Here I am in France with the same strange smells and street cries, and almost the same little boys bowling hoops over the very cobbly cobble stones. I had afternoon tea at a patisserie and ate a great many gateaux for the sake of old times. We had a very choppy crossing, and you would most certainly have been sick had you been on board. It seemed to me that I must be coming on one of those romantic holidays to see churches and dead history—only the khaki-clad figures reminded me that I was coming to see history in the making. It’s a funny world that batters us about so. It’s three years since I was in France—the last time was with Arthur in Provence. It’s five years since you and I did our famous trip together.
I wish you were here—there are heaps of English nurses in the streets. I expect to sleep in this place and proceed to my destination to-morrow. How I wish I could send you a really descriptive letter! If I did, I fear you would not get it—so I have to write in generalities. None of this seems real—it’s a kind of wild pretence from which I shall awake-and when I tell you my dream you’ll laugh and say, “How absurd of you, dreaming that you were a soldier. I must say you look like it.”
Good-bye, my dearest girl,
God bless you,
September 8th, 1916.
My dearest ones:
I’m sending this to meet you on your return from Kootenay. I left England on September 1st and had a night at my point of disembarkation, and then set off on a wandering adventure in search of my division. I’m sure you’ll understand that I cannot enter into any details—I can only give you general and purely personal impressions. There were two other officers with me, both from Montreal. We had to picnic on chocolate and wine for twenty-four hours through our lack of forethought in not supplying ourselves with food for the trip. I shaved the first morning with water from the exhaust of a railroad engine, having first balanced my mirror on the step. The engineer was fascinated with my safety razor. There were Tommies from the trenches in another train, muddied to the eyes—who showed themselves much more resourceful. They cooked themselves quite admirable meals as they squatted on the rails, over little fires on which they perched tomato cans. Sunday evening we saw our first German prisoners—a young and degenerate-looking lot. Sunday evening we got off at a station in the rain, and shouldered our own luggage. Our luggage, by the way, consists of a sleeping bag, in which much of our stuff is packed, and a kit sack—for an immediate change and toilet articles one carries a haversack hung across the shoulder. Well, as I say, we alighted and coaxed a military wagon to come to our rescue. As we set off through a drizzling rain, trudging behind the cart, a double rainbow shone, which I took for