Sunday, March 04, 2012

A STRANGER TO HIS OWN CHILD

There never was a war so prolific of personal incident in every shade of experience possible to human life. The devastated provinces of France offer perhaps more of these happenings than any other part of the steel-swept, shell- wrecked fronts of all Europe. An Associated Press correspondent tells one that is especially touching.

He was motoring toward Denaen, one of the cities the Germans had occupied through four hard years, when a French officer going in the same direction asked him for a lift, explaining that he had lived there but had neither seen nor heard from his wife during all that time.

Entering the city and turning into his street the officer saw the first house was in ruins. He gave a nervous start. A few doors farther on was his home. The officer climbed out with an effort, his eyes fixed on the place.

There was no sign of life. The windows were shuttered and on the door was a sign showing German officers had been living there. The officer pulled the bell with shaking hand. No one answered. He backed away like a man in a trance and leaned against the car, trembling.

Suddenly the door opened and an aged servant appeared, leading a beautiful baby girl with a wealth of golden curls. The officer took one step toward the child and halted. He was a stranger to his own flesh and blood. The child hid behind the nurse, peering out in fright.

The half blind eyes of the old nurse had recognized her master and she held out her hands, repeating, "Monsieur! Monsieur!" in ecstasy. He crossed the road and grasped her hands, but the baby drew back.

A door opened and a comely young matron came to see what was going on. She caught sight of her husband, then stopped. Her hands flew to her breast. She swayed for a second. "With a sob of joy she hurled herself into his arms.

The correspondent moved away. And thus they were left, the nurse beaming on the happy couple and the curly headed youngster looking with troubled eyes at this strong man who had appropriated her mother so completely without a word.

Taken from "The Great War", published by The Christian Herald, (1919).

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