A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 20 October 1917
My own darling,
Tonight I really must get a line off to you. What a lot I have to thank you for. Letters – lovely letters and a box of the most delicious walnuts. Thank you ever so much, dear.
I have been atrociously busy. I am in the unenviable position of having to try and act as Battery Commander and Adjutant. Both the Major and the Adjutant are away on leave and I only I am left a remnant in Israel! Or rather the land of bondage.
Since I last wrote I have been up at the Gun line and then running like a frightened hare between Battery and Brigade Headquarters – oh! I have had a lovely time – even shelling can’t distract me now!
No, dearest, I had not realised that we had been engaged six months. It seems much longer owing to this continued and damnable war – only the leaves have gone quickly. You will soon realise that I have no head at all for dates and periods. I can never remember a number. I am full of shortcomings, as no doubt you are beginning to realise.
Please forgive spelling mistakes – I can’t spell tonight. If Hilly gets much ‘higher’ he will begin to – smell – won’t he? No I don’t think His Lordship of Willesden at all interesting.
I have looked through your correspondence and I can’t find a letter of Sept 25th. did it contain anything special you wanted to know?
You do seem to be having a good time. I wish I could be with you too.
At the moment the Boche is shelling us – the moan of the shells is really like what I imagine lost souls would make and the burst like the splash and shake of their arrival in – a splash similar to the one the Kaiser would make – and the buzz of the bits like the annoyance expressed by the occupants at being disturbed by a greater fiend than they. How imaginative I am tonight.
Don’t dream again like that one you described in your letter of Oct 14th or rather I should say don’t get so much that disagrees with you. You ought to become a Mrs H.G. Wells!
I am so sorry ‘Idols’ disagreed with Mrs Cross. I hope she is better now in every way.
Yes! I do remember the night at Eastbourne when you had your own way – the only occasion indeed! There are heaps of other ways of getting what you want. I thought you very spiteful at the time – there now!
You may chuckle. I never do anything so vulgar!!
Has Mrs Cross got over her presentiments yet? And who was the man? I am so sorry you were disappointed.
Thank Mr Paice and the Jacksons for me for their tender enquiries and say how I reciprocate them (is that right, oh! paragon of etiquette?) Let me P’s initials & address
Your book by sapper I read and enjoyed and it was stolen by the major and taken by him on leave – the wretch. I am very angry – oh by the bye did I thank you for it. I have so much to thank you for that I forget half of them.
I have a book by Augustine Birrell, called “Self Selected Essays” which I want to read sometime. I remember meeting his cousin O. Locker Lampson at Salisbury once. I don’t care for the author much – he is a Haldane type.
How is England? Are you all provided with tin hats and dug-outs yet? I wish we had some of the latter here.
The beastly telephone has been going all the time I have been writing – hence the jumble. There is a bit of movement tonight in transport and I have been afraid of my chickens getting damaged – however they are alright now. “All is safely gathered in”
– only one officer made his way across country in the dark with no light and fell into an enormous shell hole full of water.
I must close now and send a line to mother – or she will be getting annoyed with her naughty boy.
With love to you all
(By the bye you did not enclose “the note – such a “nice one” which I presume was from Mrs Cross – I am very angry with you. It is what I have been wanting!)
& with all my best love to you
& many kisses
The Col has just come in in his pyjamas & asked me what I was doing – I said writing private letters – & he smiled a smile and went out.