January 22, 1917
Rex's and Marjorie's Christmas notes came a day or so ago, and last night, when I got back from the line I found a great batch - Father's of the 3rd, Frances's of the 2nd, Mother's of Dec. 31, Father's of Dec. 28, (reverse order), also two letters from Louie and one from cousin Mildred Hurd.
How I should have liked to have been on your Christmas walk. I too had a walk, but by my solitary. We have had snow lately - not deep, but enough to pretty well cover the ground. It is very beautiful at times in the light of the Very flares; but we don't particularly care for it in our business.
All your Christmas doings were, of course, supremely interesting to me. You seem to have established delightful relationships with the Staples - Rex's social genius is certainly an addition to the family circle. Wish I could be with you to share in your good times. Not that I don't have my share of good-fellowship here. Our mess is really pleasant now - five of us, all different. Very interesting discussions take place spiced with a good deal of leg-pulling; and of course we always have our jokes about the duration of the war and the likelihood of our being retired on half-pay, and such things, which keep cropping up with a new twist or a new setting to give them variety. Also we have the phonograph to dispense Humoresque, Mendelsohn's Wedding March, The Unfinished Symphony and kindred lighter music.
Yesterday was Sunday and for the first time since leaving the Base I was able to attend service. It gave one a new thrill at their majesty and beauty to repeat the Te Deum and the Nunc Dimitis in a room, scarred, walls and ceiling, with shrapnel; and with the roll of the guns for accompaniment instead of the organ. The padre gave a very good talk on the Fatherhood of God - not profound, but much better than good many Anglican disquisitions I have heard. There is, I believe, a non-conformist padre in the neighborhood, but his announcement of service had not reached us.
This is my night off - we get one every once in a while - and I am sitting in the mess, very warm and cosy. Capt. Peters is with me, the other three being up the line with parties. Since they left we have been chatting for an hour about farming and Canada, and other interesting topics. Now he is reading and I writing. Later I expect he will go off on his rounds of the working parties and leave me alone till seven or eight, when Meggitt, who has the day party, will be back. We shall probably dine together, and I shall go to bed about 10.00 instead of 1.00 A.M. as usual.
I am glad to learn of poor Mr. Reddick's release. It must be a great relief to his family.
A nice little note from Emma Rousel was in my batch of letters last night -I forgot to mention it on the first page.
Convey my greetings, please, to Professor Keys. I presume he gave the card enclosed in Frank's letter. The sonnet is very good. My own muse is I fear too much of the contemplative type to flourish among the interruptions and lack of privacy of military life. I have a certain amount of off time, it is true; but in this weather the mess is the only available place with a comfortable temperature, and it is seldom sufficiently vacant for poetic flutterings.
Boundless love to all,