otherwise have been closed to me. My companion, who is a wholesale grain
merchant in peace times, enjoyed his authority immensely and dragged his
sword, half unbuckled, on the ground, which clanked behind us and made
merry music in his ears, I am sure. The whole place was a perfect
beehive though there was little confusion. The soldiers were diligently
counting supplies, feeding horses and sorting Belgian cannon and shells
which had been captured.
On the road from Angleur to Liege we were obliged to give way to some
troops which were returning from Namur. The auto stopped right in the
middle of a column, which, as we heard, was a conglomeration of the tag
ends of different regiments and I was almost afraid--the men peered in
at us so maliciously. I have never seen such a frightening spectacle of
humanity, for it was the personification of a rogues' gallery with every
kind of cut-throat, brigand and robber mixed up into a grand ensemble,
toiling and perspiring, limping and crawling along in the dust and heat.
Does battle blot out the soul of a man in one savage conflict?
Obviously, it is before a weary march that one finds exalted faces. But
perhaps they were not desperadoes--only tired and dirty and unshaven.
It is said, however, that when war was declared, the enemy opened the
doors of all the prisons and that the front ranks of the attacking
forces (which were sure to be lost) were entirely composed of convicts
and prisoners. And also, the officers in the regular army are so hated
by their men that when they started out to conquer the world every
officer was changed to a different regiment.
This evening we sat on the terrace enjoying the afterglow of the setting
sun and the calmness of the garden, listening to the soldiers singing in
the orchard, next. This singing in the twilight is heartbreaking and
particularly melancholy, as the music is slow and has more consolation
in it than the usual soul-inspiring quality of battle hymns. At
intervals we heard the captain speaking with great force and enthusiasm,
the hurrahs of the men, an occasional "_Vaterland, Vaterland_," and
again and ever, "_Die Wacht am Rhein._"
_August 26th, Wednesday._
Two new officers (not Prussians) of the _Landstuerm_ arrived this
morning--men of fifty to fifty-five years of age. One is a hardware
merchant _en civil_ and has a brown beard and the asthma; the other is a
lawyer, with big, blinking eyes--and they both looked as if they hated
war. The "Englishman" is still here--his department is looking after
supplies at the depot. He has borrowed all the English books in the
house and sits reading all day up in the signal box at the station, so
the family have named him "_Monsieur Seegnal Box_," which, with a tiny,
French accent, sounds quite attractive.
We are so enthusiastic about our patients at the Convent, for they are
all improving and developing personalities now. Every morning atDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>