February 04, 1917
The week has gone very quickly and I realize with a twinge of conscience that I haven't sent even a Field Post Card. However, you will have known from my last that I am out of the line for a week or so, and you will hardly have been anxious anyway - at least more than usual.
We don't have a really strenuous time here but our days are pretty full. Most of the work is just a brush up of what we did at Oxford. We happen occasionally on something new. The worst of it is getting up at 7.15 for physical training or rather getting up for physical training at 7.15. The most enjoyable part of it is the hour and a half on horse-back from 9.00 to 10.30. Most mornings we ride around in a circle, more or less in riding school fashion, and receive instruction in handling a horse; and do a few movements in cavalry drill. Yesterday, being Saturday, we varied proceedings by going for a good straight-away walk and trot through a country really lovely in its snow and sunshine garb - little hills, and spinneys, and running muddy streams.
The cold continues. We have had three weeks of it now - typical Canadian winter weather - clear and bracing. It would be wholly enjoyable if the indoors were only a bit warmer. We eat our meals in an atmosphere that freezes the water on the tables - not an incentive to slow mastication.
However, we can't expect everything in war-time, and with an extra cardigan we shall probably pull through. But one sometimes thinks almost longingly of the cosy little mess up the line. These chateaux are obviously designed for summer-time.
During the week I have rather chummed with an oldish fellow names Stephen. He was in British Guiana before the war - an accountant by profession. He was in Gallipoli, and has been out here five or six months. Officially he is 42 but he acknowledges to several years extra. He and I hit it off very well - perhaps because we both like to take things pretty easily when off duty - he because of his years and avoirdupois, I because of a constitutional bent towards laziness. Most of the chaps here are youngsters who go tearing off after parade on the pressing business of youth. There are a few oldsters between twenty five and forty - but who can explain these unexplainable attractions?
Well, yesterday being Saturday, we had the afternoon off, and he and I started for town on hair-cuts bent. We were fortunate enough to catch a lorry after the first kilometer which took us most of the way. We found the barbers in a state of siege; but after an hour's wait we got our turns. Then he showed me to a really charming little tea-room. The outer room was full of Tommies, and one who didn't know would have passed it by, but behind was a cosy little parlor with a stove, and dainty tables, where tea is served to officers from dainty china, by a dainty little French maid. There was no crowding and no hurry - quite the best thing of its kind I have found in France.
I resolved on the spot that it would not be my last visit; and as I was so overcome that I came without my respirator I have a very good excuse for going again this afternoon. I should have wanted a walk anyway, and it is something to have an objective.
While writing, the mail has been brought in with letters form Mother, Father, and Marjorie dating Jan. 15th. I had already received this week letters from Mother and Marj. I have to-day also letters from Dr. Freeman, Herb Richardson and Castle Graham (representing the Class of 1915).
You are quite right to each tell your own tale without regard to the others. Even where there is repetition there is always variety of view-point.
I'm afraid I shall disappoint you in the matter of French. To anyone who had studied it at all and acquired a certain amount of vocabulary conversation would come quite easily. Our servants, it is true, get along famously; but they have opportunity for hours in the kitchen in billets, which we officers don't get. Also they do most of our shopping for us. As for study - there is a certain amount of time, it is true, that might be devoted to such pursuits; but the only possible place is the mess, where there is always conversation going on, which to one who has been used to studying in quiet is fatally distracting. I think I shall have to discover a pretty girl to teach me. The difficulty is that most of the pretty girls who have stayed in the war-zone are - well, hardly my kind.
I am sorry to hear of Marjorie's flirtation with my old friend La Grippe, but as she has given him the mitten as he deserved, I won't shed tears over it now.
The "Canadian Magazine" has not yet arrived, but will probably do so in a day or two. I am naturally curious to see how my name appears. I shall be glad to have "T. Tembaron."
You needn't worry about Louie paying postage on your parcels. I arranged with her before I left and established a fund to meet such expenditures. I think I told you that anything in the way of eatables had better be addressed to me direct.
I am so sorry to learn of Helen's losing her little girl. If any of you are writing, please convey my sympathy.
We are waiting expectantly for the action of the United States in reply to Germany's latest. It certainly looks like a very desperate throw.
Oceans of love to all,
P.S. I find the letter I thought at a glance was from Herb Richardson is from Clarence Thoms.