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AT LAST!

the 'Evening Star* by" F. W. Haslam.] of August.'' The glorious g the grapes in our vineKin our orchards. But of awful memories—the moat terrible -and disaftiscmbourg, FroeacHvilloi*, Bezonville, and (lost of at irremediable disaster is final catastrophe. As :h the environs'of Metz lay one sees before him neadows sleeping in the 'among the trees that fringe the streams smiling villages—a land bears witness to the civilised toil of and breathes an air of happiness and ■ peace. And yet os far as the eve can see i 1 monuments of violent death £T>v-&wlach recall the tumult of conjhat and the of slaughter. Below the village of along the border of the new &Hsftontior, there etretches a great plain. Toll®??’ its silence is broken only by the song Kjfof birds. Yet .this is the plain.of Yron in August, 1870, beheld one of the greatest cavalry fights of the century. On pl»£that plain 44 ’years ago 50 squadrons of and French cavalry met in a brief furious melee which ended in the re{g&&|ifeat of our enemies—but at what a price I Jules CHarehi, that admirable journalist knowledge of the past ■ history of country was unequalled, and whose will he hard to fill, most truly says s|||iih,his, ‘Vie a Paris’ t “Ho who has never gP&heen present at the annual ceremony which SpMplcallft the battle of Mars-la-Tour cannot KMsPOsrihly imagine the emotion excited by Kl£r-feto which is at once religious and patn--Every year in the early days ol thousands of brave men meet toin this little corner of lYance to Kf'glqrify the past and dream of the future. .the first prey light of early dawn solitary street ol the village is inby the population of the whole of The French inhabitants of Metz ®»amve in carriages by hundreds to gladden souls with, the sight of the beloved uniform. Above the town clock floats a huge tricolor flag, which, the sound of its flapping folds, pit 1 f ■tn summon across the frontier from who are still prisoners and cappHwea in the hands of their country's foes. and there in the midst of the crowd ®iCSne may see parading, cane in Ivand and ■in eye, unsympathetic figures of young men puffing with an huge disdain the smoke from, huge These one may easily perceive are RjlPrusaJan officers of sporting proclivities, ilfeagoons or Uhlans from the garrison of See yonder white-moustached French breast covered with medals, Bpfifc back bowed with the weight of years—jpiilbgw he straightens himself up as he sees and regards them with a glance of hatred- But now the bells of the Ipldhurch ring out to summon us to this forgotten anniversary in honor Pgpf. the. dead who died for France. Before altar there is a catafalque. Dressed upon dark pale are laid a gold-laced kepi, a ilgpdr of epaulettes whose gold is still tarMjpdalwid with blood, broken swords, broken and all around are draped flags with |B|naaiptions embroidered in gold recordnames of the native towns of who fought on that memorable day, .towns all over France. Then above gpltha. ©fence rises the clear voico of the priest as he calls the roll of whose names are graven on the lllptoarhle tablets fixed upon the walls, and iSwith each name the iron enters deeper and into the soul of every listener, the of grief unspeakable and silent inp iWroitahle icsolvo. The procession now §! I- forma in the square before the church, and in alienee to the foot of the monuin, which the sculptor Bognio has m#lill,hut incarnated the desperate resist-®'.-aiaoo''e£ France against her overbearing SI- foe. . Thence it goes to the ossuary, where collected and entombed the bones of those who fell upon that glorious field, Mwi, heirs the religious ceremony ends. At all ranks meet at an unceremouibanquet at the expense of tho comfe.f innne in the town hall which 44 years ago % an ambulance station. Once more rio-they recall memories of tho tragic patt. has his own souvenir of that terrible sl’ji tboe. The Mayor, M. Leuers, who was a child in 1870, once more beholds his Pfc-fhther’s house ablaze beneath a hail of alyfo- One ol the old inhabitants recalls hgyv in yonder corner lay the corpsecf a &'■ [Prussian Dragoon, and shows a stain of f.. blood still visible upon tho floor. Sml--is .denly in the midst of .oil these storied W- {memories through the open window there . comes the sonnd of music. It ; s the band Chasseurs a pied,’’ who have, from Verdun. With shouts of, £ i admiration the crowd now recognise among , pilgrims to their historic village the / head and figure still unbent of bugler Baudot—the bugler of the t' ? On that day 60 odd tears ago, ?■' |m Iw> Jay wounded and battered on the ?-:* around, he saw the attacking columns of . Ms comrades falter beneath the Russian fee, and, hoy as he then was,, .he raised &. 'himself on Hs broken elbow and tet bis ‘-■bugle to Ids Tips and blow loud and clear ! the signal for the charge—the charge that 1 stormed the Malakoff. Now let us look on the other side of §e picture. Let us cross over the fronir and witness the triumphant joy of a victorious Prussians on this same i anniversary, as I did about three years _.W when I found myself a spectator of ’ tna return of the German troops, which m the Kaiser had been reviewing in memory Hr? of the battles of Saint Privat and Gravejotte. I found myself wandering in the “" midst of a crowd, whose exuberant gaiety >*.- seemd to deafen me. Suddenly above tho Y rejoicings of tho mob there was clearly • heard tne lively sound of fife and drum, i .Down the dusty road from Gravolotle v .'.'the regiments came marching, an interr.' pdnable array .of infantry and cavalry, more than 20,000 men. Ctgspicuous !>-' among them towered the gigantic figures ;- of the Prussian Guards. Their helmets s with the gilded spikes made them appear T- -'-'etreir taller than they were. Then came ii : the‘Kaiser in the midst of a glittering ?''/staff, and the crowd shouted and hurrahed fci'ft'Wfth admiration. Tho band struck up >.. ag^ltt—-the fifes and drums and tho hoarse bray of the trumpets rent the air. Amid douda of dust, above the gleaming movement' of helmets and cuirasses, tho were swung aloft, the old flags of V'MW, * orn tattered still as they were |; ; hy our French bullets more than 40 years ago. At tho head of all these troops * there sat on his great horse General V 1 Riskier, a wizened, little old man whom » ' a- - spectator at my elbow, evidently not a j German, rudely likened to “aji epileptic > i baboon.” From his lips issued a brief t-"’order, and straightway the troops broke - ofl and dismissed, and the laughing chat- , tering crowds dispersed down the shady - straefa. Stupefied by the noise and the • glare and the dust, I stumbled into a - tobacconist’s shop to get some cigarettes. | noticed that the shutters were threeparts closed. There at the counter in tho shadow sat a woman. 1 knew at once by .her appearance and her manner as she served me with cigarettes that she was French, and I expressed my intense disi . gnat at having been in Metz to assist at v ; . BQOO demonstrations of joy on such a day. Bho lifted her head—a truly French head, ' frpafl and gracefully poised—and in a tone 1 of. earnest entreaty replied: “Ah, Mon- ' dear, you mast not go back to Paris under , any mistaken idea about us here. Those people, who applauded so loudly just now ■ ore all of them strangers in Lorraine. ' They are only petty officials and immi- ; pants from Germany who knew no life but one of poverty and hardship in their own country. Ever since 1870, every ‘ tine that their master shows them his i• face in this month of August, they cheer in gratitude for the betterment of < t'tbeir affairs. ” They are not to blame- -he ' ;X ls the dispenser and the guardian of their ‘ .* fortunes.’' - “‘Yes, hut—the French—- * ftthon are said I. “The French, The French are all in hiding would you, Monsieur, that we itihbald da-against this lumbering, surging fSewdif Wft «ti only. protestvhy silence. fVpe, are conquered and we shall never t» MUtng , else.”’ all events,” said -never forgets yon sad nevp

i- ■, ■' i!j‘V".i N i »“.'»f- k Vfe.'C'&'t: -wij\ forget yop.” “Ah, God grant-ill*l she \ cried. Not France' hw never gotten yon men and -women of AlsaceLorraine. Here and now is the p-oof of what I say.. This very day, once more provoked by our relentless foes, again we set foot upon the land of Lorraine, but this time we come rifle in hand, to restore her to the bosom of her motherland of France. For the last 43 years the souls of - the dead who felT\jn battle for their country, and whose bodies sleep in..the soil of Lorraine their last glorious sleep, have been offering up their prayers lo God for the restoration of their beloved land. At last God has heard their prayers.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141224.2.55

Bibliographic details

AT LAST!, Issue 15684, 24 December 1914

Word Count
1,508

AT LAST! Issue 15684, 24 December 1914

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