(at the end of 60 hours in a cattle-truck: 40 men to a truck).
On the same day we skirted the Seine opposite the forest of Fontainebleau and the banks of the Loire. Saw the château de Blois and the château d’Amboise. Unhappily the darkness prevented us from seeing more. How can I tell you what tender emotions I felt by these magnificent banks of the Loire!
Are you bombarded by the frightful aeroplanes? I think of you in such conditions and above all of poor Grandmother, who indeed had little need to see all this! However, we must hope.
We learn from wounded refugees that in the first days of August mistakes were made in the high command which had terrible consequences. It falls to us now to repair those mistakes.
Masses of English troops arrive. We have crossed numbers of crowded trains.
Well, this war will not have been the mere march-past which many thought, but which I never thought, it would be; but it will have stirred the good in all humanity. I do not speak of the magnificent things which have no immediate connection with the war,—but nothing will be lost.
September 5, 1914 (1st halting-place, 66 hours in the cage without being able to stretch).
Still the same jolting and vibration, but three times after the horrible night there has come the glory of the morning, and all fatigue has disappeared.
We have crossed the French country in several directions, from the rather harsh serenity, full of suggestiveness, of Champagne, to the rich robust placidity of Brittany. On the way we followed the full and noble banks of the Loire, and now . . .
O my beautiful country, the heart of the world, where lies all that is divine upon earth, what monster sets upon you—a country whose offence is her beauty!
I used to love France with sincere love, which was more than a little dilettante; I loved her as an artist, proud to live in the most beautiful of lands; in fact, I loved her rather as a picture might love its frame. It needed this horror to make me know how filial and profound are the ties which bind me to my country. . . .