As our railway communication is to be cut again, I am hurrying this off, not knowing when I can send another. But as you see, I have no news to write—just words to remind you of me, and say that all is well with me in this world where it is so ill for many.
November 7, 1914
It was not until I got out my letter-book this morning that I realized that I had let three weeks go by without writing to you. I have no excuse to offer, unless the suspense of the war may pass as one.
We have settled down to a long war, and though we have settled down with hope, I can tell you every day demands its courage.
The fall of Antwerp was accepted as inevitable, but it gave us all a sad day. It was no use to write you things of that sort. You, I presume, do not need to be told, although you are so far away, that for me, personally, it could only increase the grief I felt that Washington had not made the protest I expected when the Belgian frontier was crossed. It would have been only a moral effort, but it would have been a blow between the eyes for the nervous Germans.
All the words we get from the front tell us that the boys are standing the winter in the trenches very well. They’ve simply got to—that is all there is to that.
Amelie is more astonished than I am. When she first realized that they had got to stay out there in the rain and the mud and the cold, she just gasped out that they never would stand it.
I asked her what they would do then—lie down and let the Germans ride over them? Her only reply was that they would all die. It is hard for her to realize yet the resistance of her own race.
I am realizing in several ways, in a small sense, what the men are enduring. I take my bit of daily exercise walking round my garden. I always have to carry a trowel in my sweater pocket, and I stop every ten steps to dig the cakes of mud off my sabots. I take up a good bit of my landed property at every step. So I can guess, at least, what it must be out in the trenches. This highly cultivated, well-fertilized French soil has its inconveniences in a country where the ground rarely freezes as it does in New England.
Also I am very cold.
When I came out here I found that the coal dealer was willing to deliver coal to me once a week. I had a long, covered box along the wall of the kitchen which held an ample supply of coal for the week. The system had two advantages—it enabled me to do my trading in the commune, which I liked, and it relieved Amelie from having to carry heavy hods of coal in all weathers from the grange outside. But, alas, the railroad communications being cut—no coal! I had big wood enough to take me through the first weeks, and have some still, but it will hardly last me to Christmas—nor does the open fire heat the house as the salamandre did. But it is wartime, and I must not complain—yet.