May 19, 1918.
My dear Gertrude.
Our weather keeps very hot indeed - much more like August than May. It is about two now & I have come out on to the Canal side to write & read among the trees. Am about half way down the very steep bank. Sitting in the midst of thousands of ants - very busy on this Sabbath afternoon. I have been trying for sometime to find any centre of their operations but they seem to be going in all directions. There are few mosquitos about to remind one that every good thing has its disadvantages.
I am writing this on a book, not the easiest of things to do. Did not trouble to bring the pad owing to its size. I am so well hidden among the trees that the people in the water continue their conversations as they go by - I have found one or two quite entertaining. I am afraid too I have been a little envious of most, as usual on Sunday there are a lot of girls about. London is so near that anyone with relatives or friends there can easily have them down.
You remark in a letter I received on Friday that I would be going up a good deal. Unfortunately it is against orders to travel by rail without leave. A lot of our fellows risk it when they are not on Sunday duty & if it was a matter of being able to get home & would as well. If it wasn't for the ration trouble I might even go up to Muswell Hill one week. The expense however would be more than I would want to go to very often.
Two letters came 22nd & 29th so there is another to come. The former was marked "via New York", so evidently it is not a quicker route.
It is in this letter that you remark it is not like me to be talking of hiring a boat on Sunday. In a way it isn't perhaps but do you know I read it three times before it dawned on me that it was the moral issue you were referring to. I thought at first it was the way I had expressed myself that you were referring to.
At one time I will admit I wouldn't have thought of doing so. & merely for my own pleasure I wouldn't now, but more from old custom than present belief. I remember at one time I used to walk out to your place on a Sunday & back because I didn't believe in using the cars on Sunday. And I still think I was right in that but one does not live in a world alone & one has not right to judge others (I am not suggesting you were judging me in making the remark, I am just giving you some idea of my own reasonings) & whilst I think one ought to be very strict with oneself where one is alone affected, one ought also to consider those one lives with & not hurt or inconvenience them unnecessarily. I don't know if the Chapples or the Creightons are to be blamed for my change of conduct as to street cars. It is certain I would often not have gone out to Parkdale when I did but for them. As far as the Creightons went, they were the last people to use them unthoughtfully but if I went to St. Paul's with them in winter & we came out into a blizzard from Church, I would have certainly considered it un Christian to have refused to take them back in a car or if I had done so, I would not have wanted to accept their hospitality again. As regards Sunday relaxation I don't consider that anything is unlawful (it may not always be advisable however) that does not interfere with the proper observance of the Sabbath by those who wish to. As regards a public Company, the employies whether they wish to or not, are compelled to do Sunday work to a man for the sake of his family may well have to go against his conscience. Hence I think for anyone who is a strict Sabbath keeper, it must be very difficult to justify travelling by streetcar.
Hiring a boat however would not worry me at all. There is no compulsion for the people who have them, they would merely make a little less a week by closing - it need not keep them even from going to Church if they do open - & as far as this boat house goes, it is a family concern, they live on the premises & have not outside help. If it was wrong & not allowed by law, it would simply mean that a few richer people who own boats & a few young "subs" who would not mind hiring boats for the weekend, would be able to enjoy the cool of the water these summer sundays. To the exclusion of others, not so well off.
Rather a lot of space to take up on one point & as one usually feels about letter arguments, it hardly touches the fringe of the matter.
Your Mother's collapse would give you quite a fright. I am glad to hear she was so soon much better. I hope you got off to Glencoe for the rest & change.& by the time she is back from Port Elgin I hope she has got back her usual health & strength again.
Sorry to hear the Mrs Chadwick has had another set back. But hope it is not serious.
Have brought "Daddy-long-legs" out with me, a fellow had just finished it & I was on the look out for something to read but is already getting on to tea time. I am a slow writer, not mechanically slow, but I think about twenty times as much as I ever write down. Finished a French tale yesterday - one of the prettiest I have ever read. A sort of "Daft Days" tale told with the lightness * vivacity of "The Dolly Dialogues". A very engaging old village priest & his pupil, a young orpohan girl, of good family & some property, are the principal characters.
Later 6:30 p.m.
Came up for tea & a heavy shower of rain fell before we were finished but it is fine again. Have done a very unusual thing - finished a tale in an afternoon - of course "Daddy Long Legs" is very short. Not a bad tale - at all - & not over sentimental - in fact very little so, I had always thought if was intensely so.
Have just reread my Sabbath day remarks. & find I had not finished what I set out to say. Freeman wanted me to go on the river with him & not come back to tea. I told him that I always went to Church if possible for evening service. I found he used to do at home but had rarely been since August 1914 - except to official parades, which as he is a Methodist he could usually get off. I found also that when he had to go he usually went to C. of E. services. So I suggested to him, if I go on the river with you, will you go to Church with me. Of course I did not do it as a bargain, that is do something wrong with him, in order to get him to do something good. I let him know that it could only be in as far at it prevented me going to service, that I would ever consider it wrong. So although we never go on the river - he went to Church with me for two Sundays. For five weeks now however we have in seperated in our living quarters & have seen little of each other & now he is attached to one of the new batteries; so I will see less.
Yesterday was very hot & I put in a lazy afternoon & evening with a long walk near sundown. On Friday evening I was on the Canal with "Jock" Hislop, one of our numerous Scotchmen. We very luckily got a canoe by just happening to arrive as one was coming in.
Nineteen more Maresfield boys have come here, so we are getting pretty full in the mess. To-morrow [?] Monday. Don't know yet if we are to have the afternoon off. Berk evidently did not leave yesterday or I would have had a telegram from him. It makes my chances of getting home to see him better & Mother will have stayed over the weekend in Harrogate.
One of our company - a fellow who sat opposite to me at table at Lydd has been back wounded ten days ago - not a bad wound. What different ways fortune leads one. We have been here eight weeks on Tuesday & only rumours still of any likely move. Talking of rumours I first heard the fello in question was wounded in the groin, then the eye, & finally the real wound - the thigh - it is fairly easy to see how the two mistakes were made once again I have left myself little finishing space. I hope you are well.
My best love.