impressive "impedimenta" that one used to read about in Caesar's Wars
which by its unfailing late arrival constantly threw the old Romans into
such a frightful _depit_. But happily, in this case, it comes first
instead of last.
The whole world seems to be changing place like sand on a moving disc
and my mind is losing its grip on what is real--it's a curious feeling.
Madame X. and her family, like everybody else, are extremely anxious, as
one would naturally be with his country, his home and his future in
peril, but I, in my superb (what shall I say?) Americanism or optimism,
am sure it will come out all right: nevertheless I feel confused.
_August 4th, Tuesday._
The situation, already grave, has taken a definite turn. Germany is
going to attack France through Belgium. Completely ignoring the
neutrality of the latter, she demands to "just pass through peaceably,"
but being refused permission, so much the worse for those who are in the
road. Personally speaking, I should say we are decidedly in the
road--Aix-la-Chapelle--Liege--Namur. Don't you think the crow would
agree with me?
We saw a charming spectacle this morning if anything connected with war
can be so called,--a little company of _mitrailleuses-a-chien_, that is,
small, shrapnel gun carriages drawn by the famous Belgian dogs. It sort
of made my heart crinkle up to see those magnificent animals, detailed
for fatal duty without doubt, pushing on so joyously. Straining in the
traces and really smiling with their great tongues hanging out, they
were performing their work, proud as Punch, and eager to get on.
In the afternoon we were suddenly startled by the booming of nearby
cannon. I shall never forget the first sound of it! It might have been
the Last Trumpet and we didn't know that it was not. My soul turned sick
and seemed to be tumbling down a fathomless abyss while a pair of
unprejudiced eyes watched its descent. Please do not think I am not
serious--it is a moment when one meets things face to face and the
inevitable is happening. We hear that the firing is for the purpose of
demolishing houses and churches before the forts, which might in any way
obstruct the range of the guns. Did I explain that Liege is encircled by
twelve forts, built about twenty-eight years ago under the personal
direction of General Brialmont? They are on the same principle as those
of Namur and Bucharest, and are large affairs of concrete, sunk three
stories under ground and furnished with elaborate electrical apparatus.
Covering and protecting the cannon are automatic, armored cupolas,
rising and falling with the modern, disappearing guns. Here is a tiny,
freehand map which will give you an idea of the country as well as the
situation of Chateau d'A----, where I am and which is just between the
city and the enceinte of forts. A shell overreaching this latter, from
the enemy's field cannon, would, I should say, tumble right into ourDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>