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My dear Gertrude.
I am so glad & grateful for your letters my dear – in my prison my Mappin terrace I am always prowling behind bars waiting for news - & then come you & feed me –
I can scarcely wait. The last news we had was so promising – a rather disordered retreat, shewn by the captain of 160 guns, then Prussians collecting themselves behind the Aisne & counterattacking but without success – then a slow gain on our side - & then nothing. But it might mean so much – with all the forts intact, short food, crowded roads in rear, an active Belgium (surely we have men there - & if not why not) it means disaster – a new Sedan for the Germans & curiously enough in the same place/
I think & dream of war – and the hand of fate which runs us all –
Abyssinia is quieter – They have listened to us at last - & promised peace to Italy – but though I think it is all right I wouldn’t be too certain – the fight in B. E. A. has been grossly distorted – our German & Austrian friends have cried rebellion in India & the Sudan, Khartoum down – S. Africa, German – heil du Kaiser – but they are getting a little more suspected & unpopular –
You talk of the terms of peace – yes, I like that – today is less than tomorrow – just as the people who come after him are more of weight than any man. I like it is early – Coaling stations to be denied to Germany appear to be a good point – we must be fed – Alsace Lorraine restored – German colonies kept – certain ships surrendered – a huge indemnity – then follow probably a revolution as among Germans against Prussia, but without success – then a slow gain on our side - & then nothing.
Our next danger will be the immense power of the Slavs. But sufficient for the day is the evil thereof - & by then the Colonies will have grown & armed, and India be inclined to fight, as to my thinking she fights now, to show her strength & fitness for self government.
I have still plans of course for this distressful country but I don‘t know if anything will result –
I can’t write somehow. My mind goes circling about like an aeroplane over the Aisne.
We have an idea my wife & I of giving to the allied forces a 30 bed hospital & paying the staff & doctors & nurses upkeep for 6 months – She would be in charge, and she would do it admirably – We have been making enquiries by telegram in Italy, thinking that in a neutral country it will be easier now to find the things needful. Failing that I shall wire to the Red X, but I’m sure they are in a muddle as of old.
Our hospital in any case would go out under their wing though that would be all we should ask of them. They have their hands full no doubt.
Indians, Arabs, Greeks & Syrians. British subjects & others in the place subscribed purely & generously to the Prince of Wales fund – some £300 – its very gratifying seeing that the town stinks of every sort of lie about us.
And Italy. I feel sure she will come in with us, for the loot – Trieste I suppose she will have, Albania in whole or part, I think certainly. Valona at least – there may still be serious trouble here.
It rains & rains – if only German gun wheels were in this mud! & I have to wade the 1½ miles to see my excited old French colleague, who while he feels his loved profits from the arms trade slipping, yet still was born at Nancy the son of a General – so he almost forgets to grieve over Jibuti [sic] closed and over the strict instructins to support Italy (she armed a chief – unwisely at any time - & to him she is a trade rival).
He is in some ways “canaille”, but still he is a Frenchman –
They’re green, French officials – the first thing so far as I know them which they think of is money & the next to escape & savonnade from their Govt. They dare do nothing without instructions, and always do it even then in rather a creepy way. Still he know the country. He has been all over the Argonne from his boyhood - & his son & relations are all fighting
Goodbye my dear – I hope Philip comes out all right. I have written a line to Linnet. He’s a good soldier I should think, & certainly a good staff officer.