we heard singing; and singing was a most rare thing to be hearing in this town.  In a country where no one smiles any more who belongs in that country, singing is not a thing which you would naturally expect to hear.  So we turned off of our appointed route.

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Paths of Glory from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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