Since September I have been less than a month out of action. The game doesn’t pall as time goes on—it fascinates. We’ve got to win so that men may never again be tortured by the ingenious inquisition of modern warfare. The winning of the war becomes a personal affair to the chaps who are fighting. The world which sits behind the lines, buys extra specials of the daily papers and eats three square meals a day, will never know what this other world has endured for its safety, for no man of this other world will have the vocabulary in which to tell. But don’t for a moment mistake me—we’re grimly happy.
What a serial I’ll write for you if I emerge from this turmoil! Thank God, my outlook is all altered. I don’t want to live any longer—only to live well.
Good-bye and good luck.
February 5th, 1917.
My Dearest Mother:
Aren’t the papers good reading now-a-days with nothing to record but success? It gives us hope that at last, anyway before the year is out, the war must end. As you know, I am at the artillery school back of the lines for a month, taking an extra course. I have been meeting a great many young officers from all over the world and have listened to them discussing their program for when peace is declared. Very few of them have any plans or prospects. Most of them had just started on some course of professional training to which they won’t have the energy to go back after a two years’ interruption. The question one asks is how will all these men be reabsorbed into civilian life. I’m afraid the result will be a vast host of men with promising pasts and highly uncertain futures. We shall be a holiday world without an income. I’m afraid the hero-worship attitude will soon change to impatience when the soldiers beat their swords into ploughshares and then confess that they have never been taught to plough. That’s where I shall score—by beating my sword into a pen. But what to write about—! Everything will seem so little and inconsequential after seeing armies marching to mud and death, and people will soon get tired of hearing about that. It seems as though