Of course I explained to him that I had not expected any movement in that direction, and had only watched the approach from Meaux.
Beyond that one incident, these wounded soldiers said no word about battles. Most of the conversation was political.
When the nurse looked at her watch and said it was time to return to the hospital, as they must not be late for dinner, they all rose. The law student came, cap in hand, made me a low bow, and thanked me for a pleasant afternoon, and every man imitated his manner—with varying degrees of success—and made his little speech and bow, and then they marched up the road, turning back, as the English soldiers had done—how long ago it seems—to wave their caps as they went round the corner.
I did wish that you could have been there. You always used to love the French. You would have loved them more that afternoon.
It is wonderful how these people keep up their courage. To me it seems like the uplift of a Holy Cause. They did expect a big summer offensive. But it does not come, and we hear it rumored that, while we have men enough, the Germans have worked so hard, while the English were recruiting, that they are almost impregnably entrenched, and that while their ammunition surpasses anything we can have for months yet, it would be military suicide to throw our infantry against their superior guns. In the meantime, while the Allies are working like mad to increase their artillery equipments, the Germans are working just as hard, and Time serves one party as well as the other. I suppose it will only be after the war that we shall really know to what our disappointment was due, and, as usual, the same cry consoles us all: “None of these things will change the final result!” and most people keep silent under the growing conviction that this “may go on for years.”
One thing I really must tell you—not a person mentioned the Lusitania at the tea-party, which was, I suppose, a handsome effort at reticence, since the lady of the house was an American, and the Stars and Stripes, in little, were fluttering over the chimney.
I take note of one remark in your last letter, in reply to mine of May 18. You twit me with “rounding off my periods.” I apologize. You must remember that I earned my bread and salt doing that for years, and habit is strong. I no longer do it with my tongue in my cheek. My word for that.
August 1, 1915
Well, dear girl, not a bit of news to tell you. I have really done nothing this last month but look at my flowers, superintend the gathering of my plums, put up a few pots of confiture, mow the lawn, and listen to the guns, now and then, read the communiques, and sigh over the disasters in the east and the deadlock at Gallipoli.