3 Oct. 1918
At seven I awoke painfully conscious of rain outside. But someone was whistling a bag-pipe tune in so cheerful a way as is possible of such a variety of music. A delicious breakfast in the dinning room where there was a fine fire in the grate. Later I discovered the people of the place at least a bevy of girls flocked around me to settle my bill, direct me on my way and one who drove a bus took me to my destination.
Larges is a very clean, beautiful little town on some kink in the Firth of Clyde. You look out upon the ocean and a confusion of hilly islands and promontories. There is a flavour of poetry around the hills and islands especially over a high hilly island called Arran. ‘Look at Arran; it is a deep blue this night.’ Those are the words but they are said in Scotch. This I can see from my window. To the south is a row of high grassy hills featured with glens and one single burn. There is one gleaming white cottage standing all alone near the top. Near is the battlefield where the last foreign force got his due in Scotland until this year when the Germans bombed Edinburgh.
The town is expensive looking and out along the roads, within view of the town, are residences of the rich and great. The turrets of Lord Kelvins house shows above the trees to the north. The Earl of Glasgow also has a summer residence near.
The house I am in looks down upon a muddy river and up a deep wooded glen. It is rather more humble in appearance than some though valued at fifteen hundred pounds.
The people are of that variety that make you feel they are not real but characters out of a book. The old lady is seventy nine and moves with the energy of a woman of twenty. She wears a cap of some white trailing material. On the whole she reminds you of Queen Victoria. She is saved from being a living image of the old sovereign by a pair of heavy black eyebrows. They strike you as black though they are tinged with gray. These, with her mouth, tell you at once she is not to be trifled with. The fact is her temper is volcanic and stubborn. Her husband died and she had loved him deeply. One of her boys was killed in France and another died. Still another, who is a preacher, adopted pacifist views and this she said hurt her more than his death ever could for she is a violent Loyalist. Her favourite – Hugh was at the same time tossing on many seas in a hospital ship while Andy, the youngest, was with me carrying stretchers on the Somme. Still she shows no mark of worry and has a ready laugh, a kindly way and the most genteel manner you could imagine. She gave me a gracious hand clasp to welcome me to Scotland and Glenden cottage. She has one servant and troubled to call her Mrs. Higgins for she doesn’t like the independent ways and ideas of equality the lower classes of today possess.
The house is splendid, just my idea of a home. Who ever planned it and arranged it had much of the artistic about him though I think it was the old lady. Great windows look out through trailing vines to a garden of carefully trimmed grass and carefully chosen flowers. It is very modern and yet ancient. The drawing room had a lovely fireplace of white tiling and highly polished brass. There is a piano, great comfortable chairs and cushions, a book case, a cabinet for souvenirs of all over the world and above this is a large mirror in front of which stands a clock in white marble and gilded figures of some group of heroes. It is rather difficult to describe for everything is just a little different than you have seen before. There are few pictures and these are of her various sons and daughters, one of an old Presbyterian minister in his study for she is a minister’s widow. The walls are white and so is all the woodwork. There are some pieces of Willow ware above the picture molding.
We have innumerable meals per day, principally of tea and light biscuits. There is plenty to eat. Mac, or Andy as I must call him here, and I are using our ration tickets. A dozen eggs cost 6 shillings. They allowed me to buy a dozen yesterday to aid the slender menus.
Last evening Andy took me down to see Mr. Morris and his wife. He is a lawyer and like a wise man sought out a rich wife and his house is very rich and comfortable. It looks out from a nest of trees and shrubs over a wide lawn to the ocean and the rocky crags of Arran in the distance. The dinning room contains pictures of the great among his fathers, in oil with deep gilt frames. The old family silver glitters on the table and everywhere there is a quiet richness and solid comfort. One great room contains a billiard table. There are the apparatus of sport everywhere. It was the most beautiful rich mans home I have seen. Andy of course is welcome everywhere in these higher circles of society as the son of their old minister. The Lord of Glasgow admits the preacher as his equal in society. Every one treats me as if they had known me always. They are friendly, most kind and courteous. After tea we sat beside the fire in deep comfortable chairs and talked with Mr. Morris and his wife of many things. She had a little silken dog which preformed amazing war tricks. For food he played ‘Mercy Komrade’ holding up his two paws as a German surrendering and saluted with one paw and when two pieces of bread lay on the floor one ‘Made in Germany’ and the other ‘British manufacture’ he of course chose the latter.
Back for dinner then the ladies told stories about the fireplace in the drawing room. I have forgotten to say there are two old ‘cousins’ visiting. Anglicans. They are here with the one proviso; they must not discuss religious views for all such discussions ended in ‘hysterics and tears.’ At 10:30 the Old Lady bade me a kindly good night, shaking hands in a most elegant fashion. One of these ‘cousins’ is the widow of a clergyman and the other is a maiden lady who has spent most of her life’s energies in the service of the Church. They have some forty soldier boys to whom they send parcels.