No. 5 Karlsruhe Sept 1st 1917
We have been tremendously busy. We have designed a house for ourselves, written the specification, built it. We have started a business, carried out innumerable large and varied contracts, turned the thing into a company, started a profit sharing scheme for the employees, with a sort of pension fund, etc etc, combined several allied businesses and are now negotiating for several more. All castles in the air – and now I had better start the letter.
Of course I have had no word from you yet and shall not for 3 or 4 weeks yet, but still I am hoping. There is no limit to the number or length of letters we may receive, so please write often and please send a photo of yourself. I left mine in my valise in order not to lose it and I do want another.
Two days ago I had a post card from the Red Cross at Geneva enquiring after my health, so presume you have put an enquiry through them. My ear seems much about the same. The doctor said a few days ago, that as the discharge had continued so long, there was a possibility of the hole in the drum remaining open instead of healing, so now you know what to expect. When you ask some question like “Will you have some more tea”, I shall put my hand to my ear, with my head on one side and reply “Eh? What? Oh yes we’ll do up the river shall we?” But still it isn’t quite as that, as since then, he has examined it and said it was a little better and of course I have the other ear, which is in splendid working order.
Yesterday a parcel came for me from Rotterdam, with nothing to say who sent it. There was butter, jam, coffee, cocoa, bacon and 12 eggs, so I immediately dashed off to the canteen and bought a saucepan and frying pan. Behold me cooking! I rise up early in the morning, s the French exercise says, light the fire, (the fire consists of a few pieces of charcoal in a tinned pineapple tin, with some holes in it) fry the bacon, upset the whole lot, burn my fingers, gather up the pieces and finally fry two of the eggs. Still eggs and bacon and coffee and bread and butter and jam for breakfast are worth it. I shall do it again, even down to burning my fingers.
Could you send me a book or books on Civil Engineering. I want one showing work in and under water such as foundations of buildings, docks, bridges, dams, breakwaters etc. I would like one illustrated and showing fairly small works. Also a book on builder’s bookkeeping and office routine (if you can’t get a better one Course & Co. Theobolds Road opposite Bedford Row sell one), one on the duties of a builder’s foreman, and one on the duties of a clerk of works. I can’t give you any particulars of any of them, but Batsford & Co. (opposite Holborn Music Hall) will give you what I want. Please get the money from Mum.
I have got another Frenchman to “converse” with, so now I walk about each day waggling my head and waving my arms about like a semaphore at a naval review. It takes the place of physical jerks, thus killing two birds with one stone.
I believe there was an account of how we were captured at Nienport in the Daily Mail or one of the papers and I should like you to keep it for me if you can get hold of it. It was published I imagine about July 12th and 13th and will you please keep those papers in which my name appeared in the casualty list if you happen to see it. They may be useful.
I am enclosing a letter to Mum. Will you read what little news is in it and then pass it on and you might tell her the new in this.
Your socks are splendid. Of course I only have the one pair with me, but I must have worn them for 3 months and they have only just got a hole in them and that I have darned so that they are still quite alright.
Yesterday we had another concert. One man sang rather well and at the end there was a sketch, which was absolute fooling, but still rather funny and the fellows acted spendidly.
I hope Mrs Muggridge is quite well again. I hope too, that you yourself have had a holiday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am longing to hear how everything is with you. Write as often as you can.
At present I can only dream dreams. (I expect you are doing the same). How I could whisper them to you.