David to May HOLZMINDEN January 16th 1918
I have your letters of November 21st and 28th and now today one of the 19th which gives me the first short account of the Bazaar. You poor little girl – how thoroughly fagged out you must have been. I know there is nothing more tiring than standing about all day when you are not used to it, and you certainly would not have stayed there until 1.30 in the morning if I had been with you, even if I had to carry you home. Surely somebody could have relieved you. What is this that you tell me – that you have been hobnobbing with Princesses, Duchesses, Ladies, Emperors, etc. etc. to say nothing of such small fry as a Marquis, and then on the top of all, this that you have actually (wonder of wonders) been to church (and this on a Sunday too) chaperoned by a clergyman, no less. That Princess of yours was either blind or didn’t know what was good, or she would have bought your socks. I have a pair here which are miles ahead of any others. (Mum only sent me one pair of yours). Certainly as far as the feet are concerned there is not much left of the original, as most of it consists of darn. Truly artistic is this darning too, (you didn’t know I could darn did you) more especially as no two holes are darned with the same coloured wool. At present there is a fierce contest raging between another officer of my regiment and myself over our darning, but of course his can’t compare with mine (although he is of the opposite opinion naturally). Anyhow I am very glad that Bazaar is over for your sake. You did do splendidly and I am awfully glad that your Palmist, being your discovery, was such a success. I want a much fuller account of it all than I have at present.
Your second photo hasn’t yet come, nor has the waistcoat and I do wish they would. Still the anticipation is a great thing. About that visit to church – I am delighted that you should have, at last, turned over that long threatened new leaf of yours. I expect even Maud has hopes of you now. As for me I have wept tears of joy that you have at last listened to the entreaties and supplications, which you know I have continually made to you and now see the error of your ways. Being at a perfectly safe distance I know you can’t reply in your usual way and therefore I am safe.
Talking about church – sometimes on a Sunday afternoon somebody or other gives a lecture and some of them have been very good. One was by the commander of our destroyers in the Jutland fight. He led the attack by the destroyers on the German battle cruisers and I believe got the V.C. for his work during this fight. His boat and another were both disabled and afterwards sunk within a short distance of one another and afterwards he and his men were picked up and made prisoners. He described how previously to this, while he was in command of a destroyer he had taken the crew off a stranded cruiser. The cruiser had run ashore on a rock and it was impossible to get the boats out owing to the rough sea. He therefore run the destroyer alongside and managed to keep it there while the men on the cruiser jumped on to the deck of the destroyer. He was also in the Falkland Islands fight and described this to us too. Its most interesting to hear of these fights from a man who has taken a leading; part in them and although he was out of the latter part of the Jutland fight, that portion that he did see was fine.
Last Sunday we had a lecture on big game shooting in Africa by a Major here. He described how he watched two elands fighting for about a quarter of an hour until one was beaten and went off. Apparently they had not injured one another at all, but afterwards he shot one and then found that it had been cut badly by the other’s horns and was bleeding considerably internally. At another time he was following the tracks of a buffalo through the jungle and suddenly found himself surrounded by a large herd which he had not seen owing to the jungle being so thick, although some of them were only about five yards away. Luckily for him they did not attack as they sometimes do and he got back alright. He told another tale of a buffalo, which had been shot three times, standing at bay until the whole of the remainder of the herd had passed and got away and then fell dead.
In my last letter I asked you to send me “The Builders Clerk” by T. Bales, published by Spon & Co. (Batsfords ought to have it). There is a report here that the decimal system for weights and measures etc. is to be introduced at home. If this is so could you send me a book on arithmetic on the new system as soon as there is one published.
I have been skating. You ought to have seen me. It must have been a glorious sight. As one of the fellows said “Its only a matter of balance” and of course that’s all it is, only I find that I can keep my balance infinitely better sitting down or lying on my back. As it has been freezing here for some time we applied for and got permission to flood part of the enclosure and so formed quite a fair rink, of, I should say, 40 yards by 20. I managed to borrow a pair of skates and so went out to learn how to fall down. Seriously though, it was only when I was inveigled into trying to turn somersaults on one foot and to stand on my head and such like antics that I took a seat somewhat abruptly and even now I haven’t broken my neck. But its grand exercise (I mean skating not breaking your neck). Since then I have bought the borrowed skates and now a thaw has come and there is no more skating. Such is life.
You remember I told you about some relations of the Webbers named Madge – well I had a letter from Charles Webber today and he says “Grandniece Norah Madge” (its a little peculiarity of his to call people Nephew, Cousin, Widow etc. etc.) told me in the office where she is now engaged, was Miss Muggridge whom she knew very well, and I said so do I, and another in the family knows hers”. I don’t know the girl, but it is rather funny she should be in your office.
I have been reading a book about gardens by Dean Hole. It makes one want a garden. Have you ever tried to imagine the sort of garden you would like, and thought of some of the things we will plant in it? I have, only I doubt whether the real thing, when it comes will be like the castle (or garden) in the air, as it will probably not be big enough to hold it all. By the way, Mum tells me that she bought a babes bonnet from you at the Bazaar. Was it the one which you said set you longing?
16th Jan 1918 Destroyer Commander
David to May HOLZMINDEN January 16th 1918