Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/83

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The War and the Future

where the ground is almost unmarked with shell-fire. There are no traces of fighting, no graves, no litter of broken men or broken equipment, the fields are green and there is no noise of war. Yet all the houses are ruined; they have been gutted, their roofs have been blown off or their fronts pulled out, and in their streets you will sometimes see vast collections of pots, pans, desks, tables, chairs, pictures, all smashed, evidently wantonly smashed; men have evidently defaced them, cut, burnt, and banged them. And you notice that for miles of that country all the best of the trees, especially the fruit trees, have been cut down, not for firewood, for they are all there, with their heads in the mud, but for wanton devilry.

And if you ask about this, you will hear—"O, no; there was no fighting here, but this is the ground the enemy couldn't hold. When he lost the ground to the north, he had to retreat from here in a hurry, but he showed his spite first. First he took away the few remaining boys and girls to work for him at making shells or digging trenches. Then they went from house to house and collected all the furniture and property into the central place of the town; then all that was good or valuable or