nearly wrecking themselves and everything else. Immediately after, three
officers came to the house to beg lodging for the night. They were
frightful-looking individuals covered with mud and dirt, with half-grown
beards and one could not tell what uniforms. They asked the most humble
apartment--a corner, the floor--anything, "and, Madame, a little hot
water, _s'il vous plait_." We were sitting on the terrace tonight just
before dinner when down came the three new arrivals, beautiful as the
morning, shaven and shining in their gray-green uniforms, polished boots
and bracelets set with precious stones--officers of the "Emperor's Own,"
though these men did not seem like Germans, but were much more the
lighter build and elegant type of the Austrians.
They were a bit haughty at first, but dinner thawed them out and then
what tales they told us; the most promising imagination could not rival
their flights in the air. They acted like people who walk in their sleep
and had that same vague expression of the eye. But it is not to be
wondered at, coming as they did from a frightful battlefield and
fatigued by a hard march. It must be true that battle intoxicates men
for these latter, being of a sensible age, did say very ridiculous
things. Hitherto the officers who have been here were fairly modest
though always showing an undeniable confidence, while these three openly
bragged. The young lieutenant who sat next to me spoke French fluently
and never stopped talking all the evening. Among countless other things,
he said, "We are being sent back from Namur as Paris is taken"
(ejaculation from me "I cannot believe it") "and they have no more need
of us in that direction," he went on without turning a hair. "So we are
_en route_ for England or Russia, in the morning, to conquer the seven
nations (he included Monaco in the list) who have declared war against
our beloved Vaterland."
"And, Mademoiselle," he continued, "they fired on our ambulances!"
"Ah?" I answered, nonchalantly, "the Germans have already done that
He was a bit taken aback at this rejoinder; then with a prodigiously
sorrowful look he exclaimed in a hushed voice, "_Oui, la guerre est
The victories they exploited on land and sea were fantastic and the
funny part is, they believed thoroughly all they said. It is strange to
hear serious people fabricate such yarns as they did, with as much
dexterity as a spider spins its web.
_August 29th, Saturday._
The ambulance was as busy as a beehive this A. M. Except for
one or two, the patients are all feeling better. Andre, the third on the
left, whose sonorous "_Merci, chere Soeur_" nearly frightened me to
pieces one day, seems to be the wit and authority on all subjects--a
real leader, I should say, and _drole_! Augustin, four beds from him, is
our difficult child, the only one of the twenty-nine who is spoiled andDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>