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A Guard at the Mayor's House

Tuesday, September 26

Etobon was under siege, by bombardments and the occupation of the village by mercenary Cossack troops. The fear in Jules’ writings comes through clearly:

"The bombardment continues non-stop.  It’s raining non-stop, too.  The other Cossacks are not as reasonable as our two.  René, relapsed in his illness and at his parents’ home again, tells us that, last evening, their Cossacks called the four brothers 'terrorists.'  Elsewhere, they shot at Gilbert Nardin and hit him with a rifle butt.  It’s a good thing it’s forbidden to give them schnapps.  There’s plenty for them to buy.  Drunks and thieves.  They’ll steal anything!  (Note of July, 1945:  Fredy, back from Germany, tells me that the Cossacks who had sold out to the Germans were all massacred by the Russians.  Where he was, they shot hundreds and tanks were driven over those who were still moaning.  I worry for my old Siriès.)

"What are they doing?  This evening, all the Cossack horses were saddled and there’s a guard in front of the mayor’s house.

"It’s raining and raining and raining.  Shells, too.  Never, during the other war, was I at such a party.

"At the forge, Jacques is shoeing as much as me, and more, especially horses.  I taught him how to sabotage them honestly.  The nails hold, but not for long.

"Some Cossacks asked Kuntz for schnapps.  He refused: 'Deutsch comrades drank it all.' 'Deutsch soldiers not correct.  Cossacks correct.'  They said it.  And yesterday, that same Kunst killed the yellow dog that had been prowling around Etobon for several days, killing chickens.  Good riddance.  A little before nightfall, a drunken Cossack fired several rounds at Gilbert Nardin and Jean Goux, without hitting them."

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