A.A. Laporte Payne letter 5th December 1916
Dec 5th 1916
Two mailless days followed by one in which we received a lovely big bag brought me two together from you. I was in the courtyard of our medieval chateau when the mess cart arrived at dusk. I had the mail out in no time and I sorted it out myself in the dim banqueting hall of the Left Section with the help of a candle, a sergeant and two gunners. Your loved and familiar handwriting was soon recognised and then another (of your, I mean) made me more than happy. I had to keep them until after tea when I could read them in peace and a certain amount of comfort by the fire in the mess.
Now what on earth is worrying you? The first page was filled with assertions of your ‘rottenness’! You say “I am sure you wouldn’t like me if you knew my real self”. Well tell me what you are really like and see! You must be a terrible person. Tell me all about it if you want to; but if you don’t want to I don’t wish to hear. I hope I shall survive in either case. Are you afraid of being a fallen idol? But I am sure it is all imagination on your part. If you talk about your being unworthy of my love and all that sort of rot you will drive me frantic, knowing as I do who is the unworthy one. Shall we guarded about it?
You were annoyed because I was so nice to Mrs. Cross and did not take any notice of you! Oh! You little child! Oh Yes, I see is that it? You were piqued and determined to make another conquest. Is that all? Perhaps that is what you want to tell me.
Another grouse “He felt he ought to tell me just as strongly as you felt you ought not”. He succeeded. I failed. Thank you. It is difficult to explain another person’s point of view! Still I fail to see why he felt he “ought to”. I must be talking in the finer sense. I still think he was impertinent.
Still another grouse! If you want to write don’t let me stop you. Seriously you will never be able to write too many or too much for me.
Lastly (I can’t write any more with that horrible pen) how polite you are! You won’t have any difficulty in seeing me furiously angry if you see me for any length of time !! Thank you. I quite see that my company for any length of time is quite liable to make anyone furious.
Now, having made myself most disagreeable I will try and be nicer. Try! I do love ragging you (I was going to say something else but it would have been rude). You are adorable when annoyed. I can imagine a delightful little snort after each silly remark I have just made. And for each snort I would have a kiss to the nth.
You darling, thank you so much for your good wishes. Who told you it was my birthday?
I shall have to speak severely to someone. It always has been a great secret because I hate anyone asking my awful age.
I have been writing letters to night my correspondence had been sadly neglected lately. I have left yours till last, as I always open your letters last. I get the disagreeable things done first.
It is now 1 a.m. – delightful hour! I wish you were here all alone with me. Oh! Yes I would behave. I would sit on one side of the fire and you on the other.
What delightful letters you write. Perfectly written and no mistakes. Mine make me ashamed in comparison. Please forgive all mistakes and blots. I am losing all power of coherent thought and expression.
This day last week I started to write to you and this is what I wrote:
Tuesday, Last night was, I believe, Monday night. What were you doing? You know the saying “Lucky at cards, unlucky in love”. Well I was playing picquet with the Captain and won most hopelessly. Perhaps it was because you were angry with me for that frightfully rude and unkind letter I wrote. Perhaps not. No doubt you will punish me with empty mail bags. My anxiety for the arrival of the mess cart must be causing the battery some amusement.
Wednesday night. My extraordinary luck at cards was worse last night. I won again and my spirits have fallen correspondingly as is shown in my inability to write anything until I hear from you. Three times I have attempted to write but have given it up in despair.
Tonight I played bridge and lost beautifully. Hurrah. Once I was doubled and was five shy in Royals (not hearts). It is, I hope, a good omen.
No doubt you are fast asleep now – sleeping the sleep of the just (whatever that may be).
We have had two gas alarms tonight; but nothing came of it. I might have some luck one day and get a nice ‘Blighty’ if you know what that means. I should ask all the fair ladies of my acquaintance to push me about in a bath chair. They are so numerous I should have a delightful time – there are I think – one! Only one. (That’s good grammar). This is not a nice letter I know. I am flippant and silly tonight because I am a bit gloomy. I was wondering when I am going to see you again.
Now I must shut up and go to my blankets (it can’t be called a bed)
dear Miss Cross,
(well you put it)