As he shook me by the hand again, it seemed suddenly to occur to him that he had forgotten something. He struck a blow on his forehead with his fist, and cried: “My God, lady, did I understand that you have been here ever since the war began? Then you were here during the battle out there? My God, lady, I ’m an American, too, and my God, lady, I ’m proud of you! I am indeed.” And he went off down the road, and I heard him explaining to his companion “J’ai dit a madame,” etc.
I don’t think any comment is necessary on what Broadway does to the French lad of the people.
Last night I saw one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen. For several evenings I have been hearing artillery practice of some sort, but I paid no attention to it. We have no difficulty in distinguishing the far-off guns at Soissons and Rheims, which announce an attack, from the more audible, but quite different, sound of the tir d’exercice. But last night they sounded so very near—almost as if in the garden—that, at about nine, when I was closing up the house, I stepped out on to the terrace to listen. It was a very dark night, quite black. At first I thought they were in the direction of Quincy, and then I discovered, once I was listening carefully, that they were in the direction of the river. I went round to the north side of the house, and I saw the most wonderful display—more beautiful than any fireworks I had ever seen. The artillery was experimenting with signal lights, and firing colored fusees volantes. I had read about them, but never seen one. As near as I could make out, the artillery was on top of the hill of Monthyon—where we saw the battle of the Marne begin,— and the line they were observing was the Iles-les-Villenoy, in the river right at the west of us. When I first saw the exercises, there were half a dozen lovely red and green lights hanging motionless in the sky. I could hear the heavy detonation of the cannon or gun, or whatever they use to throw them, and then see the long arc of light like a chain of gold, which marked the course of the fusee, until it burst into color at the end. I wrapped myself up, took my field-glasses, and stayed out an hour watching the scene, and trying to imagine what exactly the same thing, so far as mere beauty went, meant to the men at the front.
In the morning I found that everyone else had heard the guns, but no one had seen anything, because, as it happens, it was from my lawn only that both Monthyon and the Iles-les-Villenoy could be seen.
March 19, 1917
Such a week of excitement as we have had. But it has been uplifting excitement. I feel as if I had never had an ache or a pain, and Time and Age were not. What with the English advance, the Russian Revolution, and Zeppelins tumbling out of the heavens, every day has been just a little more thrilling than the day before.