February 6, 1916
The enclosed notes have just been handed me both written by Karbiche, who, being the only one of the two who can write, did the honours for Grandpere. (Orderlies). You may not be able to read them – it is almost too much for me- but the fact is they were both terribly excited over the socks. I believe I told you both the poor fellows have their wives in the invaded district. Karbiche has, if it is still alive, a little child whom he has never seen. If they are difficult to manage sometimes, and call for all the tact I can muster, it is not surprising, and I am really much attached to them. Karbiche is not immaculate, and I am trying to change his point of view on this head. I’ll admit it’s a bit difficult, seeing that the only waistcoat he has he took off a dead man at the beginning of the campaign. I am going out to buy him one to-day. One would like to do things like that all the time, but everything is cruelly expensive here, and the actual professional needs are so many that one doesn’t allow oneself too many indulgences on the side….
Yesterday I sent you “Paris Qui Chante” which contains a song and picture of Botrel, the Bard of Brittany, who has done such heroic work singing in hospitals and trenches. He is the author of the popular “Rosalie” –patriotic song. To-day as I was looking over the paper with a patient (imagine having time for that!). I came across this article. So our gallant Botrel is wounded! What a century ago it seems since I used to meet him in the cheery little streets of Pont with his velvet hat set jauntily atilt on his handsome head, whistling one of his airs, and smiling at all those watching young Pontaises whom he made swear, every year at Pardon time, never to abandon their costume! An utterly romantic figure, but without the least touch of poseur. How adorably he sang duets with his wife that day in a sunny glade of the Bois d’Armour; and the night of the Fete everybody in the village came down to hear their poet sing. He sang, and paced up and down the deck of an old barge stranded there on the flats and known as M. Botrel’s Atelier, where he often worked and talked when he came down from his cottage on the hill; and how one would catch his stalwart figure in silhouette against the warm, round moon, and now a stray firework from across the stream would light it up weirdly, and ever the splendid notes rose and fell as if some inspired corsair were encouraging his crew….
Ah me! What a long loop in space I’ve taken and how far from the present. But no Botrel or anybody else could be so impressive as my No. 18, who sang me a patriotic verse last night, beating time with his poor thin hand. It is he who was once the “skeleton’ and whom everybody gave up; but food and massage and constant vigilance have done their work, and he’s saved for his wife and children.
No copyright found- see below.
Volume: Vol. 98, Ser. 5, Vol. 32, Pt. 2
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Phillips & Hunt
Call number: 31833017365757
Digitizing sponsor: Internet Archive
Book contributor: Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
Notes: No copyright page found. This is a digital copy of a photocopied book.
Full catalog record: MARCXML