12 Charleville Circus
May 12 1916
My dear May
Many thanks for your letter. I was so very glad to get a little news of you all and also to see Arthur’s letter and the lines which are very beautiful and touching. I have taken a copy of them. I am glad Ada is better and hope you have had a fairly restful week. Thank Father for sending on George’s letter. He was so glad to get my first letter with many little details about those last days. He says, “It was what I wanted to have told me. Every little thing is so precious.” He had had a very nice letter from Rosie, who can recall a similar great grief at her father’s death. George says that although we had left him in no doubt about the weakness of dear little Mother’s condition, yet he had hoped there was no immediate danger and the sudden news came as a great shock. He says, “I can still scarcely realize it. The idea of home without her seems an impossible one. If in anticipation of the worst, the reality is far harder than it has been possible to imagine. And yet in some ways it is easier. The way at her end was so fitting to her whole life. Age had approved of Youth and Death completed the same with due quietness and dignity. You give me so true a picture of her – calm, unselfish, unafraid; living her life up to the very last as she had always done; with no sudden effort to redeem the past at the very end – there was no need; and then quietly handing back to the Great Giver his gift of life not besmirched but enabled. With some people one feels that death comes as a catastrophe. With her it was just a fulfilment. I feel that sorrow is quite overwhelmed by thankfulness and pride.” Later on he says, “Boo will be glad that her last letter was to him. I treasure too the last she wrote to me. It was written on the 19th and though she confessed that writing tired her, she wrote so brightly, was pleased with the reassuring news of Cyril, gave me news of Mary and various other people, joked about her ‘chariot’ which she regarded with gratitude but no pride, and filled the whole letter with a spirit of enjoyment and almost of vigour. I feel now that she simulated more vigour than she had in order to keep us reassured about her.”
Since I have been back I have written a long letter to Cyril for the Indian mail and told him many things, especially those that happened up to the 30th; other people I know have written very fully about the later time. Tomorrow I think I shall go over to Eltham. It is Jack’s long day and I do not feel I could bear a whole long day alone; besides I must go over soon. I have written to Aunt Fanny to suggest that Jack and I should go down there on Sunday week and she writes that it will be quite convenient. She tells me that Charles Capon is in hospital at Salonica but they do not know yet what is wrong. Frank and Joe had been with them and they hoped to see Fred over on leave shortly. She herself had not been so well again. I do wonder if this Friday has brought another letter from Cyril.
I think I must write a few lines to Betty this evening. I wonder how she has been getting on, poor child. I hope she has not found it as hard as I have to work with any interest or energy. I hope next week will not be too hard for you. I am more rested now. How is Father? I will write to him on Sunday. Much love to you all.
PS – I stupidly left at home my old black straw hat. I really meant to take the roses off and use it to save my new one. I think perhaps I had better get you to send it by post. Will you let me have the address of the agents for Johnson’s at Upper Norwood to whom my things were to be sent in case they do not come before long.