August 1917 - "Why should we be separated and others go on as if nothing had happened."
Evelyn to Fred
This is a story that deals with the simple life as it is lived at ”Wayside Inn.” I wrote to you yesterday, just a scrap, telling you that father had come out. He went back again this afternoon, and is coming next Tuesday to take us back for good, or bad it will seem to us, for everyone seems to hate to leave this place.
Yesterday afternoon after bathing, we got dad to take us picking berries. Fancy motoring through deep sand to a berry patch. The four of us went, and were not gone much more than an hour and a half, in which time we picked nearly three quarts of wild raspberries. We had enough for supper last night, enough for one or two more meals, two pies and a dozen tarts.
I did the baking to-day, and I hope you'll get and enjoy your share of it. The cakes sent you are nuggets, not rocks this time. If at any time, I send anything that does not carry well, please let me know. Mrs. German was saying tonight that one man wrote back not to send any cakes with nuts in it. I sent to-day also some salted peanuts, which Ora shelled and we buttered and salted ourselves. Let me know if the nuts get rancid done that way.
The storekeeper here is a man named Gaetz - he keeps a butcher store in Hepworth, and the report was last Saturday that he’d been having more than meat, and had been fined 200 for it. His wife keeps the little store out here, has done so for years. They say they came from Alsace-Lorraine. Well, at any rate, I asked her for a tin can telling her what I wanted it for, and she didn’t have any, but soon she came over with one she’d hunted up. Then later she gave me some butter paper to wrap the things in. She seems like a decent soul.
The woman who lives in the next cottage to us has four little children, the eldest a girl of nine and one youngest a baby about fourteen months old. This morning and yesterday morning she went picking berries, leaving the two little girls at home with the baby. To-day, when we were finishing our dinner - we were late - the eldest little girl and the baby came in, and it was almost two before that woman got home. The second little girl had gone away down the beach to play, and this child of nine was alone. The poor baby was very hungry, mother gave him three biscuits and some milk, and the little girl some sandwiches and cakes.
I don’t think that’s quite the way to treat children. She should buy berries from squaws for not too much money. I suppose the woman’s husband sent her out here for a rest.
I haven’t had any mail yet this week, but I am hoping that there’ll be some in Owen Sound awaiting me, and that then Dad will forward them to me here.
Clara, her mother and the baby, and our family had our supper on the beach tonight. We made a fire and had toast, sardines, tarts, cocoa and cake. Really Eleanor is a good child, she sat on a rug down at the beach and played with an orange and her picture book while we had our picnic.
Gerard’s experiences in Germany are now appearing in print. He seems to be making things appear as serious as possible. It doesn’t make cheerful reading for us though, but I wish it would hurry along conscription here.
Oh, how I long for you, and love you, my own darling.
How the complexion of the whole world changes, when one receives word from one's loved one. In a place like this, where one does nothing but be lazy, the time from one post to another seems very long, and when there is anything to worry about one does not give the chance the "go by." To-day however, two letters came, having reached Owen Sound yesterday. They were dated July 12-15 & 16-19, and were so full of things I want to talk about that they’ll keep me going for days.
I'm sorry about your boxes dear - the one sent to Hertford I think contained powder, boric acid, adhesive, and some other toilet articles, so I do hope you get it. Do you want soap and shaving materials, or can you get such things? And about your safely razor blades - can you get them sharpened or shall I send you new ones? Tell me the size you want if I'm to send new ones.
To-day I got a "dunner" from the Union [Bank] for the first note, but there was a mistake, as I'd paid part of it and had it extended. I should have had it back I think and I wrote to Mr. Anderson about it to-day. The first note was for 561.70 - at maturity but as I paid 150. on that the new one is for about 425 at maturity. I was wrong in saying it was for 450.
I'm going to borrow the money from Ora to repay it, she says I may have it for 6%, but I'd rather pay her 8% than the Bank.
My financial worries do not worry me, perhaps as much as they should, so do not let them worry you. And I do not see how you think I am running myself short. I'm letting the office take care of insurance, and at present I have $45 in the bank in Owen Sound, after having paid $30 on the $100 I borrowed from Ora - I borrowed from her and paid father. Then I'll have August money coming in soon, and $18 the first of September from the U.B. stock. I left $20 or $30 in the Bank in Calgary.
I'm going to pay something on the rent of the cottage and our expenses out here. I'm also going to buy a new dress before I go back, a blue serge I think, box pleated from the shoulders. It will be nice for the office. The first winter you're home you'll be expected to give me furs for a Christmas present. I may even get myself some this year, not expensive ones, but seal like my coat, and then when I have it done over that fur can be used.
That's too much about clothes though. I was thinking last night about when you come home, and wondering if you'd like to go back to the Romanes' house. It has many good points, but is hard to work in. We were very happy there together, weren't we sweetheart?
I haven’t had any word from J.M. yet - I think I’ll write to Mr. Robertson and Mr. Macleod if I do not hear tomorrow - He may be away on his holidays. I had a letter from Berta to day. They are coming east, as I have figured it out, they ought to arrive tonight in Thamesville. She is going home the end of October and wants me to wait and go with her, but I won’t wait if I do not have to. I’ll be perfectly ready to go back when my time is up.
I am glad you said what you did about Douglas Robinson, and when I go home I shall go to see his mother and tell her, for I know that she fears for him morally and spiritually, as well as physically. She is expecting a baby, I do not know how soon, and has had trouble getting help. You know they have one boy who is an invalid. I do not know where they keep him, probably on the third floor and he is a great care and anxiety.
You will know now that I did not spend much time at your home, but I am going back again within a couple weeks. I do not know how long I'll stay - it depends partly on whether I am able to take the long motor trip, or whether I am to go by train.
I am sorry if what I said about your father hurt your feelings. I shouldn't have said it, nor about my own people either. Parents, at least some, seem to think you never grow up, and I was always so molly-coddled at home anyway that really sometimes I think mother would almost chew my food for me. I hate being asked every single thing I'm going to do, but mother isn't the only one who asks me that. It makes me angry with myself too, that I can't take things with a better grace, and see the love behind that prompts excessive care.
I feel disappointed in my visit in this, that I haven't shown my love as I might, but have allowed petty little things to spoil our intercourse. There should not be too many people trying to live together though. Well, you know how it was when Aunt Em visited us, how people with the best intentions in the world forget them, and sadly too.
There is only one person I know with whom I can live happily - wonder if you can guess his name. You said our love was our life. It is indeed my darling. I was thinking to-day that maybe it was no harder for me than for so many other women, and then I thought "But then men aren't like mine." There's nobody else quite like my own dear.
Ora and Luella want to go to bed, in fact have gone now, so I’ll follow soon not to keep them up, though it isn’t nine yet. But we scarcely slept a wink last night. More of that later.
I was interested to hear about Captain Rankin - Yes, I think he did do a manly thing, and I told him so too. I told you I called and said good bye and gave him a flashlight. Mrs. Rankin went to Montreal with him. She did intend coming back and taking a position. I liked their little girl she was such a bright dainty little thing. If she comes back I’ll see her.
My dearest, it just seems as if it can't be possible but that you'll be home soon. It's over five months you've been away now. Here's mother.
My Own Darling,
This is Thursday afternoon, and I have been lying down since dinner. Mother and I went fishing all morning, and we trolled and trolled, and got bite after bite, but I did not succeed in landing anything. It was a cloudy day, the sky and water were wonderful.
If only my darling were here to share the good things with me. I cannot tell you dearest, what your letters of love mean to me. Do you know, every time I read a love story, it seems like you and me again. Shall we have honeymoons again? Well, I rather think so. Do you know, I'm planning my trousseau for the time when you are home again?
The flower is called "Lady's tresses." It also is an orchid. I wonder if it will have any perfume when it reaches you. It had a lovely one when fresh.
Didn’t we go to select my coat three years ago?
Fred to Evelyn
Thursday evening, Aug 9/17
My own kiddie,
At last the weather appears to have settled and as I sit on the tent floor, I can look out upon the blue sky for the first time in nearly 2 weeks. The air is cool but pleasant and the trees across the way are beautifully green while over all is the freshness always so apparent after a period of rainy weather.
There hasn't been much of interest to tell about unless I dwell, as did Davidson in his last letter, upon the shepherd's pie we had last night for supper and this morning's collapse of the tent while we were eating breakfast. I wonder how the name "shepherd's pie" originated. If what we had last night is the kind of diet the sheep herders live upon I'm glad I'm not a shepherd. The paste was a horrible dough, and one sought in vain between the crusts for a bit of meat to go with the bones which apparently alone composed the filling.
As to the second event of interest - it rained a good deal during the night and more this morning, making the tent ropes very tight. The tents are all pretty old and so I suppose the strain proved too much, for on my return from breakfast my eyes beheld the tent poll sticking through a hole in the top, with the canvas all settled down in a limp heap. A heavy shower was in progress and of course the water was going through the canvas on to our things. Fortunately for me I had made my bed and put the rubber groundsheet over everything so my belongings kept dry. Well a few minutes work repaired the tent and soon we were once more under its shelter - none the worse for the episode.
Last evening I got some boiling water from the cookhouse and made some coffee from that can of prepared coffee you sent. It was not quite strong enough, but otherwise tasted very good - better than any other coffee I have tasted in this country. I used about 1/3 of the can to make a mess tin full.
I had the morning off so wrote to the R.C.I. enclosing a money order for my membership for 1917. Had a walk of about 3/4 of a mile to the P.O. past the Royal Engineers' Camp, where I had a bath last night. The postmaster was a fussy little old man but very obliging. On the way I passed a lovely farmstead with quaint thatched buildings set back in the trees. It looked so incongruous in such close proximity to the camp.
It rained off and on all morning but cleared for the p.m. when we went to the ranges. Shot 3 practices today. Did very well on the first but poorly on the others - made a pass however. Tonight we go out at 9.15 for some night manoeuvres. I believe we do little else than look on while the instructors conduct the actual operations.
Friday evening Aug. 10th.
Do you remember 3 years ago today? Our departure from the Strand Palace [hotel] - saying goodbye to Mrs Leslie & Miss Cassells - the little slipper given you by Mrs --- I forget her name - the taxi ride to Paddington station, the ride in the crowded coach, the soldiers on the docks, and the embarkation and departure under the shelter of the darkened sky? How long ago it all seems.
As I told you, we had a demonstration last night of a bombing raid on the enemy's trenches. At 9.15 we fell in on the parade ground, then marched a mile or more behind a large hill where trenches had been dug for the occasion. First we lay down on the grass and had a very interesting lecture on trench raids, their purpose, and place of operation.
By this time it was about 10.30 and quite dark for the sky was cloudy and the moon hadn't risen yet. We then divided into 2 parties one going to the left & the other to the right of the sector in which the operations were to be carried out, and lay down flat on the ground, possibly 200 or 300 yards from the enemy trenches. A white rocket followed by a red one was the signal to commence operations. At once several mines were set off in imitation of the barrage fire. These sent up great masses of smoke dust and stones which came rattling down near enough to make us all obey the command "Keep down!"
The serj.-major said the noise of the explosion was just about what the German 5.9 inch guns make. Certainly it rang in our ears and the earth shook under us from the shock of explosion. Oh, I should mention that the barrage fire was preceded by a number of smoke shells which were intended to obscure the evening's view.
Under cover of the barrage fire 2 picked bombing parties of 1 N.C.O. & 5 men each - all veterans rushed forward one on each flank of the sector of enemy's trench which was cut off by the mine barrage. Star shells were sent up with wonderfully realistic effect - and as they burst, the raiders in No Man's Land fell to the ground and lay still with faces turned away from the light. As the light died out they rushed forward again, and so on. We heard their exploding bombs in the trenches.
It was intended that the rockets sent up should light the field sufficiently for us to see everything, but unfortunately they didn't work very well, and from this on we couldn't follow operations closely. The raid successfully accomplished, the party hurried back, and again a barrage fire was set up, this time between the enemy trenches & guns in order to prevent a counter attack. It was all very interesting and realistic, despite the poor rockets, & gave us a fairly good idea of the way this work is done.
It was about 11.30 when we got back - and my tent mates were asleep. Bradley & I had gone to Bramshott & brought back the mail so when I cautiously felt for my bed my hand came in contact with a number of Globes and a box which I suspected was from Beamsville. I had no matches, but, feeling quite hungry I sat in the dim light of the tent door & ripped open the cover. I couldn’t see the contents, but wasn’t slow in feeling some rock cakes of which I ate 4. Then I went to bed feeling much better.
This morning on awakening I found that in addition to the box and papers there was a letter from you written July 22nd & 23rd - such a nice long, chatty loving letter. Oh, my darling such letters do so much to brighten life and to keep us near each other in thought.
I had only about an hour and a half of work this morning, so had plenty of time to explore the box further. There was a nice pair of socks with a nice little note from mother in the toe of one of them. The rest was all eats - a lot of rock cakes, a nut loaf, a little chocolate & gum. I gave a rock cake each to several of the 21st boys and of course to my own tent mates. Bradley and I had several, - and there are only a few left, I also sampled the nut loaf - & gave a piece each to Bradley & Hunt. After a rather slim dinner Bradley & I had another piece each.
Tonight I'm going to make some more coffee, and I'll have a few fellows in to share some more of the nut loaf, and a few pieces of bread I was able to get from the mess table at supper time.
Today the serjeants are grumbling at the quantity of grub. We think we aren't getting our full rations. We heard today that yesterday some bread was returned to Bramshott, and yet I suppose every man would have been glad for more if he could have got it. Tonight for supper there were only 5 loaves given out for 38 men, and all we had to eat besides was a spoonful of Mulligan [stew] and one of stewed plums. But I was talking about the box - The cakes and nut loaf did taste so good.
This afternoon we were on the ranges again - this time on a different one. Today the distance was 300 yds. - I did fairly well. Tomorrow we shall fire at 400 yds. with gas masks on.
The day had been cool & a little cloudy, but without rain, though there was a little sprinkle again last night. How much shorter the days are. It is now be coming so dark I can scarcely see to write. Oh my darling, how I love you. I do pray for your health and happiness. If only I could kiss you good night. I do so in my thought and heart my own wee wifie.
[Sat. Aug. 11/17]
Bradley went to Bramshott again last night and brought back a nice pair of socks from Edith Phillips. I’m sending her a card of thanks today. He also said there was another box for me but he had so much load he didn’t bring it. I suppose this is the one you spoke about in your letter of July 23rd.
After Bradley’s return I managed to get some boiling water at the cook-house and our tent augmented by Hunt & Sergt. Mitchell - a returned 21st man, had coffee, bread & margarine & some more nut loaf. The coffee last night was especially good. I find that this nut loaf is beginning to sour & mould a little in the inside. The first one mother sent kept much longer without a suspicion of spoiling.
It rained a good deal again last night but has only sprinkled once or twice today though it is cloudy and very cool.
We should have gone to the ranges early this morning but had to wait until another party finished so it was 10 o'clock when we left here. We had a 5 o'clock reveille however, with a medical inspection at 5.30. About once a week there is a medical inspection for venereal & skin disease owing to the short time we shot only 2 instead of 3 practices today and then didn't get back for dinner until after one. Today we shot at 500 yds., 5 rounds application lying and then 5 rounds rapid. All of the shooting today was off colour - probably because of the bad wind & light. I did only fairly well, but better than average.
This p.m. Bradley went to London on a week-end pass. Most of the boys are away somewhere but I stayed in my tent reading the Globe. Oh, my darling, I'm prouder & prouder of the Globe every day. I do hope you read its editorials, and cut some of them out to keep. They are well worth it. If only its attitude were a more general one! I don't really know what to think of the conscription issue in Canada. The situation does look ominous doesn't it. I hope and pray rebellion and civil war may be averted.
I have been following the stock market reports carefully, belated as they are when they reach me. Owing chiefly to the scarcity of funds for stock brokers because the banks' resources are all required for government financing and crop moving this fall. I believe that the present low prices of many excellent stocks will go slightly lower yet. But at present prices they are splendid investments and anyone with funds at command couldn't find a better time to invest for later they are bound to rise.
Do you remember I spoke sometime ago of Steel Company of Canada? Its position has steadily increased in strength and warrants a considerably higher market price for the stock if it were not for the financial conditions to which I have referred. I see it is now selling at about $54 for $100 share. Its dividends are 1 1/2% quarterly which at the present price would be a yield of approximately 11 1/5%. To my mind this is a strong safe company with a splendid future ahead of it.
And I have been thinking that if anything further is realized from the Harrison Ponton stuff or in any other way so that you are enabled to pay the bank it would be good business to borrow again enough to buy 10 shares if you can get them at any price under 60. I believe they will go down to 50 or perhaps lower but if they don’t I would consider them good buying at any price up to 65. How the time flies! It is only 4 1/2 months until the end of the year and there surely should be at least a few hundred dollars coming to us then in the form of profits.
Did I tell you I receive a copy of “World Wide” last week, evidently sent to Hazel Farley as her initials appear on the margin? It’s a good paper - Canadian - and really a review of reviews. How thoughtful people are! Elleda said she was going to send me some magazines.
I see the government has at last brought in an income tax bill. Very good, though it might be improved upon. I wonder how much M.M. will pay into the public coffers. Not more than he has to, I’m sure.
A new batch of 1,300 men came in today and the tent accommodation is inadequate. Some tents have 11 men and even the mess marquées are being used as sleeping quarters and the men have to eat on tables in the open.
Three years ago we were on the ocean homeward bound as my heart is now. Good night my own. May God bless and keep you.
[Sun. Aug. 12/17]
My darling, -
I don't like the army church services and, as it is optional here, Nease & I wandered off about 9.45. We strolled as far as Liss - about 2 1/2 miles away then came back to Greatham church about 1 mile away. Stopping on the road to help a lady autoist who had a punctured tire made us a little late but not much.
The service was very high and the droning sing song voice of the vicar together with his sleepy manner which gave me the impression he was only hurrying through to be rid of an unpleasant task as soon as possible, didn’t tend to my enjoyment of the service. Fortunately the sermon was short and the hymns good. “Abide with me” was particularly well sung. What a grandly inspiring hymn it is!
This afternoon a Toronto 'kiltie' battalion from the 5th Division at Witley marched on to the ground just west of us, where they have bivouacked. The 5th Division has been so long in England that their favorite method of putting in time is by route marches and bivouacs The cooks already have their kitchens going in preparation for supper and the horses are munching away from their forage bags. The men will of course have to sleep in the open tonight.
There are now about 1,800 men here for the ranges - all being fed from one cookhouse. This morning they were lined up for at least an hour before the last got their breakfast It's a shame. We didn't have to wait in the serjeant's mess. In fact so many were away for the weekend that there was more to eat than usual. Tent space is at a premium and this morning another serjeant was put in with us. This makes 6. That isn't bad but I hope there are no more.
I am enclosing the R.C.I. receipt for membership fee also a clipping from The Sunday Pictorial on “Women’s work after the war.” I cut out merely the paragraph relating to lawyers which I think is rather good. I wish you would paste it in my scrap book.
I'm so glad dearest that you have decided to take care of yourself. Stay away just as long as you think best and when you go back don't hesitate to tell Mr. Macleod that you may have to stay away from the office a few days each month. Please don't hesitate to ask for a change of work if being on your feet so much is harmful. Your health is the most important consideration. You are not to work unless you want to. Will you please do as I want you to do in this matter?
I’m so glad that your later days at Aux Sable have been more pleasant. How much one’s health has to do with pleasure and enjoyment! It must have been lovely along the lake in the hot days of July. I only wish you could be staying there throughout August also.
That 27th psalm is a comforting one isn’t it? I carry the little psalm book you gave me in my inner tunic breast pocket and read every night before going to sleep. I fear though I am too restricted in my taste for I nearly always choose one of about 15 or 20 that I've underlined because I like them so much the best.
Which George King was at Aux Sables. There were 2 at Vic. in my time both of ‘07, one was Geo. A. & the other Geo B. Geo B. married Ethel Chadwick and for a time was at Alberta College & in Germany when the war broke out. Of late he has been holding down some new job in the extension department of Vic. The other Geo King was in the Hamilton Conference, which one was it?
About that Hamilton cake. I certainly would have given Elmer a piece only he was away on leave when it arrived.
I’m glad for what you said about Ray. I have felt ever since we were married that he somehow felt estranged from you. He has always looked to your opinion for guidance in many things and I feel that particularly since the trouble in Dundas he hasn’t had many to whom he could unburden himself freely. So I hope that you have had an opportunity of helping him on your second visit to Beamsville. Poor boy! he has had his own battles troubles.
You say your mother didn’t receive my letter until about July 22nd. It seems to me it must have been very long on the way. How are all your folk? I hope your father soon recovers but his is a troublesome disease isn’t it?
This last page has been very disjointed for I have been bothered by the talk of some fellows about the table.
Oh my darling you have been very near to me yesterday and today. I hope you have been feeling well again and can trust that God will do all for the best.
Your own husband.
Evelyn to Fred
My Own Darling:-
To-day two letters came, those written the end of July and the first of August. It makes me feel, when I see and read the long, long letters you write me, that I really am neglecting you. And now really I do have more time, but I get reading or sewing and go on and on until there are people around and I am then unable to write. I did not write yesterday but thought I would write a long letter tonight.
I have been wondering dearie, if you'd like me to keep a diary for you when you come home, though really my letters tell you as much or more than a diary would, and I am not visiting such interesting places as we were three years ago.
You spoke about your father. I thought afterwards I should not have said what I did, but I agree with you that there is generally less friction if one goes ahead and does as he thinks best. For after all, when a man's a man, he is a man, or ought to be, and knows his own business best. That is not to be construed as meaning that we ought not to be considerate of others or listen to advice.
Yesterday we came home, Mother and I were to have come by train from Hepworth, but Mr. King was coming in anyway, so we rode in with him. Like you dearest, I find I get my chief enjoyment out of thinking how much you would things. [sic] The drive in from Sauble, twenty miles was delightful, through woods at the beginning, up and down hills with a view across hills and woods and the cultivated fields, a couple villages, through a long swamp, then farm houses and buildings and fields full of stones. You have been here I think, and know the peculiar formation of the country immediately around here, how this seems to be a hollow scooped out of the rocks which form a circle around the town, except where the Sound comes in.
Last night we were down town, and indulged ourselves in cantaloupe sundaes - they are only 15¢ here. Once at the beach we had ice cream cones and another time we had it for dessert; got it from the baker. So we really haven't indulged overmuch.
Then we walked home along the shady, quiet streets. This place seems essentially a town of homes. There are beautiful flowers here clematis, beautiful hollyhocks, dahlias and pink ramblers and vines.
This afternoon daddy drove us out to Harrison Park at the other end of the town. It is down in the valley, and a lovely little stream there rushes over stones until finally it becomes a river running into the Sound. Then he took us out to Balmy Beach, and along the south side of the Sound.
Something about Harrison Park - the flowers and the trees on the way out, maybe, made me think of our trip to Blarney Castle, and the outlook along the Beach, the view back towards the town made me think of our entrance into Queenstown. So many, many years ago. You say you feel those times will come again to us. Oh my dear one, they never will, but I live in the hope that happier ones may.
I looked up and saw a motto on father’s calendar “Do not let the burdens of tomorrow break the back of to-day.” But we dear, let the hope of tomorrow, lighten the burdens of to-day, do we not?
When I got home yesterday I found a letter from Margaret. Among other things she told me about John and his wife being there . She spoke of how well she liked her, and as for John she said “ John is like a prince.”
I wondered why her remarks seemed to stab me, and I said to myself, “You’re surely not such a cat that you didn’t want him to be happily married.” But when I analyzed my feelings I found the cause of my heartache was this - that I wanted my prince, and that the thought of others’ happiness made me more lonely than ever.
And I always have to fight and fight against the cry "Why should we be separated and others go on as if nothing had happened?" In answer to this question I always say that you went because you considered it your duty, and that because others do not respond is no reason for your shirking. However, my reason says it is not fair, and that all should be treated alike.
Father has a letter from a man he saw a couple times - fourteen of the big Y.M.C.A pages, of fine writing, telling him everything. He told of having “fright bacon and fright eggs.” Poor beggar, maybe he hasn’t anyone to write to. I’ll have to find out if anyone sends him anything. He was telling about one man back from France on leave - He went to bed with £21 in his pants pockets, but when he got up there was no money there. Ora says to tell you you have a rival in letter writing.
What do you want me to do about the R.C.I. fees, dearest? I thought you meant to pay that and Mr. Tester out of the money you took over. Do not try to pay it out of your own money. I’ll write Don about the taxes.
Art [Ritchie] has returned back from his leave. After they got home they found a letter telling them that Monte Carlo was out of bounds for troops, but they had been there. They were told not to go through Paris, but the train took them there and they had to stay a night and part of a day, so they took taxis and saw the city. Wasn't that considerate of the authorities not to send word about Monte Carlo until after their return? Art enjoyed Nice and the South of France very much. He sent Ora some funny little cakes about seven inches long and half and inch through.
Speaking of cakes, I am so glad you liked the “Soldiers Fruit Cake.” You always claimed you did not like cocoanut and so I was afraid you might not like the cake so well, because there is a large amount of cocoanut in it. That’s a joke on you dear. I’ll make it again for you. I hope Elmer got some of it but am sorry Pat didn’t have any. We are planning to make a sultana cake tomorrow, half of which is to go to you and half to Art.
Then I'll be away and may not be able to send you another box for a while. When I go to Toronto I'll have a box of home-made candies sent from a shop there.
I do not know whether I'll get down to Hazel's or not. Father seems to think it will be so tiresome for me to go on the train, but I do want to go there so much. The rest want to go to bed now, so goodnight darling.
If you hadn't made me ashamed to do so, I'd write you the bluest letter imaginable, I don't know why, I just feel like dripping gloom. Then maybe you might get this letter in a rain; that would make you feel splendid, wouldn't it? It's all about this bally old trip though because I can't get down and back before I'm sick, and I may have to go to bed then, and I have no place to go. Of course that's a lie, but it does just make it sound so fine and gloomy.
Now, I shouldn't put things so badly, Luella said I was to come to her place that week. Isn’t that just very good of her? You see, father was going to have ? Sunday, and we were going to start Monday and motor down to Hamilton, Hagersville, etc, ad inf. I wanted to go to Hazel’s before the first of September, then go to your place. But I’d be sick while there. It’s such a fuss getting things settled, where we want to go that I don’t want to go.
I don't want to be dragged around at all. And I can't stay home while the rest of them go. Oh, I just want you, and my own home. I feel as if there isn't any backbone when you are gone. On the other hand, I am so thankful I have father and mother and Ora.
There was a woman here for supper tonight. She has two little children and her husband has enlisted and all she has to live on is his private’s pay. Her father is editor of a paper here and has six children, so he couldn’t help her much.
I feel I can send you this letter, because everything is so messy that it can be laughed at. I just feel like jumbling things up and then giving them a smash. I feel now about this hanged trip that I don't care a hang where I go, so let's get it over. The ride through the country will be lovely anyway, and if I don’t see the people I want to see and do see the ones I don’t want to see, what’s the difference anyway?
Sometime dear, we'll come east together and do what we want to do. I wonder. Really there has been more fuss over this trip than over ones when we went abroad, and chiefly because they’re trying to suit it to my necessities when I don’t want to go. None of us except father wants to. We had our holiday at Sauble - see? The trouble is, we don’t like the same thing.
I thought we could get a cake made before we go away, but I'm afraid not darling. I'm so sorry but I'm going to try not to insist on what I want. It seems as if everything is made to suit me and I don't like being such a centre of attraction. Dave Robson from Thorold is coming up over Labor Day, but I think I am to stay down South while the rest come home to entertain them.
Now dearest, if you don't laugh at all this mess of pinpricks, I'll feel I'm a slacker in writing them to you.
Margaret says Ray seems better.
Your puzzled wife but oh - your loving one.
This is mother’s birthday.
Don't let any of this stuff make you blue darling. We got everything settled last night and I'll write to-day to tell you. I love you.
Fred to Evelyn
My dearest, -
Back once more in hut B15. - but with several changes in the personnel since I left. Three of the men have moved to another hut and their places have been taken by casualties; several men have gone to various schools and 3 are away at the ranges with another party. Still there are enough of the old serjeants left to make the place appear natural.
I had intended writing a good deal tonight but the time has been fully occupied with one thing and another until now it's 9.45. I didn't write last night because there wasn't time. We were on the ranges all afternoon, firing first at 200 yards with gas masks on, and then we had what is called a battle practice.
We fired 5 rounds from a truck at 300 yards at moving targets carried by men under cover, then at the advance signal we fixed bayonets and charged to the 200 yard points where we lay down and fired 3 shots each at figure targets representing snipers which appeared for 4 seconds only then disappeared.
After that we fired again at 2 moving figure targets which represented scouts returning with information. Each section of 2 men fired at 2 scouts which disappeared as soon as hit. Needless to say we didn’t have to fire our second shot for both scouts disappeared with the first volley.
We finished firing about 5 o'clock and the vendors of fruit, coffee and cake did a rushing business, notwithstanding we hadn't yet received our mid-month pay. While most soldiers are broke at such times there are always a few who can lend enough for all to get at least a piece of cake. The pieces were of generous size and only 3d. each. Being of such better quality than that ordinarily obtained nowadays, I indulged to the extent of 2 pieces to celebrate the last day on the ranges.
We were back in camp ready for supper by 5.40. Supper was nothing special, though we had stewed plums with very little sugar in them. 2 dessert spoonfuls was the ration but when I went back to say goodbye to the waiters they gave me a second generous helping. So with the cake I had a fairly good 'stomachful' for the march back to Bramshott.
We fell in about 6.10 but then had to wait until 7 o'clock until the officers finished their supper. It was a nice cool evening and we set a good pace back to camp, stopping only once for a five minute rest and arriving here about 8.25. I really enjoyed the march. I can feel that I am in good shape physically and I believe I am now able to stand quite as much as the average soldier if not a little more.
The first thing I did after getting back was to hunt out some clean underwear and socks and make for the wash house. The bath house closes at 8 but I was able to get a good bath in cold water at the wash house. Water is a wonderful friend isn't it? After perspiring as freely as I do, I always feel sticky and uncomfortable until I get a wash or a bath. Well, after my bath it was time to turn in and I didn't know anything more until reveille.
I find that the program has changed here since I went away. Reveille is now at 5.45, breakfast at 6.30, P.T. parade at 7.30 - lasting until 8 o'clock. Then there is 40 minutes time to clean and polish before the O.C.'s parade, after which we stay out all morning. This morning's work was quite interesting and this afternoon we had a route march from 1.45 to 4.30 with full packs and equipment. Again, I enjoyed the march. The afternoon was cool, the discipline good & the pace steady. We had 4 rests - 2 of 5 minutes and 2 of 10 minutes each.
News came to camp tonight of a very bad accident at last night's field operations at Longmoor. I think I was out. Well it seems that a couple of the mines didn't explode and the instructors thinking they were "duds" allowed the party to go up to inspect the trenches. Then one of these mines went off right under the place where many of the men were standing.
It is impossible to obtain authentic information of the casualties but latest reports say 8 are dead and 29 wounded, at least 2 of whom are not expected to live. One of the dead is a 191 man and 5 of the wounded are from the 21st Reserve. Until all the circumstances are known it's impossible to say who, if anybody, is to blame, but it looks like a piece of gross carelessness.
Had a fairly good supper tonight. Afterwards I went to Tin Town where for 6/6 I got my watch with a new stem of English make - it’s impossible to get here the kind that was in before. Then I called on Elmer & had some chocolate from a box recently arrived. Elmer returned from his leave nearly 2 weeks ago. He partially followed my advice as to his itinerary, going to Ayr, Glasgow, the Trossachs & Edinburgh.
Elmer isn’t particularly fond of history or things artistic, and thinks he didn’t see anything half so good as Canada can present. He liked Ayr and Alloway about the best of all. He isn’t now doing work in the clinic but is doing laboratory work entirely. However he is going to take sufficient time off to finish my work. The one he treated is quite all right now, with the swelling of the jaw almost entirely gone. Then I have a couple other teeth which require filling.
While I have been writing Jimmie Barnes has been sitting opposite playing his guitar. Four other fellows have been busy with a poker game near the other end of the room, while Srgt. Hall, who today was rejected by a medical Board for further service and is to leave in a few days for Canada, & has been celebrating by imbibing freely all evening at pubs in Liphook, has given us the benefit of his convivial spirits. At last he has subsided and now is fast asleep.
It's nearly 11 o'clock when even lights in the serjts' hut should be put out so I'll say goodnight, my own darling. You have been very near to me all yesterday and today. Have you been thinking especially of me? Oh, I love you my own Kiddie.
Saturday evening Aug 18/17
My darling -
As is customary Saturday night camp is almost deserted, the fellows being away at Bramshott, Liphook Haslemere or even farther afield. I and Serj. Maj. Jackson are alone in hut B15 - both writing. Perhaps I haven’t told you that he was ill in segregation camp at the same time as myself and when he left on his landing leave for his father’s home in Liverpool he grew so much worse that he was sent to hospital then and ever since he has been either in hospital or convalescent home. Today he returned to duty, and is in our hut.
This has been a fairly busy day for me. It rained hard the first half of the morning and we had inside work - principally lectures on the Lewis(2) machine gun which were very interesting. I want to specialize in this work if possible. I managed to skip the bayonet fighting period and employed it in getting a good hot bath.
After dinner I washed clothes and hung them outside to dry in the first real sunshine we've had for a long while. Also put out the blanket to sun and air. Then I opened your box which arrived a week ago, containing 1 can salmon, 1 can baked beans, 1 pair each socks candies & chocolates. Bradley & Shaver were in the room at the time and expressed their appreciation of the kisses, little white peppermint candies etc.
By the way those white candies are very tasty and refreshing aren't’ they? So are the little candies you sent some time ago - from Owen Sound, I think -in a little box by themselves. I still have some of them left as also a little of the fudge and a few candies from the Hamilton box. Oh, those dates were particularly fresh and good.
After that I made up a little parcel of assorted candies, etc. for Heeney who is in the hospital. The hospital is about a mile away at the far end of the camp. I found Heeney looking quite bright and cheerful but suffering from a bad attack of jaundice. He was sent back from Bexhill last week for skipping a parade, and a few days later was sent to hospital.
At the hospital I also called on another 191 man - Corporal Morrison who was injured Thurs. night at Longmoor. His right hand and one leg are wounded but he will probably recover all right. One of the other 191st boys was there too but I wasn't allowed to see him. He is very badly cut up, although he will probably live.
On the way back from hospital I saw Herb Peters for a few minutes. Last week he spent 4 days in the “clink” at some town south of here for being out of bounds & without a pass. Herb is keeping straight as a st can be but he has become impatient of petty army restrictions and sometimes takes the law into his own hands. He expects to go on the ranges next week.
This evening I have been reading and writing. Dearie, if you can get the Globes of July 27th & 28th will you please cut out the editorials to keep. Some of these will be of wonderful interest in the days to come and they are masterpieces of statesmanship and literary effort. Jimmie Barnes’ wife is a S.S. teacher in Crescent Heights & sends him the Onward of which he has given me a couple numbers to read tomorrow.
Have just brought in my washing & blankets and the evening sunshine is so tempting. I think I shall go for a walk in a few minutes. It’s really too nice to stay indoors.
The meals today have been a great improvement - both in quality & quantity. I hope it is not a "flash in the pan" but presages better days for us. Now that the food situation is so much improved I think the army authorities might do something for us.
Sun. morning. Aug 19th
The sun rose beautifully clear and it has been fine all morning with only some light fleece clouds in the sky.
Have just returned from church parade, this time for the first since I came to Bramshott, the whole brigade paraded and had service together in the open air across the road the road in the north camp. The brigade turned out in force and it looked nice to see such a crowd of men lining the sides of what is a natural amphitheatre -2 battalions in front of the rostrum and one on each side.
All told 5 chaplains were on the platform but the preacher was Capt. Cameron whose service today is the first of a series of daily services to be held in Bramshott camp this week. He is a good speaker and I enjoyed his sermon very much.
All the men gave very good attention until the last 5 minutes, when their eyes followed an aeroplane which flew over and then circled 'round and 'round us, finally effecting a landing farther up the camp. You know there seemed something incongruous in the service, held as it was in full view of bayonet-fighting dummies, trenches, sandbag revetments, and finally of the latest engine of destruction the aeroplane. But what a blessing that the men's thought can be turned to thoughts of their Maker and Saviour even for such a short while! The army chaplains have a terribly difficult task, but thank God, they and the Y.M.C.A. are doing a marvellous work.
Last evening I went for an hour's stroll - across to the north camp, along the same shaded lane where I stood listening to the birds one previous Sunday night then along a private road until I came to park gates just beyond an old bridge that spans a lazy brook. The gates were open so I strolled along the driveway which winds along the bottom of a miniature valley whose slopes are covered with fine old beeches that make a great natural park.
One strange thing about these woods - or at least a great many of them - is that the ground is still carpeted with last years leaves. It does look strange to see the dead leaves on the ground and the green ones on the trees. Where the trees were thinner, the ground was hidden by brambles, bracken and fern affording a great covert for the countless rabbits which scurried off in every direction at my approach.
Here and there an oak tree spread its branches widely, overhung closely with giant ivy stalks. Isn’t it strange that the ivy clings only to the oak. I don’t recall ever having seen it on any other tree. The trunks of the beeches are so white and clean in contrast to the almost hidden oak branches.
After following the driveway for a while I branched off to the left on a footpath which leads up the side of the hill in a short cut to the mansion - a fine old country seat called Walnut Lodge set away back in fine seclusion with beautiful lawn and gardens on every side. How quiet peaceful and homelike it was.
I remained for some time drinking in the beauty of the scene and thinking of my darling. Over in the west there was still a golden after glow on the rim of a cloudbank which hung on the horizon. It carried me back in thought to the beautiful sunsets we have so often looked upon side by side and I felt an almost overpowering longing for your presence.
When I returned it was quite dusk in the shade of the roadway and as I near[ed] the park gates, the lodge house came into view with a curl of smoke ascending from the chimney. At the back the lodgekeeper's axe as he was cutting wood, echoed and re-echoed through the park and again came the thought of home. How far away war seems at such times.
The meals have improved during the past few days. We get larger helpings too. For breakfast we had porridge and a fair helping of cold roast mutton. Dinner was the largest meal I've had in the army in England - each man had a baked sheep's heart, potatoes beans & stuffing and then the usual "duff" with a good spoonful of stewed plums on it. Plums are very plentiful in England and I understand in many places are being given away because it’s impossible to obtain enough sugar to preserve them.
Got another letter today - the one posted Aug 1st. I infer from it that you went into a tent when you vacated the cottage. I’m glad you are getting stronger and that Lina was able to get the L.T.O. position. It will be nice for you to have her and your association will be a great thing for her.
No, none of your letters have been censored except the one I spoke about some time ago. I haven't read Mr Britling, but would like to. All the reviews speak well of it, don't they?
About a leather vest, there is some talk of issuing an armour to the soldiers. The Germans use one now and the English have tried it. They say it is a great protection against shrapnel but is bad for bullets for it makes them spread, so as yet the British aren't using it generally.
Herb Peters hasn’t been in France since last fall. He was invalided to England then kept here until the cyclists were broken up when he was transferred to the 9th Reserve Infantry. Elleda’s letter enclosed in yours of July 29th was interesting and well written as usual. I can’t understand why that letter of mine which was torn was marked “Received in damaged condition.” I have always posted all letters myself.
You misunderstand me about the chocolate. I know the bars were nut milk chocolate and they are all right, what I referred to was the large bars of straight chocolate. It is a little too strong for eating out of the hand, though I suppose it’s better for making chocolate or cocoa. - It’s nice to get salmon & beans in boxes but as I said in a former letter it’s really a waste of money to pay postage for I can buy those things here - at least while I am in England.
The candy you put in your last box is all lovely. How do you manage to make such good selections? I didn’t know there was such good candy to be bought. Every bit of thing you sent is as good as can be.
I am enclosing a postcard of Greatham church and 3 pictures taken by Elmer 4 weeks ago. There are 3 more which I shall send later. I don’t like to put too many in one letter for fear of its being lost. I’m going to send some of my films soon too and I hope you’ll get some printed for Mr. Howard. I have enjoyed the camera so much. It and the knife George Coutts gave are in constant use. I don’t know what I should do without the knife.
In your last letter you called me "Ferd" - for the first time I think. It's one of your own manufacture and somehow it seemed to bring you very close to me. You always are, but there are times when every other thought is shut out and you fill my whole mind as well as heart. This afternoon was one of those occasions. What were you doing? And were you thinking especially of me?
I wore your socks today. They fit perfectly and are so nice and soft. They need to be for marching and long tramps such as I had today. Left here about 1.30 and didn’t get back until 7.30. Except for about half an hour for tea and an equal length of time at Tennyson’s house I was walking the whole time.
Goodnight my own sweetheart.
Evelyn to Fred
[Postmark: Fergus, Ont.
Return address: Owen Sound]
My own Dearest One:-
This has been very different from yesterday, chiefly because last night before we went to bed we finally got our plans arranged, and so to-day we were working as fast as we could in order to get ready to be off early Monday morning.
We are going down to the Sheppards' Monday, then to Hagersville Tuesday, via Mt. Hope where we will call on Auntie and Uncle Case - and Auntie and Uncle Smith. We cannot stay there long, for I think they both have guests, and anyway the women are so weak one does not want to cause them any extra work.
It seems queer not to be able to stay with them though, for we’ve visited there ever since we were kids. From Hagersville we'll go to Beamsville where I'll stay for a week and then we'll all come home together.
You will see that I have cut out going to Hazel's. I did it for several reasons. One was that there was not time to go there and get home, before I was sick. Another was that it would cost quite a bit, and moreover it would mean more travelling about than I think I ought to do. Moreover, as I was being considered so much in this trip, it really wasn't quite fair to stick out so for what I wanted.
Yesterday when we were getting dressed to go to the station with Luella, we heard a horn tooted outside. It was the King’s and Johnston’s from the beach, four parents and four youngsters in Mr. King’s Ford car. They certainly were a jolly crowd, yet each has his own burden to bear. Mr. King has tuberculosis of the kidneys, that’s why he is taking such a long holiday. Don’t mention it to any of the men who might know him. He asked to be remembered to you. We asked them for dinner but they would not stay.
However they came back in the afternoon and we gave them tea. The two boys Jim Johnston and Carman King, about nine or ten wanted tea. t was the first time Carman had ever tasted it, and he thought it great fun. It was amusing to watch them hold their teacups and eat a piece of cake.
They are the kind of little boys who make you want to own one. Jim said he had his neck and ears scrubbed the cleanest they’d been since he went to the Beach. He has a snub nose and freckles, frank blue eyes and a ready smile. Carman has no freckles, and I forget the colour of his eyes. He is a real boy, rather excitable, and talks up at the top of his voice when he gets excited.
Good night sweetheart. Some day, you know his last name won’t be King or Johnston will it honey?
I've done to-day what I never in my life did before, washed my hair on Sunday. I have been trying to get it done for about a month and it or was too dirty to go away with it not washed. Dad said he thought I was awfully wicked, washing my hair on Sunday.
I am sending in your picture for the 1917 edition of the Varsity supplement and am getting a 1916 copy too. I thought you would like them, and besides the money made is for the University Hospital. They made about $8,000 for it last year. That is pretty good, isn't it?
I have been wondering dearie about your clothes. Do you want any more underwear or pyjamas? You must look ahead a few months - so that I can get them made in lots of time.
Yesterday I had a letter from Mr. Anderson of the Bank, saying that the notice should not have been sent out as I had sent signed a renewal and that he would give me back the first note on my return. But I was in a hurry before I came away as I had to leave it till the last minute in order to get the cheque from Ray. All the men with whom I have had any business dealings have been very kind to me.
I also had a letter from Mrs. Tulk saying that they would be very pleased to stay in the suite until I went back. She said, that although the summer had been hot, it had been beautifully cool in the apartment and that they had enjoyed it there very much. Also she said the flowers were growing well. It is very satisfactory, is it not.
I believe I forgot to mention that I found a letter from J.M. [Carson] here when I came in from the Beach. He said that he felt I should not come back until I felt like it. He had been away from the office for a few days. I wonder where? I know more about him then you ever told me.
Our West windows look out on the stables and orchard of the man who owns the block where the Alberta Hotel used to be. He is a lawyer here. Do you think we’ll ever be as rich as he must be? I don’t care if we aren’t, I think I could manage to live within our income if you were back in the office at your regular salary. What think you?
I purchased the material for a dress the other day, navy blue. I'll wear it for sort of best this winter, under my fur coat, and then I'll have it for the office along towards spring. It will be nice and comfortable for examinations. Anyway it's better to get it made here than at home, it's less trouble. One needs more clothes when one is in an office than when one is at home. I suppose I could get along with less but you see, when I go back, I'll be a second year student. And anyway, I am not going to go shabby. I am your wife and ought to have enough clothes to look well dressed.
I am glad you were able to go over to Guildford and to spend the day with Pat. It’s too bad you hadn’t discovered the cake before you went. You did not say anything about the home made candy the girls made. I do not know Malcolm’s address, but shall get it when I go down.
I won't be seeing many people in Hamilton I'd like to but I cannot use up my strength like that. I hate having to conserve all the time, but I hope I'll soon be able to do what I want to do, though I suppose I should want to do the things I can do.
My letters dearest, I feel have been stupid and petty of late. I think of so many things I want to tell you, and then when I sit down to write, away have gone the thoughts and fancies that were to have cheered and enheartened my day.
Should you not like some time, soon if it could only be, to have a few weeks in Algonquin Park just you and me together? Sauble was a splendid beach, and the Lake was beautiful, yet I missed somewhat the charm of Muskoka.
Before you went away you had hopes that the war would be over this fall. But now we cannot see how it can be, unless something happens. As for us, if the election is not until October or November, surely the government will not wait until then to apply the Militia Act.
There was an article in the Globe from the Manchester Guardian about Quebec, suggesting that they exclude Quebec from the application of the Act and take the men from the other provinces until she shall make known her grievances. Quebec's grievances! That made me sore. Quebec's grievance is that she's the spoiled baby of Confederation and she needs a little discipline more than anything else except education. If the people aren't French or British, what are they?
Supper is nearly ready, so I must go. We start early in the morning I'm so sorry you'll have to go without boxes for so long. Oh my darling. I love you so, the dearest and best of husbands.
Fred to Evelyn
My own Kiddie, -
Yesterday I started a letter to George Coutts and I made up my mind I’d finish it before I went to bed. I wrote a good deal and it was bed time when I finished so I didn’t write any to you, but I shall make up for it this evening. It hasn’t rained today and my clothes which were out to dry and got a wetting - several, in fact, - yesterday and Sunday have had a good chance to recover today. I’m glad for I want to wear some of them tomorrow. This is either the second or third rainless day in more than 3 weeks, - fine harvest weather truly?
As I write I am eating the last of the fudge sent in the Hamilton box. It has kept perfectly sweet and fresh all this while and the last of it tastes even better than the first, if that be possible. I think I never ate any quite so good before. Who is responsible for making it? You haven’t told me. I have also eaten a goodly portion of the chocolate your mother contributed to the last box. I never before saw nut milk chocolate in such large bars. It is exceedingly good. Supper was a little shy tonight so the candy helps to fill the void and supplies the relish which the army meal lacked.
This morning I went away up to Elmer’s laboratory, about 1 1/2 miles away, that he might replace the crown on the tooth which he treated some time ago, and fill 2 or 3 others that need attention, but the chairs were all busy so he gave an appointment for tomorrow afternoon which being Wednesday will be a half holiday. However late this p.m. I was warned for brigade guard tomorrow, which will keep me on duty from 1 p.m. tomorrow until 1 p.m. Thursday, so I am going up to his hut tonight to inform him of the fact.
It’s nice for me to be able to get my teeth properly looked after at the country’s expense, isn’t it? You’d be astonished at the enormous amount of dental work done in the army. Elmer said they needed 158 plates last week at his laboratory. It’s a good thing too, for many men are getting their teeth looked after far better than they would in civil life.
I went to the barber shop for a hair cut but found a waiting list of 10 or 11, so decided to try again in the morning. Called at Elmer's hut, but he was out so left a note cancelling tomorrow's engagement. Then I came back and spent more than an hour blanco-ing my equipment for tomorrow.
Guard mounting is the most ceremonial thing we have to do and all equipment and brasses must be clean and bright. I suppose it will take me at least 2 hours tomorrow shining brasses, cleaning rifle & polishing boots & buttons. One doesn't have to go in any other parades either on the day of going on or coming off guard. I now have done for tonight so can devote myself to you.
The hut is quiet and tenanted only by Bradley who is also writing letters. Shaver, who is reading, and myself. An occasional mosquito buzz is about the only break in the silence, other that the scratching of our pens.
I didn't tell you about my visit to Tennyson's home did I? Well, after dinner on Sunday I asked Jimmie Barnes and a couple others to join me but they had made prior arrangements so about 1.30 I set out alone.
The sky was bright and clear when I started but before I reached Haselmere a sun shower compelled me to seek the shelter of a friendly tree which kept me quite dry. I didn’t hurry at all but walked leisurely and arrived at Tennyson’s lane about 2.45.
I think I told you before, it is about 2 1/2 miles from this point to the house called Aldworth. For fully a mile and a half the lane winds up a steady slope under overarching oaks, beeches and pines. Then one comes out upon an open heath stretching out like a peninsula about the surrounding country which falls steeply away to a level perhaps 3,000 feet lower.
You can perhaps imagine the view on 3 sides - a vast expanse of undulating Surrey landscape of meadow, cornfield, park and woodland - with the ubiquitous hedgerows and here and there peeping out from their covert of sheltering trees, cosy farmhouses and more pretentious country seats with which this district abounds.
At my feet as the typical south-county heath covered with a matted mass of purple heather and bracken, while bramble bushes, half hidden by the bracken, but trailing everywhere soon proved a strong deterrent to my desire to stroll knee deep along the side of the road.
Soon the road took an abrupt turn to the left but straight in front was another lane with a sign post bearing the word "Private." This, I had been told, would lead to the house so I followed it for perhaps another half mile over the bare moorland until suddenly turning to the right I came right upon the gate bearing the name "Aldworth." Just inside was the gate house and stables.
My first thought was - "How far away from man's haunts, and how much alone Tennyson must have loved to be. I wonder what the house itself is like." I soon learned. Following the driveway, which circled around the gatehouse into what seemed to be a regular forest of enormous pines, with an occasional patriarchal oak or beech, a couple hundred yards gave me my first glimpse of the house nestled right against the hillside, with great trees all around it.
I am enclosing a post card which will give a fair idea of the front north east end view. The building is of grey stone - rather plain, in the perpendicular style with armorial bearings above every dormer window. The west side hugs the hillside, while the east and south east looks out over lovely terraced gardens through their border of shapely firs, yews and pines to the vast plain below.
I soon saw that Tennyson had chosen for his home a site almost on the nose of the "peninsula" where the slope was heavily wooded, in marked contrast to the open heath above and where it fell abruptly almost in a sheer precipice for 250 or 300 feet. The cattle grazing in the fields below looked very small and far away although so near. No water was visible although if the horizon did not always disappear in a blue haze it is possible that one could see the channel.
As I said, the extensive gardens are in a in a [sic] succession of lovely terraces divided off into the most delightfully charming plots by thick hedges of laurel and holly. One thinks he has seen the whole when lo! an opening in the hedge reveals an unexpected nook or bowling green, or tennis courts or flower garden. Paths lead in every direction and through the fence down the hillside. The lowest terrace is one great flower garden filled almost entirely with old fashioned flowers.
I did so long for your presence, dearest, for you would have known their names. Such a variety of color as there was - and such a sweet perfume. I could almost hear you say "Isn't that a lovely smell?" and bend down to caress the lovely petals.
After strolling about the grounds, I took a few pictures when the sun came out from behind the clouds, then sat down on a stone garden seat and lost myself in thoughts of home and you. Not a sound disturbed the Sabbath quiet. I was alone in the gardens and even the birds were hushed so that even the buzzing of the nasty little flies that swarmed about my face seemed loud. No wonder Tennyson could write poetry. If a man had any poetic genius at all it must surely find expression in such an environment.
The house is not open to visitors. In fact the grounds are only open on Saturday & Sunday to Canadians in khaki. Some day, dearest, you and I will visit it together, shall we not? Another of the bright things to look forward to!
On my way back a heavy shower came up which lasted about 15 minutes but a thickly branched pine tree kept me fairly dry. Afterwards the trees and grass did look so clean and fresh. I arrived at Haslemere about 5 o'clock, had tea there, then came on home by way of Hindhead - another extraordinarily lovely walk of about 5 miles which some day we must take together.
Goodnight my own darling. I love you more every day.
Wednesday evening [Aug. 22]
Did I say it would take me 2 hours this morning to finish my preparations for guard? I was busy the whole time and at that was obliged to forgo a bath and a hair cut, which I had promised myself.
The guard fell in on the battalion parade ground at 1 o'clock, was inspected there and then marched to the brigade headquarters, where a second inspection took place. After that we marched to the guard room in front of which the elaborate ceremony of changing the guard takes place. As I am the commander of the guard my duties consist solely in supervision, keeping records of prisoners etc., and of course I am responsible for everything, but I don't have to march on a beat like a sentry. There were 4 prisoners handed over by the previous guard and one has come in since.
They are all quiet enough being in for minor offences - except a half breed who broke jail and resisted arrest. He is kept in close confinement and I don't enter his room unless accompanied by 2 members of the guard with fixed bayonets. He was brought in hand-cuffed last night and I am told caused 3 men a good deal of trouble. It seems, too that when he was in before, the serjeant of the guard was a little careless and on his way to the latrine, the prisoner snatched up a clasp knife from the table and there was an exciting time before he was got under control. But I am taking no chances and don't anticipate any trouble.
The war news of the past few days has been distinctly encouraging, has it not? It's good to know that the Allies are making progress even if it is slow. The main thing is - German military power appears to be steadily diminishing - as also her financial industrial and seapower. I see by tonight's paper there has been another air raid on Ramsgate, Margate & Dover, 2 out of the 10 being brought down. The air raids haven't increased in anything like the proportion foretold after the last big one on London. And you may have noticed that all of the recent ones have been stopped at, or near the coast.
I have seen some fairly recent Calgary papers & have also read the crop reports in the Globe. The western crop prospects aren’t too bright are they! I have been hoping that rains would come in time to relieve the drought, but apparently the southern part of all the prairie provinces is badly burnt out. I know the actual yield is often better than pre harvest reports would lead one to expect, but I’m afraid the best of the south country this year will be none too good. I wonder how our friend Haynes has made out.
I expected some Canadian mail today but none came. Perhaps there will be some tomorrow. Lately it has been arriving about twice a week. I wonder what you are doing now. Back in Owen Sound, I suppose - or perhaps visiting at Beamsville. How I wish I could be with you, wherever you are. I'd make you rest and take care of yourself. Oh, please, dearie, don't work so hard as you did and take more ... Sentence ends here
Thurs. morning. [Aug 23] 11.30
I managed to get a few "snoozes last night although the serjeant of the guard is not supposed to sleep at all. I slept with one ear open however and everything was O.K. About 2.30 it began to rain and continued until nearly 8. Since then it has been fine but cloudy. I don't know where the morning has gone. I haven't had much to do yet the only spare time has all been occupied in writing to Fritz [Moyer] -- the first letter I’ve written him since coming overseas. At that I have done better than he for I wrote him a letter from Toronto and have sent Elizabeth 2 cards.
I have just been looking up my records and find that I have written 21 letters besides yours - 2 to Art 1 each to Pat, Hazel Farley, Elleda, Fritz, Geo. Coutts, Ruby, Ray, Wray, Fred Graham your mother, Mr & Mrs Fallis, Norman Rankin etc etc.
I have also a record of the cards sent and they are even more widely scattered numbering 64 in all. It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but I can’t say it is more satisfying. Still I can’t complain.
Recently I have caught up with my correspondence pretty well. I'm glad for I fear both time and materials will be scarcer in France than here. The only kind of card one is allowed to send from France is the printed form, and there isn't much satisfaction in sending such to one's friends.
It’s dinner time now. After dinner we’ll change guards and then it’s Freddie for the dentist’s chair.
The Canadian mail closes at 3.45 so I'll not get a chance to write more in this letter.
Always you lover
Evelyn to Fred
Aug. 22, 1917. #1
My Dear Own:-
When you look at the date you'll probably think there is a letter missing, but there isn't. You'll see why when I have finished telling you about our trip.
We started out Monday morning about nine o'clock. It was a beautiful morning though it looked a little like rain, and it may have rained in some places. In fact I believe there was a very bad storm in Toronto that afternoon. The country down as far as Mount Forest is hilly and the drive was simply beautiful.
Up on a hill you would look away off across fields of grain, some golden, some turning and some already stooked, away to woods beyond. The scenes so often made you think that Corot might have been painting them, especially when we came into the country of the elms.
We passed through Chatsworth and Durham before we came to Mount Forest. The country around Durham is most beautiful, bursting with fatness you might say. Every here and there, we would pass a stream, sometimes a noisy little brook over pebbles, sometimes a real river flowing between green banks. All the way along I kept pretending you and I were driving together - maybe at home and maybe in England.
I think I should like to have a car and drive home instead of coming C.P.R.
When we got to Mount Forest, father went in for a few minutes to see some people. - the man was his father’s cousin. Just as we were getting ready to start on, dad noticed that one of his tires was bulging out and so he changed it. They were new tires he had on the back, but they weren't good ones. He put on an old spare one which blew out when we got the other side of Arthur. Then he didn't know what to do. He went into a farmhouse and a woman lent him an old tire, which carried us to Fergus. There he bought a new tire and sent the defective one back by express.
I forgot to say that when he got into trouble at Mount Forest, the people insisted on our staying for dinner, although we had our lunch along and were going to picnic by the way. We were glad of our lunch however and before we reached Mr. Sheppard’s, for we didn’t get there until about half-past eight racing a rain there which we beat.
The crops are splendid, that is wheat and oats and barley, but the corn shows the effect of insufficient rain. From Guelph on the road became very dusty, and they say they haven’t had rain here for weeks and weeks. The trees and brushes and grass along the roadsides are grey with dust.
I have felt very well these last few days, but am tired tonight. I think I'll send this page up with Ora and Mae, and start another letter to you tonight. It seems unfair for me.
Evelyn to Fred
No. 2 - Wednesday Aug. 22/17
I didn’t finish my sentence but sent the other letter as it was. They say letters posted Thursday would go out on the English mails, but I thought I’d send the scrap anyway, and add some more to this tomorrow. I don’t care if people do think I spend a lot of time writing to you - you are more to me than anybody else, and a few letters is all I can do for you now. As I started to say in the other letter, it doesn’t seem fair for me to skip any days, especially when I’m just having a good time, but the only time I could have written was yesterday morning when I was sleeping “in.”
Mae’s brother Orrie is home on leave - at least he isn’t her now but in Vancouver. He has been over for more than two years now. He is considering staying in England or France after the war is over. There will certainly be a great many changes in the run of people’s lives, will there not?
Don't you seem far away from me when you don't get letters regularly? I had two letters last Friday but do not expect to get any more for some time to come, as you will have been sending them to Calgary for a few times until you got my letters from the Beach.
To-day I finished the pink repp dress I was started at Elleda’s, and wore it uptown. It looks very pretty and didn’t cost me much more over three dollars.
Ora and I each bought material for a white flannel waist and I got a box of holeproof silk stockings. These things are all going up, and it isn't forcing prices up to buy them when you buy at an old price, knowing the new prices are to be higher. Sometimes I think I am extravagant that I could get away with fewer clothes, and I know I could, yet on the other hand, I don’t get as many as I might.
Of late dearest, I feel so far away from you, and as for my letters, they are just snatches of what I want to say to you. It seems so hard to get away by one's self and really talk to you. I get almost angry about it, but you can't visit with someone here and write to your dearest one at the same time.
Mae is reading excerpts from Jack Canuck. One sentence is “Some Canadian girls went out and picked berries - others stayed at home and picked slackers.”
Of late dearest, I feel so far away from you, and as for my letters, they are just snatches of what I want to say to you. It seems so hard to get away by one’s self and really talk to you. I get almost angry about it, but you can’t visit with someone here and write to your dearest one at the same time.
Mae says Noble is in England. I’ll find out where he is and let you know. Maybe he is near you. I wonder if you went to Bramshott church again, or along Tennyson’s Walk.
It must be very hard for you dearest, to have to live in a hut where there are drunken men, and to hear the language they must use. And some men tell the nastiest stories too. Oh my dearest, sometimes it seems too cruel to be possible for you, and men like you to have to exist under such conditions. You do not know darling, how I love and admire you for what you are doing, especially when in many respects it seems so unfair.
I lost the 191st pin you gave me dearest. I really think it was taken off my coat sleeve. I left it in the car when we went in the house at Mount Forest, and father gave a couple little boys some money to watch things. The pin was not there in the afternoon, though of course it may have dropped out, this I doubt however, for it was a good strong catch on the pin. Of course I can get another one, but not the one my darling gave me over last Christmas together.
It makes a lump come in my throat when I think of that time. You have always been so good to me my darling. It will soon be half a year since you went away. I keep cheered up at present, thinking that at least you are still in England.
This morning when I looked out of the window I saw a pink hollyhock looking in. The flowers and lawns along the road were beautiful so beautiful I longed for you to see them and enjoy them with your old sweetheart.
We were to have gone to Beamsville to-day, but there is something wrong with the "infernal" workings of the car, and it is laid up for repairs, consequently we are staying a day longer than we intended.
It rained all night, started about half-past eight and kept it up until about ten this morning. It has not cleared up yet, and feels sticky and muggy . I feel it now, but at least it isn’t cold. I think sometimes of the people who say they do not like trees, that they “shut them in.” Well, maybe they do, but for my part, I like to be shut in by them and to rest under their greenness, or to rest my eyes by looking at them. I am getting more and more fond of elms. Of course I always have liked maples; they are sort of aggressive trees, don’t you know, but elms are dignified and graceful and stately. They are the old aristocracy of trees.
I hope you are getting your “Globes” regularly. Ora was just reading Norman Lambert’s report in to-day’s issue - the 23rd. I said that I didn’t realize last winter when we were nearly freezing our noses and ears and fingers that the same cold was going to help to save the crop. We would stand it willingly for that, wouldn’t we? You will be glad to know, as I have told you, that the grain crops here are excellent. I do love to see a field of grain stocked [sic] and then beyond a lovely green wood.
Mae has a song “I hear a Thrush at Eve” which she was singing last night, and it made me think of the thrush you were telling me about hearing, and the skylarks too.
In yesterday’s paper there was an “In Memoriam” of Helene Hager. She married Mrs. Trickey’s brother Jack Findlay and died three years ago. The “In Memoriam” was evidently put in by Helene’s mother.
To-day Jack Findlay’s engagement was announced. Of course, people are only human, and it is lonely to think of facing life alone, but I don’t know. Perhaps other marriages aren’t as perfect as ours sweetheart, well, there’s no perhaps about it. In a great many cases people do not marry the right person the first time, but when they do, I cannot see there can be a second perfect marriage. Some I know, if they cannot have the best, are content with the second best.
Ora’s friend had a very sad experience. Her name was Kate Ford, her father was a minister at Clinton. She was engaged for a long time to a medical student and was married as soon as he graduated. After being married two years, a few weeks ago their house got on fire, and in trying to save her and the baby, he was burned to death. I think Kate and the baby will live. And so, after all, not all the sorrow these days comes from the war.
I do not know what to think of the political situation. I do not approve of Sir Wilfrid's platform, yet Borden has bungled so badly one feels he ought not to be allowed to continue in office. I think it is time for a really national leader to come to the fore, if such a one could be found.
The other day we were talking to Stanley Smith about Wilson. He is one who went to the States years ago. He said he used to rip Wilson up the back but he didn’t any more, he thought he was wonderful in being able to wait until he had a united nation behind him. We may have misjudged him, it was hard not to be impatient.
This town is much improved since we were here. The places are better kept up, there is a good bank on the corner opposite Hager's on another corner, and an armouries building, and a small park in front of the station.
The air is heavy to-day. I must confess it. I wonder how you are enduring things. You know I am always thinking of you, and loving you.
Evelyn to Fred
Aug. 25, 1917
As you will see by the heading, I am at your home again.
As you will see by the heading, I am at your home again. We left Hagersville about two yesterday, and got here a little after six. The roads were muddy in the morning, and we waited until afternoon, that they have a chance to dry. There had not been so much rain down here as up around Hagersville and Caledonia, but then they did not need it so much I believe.
We stopped for a short time in Mount Hope, but I did not see either Uncle Smith nor Rud. nor Uncle Case. We were to have been there for dinner on Wed Thursday, and I was disappointed in not seeing them. Auntie Case looks very feeble. It makes you feel that you are getting old when you see your old friends almost ready to die. Uncle Case is over eighty and Ora said he had become very feeble these two last years.
Much of the grain had already been drawn in, we noticed as we came along. You will be glad to know it was such a good crop here. I had a letter from Elizabeth yesterday and she said they had good crops up along the C.N.R You will read Norman Lambert’s reports in the “Globe” A few years ago crops did not interest me much, but now I see how vitally they concern not only the whole country, but the world at large.
I’m not keen on this ink, are you? Is it hard for you to get ink? For I can send you tablets. Also tablets of tea - one makes a cup or something like that. And I'll send you some envelopes too. Let me know when your paper is beginning to get low. Would you rather I'd not send so much at once? I can send pads of onion skin. I am so glad you took your trunk if it has been of use to you. Let me know if you want any more underwear well in advance of the time when you will be needing it.
I was going to write to you last night, but Margaret and I got arguing, up until the time when Ray got home with the mail. I knew there was a letter from you, for Ora had told me over the telephone. She is at Mrs Buck’s, so is Helen Leith, and Bea is at Mrs. Mackie’s, so I’ll see her. I’ll be glad of that.
Ray is going down to Gayman’s this afternoon, and asked me to go along, but I do not think I shall do so, because father telephoned that he has to go home Monday. I may be able to go up with Dave Robson’s at the end of the week, but it does seem rather foolish to pay my fare up for the sake of staying a few days longer. You see if it were convenient for the folk here, I could stay longer than the end of next week, but I’ll be sick then and they’ve had enough work around here this summer without my causing them any more.
I hope you won't think, if my visit is short here, that it is so intentionally, but rather because of other things I cannot control. Your mother understands, anyway, and that is really the chief thing, isn't it?
I told you I wrote to Mr. Macleod, did I not? Last night I had a very nice letter from him. He said that I knew that anything I did about the time I went back was all right. I had asked him, as I think I told you, if I could help him when I went back and he said that he would be very glad to have me under him, though he had heard a suggestion that I read law with Mr. Clarke, which he was sure I would find very profitable. That would be a good opportunity, wouldn’t it dear?
If they were opposed to women in law, they could give me work that wouldn't help. Mr. Macleod is very fond of saying that you'll have to take a back seat when you come home, and you know how several have said that I was doing your work. Not much danger, is there old dear?
But I am gratified if they even suggested that I should read with Mr. Clarke, for unless I am unduly optimistic, it shows that they think I have tried to do my work well, and have in a measure succeeded. You don't know how much it means to me to be able to talk these things over with you, for you won't think me conceited, even though you may think my judgment poor.
Did I tell you I sent your picture in to be included in this year’s Varsity supplement, and that I ordered a copy of last year’s also? I believe I did tell you that, but it is rather hard to remember everything.
Margaret and I may go down town this afternoon. Tomorrow is your father’s birthday, and I want to get something for him. If I had only know I might have brought a pair of those nice white Jaeger socks for him. Margaret is knitting him a pair. She made him a pair of them for Christmas and he liked them very much. I have one sock done, all but taking it off the needles and I do not know how to do it myself, and Margaret does a different kind of toe from this one that Ora taught me.
Tell me dearest, which boxes carry best. The tin ones or the corrugated cardboard ones. You said the round tin one carried better than the oblong ones. Art like the cake about as well as you did, he said he could eat it every day. He and Captain Douglas were keeping it to themselves. How did Scotty come out in the Aldershot races?
It is cool, almost cold to-day, like fall, and there have been occasional showers. Mr. Tinlin was over at dinner time and stayed an hour or more. Mother and father are at Will Culp’s. They were going to St. Catharines and Margaret and I would have liked to go along; but we were not taken. It was Mr. Culp’s car. Margaret had been invited to spend this week-end with John and Betty at the Port, but she isn’t there.
May and Lina [Moyer] were up Tuesday. Margaret says Lina is disappointed in not coming west, but that Wray tried to dissuade her, saying it was not a very good use to make of her college course. She thinks he did not want Lina to go out there. I don't know.
They all notice a change in Wray, say he tells everybody how bad his heart is. I hate to see him reduced to that level. Of course I told Lina the truth about the position; it would not have hurt her to have an easy position for a year, and she then might have got on the teaching staff.
At any rate, she won't keep me up late at night, will she? I don't quite think it was any of Wray's business; it wasn't as if I were getting her out there under false pretences. I know she would not have to use her education in every way, but it would be a business training for her. Oh, well, I'm not grieving but I don't want her to be made to think I'd get her into something unsuitable.
We’re going down town and Ray is nearly ready. I am feeling strong again.
I wish so much you could be here now darling, we should all be so happy then I am sure.
Your own sweetheart.
Evelyn to Fred
Monday Aug 27. 
At the risk of being considered rude, I have come upstairs to write to you. We have finished the dishes, and Pauline and Ray are, or were singing, for he has left and come upstairs.
Yesterday was a very busy day. We all went to church in the morning, that is, Ray and Margaret and I. Ray and Margaret were invited up to the Bridgeman's for tea, and Margaret asked if she might take me along. They had had about four guests for dinner who had left when we arrived, but there were three motor loads there.
About sixteen people who stayed about an hour. Ray says he does not know whether you have ever been there. I should like you to go for the sake of seeing the wonderful locust trees and the green lawn outside, and the big fire place and old walnut furniture inside. I was so pleased to go because Gordon Manning was there. He was wounded in the stomach or abdomen by a shell.
Last night when we were out in front of the church waiting for the car he came over to me and said "Are you the worrying kind?' "Oh some" I said, "Well don't," he answered, and went on "Look at me. I wrote to my mother not to worry for I was coming back. When they took me into hospital in England the nurse said 'Where shall we put this man?' and the doctor said, 'Oh, it doesn't make any difference.' but I knew I was going to get better." And he said some other things that comforted me greatly. Also he spoke in admiration of you, and you know how that would make me feel toward him. He showed some interesting maps of France and told us how they direct gunfire.
He was with the Northamptonshire Regiment; the one that was at Quebec with Wolfe and oh, I forget the names of the other battles. It’s something to have a name, isn’t it?
He says we're the most bombastic people on the earth, and that the British aren't always praising the Canadians. Why should they be for that matter? He says they'd never send him back to France, but would keep him in England so he's going to try to get an instructor's position here. Why shouldn't he?
He asked about Fritz and how he was getting on. I said, when he asked me, if he didn't have a pretty good thing, that he had been in a good firm and then decided to try it alone, and told him what Fritz had told me about Drumheller He said "I always trusted Fritz so." Then he was speaking about our country after the war and said he was looking to the big men who went over, and men like you and Fritz who went west. But to my mind, Fritz has not a big enough vision to be a nation builder. It is very hard to steer around the questions fond or inquiring relations ask.
I wonder if I told you about Wray. Margaret said that anybody could see that he didn’t want Lina to go out west. She said he had too much sense to try to dissuade her, but he told her it wasn’t much of a use to make of her education, and then behind her back, almost made fun of the position.
Margaret thought that Wray did not want Lina to know anything about his mode of living, and Ray and she both asked me if I saw much of him. Well, I know I have felt hard towards him because he did not enlist long ago, before last summer and I think he avoided us too. I said I didn’t know his friends but I did know he stayed up till all hours, at night, studying and working and then didn't get down until late.
Mother saw Lina the other day and she said the executors thought she ought to teach, and Wray threw cold water on the scheme. I see the executors point of view, but she is making only 80 a year more at that, and has to pay 8 a week for her board, without laundry I presume, so she won’t be much further ahead.
I don’t want to be unfair, but I can plainly see how what Wray would say would affect the executors’ opinion of the position. He puts me in the light of trying to get her out there into a poor position. Well, it would suit her better I know, for it’s easier than teaching if one dislikes it.
I don’t care so much about her not coming, but I am incensed at Wray - I think he might mind his own business. I was surprised to hear Ray say that he was rather disgusted at him for telling, every place where he went, how bad his heart was. If he would stop smoking a bit, he might “have a heart.”
That’s a whole page on grievances, but I don’t make any apology for writing it. Now I am going downstairs to visit with Pauline. Afterwards I’ll tell you about last night.
Margaret and I walked up with Pauline and then back. It is a wonderful sight with the moon nearly full, so bright that the trees threw shadows across the fields. The air is soft and warm and there is a breeze.
If you were here we might go out into the woods at the brow of the hill. You know dearest, one's other friends seem very unresponsive and unknown compared with one's greatest and dearest friend and lover.
I have been re-reading the other part of the letter, and I realize I may be putting Margaret’s interpretation on Wray’s actions which may not be the true one. And although I am disappointed about Lina, yet in a way I am relieved because at times I got qualms lest we should not get along well together.
So don’t let it worry you for it doesn’t me. Anyway, I don’t just know when I’ll be going back, for although I am feeling well again, for once I am going to be sensible and be guided by the doctor. I am so sleepy nowadays. I can’t seem to get enough.
Last night darling, I dreamed you were close beside me and the feeling was so intense, I awoke. How I long for the time to come when I wake in the night to be able to snuggle up close, oh, so close, so close to my own lover. Do you feel me near to you, dearest, even among your unlovely surroundings?
Ray has just come in. I am hoping there may be a letter from you dearest. If there were, I could go to sleep in your arms, with your kisses on my lips.
Your own wife.
Tuesday noon [Aug. 28]
No word came to me last night but your mother received a card dated the 15th August. The last I have had is dated the 5th, so I presume my letters have been going to Calgary. You had better send them to Owen Sound until I tell you differently. I am getting impatient though, and feel I want to be back at work, though Margaret, and everyone in fact, advises me not to go back too soon.
Last night we came to bed in decent time but the night was unsettled. First it was very windy, then it rained, and I woke up early in the morning which has not been my custom. In the night something was banging by the front door, and barefooted I got up to see what it was. I stepped into water out in the hall, so lighted the lamp and sopped up the water. I was afraid it might be enough to go through the ceiling below. To-day is dull and cool.
I helped Margaret make rock biscuits for you this morning, scrubbed the potatoes and washed up the bake dishes. That's quite a morning's work for me. The wash woman is here, and Ray has gone to Hamilton with eggs. He gets 50¢ a dozen here from Mr. Sinclair, and I do not know how much in Hamilton. Some time ago they found a hidden nest with 72 eggs in it. They have been able to use about half of them, but it’s too bad to see so many wasted.
I wanted to ask you about your tooth. Is it the one at the side I was always wanting you to have attended to? And is it finished now, and how does it look?
Yesterday father and mother and Ora were here for dinner. If I cared to, I could stay here a couple weeks longer and they would come after me, but Margaret is due to be ill the same time I am, and she needs to have things made as easy as possible, instead of harder. She does not know when she’ll be called to Toronto, but is expecting the call any time in September.
She said father’s birthday was last Sunday, and sat up late Saturday night finishing a pair of socks for him. I got him a good hot water bottle, at her suggestion, and when I gave it to him he said it wasn’t his birthday so I took it away again. He looked just like a kid who has had something taken away from it, but didn’t say a word and we all laughed at him.
Then Margaret wanted to know if I wasn’t going to let him have it, so I gave it back to him. He was greatly pleased with it, and I told him it was from you and me. His feet get cold in the winter, and I, for one, know the advantage of a hot water bottle in such a case, for I used mine until well on in June this year.
My dearest, sometimes it seems as if you must be coming back in a week or two and my heart seems light and happy. Really dearie, I have not much fear for you, and do not worry much, because I believe so firmly that "there shall no evil befall thee.
You will know by what I have written lately that I have enjoyed a great part of my holidays. Sometimes I feel conscience smitten for telling you my "sorenesses" for it seems I have by far too many, and after all they count for so very little and so soon pass away. They are like mosquito bites. I'm afraid one letter won't hold any more of this paper, so goodbye my own darling.
Evelyn to Fred
Aug. 30, 1917
This morning when I got up at a very late hour I found your letter of the 13th of August waiting on the table outside. Mr. Tinlin’s lad had brought the mail up last night and evidently did not bring it over until this morning.
If you were anxious to make better marks in your shooting I am very sorry you did not do better, but I think you did well for it must be awfully hard work to do shooting under such conditions. If only there were no necessity for trying.
Margaret is writing a little bit to help make you feel you are not neglected. Yesterday was so full, after I got up, that there really wasn’t time. I washed dishes cooked the dinner and packed your box. Margaret wasn’t feeling very well and the Bridgeman’s were coming down for supper, and she was expecting her friend Miss McKinley also, but she didn’t come. Then Lina came up on the evening train and we had a gossip.
Maybe Margaret told you that Wray brought Lina up on a visit a few weeks ago. The real reason, she says was that they he wanted to see Pauline, and they are both cross because if he does want to see her, he doesn’t come up frankly to see her, and not be able to hide behind the skirts of his mother or his cousin. It was really very funny to hear them discuss it.
One night Wray went up with her, and stayed late. After a long time your father got sore and went down and blew out the light. That made me giggle. If I wanted to I could have some fun with Wray, but I won’t bother him. Lina said when Pauline was down there that one night Pauline stayed up until 1.30 spooning with him. She said she stayed up as long as she could and finally went in at eleven.
Her mother was very angry, and said if she were going to stay there another night, she’d sit out on the hammock herself, until three o’clock if necessary. It’s a pity that a nice girl holds herself so cheap but that doesn’t excuse Wray. If they love each other why don’t they get married; if they don’t intend to, then they ought not to act that way.
We took several pictures to-day - I hope they are good. Ray and Lina and then Margaret and I went up on the rocks above the orchard this afternoon. Ray, Lina and I had our pictures taken sitting down in front of some rocks. As we got up, I turned around and saw a snake and screamed. Then Lina saw it and she screamed harder than I did.
I was telling Ray the other day that I thought it would be nice to buy this place, and Lina was saying she’d like to buy it, so we were discussing it and sparring as to which one would have enough money first, but after we saw the snake Ray said they’d lost the sale of the place because neither of us would buy it when there were snakes.
Dave phoned a few minutes ago and I am going to meet him on the ten car tomorrow. Laura is coming on to meet it.
Your mother urged me to stay now for two or three weeks until father should come down again, but I had my plans made to go home and would rather go now. It's rather queer isn't it, I did so want to go to Hazel's and at the time it seemed selfish to go, and now it would have worked out all right if I had gone.
However I might have found the trip rather too much for me. As it is, I feel very much better and as if I were getting tired of holidays. I want to have the doctor examine me and find out just what is the cause of this trouble.
Mrs. Robson just telephoned now and said they were staying at Mr. Buck’s all night, and so I’ll go up with them in the morning. Won’t it be a beautiful drive in the morning? Yesterday was rainy and cloudy, but to-day was beautiful. I went with Ray to take Lina down to the station tonight, and as we drove home the moon was full, and oh, how I wanted you.
Do you think it will be so very, very long before you are home again? Sometimes it seems as if I forget how it feels to lie in your arms, and have you kiss me and to kiss you in turn. Do you think I'll have to be trained for it again. Do you know sometimes I feel like a disembodied spirit?
Since I came down here I have felt so much better. My mind is at ease and I feel so much brighter. Someway or other, dearest, but it won't do you any good for me to worry, and anyway, I feel that you are safe. Maybe you think to yourself that if I knew conditions I couldn't feel that way, yet I do.
Will you forgive me dearie, if I cut your letter short. It is nearly ten and I have yet to write to Luella and tell her I am not going to her place. Also, my pen is running dry, and I do not want to go downstairs to refill it.
I’ll certainly pass on what you said about Mr. Shaw, that shows what manner of man he is. I like you for sending such news back instead of criticism
The box sent to-day contained rocks that Margaret made, currants, a few candies and some milk chocolate. I told Margaret I thought she might as well keep the pair of socks she had ready for a time or two as I thought you had a fair supply. But I don't know how long a pair lasts. Please let me know from time to time how you are supplied with various things.
The picture of the Embankment sent by Carlton McNaught looked very familiar. Sometime we'll walk along there again. May it be soon. Oh my own, if you were here tonight.
Your sweetheart and wife.
Evelyn to Fred
Owen Sound, Ont.,
I have your letter of the sixth of August. How faithful you are about writing. And of late I seem to have stopped several days, though I make up for it some the next time. I am not going to write much tonight not much except to tell you how I love you. It seemed to me to-day that I longed for you so much that I grew faint and numb from longing. I shall be glad when I get back to work.
Your idea that I have been bearing lots of fruit made me smile. I had strawberries and raspberries here and at the beach, but at Beamsville I had one raw apple. I could have had more apples. Your people haven’t any garden and so they don’t have many vegetables, cabbage is about all Ray can eat and onions so they have what he can eat - I had some tomatoes before I went down, and some at Bridgeman’s Sunday night. Peaches are very scarce, also plums and apples, but from what I could see from the road there seem to be a lot of pears. We had some coming up, bought them in Hamilton.
And I must air my grievance about green peas. I had them only once just a few with carrots. We couldn’t get them out at the Beach, and they don’t seem to last very long here. But I’m going to see to it that I have all the green corn I want. I’ve had it twice once at Mae’s, and last night at Mr. Buck’s when I went in to say good-bye to them. It does seem so strange though, not to have fresh vegetables at your place, but your mother said it was so wet they couldn’t get it in.
Of course the chickens have to be attended to first, because they are the mainstay of the house. I do think a nice garden is a pretty fair prop though. They are even buying their potatoes. You see, living so far from a store as your people do either they must produce their own things or often times go without, unless one is constantly going backwards and forwards to the store, which busy person can’t do.
Mother and Margaret urged me to stay, but I thought it best to come back now. Although Mother is better, she shouldn’t do any more than necessary; and I think Margaret has had a hard summer. She is very disappointed because she heard they weren’t to be called to the Base Hospital in Toronto until next spring.
You know she does flare up, and say a lot more than she means, and she said she hated private nursing and wasn’t going to do it. She was meaning forever and ever, but of course the others didn’t understand what she meant. Her hospital training has caused her to look for a wrong motive instead of a good one first un instead of taking it only reluctantly when proven forced to do so.
She and Ray and I had quite an argument at the dinner table one day and finally Ray said “Well, life is either a blot or it isn’t” and she said “It’s an awful mess.” Margaret has exceedingly fine qualities, but I wish I could help her to have a different view of life, for I believe hers is a false one, and she can never be happy nor as useful as she might be, as long as she holds it.
I just wondered from your letter if you were a little hurt that J.M. did not do more than merely acknowledge your card. I’m going to write to Mr. Robertson sometime soon; he’s about the only one to whom I have not written. I am anxious to know how Mrs. Robertson’s sweet peas came along.
I certainly had a good time the week I spent down there. Everyone was so good to me, I felt as if I ought to take my turn being good to people, but I don't seem to.
Maybe I have been hard on Wray, but oh Fred he isn't living up to the best that is in him. Why was it that Lina and Margaret, independent of each other, thought he didn't want Lina to get out lest she find out some of the things he was doing.
Of course, Margaret’s view of life might have made her suspicious, and probably the way he was carrying on with Pauline might have made them think she wasn’t the only one with whom he acted that way. I hate such conduct in a man - of course I do in a girl too, but I think a decent man should be about it.
How can I be good to him? I rarely see him, and I haven't time to ask him to meals. I guess I am hard on some people and I am sometimes sorry for it. You are so good my dear one.
Owen Sound, Sunday, Sept. 1, 1917.
Well, we had green corn out of our own garden for supper, and tomatoes. We had to buy the tomatoes and as yet they are expensive here, 3 lbs. for 25¢. the corn was delicious. I had a letter from Berta which I believe I’ll forward to you. Her father must have a splendid garden - you don’t need to bother returning the letter, you may destroy it.
I have your letter of the sixth of August. We had a pleasant trip up yesterday. I saw Laura [Wright] in Hamilton for a few minutes, and she is most anxious to come out with me, and be settled as to what she is going to do.
We made another call in Hamilton and left there about eleven. We ate our lunch the other side of Freelton, stopped in Arthur for ice-cream, and then stopped this side of Durham and had some more of our lunch. We arrived here at seven just after they had decided we weren’t coming last night.
...Do you know what I was thinking as we came along? I was wishing that we had horses and might ride up horseback, in the fall when the leaves would be turning. You would have been so pleased at the splendid crop of grain and potatoes.
But down south the potatoes aren’t much good - though Mrs. Robson says her father planted 1 1/2 bushels of Irish Cobblers and had 25 when he dug them. They are an early variety. I guess your people aren’t the only people down here buying potatoes. And mother said she didn’t have any fruit down there either.
It’s funny about cherries. Mrs Robson said they were poor down there but a store keeper here told mother the people around here hadn’t time to pick them. If things were properly organized they wouldn’t have gone to waste.
I noticed many women on the fields as I came up. Had I felt well I should have liked to go out working. Did I tell you about some of the business girls at home planting potatoes. Mrs. Robson was down in Boston recently, visiting Edith and she said they had potatoes planted in front of the public buildings and in the front lawns. The people over there do seem to be going at things in earnest.
This morning Herb Stafford phoned over from Southampton and four of them came over this afternoon. There are three of Dave’s so you see we are pretty full. I slept in the attic last night, but I guess mother and Ora will have to sleep there too tonight.
I was in bed by ten and slept soundly until awakened at 7.30 by a steam roller outside. I’d rather sleep up there because down here I hear every time any one turns over. I didn’t sleep well at night down at Beamsville but I made up for it in the morning. Margaret said I shouldn’t write to you just before going to bed that it was too exacting.
...After Ora came home she made a big sultana raisin cake and some rocks. The cake is for you and Art, and some rocks too. She has to leave early Monday morning so I'll pack the boxes next week.
To-day I bought David Grayson’s “The Friendly Road,” which I am going to wrap and send to you. After you have finished it, will you give it to a Y.M.C.A. reading camp? I hope you get it while you are in England. I meant to get it before I went down south and I wish I had.
Tonight we had the most delicious comb-honey. I am going to see if I can get a tin box to fit it, and send you some in the comb. It was this year’s honey, so delicious.
Also I got some material to make your mother one half dozen good-sizes dish towels. Margaret said she laughed at the small ones, and they are a nuisance, I get wiping with my hand sometimes instead of the cloth. I am going to give them to her for her birthday.
Guess I'll have my bath now - it's nearly half-past eight - before the others want to come up.
Your loving sweetheart.
Sunday afternoon. [Sept. 2, 1917]
I didn't go to church this morning but stayed at home and got dinner, and had it ready when they all got home from church. Herb’s wanting to leave early so they got away at half-past one.
After finishing the dishes (I didn't do them alone) I came up and had a sleep.
Yesterday I got a notice to pay 15.00 interest on a loan on a policy. If I have money at the end of the year, don’t you think I’d better pay it back? Of course it’s only 6.70, but you’re not absolutely sure of that steel co. of Canada. However, you know more about these things than I do and if you think best I’ll not repay this loan at present.
I must confess I have not read all the Globe editorials because sometimes I have not seen the paper at all, especially out at the Beach. There are a lot around here, however, and I'll cut out some of the editorials for you.
This is a homesick day for me. I don't know exactly why, but I just want you and nothing else. At any rate, I know I have your love and that you are thinking of me.
Ora goes away very early in the morning. It will be very lonely without her as we have spent practically all our holidays together. I ought to be thankful that we had as long as we have had. There’s generally a bright side to most disappointments, though sometimes our eyes are so blinded we can scarcely see it.
I must send you some more sterno, and a little stand. Does it get to be a liquid when it is hot? I was told a can would burn for four hours, but yours didn't did it? From what you say, your watch isn't keeping good time. Mrs. Dempster said Nelson had several which didn’t keep good time over there, so they sent him an Ingersoll. Would you like an Ingersoll?
I’ll send Mrs. Coutt’s letter tomorrow, there isn’t enough room here.
When do you need more paper?
Your loving wife.
1. 'Kiltie' was the nickname given to Canadian Scottish battalions, of which there were several.
2. The Lewis machine gun was an American light machine gun which became the principal type used by British and Empire infantry.