Good-bye for the present.
Yours ever lovingly,
December 6th, 1916.
I’ve just undone your Christmas parcels, and already I am wearing the waistcoat and socks, and my mouth is hot with the ginger.
I expect to get leave for England on January 10th. I do wish it might be possible for some of you to cross the ocean and be in London with me—and I don’t see what there is to prevent you. Unless the war ends sooner than any of us expect, it is not likely that I shall get another leave in less than nine months. So, if you want to come and if there’s time when you receive this letter, just hop on a boat and let’s see what London looks like together.
I wonder what kind of a Christmas you’ll have. I shall picture it all. You may hear me tiptoeing up the stairs if you listen very hard. Where does the soul go in sleep? Surely mine flies back to where all of you dear people are.
I came back to my farm yesterday to find a bouquet of paper flowers at the head of my bed with a note pinned on it. Over my fire-place was hung a pathetic pair of farm-girls’ heavy Sunday boots, all brightly polished, with two other notes pinned on them. The Feast of St. Nicholas on December 7th is an opportunity for unmarried men to be reminded that there are unmarried girls in the world—wherefore the flowers. I enclose the notes. Keep them,—they may be useful for a book some day.
I’m having a pretty good rest, and am still in my old farmhouse.
December 15th, 1916.
At the present I’m just where mother hoped I’d be—in a deep dug-out about twenty feet down—we’re trying to get a fire lighted, and consequently the place is smoked out. Where I’ll be for Christmas I don’t know, but I hope by then to be in billets. I’ve just come back from the trenches, where I’ve been observing. The mud is not nearly so bad where I am now, and with a few days’ more work, we should be quite comfortable. You’ll have received my cable about my getting leave soon—I’m wondering whether the Atlantic is sufficiently quiet for any of you to risk a crossing.
Poor Basil! Your letter was the first news I got of his death. I must have watched the attack in which he lost his life. One wonders now how it was that some instinct did not warn me that one of those khaki dots jumping out of the trenches was the cousin who stayed with us in London.
I’m wondering what this mystery of the German Chancellor is all about—some peace proposals, I suppose—which are sure to prove bombastic and unacceptable. It seems to us out here as though the war must go on forever. Like a boy’s dream of the far-off freedom of manhood, the day appears when we shall step out into the old liberty of owning our own lives. What a celebration we’ll have when I come home! I can’t quite grasp the joy of it.