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security, until the day comes - perhaps sooner than you dare hope - when
you can look back to all these days, and perhaps be a little proud to
have had a small part in it." And off he went upstairs.

I sat perfectly still for a long time. Was it possible that it was only
a week ago that I had heard the drum beat for the disarming of the Seine
et Marne? Was there really going to come a day when all the beauty
around me would not be a mockery? All at once it occurred to me that I
had promised Captain Simpson to write and tell him how I had "come
through." Perhaps this was the time. I went to the foot of the stairs
and called up to the chef-major. He came to the door and I explained,
asking him if, we being without a post-office, he could get a letter
through, and what kind of a letter I could write, as I knew the
censorship was severe.

"My dear lady," he replied, "go and write your letter, - write anything
you like, - and when I come down I will take charge of it and guarantee
that it shall go through, uncensored, no matter what it contains."

So I wrote to tell Captain Simpson that all was well at Huiry, - that we
had escaped, and were still grateful for all the trouble he had taken.
When the officer came down I gave it to him, unsealed.

"Seal it, seal it," he said, and when I had done so, he wrote, "Read and
approved" on the envelope, and gave it to his orderly, and was ready to
say "Good-bye."

"Don't look so serious about it," he laughed, as we shook hands. "Some
of us will get killed, but what of that? I wanted this war. I prayed
for it. I should have been sad enough if I had died before it came. I
have left a wife and children whom I adore, but I am ready to lay down
my life cheerfully for the victory of which I am so sure. Cheer up. I
think my hour has not yet come. I had three horses killed under me in
Belgium. At Charleroi a bomb exploded in a staircase as I was coming
down. I jumped - not a scratch to show. Things like that make a man feel
immune - but Who knows?"

I did my best to smile, as I said, "I don't wish you courage - you have
that, but - good luck."

"Thank you," he replied, "you've had that"; and away he marched, and
that was the last I saw of him.

I had a strange sensation about these men who had in so few days passed
so rapidly in and out of my life, and in a moment seemed like old
friends.

There was a bustle of preparation all about us. Such a harnessing of
horses, such a rolling-up of half-dried shirts, but it was all orderly
and systematic. Over it all hung a smell of soup-kettles - the
preparations for the midday meal, and a buzz of many voices as the men
sat about eating out of their tin dishes. I did wish I could see only
the picturesque side of it.

It was two o'clock sharp when the regiment began to move. No bands
played. No drum beat. They just marched, marched, marched along the
road to Meaux, and silence fell again on the hillside.

Off to the northeast the cannon still boomed, - it is still booming now
as I write, and it is after nine o'clock. There has been no sign of
Amelie all day as I have sat here writing all this to you. I have tried
to make it as clear a statement of facts as I could. I am afraid that I
have been more disturbed in putting it down than I was in living it.
Except on Saturday and Sunday I was always busy, a little useful, and
that helped. I don't know when I shall be able to get this off to you.
But at least it is ready, and I shall take the first opportunity I get
to cable to you, as I am afraid before this you have worried, unless
your geography is faulty, and the American papers are as reticent as
ours.


THE END




APPENDIX



In connection with the foregoing narrative this order issued by General
Joffre on September 4,1914, which has but just become available for
publication, has special interest and significance: -

1. It is fitting to take advantage of the rash situation of the First
German Army to concentrate upon it the efforts of the Allied Armies on
the extreme left. All dispositions will be made in the course of
September S to start for the attack on September 6.

2. The disposition to be carried out by the evening of September 5 will
be: -

(a) All the available forces of the Sixth Army to be to the northeast of
Meaux, ready to cross the Ourcq between Lizy-sur-Ourcq and May-en-Multien,
in the general direction of Chateau-Thierry. The available elements of
the First Cavalry Corps which are at hand will be placed for this
operation under the orders of General Maunoury (commanding the Sixth
Army).

(b) The British Army will be posted on the front of Changis-Coulommiers,
facing eastward, ready to attack in the general direction of Montmirail.

(c) The Fifth Army, closing a little to its left, will post itself on
the general front of Courtacon-Esternay-Sezanne, ready to attack in the
general direction from south to north, the Second Cavalry Corps securing
the connection between the British Army and the Fifth Army.

(d) The Ninth Army will cover the right of the Fifth Army, holding the
southern exits from the march of Saint-Gond and carrying part of its
forces on to the plateau north of Sezanne.

3. The offensive will be taken by these different armies on September 6,
beginning in the morning.



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Online LibraryMildred AldrichA Hilltop on the Marne → online text (page 9 of 9)