France, May 17, 1917
I have quite a bunch of letters to answer, as my mail had accumulated while I was on my way to my battalion (8th); but I will give yours, received today, precedence, in case anything should happen.
I never had any very distinct idea that you cared about me in any way, except, perhaps, as our mother's son. If I had, I do not think I would have written as I did. So that the whole tone of your reply was unexpected.
Somehow, ever since I can remember, you have been my model of all a girl and woman should be - for I had my ideas well fixed by the time you went to Welwyn. But it was all very impersonal, for you had so far the start of me that we couldn't very well be brother and sister until I grew up. For the last few years, whenever I have thought of the matter, it has been with sorrow that I had no place at all in your love and esteem. If I blamed anyone, it was myself, but I though it was the natural outcome of the difference in our ages, and let it go at that.
The one thing that seemed to me to be unpardonable in your remarks about Elsie, was when you told me that you wished your girls never to know anything about her past; if it could be helped. As if she had committed some crime against nature, God, and ourselves, the knowing of which would do them harm. I made up my mind then that you would never hear of her through me.
If you have not intentionally showed disapproval of Lilly's companionship with her cousin, then of course there has been a mistake which you and she have doubtless found and remedied before now. So let that pass.
It is rather curious that we should wait until war has separated us before we even begin the process of adjustment. I hope that our misunderstandings may be cleared up, as some greater ones are being. I have spent two evenings on this letter. If I have not covered the ground as well as it can be done at present, it is because I can't quite wake up to the obvious fact that, after all, you do think of me as a brother.
We are having an easy time, resting up the old-timers after the strenuous work last time in, and getting us new-comers acquainted and broken in. We probably have an important part, in the near future, to play in the big advance, for the Eighth are very nearly the backbone of the Canadian army. It will be flesh and blood meeting rending chemicals and flying steel, but we will hope for the best. As a fellow said this afternoon, "we all expect to come back". I keep hearing of friends and former comrades who have met stronger forces than they could cope with, Harry Thompson, Lents, Hetherington and Allin of the 203rd, the latter married but three months. Now comes the news of Charlie's death, and I am more than a little unbalanced. I remember the last thing he wrote to me from Orprigton hospital: - "May you never see the trenches".
We are all hoping here that peace will not be delayed until we have driven the Germans back completely, for it will take a long time yet.
Love to everybody.