appears now that Germany will probably declare war against France, too,
and is contemplating passing through Belgium by Namur or Luxembourg to
the French frontier. That is a rather offensive threat, as, of course,
there is the neutrality of Belgium and one cannot get away with that. We
consider ourselves most lucky to be here rather than in France.
A detachment of Belgian soldier boys slept in the stables last night.
Monsieur X. sent them his best cigars, and this morning, as soon as they
tumbled out, they made a straight line for the kitchen whence they
scented hot coffee. The good heart of the old, fat cook, who is a native
of Amsterdam, was melted at once and she gave unsparingly until they
flattered and coaxed her into such a state of bewilderment that even
Dutch patience was at last exhausted when she saw them pouring in and
pouring in and boldly attacking her sumptuous pantries _en masse_.
_August 3rd, Monday._
Preparations for war are going on rapidly; scores of automobiles are
racing past like mad things, carrying Governmental messages no doubt
and the Government itself, by its eternal prerogative, is commandeering
for its use everybody's private property--horses, cows, automobiles,
pigs, merchandise, provisions, etc. And how one gives for one's country!
The men, their goods; the women, their sons. The spirit of the people is
magnificent. Huge loads of hay in long processions like caravans are
coming in from the country along with immense droves of cattle. In the
orchard adjoining the chateau are already domiciled two hundred or more
cows and the discordant melody from this hoarse-throated chorus,
uninterrupted day or night, is driving us to madness. Indoors, we
ourselves are laying in a supply of things in case of necessity and the
kitchen is piled high with bags of flour, coffee, beans, tinned goods,
etc., and in the pasture is a new cow. Beef will probably be the _piece
de resistance_ for many a day.
Monsieur X.'s old coiffeur came out from town today. He is French and by
far the most volatile person about the news of the moment that I have
seen. It is like a play to hear him declaim on the situation, but, poor
man, having endured the Siege of Paris for six months in 1870, he
doubtless has recollections. And he makes the most of them as well as of
his dramatic ability, describing in an eloquent manner how he fried
rats in a saucepan, which with some spice and plenty of onion all
around, he admitted, were "_pas mal du tout_." Madame X. herself was in
the "Siege of Paris" in 1870 and is therefore taking thought.
These details of the equipment and provisioning of the army will be as
interesting to you as they are engaging to us here in the midst of it,
for they are not commonly even included in a rapid conception of "War"
though being in reality the biggest part of it.
What masses of convoys and munitions! They must constitute that sameDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>