"Well, sir, not much beyond what you are sure to know already: that Japan declared war against Germany; that the Russians invaded Germany; that the French gained some important victories in Alsace; that the German fleet lost some ships...."But as soon as these "tender-foots" came alongside our train and were not met with the same impetuous enthusiasm as they displayed themselves, but, on the contrary, saw sick, discouraged, exhausted faces gazing at them distressedly, their boisterousness suddenly extinguished, and a nervous, terrified expression pursed up their mouths. And the trains were already at some distance from each other before the young soldiers remembered that they ought to shout and to wave to those who had already done so much for the Fatherland."Are they at a great distance from here?"
"To the inhabitants."Yes.""That way? But how did you get here then?"
Along the coast the German line did not reach far beyond Mariakerke, where a big German flag on a high dune indicated their most advanced front. Thanks to the consent of a couple of officers I was allowed to push on to the front lines, and did this in spite of the danger from bursting shrapnel. The wounded had to walk back from there to Ostend, very often suffering the most trying pains, because, according to what they told me, the Red Cross Service was not able to help them all. They were very dissatisfied on account of the waste of human life by which the attacks were accompanied, and some made bitter remarks about the staff which seemed to be mad, constantly sending new troops into the murderous fire with such evident callousness."Is there any further news about the war in The Netherlands?""Dinant had 7,600 inhabitants, of whom ten per cent. were put to death; not a family exists which has not to mourn the death of some victims; many families have been exterminated completely."
And supposing for a moment that the allegations made by the Germans were true, that there had been shooting at Vis茅 for example, then one might perhaps consider the revenge justifiable, but should also expect that they would punish with a heavy heart, conscious that they were inflicting a necessary evil."Don't you think you could find me some hotel, or private people who might put me up?"Was the gun I had seen there one of the notorious forty-two centimetre monsters? I should not like to wager my head in affirming that. It was an inordinately unwieldy and heavy piece of ordnance, but during the first days of the war nothing or very little had yet been said or written about these forty-two's, and I did not pay sufficient attention to the one I saw. Only after the fall of Loncin did all those articles about the forty-two's appear in the papers, and the Germans certainly asserted that they destroyed Loncin by means of such a cannon.
"To the inhabitants of the City of LouvainCHAPTER III"On which paper?"
"Are they at a great distance from here?"
"Possibly! Not allowed!"LOUVAIN DESTROYED"But, madame, I am not German; I am a Netherlander. I should...."
"Very well, sir, then I shall go there!""Have you been there already? I am going there too. How are things there?""Oh yes! You may have that!"
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"What! A Netherlander? I suppose you come to see how many troops are here, don't you? And then....""Yes, men, what the gentleman says is true.""What, a Netherlander!鈥攁 Netherlander! All traitors! You are helping the Germans, but we are not afraid of either German or Netherlander."
CHAPTER V"It must be done, surely, it must be done! That is her only chance of escape, and if she stops here she will be killed with the rest of us. Oh!... oh!...""The committee of burgesses! Dr. Boine, Pastor Claes, Dr. P. Debaisieux, Dr. Deconinck, Ch. de la Vall茅e-Poussin, Monseigneur Deploigne, P. Helleputte, A. Thiery, Dr. Tits, L. Verhelst, V. Vingeroedt.详情
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