The Ditch by Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews
PERSONS THE BOY an American soldier THE BOY'S DREAM OF HIS MOTHER ANGELIQUE } } French children JEAN-BAPTISTE } THE TEACHER THE ONE SCHOOLGIRL WITH IMAGINATION THE THREE SCHOOLGIRLS WITHOUT IMAGINATION HE SHE THE AMERICAN GENERAL THE ENGLISH STATESMAN The Time.--A summer day in 1918 and a summer day in 2018
The time is a summer day in 1918. The scene is the first-line trench of the Germans--held lately by the Prussian Imperial Guard--half an hour after it had been taken by a charge of men from the Blankth Regiment, United States Army. There has been a mistake and the charge was not preceded by artillery preparation as usual. However, the Americans have taken the trench by the unexpectedness of their attack, and the Prussian Guard has been routed in confusion. But the German artillery has at once opened fire on the Americans, and also a German machine gun has enfiladed the trench. Ninety-nine Americans have been killed in the trench. One is alive, but dying. He speaks, being part of the time delirious.
The Boy. Why can't I stand? What--is it? I'm wounded. The sand-bags roll when I try--to hold to them. I'm--badly wounded. (Sinks down. Silence.) How still it is! We--we took the trench. Glory be! We took it! (Shouts weakly as he lies in the trench.) (Sits up and stares, shading his eyes.) It's horrid still. Why--they're here! Jack--you! What makes you--lie there? You beggar--oh, my God! They're dead. Jack Arnold, and Martin and--Cram and Bennett and Emmet and--Dragamore--Oh--God, God! All the boys! Good American boys. The whole blamed bunch--dead in a ditch. Only me. Dying, in a ditch filled with dead men. What's the sense? (Silence.) This damned silly war. This devilish--killing. When we ought to be home, doing man's work--and play. Getting some tennis, maybe, this hot afternoon; coming in sweaty and dirty--and happy--to a tub--and dinner--with mother. (Groans.) It begins to hurt--oh, it hurts confoundedly. (Becomes delirious.) Canoeing on the river. With little Jim. See that trout jump, Jimmie? Cast now. Under the log at the edge of the trees. That's it! Good--oh! (Groans.) It hurts--badly. Why, how can I stand it? How can anybody? I'm badly wounded. Jimmie--tell mother. Oh--good boy--you've hooked him. Now play him; lead him away from the lily-pads. (Groans.) Oh, mother! Won't you come? I'm wounded. You never failed me before. I need you--if I die. You went away down--to the gate of life, to bring me inside. Now--it's the gate of death--you won't fail? You'll bring me through to that other life? You and I, mother--and I won't be scared. You're the first--and the last. (Puts out his arm searching and folds a hand, still warm, of a dead soldier.) Ah--mother, my dear. I knew--you'd come. Your hand is warm--comforting. You always--are there when I need you. All my life. Things are getting--hazy. (He laughs.) When I was a kid and came down in an elevator--I was all right, I didn't mind the drop if I might hang on to your hand. Remember? (Pats dead soldier's hand, then clutches it again tightly.) You come with me when I go across and let me--hang on--to your hand. And I won't be scared. (Silence.) This damned--damned--silly war! All the good American boys. We charged the Fritzes. How they ran! But--there was a mistake. No artillery preparation. There ought to be crosses and medals going for that charge, for the boys--(Laughs.) Why, they're all dead. And me--I'm dying, in a ditch. Twenty years old. Done out of sixty years by--by the silly war. What's it for? Mother, what's it about? I'm ill a bit. I can't think what good it is. Slaughtering boys--all the nations' boys--honest, hard-working boys mostly. Junk. Fine chaps an hour ago. What's the good? I'm dying--for the flag. But--what's the good? It'll go on--wars. Again. Peace sometimes, but nothing gained. And all of us--dead. Cheated out of our lives. Wouldn't the world have done as well if this long ditch of good fellows had been let live? Mother?
The Boy's Dream of His Mother. (Seems to speak.) My very dearest--no. It takes this great burnt-offering to free the world. The world will be free. This is the crisis of humanity; you are bending the lever that lifts the race. Be glad, dearest life of the world, to be part of that glory. Think back to your school-days, to a sentence you learned. Lincoln spoke it. "These dead shall not have died in vain, and government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The Boy. (Whispers.) I remember. It's good. "Shall not have died in vain"--"The people--shall not perish"--where's your hand, mother? It's taps for me. The lights are going out. Come with me--mother. (Dies.)
The scene it the same trench one hundred years later, in the year 2018. It is ten o'clock of a summer morning. Two French children have come to the trench to pick flowers. The little girl of seven is gentle and soft-hearted; her older brother is a man of nearly ten years, and feels his patriotism and his responsibilities.
Angelique. (The little French girl.) Here's where they grow, Jean-B'tiste.
Jean-Baptiste. (The little French boy.) I know. They bloom bigger blooms in the American ditch.
Angelique. (Climbs into the ditch and picks flowers busily.) Why do people call it the 'Merican ditch, Jean-B'tiste? What's 'Merican?
Jean-Baptiste. (Ripples laughter.) One's little sister doesn't know much! Never mind. One is so young--three years younger than I am. I'm ten, you know.
Angelique. Tiens, Jean-B'tiste. Not ten till next month.
Jean-Baptiste. Oh, but--but--next month!
Angelique. What's 'Merican?
Jean-Baptiste. Droll p'tite. Why, everybody in all France knows that name. Of American.
Angelique. (Unashamed.) Do they? What is it?
Jean-Baptiste. It's the people that live in the so large country across the ocean. They came over and saved all our lives, and France.
Angelique. (Surprised.) Did they save my life, Jean-B'tiste?
Jean-Baptiste. Little drole. You weren't born.
Angelique. Oh! Whose life did they then save? Maman's?
Jean-Baptiste. But no. She was not born either.
Angelique. Whose life, then--the grandfather's?
Jean-Baptiste. But--even he was not born. (Disconcerted by Angelique's direct tactics.) One sees they could not save the lives of people who were not here. But--they were brave--but yes--and friends to France. And they came across the ocean to fight for France. Big, strong young soldiers in brown uniforms--the grandfather told me about it yesterday. I know it all. His father told him, and he was here. In this field. (Jean-Baptiste looks about the meadow, where the wind blows flowers and wheat.) There was a large battle--a fight very immense. It was not like this then. It was digged over with ditches and the soldiers stood in the ditches and shot at the wicked Germans in the other ditches. Lots and lots of soldiers died.
Angelique. (Lips trembling.) Died--in ditches?
Jean-Baptiste. (Grimly.) Yes, it is true.
Angelique. (Breaks into sobs.) I can't bear you to tell me that. I can't bear the soldiers to--die--in ditches.
Jean-Baptiste. (Pats her shoulder.) I'm sorry I told you if it makes you cry. You are so little. But it was one hundred years ago. They're dead now.
Angelique. (Rubs her eyes with her dress and smiles.) Yes, they're quite dead now. So--tell me some more.
Jean-Baptiste. But I don't want to make you cry more, p'tite. You're so little.
Angelique. I'm not very little. I'm bigger than Anne-Marie Dupont, and she's eight.
Jean-Baptiste. But no. She's not eight till next month. She told me.
Angelique. Oh, well--next month. Me, I want to hear about the brave 'Mericans. Did they make this ditch to stand in and shoot the wicked Germans?
Jean-Baptiste. They didn't make it, but they fought the wicked Germans in a brave, wonderful charge, the bravest sort, the grandfather said. And they took the ditch away from the wicked Germans, and then--maybe you'll cry.
Angelique. I won't. I promise you I won't.
Jean-Baptiste. Then, when the ditch--only they called it a trench--was well full of American soldiers, the wicked Germans got a machine gun at the end of it and fired all the way along--the grandfather called it enfiladed--and killed every American in the whole long ditch.
Angelique. (Bursts into tears again; buries her face in her skirt.) I--I'm sorry I cry, but the 'Mericans were so brave and fought--for France--and it was cruel of the wicked Germans to--to shoot them.
Jean-Baptiste. The wicked Germans were always cruel. But the grandfather says it's quite right now, and as it should be, for they are now a small and weak nation, and scorned and watched by other nations, so that they shall never be strong again. For the grandfather says they are not such as can be trusted--no, never the wicked Germans. The world will not believe their word again. They speak not the truth. Once they nearly smashed the world, when they had power. So it is looked to by all nations that never again shall Germany be powerful. For they are sly, and cruel as wolves, and only intelligent to be wicked. That is what the grandfather says.
Angelique. Me, I'm sorry for the poor wicked Germans that they are so bad. It is not nice to be bad. One is punished.
Jean-Baptiste. (Sternly.) It is the truth. One is always punished. As long as the world lasts it will be a punishment to be a German. But as long as France lasts there will be a nation to love the name of America, one sees. For the Americans were generous and brave. They left their dear land and came and died for us, to keep us free in France from the wicked Germans.
Angelique. (Lip trembles.) I'm sorry--they died.
Jean-Baptiste. But, p'tite! That was one hundred years ago. It is necessary that they would have been dead by now in every case. It was more glorious to die fighting for freedom and France than just to die--fifty years later. Me, I'd enjoy very much to die fighting. But look! You pulled up the roots. And what is that thing hanging to the roots--not a rock?
Angelique. No, I think not a rock. (She takes the object in her hands and knocks dirt from it.) But what is it, Jean-B'tiste?
Jean-Baptiste. It's--but never mind. I can't always know everything, don't you see, Angelique? It's just something of one of the Americans who died in the ditch. One is always finding something in these old battle-fields.
Angelique. (Rubs the object with her dress. Takes a handful of sand and rubs it on the object. Spits on it and rubs the sand.) V'la, Jean-B'tiste--it shines.
Jean-Baptiste. (Loftily.) Yes. It is nothing, that. One finds such things.
Angelique. (Rubbing more.) And there are letters on it.
Jean-Baptiste. Yes. It is nothing, that. One has flowers en masse now, and it is time to go home. Come then, p'tite, drop the dirty bit of brass and pick up your pretty flowers. Tiens! Give me your hand. I'll pull you up the side of the ditch. (Jean-Baptiste turns as they start.) I forgot the thing which the grandfather told me I must do always. (He stands at attention.) Au revoir, brave Americans. One salutes your immortal glory. (Exit Jean-Baptiste and Angelique.)
The scene is the same trench in the year 2018. It is eleven o'clock of the same summer morning. Four American schoolgirls, of from fifteen to seventeen years, have been brought to see the trench, a relic of the Great War, in charge of their teacher. The teacher, a worn and elderly person, has imagination, and is stirred, as far as her tired nerves may be, by the heroic story of the old ditch. One of the schoolgirls also has imagination and is also stirred. The other three are "young barbarians at play." Two out of five is possibly a large proportion to be blessed with imagination, but the American race has improved in a hundred years.
Teacher. This, girls, is an important bit of our sight-seeing. It is the last of the old trenches of the Great War to remain intact in all northern France. It was left untouched out of the reverence of the people of the country for one hundred Americans of the Blankth Regiment, who died here--in this old ditch. The regiment had charged too soon, by a mistaken order, across what was called No-Man's Land, from their own front trench, about (consults guide-book)--about thirty-five yards away--that would be near where you see the red poppies so thick in the wheat. They took the trench from the Germans, and were then wiped out partly by artillery fire, partly by a German machine gun which was placed, disguised, at the end of the trench and enfiladed the entire length. Three-quarters of the regiment, over two thousand men, were killed in this battle. Since then the regiment has been known as the "Charging Blankth."
First Schoolgirl. Wouldn't those poppies be lovely on a yellow hat?
Second Schoolgirl. Ssh! The Eye is on you. How awful, Miss Hadley! And were they all killed? Quite a tragedy!
Third Schoolgirl. Not a yellow hat! Stupid! A corn-colored one--just the shade of the grain with the sun on it. Wouldn't it be lovely! When we get back to Paris--
Fourth Schoolgirl (the one with imagination). You idiots! You poor kittens!
First Schoolgirl. If we ever do get back to Paris!
Teacher. (Wearily.) Please pay attention. This is one of the world's most sacred spots. It is the scene of a great heroism. It is the place where many of our fellow countrymen laid down their lives. How can you stand on this solemn ground and chatter about hats?
Third Schoolgirl. Well, you see, Miss Hadley, we're fed up with solemn grounds. You can't expect us to go into raptures at this stage over an old ditch. And, to be serious, wouldn't some of those field flowers make a lovely combination for hats? With the French touch, don't you know? You'd be darling in one--so ingenue!
Second Schoolgirl. Ssh! She'll kill you. (Three girls turn their backs and stifle a giggle.)
Teacher. Girls, you may be past your youth yourselves one day.
First Schoolgirl. (Airily.) But we're well preserved so far, Miss Hadley.
Fourth Schoolgirl. (Has wandered away a few yards. She bends and picks a flower from the ditch. She speaks to herself.) The flag floated here. There were shells bursting and guns thundering and groans and blood--here. American boys were dying where I stand safe. That's what they did. They made me safe. They kept America free. They made the "world safe for freedom," (She bends and speaks into the ditch.) Boy, you who lay just there in suffering and gave your good life away that long-ago summer day--thank you. You died for us. America remembers. Because of you there will be no more wars, and girls such as we are may wander across battle-fields, and nations are happy and well governed, and kings and masters are gone. You did that, you boys. You lost fifty years of life, but you gained our love forever. Your deaths were not in vain. Good-by, dear, dead boys.
Teacher. (Calls). Child, come! We must catch the train.
The scene is the same trench in the year 2018. It is three o'clock of the afternoon, of the same summer day. A newly married couple have come to see the trench. He is journeying as to a shrine; she has allowed impersonal interests, such as history, to lapse under the influence of love and a trousseau. She is, however, amenable to patriotism, and, her husband applying the match, she takes fire--she also, from the story of the trench.
He. This must be the place.
She. It is nothing but a ditch filled with flowers.
He. The old trench. (Takes off his hat.)
She. Was it--it was--in the Great War?
He. My dear!
She. You're horrified. But I really--don't know.
He. Don't know? You must.
She. You've gone and married a person who hasn't a glimmer of history. What will you do about it?
He. I'll be brave and stick to my bargain. Do you mean that you've forgotten the charge of the Blankth Americans against the Prussian Guard? The charge that practically ended the war?
She. Ended the war? How could one charge end the war?
He. There was fighting after. But the last critical battle was here (looks about) in these meadows, and for miles along. And it was just here that the Blankth United States Regiment made its historic dash. In that ditch--filled with flowers--a hundred of our lads were mown down in three minutes. About two thousand more followed them to death.
She. Oh--I do know. It was that charge. I learned about it in school; it thrilled me always.
He. Certainly. Every American child knows the story. I memorized the list of the one hundred soldiers' names of my own free will when I was ten. I can say them now. "Arnold--Ashe--Bennett--Emmet--Dragmore--"
She. Don't say the rest, Ted--tell me about it as it happened. (She slips her hand into his.) We two, standing here young and happy, looking forward to a, lifetime together, will do honor, that way, to those soldiers who gave up their happy youth and their lives for America.
He. (Puts his arm around her.) We will. We'll make a little memorial service and I'll preach a sermon about how gloriously they fell and how, unknowingly, they won the war--and so much more!
She. Tell me.
He. It was a hundred years ago about now--summer. A critical battle raged along a stretch of many miles. About the centre of the line--here--the Prussian Imperial Guards, the crack soldiers of the German army, held the first trench--this ditch. American forces faced them, but in weeks of fighting had not been able to make much impression. Then, on a day, the order came down the lines that the Blankth United States Regiment, opposed to the Guard, was to charge and take the German front trench. Of course the artillery was to prepare for their charge as usual, but there was some mistake. There was no curtain of fire before them, no artillery preparation to help them. And the order to charge came. So, right into the German guns, in the face of those terrible Prussian Guards, our lads went "over the top" with a great shout, and poured like a flame, like a catapult, across the space between them--No-Man's Land, they called it then--it was only thirty-five yards--to the German trench. So fast they rushed, and so unexpected was their coming, with no curtain of artillery to shield them, that the Germans were for a moment taken aback. Not a shot was fired for a space of time almost long enough to let the Americans reach the trench, and then the rifles broke out and the brown uniforms fell like leaves in autumn. But not all. They rushed on pell-mell, cutting wire, pouring irresistibly into the German trench. And the Guards, such as were not mown down, lost courage at the astounding impetus of the dash, and scrambled and ran from their trench. They took it--our boys took that trench--this old ditch. But then the big German guns opened a fire like hail and a machine gun at the end--down there it must have been--enfiladed the trench, and every man in it was killed. But the charge ended the war. Other Americans, mad with the glory of it, poured in a sea after their comrades and held the trench, and poured on and on, and wiped out that day the Prussian Guard. The German morale was broken from then; within four months the war was over.
She. (Turns and hides her face on his shoulder and shakes with sobs.) I'm not--crying for sorrow--for them. I'm crying--for the glory of it. Because--I'm so proud and glad--that it's too much for me. To belong to such a nation--to such men. I'm crying for knowing, it was my nation--my men. And America is--the same today. I know it. If she needed you today, Ted, you would fight like that. You would go over the top with the charging Blankth, with a shout, if the order came--wouldn't you, my own man?
He. (Looking into the old ditch with his head bent reverently.) I hope so.
She. And I hope I would send you with all my heart. Death like that is more than life.
He. I've made you cry.
She. Not you. What they did--those boys.
He. It's fitting that Americans should come here, as they do come, as to a Mecca, a holy place. For it was here that America was saved. That's what they did, the boys who made that charge. They saved America from the most savage and barbarous enemy of all time. As sure as France and England were at the end of their rope--and they were--so surely Germany, the victor, would have invaded America, and Belgium would have happened in our country. A hundred years wouldn't have been enough to free us again, if that had happened. You and I, dearest, owe it to those soldiers that we are here together, free, prosperous citizens of an ever greater country.
She. (Drops on her knees by the ditch.) It's a shrine. Men of my land, I own my debt. I thank you for all I have and am. God bless you in your heaven. (Silence.)
He. (Tears in his eyes. His arm around her neck as he bends to her.) You'll not forget the story of the Charging Blankth?
She. Never again. In my life. (Rising.) I think their spirits must be here often. Perhaps they're happy when Americans are here. It's a holy place, as you said. Come away now. I love to leave it in sunshine and flowers with the dear ghosts of the boys. (Exit He and She.)
The scene it the same trench in the year 2018. It is five o'clock of the same summer afternoon. An officer of the American Army and an English cabinet member come, together, to visit the old trench. The American has a particular reason for his interest; the Englishman accompanies the distinguished American. The two review the story of the trench and speak of other things connected, and it is hoped that they set forth the far-reaching work of the soldiers who died, not realizing their work, in the great fight of the Charging Blankth.
Englishman. It's a peaceful scene.
American. (Advances to the side of the ditch. Looks down. Takes off his cap.) I came across the ocean to see it. (He looks over the fields.) It's quiet.
Englishman. The trenches were filled in all over the invaded territory within twenty-five years after the war. Except a very few kept as a manner of monument. Object-lessons, don't you know, in what the thing meant. Even those are getting obliterated. They say this is quite the best specimen in all France.
American. It doesn't look warlike. What a lot of flowers!
Englishman. Yes. The folk about here have a tradition, don't you know, that poppies mark the places where blood flowed most.
American. Ah! (Gazes into the ditch.) Poppies there. A hundred of our soldiers died at once down there. Mere lads mostly. Their names and ages are on a tablet in the capitol at Washington, and underneath is a sentence from Lincoln's Gettysburg speech: "These dead shall not have died in vain, and government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Englishman. Those are undying words.
American. And undying names--the lads' names.
Englishman. What they and the other Americans did can never die. Not while the planet endures. No nation at that time realized how vital was your country's entrance into the war. Three months later it would have been too late. Your young, untried forces lifted worn-out France and England and swept us to-victory. It was America's victory at the last. It is our glory to confess that, for from then on America has been our kin.
American. (Smiles.) England is our well-beloved elder sister for all time now.
Englishman. The soldiers who died there (gestures to the ditch) and their like did that also. They tied the nations together with a bond of common gratitude, common suffering, common glory.
American. You say well that there was common gratitude. England and France had fought our battle for three years at the time we entered the war. We had nestled behind the English fleet. Those grim gray ships of yours stood between us and the barbarians very literally.
Englishman. Without doubt Germany would have been happy to invade the only country on earth rich enough to pay her war debt. And you were astonishingly open to invasion. It is one of the historical facts that a student of history of this twenty-first century finds difficult to realize.
American. The Great War made revolutionary changes. That condition of unpreparedness was one. That there will never be another war is the belief of all governments. But if all governments should be mistaken, not again would my country, or yours, be caught unprepared. A general staff built of soldiers and free of civilians hampering is one advantage we have drawn from our ordeal of 1917.
Englishman. Your army is magnificently efficient.
American. And yours. Heaven grant neither may ever be needed! Our military efficiency is the pride of an unmilitary nation. One Congress, since the Great War and its lessons, has vied with another to keep our high place.
Englishman. Ah! Your Congress. That has changed since the old days--since La Follette.
American. The name is a shame and a warning to us. Our children are taught to remember it so. The "little group of wilful men," the eleven who came near to shipwrecking the country, were equally bad, perhaps, but they are forgotten. La Follette stands for them and bears the curses of his countrymen, which they all earned.
Englishman. Their ignominy served America; it roused the country to clean its Augean stables.
American. The war purified with fire the legislative soul.
Englishman. Exactly. Men are human still, certainly, yet genuine patriotism appears to be a sine qua non now, where bombast answered in the old day. Corruption is no longer accepted. Public men then were surprisingly simple, surprisingly cheap and limited in their methods. There were two rules for public and private life. It was thought quixotic, I gather from studying the documents of the time, to expect anything different. And how easily the change came!
American. The nation rose and demanded honesty, and honesty was there. The enormous majority of decent people woke from a discontented apathy and took charge. Men sprang into place naturally and served the nation. The old log-rolling, brainless, greedy public officials were thrown into the junk-heap. As if by magic the stress of the war wrung out the rinsings and the scourings and left the fabric clean.
Englishman. The stress of the war affected more than internal politics. You and I, General, are used to a standard of conduct between responsible nations as high as that taken for granted between responsible persons. But, if one considers, that was far from the case a hundred years ago. It was in 1914, that von Bethmann-Hollweg spoke of "a scrap of paper."
Englishman. Certainly one does not expect honor or sincerity from German psychology. Even the little Teutonic Republic of to-day is tricky, scheming always to get a foothold for power, a beginning for the army they will never again be allowed to have. Even after the Kaiser and the Crown Prince and the other rascals were punished they tried to cheat us, if you remember. Yet it is not that which I had in mind. The point I was making was that today it would be out of drawing for a government even of charlatans, like the Prussians, to advance the sort of claims which they did. In commonplace words, it was expected then that governments, as against each other, would be self-seeking. To-day decency demands that they should be, as men must be, unselfish.
America. (Musingly.) It's odd how long it took the world--governments--human beings--to find the truth of the very old phrase that "he who findeth his life must lose it."
Englishman. The simple fact of that phrase before the Great War was not commonly grasped. People thought it purely religious and reserved for saints and church services. As a working hypothesis it was not generally known. The every-day ideals of our generation, the friendships and brotherhoods of nations as we know them would have been thought Utopian.
American. Utopian? Perhaps our civilization is better than Utopian. The race has grown with a bound since we all went through hell together. How far the civilization of 1914 stood above that of 1614! The difference between galley-slaves and able-bodied seamen, of your and our navy! Greater yet than the change in that three hundred years is the change in the last one hundred. I look at it with a soldier's somewhat direct view. Humanity went helpless and alone into a fiery furnace and came through holding on to God's hand. We have clung closely to that powerful grasp since.
Englishman. Certainly the race has emerged from an epoch of intellect to an epoch of spirituality--which comprehends and extends intellect. There have never been inventions such as those of our era. And the inventors have been, as it were, men inspired. Something beyond themselves has worked through them for the world. A force like that was known only sporadically before our time.
American. (Looks into old ditch.) It would be strange to the lads who charged through horror across this flowery field to hear our talk and to know that to them and their deeds we owe the happiness and the greatness of the world we now live in.
Englishman. Their short, Homeric episode of life admitted few generalizations, I fancy. To be ready and strong and brave--there was scant time for more than that in those strenuous days. Yet under that simple formula lay a sea of patriotism and self-sacrifice, from which sprang their soldiers' force. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." It was their love--love of country, of humanity, of freedom--which silenced in the end the great engine of evil--Prussianism. The motive power of life is proved, through those dead soldiers, to be not hate, as the Prussians taught, but love.
American. Do you see something shining among the flowers at the bottom of the ditch?
Englishman. Why, yes. Is it--a leaf which catches the light?
American. (Stepping down.) I'll see. (He picks up a metal identification disk worn by a soldier. Angelique has rubbed it so that the letters may mostly be read.) This is rather wonderful. (He reads aloud.) "R.V.H. Randolph--Blankth Regiment--U.S." I can't make out the rest.
Englishman. (Takes the disk.) Extraordinary! The name and regiment are plain. The identification disk, evidently, of a soldier who died in the trench here. Your own man, General.
American. (Much stirred.) And--my own regiment. Two years ago I was the colonel of "The Charging Blankth."