I want to be there very much, to look after them, poor dears: but I must say that T.A’s view that a place like Kut is desirable to be in per se never fails to amaze me, familiar though it now is. I had another instance of it last night. About twelve of my draft were left behind on various duties when the Coy. went up-river in such a hurry. Hearing that my knee was so much better they sent me a deputy to ask me to make every effort to take them with me if I went up-river. I agreed, of course, but what, as usual, struck me was that the motives I can understand—that one’s duty is with the Coy. when there’s trouble around, or even that it’s nicer to be with one’s pals at Kut than lonely at Amarah—didn’t appear at all. The two things he kept harping on were (1) it’s so dull to miss a “scrap” and (2) there may be a special clasp given for Kut, and we don’t want to miss it. They evidently regard the Coy. at Kut as lucky dogs having a treat: the “treat” when analysed (which they don’t) consisting of 20lb. kits in December, half-rations, more or less regular bombardment, no proper billets, no shops, no letters, and very hard work!
My leg is very decidedly better now. I can walk half-a-mile without feeling any aches, and soon hope to do a mile. There is an obstinate little puffy patch which won’t disappear just beside the knee-cap: but the M.O. says I may increase my walk each day up to the point where it begins to ache.
We have had no rain here for nearly a month; but there are light clouds about which make the most gorgeous sunsets I ever saw.
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I am looking forward to this trek. Four months is a large enough slice of one’s time to spend in Amarah, and there will probably be more interest and fewer battles on this trek than could be got on any other front. The Censor has properly got the breeze up here, so I probably shan’t be able to tell you anything of our movements or to send you any wires: but I will try and let you hear something each week; and if we are away in the desert, we generally arrange—and I will try to—for some officer who is within reach of the post to write you a line saying I am all right (which he hears by wireless) but can’t write. That is what we have been doing for the people at Kut. But there are bound to be gaps, and they will tend to get more frequent and longer as we get further.
No casualties from “A” Coy. for several days: so I hope its main troubles are over.
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Xmas Day, 1915.
... I’m so glad Gwalior was a success. I think a good native state is the most satisfactory kind of Government for India in many ways; but (a) so few are really good, if you go behind the scenes and think of such fussy things as security of life and property, taxation and its proportion to benefits received, justice and administration, education, freedom of the subject, and so on. (b) It spells stagnation and the abandonment of the hope of training the mass of the people to responsibility; but I think that is an academic rather than practical point at present.