God bless you all,
October 14th, 1916.
I’m still all right and well. To-day I had the funniest experience of my life—got caught in a Hun curtain of fire and had to lie on my tummy for two hours in a trench with the shells bursting five yards from me—and never a scratch. You know how I used to wonder what I’d do under such circumstances. Well, I laughed. All I could think of was the sleek people walking down Fifth Avenue, and the equally sleek crowds taking tea at the Waldorf. It struck me as ludicrous that I, who had been one of them, should be lying there lunchless. For a little while I was slightly deaf with the concussions.
That poem keeps on going through my head,
Oh, to come home once more, when
the dusk is falling,
To see the nursery lighted and the children’s table spread;
“Mother, mother, mother!” the eager voices calling,
“The baby was so sleepy that he had to go to bed!”
Wouldn’t it be good, instead of sitting in a Hun dug-out?
October 15th, 1916.
We’re still in action, but are in hopes that soon we may be moved to winter quarters. We’ve had our taste of mud, and are anxious to move into better quarters before we get our next. I think I told you that our O.C. had got wounded in the feet, and our right section commander got it in the shoulder a little earlier—so we’re a bit short-handed and find ourselves with plenty of work.
I have curiously lucid moments when recent happenings focus themselves in what seems to be their true perspective. The other night I was Forward Observation officer on one of our recent battlefields. I had to watch the front all night for signals, etc. There was a full white moon sailing serenely overhead, and when I looked at it I could almost fancy myself back in the old melancholy pomp of autumn woodlands where the leaves were red, not with the colour of men’s blood. My mind went back to so many by-gone days-especially to three years ago. I seemed so vastly young then, upon reflection. For a little while I was full of regrets for many things wasted, and then I looked at the battlefield with its scattered kits and broken rifles. Nothing seemed to matter very much. A rat came out-then other rats. I stood there feeling extraordinarily aloof from all things that can hurt, and—you’ll smile—I planned a novel. O, if I get back, how differently I shall write! When you’ve faced the worst in so many forms, you lose your fear and arrive at peace. There’s a marvellous grandeur about all this carnage and desolation—men’s souls rise above the distress—they have to in order to survive. When you see how cheap men’s bodies are you cannot help but know that the body is the least part of personality.