You know how I’ve longed to sleep between sheets; I can now, but find them so cold that I still use my sleeping bag—such is human inconsistency. But yesterday I had a boiling bath—as good a bath as could be found in a New York hotel—and I am CLEAN.
I woke up this morning to hear some one singing Casey Jones—consequently I thought of former Christmases. My mind has been travelling back very much of late. Suddenly I see something here which reminds me of the time when E. and I were at Lisieux, or even of our Saturday excursions to Nelson when we were all together at the ranch.
Did I tell you that B., our officer who was wounded two months ago, has just returned to us. This morning he got news that his young brother has been killed in the place which we have left. I wonder when we shall grow tired of stabbing and shooting and killing. It seems to me that the war cannot end in less than two years.
I have made myself nice to the Brigade interpreter and he has found me a delightful room with electric light and a fire. It’s in an old farmhouse with a brick terrace in front. My room is on the ground floor and tile-paved. The chairs are rush-bottomed and there are old quaint china plates on the shelves. There is also a quite charming mademoiselle. So you see, you don’t need to pity me any more.
Just at present I’m busy getting up the Brigade Christmas Entertainment. The Colonel asked me to do it, otherwise I should have said no, as I want all the time I can get to myself. You can’t think how jolly it is to sit again in a room which is temporarily yours after living in dug-outs, herded side by side with other men. I can be me now, and not a soldier of thousands when I write. You shall hear from me again soon. Hope you’re having a ripping time in London.
December 5th, 1916.
I’ve just come in from my last tour of inspection as orderly officer, and it’s close on midnight. I’m getting this line off to you to let you know that I expect to get my nine days’ leave about the beginning of January. How I wish it were possible to have you in London when I arrive, or, failing that, to spend my leave in New York!
To-morrow I make an early start on horseback for a market of the old-fashioned sort which is held at a town near by. Can you dimly picture me with my groom, followed by a mess-cart, going from stall to stall and bartering with the peasants? It’ll be rather good fun and something quite out of my experience.
Christmas will be over by the time you get this, and I do hope that you had a good one. I paused to talk to the other officers; they say that they are sure that you are very beautiful and have a warm heart, and would like to send them a five-storey layer cake, half a dozen bottles of port and one Paris chef. At present I am the Dives of the mess and dole out luxuries to these Lazaruses.