At last I was free from the torment and brutality of Sennelager Camp. But as I watched the incoming train on that morning of September 16th, 1914, I could not refrain from dwelling upon the lot of the many hapless friends I had left behind, the agonies, miseries, the hopelessness of their position, and their condemnation to unremitting brutal travail which would doubtless continue until the clash of arms had died away. As Sennelager vanished from sight my companion and I gave deep sighs of relief. We felt that we had left Hell behind.
FREE ON “PASS” IN COLOGNE
It was two o’clock in the afternoon when I saw the last of Sennelager Camp as the train swung round a curve which blotted the Avernus over which Major Bach reigned supreme from sight if not from memory. The train in which we were travelling, of course, was wholly occupied by Germans. I found it impossible to secure a seat owing to the crowded character of the carriages, and as misfortune would have it I was compelled to stand until I reached my destination.
Naturally being thrown among so many of the enemy I was regarded with a strange interest by my fellow-travellers. They could see I was not a German, and although they did not resort to any provocative word or deed, it would have needed a blind man to have failed to detect their uncompromising hostility towards me. We travelled via Soest, and my position was rendered additionally unnerving because train after train labelled with the flaming Red Cross thundered by, bearing their heavy loads of the German battered and maimed from the battlefields. It was easy to see that the number of the train-loads of wounded was exercising a peculiar effect upon the passengers, for was not this heavy toll of war and the crushed and bleeding flower of the German army coming from the front where the British were so severely mauling the invincible military machine of Europe and disputing effectively their locust-like advance over the fair fields of Belgium and Northern France? Is it surprising under the circumstances that they glowered and frowned at me in a disconcerting and menacing manner?
[Illustration: Facsimile of the Pass issued by the German authorities to the author on his leaving Sennelager for Coeln-on-Rhein.]
As the hours rolled by I began to feel fainter and hungrier. I had had nothing since the usual cup of acorn coffee at seven in the morning. Although I became so weak that I felt as if I must drop, I buoyed up my flagging spirits and drooping body by the thought that I should soon meet and enjoy the company of K——. But I was aboard a fourth-class train and it appeared to be grimly determined to set up a new record for slow-travelling even for Germany. The result was that I did not reach Cologne, or Koeln, as the Germans have it, until one o’clock the following morning, having stood on my feet for eleven hours and without a bite to eat.