Coningsby’s brief leave expired all too soon. We saw him off from Folkestone, and while we were saying good-bye to him, his two brothers were on their way to their distant appointments with the Royal Naval Motor Patrol in the North of Scotland. We left Liverpool for New York on January 27th, and while at sea heard of the diplomatic break between America and Germany. The news was received on board the S.S. St. Paul with rejoicing. It was Sunday, and the religious service on board concluded with the Star-Spangled Banner.
December 28th, 1916.
I’m writing you this letter because I expect to-night is a busy-packing one with you. The picture is in my mind of you all. How splendid it is of you to come! I never thought you would really, not even in my wildest dream of optimism. There have been so many times when I scarcely thought that I would ever see you again—now the unexpected and hoped-for happens. It’s ripping!
I’ve put in an application for special leave in case the ordinary leave should be cut off. I think I’m almost certain to arrive by the 11th. Won’t we have a time? I wonder what we’ll want to do most—sit quiet or go to theatres? The nine days of freedom—the wonderful nine days—will pass with most tragic quickness. But they’ll be days to remember as long as life lasts.
Shall I see you standing on the station when I puff into London—or will it be Folkestone where we meet—or shall I arrive before you? I somehow think it will be you who will meet me at the barrier at Charing Cross, and we’ll taxi through the darkened streets down the Strand, and back to our privacy. How impossible it sounds—like a vision of heart’s desire in the night.
Far, far away I see the fine home-coming, like a lamp burning in a dark night. I expect we shall all go off our heads with joy and be madder than ever. Who in the old London days would have imagined such a nine days of happiness in the old places as we are to have together.
bless you, till we meet,
January 4th, 1917.
MY DEAREST ONES:
This letter is written to welcome you to England, but I may be with you when it is opened. It was glorious news to hear that you were coming—I was only playing a forlorn bluff when I sent those cables. You’re on the sea at present and should be half way over. Our last trip over together you marvelled at the apparent indifference of the soldiers on board, and now you’re coming to meet one of your own fresh from the Front. A change!