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January 6th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

6th January 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, The Nurses' Home, The General Hospital, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, The Officers' Mess, Bhurtpore Barracks, Tidworth, near Andover
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

The Nurses’ Home, The General Hos, Birmingham

Jan 6th 1915

My Darling

Twenty-seven years ago today I was baptized.  I communicated on Sunday morning last and tried to renew the promises my godparents made for me.  I was so glad to get your nice letter, dear, it put new heart in to me.  I am feeling happier already in my new work and less tired as each day passes. 

Today Sister has been very decent to me and I think she is satisfied that I am making progress; one of the other nurses told me she told her that I had picked up the routine very quickly.  We have only eleven operations tomorrow!  Between 10 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.  Three theatres going and I have to dash from one to the other whenever I am most required!

I am very glad, my Love, that you were quite honest with me and did not say I had never disappointed you in even the smallest thing.  I should have been very disappointed in you if you had, for although I often tease you if you say anything nice to me, just because it is irresistible to me, you are so delightful to tease, nevertheless I know you would never falsely flatter me.  We are too much to each other for it to be necessary to be anything else but absolutely open with one another.  If you had said you had never been even slightly disappointed in me, I should have thought it very strange, for I have been conscious on more than one occasion of failing you on some little point although just at this moment I cannot recall every occasion.  Very often I must annoy you in small ways because (I must admit it) out of sheer “cussedness” I like to let myself down to you because I know your opinion of me is too exalted, though of course I know it is a perfectly sincere judgement on your part.

Another thing I’ve often thought must annoy you and yet in my stupid shyness or “cussedness” I hardly know what to call it, I persist in doing it.  Sometimes in the mornings after breakfast when the others have left the room and you have wished to kiss me I have given you a perfunctory sort of good morning and not behaved at all nicely to you.

I am conscious of this because when I have summoned up courage to return your dear loving good morning kiss you have been so pleased and have remarked as much.  Now that there is a possibility of my losing you I feel how unfair I have sometimes been.  But it is only on the surface – in my heart of hearts I have simply yearned to put my arms round your neck and quite simply and naturally return your morning kiss.  It is a kind of shyness really that prevents me responding.

Then I know on religious matters I often annoy you – but don’t you think, Sweetheart, we are getting to understand one another even on this point.  It may take years for us to attain to perfect sympathy, but don’t you think it will make our “life” (note the noun singular) more interesting in consequence?

I expect you remember my telling you that you have changed a good deal in the last three months or so and that I liked the change, and that I felt we thought more like each other than we used to do.  Any little feelings of disappointment I may have had as regards you have only been about things which do not really matter and which I would rather you were altogether without than that you should have them to too great an extent.  I wonder if you will think me very horrid if I tell you what I mean.  I’ve often thought I would try and say this but it is not of vital importance, only it is just something I have always been accustomed to and now that you have really unconsciously put right what I found lacking, I do not so much mind telling you.

This last time we were together I noticed how very much more attentive and observant you were in the little courtesies of everyday life, such as opening the door sometimes for me or your Mother and letting her go out first in front of you.  Don’t think me a snob to say this to you – it is not meant in that spirit at all.  I know that you, yourself, are absolutely chivalrous and courteous, far more so than most of the men who appear to be so outwardly and therefore I knew that if I waited long enough things in this respect would right themselves, and they have, and it gave me much joy to find your real character coming out in your actions this last time I was with you.  I think the reason it has done so is because you had formerly been so accustomed to being with your women folk that you grew accustomed to them, as it were, and this “break” right away from the feminine element has just adjusted things, and you have done as your heart dictated and put your true self into actions.

I am sure you will in your turn tell me truthfully now what you have seen amiss in me, in return for the trust I place in your affection for me by my having dared to write what I have to you about what is really after all a trifling matter and one that would never have made any vital difference to me.

Aunt Jessie wrote the other day finally fixing up my allowance at £1 a month to be sent to me at the beginning of each month.  She is feeling expenses, income tax etc very heavy owing to this war or else she says she would make me a bigger allowance.

Goodnight, Love of my Life, I would like you to tell me anything you have seen amiss in me in a letter as we do not know when we may have an opportunity of saying it by word of mouth - and if we do not meet before you go abroad we can in the meantime set to work to put right the little failings which we each have seen in the other.

A little thought came into my head on reading your letter today, namely, that if ever God sends us a son, I am sure he will wish to be a doctor, for he is almost bound to inherit the love of chemistry etc from you and much the same sort of thing from me.  The thought is always in my mind, the perfecting of my character, mentally and spiritually so that your children and mine will some day inherit something worth having.  If God in His Infinite Wisdom sees fit to take you from me and thus deprive us of the joy of parenthood, you at least will have had the knowledge that I tried my best to become a good woman.  God bless you dear Heart.

All my love from your own


Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 double sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference