A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 144

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FRANCE IN WARTIME


great many people had not the means of carrying out an adoption separately; but by cooperation a group of children in a class would easily collect a sum sufficient to send the poor, grown-up comrade who was fighting for them a parcel of little comforts and a short letter of inspiriting sympathy. This plan, while rendering service to the soldiers, conveyed a lesson of mutual aid, of patriotism and humanity, which might well exert a lifelong influence on the child engaged in it. Side by side with these voluntary works, created and developed by feminine energy, was the collaboration of women in social activity to make up for the absence of men, and to carry on those activities and employments which lay within their power.

Wherever possible, the working men's wives and daughters replaced their male relatives, punching tickets on the trams, becoming clerks and cashiers in banks, post offices, large and small shops, and all places of business allowed by the war to continue. They were even in some cases entirely substituted for men, and assumed the management in milliners' and costumiers' establishments, and all the essentially feminine trades, even in provision trades, with the exception of those appertaining to butchers and bakers. In the country and in the small towns, women took upon themselves the arduous labour of making bread. The newspapers gave wide publicity to a letter which M. Poincaré, president of the republic, wrote to a young girl of 17, who took the place of her father and brother at the oven when they were called up, and supplied bread to an entire locality. Many similar letters were published, among them one addressed to a young country girl of 16, left alone on a farm with her invalid mother. She succeeded in ploughing, with a primitive implement and an old horse, fifty acres of ground, in sowing and harvesting the same. Innumerable were the examples of this masculine courage on the part of Frenchwomen.

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