May 12th 1915
My own dear Cyril
When I came in from a walk last evening I found your letter to me re-addressed to Aunt Clemmie! You had better put my Christian name or else perhaps Aunt Clemmie will be receiving your letters instead of me! Even the initial is not sufficient as another letter with the initial M was re-addressed to Hope, the M being mistaken for an H! I was very glad I got in in time to stop it being posted, although I think Aunt Clemmie would have minded opening it more than I should have minded her doing so, because it would be very embarrassing to open someone else’s – what the world would call – love-letters.
Uncle Harry wants me to stay a little longer if possible, because Aunt Clemmie will be away until tomorrow week, perhaps longer if Hope is not on the mend by then. The general opinion about this event is that it is rather soon for her to be tied down, she has had to be kept so much to herself ever since she was married, and she is very young and eager to enjoy life. The worst part of it is that when she married this possibility never entered her head, and everyone is wondering whether she will settle down to domestic life or whether the child will just grow like Topsy, while Hope is off to tennis etc.
This place teems with soldiers. There is a camp one can see through the trees at the bottom of the garden which interests me and Dora very much, and a house next door full of them. They are billeted in all the empty houses, 200 at a time if the house is a big one.
The Liverpool Scottish and some other Lancashire Regiments are the ones I’ve seen about most. The former are very fine men and even the privates are gentlemen, but the others look rather shoddy, as though they came from the Lancashire mills.
This letter progresses very slowly – I am writing in Aunt Clemmie’s boudoir which is now upstairs, and Uncle Harry has his bedroom downstairs so as to be on one floor all the time. Dora is working and chatting at the same time – she can really be most amusing at times and has been describing a recent visit to Aldershot, to stay with Colonel and Mrs Manley, cousins of ours. Her descriptions of the various people she met are really excellent; she sees a great deal more than she appears to see, and I’ve been quite entertained hearing her retail her experiences – at the same time your letter suffers somewhat!
I heard from Aunt Jessie yesterday. She has been most unfortunate – her parlour-maid, a fairly new maid, developed symptoms of diabetes on a Thursday, on Friday she took her home, on Saturday the girl was in a state of coma and on Sunday she was dead. A few days after, Auntie’s housemaid was run over by a motor car and sprained her hip and is lying helpless, and now Mrs Harris, the cook, has such a bad throat that Auntie has been obliged to send her away for a holiday.
So Auntie has had to turn round and make other arrangements for her Belgians. She has managed, through the Belgian Committee to get them a flat rent free – not very far away I think. They grew very fond of one another and the children twined themselves into her heart.
Father has not been giving Uncle Harry much trouble lately but has been suffering from acute neuritis, and a doctor he has consulted thinks he will get better if he has some of his teeth out.
Uncle Harry is rather amusing the way he fusses about taking his medicines, especially his cod liver oil and malt. He says, “Beastly stuff – so beastly sticky. Got to take your teeth out first before you can take the beastly stuff. Then you uncork the beastly bottle – next process is you’ve got to wash your hands, they’re so beastly sticky. Next the spoon – and after taking the beastly stuff you wash the spoon. Then you cork up the beastly stuff and get your hands all sticky again. Another wash which extends to beard and moustache. Ugh – beastly stuff!!!” He says he is feeling much better so evidently the treatment is the right one even though he himself appears to suspect the diagnosis.
I heard from Matron yesterday. She says I shall be sent for as soon as accommodation can be got ready for the extra staff.
We did not go to see Aunt Mamie yesterday because she said she had a friend who was ill, had had an accident, but I think we are going at the end of the week.
Now Dora is alone with me, she tells me all her love affairs, which seem to be of a simple nature but quite numerous! I like her telling me but can never understand girls talking about these things even to one another – at least I mean going into details. She has “grown up” as you might say, since last August, I am sure you would notice a difference.
I still feel a bit lost without you – the zest seems taken out of life. I felt a bit seedy on Sunday. I think I was fired on from excitement of being with you again – Monday I felt pretty low and yesterday but am feeling less down today. Although I love seeing you and being with you, it seems to take it out of me. It must be because it is an effort to be bright and throw forebodings of ill-luck in the future to the winds.
So the ninth division is on its way out – I hope it will make an impression on the Germans! If many of the regiments are composed of such fine men as the Liverpool Scottish, the Germans won’t stand much chance when the New Army goes to the front.
I must stop now dear and write to Wilfred. All my best love, I am looking forward to hearing again although I only heard from you yesterday.
Ever your devoted