12 Charleville Circus
May 31 1916
My dear George
It has somehow been very difficult to find time to sit down quietly and write to your last letter the good long answer it deserved. Your letter had to be forwarded to me from home, as term had already begun. You ask me to write again and tell you about the funeral but long before this you had probably had detailed accounts from the other people, so that I will only add a few personal memories of all that and the subsequent time. The chief I think is of Father, so gentle and loving to us all through all that time as if much of her spirit rested on him: he was so watchful to see how we all were, and at the same time so dependent on all our sympathy and open to give and receive it. His letter to you at that time must have reflected, I think, many of the depths he showed us all then. The letters he received from many friends were a great pleasure, many were so full of real appreciation of her which was very sweet to hear. All that are of interest are being kept and you will see them when you come home. The village people too were all so full of genuine grief. Maud Harrison, formerly Cull, told Ethel next day how on that Sunday night she dreamt of Mother and saw her in her dream with her face and her hair all white and her back quite straight and upright; she had not heard then that she was dead. Maggie March, a little GFS girl, was very sad and told how the last meeting this winter for GFS girls, she was the only who came and Mother was so sorry and said to her, “I may not be here next year to have the meetings”. Then she said she had such a nice long talk with Mother, who spoke of what she wanted to do if they had the meetings next winter. The day of the funeral such lovely flowers kept coming; I cannot understand how people can say “no flowers” for they are a help and comfort, only one wanted so dreadfully to show them all to her. But the cross we made from us all was the most beautiful I think with the lovely arums Mustoe sent us and the white roses Jack brought and the little pieces of apple blossom she loved so much. It was a disappointment to us that Mary did not come that day; we hoped she would, having had a letter that day from Arthur to say he had wired to her to come and represent him. Later we found the wire had never been sent by some muddle. It was only Mary’s characteristic diffidence which prevented her from coming of her own accord and perhaps had we thought more of it in time we should have written definitely to ask her to come. We rather took for granted that she knew we should like her to come if possible.
The funeral service was very beautiful. One felt that everyone there was a friend and everyone knew how strongly one could cling in her case to the hope the service expresses. The hardest moment was re-entering the house when it was all over. Poor Father felt that very keenly. May took him into the dining room and Betty followed while I took Auntie and Uncle into the drawing room but soon went to see him too and later Mela and Ethel. We all kissed him and Jack came in too and in a way which touched and pleased him so greatly, kissed him too. After we had had tea and Uncle had gone we went over and brought the flowers out of the church and laid them on the grave and brought Father to see them; they gave him great pleasure.
One thing which happened at this time would have pleased Mother very much. There had been for some time friction between the Vicar and the ringers and the bells had not rung for a long time, but William Keen went round and got together somehow a band of ringers before the funeral and got Rev Allsebrooke’s most willing leave to ring a muffled peal; the breach was quite healed up. One of the hardest things to us in the next few days I think was going into her dear room all desolate. Father did not go back for a time; Ethel gave up her room to him, his old dressing room and he stayed there until the carpet of his room had been sent away for renovation, a little thing Mother had determined to have done this year and which we wanted therefore to arrange. Now he must be back of course, the return must have been very hard to him – May says she has established the habit of going in each morning early to take his letters and some early tea; we began to do it the day after she died and he likes it. On Friday we girls looked over the jewels; she had written down her wishes we should do so and divide between us those remaining beyond special gifts she left us. I am wearing now the diamond and pearl ring of her mother’s which she always wore. I prize very much too the lovely silver filigree ornaments she left me; she knew how I always wanted her to wear them if she went out in the evening.
The services on Sunday were very moving. It was touching to see how many of the village people were there in mourning and of course there were a great many people there.
Coming back to work next day was rather a wrench; Betty and I came up together. We both found it very hard to begin, I think. Personally I found the first week dreadful; it was so difficult to feel any interest in things and yet most of my part simply goes to pieces if one loses interest. The outside world too seemed so very much “outside”. Things got better of course after a time; work imposes itself upon you and demands your attention and probably that is the best thing. I have met a good many friends; real friends whom I was glad to see, some old Moorfields people. Also I went to see Miss Pollard one afternoon and Jack and I spent Sunday at Addlestone two weeks ago, where Aunt Fanny and the others too, were very nice indeed. Aunt Fanny’s sympathy is always to be depended upon and she felt the grief so deeply herself. I went yesterday to see Miss Crosby. She lost her mother about ten days after I did. I wrote and had such a nice letter from her and was so glad to see her yesterday. I have a very genuine liking for her and this has formed a strong bond of sympathy. One realises more and more the difference in the quality of sympathy one gets from those who know and those who have never experienced the same, though there are a few exceptions.
I discussed with her also the question of applying for a headship which has been advertised lately to a new County School to be opened in September by the Middlesex CC at Chiswick. I think my chances are of the thinnest, still I mean to have a shot. Miss Crosby thinks I am wise to try but not to build too much on it. Miss Tucker is less encouraging ; thinks my short term of service in schools a drawback, still she will be quite fair about it I think.
I hear through house today that you have just come back after a pretty hot time; we saw that the London Regiment had suffered badly lately and hope you have not had a great number of casualties. I have not the least idea where you are now but imagine a good way south of Bethune district. We have just had a letter forwarded from Cyril to Father giving a most interesting account of the Mesopotamia campaign up to the fall of Kut from his point of view. He writes from Poona where he is convalescing.
I have asked Rosie to come over next Sunday. We have not met this term. I am hoping it will be nice enough to spend the afternoon in the garden, it has been so lovely lately but is much duller today and inclined to rain. Most of us are appreciating the effects of the Daylight Saving Bill. I enjoy getting my morning journey in the fresh early hours and the long evenings are good too. I am glad you feel there may be some prospect of leave later in the summer. I wish you and Arthur could overlap, but I expect he will not get over until October unless he does in August when his second year of service elapses.
Well I must look over a few lessons and then go to bed.
Much love from your affectionate sister