servants run out to invite the neighbors to come in and listen. Just as
the reader is in the middle of a grand eulogy on glorious victories,
etc., an unknown person raps on the door to reclaim the precious journal
and we all relapse into a general interchange of impressions, ideas,
complaints, inspirations--"They say"; "It appears"; "Why"; "Must";
"Ought"; "Should"; etc. In a German paper we read to-day, they are
preparing their men for "slight defeats" by saying that, "The French
army is no longer the army of 1870, but one worthy to combat with our
own." That was very condescending and was doubtless inspired by the
formidable battleline from the coast to Nancy, before their noses.
_September 16th, Wednesday._
Natural laws are demonstrating themselves very plainly these days, for
when we were sitting on the terrace just before lunch to-day, a curious
thing happened--a sound wave, from a cannon shot literally hit our ear
drums. I felt as if somebody had struck mine with a padded club. There
was no noise, you understand, but we all looked up, aware of the impact
at the same moment, so that it could not have been imagination. It must
be that the terrible experiences of the past weeks have developed us to
a highly sensitized degree, for many things are strikingly clear which
were not so before.
Nearly every afternoon we go up over the hill to a high cliff
overhanging the river which makes a sounding board for those sounds,
which never abate, of a distant battle across the valley.
Heaven above! how are there men enough left after all these weeks of
killing to continue a battle? At times the reports come as thick and
fast as hail, making one long roar of awfulness, and our hearts sink
like lead at the vision it conjures up.
And again, how readily and eagerly hope springs up when the shots become
interrupted and the noise fades away a little.
In this wooded spot where we so often go to find out the real truth of
things with our own ears, one meets nearly all one's friends from the
neighboring villas who have come for the same purpose, morbidly
attracted as we all, no doubt, are by these dreadful signs of a world of
We huddle together like sheep lost in the storm, we confide our personal
misfortunes and we recount the barbarous tales we have recently heard,
the story ever interrupted by fresh evidence of the reviving fury of the
When we arrived home we heard that a company of soldiers had arrested,
as espions, four or five men who, like ourselves, were taking a little
promenade in the wood across the valley. Our liberties are being
curtailed more and more. Thank goodness there is a large garden and a
private wood to wander in. A month ago the order was that every
inhabitant must be in the house and lights out at eight P. M.
Now it is seven o'clock and as the days grow shorter it will soon be sixDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>