Didn’t you always think a cat hated water? I am sure I did. He goes out in all weathers. Last winter he played in the snow like a child, and rolled in it, and no rainstorm can keep him in the house. The other day he insisted on going out in a pouring rain, and I got anxious about him. Finally I went to the door and called him, and, after a while, he walked out of the dog’s kennel, gave me a reproachful look as if to say, “Can’t you leave a chap in peace?” and returned to the kennel. The one thing he really hates is to have me leave the house. He goes where his sweet will leads him, but he seems to think that I should be always on the spot.
May 23, 1916
I begin to believe that we shall have no normal settled weather until all this cannon play is over. We’ve had most unseasonable hailstorms which have knocked all the buds off the fruit-trees, so, in addition to other annoyances, we shall have no fruit this year.
There is nothing new here except that General Foch is in the ambulance at Meaux. No one knows it; not a word has appeared in the newspapers. It was the result of a stupid, but unavoidable, automobile accident. To avoid running over a woman and child on a road near here, the automobile, in which he was travelling rapidly in company with his son-in-law, ran against a tree and smashed. Luckily he was not seriously hurt, though his head got damaged.
On Thursday Poincare passed over our hill, with Briand, en route to meet Joffre at the General’s bedside. I did not see them, but some of the people at Quincy did. It was a lucky escape for Foch. He would have hated to die during this war of a simple, unmilitary automobile accident, and the army could ill afford just now to lose one of the heroes of the Marne. Carefully as the fact has been concealed, we knew it here through our ambulance, which is a branch of that at Meaux, where he is being nursed.
Three months since the battle at Verdun began, and it is still going on, with the Germans hardly more than four miles from the city, and yet it begins to look as if they knew themselves that the battle—the most terrible the world has ever seen—was a failure. Still, I have changed my mind. I begin to believe that had Germany centred all her forces on that frontier in August, 1914, when her first-line troops were available, and their hopes high, she would probably have passed. No one can know that, but it is likely, and many military men think so. Isn’t it a sort of poetic justice to think that it is even possible that had Germany fought an honorable war she might have got to Paris? “Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad.”
I do nothing but work in the garden on rare days when it does not rain, and listen to the cannon. That can’t be very interesting stuff to make a letter of. The silence here, which was so dear to me in the days when I was preparing the place, still hangs over it. But, oh, the difference! Now and then, in spite of one’s self, the very thought of all that is going on so very near us refuses to take its place and keep in the perspective, it simply jumps out of the frame of patriotism and the welfare of the future. Then the only thing to do is to hunt for the visible consolations—and one always finds them.