20 July 1916
My dear Betty
If I don't take time by the forelock this letter will have to be addressed to Badsey, not to Highgate. But I want it to go to Highgate, chiefly for the sentimental interest of knowing that it is the last that I shall write to you there.
I wish you could leave the school in more happy circumstances. It is hateful to think of old Miss Lacey, who has wrought so nobly for so long, being gripped by the effects of the war just at the end of her term of service and having so hard a time. Did she but lack a score of her years she would fight it out cheerfully and successfully enough, I don't doubt. It is just the facts of her age and failing health that make it so distressing.
So you don't think anything of what you did in your Matric attempt! Perhaps after all you will get a surprise; such things do happen in exams - mostly the wrong way round, though. Anyway, it is not worth worrying - "it never was worth wh-ile" in the words of the marching song.
The last letter I had from Kathleen left me in no doubt but that she is thoroughly fed up with the adverse run of fortune. I wonder whether her great ability will ever get its chance and its recognition. She will do well, in any case to get out of Sydenham. It is as pleasant a place as one could pick to live in - provided one can go elsewhere for society or import society from elsewhere when required. But the people there are horribly confined in their views - more commonplace, I think, then even the average respectable upper-middler. To live with them long is like living in a jar of treacle. I was happy enough there, but I never had to depend upon the people of the place for companionship or I should never have stopped there.
I am very sorry about Cecil Brown Constable. Wounded and missing is a beastly report. I hope something definite will be heard soon. Mela has had to bear a great deal of anxiety up till now, and this is worse than all.
Apparently City-women (unlike City-men) do not indulge in long luncheon hours! But Rosie tells me that she will at any rate be able to take tea with you. I am very disappointed that she will have no holiday to spend at Badsey this summer. I should so much have liked her to spend at least a week with you all.
As to leave. I don't expect to get it any earlier than Arthur’s. I see no reason why it should be renewed until the crux of this great business is passed. We expect (and obtain, as I am very glad to see) the whole-hearted renunciation of holidays by munition workers and I think it is only reasonable that the same rule should apply here. It makes no substantial difference, of course, if a few men per unit go home each week; but one cannot expect folks at home to understand the need for single-minded effort unless the army also devotes everything to the task in hand.
Yes, I can easily understand how the little incident you described at the end of your letter seemed to rise up and hit you. It gave me exactly the same sensation when I read it. Father must have realised so well how often he had said almost the same thing. It must have taken an effort to make it appear effortless.
Much love from