Germany), who has been dying of tuberculosis for twenty years, arrived
here tonight, having walked the whole distance of seventy five
kilometres. This shows the faithfulness of the old servant who thought
he must come to report the sacking of the villa by the German troops
which occurred in the early days of August.
The poor man could not have hobbled another step, for he was at the end
of his strength and his feet were just two great blisters. He told a
shocking tale of the troops, who entirely pillaged the villa. While he
went to complain of them at the _Kommandantur_ of the place, others came
and what they did not break up, they took off. Pictures, engravings and
mirrors were broken, the leather chairs slit up with a sabre--artistically
done in the shape of a cross--and porcelain smashed in the middle of the
courtyard. You can see by this that pillaging and atrocities began when
the troops were hardly over the frontier.
In one of the numerous pillaged chateaux around about, an extraordinary
bit of literature, in fact a masterpiece, has been found by the
chatelaine. A tiny scrap of paper sticking out from a book had these
words scribbled on it in German: "I am only a common soldier but I ask
pardon for these atrocities, committed by my superior officers."
_October 14th, Wednesday._
It is unbelievable the trainloads of soldiers that are passing about
every ten minutes, and the fighting--judging from the wounded--must be
beyond words. The army nurse told of men who have fought five days in
the trenches without relief. They were tumbling over with fatigue, rifle
in hand, and the officers were obliged to go from one to the other,
shaking them into consciousness.
[Illustration: MAP SHOWING VIEL SALM AND THE GERMAN FRONTIER]
_October 16th, Friday._
We went to Viel Salm in the automobile. The destruction at the villa,
which I saw with my own eyes, has not been exaggerated. There was
practically nothing left but the structure itself and that was far from
intact, for nearly all the great plate glass windows were broken by some
_devot_ of vandalism who had taken the trouble and an ax to split up the
jambs of the doors so that they never could shut again.
Inside was far worse; every picture, glass and mirror was smashed, each
leather chair had a great cross on it, cut with the sword, the sofas
were ripped up the middle, curtains and portieres were wrenched from
their rods, all the dishes were taken except the glass stoppers of the
water-bottles, all the linen, all the blankets, all the clothes except a
few which were carefully cut up into ribbons and the tops of riding
boots which were sawed off for gaiters. In addition to this, eighteen
beds and bedsteads as well were carried off.
We visited the Baronne de L., whose son, after refusing a demand of
forty thousand francs, was taken as a hostage, with the burgomaster andDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>