National Geographic : 1917 Nov
BEDROOM OF NAPOLEON: VERSAILLES, FRANCE The over-seas soldiers on leave and off for a "look-see" at Versailles have no compunction about referring to Louis XIV as "the kink who was responsible," but in the simple apartments of the "Little Corporal" their bearing is always one of respectful admiration. "Boys, the French have a pretty saying that 'the smaller the ivy leaf, the dearer the love.' SoIwanteachoneofyouto find the tiniest leaf possible and send it to the one that's waiting at home." Be fore I have finished I find myself alone. Every homesick soldier is keen in his search, sure that his leaf is going to be the smallest. One after another comes to me and asks, "How about this one?" or "Won't you please look at mine?" And the lump in my throat gets bigger and bigger as I watch these hardened warriors so intent upon his foolish, though touch ing, little game; for I know that every lonely fellow is thinking, not that in one or two or more days he's going back to what in stoic derision he terms "home," but that some one, somewhere, is thinking about him and worrying about him and loving him too. The joker of the party comes to me with a perfectly enormous leaf, which he informs me he has plucked for his mother-in-law; and when I ask him if he has a mother-in-law, he answers: "No, but I might have one some day." An other young devil shows me a leaf even larger, and when I naturally ask who is to get that, he says, "It's for the Kaiser." And a third presents a leaf so small that I smile at its absurdity in a hand so big and hard. His mouth quivers ever so slightly as he tells me it is for his mother, who is the only one on earth who cares for him. By and by thirty-two infinitesimal ivy leaves are carefully placed in thirty-two safe places. Did I say thirty-two? Well, I should have said thirty-four, for I catch one chap hoarding away three. I laugh ingly admonish him to be careful not to send them all to the same town, for "girls will tell, you know." By way of reply he pulls a post-card photograph out of his pocket and says, "Here's why I must have three," and I see the picture of a nice looking young woman and two babies.