In this new and terrible war, the Ladies do not mourn the fallen. Gone are the quiet vigils by candlelight, gone are the days spent remembering and saluting the recent dead, gone too are the innumerable small cups of tea in delicate porcelain drunk to the salvation of the army. Instead the Ladies heap abuse on them:
“If they would not stay and love us, how should we love them now that they are gone beyond all caring?”
“He has run to the great whore Death like any other eager pimp.”
Abuse hangs on every lip and fills every carefully crafted letter sent to the front. Deserters and the dishonorably discharged are celebrated as the last glimpse of fading nobility, while departing recruits are showered with stones and offal, harbinger of more deadly shellings to come.
The ministers plead with the Ladies in frustrated confusion, beg them to return to the shadowed wells, the green cress that stains the mouth, the crystal cups of sorbet, but the Ladies are unmoved. They do not change their ways, do not return to the old patience. They do not explain themselves.
The Ladies are angry, and growing in anger. Their rage is slowly building toward some obscure and frightful crisis. They bide their time, and simmer.