The truth was that I had a sudden, cinematographical vision of my chubby self—me, who cannot walk half a mile, nor bend over without getting palpitation—stumbling in my high-heeled shoes over the fields ploughed by cavalry and shell—breathlessly bent on carrying consolation to the dying. I knew that I should surely have to be picked up with the dead and dying, or, worse still, usurp a place in an ambulance, unless eternal justice—in spite of my age, my sex, and my white hairs—left me lying where I fell—and serve me good and right!
I know now that if the need and opportunity had come to my gate—as it might—I should, instinctively, have known what to do, and have done it. But for me to drive deliberately nine miles—we should have had to make a wide detour to cross the Marne on the pontoons— behind a donkey who travels two miles an hour, to seek such an experience, and with several hours to think it over en route, and the conviction that I would be an unwelcome intruder—that was another matter.
I am afraid Mlle. Henriette will never forgive me. She will soon be walking around in a hospital, looking so pretty in her nurse’s dress and veil. But she will always think that she lost a great opportunity that day—and a picturesque one.
By the way, I have a new inmate in my house—a kitten. He was evidently lost during the emigration. Amelie says he is three months old. He arrived at her door crying with hunger the other morning. Amelie loves beasties better than humans. She took him in and fed him. But as she has six cats already, she seemed to think that it was my duty to take this one. She cloaked that idea in the statement that it was “good for me” to have “something alive” moving about me in the silent little house. So she put him in my lap. He settled himself down, went to sleep, and showed no inclination to leave me.
At the end of two hours he owned me—the very first cat I ever knew, except by sight.
So you may dismiss that idea which torments you—I am no longer alone.
I am going to send this letter at once to be dropped in the box in front of the post-office, where I am very much afraid it may find that of last week, for we have had no letters yet nor have I seen or heard anything of the promised automobile postale. However, once a stamped letter is out of my hand, I always feel at least as if it had started, though in all probability this may rest indefinitely in that box in the “deserted village.”
September 25, 1914
It is over a week since I wrote you. But I have really been very busy, and not had a moment.
To begin with, the very day after I wrote to you, Amelie came down with one of her sick headaches, and she has the most complete sort I ever met.
She crawled upstairs that morning to open my blinds. I gave one look at her, and ordered her back to bed. If there is anything that can make one look worse than a first-class bilious attack I have never met it. One can walk round and do things when one is suffering all sorts of pain, or when one is trembling in every nerve, or when one is dying of consumption, but I defy anyone to be useful when one has an active sick headache.