his watch, which, in the true, novel style, could not be found anywhere.
So the _Herr leutnant_ ordered a thorough search and said, with a grand
air, to the housekeeper that if it could not be found he would be
obliged to take one of the servant's as a forfeit. Fancy!
I can see the butler's poor, old, bowed legs, now, flying up the
stair-case, with a bayonet stuck in his back to expedite matters. I do
not know if this threat lent an added zest to the search, but
fortunately someone had the happy thought to look under the mattress
(where the officer had put it himself) and there was the ill-fated
timepiece calmly ticking off German minutes. I think I forgot to tell
you that since the invasion we retire at ten instead of eleven o'clock,
having been advised to adopt Celtic time.
Prussian troops in khaki continue to pass; will they never cease? One's
spine shivers at the sight of the endless, green snake which crawls
along, insinuating its greedy length into the gardens of plenty. This
morning four new officers came to the chateau; three of them were
nondescript, but the fourth, to all appearances, was an Englishman, pure
blood. He spoke English absolutely without accent and had a perfect
English drawing-room air. It was as funny as an impersonation and as he
had appeared on the scene alone, I believe his brothers-in-arms were
almost suspicious of him. After a little the story came out. He is
really a German, but has lived fifteen years in London. At the debut of
the war he had been obliged to take up arms against a sea of troubles,
or relinquish forever his right to go back to Baden, where his parents
live. Naturally he chose the former (also probably thinking that "War"
was a word only) and allowed himself to be bored by circumstances. He
told us some amusing tales of his having been already arrested three
times for an English spy. Everybody here likes him very much and I
welcomed him personally as the nearest approach to an Anglo-Saxon that I
have seen in many months.
Monsieur J. and several of the representative men of the village,
including _Monsieur le Cure_ (a little, fat, rosy-cheeked man, adored by
his flock), were taken as hostages for twenty-four hours and had to
sleep in the railroad station. It was nervously comical to see Monsieur
J. starting off, his valet following with a mattress on his back and a
box of sandwiches in his hand against the misery of the night. But it is
not so amusing to be the victim of even a threat which at any moment may
take the form of a sudden reality for no reason except to terrorize
honest people who are defending their homes. The enemy's way of
punishing and evading future insurrection among the civilians is to take
people as hostages and shoot them if necessary, or burn the houses.
This they have already done in several quarters in Liege. A few nights
ago several students fired on some German officers in a cafe and theDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>