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The Truth


Saturday, September 30

Another night spent in Remillet’s cellar.  Mama winces each time a shell falls.  Suzette seems not even to hear them.  But they’re falling anyway.  The village is still standing, but the area all around us is showered with them. 

The boches want a horse.  They find Joker at Guemann’s and pay 40,000 francs for him.

The road past the cemetery to ChenebierToday, leaving Guemann’s house, I saw Mme. Bauer crying, then a group of people wringing their hands.  “They shot them!”  I couldn’t believe it and said nothing at home.  But, a little after dinner, Suzette, Aline, Mama and my sister rushed into the kitchen and threw themselves on me.  Oh!  What a scene of desolation!  My pen trembles, but I have to write about it.  Aline sobbed, “Papa, Papa, they’ve killed my Jacques, they’ve killed your child.”  And my poor sister, “Oh Jules, I’ve lost my Alfred, I’ve lost my Samuel … they’ve killed them!”  As for Suzette – they killed René, her fiancé, too – she sat down at the other end of the table, without speaking, without crying, locking her suffering inside.  And poor Mama – she kept repeating, “I was right to cry when he left, my brave Jacques, so confident …”  Only little Philippe didn’t understand.  I felt as if I was dreaming.  As soon as I could, I left.  Alas!  It was too true.  And to think that for three days we had lived so close to the catastrophe without knowing anything about it.  I wandered here and there.  What desolation everywhere!  At Charles Perret’s, they lost three:  René, Maurice, and Paul, just a kid … Coming back, I had to sit down for a moment, in the middle of the village.  Two American airplanes flew over the German battery in the Pré Camus, to adjust the fire of the American cannons.  I said to myself, “What are these Americans waiting for, to blow up these Germans last of all?”  I was overcome with sadness.  And then guess what happened.  The sound of a shell being launched, then the sound of it exploding over the Camus battery, the screams of the wounded, the sound of the ambulances.  What joy it is to recount that!  Alas, it won’t bring back our sons …

What a night!  It was a wake for our children.  Every moment was filled with the sound of weeping.  And the noise of the cannons blending with the sobs.

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