squares which were burned out by the Germans, and also where those
eighteen civilians were shot, following a slight uprising of the people.
Madame X.'s niece, who lives quite near there, heard the screams of the
women, and such scenes of terror seem even yet to paralyze the
population. In the Place de la Cathedrale we saw soldiers pushing people
along with their saw-toothed bayonets to disperse a crowd which was
gaping, stupefied, at some unusual proceeding.
As we stood there, an automobile, with eight Prussian officers in it,
came banging down the street, loose bolts jingling, and was just
disappearing around a corner when Madame R. exclaimed "Oh, that's our
All the automobiles, as well as everything else, have been confiscated
by the invaders and it is a common occurrence to look up and see one's
own beautiful car bounding along over cobblestones and breaking with its
load of soldiers--the motors are driven so hard that in two weeks' time
they are practically worthless.
At the beginning of the war, many owners cunningly removed a tiny
necessary part of their machines, but in most cases the same owners were
given just two hours at the point of the bayonet to find those missing
parts, which was not always easy. And the farmers, too, who cut down the
big trees across the roads to impede the enemy's advance, had just the
same amount of time given them to clear the path again. So you see that
one is helpless.
Rumors come from France that the fortified town of Mauberge still
resists, but that the Germans are at Compiegne, which is so near to
beautiful Paris. It is impossible to believe. Yet we all experienced a
feeling of absolute faintness when that report came, for Compiegne, or
anywhere within one hundred kilometres of it, is too near. But if--_Bon
Dieu_, keep us from thinking!
_September 8th, Tuesday._
There is a possibility of our going to Brussels. Oh, the joy of it! That
may find me the means, through the American Ambassador, of getting back
to my beloved France.
The youngest gardener, the little one, Charles, who is only eighteen
years old, has left for "the front." Not with his regiment, for he
hasn't one (this year was to have been his class), but as a private
individual who could not stay at home when his country needed him. His
old mother, with a little catch in her throat, sent him off proudly, her
baby, her _petit Charles_, to serve with his four brothers, already
But how can he get away with the eye of the arrogant usurper on every
corner and road?
A Belgian soldier will play his role after his own interpretation.
Instead of going off in his best smock and a tiny bundle on a stick, _le
petit Charles_ bade us a smiling _au revoir_ in his old blue apron and
torn hat. He will wander aimlessly over the hills which he knows so well
and, unsuspected, will creep through the friendly hedges into the veryDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>