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Date: May 1st 1916

May 1/16

My dearest.—

Your letter of April 15 arrived to-night and of course as ever the smoke of battle immediately seemed to lift and lighten and assume a certain roseate transparency, through which I can see unending vistas of beauty and gladness with the same slim fair-haired figure sitting under every shady tree and lolling in every mossy glade, flashing white limbed into every limpid pool and nesting cosily in every cottage ingle[?] nook with a chubby little face close to hers, so it seems by the fireside flittering light. Oh you Fernie, are you still the same dear vision that has lightened a lonely soldier’s dreams through twelve long months? Sometimes I wonder what it will be like to really see you and touch you and hold you again and whether the same feeling of great rest and satisfaction and perfect content will steal over me again as used to in other days. For I’m changed, Miss F. E. McIntyre, if I may for a moment lapse into self-analysis without offending.—There is no doubt about it!

Don’t be unnecessarily alarmed for mayhap it isn’t really fundamental but merely circumstancial. Howsomever, I sometimes wonder whether the deadly military germ hasn’t entered into the blood and, in spite of an intellectual contempt for the whole business, gripped my nature fast. The presence of death seems almost necessary to life, the little pleasures of civilized life seem shallow, women why they are just extraordinary creatures to whom one is excessively polite, and makes pleasurably assinine remarks which are entirely meaningless and unmeant. One ceases to have any illusions although preserving a great faith and sources of inspiration are sought almost in vain. Withal we are still a fairly amiable animal although somewhat less inclined to tolerate that which does not meet with our delicate approval. Perchance you may like me better after the strange manner of loving women. And you, sweet lady, shall I find in your fond arms that reality in life, that limpid depth of existence which once I fathomed there. Heigho great are our wonderment, if we wonder at all, neath the rumble of the guns.

However to be quite explicit, I hope to Heaven that if I bring you over here, you will be happy and content. Life will probably be a bed of roses for neither of us for the future is somewhat involved and turgid but love and sympathy and understanding will no doubt tide us over the rough spots. You hint gently I notice in your letter that I had better give you some definite idea of whether you are to come and when. I wonder if you appreciate the time I am having in convincing myself of the justice to you of asking you to come to England and marry me. One might almost say marry me for a week or so and then see me go.

Feeling as I do the imminence of great events and the great uncertainty of everything - you understand me - it seems almost selfish folly to let you leave what at least is comparative material wellbeing for the sake of what may be so brief a spiritual experience. I could ask you without a qualm to come to me even to the deserts of Africa if it were to live and be with me where we might find something in life together but damn! This is different isn’t it? Our hope is of course that ultimately that is what we shall do and not in the deserts of Africa either but the intervening hiatus— Well, to come to a decision - its up to you. If you think it for the best will you please arrange to be in England sometime between the middle and the end of June!! If you can’t do that you will have to postpone the event until September. Leave is of course indefinite and I may have to wire you that its off for the present, but as things are now I will probably be taking a taxi at Charing Cross between the end of June and middle of July if nothing untoward overtakes me betimes. Let me know at once what you can do. I shall write to Dad and arrange to have any balance on the piano paid off. Anything else which needs attention, please let me know about.

If you decide to come at once, you had better look into the matter of engaging a passage. Deary me I’m afraid you will never arrange it all in time. However I can always miss a turn of leave if necessary, so don’t inconvenience yourself for the sake of a week or so. Of course you will know best at what exact time you can best undergo the physical strain of our honeymoon week, if you will pardon the inference. However after you arrive in England you can always put me off a week if necessary as of course you had better be there a week or so ahead of me at least to arrange the details. There that seems to be about all! I shall await your reply and suggestions. Dear little sweetheart what a joy to hold you and love you once again. If we could only go back together to dear old Dad and Mother and the girls for a little jaunt. By the way, be sure and let me know if any financial details bother you. I haven't heard from Olive, but she kindly offered to let us be married from her home.

I must close now, dear heart with all the love in the world. Be sure when you meet me in England you take a deep breath and hold up your head just as I slip off the train. After that you may perform any contortions you please.

I am enclosing a picture we had taken in Poperinghe. Believe me we are all quite sober and don’t really look as bad as that. We blame it not on our lack of physical charm but on a bum lens in the camera. You will be able to recognize three I hope. The other two are Capt. Dymond sitting and Weston the big chap beside me.

We are going in soon now so I kiss you au revoir. Shall write again as soon as possible and tell you all about the great war. Now I am 0.C. Brains for the battalion of course I know all about it.

Yours lovingly

[postscript] Warning! Beware of the shallow, sentimental woman. In other words, don’t get too thick with Gladys Rose. Very light I am afraid, although pleasing.

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Original Scans