A Cinema of the c.r.b

THE CITY OF THE CARDINAL

UNQUESTIONABLY, the one Belgian whom above all others the Germans would rid themselves of if they could is Cardinal Mercier. He is the strong Prince of the Church, but in the hour of decision he stepped swiftly down and, with a ringing call to courage, took his place with the people. Ever since that day he has helped them to stand united, defiant, waiting the day of liberation. Others have been silenced by imprisonment or death, but the highest power has not dared to lay hands on the Cardinal. He is the voice, not only of the Church, but of Belgium heartening her children.

Malines has her cantines and soupkitchens and ouvroirs — all the branches of relief work necessary to a city that was one of the centres of the German attack; but these are not the most interesting things about Malines. It is, above all, as the city of the Cardinal that she stands forth in this war. Her task has been to give moral and spiritual support, not only to her own people, but to those of every part of Belgium.

Since under the ‘Occupation’ the press has naturally been ‘controlled,’ this support has been rendered chiefly through the famous letters of the Cardinal — messages to the priests to be re-read to their people. After the war there will be pilgrimages to the little room where the first one was printed. It is much as it was left after soldiers ransacked the place: books are still disarranged on their shelves, papers and pamphlets heaped in confusion on the tables. The red seals with which the Germans closed the keyholes have naturally been broken, but their edges still remain. Standing in the midst of this disarray, remembering that the owner had already been six months in a German prison, and looking out on the shattered facade of the building at the end of the garden, I realized, at least partly, another moment of the war.

The Cardinal’s message of courage, then, is distributed chiefly by letter, but continually by his presence and speech in Malines itself, and occasionally in other parts of the country. On the 21st of July, 1916, the anniversary of the independence of Belgium, all Brussels knew that the Cardinal was coming to celebrate high mass in the cathedral of Sainte Gudule. The mass was to begin at 11 o’clock, but at 9.30 practically every foot of standing-room in the vast church was occupied. In the dimness a great sea of people waited patiently, silently, the arrival of their leader. Occasionally a whispered question or rumor flashed along the nave. ‘He has come!’ — ‘He has been prevented!’ There was a tacit understanding that there should be no demonstration. The Cardinal himself had ordered it. Everyone was trying to control himself, and yet, as the air grew thicker and others fought their way into the already packed transepts, one felt that anything might happen! Almost every person had a bit of green ribbon, — color of hope, — or an ivy leaf, — symbol of endurance, —pinned to his coat. The wearing of the national colors was strictly forbidden, but the national spirit found another way. Green swiftly replaced the orange, black, and red.

We all knew that this meant trouble for Brussels, and the fact that the shops (which had all been ordered to keep open on this holiday) were carrying on a continuous comedy at the expense of the Germans, did not help matters, Their doors were open, to be sure, but in many the passage was blocked by the five or six employees, who sat in stiff rows with bows of green ribbon in their button-holes and indescribable expressions on their faces. In the biggest chocolate shop, the window display was an old pail of dirty water with a slimsy rag thrown near it. There was no person inside but the owner, who stood beside the cash-register in dramatic and defiant attitude, smoking a pipe. There were crowds in front of the window, which displayed large photographs of the King and Queen draped with the American flag. Another shop had only an enormous green bow in the window. Almost every one took some part in the play. Not a Belgian entered a shop, and if a German was brave enough to do so, he was usually made the victim of his courage. The clerks were delighted to serve him, but unfortunately peaches had advanced to ten francs each, or something of the sort!

In the meantime, the packed thousands were waiting patiently in the cathedral. After an interminable delay a priest appeared in the pulpit and made an announcement which from our distance we misunderstood. We thought that he said that the mass would be celebrated, but unfortunately not by Monseigneur, who had been detained. Bitterly disappointed, a few of us worked our way inch by inch to the transept door and out into the street. There I found an excited group of Belgians running around the rear of the cathedral to the baptistry door. I joined them, and learned that the Cardinal had just passed through.

For no particular reason I waited there. Before long the door was partly opened by an acolyte, who was apparently expecting some one. He saw me and agreed that. I might enter if I wished; so I slipped in and found room to stand just behind the altar-screen, where, all through the celebration, I could watch the face of the Cardinal, a face at. once keen and tender — strong, fearless, and devout; one could read it all there. He was tall, thin, dominating — a heroic figure in his gorgeous scarlet vestments, officiating at the altar of this beautiful Gothic cathedral.

The congregation remained silent. Three or four fainting women were carried out; that was all. Then the Cardinal mounted the pulpit at the farther end of the nave, to deliver his message — the same message that he had been preaching for two years. His people must hold themselves courageous, unconquered, with steadfast faith in God and in their final liberation. Tears were in the eyes of many, but there was no crying out.

From the pulpit he came back to the catafalque erected in the middle of the nave for the Belgian soldiers who died in battle, a great towering coffin, simply and beautifully draped with Belgian flags, veiled in crepe. Tall flaming candles surrounded it. As the Cardinal approached, the dignitaries of the city, who had been occupying scats of honor below the altar, marched solemnly down and formed a circle about the catafalque. Then the Cardinal read the service for the dead. The dim light of the cathedral; the sea of silent people; the great cenotaph with its flags, its stately, flickering candles; the circle of dignitaries chosen to represent the city; the sad-faced Cardinal saying the prayers for those who had died in defense of the standard that now covered them — was it strange that as his voice ceased and he moved slowly toward the sacristy door by which he was to depart, the overwhelming tide of emotion swept aside all barriers, and the ancient cathedral echoed with cries of ‘Vive le Roi!' — ‘Vive Monseigneur!' We held our breath. Men were pressing by me, whispering, ‘What shall we do ? We need to cry out — after two years, we must cry out! ’

The Cardinal went straight forward, looking neither to the right nor to the left, the tears streaming down his cheeks.

Outside, to pass from the rear of the cathedral to the Archbishop’s palace, he was obliged to cross the road. As I turned up this road to go back to the main portal, the crowd came surging down, arms out-thrust, running, waving handkerchiefs and canes, pushing aside the few helpless Belgian police, quite beyond control, and shouting wildly now, ‘Vive le RoiF and ‘Vive Monseigneur!' I was able to struggle free only after the gate had closed on the Cardinal.

This was the day when in times of peace all the populace brought wreaths to the foot of the statue erected in honor of the soldiers who had died for the independence of Belgium. The Germans had placed guards in the square and forbidden any one to go near it. And so all day long throngs of people, a constant, steady procession, marched along the street above, each man lifting his hat as soon as he came in view of the statue. All these things, I say, did not help Brussels in the matter of the demonstration at the cathedral. And a few days later a posted notice informed her that she had been fined one million marks!

But the people had seen their Cardinal — they had received their spiritual secours. He had brought heavenly comfort to their hearts, put new iron in their blood. They had dared to cry out just once their loyalty to him and to their King, and they laughed at the million marks!

THE SKATING RINK AT LIÉGE

To all the world Liége is the symbol of Belgium’s courage. For eleven days her forts held back an overwhelming force in a heroic attempt to save the national integrity of Belgium. And well Belgium knew to what point she could count on the brave Liégeois; through all her troubled history, they have been the most ardent champions of her freedom.

This city, as the populous centre of a great industrial region, was one of the first to realize the distress that followed the occupation and isolation of Belgium. One by one her famous firearm factories, glass-works, textilemills closed their doors and poured their thousands of workmen into the streets. And this was happening all through the province, so that by 1915 it counted 90,000 idle workmen (chômeurs), and in the capital alone fully 18,000. Ordinarily among her 180,000 inhabitants Liege lists 43,000 skilled workmen; so for her the proportion of unemployed was almost one half; with their families they represented but little less than one quarter of the entire population. The four thousand workers in the coal mines, which fortunately were able to keep open, were the one saving factor in the situation.

The question of chômage — or unemployment— is the most serious one that the relief organization has had to face. It has been most acute in the two Flanders; but in Antwerp, with its 25,000 thousand idle dock-hands, in the highly industrial Hainault, in Namur and in Brabant, as well as in Liege, there have been special circumstances giving rise to particular difficulties. Over 665,000 workmen without work would present a sufficiently critical problem to a country not at war. One can imagine what it means to a country every square foot of which is controlled by an enemy so hated that the conquered would risk all the evils of continued non-employment rather than have any of its people serve in any way the ends of the invader.

None of the leaders I have talked with are satisfied with the system evolved, but no one has yet been able to suggest a better. A scheduled money allowance for the chômeur was quickly adopted, but, as a friend from Tournai said, this enabled a man simply to escape complete starvation, but not to live. Three francs a week for the workman, one franc and a half for his wife, fifty centimes for each of his children, or one dollar and ten cents a week for a family of four — just about the war price of one pound of butter or meat! Obviously the chomeur and his family must draw on the soup-kitchens and cantines, and this they do. They make up a considerable part of the one and a quarter millions who throng the souplines every day.

Every province has tried to reduce its number of unemployed by providing a certain amount of work on roads and public utilities. Luxembourg has been conspicuous in this attempt, reclaiming swamps, rebuilding sewer systems and roadways, employing about 10,000 men. In fact, Luxembourg has so far almost avoided a chomeur class.

Throughout the country, too, the clothing and lace committees are furnishing at least partial employment to some women. In a lesser way various local relief committees are most ingenious in inventing opportunities to give work. In the face of the whole big problem these efforts often seem insignificant, but every community is heartened by even the smallest attempt to restore industry. I have seen fifty men given the chance to buy their own food by means of a ‘soles work.’ All the needy of the village were invited to bring their worn shoes to have a new kind of wooden sole put on for the winter. In one city the owner of a closed fire-arms factory had opened a toy works where 100 men and 30 women were kept busy carving little steel boxes and other toys. If these articles could be exported, such establishments would quickly multiply; but every enterprise must halt at the grim barrier.

In Liége I came upon a most picturesque attempt at an individual solution. I had been much interested, in Antwerp and Charleroi and other cities, in the diner economique or diner bourgeois, conducted by philanthropic women. These are big popular restaurants, where, thanks to a subsidy from the relief committee and the untiring efforts of volunteer workers, a meal can be served for less than it costs. For a few centimes, — about ten cents, — one may usually have a good soup, a plate with meat and vegetables, and sometimes a dessert. Beer may be added for five centimes extra.

In Liege the work is consolidated. I found the once-popular skating-rink turned into a mighty restaurant, gay with American bunting. The skating floor was crowded with tables, the surrounding spectators’ space made convenient cloak-rooms, the casual buffet of bygone days was a kitchen in deadly earnest, supplying dinners to about four thousand daily. When I arrived, there was already a line outside. Each person is supposed to present a card proving him a citizen of Liege. If he has the card, he pays seventy-five centimes (fifteen cents) for his dinner. Or, if he is provided with a special card from the Relief Committee, he may obtain it for sixty, or even thirty centimes — a little more than five cents.

Inside, the tables were crowded. Sixty-five women were hurrying back and forth between the diners and the directors, who stood at a long counter in front of the kitchen serving the thousands of portions of soup, sausage, and a kind of stew of rice and vegetables. In the kitchen, in the meatand vegetable-rooms, there was the constant clamor of sifting, cutting, stirring; of the opening and shutting of ovens. While the sausages of the day were being hurried from the pans, the soup of the morrow was being mixed in the great caldrons; two hundred and fifty men were hard at work. Somehow they did not look as if they had been peeling carrots and stirring soup all their lives — there was a certain dash in all their movements.

The superintendent laughed. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘they are chiefly railroad engineers, conductors, various workmen of the Liege Railroad Company! I myself was an attorney for the road, and I am really more interested in this oeuvre from the point of view of these volunteers than because of the general public it helps. Here are two hundred and fifty men who are giving their best service to their country. The sixty-five women serving the four thousand were once in the telephone service. They also offered to devote themselves to their fellow-sufferers, and they are so proud, so happy to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with other women in this black hour.’

I asked if each worker was given his dinner free.

‘Ah! there is a problem,’ he said. ‘The meals which we furnish at from thirty to seventy-five centimes cost us on an average about sixty-three centimes.’

To supply this to more than three hundred assistants was quite beyond the subsidy allowed the committee. Yet the workers certainly must be fed. Finally he admitted that he and a group of friends were contributing the money necessary to supply these meals. He added that in the beginning the men were hardly able to give more than two hours of hard work a day, but that after a few months of proper nourishment their energy was inexhaustible.

The day of my visit there were no potatoes, so the number of meals served dropped fully one thousand: 743 at seventy-five centimes, 820 at sixty centimes, 1473 at thirty centimes. If there are no potatoes to be had elsewhere in the city, and they are known to be on the cards of the restaurant, there is not standing-room. Hundreds have to be turned away. Bread, potatoes, and lard arc the all-essentials!

This kind of double œuvre is quite the most interesting of all the varied attempts to meet the staggering problem Belgium has daily to face.

THE ‘ASSISTANCE DISCRÈTE

In Brussels, no less than five thousand pauvres honteux — or ‘ ashamed poor,’ — are being helped through the seven sections of the Assistance Discrete, each of which carries the same beautiful motto, ‘Donne, et tais-toi’ (Give, and be silent). At the very beginning of the war a greathearted woman saw where the chief danger of misery lay. Those who were accustomed to accept charity would make the earliest demands. But what about those whose business was slowly being ruined, whose reserves were small? What about schoolteachers, artists, and other members of the professional classes? And widows living on securities invested abroad, or children of gentle upbringing whose fathers had gone to the front expecting to return in three or four months? She saw many of them starving rather than go on the soup-lines.

She had a vision of true mutual aid. Each person who had, should become the sister of her who had not. There should be a sharing of individual with individual. She did not think of green boxes or sections, but of person linked with person in the spirit of fraternity. But the number of the desperate grew too rapidly; her first idea of direct individual help had to be abandoned; and, one after another, distribution centres were organized. An investigator was put in charge of each, who reported personally on all the cases that were brought in either directly or indirectly to the committee. The Comite National granted a subsidy of ten thousand francs a month, which, however, does not nearly cover the need. So day after day the directors of each section canvass their districts for money and food, and by dint of an untiring devotion raise the monthly ten thousand to about twenty-eight thousand francs. But unfortunately every day of war means more wretched ones forced to the wall, and this sum is always far from meeting the distress. We have only to divide the thirty thousand francs by the five thousand on the lists to see what, at best, each family may receive.

I went with an investigator to visit one of these families. A charming old gentleman received us. I should say he was about seventy-three. He had been ill, and was most cheerful over what he called his ‘recovery,’ though to us he still looked far from well. The drawingroom was comfortable, spotlessly clean; there was no fire. We talked of his children, both of whom were married. One son was in Italy, another in Russia; the war had cut off all word or help from both. He himself had been a successful engineer in his day; he had not saved much, however, and his illness and two years of war had eaten up everything. He was deeply interested in Mexico and in the Panama Canal, and we chatted on until mademoiselle felt that we must go. As we were shaking hands she opened her black velvet bag and took out an egg, which she laughingly left on the table as her visiting card. She did it perfectly, and the old gentleman laughed back cheerily, ‘After the war, my dear, I shall certainly find the hen that will lay you golden eggs!’

The woman we visited next did not have a comfortable home, but a single room. She had been for many years a governess in a family in Eastern Belgium, but just before the war both she and the family had invested their money in a savings concern which had gone to pieces, and from that day she had been making the fight to keep her head above water. She had come to Brussels and was succeeding fairly well, when a horrible disease attacked her leg. She had had an operation, but after months there was still an open wound, and she could drag herself about only with great difficulty, I found that mademoiselle takes her to the hospital for treatment — a matter of hours — three times a week, and besides that, visits her in her room. As we were talking, a niece, also unfortunately penniless, came in to polish the stove and dust a bit. Mademoiselle reported that she was pretty sure of being able to bring some stockings to knit on her next visit. These would bring five cents a pair. And as we left she gave another egg, and this time a tiny package of cocoa, too. I discovered that every morsel this governess has to eat comes to her from mademoiselle. And yet I have never been in a room where there was greater courage and cheerfulness.

Of course, every city has its hundreds of unfortunates. There must be everywhere some form of assistance discrète, but most of those on the lists of this war-time organization would in peace-time be the ones to give rather than receive, and their number is increasing pitifully as the winter of 19101917 approaches.

Every one permitted to be in Belgium for any length of time marvels at the incredible, unbreakable spirit of its people. They meet every new military order with a laugh; when they have to give up their motor-cars, they ride on bicycles; when all bicycle tires are requisitioned, they cheerfully walk; if the city is fined one million marks, the laconic comment is, ' It was worth it.’ All the news is censored, so they manufacture and circulate cheerful news. Nothing ever breaks through their smiling, defiant solidarity. One thing only in secret I have heard them admit — the anguish of their complete separation from their loved ones at the front. Mothers and wives of every other nation may have messages; they, never, except by ‘underground.’

One of the chief things that has bound them thus together and buoyed them up is just this enveloping, interpenetrating atmosphere of mutual aid, so beautifully expressed every day through the work of the Assistance Discrete. It was the vision of Fraternity in its widest sense that gave it birth, and every day the women of Belgium are making that vision a blessed reality.

THE LITTLE BEES

Madame G—has charge of a cantine for enfants debiles (children below normal health) in one of the most crowded quarters of Brussels. These can tines are dining-rooms where little ones come from the schools at eleven each morning for a nourishing meal. They form the chief department of the work of the ‘Little Bees,’ a society which is taking care of practically all the children in Brussels, large and small, who arc in one way or another victims of the war; and in July, 1916, these numbered about 25,000.

I visited one crowded cantine, where every day the women had to carry up and down a narrow ladder stairway ail the plates and food for over 400 children. Each cantine has its own pantry or shop with its precious stores of rice, beans, sugar, macaroni, bacon, and other foodstuffs brought in by the Commission for Relief in Belgium, and in addition the fresh vegetables, potatoes, eggs, and meat that it solicits, or buys with the money gathered from door to door.

The weekly menus are a triumph of ingenuity; they prove what variety can be had in apparent uniformity. Naturally, they are all based on scientific analysis of food-values, and strictly follow physicians’ instructions. One day there are more grammes of potatoes, another more grammes of macaroni, in the stew; one noon there is rice for dessert, the next phosphatine. This phosphatine (a mixture of rice, wheat, maize-flour, phosphate of lime, and cocoa) was originated by the‘LittleBees.’ They have a factory for making it, and up to August, 1916, had turned out 638,000 kilos.

It was raining as I entered the large modern tenement building, which Madame G— had been fortunate enough to secure. I found on one side a group of mothers waiting for food to take home to their babies; on the other side the little office through which every child had to pass to have his ticket stamped before he could go upstairs to his dinner. This examining and stamping of cards by the thousand, day after day, is in itself an arduous piece of work, but women accomplish it cheerfully.

On the second floor, between two large connecting rooms, I found Madame G-, in white, superintending

the day’s preparation of the tables for 1662. Eight young women, with bees embroidered in the Belgian colors on their white caps, were bustling to and from the kitchen to the long counters in the hall-way piled high with plates, where they deposited their hundreds of slices of bread, and saucers for dessert. Some were hurrying along the tables with the soup-plates and the 1662 white bowls, while others poured milk or went on with the bread-cutting. Several more women were hard at work in the kitchens and vegetable-rooms. The potato-peeling machine, the last proud acquisition, which was saving untold labor, had turned out the day’s allotment of potatoes, which were already cooked, with meat, carrots, and green vegetables, into a thick, savory stew. The big fifty-quart cans were being filled to be carried to the dining-room; the rice dessert was getting its final stirring. Madame was darting about, watching every detail, assisting in every department.

It was raining outside, but all was white and clean and inviting within. Suddenly there was a rush of feet in the courtyard. I looked out of the window: in the rain 1662 children, between three and twelve years, mothers often leading the smaller ones, — not an umbrella or rubber-shoe among them, — were lining up with their cards, eager to be passed by the sergeants. These long-suffering sergeants kept them in place as they noisily climbed the long stairway, shouting, pushing. One little girl stepped out of line to put fresh flowers before the bust of the Queen. Boys and girls under six crowded into the first of the large, airy rooms, older girls into the second, while the bigger boys climbed to the floor above. With much chattering and shuffling of sabots they slid along the low benches to their places at the long narrow tables. The women hurried between the wriggling rows, ladling out hot, thick soup. The air was filled with cries of, ‘Beaucoup, mademoiselle, beaucoup!’ A few even said, ‘Only a little, mademoiselle.’ Everybody said something. One tiny golden-haired thing pleaded, ‘You know I like the little pieces of meat best.’ In no time they discovered that I was a newcomer, and tried slyly to induce me to give them extra slices of bread, or bowls of milk.

Madame seemed to be everywhere at once, lifting one after another in her arms to get a better look at eyes or glands. Her husband, a physician of international reputation, was in the little clinic at the end of the hall, weighing and examining those whose turn it was to go to him that day. Later, he came out and passed up and down the rows, to get an impression of the general condition of this extraordinary family. When for a moment husband and wife stood toget her in the middle of the vast room, they seemed, with infinite solicitude, to be gathering all the sixteen hundred in their arms. Their own boy is at the front. And all the time the sixteen hundred were rapidly devouring their bread and soup.

Then began the cries of, ‘Dessert, mademoiselle, dessert!’ Tired arms carried the 1662 soup-plates to the kitchen, ladled out 1662 portions of rice, and set them before eager rows. Such a final scraping of spoons, such fascinating play of voice and gesture! When the last crumb was eaten, the hundreds were ready to go back to their schools. They crowded up to offer sticky hands with, ‘Merci, mademoiselle!’ and ‘Au revoir!’ The big American physician who had helped ladle the soup tried to limber up his weary arm. I looked with wonder at the women who had been doing this work practically every day for seven hundred days. Madame was apparently not thinking of resting — only of the next day’s rations. I discovered later that at four o’clock that afternoon she had charge of a cantine for four hundred mothers and their new babies, and that after that she visited the family of a little boy who was absent — so his sister told us — because his shirt was being washed.

All attempts to express admiration of this beautiful devotion are interrupted by the cry, ‘Oh, but it is you, it is America that is doing the astonishing thing — we must give ourselves, but you need not. Your gift to us is the finest expression of sympathy the world has known.’

The second time, I visited Madame G—’s cantine with Mrs. Brand Whitlock, and I found out what it meant to be the wife of the United States Minister in Belgium. From the corner above to the entrance of the court the street was lined with people. At the gateway we were met by a committee headed by the wife of the Bourgmestre. Within the court were the hundreds of children, — with many more mothers this time, — all waiting expectantly, all specially scrubbed, though no amount of scrubbing could conceal their sad lack of shoes. There were smiles and greetings and little hands stretched out all along the line as we passed.

Inside there was no more than the usual cleanliness — for the cantines are scrupulously kept. Madame and her assistants had tiny American flags pinned to their white uniforms. In the corridor the American and Belgian flags hung together. The tables were laid, the lines began moving. As the little girls filed in, one of them came forward, and with a pretty courtesy offered Mrs. Whitlock a large bouquet of red roses. The boys followed, and their representative, struggling with shyness, recited a poem as he gave his flowers. All the children were very much impressed with this simple ceremony — and as the quavering little voice gave thanks to ‘those who were bringing them their good bread,’ there were tears in the eyes of the grown-ups standing beneath the intertwined flags.

American flags of one kind or another hang in all the cantines alongside the pictures of President Wilson. Mottoes expressing thanks to America, floursacks elaborately embroidered — on all sides are attempts to express gratitude and affection. That morning, as the Legation car turned a corner, a little old Flemish lady in a white cap stepped forward and clapped her hands as the American flag floated by. Men lift their hats to it, children salute it. In the shop-windows one often secs it draping the pictures of the King and Queen.

These children of the cantine, as I have said, are all in need of special nourishment. One of the most striking effects of the war has been the rapid increase of tuberculosis. Many of the thousands in the cantines are the victims of ‘glands,’ or some other dread form of this disease. To combat this menace, 125 physicians are contributing their services to the ‘Little Bees’ in Brussels alone, where, during the first six months of 1916, infant mortality had decreased 19 per cent. It would be difficult to estimate the time given by physicians throughout the whole country, but probably half of the fortyseven hundred are making a very serious contribution, and almost all are doing something. It is a common sight in the late afternoon to see a physician who has had a full, hard day, rushing to a cantine to examine hundreds of children. Excluding the zone of military preparation, 26,500 children from three to seventeen, and over 53,000 babies under three months, are on their lists, besides a large number of adults.

Outside Brussels, the cantines are conducted in much the same way as those of the “Little Bees.舡 Committees of women everywhere are devoting themselves to the children. One day, on a tour of inspection, several of us went to a town of 17,000 in the northeast, in the province of Limbourg. Mademoiselle took us to houses where we saw the misery of mothers left with seven, nine, eleven children, in one or two little rooms. There was no wageearner — he was at the front; or there was no work. One woman was crying as we went in. She explained that her son, a bad lot, had just been trying to take his father’s boots. She pulled out from behind the basket where the twins were sleeping under the day’s washing, a battered pair of coarse high boots. There were holes in the hobnailed soles; there was practically no heel left. The heavy tops still testified to an original stout leather, but never could one see a more miserable, run-down-at-the-heel, leaky, and useless pair of boots. Yet to that woman they represented a fortune. There is practically no leather left in the country, and if there were, how could her man, when he came back, have the money to buy another pair, and how could he work in the fields without his boots? And she wept bitterly because the son had tried to take his father’s boots, as she hid them behind the twins’ basket. I had heard of t he sword as the symbol of honor and power of the house; in bitter reality it is the father’s one pair of boots.

Chiefly I was impressed by the enormous quantities of food they are handling. The whole city seems turned into a kitchen — and there follows the inevitable question, ‘Where does it all come from?’ The women who are doing the work connect directly with the Belgian organization, and one almost forgets, in going about, their relation to the Relief Commission — the C.R.B., as every one calls it. But these three magic letters spell the answer to the inevitable question.

At the great C.R.B. bureau, I had seen the charts lining the corridors. They seemed alive, changing every day, marking the ships on the oceans, the number of tons of rice, wheat, maize, or sugar expected; and how these tons count up! In the two years that have passed, one million tons each year, meaning practically one ship every week-day in the month; 90,000 tons always on the Atlantic!

Other charts show the transit of goods already unloaded at Rotterdam. Over two hundred lighters are in constant movement on their way down the canals to the various C.R.B. warehouses, which means about 50,000 tons afloatall the time. I had seen, too, the reports of the enormous quantities of clothing brought in — four million dollars’ worth, almost all of it the free gift of the United States.

In the director’s room were other maps showing the territory in charge of each American. Back of every cantine and its power to work stands this American, the living guaranty to England that the Germans are not getting the food, the guaranty to Germany of neutrality, and to the Belgians themselves, that the gifts of the world to her will be brought in through the steel ring that, girdles her. Thus, the food dispensed by the women is part of the great stream of supplies that pours steadily in — but between its purchase or its receipt as gift by the C.R.B. and its appearance as soup for adults or pudding for children is the whole intricate structure of the relief organization to which 40,000 Belgian men are giving their constant service.

Everybody who can pay for his food must do so. It is sold at a fair profit, and it is this profit, gained from those who still have money, that is given to the women in charge of the cantines for the provision of supplies for the destitute. They often supplement this subsidy by a house-to-house appeal to the people. For instance, in Brussels the ‘Little Bees’ are untiring in their canvass. Basket on arm, continually they solicit an egg here, a bunch of carrots there, a bit of meat, or a money gift. They have been able to count on about five thousand eggs and about twenty-five hundred francs a week, besides various other things. Naturally, the people in the poorer sections can contribute only small amounts, but it is here that one finds the most touching examples of generosity — the old story of those who have suffered and understood. One woman who earns just a franc a day, and on it has to support herself and her family, carefully wraps up her weekly two-centime piece (one fifth of a cent), and has it ready when one of the ‘ Little Bees’ calls for it.

I was going down the road toward Verviers. The summer had been wet and gray, but September was doing her best to make up for it. Suddenly I heard the soft whirr-whirr of a Zeppelin. A farmer who had been making prune-syrup left his caldron to join me in the road. We watched the great, strange thing gliding through the sunshine. It was flying so low that we could easily distinguish the fins, the gondolas, the propellers. It looked more like a gigantic, unearthly model for the little stuffed silk Japanese fish I had often seen in the toy-shops than anything else. Its blunt nose seemed shining white, the rest a soft gray. The effect of the soothing whirring and the slow gliding through the clear air was indescribable; it seemed incredible that this silvery ghost-ship could be aught but a gentle messenger of peace.

‘Ah, madame,’ said my companion, ‘ four years ago I saw my first Zeppelin. It seemed a beautiful vision from another world, something new in my religion. We all stood breathless, praying for the safety of this wonderful new being, praying that the brave men who guided it might be spared to the world. And to-day, madame, may it be blown to atoms, — if necessary, may its men be cut to bits, may they be burned to ashes,—anything, anything! With an undying hate I swear it shall be destroyed! Madame, that is what war does to a man.’