On Duty. I

Thursday, September 18, 1919. — There are wild rumors in the bazaars to-day, among the Christians, not from the Moslems, that 50,000 Turkish troops are marching on Urfa, that the Americans are preparing to move their Orphanage to Aleppo, that the British are going also, and that all Christians are to be wiped out. The British are only a small band here, — the 51st Sikhs, about 600, — but the defense of Urfa has long been planned in case of emergency, and the machine-guns placed. Major Burrows inspected the Orphanage and industrial plant to-day. I do not know if it has any significance, but I suspect that it has.

Friday, September 19. — Wild times to-day. We were at breakfast at the new house, when in came rushing Lucia Mairik and Manush Mairik from the Orphanage, with excited tales of an impending massacre. Then, too, there were rumors of this army — said by some to be Bolsheviki — moving on from Diarbekr; and others, that quantities of rifles had been recently brought to the city; so that among the Armenians there was great unrest. Whatever happened, there was terror in the bazaars, among Turks and Christians. Both fled, in most cases even failing to take the time to close their shops — each afraid of the other and both afraid of the Arabs and the Kurds. The Armenian shops were looted, the Moslem shops untouched, we heard later. Elmas said that the news came to them by a boy who goes to the market with Alexandre, our buyer. Well, it has blown over, but I am a bit sorry I did not plan to stay at the Orphanage tonight just to reassure the older folk. It is a terrible thing for these people to walk always under the shadow of an impending massacre, to feel always the knife at their throats and rifle at their heads. They say, ‘Must we always feel this dread?’

Friday night, September 26. — I did not write yesterday, but they had another panic in the bazaars and again the Armenians ran for protection to the Americans — not in so great numbers, however, or in such dire terror, I think. There are various rumors about how it starts. Some say a man on horseback, with blood splashed over his face, comes dashing through the bazaars crying that the Christians are massacring the Moslems, so naturally the Moslems quit their booths and run, as do also the Armenians.

October 10 [?], 1919. — You could never guess whom we drew to-day for a fellow worker, here in Urfa, so I shall tell you. With Mr. Clements came Mrs. Mansfield, wife of the Richard Mansfield. I hope you have not forgotten the great American actor. They have both been working in Beirut, but the work has mostly closed down there, and the committee is withdrawing most of its workers. Earlier, Mrs. M. was in France, Paris, and Lille. They came up on the British lorries this morning, having remained on the train all night at Telebiad.

Thursday, October 23. — It is openly acknowledged now that the British are going, so the major is trying to range all the nearby Arab and Kurdish chieftains on our side, so that they may know us and befriend us.

Saturday. — The idea of French occupation of Urfa as a part of Syria is somewhat reassuring, though we do not expect to find them as staunch friends and backers as the English; yet their presence may in part restrain the turbulent passions of the Moslems — Turk, Kurd, Arab — and prevent any general massacre, such as the latter have threatened: that they would not leave one Christian alive.

Wednesday, October 29. — The French arrived in British lorries this afternoon, something over a hundred strong; but we are told that another company is coming. How they expect to live in this far-away post without their own automobile to connect them with the outside world is a question which is puzzling us. The highest officer so far is a captain — we expect him to dinner tomorrow night with Major Burrows.

Thursday night. — The French Commander, Captain Lambert, came tonight with Major Burrows and Captain Garrett. He was at Verdun, and is very quiet and simple and cordial. He helped us play charades after dinner. One word being his name, — Lambert, — we had ‘lamb’ and ‘bear,’ and I was the greedy little girl who ate the porridge of the three bears.

We shall be sorry to have Mr. Weeden go and shall miss him tremendously; but he leaves for Boston in December. Perhaps you may see him later — expert aviator and baseball artist.

It was rumored that Turkish cavalry was approaching Urfa to-day, but the two commanders went out in the armored car and found none. To-morrow the aeroplane comes to take a look over the country.

Saturday, November 1. — The British forces left at seven this morning, most of the troops going by motor-lorry, but about 150 of them marched with the transports. The officers breakfasted with us, but I happened to take this morning — All Saints’ Day — to be extra good, and went to church, so missed everything, including all the grouppictures taken by the numerous cameras; so you will not see me in any of them. Only Major Burrows and Captain Garrett remain to comply with all formalities — French and Turkish. They leave about noon.

We are all sorry to see the British go. They were friends and brothers and fellow workers.

With the French we hope to have cordial relations, but you know there cannot be the same fellowship with people speaking another language, no matter how good the intention. We simply cannot understand each other.

Saturday, November 8. — The carts of the new French troops arrived to-day, but we saw no new infantry. So far they have not a single automobile among them, where the British had ten or twelve lorries, three armored cars, and a few Fords.

Sunday night, November 9. — It lacks less than a month of the time of Mr. Weeden’s departure for America, and he is in correspondingly high spirits. To-night he proposed a ride out in the desert in the moonlight — a wonderful full moon; so with Miss Waller and Mr. Clements on the rear seat, we started.

The city, silent in its darkness, was on our right as we skirted the Gardens on the Telebiad Road, with the desert stretching far away toward the mountains on our left, and the serene moon looking down on our solitude. The whole countryside lay quiet, the noise of the motor being the only sound that broke the stillness except the songs of the boys. Even the dogs that crossed our path were silent, and we saw one wolf or hyena loping swiftly away.

Saturday, December 27, 1919. — Our house stands in the middle of an immense field, with the tents on both sides of us — girls on one side, boys on the other; so robbers, Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and, I suppose, even Armenians, can come upon us in the darkness from any point, a plain barbed-wire fence being no protection, and even that having many openings. They steal from us in broad daylight — blankets, clothing, anything.

Monday, February 2, 1920. — I have closed letter No. 27, but do not know if it is possible to send it off; perhaps it may go by Turkish post; but so far as the railway is concerned, we are cut off from the world. With machine-guns and ammunition a few could stand off an army of men armed only with rifles and spears; but of course there is an end to supplies, and I doubt if the French are as well stocked as were the British. They have not been here long enough, nor have they transportation facilities — no lorries. Oh, for a few armored cars and an aeroplane! The latter would make short work of an attack at any place. I walked through the bazaars with Mr. Woodward this afternoon, but found the shops mostly closed, the Christians obstinately refusing to take any chances of surprise and slaughter in the market-place.

Thursday, February 5. — Mrs. Mansfield and Mr. Clements report that more of the stores in the market are opening up, and we hope that in a few days all the Armenian shopkeepers will get courage to go back. The Mutisarif yesterday called a meeting at Abraham’s Mosque, and invited the Armenian Committee to be present, saying he wanted them to dwell as brothers, and asking if it were true that they were being armed by the French as was reported by the gendarmes. Five went and returned safely, being permitted to give their views on why they could not trust to Turkish promises of good-will, and denying the arming of the Armenians by the French.

Saturday, February 7. — Having heard last night that some Armenians were going through to Aleppo by wagon, via Aintab, we all wrote and sent letters to Karekeen Effendi, to have them forwarded; but this morning we learned that the Turkish gendarmes had stopped our messenger and taken the letters, saying that the Armenians were secretly corresponding with each other. They were handed over to Karekeen Effendi this morning, too late to catch the travelers, if they went; some say they were afraid to go.

All the shops are closed to-day, Moslem and Christian, and rumors of an approaching force were rife. This afternoon we noticed the French deploying in all directions; and when we attempted to cross the fields and the river for a walk in search of a fabled Roman bridge, which we have twice vainly tried to find, we were turned back by a French officer, Lieutenant Marcerau, who said it would be highly imprudent to walk out into the country this afternoon. The soldiers were occupying individual trenches all along the brow of the hill commanding the river and the Aleppo and Samsat roads. Three detachments were beyond ‘lone tree hill’ just back of the house, commanding the road to Severek and Diarbekr. Lieutenant Marcerau said that about 500 Arabs or Kurdish horsemen had been seen on the Diarbekr Road, but it was not known whether or not they were friendly. The children in the Orphanage were ordered to their tents by Miss Holmes, and the grounds looked deserted when I came along from Dr. Vischer’s. Even my sterilizer, or, in other words, ‘delouser, had been left to its fate; but I soon got back my boy who was attending to it, and set him to work. I do not believe there is anything imminent. If there were we should be between cross-fires.

Darkness is falling, with everyone in the city, I suppose, Moslem and Christian, in a state of terror, afraid of each other, though Moslems assure the Armenians that no attack is directed against them, but against the French, and the French, while they do not know exactly what they will be called upon to do, are taking the necessary precautions for defense. Out here in the environs, we, although we are in a more dangerous place than in the town Orphanage, not having known fear before, have none now. Last night I had a very vivid and complicated dream of battle and flight and being told off for the firingsquad, but saved by the quick wit of a woman as I was passing through a railroad station.

Later, authentic. The Orphanage is not full of refugees, but there are six machine-guns mounted on its roof and four on the hill behind; so it is well protected. (The guns were removed next day from the Orphanage at Miss Holmes’s request.)

Sunday, February 8. — Rather a memorable day, and full of excitement. With Yester, my interpreter, I started for the Assyrian Catholic Church this morning, but we were stopped at the Millet Kapon (National Gate) — which guards the entrance to our country home and the French Headquarters, and stands just across the river, guarding also the bridge which carries the line of water-supply to the city — by the Turkish soldiery, who forbade our egress, saying no one could come or go. But through Miss Law’s Arabic and the arrival of an officer, we were permitted a pass to go to the old orphanage, and from there I made my way down through the town to the church, — the Latin, — because I thought it wiser to defer my Assyrian visit to another day. We found the street very quiet — a few Turkish soldiers here and there, but they offered no obstructions.

It seemed a bit pathetic that these elderly bearded priests in the sanctum and those dear old Sisters — I think Mère Cécile is eighty — should have just left one five-year war behind in France, to run into another one here. They had been exiled to France by the Turks in 1915, and had but recently returned.

At the convent three Sisters, who had served in the hospitals in France, were partaking of a hurried repast before accompanying me to French Head quarters where the Père Superior had directed them to report to Commandant Hauger for duty in case of need. All this because a body of horsemen, variously estimated at from one to five thousand, had reached Kara Keupri, a village about one and one half hours distant behind the hills, on the Severek Road, and had sent in a white-flag messenger to carry the ultimatum to the French that they evacuate Urfa in twenty-four hours or take the consequences.

Of course, all the French could reply was that they had been placed here by their government and could not withdraw, but must defend their position; but that they would not fire the first shot. The twenty-four hours were up about three this afternoon. So when I reported to Miss Holmes that the Commandant had asked me to tell her to put the children under shelter in the cellars, etc., if rifle-firing began, she decided to send them all to the Orphanage within the city walls, already defended by ten machine-guns on the hill behind.

The hegira soon began, each one carrying his bed and bedding on his back, and the tents were empty and quiet. I evacuated my hospital of all except one sick girl, whom I took into the house, sent most of the nurses with the children to look after their needs and to be themselves safe, keeping my interpreter, Yester, and two others who elected to stay by me, with my boy Yeremia. Then I offered myself and hospital to the Commandant in case of need; for which I received a very nice note from him, saying that he accepted if the occasion arose. The French, even the common soldiers, Algerian and others who served on the battlefields of France, look very lightly on this affair, calling it play, after all they have seen and done; but they are not overlooking any precautions.

Miss Holmes wanted me to accompany her and Miss Law to the city, but I preferred to remain here, where there would be opportunity for aiding the wounded if necessary; and besides, one rather likes to stay by one’s goods and chattels. Also, the French outposts and defenses are beyond us, so that we are within the lines. We lie between them and headquarters. Of course, there are many chances from rifle-bullets, but we are hoping that the enemy has not machine-guns or artillery. However, if Mustapha Kemal, the Turkish general, is leading the attack, as some say, he doubtless has both.

We can manage with our canned foodsupply in the cellar if our water is not cut off as threatened. The French say they have food for thirty days. I want Annie Carpenter to know that her flag is flying from the housetop — happy thought of hers. I made a good flagpole with the stick on which my rubber sheeting was rolled, and Mr. Weeden put it up. Mr. Woodward also put up a Red Cross flag which Miss Waller had manufactured from a piece of red cloth; so they fly side by side.

Monday, February 9. (First day of the war.) — Snowing — cold. The Moslems were favored this morning by a snowstorm which began about 8 A.M. Mrs. Mansfield and I had been awakened at 5 A.M. by a shot which sounded as if it came from the city; and going out of the door onto my verandah, I seemed to hear the noise of voices, and Mrs. M. thought she heard an Arab drum beating; but nothing further happened and we went to bed. Thinking all was quiet, I sent my interpreter with another nurse and Yeremia to the city, to hold clinic, about 8 A.M., intending to follow as soon as I finished breakfast.

They could hardly have reached the Orphanage — having to pass the Turkish guard at the Millet Gate — when suddenly came the sound of rifle-shots from the town. The fusillade continued for some time, and has been intermittent all day. Now that night is closing, we still hear an occasional shot. They come from the Turkish gendarmes, who are shooting at French Headquarters from the Samsat Gate and the houses near the city wall.

We went up on the housetop at first; but the bullets whistled over our heads, so we all decided it was safer in the house. Except for the fact that we kept pretty closely to the house you would not guess that there was a war in progress. It’s a rather jolly crowd. Lieutenant Marcerau came in this afternoon, in the snowstorm, to tell us how things are going. If the army — Turks and Kurds they are — shows itself, it will be quickly mowed down by the machine-guns; but it is difficult to shoot at snipers.

The enemy has cut the water-supply somewhere near its source beyond the hills, so we ’re economizing on washing, with many a joke. The boys make it an excuse for not shaving.

The French are expecting large reinforcements, but the telegraph and telephone lines being cut, do not know just where they are or when to expect them. I suppose the authorities could not have known what a storm-centre this place would be, or they would not have sent troops here without automobiles, armored cars, wireless outfit, or an aeroplane, of which there are two escadrilles at Beirut. The defense is blind without an aeroplane for eyes. With one, they could make short work of an attacking army. As it is now, they hardly know from what quarter they will be attacked. All that is known is that the attacking force is a Kurdish tribe from the North, doubtless augmented by Turks and Arabs, and probably with a Turkish leader. A letter was sent by the Turks in the city to the Armenian Union, asking that the Armenians permit them to pass through their quarter to attack the French; but the Armenians, knowing their ultimate fate, have barricaded the streets leading to their quarter, and will resist any attempt.

It’s a good thing that the children are in the city. They may get bread there. Here there is no way of getting it for them, for communication is cut off. To-night the boys cleared out the cellar and brought in beds from the Infirmary, making two comfortable wards, one for us and one for the men. Including the three kitchen-maids, my one sick girl whom I could not send to the city, and one nurse, we are eight women (three Americans), four men (three Americans and one Syrian), and six boys. I guess there are two revolvers among them — Mr. Weeden’s and Mr. Woodward’s. The latter, having had much army experience in France, at Salonica and on the Struma, has built a barricade of our supply-boxes in front of the cellar windows and door, leaving a firing platform which commands the door. I think Lieutenant M. came this afternoon to see if the men would defend themselves should the Kurds break through the lines of defense on the hill behind us and attack the house. In that case the French will sweep our house with machine-gun fire and the cellar will be the safest place. An awkward thing is that there is no entrance to the cellar from inside the house; one must go outside and around the corner.

Tuesday, February 10. — There will probably be no attack in force to-day, for the shining mantle of snow which covers mountain and plain would render clearly visible an advancing army, and every day gained means the nearer approach of the reinforcements of the French. It seemed rather funny for us all to go to bed as usual with the sound of firing about us, trusting to the small handful of French to keep us safe from the cruel Kurds and Turks lurking behind the hills and the city walls; but the voice of the machine-gun, speaking for the first time just as I climbed into bed, — literally climbed, for we used the high hospital beds augmented by some of our own devices for comfort, — gave a sense of security, and I slept till the bright sunlight came into my room and the footsteps of an unusually earlyrising family sounded in my ears.

By special Providence — and Elaine Van Dyke, who gave me a free hand with the medical supplies when I was in Aleppo — I have a goodly amount of medicines, gauze, and bandages on hand, so am able to supply the Sisters at the military hospital with these very necessary things. We’ve been making dressings and bandages, for the French seem to have little or nothing of that kind. Last night I made up two big baskets and two bags to go over, together with bed-linen, of which I fortunately have a supply. The soldiers came for some at midnight. At that time four had been wounded. Mr. Clements and I want to walk over to the hospital, but the vote is against our going because of rifle-bullets flying about.

Wednesday, February II. — Two French soldiers came over just after dark, to ask for some candles for Lieutenant Marcerau, who holds the slope of the hill to the west; and Mr. C. and I took advantage of their coming to ask if we might go to the hospital under their escort. So they, with two bags of medical supplies, and we, with packages of sheets under our arms, started down the back road through the snowdrifts. Here they left us while they crossed the vineyard to their headquarters, and we sat down in the middle of the road and watched the Mesopotamian stars, which are much the same the world over. There was a biting wind and we felt none too warm; but this was soon remedied as we tramped across the low, freshly ploughed vineyards to the barracks, and were thence directed across the road to General Headquarters, where we found the Sisters in their four-bedded hospital tucked away below in a tiny room protected from the flying bullets. There was hardly room to turn around, and the place seemed full of people. Crossing the road both times, we had to do a double quick to escape the possible chance of being hit; and we tumbled down the bank and through holes and gullies hidden in part by the snow, to the Mess, where the surprise of the officers on seeing us was shown in their smiling faces.

We reached home without harm. About eight o’clock we received a glad surprise in the shape of Elias, our chauffeur, who had come from the city Orphanage with a letter from Miss Holmes. He carried a pole with a small American flag attached, which I doubt would receive any consideration.

The Commission little knew, when it sent us shovels and pickaxes, that they would be used for digging French trenches for our defense, and that our plentiful supply of evaporated-milkcans would be used to stop Turkish bullets. We used to laugh and say, ‘Another lot of shovels and pickaxes,’ or ‘ Another consignment of condensed milk,’ but we’ve no occasion to smile now, for the shovels have proved their use and the milk-cans not only provide us with food for the French and for ourselves, but serve for the defense of the Armenian quarter, and form a barricade in our windows against stray bullets. With my somewhat abundant supply of medicaments, they seem to have been a direct provision of Providence, which saw beyond our human vision.

Through the night there was comparatively little shooting; but this morning, as I lay awake, rather disliking to get up in the cold, there came a sudden fusillade of bullets, and I jumped up to see a man crawling on his stomach in the snow along a shallow gully that runs parallel to our fence, in the vineyard in front of the house. Several of the bullets flicked the snow in the yard, and it sounded as if some struck the house. The family was interestedly watching him, and who should it be but Elias, who, thinking himself safe here, with French Headquarters between himself and the city, had foolishly started in broad daylight to walk across the vineyard. He had a bad half hour crawling there in the cold and snow, with the bullets flicking the snow and earth all about him; but he finally succeeded in crawling back to a trench originally built for a garage foundation near our gate, and from thence to the house, which he reached in an exhausted condition. I guess he was nearer to death than he had been in the midst of the fighting in the city, for the Turks had sighted him across from the city walls; but it shows what a fair chance one really has of escaping the bullets if one lies low and keeps moving.

We are down to our last can of oil, so fires are taboo and the only fire permitted is in the living-room, where our feet freeze on the cold stone floor. This morning the men opened up the stone floor in the hall, to furnish access to the cellar without going out of doors.

Friday, February 13. — It is very cold and it has snowed all day long, so there has been less shooting than usual, I think, because outlines and objects are obscured. It also will probably delay the appearance of the reinforcing French troops. We have a pool up on the date of their arrival. Three have already lost, but my guess is for Sunday and Miss Waller’s for Sunday night, so we still have a chance to win. However, the reinforcements begin to seem rather mythical, and we shall probably have another chance to win on another pool when this is finished.

We had all gone upstairs to bed last night, leaving only Mr. Clements reading by the fireplace. Suddenly he gave a yell and came bounding up the stairs. A bullet had come in the small upper arch of the window left unprotected by the boxes of condensed milk, and had ricochetted across the room, too near for comfort. He found it this morning, flattened like a dog’s tooth. In consequence, we have put up more barricades, including my window; but my doorway facing the city is still unprotected.

It was to-night that the French soldier promised to come after me, to guide me to the Orphanage; but it is so stormy, I do not know if he will come. The family is much opposed to my going, saying that my duty is here, as they will have neither nurse nor doctor at hand, while in the city they have two doctors and six nurses — natives, to be sure, but pretty good in emergencies. So you see I am trying to decide, or have decided for me, what is my real duty. I want to go and shall be much disappointed if I cannot. Mr. Weeden has forbidden any of the boys to go out to-night to help me carry anything; so, if I go, I shall have to depend upon my soldier. All three of our own boys — men, rather — are just now giving us a very realistic imitation of a back fence full of cats.

I made a codicil to my will to-night, giving my belongings here in Urfa to Elmas. It will save people the trouble of sending them to America, where they would probably never arrive. Some time, if she gets there, she may distribute some of the things. Not that I am expecting to get shot, but, as my lawyer readers know, it is well to be prepared.

Saturday morning, February 14. (St. Valentine’s Day.) — Is n’t it funny how things turn out. Five Americans, — Mrs. Mansfield, Miss Waller, Mr. Weeden, Mr. Clements, and myself, — together with the accountant, Mr. Woodward, elected to stay here in the country, believing it to be the point of danger from the waiting hordes of Kurds and Turks, said to be beyond the hills a few miles away, and in their direct line of attack upon French Headquarters; so we watched the children with Miss Holmes stream away to the City Orphanage, believing that they were going to a comparatively safe shelter. In fact, subconsciously, I would have felt myself to be a bit of a coward had I gone; and besides, I wanted to be within the French lines, where I could help take care of the wounded, while the children in the city could be well enough cared for temporarily by the native nurses and doctors.

By a whim of fate, it has turned out just the opposite. We are comparatively safe, except for the snipers and the stray bullets, if we stay inside the house; while so far, the attack upon the French has been made from the city itself, within which the forces from Severek and Diarbekr have taken shelter. As the French, in reply to the Turkish ultimatum, had said they would not fire first, the outside army had time to get by night, and by detachments of ten and fifteen, within the city walls. There were probably not more than a thousand.

When I opened my eyes this morning, it was upon a white world — earth and air and sky. Through my open door I could see but a few rods away, just beyond our front fence. It was not snowing, but all was obscured by a white mist, covering valley and plain and mountain.

Because of the obscuring mist, there was not much firing this afternoon, and I went out to some of the tents and to the infirmary, through snow more than knee-deep; but the boys, going out for water just a little later, as the mist lifted very quickly, drew the fire of the Turks. They probably also saw Mr. Clements, who, tired of the five days’ imprisonment in the house, was running through the snow in the front yard. Just now, after 8 P.M., all is silent. Captain Perrault sends three rifles for self-defense to the men, but we hope there will be no occasion to use them. Warmer to-day, and the snow beginning to melt.

Sunday morning, February 15. — Bright and clear and cold, across the snowy expanse this morning, could be seen in sharp outline the roofs of the city and the citadel beyond. This afternoon the rifle-shots came pretty regularly, and we got another bullet in the window of Miss Holmes’s office and storeroom; so we proceeded to barricade those windows also with boxes of supplies. This heavy snow will delay reinforcements, for it will be almost impossible for horses to drag the heavy guns through the piled-up drifts in the mountain defiles; so we are settling down for another week. The first shellfire began to-day. This afternoon, Mrs. Mansfield has been reading quotations from Shakespeare and the poets for us to guess the plays and the authorship. To the men she gave for a prize a pair of white kid gloves worn by Richard Mansfield in A Parisian Romance.

The rifle-shots are increasing in frequency again to-night, but we stay indoors. We congregate day and night around our blaze in the living-room, and carry on our occupations, or while away the time. I do not have much time to while away. I can always find plenty to do, and one is never bored if there are books to be read. My own room has the chill of the tomb, when I go there to sleep at night, and we dress with numb fingers. My little room in Boston with its cosy warmth would feel pretty good to me.

Bed-time, Sunday night, February 15. — The bullets from the city have been striking close to the house tonight, sounding as if they were at our doorsteps; but it is difficult to judge localities.

Monday, February 16. — It is a calm day and warmer. All is serene in earth and sky. The fleecy clouds drift lazily across the blue — a picture framed by my open doorway. The snowy hills, rank on rank, fade away into the distant south and west. The sunlight streams through my open doorway in the morning, doubtless showing the room beyond to watching eyes; so, when I rise to close my door, they seemingly take a few pot-shots at me just for luck. So far no bullet has entered, though yesterday one found its way through the window of the room below, when I was standing in my door above.

Mr. Weeden was standing in the window upstairs this afternoon when a bullet came through just beside him, so he has his souvenir.

The natives in the house are afraid, and we are putting them down in the cellar to-night; but for ourselves, we prefer to remain upstairs, and just now I am preparing to go to bed as usual. The French had three more wounded to-day.

Tuesday, February 17. — The Turks seem to have made good their threat. They hold Lone Tree Hill, a few hundred yards back of us — and I have seen men die. I was the first to go to bed last night, leaving the family downstairs; but I could not sleep. About 1.30, I went to Mrs. Mansfield’s room across the hall, and not finding her, concluded that all the family must be downstairs; so I decided to dress. Now, dressing is a long and laborious process with me, and to give you a chance to laugh, I shall give you a few details of the process. First, let me whisper — all my life, or perhaps less, I have had a secret ambition to own a pair of trousers. Well, I have a pair, and they are nifty ones at that, of English worsted, but they came from America; so when I thought a few days ago that I was to make a night-run for the City Orphanage, I put them on, intending to shed my skirts for the time being, not wanting to be handicapped by them in a race with the bullets. Finding the trousers warm and comfortable, I have worn them ever since under my dress; so after I have put on my ordinary underclothing, and added a pair of equestrian tights, I don my trousers, lace up my high boots, put on spiral puttees of khaki, wearing the trousers knee-length as do the sailors when they are wearing their leggings — and I am dressed for the fray; but it takes an hour.

When I descended to the livingroom, I found Mrs. Mansfield and Miss Waller lying dressed on the couches, while the men were upstairs in bed, also fully dressed. It was too much trouble to disrobe again, so I went upstairs to Miss Waller’s room, which opens on the road leading to French General Headquarters. The constant and close firing all night created a sense of something unusual astir, and I watched a group of Frenchmen of the quatre-cent-douze coming toward our gate and clustering about the gatepost. It was not quite dawn, but a long orange streak showed in the eastern sky, and the white background of snow made things fairly visible. The soldiers came in among the tents in an undecided way, and then continued farther on up the side of the hill to the Orphanage cook-house. We learned later that they were a detachment of twenty-five men with a machine-gun, whom the Commandant had sent to guard us when he learned that Lone Tree Hill back of the house had been lost. The hill had been defended by Algerians, who fired a volley at the oncoming, greatly superior force of Turks, and then retreated, as we heard from a French soldier.

A few moments later, I saw a soldier leave the cook-house and run crouchingly back to Headquarters. The orange streak in the east was slowly turning to crimson, when three soldiers came out of Headquarters and started to run across the vineyard in front of our house, several hundred yards away, making for Lieutenant Marcerau’s headquarters, guarding the hill toward the mountains and Arab Poonar — to our right as we face the city. He had reached the lowest part of the little depression in the vineyard, when he fell and lay still; another came running a few yards behind him, and when he had almost reached the first, he too fell and was still. Another came running, and he too fell. Hours later, we saw the third slowly drag himself uphill to Headquarters, but the other two lie out in the field, and the afternoon snow is gently covering them.

The sun was sending a crimson banner far up into the sky, when three more men came running, crouching and lying low — this time toward us. The bullets whizzed all about, singing viciously, for the men were being fired at both from the hill behind us and the city in their rear; but they won through and came to a grateful, panting rest behind our great stone gatepost, and soon after came dodging between the rows of tents to the door. They are a part of our guard for to-night. Every little while one sees a soldier leave some shelter and run through the open, dodging the bullets, to take up his position somewhere else, according to orders; and each time comes a shower of bullets mostly directed at our house and vicinity, so that, with the enemy both in front and rear, we have no safe abiding-place.

The end of the eighth day of the siege. The setting in our small domain is rather dramatic. Outside it is snowing and blowing, which means further delay for the oncoming ‘column.’ Upstairs are three rifle mitrailleuses, small machine-guns, pointing out of our rear window toward Lone Tree Hill, lost by the French during the night. Within are thirty-odd French soldiers, to whose care our welfare is intrusted, and who must help block the way of the Turks; so we are relegated for sleepingquarters to the stone vaulted cellar, into which at present no daylight enters, for the tiny windows are blocked with supply-boxes. In the living-room, by the light of a single candle, we ate our frugal supper, or dinner, of soup, bully-beef hash and canned pears, all three courses from the same dish, and then washed all the dishes with half a cup of water, because the supply at present is low. Now, all are gathered in the dimly lighted living-room in various attitudes of repose, loath to descend to the deeper darkness below. Above us sounds the tramp of the soldiers’ feet, and from each window a soldier peers out into the white mist of snow.

Wednesday, February 18. — We spent last night in the ‘ Black Hole of Calcutta,’ and one night is enough for me, unless the emergency is greater. Our cellar, before spoken of, has two rooms. The inner one, about 8 by 20 feet, has no windows. No air enters except what comes through the small door from the outer room, and in that room the door and windows are blocked. Six beds were put up in the inner room for the women and girls, and a sheet hung across the door, and here eight of us slept last night, or got what sleep we could, for the family thought we would be in the way of the soldiers if we stayed above, and also in the way of the bullets, for, of course, the shooting of the French from our house would draw fire.

Wednesday, 9.30 P.M. — All lights darkened, and an extra guard is downstairs to-night at our back door. A note from Miss Holmes, written yesterday, says that the Turks have made two attempts to storm Orphanage Hill, but were repulsed with losses.

Thursday night, February 19. — The end of a quiet day, so perhaps the Turks are preparing for a rush. We seem to be pretty well prepared for them, however. To-night the soldiers took possession of my office for a machine-gun position, but I am hoping they won’t find it necessary to take my room; for in that case I should feel homeless indeed. My room has three doors, one leading out-of-doors on the veranda; that one I have padded with pillows and a bag of wool, leaving room enough to open it a little for air. Another opens into a rear room, now occupied by the soldiers with a machine-gun, whose window is directly opposite and directly faces Lone Tree Hill. I’ve hung a heavy comforter, doubled, on that door. The third enters the hall and is unprotected. The window is barricaded with supply-boxes. With all these defenses, I feel fairly safe and am intending to sleep there again to-night. Lieutenant Soyet, commanding our post, came over to-night enveloped in one of my hospital sheets. By another provision of Providence I had thirty dozen sent me, and we’ve been saving French lives with them by giving them to the soldiers to enshroud themselves, thereby melting into the background of snow as they cross the fields, completely camouflaged. We learned from the lieutenant that we are the ‘first line,’ the farthest outpost; a somewhat important position, which comparatively few civilians reached in France.

(To be continued)