THE SCENE IN BELGIUM
The conditions under which we started our work are illuminated by a letter from Francqui on November 18, 1914--a month after our meeting in London:
. . . our position is, I assure you, a really painful one; here we are isolated from all! There is neither telephone, telegraph nor railway.
If one wishes to send a telegram, it must first be submitted to the German authorities, and one never knows when the telegram will reach its destination. For instance, Mr. Hulse sent a wire to Mons on the 7th of November, and same only reached the person to whom it was sent 8 days later.
As to [our transport of] wheat to the different parts of the country, it is only with great difficulty, and after several days' discussion, that permission to attach one or two cars to a military train going in the direction of one or other district is obtained. For instance, for the past ten days we are endeavouring, but in vain, to send some flour to Charleroi, where there is absolutely no bread. We are refused under pretext that "so far military needs have not required the sending of a train in this direction.". . . There are hardly any more horses, as they have been requisitioned. Even if horses were to be had, it would be impossible to cart the provisions as nobody can leave the town he lives in without having a permit from the German Government. To obtain a permit eight days are required, if it be granted, because 99 times out of 100 it is simply refused.
In order to understand our position, let me mention the following cases taken from a thousand others. I have friends living at from 50 to 60 kilometers from Brussels, with whom, in spite of many efforts on my part