3609 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
Grecian folds. She wore the large black
Alsatian head dress, in one corner of which
was pinned a small tri-colored cockade.
She has often been called the most beautiful woman in Paris. The description
was too limited. With the next lines
she threw her arms apart, drawing out
the folds of the gown into the tricolor of
France-heavy folds of red silk draped
over one arm and blue over the other.
Her head was thrown back. Her tall,
slender figure simply vibrated with the
feeling of the words that poured forth
from her lips. She was noble. She was
glorious. She was sublime. With the
'March on, march on' of the chorus, her
voice arose high and fine over the full
orchestra, and even above her voice could
be sensed the surging emotions of the
audience that seemed to sweep over the
house in waves.
"I looked up at the row of wounded.
One man held his bandaged head between
his hands and was crying. An officer in a
box, wearing the gorgeous uniform of the
headquarters staff, held a handkerchief
over his eyes.
"Through the second verse the audience
alternately cheered and stamped their
feet and wept. Then came the wonderful
'Amour sacre de la patrie' (Sacred love of
home and country) verse. The crashing
of the orchestra ceased, dying away almost
to a whisper. Chenal drew the folds of
the tricolor cloak about her. Then she
bent her head and, drawing the flag to
her lips, kissed it reverently. The first
words came like a sob from her soul.
From then until the end of the verse,
when her voice again rang out over the
renewed efforts of the orchestra, one
seemed to live through all the glorious
history of France. At the very end, when
Chenal drew a short jeweled sword from
the folds of her gown and stood, silent
and superb, with the folds of the flag
draped about her, while the curtain rang
slowly down, she seemed to typify both
Empire and Republic throughout all time.
All the best of the past seemed concentrated
there as that glorious woman, with head
raised high, looked into the future.
"And as I came out of the theater with
the silent audience I said to myself that
a nation with a song and a patriotism
such as I had just witnessed could not
vanish from the earth-nor again be
CHAPTER CLXXX-THE GRAND DRIVE AGAINST RUSSIA.
AS the spring of 1915
opened, the situation
of the Central Powers
did not appear to be
very promising. Germany had put forth
but had failed to force
a definite decision in either the east or the
west. In March, Przemysl fell with more
than a hundred thousand Austrians, while
the Russians were storming the Carpathian
passes, and French and British warships
were thundering at the Dardanelles. The
fleets of the Entente Allies swept the
seas, and the strength of these powers,
both in men and munitions, was increasing.
Italy had adopted a threatening attitude
toward her former partners, and the course
of some of the Balkan states was uncertain.
The people of the Dual Monarchy were
discouraged, many of them were hungry,
and some observers were prophesying
an Austro-Hungarian collapse; while even
in Germany economic conditions were
bad, and the first glow of absolute confidence had given way to doubts. In a
word, the fortunes of the Central Powers
had reached a critical stage, and it behooved the Teutonic War Lords to do
something to turn back their enemies,
to restore their own drooping prestige,
and to revive the spirits of their peoples.
On the 22d of April, the Germans
launched their chlorine gas attack at Ypres,
taking about six thousand prisoners and