20 Dec 1916
My dear Father
Your letter with May’s enclosed came yesterday, and today the book arrived. Thank you for a breath of fresh air from untroubled times; when sanity and tolerance and contemplative philosophy could pursue their avocations without the pangs of an uneasy conscience prickling them to leave all else and make munitions. I don’t know anybody I would read rather than Holmes at the present time. Although he lived through the Secession War, which, I suppose, shook America almost as this has shaken Europe, it does not seem as though he felt the stress of it very keenly. He writes almost as one might write who inhabited a land where wars were not. I shall feel much refreshed to read this book of his; the more, as I did not know it existed.
But I shan’t read it for some while yet. Mr Craig is away on leave and I am having a right down busy time. My shortest day during the last week has been a fourteen hour one and I haven’t had a consecutive hour to myself the whole time. One appreciates the extent of another man’s work more fully when one has to tack his job on to one’s own!
As soon as he returns I shall be faced with the prospect of having both of my senior corporals away on leave at the same time. So far as I am concerned, then, things are lively on the Western Front.
Rosie has had about as busy a time as I have had. From 9.30 to 9 every day and then the journey each way as well; too long a day if it went on for long. But they are now beginning to close down at 6 again. There are no men left in the office now except the Chief Clerk, so Rosie finds that she gets rather a weight of responsibility for she is Mr Marshall’s chief assistant now; when she went there there were five men under him who have all disappeared now leaving their work to be done somehow. Of course they have got several more women clerks in the office.
I don’t at all agree with the view that the German peace offer is a bluff. I think it is deadly earnest although with small hope of success. But just as the Allies can only surmise the state of exhaustion in Germany, so they with the Allies. The possibility that the Allies might be very groggy is worth testing: if it were true, a peace of sorts would probably be arranged. Advisable to try now rather than later when the Allies will have very strong weapons in hand ready for the using. And if nothing comes of the proffer (as nothing will come) – why German people have been shown quite clearly that their Government is not the mere War machine that it has been called. Bound to allay some discontent if not all.
Glad to see that Mesopotamian affair is beginning to develop. I hope the Turks have been tempted to weaken their forces there.
Many thanks for the photograph of you and your granddaughter. What a sturdy little girl she looks. Grown quite out of my knowledge. How the world slips away while the war drags on!
Christmas will be a quiet festival in most homes; in none more than in ours. May it bring you and all of you its quiet reflective happiness; and good hope of peace before another Christmas comes.