Letter to Alice Crump, 14 May 1915

Letter to Alice Crump, 14 May 1915

P.P.S. I have to stick two stamps on the envelope every time I write to you, dear. I think I shall have to shorten my letters, or else I shall be ruined.

11 Marchmont Road
May 14th.

Dear Alice,
I am writing this just before dinner at my usual place near the window. It is a little after five on Friday, and the week’s work is just about over, except for tonight’s swot. It is cold outside, tho’ a watery sun has been shining all day. It has been cold in fact for the last few days, and yesterday, to crown all, we had a heavy fall of snow and everything outside was covered and white. When I was going down to early lecture yesterday, the trees in the “Meadow” down here, were beautiful in the morning sun with their branches covered with the snow. And from the top of some steps alongside the Academy of Art, where I go down every morning, the view down onto Princes St. was very fine with all this snow about. Princes St. is fine at any time, for beside the nice buildings and shops on one side, there is a Park bordering the other, and above the Park looms the castle on the cliff. In the early mornings there is always mist lying about in the lower parts of the city, and it adds to the picturesqueness rather. But with all that, the climate is devilish. I have had a cough the last week – ever since I wrote to you last – and it hasn’t gone quite yet. However, I am feeling alright now, tho’ I felt pretty rotten on Sunday, and stayed indoors all day.

Well, Alice, I should have come to the point before and told you sooner, but I have joined the 16th Battalion, Royal Scots, and am now a full blown private, having been sworn in, and medically examined. I am in what they call the ‘Students’ Company’ made up of students from the university, although, so far, I know of only two others in it. But I suppose there are others too. Although I have joined – it was on Tuesday – yet we medical students are not to be called up till our examinations are over at the end of the session which will be about the end of June. So we shall be our own masters till we are called up. I am glad they are giving us an opportunity of getting our exams off. We shall have left our course at a definite place then, instead of having to do it all again afterwards.

I told you in my last letter that I was awaiting a reply from the War Office. Well, I got it on Monday, and it was disappointing, tho’ they put it nicely and expressed their regret at their not being able to break one of the regulations. However, it cannot be helped, and so I joined the Royal Scots. I suppose we shall get our uniforms soon. I shall wear mine on occasions, for we get into picture houses for half-price, I believe. I don’t know what they are like. We have to attend drills at some place or other, when we have the time, and lectures don’t interfere.

Although medical students have a good excuse to stop behind and have been advised to stay, because of the serious scarcity of doctors that will occur, yet, as it has been said, there should be no such excuse for the first year student. I’m not so bally keen on the whole business, but if the numbers are not maintained, conscription will come as sure as anything, here in England and in Scotland. And I want to offer before that occurs. But I wish I were with the NZ lot. You know how it is with me, dear, don’t you? I am relieved now that I have joined. After you have received this letter, Alice, you ought to address your letters to my uncle in England, I think, for he will know where to forward them until I let you know my address. I shall not know for some time yet, what my address will be when I go from here. My uncle’s address is, ‘c/o Rev. George Grace, The Vicarage, Stanstead Abbots, Ware, Hertford.’ That is, until I let you know what my address will be. I shall have to try and see my uncle before I am called up, so that I can arrange about any little matters that may be necessary.

I have written to Father, telling him about it. He will be a bit disgusted, I think, for he thought I wouldn’t be joining out here. Anyway, the thing is done, and I am glad.

Now for a bit of news, if there is any to tell. We have what are called ‘class exams’ next week. They are sort of preliminaries to the professional exam at the end of the session. I shall have to swot my subjects up a bit, so as to be ready for them. On Monday and Tuesday we have a holiday, and so no lectures to attend. I don’t quite know what I shall do on those two days. We have four days off – tomorrow and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday. Let me see, I think I’ll take a run out to NZ and see how my dear little girl is getting on. It will be one day out to there, one day going up on the train to Eltham which arrives at 6.15 then we shall be able to have one night’s music along with a walk outside, if it’s fine, and the other two days to come back here and start my lectures on Wednesday morning. What happiness it would be, Alice dear, if we only could spend a little time with each other! It’s always the same thing I wish for – your dear company, sweetheart. I am always wondering how you are, and where you would be, in that home I know so well.

Where I seem to see you most is in the music room playing, or writing to me. I can see you at the piano practising away hard at your pieces, and then about lunch time getting the things ready for lunch in the dining room. There will be no tennis of course now, and if we were together the fire would be alight in the dining room in the afternoons and we could read ‘Sesame and Lilies’ sitting on the fender. But we would not do a great deal of reading, I think. Do you remember the afternoon you were unwell, and couldn’t go over to tennis, and you had to sit or lie, rather, on the verandah chair, while I read to you? Well, you wouldn’t let me go over to tennis, and I had to stay and read to you. We read ‘Tale of Two Cities’.

Ah, Alice, I am afraid it’s ‘out of sight, very much in mind’ with me instead of the other saying.

I will stop this now, and finish it tomorrow. Goodnight, dearest.