Ottawa, July 16th, 1916.
So much has happened since last I saw you that it’s difficult to know where to start. On Thursday, after lunch, I got the news that we were to entrain from Petewawa next Friday morning. I at once put in for leave to go to Ottawa the next day until the following Thursday at reveille. We came here with a lot of the other officers who are going over and have been having a very full time.
I am sailing from a port unknown on board the Olympic with 6,000 troops—there is to be a big convoy. I feel more than ever I did—and I’m sure it’s a feeling that you share since visiting the camp—that I am setting out on a Crusade from which it would have been impossible to withhold myself with honour. I go quite gladly and contentedly, and pray that in God’s good time we may all sit again in the little shack at Kootenay and listen to the rustling of the orchard outside. It will be of those summer days that I shall be thinking all the time.
Yours, with very much love,
Halifax, July 23rd.
My dear ones:
We’ve spent all morning on the dock, seeing to our baggage, and have just got leave ashore for two hours. We have had letters handed to us saying that on no account are we to mention anything concerning our passage overseas, neither are we allowed to cable our arrival from the other side until four clear days have elapsed.
You are thinking of me this quiet Sunday morning at the ranch, and I of you. And I am wishing—As I wish, I stop and ask myself, “Would I be there if I could have my choice?” And I remember those lines of Emerson’s which you quoted:
“Though love repine
and reason chafe,
There comes a voice without reply,
’Twere man’s perdition to be safe,
When for the Truth he ought to die.”
I wouldn’t turn back if I could, but my heart cries out against “the voice which speaks without reply.”
Things are growing deeper with me in all sorts of ways. Family affections stand out so desirably and vivid, like meadows green after rain. And religion means more. The love of a few dear human people and the love of the divine people out of sight, are all that one has to lean on in the graver hours of life. I hope I come back again—I very much hope I come back again; there are so many finer things that I could do with the rest of my days—bigger things. But if by any chance I should cross the seas to stay, you’ll know that that also will be right and as big as anything that I could do with life, and something that you’ll be able to be just as proud about as if I had lived to fulfil all your other dear hopes for me. I don’t suppose I shall talk of this again. But I wanted you to know that underneath all the lightness and ambition there’s something that I learnt years ago in Highbury. I’ve become a little child again in God’s hands, with full confidence in His love and wisdom, and a growing trust that whatever He decides for me will be best and kindest.