news. His cousin Robert had been killed near Gand. The old butler's eyes
were sweet to see when Madame X. turned at table and said to him,
"Francois, Monsieur Robert is dead." This man of one syllable, according
to his custom, answered simply, quick tears visible, "_Oui, Madame_"
with that gentle upward intonation which says so much.
The longest sentence he probably ever constructed was uttered
thirty-five years ago when his young master had wished to dismiss him
for some reason and he had answered, "Oh no, Monsieur, we could not
live, either one of us without the other," which settled the question
for all time. And now the master is laid to rest and the servant must
serve the enemy in his house.
We took a little walk in the woods, this afternoon--as the coast was
clear and no strangers in the house for the first time in three weeks.
We had hardly finished a short promenade when we heard a violent
clanging on the gong to call us back, and when we returned in all haste
to the house found seven soldiers in the library going through all the
drawers and closets in search of firearms. Commencing there, they
searched the whole house from top to bottom, even fumbling in the
bureaus among the dainty lingerie of Madame X. Some of them took an
obvious pleasure in performing their duty, while others looked
uncomfortable and bored. It is true that many of the men hate this war,
whereby whole families of brothers and cousins have to leave their homes
to fight what they call the "Aristocrats' War," who in their arrogance
think to be masters of the whole world.
Some newspapers, two weeks old, were brought from Brussels in the
evening and we pounced upon them as a starved dog makes for a bone.
_September 5th, Saturday._ (At the ambulance.)
"_Constant, le pauvre Constant!_ What is in your tortured soul, these
three long days and nights, that chains it to earth and tosses your
poor body from one troubled thought to another?"
I did not think to have my question answered. At eleven o'clock this
morning a child of twelve years, beautiful as an angel with heavenly
blue eyes and a shock of golden hair, dashed breathlessly into the
courtyard of the Convent, almost too exhausted to ask if _Soldat_
Constant Martin, by any chance, were there. The gentle _Soeur Cecile_
led him in to the sick man's cot. The boy gazed a moment, bewildered at
the wasted form upon it; then with an agonizing cry of "_mon pere_" fell
on his knees by the bedside. The man's eyelids trembled, half opened an
instant to look upon his son, and closed. In ten minutes he was at
Since the railroad has been reconstructed the soldiers have been passing
in trains instead of on foot. Today we saw hundreds of older men,
Bavarians and sailors--it looks as if something had miscarried when the
marines have to fight on land. In the opposite direction, thousands ofDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>