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April 29th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

29th April 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, 9th Worcesters, Officers' Mess, Blackdown Camp, near Farnborough
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Seward House, Badsey

29th April 1915

My own dear Cyril

I am beginning a letter to you tonight but am not going to post it until tomorrow in case I hear from you tomorrow and so need perhaps to answer anything.

Have you realized, dear, that this is THE WEEKEND of two years ago? Doesn't it seem ever so much more than that, so much has happened since then? I don't think either of us regrets my decision on the Monday; I certainly don't and I have a kind of sneaky feeling that you don't either! Ahem!

My present will arrive for the 5th although I should have preferred to send it for Monday, but I am waiting to hear what you want so I'm afraid I cannot get it in time to send for Monday. You really were a clever boy to think out such a nice surprise for me before I had to return to that odious place at St Leonard's. It certainly made things more bearable for me there to have your letters and happy thoughts of you.

Darling, whatever the future may hold in store for us, we have had these two years. They have taught us both many lessons, from which I think we have profited. One of the things they have taught me is that a man's love is worth more than anything else in this world, and is a thing not lightly to be held but valued above all else. They have renewed my faith in men in general, given me a higher opinion of their characters. Oh, I've learnt ever such a lot, things which have helped to make a better woman of me. In return you must tell me, darling, how these two years have affected your life. To me, you are very different to the boy who proposed to me on that May 5th, much dearer, infinitely nearer, and so much more mine, mine by every word of love you've uttered.

I want you to know, definitely, once and for all, that if in this war you should be wounded, never mind how badly, I shall still want you, even if I have to work to keep the house together, instead of you. This may mean us sacrificing one of our dearest hopes, but we should still have each other, which would not be possible if we remained unmarried. I shall be thinking of two years ago all through this weekend and shall pray that another year will see us together again.

I see in today’s Telegraph that Dr Baker of the Imperial College of Science is at the front with Dr Haldane, Lord Haldane’s brother, investigating the matter of these poisonous gases. The former, from the tone of his letters, must be very pleased to be able to be of so much service to his country. Would you like us to send you some of these respirators which are to be used to prevent asphyxiation from these gases, or are you already supplied with these?

I came down immediately after breakfast today – and sat out in the garden until about eleven and then strolled over to see Mrs Ashwin, returning about twelve for a siesta. After dinner, your mother, Kath and I went for a drive, first of all going to Evesham to do some shopping, and then making a round by the Worcester Road and back through the town. The country was lovely, the scent of the wallflowers simply delicious, the dark brown flowers looking so rich under the shelter of the plum trees.

To my great sorrow I had to part with some of my £5 for clothes. Clothes really are a bore - I refuse to look shabby and yet I don't want to be extravagant. My summer hat promises to be quite "chic" although inexpensive. It is white, but the brim underneath is covered with the palest of shell pink crepe de chine and round the crown a wreath of sweet little pink and white country daisies, the tiny ones that grow on lawns, relieved with narrow black velvet ribbon. Don't you think it sounds rather bewitching? It is the kind of hat that would have gone with that pink and white dress you liked so much, indeed I was wearing it at Sydenham two years ago. Then I got a cheap but pretty muslin blouse with little pink roses on a white ground to go with my grey coat and skirt. I next invested in some material to make some new - dare I whisper it - nighties, which will keep me employed during the week.

I wrote and asked Matron for a week's extension of leave and she wrote very kindly saying she does not wish me to return to work until I am perfectly fit, giving no definite date. She really is an awfully good sort and very considerate.

Friday morning - I was broken off at the end of last page to go to bed as it was 10 pm! So I had to obey orders!

I came down to breakfast this morning and found a parcel waiting for me. Thank you, sweetheart, ever so much for your nice present. I like it very much indeed and think it is such a sensible choice as one can really depend on it keeping locked. As you say, so many of these cases have inferior locks. You choose presents awfully well, dear, and could not have chosen a case I should have liked better. It is a thing which will prove very useful as I had nothing in which to lock up money or jewellery, and being so strong it will last for years.

I shall probably be going into Evesham on Monday and will then purchase some khaki handkerchiefs. Every time you blow your nose you must think of me!!!

What jolly decent pay you are getting now. Don't save too much and deprive yourself of anything that will make life more bearable abroad. It certainly seems a wise thing to do to invest your capital (ahem!). I believe railways are usually considered pretty safe, but I don't know much about these things. I expect the man you mention will know the safest thing to invest in.

Kath heard from George again yesterday. His address, in case you want to write, is No 4 Garage, No 14 Base Hospital Boulogne-sur-Mer.

His first letter from there was headed No 5 Garage so he has evidently had a move. He is finding life rather a bore and is awfully sick at being out of things just when they promised to be exciting.

I am feeling much stronger, dear - the only uncomfortable thing is a curious weakness in my left knee, it suddenly gives way at unexpected moment! It doesn't hurt much. Influenza has a nasty way of leaving you with some weak spot just to remind you that you've had it.

I must ask Cecil if he has come across B M Jones.

Ellen, the new maid, is slowly but surely getting into things. She has one excellent point which atones for many other failings, she is scrupulously clean and woe betide anyone who untidies her kitchen once she has got it straight. She is quite a character and not one of the present-day giddy girls, she can just read and write but has had no other kind of education owing to having been ill most of her childhood. She has two brothers on active service, one has had to have his leg amputated and her young man is abroad too. To look at her, you cannot imagine her the embodiment of all that a young man would fancy! But evidently he knows her stolid work!

I sent Nurse Sampson some flowers yesterday. She is feeling a bit down on her luck, thinking she has failed her exam.

Ethel and I went to the Intercession service last night. Ethel spoke to Mrs Bayliss often; she continues to have good news of her husband although about a week ago someone brought her the news that the Evesham Territorials had been asphyxiated by those poisonous gases. It is too bad of people to set these rumours afloat, for there is no truth in it, but for the time being made Mrs Bayliss most unhappy.

I am feeling a bit tired now, darling, so think I will go and sit out in the garden. It is another perfectly lovely day.

All my heart's love, dear old fellow, and thank you again ever so much for the nice present. You mustn't get promoted too quickly again or you'll be getting stoney. God bless you, love.

Ever your own devoted

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 4 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference