David to May Holzminden Letter No 24 June 15th 1918
I don’t like the idea of your having a holiday and not going away, but staying home – I know that sort of holiday. Still as I can’t get at you I suppose its no use bullyragging you. Rather funny that you should have written asking what you should start reading, just about the time I wrote. Let me know how you get on and make any notes of any difficulties or write to me about them and do as much drawing as possible, even if it is only rough sketches. Of course take any books or other things of mine that you want.
As regards bookkeeping, you know more about that than I do, as I have never done any. Anyway I expect you’ll have to look after that. And that reminds me – as I am not doing more than a dozen things now, I have just started lessons in horse management from one of the fellows here. So with this and poultry keeping etc I should think it highly possible that I may be able to get a job as a farm labourer some day, always provided, of course, that I study hard at various other things and wear a special costume on the lines of those land ladies you told me about. Your books have not come yet, but I expect they will be here soon, in the meantime I seem to have my time fairly fully employed, if not profitably as I would like.
I have altered the elevations of the house again and I am enclosing sketches, which of course are all out of drawing, but which will, perhaps, give a very rough idea of the alterations I have made. You will see that on the South elevation I have put a bay window to the drawing room and I have only one door leading out into the garden, that from the drawing room, the dining room having an ordinary window now only. I didn’t think that a door from the dining room was needed, and the bedrooms above have no bays now as they would have been of little or no use and of course cost more than the flat windows. I altered this elevation because the whole thing seemed top heavy and ill balanced. With the North elevation I have lowered the roof slightly as this will cheapen things somewhat and I think gives a better appearance and I have put the two top windows in dormers which looks somewhat better I think. Also I have put the entrance to the Kitchen here and the Coal Store in a small projection round the corner on the West side. I have moved the chimney to the Drawing Room next to the Front Entrance, as this will help considerably with the fitted bookcase inside and also will go a long way with a fitted cupboard in the bedroom above.
I am not by any means pleased with any of it though, and am still trying to turn it into something better. Lordy me, how I do want to talk it all over with you. I have also tried to sketch the Hall but….Still it may give you a better idea of the whole thing than the bare plan. Now, pull it to pieces and let me know what you would like and give me any scheme of decoration you think would look well.
I have just got hold of a book on American houses from an architect here, which may possibly have a few useful things in it. That ash shoot was an American idea by the way, but if we have it I think I can improve on it by having a sieve in it too. I have got in touch with several architects and such like people in the camp, but I am afraid most of them will be going to Holland shortly, but still, perhaps I shall catch them up again later on. I think I told you that we have a small meeting once a week, when we discuss various lofty subjects, such as “Housing of the Working Class” etc. It is like brimstone and treacle – does you good, and moreover if you do happen to drop off to sleep, they don’t wake you too violently.
I gave you in one of my previous letters an idea of decoration for the Hall. What do you think of it. Of course the same scheme would have to be carried for the first floor passage, but I don’t think we would have the doors black up there, but the same colour as the other woodwork. I think we might have a hedge running down the road to the front corner of the North elevation, so as to shut off the kitchen etc completely from the front entrance. On the first of this month I wrote a post card to Cox direct, again telling them to pay Mum my balance less £25. Will you ask Mum to find out if they received the post card.
Did I tell you that I had a spring bed? It descended upon me, like the mantle of Elijah, from another man in my regiment who has gone to Holland and who bought it in the early days. It’s really awfully comfy and we do enjoy ourselves. Naturally everybody coverts it and I have been offered untold wealth for it – and abuse when I refuse. My only fear now is that I may wake up one night and find myself murdered by one of the others for the sake of the bed. I have changed my room and altho’ at the time I didn’t care about moving, I am glad now as I like both the men and the room better than the other.
If only that dream of yours about my meeting you at a railway station were true, but your ending, “when I woke up – just in time”, is most unsatisfactory, but still I never have had my way – have I now.
I was rather amused at the idea of Ethel trying to separate us. Your dream too about the ring was splendid and the dream books translation of it too. I only wish I were home and then it would be actually time, wouldn’t it.