THE STORY OF THE RED CROSS AS TOLD TO THE LITTLE COLONEL
Works of ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON
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THE STORY OF THE RED CROSS AS TOLD TO THE LITTLE COLONEL
By Annie Fellows Johnston
AUTHOR OF "THE LITTLE COLONEL SERIES," "ASA HOLMES," "THE JEWEL SERIES," ETC.
Illustrated by John Goss
THE PAGE COMPANY BOSTON MDCCCCXVIII
Copyright, 1902, BY THE PAGE COMPANY
Copyright, 1918, BY THE PAGE COMPANY
All rights reserved
First Impression, October, 1918
THE COLONIAL PRESS C.H. SIMONDS CO., BOSTON, U.S.A.
This story in its original form appeared in The Little Colonel's Hero, the fourth volume in the famous Little Colonel Series.
The publishers would have appropriately used on the cover of this book the Red Cross on a white field, adopted as its emblem by the Red Cross Society, but any use of that emblem for purposes other than those of this society has been prohibited by law.
The Red Cross Society adopted its emblem in honor of Switzerland, where the society originated, but reversed the colors of the Swiss flag, which are a White Cross on a red field. It is consequently, under the circumstances, appropriate that the cover design should show the White Cross of Switzerland, where the Red Cross Society originated, and where its story was told to The Little Colonel.
CHAPTER PAGE I Lloyd Meets Hero 1 II Hero's Story 24 III The Red Cross of Geneva 44 IV Homeward Bound 69 V In After Years 82
"'Do you suppose that I could train my dogs to do that?'" (See page 39) Frontispiece
"He stepped aside to let the great creature past him" 8
"But it did not stop their mad flight" 16
"He plunged out alone into the deep snow" 30
"The two were wandering along beside the water together" 62
"He fastened the medal to Hero's collar" 67
The Story of the Red Cross as Told to The Little Colonel
LLOYD MEETS HERO
It was in Switzerland in the old town of Geneva. The windows of the big hotel dining-room looked out on the lake, and the Little Colonel, sitting at breakfast the morning after their arrival, could scarcely eat for watching the scene outside.
Gay little pleasure boats flashed back and forth on the sparkling water. The quay and bridge were thronged with people. From open windows down the street came the tinkle of pianos, and out on the pier, where a party of tourists were crowding on to one of the excursion steamers, a band was playing its merriest holiday music.
Far away in the distance she could see the shining snow crown of Mont Blanc, and it gave her an odd feeling, as if she were living in a geography lesson, to know that she was bounded on one side by the famous Alpine mountain, and on the other by the River Rhone, whose source she had often traced on the map. The sunshine, the music, and the gay crowds made it seem to Lloyd as if the whole world were out for a holiday, and she ate her melon and listened to the plans for the day with the sensation that something very delightful was about to happen.
"We'll go shopping this morning," said Mrs. Sherman. "I want Lloyd to see some of those wonderful music boxes they make here; the dancing bears, and the musical hand-mirrors; the chairs that play when you sit down in them, and the beer-mugs that begin a tune when you lift them up."
Lloyd's face dimpled with pleasure, and she began to ask eager questions. "Could we take one to Mom Beck, mothah? A lookin'-glass that would play 'Kingdom Comin',' when she picked it up? It would surprise her so she would think it was bewitched, and she'd shriek the way she does when a cattapillah gets on her."
Lloyd laughed so heartily at the recollection, that an old gentleman sitting at an opposite table smiled in sympathy. He had been watching the child ever since she came into the dining-room, interested in every look and gesture. He was a dignified old soldier, tall and broad-shouldered, with gray hair and a fierce-looking gray moustache drooping heavily over his mouth. But the eyes under his shaggy brows were so kind and gentle that the shyest child or the sorriest waif of a stray dog would claim him for a friend at first glance.
The Little Colonel was so busy watching the scene from the window that she did not see him until he had finished his breakfast and rose from the table. As he came toward them on his way to the door, she whispered, "Look, mothah! He has only one arm, like grandfathah. I wondah if he was a soldiah, too. Why is he bowing to Papa Jack?"
"I met him last night in the office," explained her father, when the old gentleman had passed out of hearing. "We got into conversation over the dog he had with him—a magnificent St. Bernard, that had been trained as a war dog, to go out with the ambulances to hunt for dead and wounded soldiers. Major Pierre de Vaux is the old man's name. The clerk told me that when the Major lost his arm, he was decorated for some act of bravery. He is well known here in Geneva, where he comes every summer for a few weeks."
"Oh, I hope I'll see the war dog!" cried the Little Colonel. "What do you suppose his name is?"
The waiter, who was changing their plates, could not resist this temptation to show off the little English he knew. "Hes name is Hero, mademoiselle," he answered. "He vair smart dog. He know evair sing somebody say to him, same as a person."
"You'll probably see him as we go out to the carriage," said Mr. Sherman. "He follows the Major constantly."
As soon as breakfast was over, Mrs. Sherman went up to her room for her hat. Lloyd, who had worn hers down to breakfast, wandered out into the hall to wait for her. There was a tall, carved chair standing near the elevator, and Lloyd climbed into it. To her great confusion, something inside of it gave a loud click as she seated herself, and began to play. It played so loudly that Lloyd was both startled and embarrassed. It seemed to her that every one in the hotel must hear the noise, and know that she had started it.
"Silly old thing!" she muttered, as with a very red face she slipped down and walked hurriedly away. She intended to go into the reading-room, but in her confusion turned to the left instead of the right, and ran against some one coming out of the hotel office. It was the Major.
"Oh, I beg your pahdon!" she cried, blushing still more. From the twinkle in his eye she was sure that he had witnessed her mortifying encounter with the musical chair. But his first words made her forget her embarrassment. He spoke in the best of English, but with a slight accent that Lloyd thought very odd and charming.
"Ah, it is Mr. Sherman's little daughter. He told me last night that you had come to Switzerland because it was a land of heroes, and he was sure that you would be especially interested in mine. So come, Hero, my brave fellow, and be presented to the little American lady. Give her your paw, sir!"
He stepped aside to let the great creature past him, and Lloyd uttered an exclamation of delight, he was so unusually large and beautiful. His curly coat of tawny yellow was as soft as silk, and a great ruff of white circled his neck like a collar. His breast was white, too, and his paws, and his eyes had a wistful, human look that went straight to Lloyd's heart. She shook the offered paw, and then impulsively threw her arms around his neck, exclaiming, "Oh, you deah old fellow! I can't help lovin' you. You're the beautifulest dog I evah saw!"
He understood the caress, if not the words, for he reached up to touch her cheek with his tongue, and wagged his tail as if he were welcoming a long-lost friend. Just then Mrs. Sherman stepped out of the elevator. "Good-bye, Hero," said the Little Colonel. "I must go now, but I hope I'll see you when I come back." Nodding good-bye to the Major, she followed her mother out to the street, where her father stood waiting beside an open carriage.
Lloyd enjoyed the drive that morning as they spun along beside the river, up and down the strange streets with the queer foreign signs over the shop doors. Once, as they drove along the quay, they met the Major and the dog, and in response to a courtly bow, the Little Colonel waved her hand and smiled. The empty sleeve recalled her grandfather, and gave her a friendly feeling for the old soldier. She looked back at Hero as long as she could see a glimpse of his white and yellow curls.
It was nearly noon when they stopped at a place where Mrs. Sherman wanted to leave an enamelled belt-buckle to be repaired. Lloyd was not interested in the show-cases, and could not understand the conversation her father and mother were having with the shopkeeper about enamelling. So, saying that she would go out and sit in the carriage until they were ready to come, she slipped away.
She liked to watch the stir of the streets. It was interesting to guess what the foreign signs meant, and to listen to the strange speech around her. Besides, there was a band playing somewhere down the street, and children were tugging at their nurses' hands to hurry them along. Some carried dolls dressed in the quaint costumes of Swiss peasants, and some had balloons. A man with a bunch of them like a cluster of great red bubbles had just sold out on the corner.
So she sat in the sunshine, looking around her with eager, interested eyes. The coachman, high up on his box, seemed as interested as herself; at least, he sat up very straight and stiff. But it was only his back that Lloyd saw. He had been at a fete the night before. There seems to be always a holiday in Geneva. He had stayed long at the merrymaking and had taken many mugs of beer. They made him drowsy and stupid. The American gentleman and his wife stayed long in the enameller's shop. He could scarcely keep his eyes open. Presently, although he never moved a muscle of his back and sat up stiff and straight as a poker, he was sound asleep, and the reins in his grasp slipped lower and lower and lower.
The horse was an old one, stiffened and jaded by much hard travel, but it had been a mettlesome one in its younger days, with the recollection of many exciting adventures. Now, although it seemed half asleep, dreaming, maybe, of the many jaunts it had taken with other American tourists, or wondering if it were not time for it to have its noonday nosebag, it was really keeping one eye open, nervously watching some painters on the sidewalk. They were putting up a scaffold against a building, in order that they might paint the cornice.
Presently the very thing happened that the old horse had been expecting. A heavy board fell from the scaffold with a crash, knocking over a ladder, which fell into the street in front of the frightened animal. Now the old horse had been in several runaways. Once it had been hurt by a falling ladder, and it had never recovered from its fear of one. As this one fell just under its nose, all the old fright and pain that caused its first runaway seemed to come back to its memory. In a frenzy of terror it reared, plunged forward, then suddenly turned and dashed down the street.
The plunge and sudden turn threw the sleeping coachman from the box to the street. With the lines dragging at its heels, the frightened horse sped on. The Little Colonel, clutching frantically at the seat in front of her, screamed at the horse to stop. She had been used to driving ever since she was big enough to grasp the reins, and she felt that if she could only reach the dragging lines, she could control the horse. But that was impossible. All she could do was to cling to the seat as the carriage whirled dizzily around corners, and wonder how many more frightful turns it would make before she should be thrown out.
The white houses on either side seemed racing-past them. Nurses ran, screaming, to the pavements, dragging the baby-carriages out of the way. Dogs barked and teams were jerked hastily aside. Some one dashed out of a shop and threw his arms up in front of the horse to stop it, but, veering to one side, it only plunged on the faster.
Lloyd's hat blew off. Her face turned white with a sickening dread, and her breath began to come in frightened sobs. On and on they went, and, as the scenes of a lifetime will be crowded into a moment in the memory of a drowning man, so a thousand things came flashing into Lloyd's mind. She saw the locust avenue all white and sweet in blossom time, and thought, with a strange thrill of self-pity, that she would never ride under its white arch again. Then came her mother's face, and Papa Jack's. In a few moments, she told herself, they would be picking up her poor, broken, lifeless little body from the street. How horribly they would feel. And then—she screamed and shut her eyes. The carriage had dashed into something that tore off a wheel. There was a crash—a sound as of splintering wood. But it did not stop their mad flight. With a horrible bumping motion that nearly threw her from the carriage at every jolt, they still kept on.
They were on the quay now. The noon sun on the water flashed into her eyes like the blinding light thrown back from a looking-glass. Then something white and yellow darted from the crowd on the pavement, and catching the horse by the bit, swung on heavily. The horse dragged along for a few paces, and came to a halt, trembling like a leaf.
A wild hurrah went up from both sides of the street, and the Little Colonel, as she was lifted out white and trembling, saw that it was a huge St. Bernard that the crowd was cheering.
"Oh, it's H-Hero!" she cried, with chattering teeth. "How did he get here?" But no one understood her question. The faces she looked into, while beaming with friendly interest, were all foreign. The eager exclamations on all sides were uttered in a foreign tongue. There was no one to take her home, and in her fright she could not remember the name of their hotel. But in the midst of her confusion a hearty sentence in English sounded in her ear, and a strong arm caught her up in a fatherly embrace. It was the Major who came pushing through the crowd to reach her. Her grandfather himself could not have been more welcome just at that time, and her tears came fast when she found herself in his friendly shelter. The shock had been a terrible one.
"Come, dear child!" he exclaimed, gently, patting her shoulder. "Courage! We are almost at the hotel. See, it is on the corner, there. Your father and mother will soon be here."
Wiping her eyes, he led her across the street, explaining as he went how it happened that he and the dog were on the street when she passed. They had been in the gardens all morning and were going home to lunch, when they heard the clatter of the runaway far down the street. The Major could not see who was in the carriage, only that it appeared to be a child. He was too old a man, and with his one arm too helpless to attempt to stop it, but he remembered that Hero had once shared the training of some collies for police service, before it had been decided to use him as an ambulance dog. They were taught to spring at the bridles of escaping horses.
"I was doubtful if Hero remembered those early lessons," said the Major, "but I called out to him sharply, for the love of heaven to stop it if he could, and that instant he was at the horse's head, hanging on with all his might. Bravo, old fellow!" he continued, turning to the dog as he spoke. "We are proud of you this day!"
They were in the corridor of the hotel now, and the Little Colonel, kneeling beside Hero and putting her arms around his neck, finished her sobbing with her fair little face laid fondly against his silky coat.
"Oh, you deah, deah old Hero," she said. "You saved me, and I'll love you fo' evah and evah!"
The crowd was still in front of the hotel, and the corridor full of excited servants and guests, when Mr. and Mrs. Sherman hurried in. They had taken the first carriage they could hail and driven as fast as possible in the wake of the runaway. Mrs. Sherman was trembling so violently that she could scarcely stand, when they reached the hotel. The clerk who ran out to assure them of the Little Colonel's safety was loud in his praises of the faithful St. Bernard.
Hero had known many masters. He had been taught to obey many voices. Many hands had fed and fondled him, but no hand had ever lain quite so tenderly on his head, as the Little Colonel's. No one had ever looked into his eyes so gratefully as she, and no voice had ever thrilled him with as loving tones as hers, as she knelt there beside him, calling him all the fond endearing names she knew. He understood far better than if he had been human, that she loved him. Eagerly licking her hands and wagging his tail, he told her as plainly as a dog can talk that henceforth he would be one of her best and most faithful of friends.
If petting and praise and devoted attention could spoil a dog, Hero's head would certainly have been turned that day, for friends and strangers alike made much of him. A photographer came to take his picture for the leading daily paper. Before nightfall his story was repeated in every home in Geneva. No servant in the hotel but took a personal pride in him or watched his chance to give him a sly sweetmeat or a caress. But being a dog instead of a human, the attention only made him the more lovable, for it made him feel that it was a kind world he lived in and everybody was his friend.
Late that afternoon the Major sat out in the shady courtyard of the hotel, where vines, potted plants, and a fountain made a cool green garden spot. He was thinking of his little daughter, who had been dead many long years. The American child, whom his dog had rescued from the runaway in the morning, was wonderfully like her. She had the same fair hair, he thought, that had been his little Christine's great beauty; the same delicate, wild-rose pink in her cheeks, the same mischievous smile dimpling her laughing face. But Christine's eyes had not been a starry hazel like the Little Colonel's. They were blue as the flax-flowers she used to gather—thirty, was it? No, forty years ago.
As he counted the years, the thought came to him like a pain that he was an old, old man now, all alone in the world, save for a dog, and a niece whom he scarcely knew and seldom saw.
As he sat there with his head bowed down, dreaming over his past, the Little Colonel came out into the courtyard. She had dressed early and gone down to the reading-room to wait until her mother was ready for dinner, but catching sight of the Major through the long glass doors, she laid down her book. The lonely expression of his furrowed face, the bowed head, and the empty sleeve appealed to her strongly.
"I believe I'll go out and talk to him," she thought. "If grandfathah were away off in a strange land by himself like that, I'd want somebody to cheer him up."
It is always good to feel that one is welcome, and Lloyd was glad that she had ventured into the courtyard, when she saw the smile that lighted the Major's face at sight of her, and when the dog, rising at her approach, came forward joyfully wagging his tail.
The conversation was easy to begin, with Hero for a subject. There were many things she wanted to know about him: how he happened to belong to the Major; what country he came from; why he was called a St. Bernard, and if the Major had ever owned any other dogs.
After a few questions it all came about as she had hoped it would. The old man settled himself back in his chair, thought a moment, and then began at the first of his acquaintance with St. Bernard dogs, as if he were reading a story from a book.
"Away up in the Alpine Mountains, too high for trees to grow, where there is only bare rock and snow and cutting winds, climbs the road that is known as the Great St. Bernard Pass. It is an old, old road. The Celts crossed it when they invaded Italy. The Roman legions crossed it when they marched out to subdue Gaul and Germany. Ten hundred years ago the Saracen robbers hid among its rocks to waylay unfortunate travellers. You will read about all that in your history sometime, and about the famous march Napoleon made across it on his way to Marengo. But the most interesting fact about the road to me, is that for over seven hundred years there has been a monastery high up on the bleak mountain-top, called the monastery of St. Bernard.
"Once, when I was travelling through the Alps, I stopped there one cold night, almost frozen. The good monks welcomed me to their hospice, as they do all strangers who stop for food and shelter, and treated me as kindly as if I had been a brother. In the morning one of them took me out to the kennels, and showed me the dogs that are trained to look for travellers in the snow. You may imagine with what pleasure I followed him, and listened to the tales he told me.
"He said there is not as much work for the dogs now as there used to be years ago. Since the hospice has been connected with the valley towns by telephone, travellers can inquire about the state of the weather and the paths, before venturing up the dangerous mountain passes. Still, the storms begin with little warning sometimes, and wayfarers are overtaken by them and lost in the blinding snowfall. The paths fill suddenly, and but for the dogs many would perish."
"Oh, I know," interrupted Lloyd, eagerly. "There is a story about them in my old third readah, and a pictuah of a big St. Bernard dog with a flask tied around his neck, and a child on his back."
"Yes," answered the Major, "it is quite probable that that was a picture of the dog they call Barry. He was with the good monks for twelve years, and in that time saved the lives of forty travellers. There is a monument erected to him in Paris in the cemetery for dogs. The sculptor carved that picture into the stone, the noble animal with a child on his back, as if he were in the act of carrying it to the hospice. Twelve years is a long time for a dog to suffer such hardship and exposure. Night after night he plunged out alone into the deep snow and the darkness, barking at the top of his voice to attract the attention of lost travellers. Many a time he dropped into the drifts exhausted; with scarcely enough strength left to drag himself back to the hospice.
"Forty lives saved is a good record. You may be sure that in his old age Barry was tenderly cared for. The monks gave him a pension and sent him to Berne, where the climate is much warmer. When he died, a taxidermist preserved his skin, and he was placed in the museum at Berne, where he stands to this day, I am told, with the little flask around his neck. I saw him there one time, and although Barry was only a dog, I stood with uncovered head before him. For he was as truly a hero and served human kind as nobly as if he had fallen on the field of battle.
"He had been trained like a soldier to his duty, and no matter how the storms raged on the mountains, how dark the night, or how dangerous the paths that led along the slippery precipices, at the word of command he sprang to obey. Only a dumb beast, some people would call him, guided only by brute instinct, but in his shaggy old body beat a loving heart, loyal to his master's command, and faithful to his duty.
"As I stood there gazing into the kind old face, I thought of the time when I lay wounded on the field of battle. How glad I would have been to have seen some dog like Barry come bounding to my aid! I had fallen in a thicket, where the ambulance corps did not discover me until next day. I lay there all that black night, wild with pain, groaning for water. I could see the lanterns of the ambulances as they moved about searching for the wounded among the many dead, but was too faint from loss of blood to raise my head and shout for help. They told me afterward that, if my wound could have received immediate attention, perhaps my arm might have been saved.
"But only a keen sense of smell could have traced me in the dense thicket where I lay. No one had thought of training dogs for ambulance service then. The men did their best, but they were only men, and I was overlooked until it was too late to save my arm.
"Well, as I said, I stood and looked at Barry, wondering if it were not possible to train dogs for rescue work on battle-fields as well as in mountain passes. The more I thought of it, the more my longing grew to make such an attempt. I read everything I could find about trained dogs, visited kennels where collies and other intelligent sheep-dogs were kept, and corresponded with many people about it. Finally I went to Coblenz, and there found a man who was as much interested in the subject as I. Herr Bungartz is his name. He is now at the head of a society to which I belong, called the German Society for Ambulance Dogs. It has over a thousand members, including many princes and generals.
"We furnish the money that supports the kennels, and the dogs are bred and trained free for the army. Now for the last eight years it has been my greatest pleasure to visit the kennels, where as many as fifty dogs are kept constantly in training. It was on my last visit that I got Hero. His leg had been hurt in some accident on the training field. It was thought that he was too much disabled to ever do good service again, so they allowed me to take him. Two old cripples, I suppose they thought we were, comrades in misfortune.
"That was nearly a year ago. I took him to an eminent surgeon, told him his history, and interested him in his case. He treated him so successfully, that now, as you see, the leg is entirely well. Sometimes I feel that it is my duty to give him back to the service, although I paid for the rearing of a fine Scotch collie in his stead. He is so unusually intelligent and well trained. But it would be hard to part with such a good friend. Although I have had him less than a year, he seems very much attached to me, and I have grown more fond of him than I would have believed possible. I am an old man now, and I think he understands that he is all I have. Good Hero! He knows he is a comfort to his old master!"
At the sound of his name, uttered in a sad voice, the great dog got up and laid his head on the Major's knee, looking wistfully into his face.
"Of co'se you oughtn't to give him back!" cried the Little Colonel. "If he were mine, I wouldn't give him up for the president, or the emperor, or the czar, or anybody!"
"But for the soldiers, the poor wounded soldiers!" suggested the Major.
Lloyd hesitated, looking from the dog to the empty sleeve above it. "Well," she declared, at last, "I wouldn't give him up while the country is at peace. I'd wait till the last minute, until there was goin' to be an awful battle, and then I'd make them promise to let me have him again when the wah was ovah. Just the minute it was ovah. It would be like givin' away part of your family to give away Hero."
Suddenly the Major spoke to the dog—a quick, sharp sentence that Lloyd could not understand. But Hero, without an instant's hesitation, bounded from the courtyard, where they sat, into the hall of the hotel. Through the glass doors she could see him leaping up the stairs, and, almost before the Major could explain that he had sent him for the shoulder-bags he wore in service, the dog was back with them grasped firmly in his mouth.
"Now the flask," said the Major. While the dog obeyed the second order, he opened the bags for Lloyd to examine them. They were marked with a red cross in a square of white, and contained rolls of bandages, from which any man, able to use his arms, could help himself until his rescuer brought further aid.
The flask which Hero brought was marked in the same way, and the Major buckled it to his collar, saying, as he fastened first that and then the shoulder-bags in place, "When a dog is in training, soldiers, pretending to be dead or wounded, are hidden in the woods or ravines and he is taught to find a fallen body, and to bark loudly. If the soldier is in some place too remote for his voice to bring aid, the dog seizes a cap, a handkerchief, or a belt,—any article of the man's clothing which he can pick up,—and dashes back to the nearest ambulance."
"What a lovely game that would make!" exclaimed Lloyd. "Do you suppose that I could train my dogs to do that? We often play soldiah at Locust. Now, what is it you say to Hero when you want him to hunt the men? Let me see if he'll mind me."
The Major repeated the command.
"But I can't speak French," she said, in dismay. "What is it in English?"
"Hero can't understand English," said the Major, laughing at the perplexed expression that crept into the Little Colonel's face.
"How funny!" she exclaimed. "I nevah thought of that befo'. I supposed of co'se that all animals were English. Anyway, Hero comes when I call him, and wags his tail when I speak, just as if he undahstands every word."
"It is the kindness in your voice he understands, and the smile in your eyes, the affection in your caress. That language is the same the world over, to men and animals alike. But he never would start out to hunt the wounded soldiers unless you gave this command. Let me hear if you can say it after me."
Lloyd tripped over some of the syllables as she repeated the sentence, but tried it again and again until the Major cried "Bravo! You shall have more lessons, until you can give the command so well that Hero shall obey you as he does me."
Then he began talking of Christine, her fair hair, her blue eyes, her playful ways; and Lloyd, listening, drew him on with many questions.
Suddenly the Major arose, bowing courteously, for Mrs. Sherman, seeing them from the doorway, had smiled and started toward them. Springing up, Lloyd ran to meet her.
"Mothah," she whispered, "please ask the Majah to sit at ou' table tonight at dinnah. He's such a deah old man, and tells such interestin' things, and he's lonesome. The tears came into his eyes when he talked about his little daughtah. She was just my age when she died, mothah, and he thinks she looked like me."
The Major's courtly manner and kind face had already aroused Mrs. Sherman's interest. His empty sleeve reminded her of her father. His loneliness appealed to her sympathy, and his kindness to her little daughter had won her deepest appreciation. She turned with a cordial smile to repeat Lloyd's invitation, which was gladly accepted.
That was the beginning of a warm friendship. From that time he was included in their plans. Now, in nearly all their excursions and drives, there were four in the party instead of three, and five, very often. Whenever it was possible, Hero was with them. He and the Little Colonel often went out together alone. It grew to be a familiar sight in the town, the graceful fair-haired child and the big tawny St. Bernard, walking side by side along the quay. She was not afraid to venture anywhere with such a guard. As for Hero, he followed her as gladly as he did his master.
THE RED CROSS OF GENEVA
A week after the runaway, the handsomest collar that could be bought in town was fastened around Hero's neck. It had taken a long time to get it, for Mr. Sherman went to many shops before he found material that he considered good enough for the rescuer of his little daughter. Then the jeweller had to keep it several days while he engraved an inscription on the gold name-plate—an inscription that all who read might know what happened on a certain July day in the old Swiss town of Geneva. On the under side of the collar was a stout link like the one on his old one, to which the flask could be fastened when he was harnessed for service, and on the upper side, finely wrought in enamel, was a red cross on a white square.
"Papa Jack!" exclaimed Lloyd, examining it with interest, "that is the same design that is on his blanket and shouldah-bags. Why, it's just like the Swiss flag!" she cried, looking out at the banner floating from the pier. "Only the colors are turned around. The flag has a white cross on a red ground, and this is a red cross on a white ground. Why did you have it put on the collah, Papa Jack?"
"Because he is a Red Cross dog," answered her father.
"No, Papa Jack. Excuse me for contradictin', but the Majah said he was a St. Bernard dog."
Mr. Sherman laughed, but before he could explain he was called to the office to answer a telegram. When he returned Lloyd had disappeared to find the Major, and ask about the symbol on the collar. She found him in his favorite seat near the fountain, in the shady courtyard. Perching on a bench near by with Hero for a foot-stool, she asked, "Majah, is Hero a St. Bernard or a Red Cross dog?"
"He is both," answered the Major, smiling at her puzzled expression. "He is the first because he belongs to that family of dogs, and he is the second because he was adopted by the Red Cross Association, and trained for its service. You know what that is, of course."
Still Lloyd looked puzzled. She shook her head. "No, I nevah heard of it. Is it something Swiss or French?"
"Never heard of it!" repeated the Major. He spoke in such a surprised tone that his voice sounded gruff and loud, and Lloyd almost jumped. The harshness was so unexpected.
"Think again, child," he said, sternly. "Surely you have been told, at least, of your brave countrywoman who is at the head of the organization in America, who nursed not only the wounded of your own land, but followed the Red Cross of mercy on many foreign battle-fields!"
"Oh, a hospital nurse!" said Lloyd, wrinkling her forehead and trying to think. "Miss Alcott was one. Everybody knows about her, and her 'Hospital Sketches' are lovely."
"No! no!" exclaimed the Major, impatiently. Lloyd, feeling from his tone that ignorance on this subject was something he could not excuse, tried again.
"I've heard of Florence Nightingale. In one of my books at home, a Chatterbox, I think, there is a picture of her going through a hospital ward. Mothah told me how good she was to the soldiahs, and how they loved her. They even kissed her shadow on the wall as she passed. They were so grateful."
"Ah, yes," murmured the old man. "Florence Nightingale will live long in song and story. An angel of mercy she was, through all the horrors of the Crimean War; but she was an English woman, my dear. The one I mean is an American, and her name ought to go down in history with the bravest of its patriots and the most honored of its benefactors. I learned to know her first in that long siege at Strasburg. She nursed me there, and I have followed her career with grateful interest ever since, noting with admiration all that she has done for her country and humanity the world over.
"If America ever writes a woman's name in her temple of fame (I say it with uncovered head), that one should be the name of Clara Barton."
The old soldier lifted his hat as he spoke, and replaced it so solemnly that Lloyd felt very uncomfortable, as if she were in some way to blame for not knowing and admiring this Red Cross nurse of whom she had never heard. Her face flushed, and much embarrassed, she drew the toe of her slipper along Hero's back, answering, in an abused tone:
"But, Majah, how could I be expected to know anything about her? There is nothing in ou' school-books, and nobody told me, and Papa Jack won't let me read the newspapahs, they're so full of horrible murdahs and things. So how could I evah find out? I couldn't learn everything in twelve yeahs, and that's all the longah I've lived."
The Major laughed. "Forgive me, little one!" he cried, seeing the distress and embarrassment in her face. "A thousand pardons! The fault is not yours, but your country's, that it has not taught its children to honor its benefactor as she deserves. I am glad that it has been given to me to tell you the story of one of the most beautiful things that ever happened in Switzerland—the founding of the Red Cross. You will remember it with greater interest, I am sure, because, while I talk, the cross of the Swiss flag floats over us, and it was here in this old town of Geneva the merciful work had its beginning."
Lloyd settled herself to listen, still stroking Hero's back with her slipper toe.
"He was my friend, Henri Durant, and in the old days of chivalry they would have made him knight for the noble thought that sprang to flower in his heart and to fruitage in so worthy a deed. He was travelling in Italy years ago, and happening to be near the place where the battle of Solferino was fought, he was so touched by the sufferings of the wounded that he stopped to help care for them in the hospitals. The sights he saw there were horrible. The wounded men could not be cared for properly. They died by the hundreds, because there were not enough nurses and surgeons and food.
"It moved him to write a book which was translated into several languages. People of many countries became interested and were aroused to a desire to do something to relieve the deadly consequences of war. Then he called a meeting of all the nations of Europe. That was over thirty years ago. Sixteen of the great powers sent men to represent them. They met here in Geneva and signed a treaty. One by one other countries followed their example, until now forty governments are pledged to keep the promises of the Red Cross.
"They chose that as their flag in compliment to Switzerland, where the movement was started. You see they are the same except that the colors are reversed.
"Now, according to that treaty, wherever the Red Cross goes, on sea or on land, it means peace and safety for the wounded soldiers. In the midst of the bloodiest battle, no matter who is hurt, Turk or Russian, Japanese or Spaniard, Armenian or Arab, he is bound to be protected and cared for. No nurse, surgeon, or ambulance bearing that Red Cross can be fired upon. They are allowed to pass wherever they are needed.
"Before the nations joined in that treaty, the worst horror of war was the fate of a wounded soldier, falling into the hands of the enemy. Better a thousand times to be killed in battle, than to be taken prisoner. Think of being left, bleeding and faint, on an enemy's field till your clothes froze to the ground, and no one merciful enough to give you a crust of bread or a drop of water. Think of the dying piled with the dead and left to the pitiless rays of a scorching, tropic sun. That can never happen again, thank Heaven!
"In time of peace, money and supplies are gathered and stored by each country, ready for use at the first signal of war. The empress became the head of the branch in Germany. Soon after, the Franco-Prussian war began, and then her only daughter, the Grand Duchess Louise of Baden, turned all her beautiful castles into military hospitals, and went herself to superintend the work of relief.
"Your country did not join with us at first. You were having your terrible Civil War at home; the one in which your grandfather fought. All this time Clara Barton was with the soldiers on their bloodiest battle-fields. When you go home, ask your grandfather about the battles of Bull Run and Antietam, Fredericksburg, and the Wilderness. She was there. She stood the strain of nursing in sixteen such awful places, going from cot to cot among the thousands of wounded, comforting the dying, and dragging many a man back from the very grave by her untiring, unselfish devotion.
"When the war was over, she spent four years searching for the soldiers reported missing. Hundreds and hundreds of pitiful letters came to her, giving name, regiment, and company of some son or husband or brother, who had marched away to the wars and never returned. These names could not be found among the lists of the killed. They were simply reported as 'missing'; whether dead or a deserter, no one could tell. She had spent weeks at Andersonville the summer after the war, identifying and marking the graves there. She marked over twelve thousand. So when these letters came imploring her aid, she began the search, visiting the old prisons, and trenches and hospitals, until she removed from twenty thousand names the possible suspicion that the men who bore them had been deserters.
"No wonder that she came to Europe completely broken down in health, so exhausted by her long, severe labors that her physician told her she must rest several years. But hardly was she settled here in Switzerland when the Franco-Prussian war broke out, and the Red Cross sought her aid, knowing how valuable her long experience in nursing would be to them. She could not refuse their appeals, and once more started in the wake of powder smoke, and cannon's roar.
"But I'll not start on that chapter of her life. I would not know where to stop. It was there I met her, there she nursed me back to life; then I learned to appreciate her devotion to the cause of humankind. This second long siege against suffering made her an invalid for many years.
"The other nations wondered why America refused to join them in their humane work. All other civilized countries were willing to lend a hand. But Clara Barton knew that it was because the people were ignorant of its real purpose that they did not join the alliance, and she promised that she would devote the remainder of her life, if need be, to showing America that as long as she refused to sign that treaty, she was standing on a level with barbarous and heathen countries.
"For years she was too ill to push the work she had set for herself. When her strength at last returned, she had to learn to walk. At last, however, she succeeded. America signed the treaty. Then, through her efforts, the American National Red Cross was organized. She was made president of it. While no war, until lately, has called for its services, the Red Cross has found plenty to do in times of great national calamities. You have had terrible fires and floods, cyclones, and scourges of yellow fever. Then too, it has taken relief to Turkey and lately has found work in Cuba.
"I know that you would like to look into Miss Barton's jewel-box. Old Emperor William himself gave her the Iron Cross of Prussia. The Grand Duke and Duchess of Baden sent her the Gold Cross of Remembrance. Medals and decorations from many sovereigns are there—the Queen of Servia, the Sultan of Turkey, the Prince of Armenia. Never has any American woman been so loved and honored abroad, and never has an American woman been more worthy of respect at home. It must be a great joy to her now, as she sits in the evening of life, to count her jewels of remembrance, and feel that she has done so much to win the gratitude of her fellow creatures.
"You came to visit Switzerland because it is the home of many heroes; but let me tell you, my child, this little republic has more to show the world than its William Tell chapels and its Lion of Lucerne. As long as the old town of Geneva stands, the world will not forget that here was given a universal banner of peace, and here was signed its greatest treaty—the treaty of the Red Cross."
As the Major stopped, the Little Colonel looked up at the white cross floating above the pier, and then down at the red one on Hero's collar, and drew a long breath.
"I wish I could do something like that!" she exclaimed, earnestly. "I used to wish that I could go out like Joan of Arc to do some great thing that would make people write books about me, and carve me on statues, and paint pictures and sing songs in my honah, but I believe that now I'd rathah do something bettah than ride off to battle on a prancin' white chargah. Thank you, Majah, for tellin' me the story. I'm goin' for a walk now. May I take Hero?"
A few minutes later the two were wandering along beside the water together, the Little Colonel dreaming day-dreams of valiant deeds that she might do some day, so that kings would send her a Gold Cross of Remembrance, and men would say with uncovered heads, as the old Major had done, "If America ever writes a woman's name in her temple of fame, that one should be the name of Lloyd Sherman—The Little Colonel!"
* * * * *
When the time came for the Shermans to move on, the Major was their travelling companion. But at Zug, several weeks later, it was necessary for him to stop and send for his niece to accompany him to a hospital at Zuerich. He had been caught in a sudden storm on the mountainside and struck by a limb of a falling tree. If Hero had not led a party of rescuers to him from the hotel he would have died before morning, but they were in time to save him.
Several lonely days followed for the Little Colonel. Either her father or mother was constantly with the Major, sometimes both.
It greatly worried the old man that he should be the cause of disarranging their plans and delaying their journey. He urged them to go on and leave him, but they would not consent. Sometimes the Little Colonel slipped into the room with a bunch of Alpine roses or a cluster of edelweiss that she had bought from some peasant. Sometimes she sat beside him for a few minutes, but most of her time was spent with Hero, wandering up and down beside the lake, feeding the swans or watching the little steamboats come and go.
One evening, just at sunset, the Major sent for her. "I go to Zuerich in the morning," he said, holding out his hand as she came into the room. "I wanted to say good-bye while I have the time and strength. We expect to leave very early to-morrow, probably before you are awake."
His couch was drawn up by the window through which the shimmering lake shone in the sunset like rosy mother-of-pearl. Far up the mountain sounded the faint tinkling of goat-bells, and the clear, sweet yodelling of a peasant, on his homeward way. At intervals, the deep tolling of the bell of St. Oswald floated out across the water.
"When the snow falls," he said, after a long pause, "I shall be far away from here. They tell me that at the hospital where I am going, I shall find a cure. But I know." He pointed to an hour-glass on the table beside him. "See! the sand has nearly run its course. The hour will soon be done. It is so with me. I have felt it for a long time."
Lloyd looked up, startled. He went on slowly.
"I cannot take Hero with me to the hospital, so I shall leave him behind with some one who will care for him and love him, perhaps even better than I have done." He held out his hand to the dog.
"Come, Hero, my dear old comrade, come bid thy master farewell." Fumbling under his pillow as he spoke, he took out a small leather case, and, opening it, held up a medal. It was the medal that had been given him for bravery on the field of battle.
"It is my one treasure!" murmured the old soldier, turning it fondly, as it lay in his palm. "I have no family to whom I can leave it as an heirloom, but thou hast twice earned the right to wear it. I have no fear but that thou wilt always be true to the Red Cross and thy name of Hero, so thou shalt wear thy country's medal to thy grave."
He fastened the medal to Hero's collar, then, with the dog's great head pressed fondly against him, he began talking to him in the speech Lloyd could not understand, but the sight of the gray-haired old soldier taking his last leave of his faithful friend brought the tears to her eyes.
Then he called her to him and said that because she was like his little Christine, he knew that she would be good to Hero, and he asked her to take him back to America with her. She promised that she would. Then he put Hero's paw in her hand, and said, "Hero, I give thee to thy little mistress. Protect and guard her always, as she will love and care for thee."
* * * * *
On that long journey back to Kentucky it was well for Hero that he wore the Red Cross on his collar. The little symbol was the open sesame to many a privilege that ordinary dogs are not allowed on shipboard. Instead of being confined to the hold, he was given the liberty of the ship, and when his story was known he received as much flattering attention as if he had been some titled nobleman.
The captain shook the big white paw, gravely put into his hand at the Little Colonel's bidding, and then stooped to stroke the dog's head. As he looked into the wistful, intelligent eyes his own grew tender.
"I have a son in the service," he said, "sent back from South Africa, covered with scars. I know what that Red Cross meant to him for a good many long weeks. Go where you like, old fellow! The ship is yours, so long as you make no trouble."
"Oh, thank you!" cried the Little Colonel, looking up at the big British captain with a beaming face. "I'd rathah be tied up myself than to have Hero kept down there in the hold. I'm suah he'll not bothah anybody."
Nor did he. No one from stoker to deck steward could make the slightest complaint against him, so dignified and well behaved was he. Lloyd was proud of him and his devotion. Wherever she went he followed her, lying at her feet when she sat in her steamer-chair, walking close beside her when she promenaded the deck.
Everybody stopped to speak to him, and to question Lloyd about him, so that it was not many days before she and the great St. Bernard had made friends of all the passengers who were able to be on deck.
The hours are long at sea, and people gladly welcome anything that provides entertainment, so Lloyd was often called aside as she walked, and invited to join some group, and tell to a knot of interested listeners all she knew of Hero and the Major, and the training of the ambulance dogs.
In return Lloyd's stories nearly always called forth some anecdote from her listeners about the Red Cross work in America, and to her great surprise she found five persons among them who had met Clara Barton in some great national calamity of fire, flood, or pestilence.
One was a portly man with a gruff voice, who had passed through the experiences of the forest fires that swept through Michigan, over twenty years ago. As he told his story, he made the scenes so real that Lloyd forgot where she was. She could almost smell the thick, stifling smoke of the burning forest, hear the terrible crackling of the flames, feel the scorching heat in her face, and see the frightened cattle driven into the lakes and streams by the pursuing fire.
She listened with startled eyes as he described the wall of flame, hemming in the peaceful home where his little son played around the doorstep. She held her breath while he told of their mad flight from it, when, lashing his horses into a gallop, he looked back to see it licking up everything in the world he held dear except the frightened little family huddled at his feet. He had worked hard to build the cottage. It was furnished with family heirlooms brought West with them from the old homestead in Vermont. It was hard to see those great red tongues devouring it in a mouthful.
In the morning, although they had reached a place of safety, they were out in a charred, blackened wilderness, without a roof to shelter them, a chair to sit on, or a crust to eat. "The hardest thing to bear," he said, "was to hear my little three-year-old Bertie begging for his breakfast, and to know that there was nothing within miles of us to satisfy his hunger, and that the next day it would be the same, and the next, and the next.
"We were powerless to help ourselves. But while we sat there in utter despair, a neighbor rode by and hailed us. He told us that Red Cross committees had started out from Milwaukee and Chicago at first tidings of the fire, with car-loads of supplies, and that if we could go to the place where they were distributing we could get whatever we needed.
"I wish you could have seen what they were handing out when we got there: tools and lumber to put up cabins, food and beds and clothes and coal-oil. They'd thought of everything and provided everything, and they went about the distributing in a systematic, business-like way that somehow put heart and cheer into us all.
"They didn't make us feel as if they were handing out alms to paupers, but as if they were helping some of their own family on to their feet again, and putting them in shape to help themselves. Even my little Bertie felt it. Young as he was, he never forgot that awful night when we fled from the fire, nor the hungry day that followed, nor the fact that the arm that carried him food, when he got it at last, wore a brassard marked like that." He touched the Red Cross on Hero's collar.
"And when the chance came to show the same brotherly spirit to some one else in trouble and pass the help along, he was as ready as the rest of us to do his share.
"Three years afterward I read in the papers of the floods that had swept through the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, and of the thousands that were homeless. Bertie,—he was six then,—he listened to the account of the children walking the streets, crying because they hadn't a roof over them or anything to eat. He didn't say a word, but he climbed up to the mantel and took down his little red savings-bank.
"We were pretty near on our feet again by that time, although we were still living in a cabin. The crops had been good, and we had been able to save a little. He poured out all the pennies and nickels in his bank,—ninety-three cents they came to,—and then he got his only store toy, a box of tin soldiers that had been sent to him Christmas, and put that on the table beside the money. We didn't appear to notice what he was doing. Presently he brought the mittens his grandmother up in Vermont had knit for him. Then he waited a bit, and seemed to be weighing something in his mind. By and by he slipped away to the chest where his Sunday clothes were kept and took them out, new suit, shoes, cap and all, and laid them on the table with the money and the tin soldiers.
"'There, daddy,' he said, 'tell the Red Cross people to send them to some little boy like me, that's been washed out of his home and hasn't any of his toys left, or his clothes.'
"I tell you it made a lump come up in my throat to see that the little fellow had taken his very best to pay his debt of gratitude. Nothing was too great for him to sacrifice. Even his tin soldiers went when he remembered what the Red Cross had done for him."
"My experience with the Red Cross was in the Mississippi floods of '82," said a gentleman who had joined the party. "One winter day we were attracted by screams out in the river, and found that they came from some people who were floating down on a house that had been washed away. There they were, that freezing weather, out in the middle of the river, their clothes frozen on them, ill from fright and exposure. I went out in one of the boats that were sent to their rescue, and helped bring them to shore. I was so impressed by the tales of suffering they told that I went up the river to investigate.
"At every town, and nearly every steamboat landing, I found men from the relief committees already at work, distributing supplies. They didn't stop when they had provided food and clothing. They furnished seed by the car-load to the farmers, just as in the Galveston disaster, a few years ago, they furnished thousands of strawberry plants to the people who were wholly dependent on their crops for their next year's food."
"Where did they get all those stores?" asked Lloyd. "And the seeds and the strawberry plants?"
"Most of it was donated," answered the gentleman. "Many contributions come pouring in after such a disaster, just as little Bertie's did. But the society is busy all the time, collecting and storing away the things that may be needed at a moment's notice. People would contribute, of course, even if there were no society to take charge of their donations, but without its wise hands to distribute, much would be lost."
It was from a sad-faced lady in black, who had had two sons drowned in the Johnstown flood, that Lloyd heard the description of Clara Barton's five months' labor there. A doctor's wife who had been in the Mt. Vernon cyclone, and a newspaper man who had visited the South Carolina islands after the tidal wave, and Charleston after the earthquake, piled up their accounts of those scenes of suffering, some of them even greater than the horrors of war, so that Lloyd dreamed of fires and floods that night. But the horror of the scenes was less, because a baby voice called cheerfully through them, "Here, daddy, give these to the poor little boys that are cold and homesick;" and a great St. Bernard, with a Red Cross on his back, ran around distributing mittens and tin soldiers.
IN AFTER YEARS
Time flies fast under the Locusts. The sixteen years which have passed since Hero followed his little mistress home have brought many changes. He is only a tender memory now. A square, white stone stands on the lawn where "taps" were sounded over him one September day, long ago. But the sight of it no longer brings pain to the Little Colonel. With the sweet ambition in her heart to make life happier for every one she touches, she has grown up into a veritable Princess Winsome.
In a home of her own now, to her own little son, she sometimes tells the story that is set down here. He is too young yet, to be told the chapters which have been added since to that amazing history of sacrifice and service. And she cannot say now as the old Major said then—"Wherever the Red Cross goes is safety for the wounded soldiers. No nurse, surgeon or ambulance bearing that sign can be fired upon." That part is no longer true, although the day is coming soon when we shall make it true for all time.
She cannot tell him that the very nation which was first and foremost in training such dogs as Hero in service for mankind has violated its treaties and filled the world with horrors and suffering unspeakable. His trusting baby heart could not understand such treachery. But young as he is he knows what that red and white symbol means.
Because "daddy" wore one on his arm when he marched away with the other soldiers, he must have one on the sleeve of his little blue rompers. Because "deah muvva" wears one on the veil which binds her forehead, when she comes back from the unit where she has spent long hours away from him, he associates it with all that is loveliest to him—her lovely face, her arms that are his peace and comfort and safety, her lips that kiss away all his hurts and make them well.
Long before he is old enough to hear the terrible war-part of the story, War shall be at an end, please God, and the Red Cross shall mean to the nations left upon the earth what it means to him—arms that enfold a suffering humanity, lips that press a great mother-love to all its hurts and make them well.
Transcriber's Note: On page 81, the word "acounts" was changed to "accounts."