9 o’clock (5th day in the first line).
It appears that the terrible position, courageously held by us on October 14th, and immediately lost by our successors, has been retaken, and 200 metres more, but at the price of a hundred casualties.
Dear mother, want of sleep robs me of all intelligence. True, one needs little of that for the general run of existence here, but I should have liked to speak to you. The only consolation is that our love needs no expression.
Very little to tell you. I was quite stupefied by the day’s work yesterday, spent entirely in darkness. From my place I had only a glimpse of a pretty tree against the sky.
To-day, in the charming early morning I saw a beautiful and extremely brilliant star. I had gone to fetch some coal and water, and on the way back, when daylight had already come, that extraordinary star still persisted. My corporal, who, like me, was dodging from bush to bush back to our house, said:
‘Do you know what that star is? It is the sign for the enemy’s patrol to rally.’
It was true, and at first I felt outraged at this profanation of the sky, and then (apart from the ingenuity of the thing) I told myself that this star meant, for those poor creatures on the other side, that they could take the direction of safety. I felt less angry about it then. The sign had given me so much joy as a star that I decided to stick to my first impression.