My dear Gertrude,
A scene of great excitement just been enacted across the road - There is an estaminet much frequented by the "jocks" of a battalion of the Camerons. A group of them were at the door -when the girl of the place ruches through them & down the street - everyone looking after her. Then a young sister appeared & finally Madame - I could not see what was happening down the road, but they have re appeared with a French solder, escorted by the gentleman of the place - the soldier evidently just arrived on leave "permission" as they call it. He was introduced to all the jocks - there was a lot of excited hand-shaking & they all trooped indoors someone striking up a triumphant march on the estaminet piano. Now there is silence & they are no doubt drinking his health. Most probably he is home for the first time since he was called up in August fourteen.
There is no further letter from you but no mail in to-day yet. Our motor lorries have been taking from us, & our rations have to come up by borrowed horse transport, so it is likely to arrive later every day now.
We are having splendid clear weather for the weekend, after quite a long dull drizzling spell. Yesterday the king drove through going from Tournai to Roubaix - but unfortunately he passed quickly in a closed car, very disappointing for the people as they diligently washed down the outside of their houses in the morning - washed the sidewalks, swept the roads - & hung out flags. Very characteristically although there are several thousand of our troops in the town, there was scarcely an English flag to be seen.
You asked in one letter of possibly being met in New York by my friend Jackson. I am sure he would have only been too delighted to see you to the boat, but as usual I haven't got his address. It is one of the things I never seem able to keep. & New York addresses being entirely numerical it is impossible to hope to remember them. I really did think when he last wrote that I had noted it in my diary but I can't find it anywhere.
McMillan one of our Officers has just turned up for the first time today. He has a great time in his billet, can hardly get away for a meal & when he does they try & make him have another there. This morning he says that the two daughters of the house took him to service at the Catholic Church. He is quite a fluent French speaker & that helps a lot of course, but he is also quite a ladies man.
I have not much luck in my present billet, although they do their best for me. The lady of the house is a life long cripple & she moves about with great difficulty. She & a servant are the sole occupant, a brother who shares the house with her in peace time is an officer in the army - has lost both his legs & is one office duty somewhere.
The people are coming in to tea so I will stop. Have really made a beginning to Christmas letters - wrote the Strachans & the Creightons yesterday - also Berk for his birthday still very busy educationally - missed church through it this morning & am getting very little exercise these days. Still so far I keep fit.
Hope all goes well & you have good news as to future arrangements before you get this.
With all my love