It’s strange to be back and under orders after nine days’ freedom. Directly I landed I was detailed to march a party—it was that that made me lose my train—not that I objected, for I got one more sleep between sheets. I picked up on the boat in the casual way one does, with three other officers, so on landing we made a party to dine together, and had a very decent evening. I wasn’t wanting to remember too much then, so that was why I didn’t write letters.
What good times we have to look back on and how much to be thankful for, that we met altogether. Now we must look forward to the summer and, perhaps, the end of the war. What a mad joy will sweep across the world on the day that peace is declared!
This visit will have made you feel that you have a share in all that’s happening over here and are as real a part of it as any of us. I’m awfully proud of you for your courage.
January 26th, 1917.
MY VERY DEAR ONES:
Here I am back—my nine days’ leave a dream. I got into our wagon-lines last night after midnight, having had a cold ride along frozen roads through white wintry country. I was only half-expected, so my sleeping-bag hadn’t been unpacked. I had to wake my batman and tramp about a mile to the billet; by the time I got there every one was asleep, so I spread out my sleeping-sack and crept in very quietly. For the few minutes before my eyes closed I pictured London, the taxis, the gay parties, the mystery of lights. I was roused this morning with the news that I had to go up to the gun-position at once. I stole just sufficient time to pick up a part of my accumulated mail, then got on my horse and set out. At the guns, I found that I was due to report as liaison officer, so here I am in the trenches again writing to you by candle-light. How wonderfully we have bridged the distance in spending those nine whole days together. And now it is over, and I am back in the trenches, and to-morrow you’re sailing for New York.
I can’t tell you what the respite has meant to me. There have been times when my whole past life has seemed a myth and the future an endless prospect of carrying on. Now I can distantly hope that the old days will return.
When I was in London half my mind was at the Front; now that I’m back in the trenches half my mind is in London. I re-live our gay times together; I go to cosy little dinners; I sit with you in the stalls, listening to the music; then I tumble off to sleep, and dream, and wake up to find the dream a delusion. It’s a fine and manly contrast, however, between the game one plays out here and the fretful trivialities of civilian life.