A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 139

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GERMAN AEROPLANES OVER PARIS


empire, the British rendered full justice to France, their testimony of admiration being greeted as a precious sign of approval. The series of articles on the Achievement of France, which appeared in "The Times," was translated into French and circulated by the thousand.

It is impossible to evaluate and difficult to compare anguish and moral suffering. The population had a large share in these, without speaking of those endured by the inhabitants of the invaded regions. Right up to the battle of the Marne, after a few days of hope, the French beheld the black spectre of defeat, the almost realized menace of annihilation. Paris, in particular, had some dark hours to live through. Life there seemed to have stopped, all activity to have dried up. Since the mobilization order, the motor-omnibuses had been requisitioned; not a single one was running in the streets. The tramways and the local railways, impeded by shortage of personnel, had considerably reduced their services, which ceased by nine o'clock in the evening. Theatres, cinemas, places of amusement were closed. Cafés shut at eight, and restaurants at nine. National museums were closed, their most precious contents having been removed as far as Toulouse to save them at once from the dangers of bombardment, fire, and Teutonic pillage.

When German aeroplanes came to fly over Paris and dropped a few bombs, no one was afraid. Certainly it was a depressing sensation to feel that the Germans were descending the valley of the Oise, where no line of defence could stop them. In those days of tropical heat it beeame a distraction for the populace to visit convenient spots and watch for the arrival in the sky of Taubes, which continued unalterably blue. The crowd thronged about the heights of Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe, along the Champs Elysées; on the terraces of the Tuileries and the stone balustrades which surround the Place de la Concorde people sat and remained for a long time in order that they might lose no incident in the aerial spectacle, when murderous Taubes were chased away by French airmen. Between two bombs the German airmen would drop insolent messages, announcing their impending arrival.

On several evenings in succession, however, the promenaders, who profited by the comparative coolness of the evening to stroll about, were surprised by an extraordinary sight. Just at nightfall, along the wide roads which run from the south of Paris to

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