September 4, 1916
Mine own People,
Do you remember my telling of the gentleman whom Skilling and I met in Hastings Castle, and who so kindly invited us to Eastbourne? Well,Skilling wrote up that he could get off, and suggested that we go. Accordingly I wrote a nice little note to Mr. Osborne, and received a most cordial response from his daughter (didn't know he had one till then) and a couple of days later from himself. They were away from home but expected to return on Saturday; and urged us to come. Well, we went. Skilling had arranged to meet me at Victoria station at 3.00 o'clock (I left Oxford at 1.00 with Bird who was going to Brighton). To guard against contingencies I had stipulated that if either of us did not turn up at the appointed time, the other was to go on. Skilling did not turn up on time, so I went to Eastbourne by myself - a beautiful train, the Eastbourne Express - only one stop from London. Arrived Eastbourne about 5.00 and found my way to "Goulding Hurst" without difficulty. The "family" had not arrived. However, Mr. Osborne had phoned from London and the maids were expecting us; so I went in and took possession of the house, washing up, had a delicious tea in the tapestried antique diningroom, and strolled down to the station to see if Skilling would come by the next train. He did, and I showed him the way back, poured his tea for him, and talked. Then we went out to see "The World, The Flesh, and The Devil", as the three promenades are called. They are at different levels along the sea-front. The Osbornes were expected about nine and as it was getting dark we went back. Meantime Mr. O. had phoned again. They had missed another connection and would be an hour later, and, we were not to wait supper for them. So we had our supper and adjourned to the drawing-room, where we found great diversion in looking at the books, photos, etc. and making discoveries therefrom. We found out that in addition to "Elsie" who had written to me, there were also a "Dorothy", a "Paul", and a "Kenneth". We also made the acquaintance of two cats, a kitten, and an adorable little dog whose name is Caesar.
In due course the family arrived and made the most profuse apologies for the unceremonious welcome which we did our best to assure them had been most delightful in spite of their absence. Sunday morning we breakfasted at 9.00, had a look at the garden, and then Mr. O., the two girls, Caesar, Skilling and I walked over the downs to Beachy Head - at least we went that way, but did not quite get there owing to a thunderstorm which held us up under a shed for half an hour or more, and did not leave us time to round out our walk. In the afternoon we saw something of the town along the seafront. It is a beautiful place. We had to leave by the 6.20 train; but had our tea first, of course.
Mr. Osborne had told us that he knew Toronto well; but it developed in conversation that they lived there for several months in 1908 and the two girls attended Moulton College for two terms, Elsie taking the second year and Dorothy the preparatory. They asked about Mr. Hardy and Miss Thrall, and Miss Mosley, and others who have left. They both seemed to have very pleasant memories of their days there. I think it would be very nice if one of the girls - when you get back to Toronto - would ask Mo' and the others about them, and then write to one of them. I am sure they would appreciate it. They were very good to us, and urged us most cordially to come any week-end we could, either together or singly - just to send a wire, and come; and if we had a week off at any time and cared to spend it with them they would be delighted to have us. Their address is "Goulding Hurst", 26 Enys Road, Eastbourne, Sussex.
Last week our reports went in to the War Office. The Captain said he thought we ought to know what the gist of them was, so he had us parade in one at a time. He told me that they were sending in a very good report about me, that my work was quite satisfactory. With regard to an early examination, he said he would be willing to recommend me for it if I was very keen; but his own preference was for keeping us all till the end of the course unless a special request came from the War Office. He thought we would be better here than hanging around some reserve battalion. I told him that I was quite ready to go up whenever I was wanted; but that I was also quite willing to complete the course at Oxford. In that case, he said, I would probably be kept here till the end. There it stands.
No letters have arrived since I wrote last week; but I expect some will turn up to-morrow, as there was Canadian mail in to-day.
Love to each and all of you, and to everybody else on the Lake!