《幸运飞艇五码一把子中》The question of lodgings brought also many difficulties, for nobody wanted to, or could put us up. At last we succeeded at the H?tel l'union, where we first ate two roasted pigeons which were intended for a couple of officers, who would return in the evening from the front line. The three of us subsequently occupied one room, after having written on the door with chalk that Lieutenants So and So were staying there. For the landlady had told us that she was willing to put us up, but that the officers who returned every night from the front line were sure to turn us out. Indeed in the evening we heard heavy steps before our door, but after a voice had read out that Lieutenants So244 and So were passing the night there, they all went away again."I believe that it is my duty to take that task upon me, assisted by some well-known burgesses, who have undertaken to stand by me.
I witnessed Pastor Claes's labours for a moment only, for the smell was unbearable even at a somewhat considerable distance. The good pastor persevered in the work after having started it, with the assistance of some faithful helpers, who all of them had sealed their mouths with a sponge soaked in some disinfectant. The corpses were taken from the cave, money and documents put away in separate bags, and the unfortunate owners coffined and blessed.
The next day I had the pleasure of an interview with Cardinal Mercier, whose residence in Antwerp I had been able to find out at last. A wealthy lady had offered his Eminence her grand house. In one of the rooms I waited for the arrival of the cardinal, the Metropolitan of the Belgian Church Provinces, who, both as a prelate and a patriot, had been tried so sorely in this war, which ravaged both his university town and his episcopal town. Although he was exceedingly busy, his Eminence had the kindness to grant me an audience."All right, sir."
I stood still, dumb, aghast, unable to utter a word. Then I went to a sergeant who was also looking on and laughing; and, trembling all over, I said:
At Thourout all convents and large buildings had been turned into hospitals, and the streets on both sides were full of big wagons. Hundreds of soldiers went off, and large convoys of carts were standing243 in the meadows and on the roads, where officers and men were also practising riding. We were here in the rear, where there was a continuous going and coming from the front. Most soldiers were in a more or less excited mood; some did not hide their discontent, or sat musing dejectedly, asking themselves how these terrible days would end for them? Others again seemed to have got into a sort of frenzy in consequence of the continuous fighting and were not able to think logically at all. They told excited stories about the British whom they had killed, and chased away from the 42 c.m. guns, who, according to them, were also at work in the swampy soil near Nieuwpoort, and also told about the shooting civilians, and those cursed Belgians, who cut open the bellies of their poor wounded, or sliced off their noses, hands, and ears. Of course pure fairy tales, but recited with much power of conviction.Very sleepy, I went on listening ... listening ...112 probably until I fell asleep again, for I cannot remember what happened after.
Namur was shelled on August 21st and the 23rd. Many houses were then already wrecked, many civilians killed. On the 23rd the Belgian army withdrew and only some of the forts were defended. This withdrawal of the Belgian army may have been a strategical necessity, but it is certain that the forts had not been defended unto the last. Five forts fell into the hands of the Germans without having suffered any damage.
But the German troops had ample provisions for themselves, and as an officer noticed that I went all over the town to find some food in one of the58 restaurants, he offered me, the "friendly" Netherlander, something to eat at the Guard House. This I declined, however, for I could not have enjoyed bread taken from the starving population.121
The wind seemed to play with the smoke, rolling dense volumes down the slopes which dispersed only when they reached the bank along the river. Whilst the flames soared high up from the roofs, the walls of the houses stood still erect, and everywhere in the windows one saw those miserable little white flags, symbols of submission, mute prayers75 that submission should be rewarded by sparing the life and possession of the inhabitants....
A lot of artillery and a great number of soldiers were in the market-place ready to start. The commander sent one of his officers to us, who addressed me, examined my papers, and then said that I had surely met Belgian soldiers on the way. Of course I denied this emphatically.
Three soldiers stood before the open door and amused themselves by provoking these people in the most inhuman manner, by abusing them and telling them that later on they would be hanged or shot. The poor fellows shivered and their teeth clattered. I, the newly arrived "swine," was treated in much the same way, but I reduced the insolent blusterers into the quietest people of the world by warning them that by and by I would ask the commanding officer whether his soldiers had the right to call a Netherlander a "swine." That put some heart into my fellow-victims, and I urged them that they would do best by replying calmly to any questions which the commanding officer might put177 to them. They actually became more composed, and told me the following:I met a doctor at this nunnery, who told me highly important news, but in whispers, because in these days "even walls have ears": the Allies had gained great victories over the Germans. As he saw by the expression of my face that I did not believe off-hand all he told, he became still more impressive in manner, and produced a paper, from which he recited:—
"Yes, yes, but now listen; I have told you already that...."
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