In the same way the warlike power of Guynemer’s companions is not diminished. Guynemer is still with them, accompanying each one, and instilling into them the passionate longing to do more and more for France.
V. THE LEGEND
In seaside graveyards, the stone crosses above the empty tombs say only, after the name, “Lost at sea.” I remember also seeing in the churchyards of the Vale of Chamonix similar inscriptions: “Lost on Mont-Blanc.” As the mountains and the sea sometimes refuse to give up their victims, so the air seems to have kept Guynemer.
“He was neither seen nor heard as he fell,” M. Henri Lavedan wrote at the beginning of October; his body and his machine were never found. Where has he gone? By what wings did he manage thus to glide into immortality? Nobody knows: nothing is known. He ascended and never came back, that is all. Perhaps our descendants will say: “He flew so high that he could not come down again."
[Footnote 29: L’Illustration, October 6, 1917.]
I remember a strange line read in some Miscellany in my youth and never forgotten, though the rest of the poem has vanished from memory:
Un jet d’eau qui montait n’est pas redescendu.
Does this not embody the upspringing force of Guynemer’s brilliant youth?
Throughout France some sort of miracle was expected: Guynemer must reappear—if a prisoner he must escape, if dead he must come to life. His father said he would go on believing even to the extreme limits of improbability. The journalist who signs his letters from the front to Le Temps with the pseudonym d’Entraygues recalled a passage from Balzac in which some peasants at work on a haystack call to the postman on the road: “What’s the news?” “Nothing, no news. Oh! I beg your pardon, people say that Napoleon has died at St. Helena.” Work stops at once, and the peasants look at one another in silence. But one fellow standing on the rick says: “Napoleon dead! psha! it’s plain those people don’t know him!” The journalist added that he heard a speech of the same kind in the bush-region of Aveyron. A passenger on the motor-bus read in a newspaper the news of Guynemer’s death; everybody seemed dismayed. The chauffeur alone smiled skeptically as he examined the spark plugs of his engine. When he had done, he pulled down the hood, put away his spectacles, carefully wiped his dirty hands on a cloth still dirtier, and planting himself in front of the passenger said: “Very well. I tell you that the man who is to down Guynemer is still an apprentice. Do you understand?...”