He was writing regularly to Nona and regularly hearing from her. He never could quite make out where she was, addressing her only to her symbol in the Field post-office. She was car driving and working very long hours. There was one letter that he never posted but of the existence of which he permitted himself to tell her. “I carry it about with me always in my Pay-book. It is addressed to you. If ever I get outed it will go to you. In it I have said everything that I have never said to you but that you know without my saying it. There’ll be no harm in your hearing it from my own hand if I’m dead. I keep on adding to it. Every time we come back into rest, I add a little more. It all could be said in the three words we have never said to one another. But all the words that I could ever write would never say them to you as I feel them. There! I must say no more of it. I ought not to have said so much.”
And she wrote, “Marko, I can read your letter, every line of it. I lie awake, Marko, and imagine it to myself—word by word, line by line; and word by word, line by line, in the same words and in the same lines, I answer it. So when you read it to yourself for me, read it for yourself from me. Oh, Marko—
“That I ever shall have cause to read it in actual fact I pray God never to permit. But so many women are praying for so many men, and daily—. So I am praying beyond that: for myself; for strength, if anything should happen to you, to turn my heart to God. You see, then I can say, ‘God keep you—in any amazement.’”
Early in December he wrote to Mabel:
“A most extraordinary thing has happened. I’m coming home! I shall be with you almost on top of this. It’s too astonishing. I’ve suddenly been told that I’m one of five men in the battalion who have been selected to go home to an Officer Cadet battalion for a commission. Don’t jump to the conclusion that I’m the Pride of the Regiment or anything like that. It’s simply due to two things: one that this is not the kind of battalion with many men who would think of taking commissions; the other that both my platoon officer and the captain of my company happen to be Old Tidburians and, as I’ve told you, have often been rather decent to me. So when this chance came along the rest was easy. I know you’ll be glad. You’ve never liked the idea of my being in the ranks. But it’s rather wonderful, isn’t it? I hope to be home on the third and I go to the Cadet battalion, at Cambridge, on the fifth.”
Two days later he started, very high of spirit, for England. As he was leaving the village where the battalion was resting—his immediate programme the adventure of “lorry-jumping” to the railhead—the mail came in and brought him a letter from Mabel. It had crossed his own and a paragraph in it somehow damped the tide of his spirits.