Nothing to tell you about. Not the smallest thing happens here. I do nothing but read my paper, fuss in the garden, which looks very pretty, do up a bundle for my filleul once in a while, write a few letters, and drive about, at sundown, in my perambulator. If that is not an absurd life for a lady in the war zone in these days, I ’d like to know what it is.
I hope this weather will last. It is good for the war and good for the crops. But I am afraid I shall hope in vain.
September 30, 1916
This has been the strangest summer I ever knew. There have been so few really summer days. I could count the hot days on my fingers. None of the things have happened on which I counted.
What a disappointment poor Russia has been to the big world, which knew nothing about her except that she could put fifteen millions of men in the field. However, as we say, “all that is only a detail.” We are learning things every day. Nothing has opened our eyes more than seeing set at naught our conviction that, once the Rumanian frontier was opened to the Russians, they would be on the Danube in no time.
Do you remember how glibly we talked of the “Russian steam-roller,” in September, 1914? I remember that, at that time, I had a letter from a very clever chap who told me that “expert military men” looked to see the final battle on our front, somewhere near Waterloo, before the end of October, and that even “before that, the Russian steam-roller would be crushing its way to Berlin.” How much expert military men have learned since then!
Still, wasn’t it, in a certain sense, lucky that, in spite of the warning of Kitchener, we did not, in the beginning, realize the road we had to travel? As I look back on the two years, it all looks to me more and more remarkable, seen even at this short perspective, that the Allied armies, and most of all, the civilians behind the lines have, in the face of the hard happenings of each day, stood up, and taken it as they have, and hoped on.
I have got into a mood where it seems simply stupid to talk about it, since I am, as usual, only eternally a spectator. I only long to keep my eyes raised in a wide arc towards the end, to live each day as I can, and wait. So why should I try to write to you of things which I do not see, and of which only the last, faint, dying ripples reach us here?
You really must not pity me, as you insist upon doing, because military restrictions draw a line about me, which I may not cross at my own sweet will. I am used to it. It is not hard. For that matter, it is much more trying to my French neighbors than it is to me.
I seem never to have told you that even they may not leave the commune without a sauf-conduit. To be sure, they have only to go to the mairie, and ask for it, to get it.