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Date: October 23rd 1916
"Dearest All"
Coningsby Dawson

October 23rd, 1916.

Dearest All:

As you know I have been in action ever since I left England and am still. I've lived in various extemporised dwellings and am at present writing from an eight foot deep hole dug in the ground and covered over with galvanised iron and sand-bags. We have made ourselves very comfortable, and a fire is burning—I correct that—comfortable until it rains, I should say, when the water finds its own level. We have just finished with two days of penetrating rain and mist—in the trenches the mud was up to my knees, so you can imagine the joy of wading down these shell-torn tunnels. Good thick socks have been priceless.

You'll be pleased to hear that two days ago I was made Right Section Commander—which is fairly rapid promotion. It means a good deal more work and responsibility, but it gives me a contact with the men which I like.

I don't know when I'll get leave—not for another two months anyway. It would be ripping if I had word in time for you to run over to England for the brief nine days.

I plan novels galore and wonder whether I shall ever write them the way I see them now. My imagination is to an extent crushed by the stupendousness of reality. I think I am changed in some stern spiritual way—stripped of flabbiness. I am perhaps harder—I can't say. That I should be a novelist seems unreasonable—it's so long since I had my own way in the world and met any one on artistic terms. But I have enough ego left to be very interested in my book. And by the way, when we're out at the front and the battery wants us to come in they simply 'phone up the password, "Slaves of Freedom," the meaning of which we all understand.

You are ever in my thoughts, and I pray the day may not be far distant when we meet again.


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