The doctor did not get over laughing until he went back to Paris. I am afraid he never will get over guying me about the shows I get up to amuse my visitors. I expect that I must keep a controlling influence over him, or, before he is done joking, the invisible Taube will turn into a Zeppelin, or perhaps a fleet of airships.
June 20, 1915
Having an American neighbor near by again has changed life more than you would imagine.
She is only five miles away. She can come over on horseback in half an hour, and she often arrives for coffee, which is really jolly. Now and then she drives over unexpectedly, and carries me back with her for the night. I never feel like staying longer, but it changes the complexion of life. Besides, we can talk about our native land—in English—and that is a change.
Now don’t imagine that I have been lonely. I have not. I was quite contented before she returned, but I have never concealed from you that the war is trying. I needed, now and then, to exchange words with one of my own race, and to say things about my own country which I’d be burned at the stake before I ’d say before a French person.
Beside, the drive from here to Voulangis is beautiful. We have three or four ways to go, and each one is prettier than the other. Sometimes we go through Quincy, by the Chateau de Moulignon, to Pont aux Dames, and through the old moated town of Crecy-en-Brie. Sometimes we go down the valley of the Mesnil, a hilly path along the edge of a tiny river, down which we dash at a breakneck speed, only possible to an expert driver. Indeed Pere never believes we do it. He could not. Since he could not, to him it is impossible to anyone.
Just now the most interesting way is through Couilly and St. Germain, by the Bois de Misere, to Villiers-sur-Morin, whence we climb the hill to Voulangis, with the valley dropping away on one side. It is one of the loveliest drives I know, along the Morin, by the mills, through the almost virgin forest.
The artillery—territorials—is cantoned all along here, at Villiers, at Crecy, and at Voulangis. The road is lined with grey cannon and ammunition wagons. Every little way there is a sentinel in his box, and horses are everywhere.
Some of the sentinel boxes are, as we used to say in the States, “too cute for words.” The prettiest one in the Department is right here, at the corner of the route Madame, which crosses my hill, and whence the road leads from the Demi-Lune right down to the canal. It is woven of straw, has a nice floor, a Gothic roof, a Gothic door, and the tiniest Gothic window, and a little flag floating from its peak.
It is a little bijou, and I did hope that I could beg, borrow, steal, or buy it from the dragoon who made it. But I can’t. The lieutenant is attached to it, and is going to take it with him, alas!