This letter will barely precede our own departure. The terrible conflict calls for our presence close to those who are already in the midst of the struggle. I leave you, grandmother and you, with the hope of seeing you again, and the certainty that you will approve of my doing all that seems to me my duty.
Nothing is hopeless, and, above all, nothing has changed our idea of the part we have to play.
Tell all those who love me a little that I think of them. I have no time to write to any one. My health is of the best.
. . . After such an upheaval we may say that our former life is dead. Dear mother, let us, you and I, with all our courage adapt ourselves to an existence entirely different, however long it may last.
Be very sure that I won’t go out of my way to do anything that endangers our happiness, but that I’ll try to satisfy my conscience, and yours. Up till now I am without cause for self-reproach, and so I hope to remain.
August 25 (2nd letter).
A second letter to tell you that, instead of our regiment, it was Pierre’s that went. I had the joy of seeing him pass in front of me when I was on guard in the town. I accompanied him for a hundred yards, then we said good-bye. I had a feeling that we should meet again.
It is the gravest of hours; the country will not die, but her deliverance will be snatched only at the price of frightful efforts.
Pierre’s regiment went covered with flowers, and singing. It was a deep consolation to be together till the end.
It is fine of André to have saved his drowning comrade. We don’t realise the reserve of heroism there is in France, and among the young intellectual Parisians.
In regard to our losses, I may tell you that whole divisions have been wiped out. Certain regiments have not an officer left.
As for my state of mind, my first letter will perhaps tell you better what I believe to be my duty. Know that it would be shameful to think for one instant of holding back when the race demands the sacrifice. My only part is to carry an undefiled conscience as far as my feet may lead.