From 644539. Pte. W. J. Wood. Virginia Water Camp C.F.C.
To Mrs. W.J. Wood. Box 639, Midland, Ont. Canada. Nov 18th 1917
“Forgetfulness,” by Mollie Fulford Brown
Forget you.?_ Well, if forgetfulness
Be dreaming all the day
Of two strong arms and two warm lips
And eyes of steadfast grey; -
If nights that are filled with longing
And a hundred thousand fears,
A weary heart that knows no rest,
A pillow wet with tears;
Two trembling lips that plead in prayer
To one who forgetteth not_
Dear, if this be forgetfulness
Thou art indeed forgot!
My Dear Little Wife:-
Realizing as I do that the above is only to true a portrayal of my loved one. I hasten though late, to assure her that I too remember the unspeakable gladness that was coming into my life within a couple of days and a month twelve years ago, and that continues to this moment in ever strengthening impulse. Yet I see by my notebook that I have let a week and three days go by without so much as writing you a line. That which follows, will however prove “Forgetfulness” is not the reason.
Beginning where I left off in my last on the 8th have to say that I had just posted it when all the course of events became normal again.
I reported to the Sergt. Major that I was awaiting further orders and was told to go in to the O.C’s room as the O.C. wanted me going there I was told to go back as before taking on additionally the officer whose batman was to have taken over mine, the O.C. the day before.
It was the story of one night. The old dog was not found to be so dispensible as was supposed. Now I am, “in right,” and more correctly valued; and several additional duties which was proposed to be saddled upon me was not again mentioned. But never the less I have been unusually busy since settling down again.
I drew a pen & ink portrait of the Orderly Corporal then the Adjutant, one of the most winsome of officers, and very young got me to say that I would try one of him. Knowing him as an impossible sitter, in this respect similar to you dear! What? My Dear! Well I worked at that, from memory, evening, when I should have written to you. A last, I did one in water color, in the colors of a conflagration, with the dash and certainly of a master. It thrilled me with a sense of satisfaction and delight which I can only liken to that which I experienced in Toronto, almost twelve years ago, when, before a great mirror. I surveyed the exquisite piece of handiwork which it was my undeserved portion to accept and use as I might desire. Heaven! I went mad with the joy of it and I have never got over it. And you have never helped me to get over it. I really believe I am worse today than I was at first. What have you not been to me since? You certainly have not been Forgetfulness.
Last Thursday afternoon I managed to get down to Holloway College to show Mr. Carey the result of my etching. He calls it a top notcher and that from him means something.
We had tea together. He appreciated very much my gift of a signed proof. He wanted to arrange to take my photo. I told him of your request, saying how beautifully that the idea would enable me to comply with it. It was arranged that I get it done yesterday or failing that, today. We managed it yesterday. Col. MacLaren caught up to me going down and went with me: to show me the great collection of pictures he has bought of and out of Mr. Carey’s collection in Mr. Carey’s own studio, which included some fine work by Mr. Carey himself. There was a great deal of pains taken to get every body satisfied with my sitting. At length one exposure was made and the negative developed. It fairly tickled me into fits when I saw it. Mr. Carey had struggled for and secured everything I desired. Wait till you see it girlie! Wait till you see it! I will try not to keep you waiting long. We had tea together we three. Mr. Carey brought it into the studio on a tray along with bread and butter and a pot of jam. The Col and I departed at dusk. He walked half way to camp with me which brought us to the parting of the ways. He to the Lawn I back here.
I hustled around the fires setting them up, to do until the officers would be due in their rooms when my responsibility ended. I had a week end pass, but no weekend, but I away down to a dance in Egham until 10:30 then back to camp at the end of a great day of strenorous activity and universal satisfaction.
This morning however no day of rest awoke me. I worked steadily about the officer’s quarters, until noon and this afternoon, now darkening down I have tried to devote spiritual companionship with the idol of my heart. Sitting in the O.C.’s room, while that irrepressible adjutant operates a gramophone in the adjoining anteroom, much to my satisfaction, I must admit. But every now and then he wants some attention Woods, will you keep my fire going, I’m going out for half an hour or so. Joe, his batman is on weekend leave. Then again about the fire in the fire place in the room he is in, the anteroom. Woods, This fire in here is gone to hell, will you fix it up again please. “Tom” he calls to the cook, “Tom,” answers “Tom will you bring in a cup of tea, for me, here in the front room?” Tom will willingly “Hey” to fellow he see passing near. “Will you get Sergt McCoy for me. “I’ll be here in the anteroom.” And McCoy arrives. We all are ready to do our best for this young Adjutant. Casting aside all prefunctoriness he banters and bluffs us all into good humor in spite of his endless wants. He wants the portrait of him I’ve mentioned, to take with him tomorrow, somewhere, to show his, wife?
He says, he is afraid that it will be the last I’ll see of it. Well I said if she is pleased with it leave it with her, otherwise bring it back. He likes it and says he will leave it up to her to settle. There he goes again! Woods, “What time are you?” “Can’t you get into that canteen before 4:30?” “No sir, that will be ¾ of an hour yet” “yes. D___.” “Will you go over to the sergt’s canteen and see if they’ve got any there.” I go. They have none but “Erney” gives me three of his cigarettes. I come back and hand them over saying “Erney” would not see him stuck. He orders an extra jacket (small one) to be handed to “Erney” in appreciation of his kindness. That is our Adjutant. A couple weeks ago I met the M.Ps rather far from camp with an expiring eleven oclock pass.
They annoyed me to the point of making me say something to them. They arrested me and took my name and number. A week later, when I thought it had all blow over. The provo marshal called on the Adjt. And reported, me and others, but I was also charged with cheekiness. The Adjt. came over to me later as I worked at the wood pile and asked me about the affair, saying next time don’t be cheeky admitting at the same that there was cause for it, but that it only made matters worse. He said I was a good man-when dealing with the provo marshal and while treating him to tea persuaded him to drop the matter. Do you wonder, now, why we were patient with his wants? Or why he had to call upon me one day to arrange artistically his collection of pretty girls photographs signed in different hands after endearing phrases.
I nearly forgot to mention among other attractions and distractions a nice little concert in out recreation hut under the patronage of Princess Alice and by London talent.
Then the other afternoon the O.C. had me go out and pick up some chestnuts for him. It was a beautiful, still atmospheric afternoon; but withal, as I searched among the leaves and underneath boughs of laurel and holly, that cluster, in the taller tree’s shade. I thought of the wife I had wooed as a maid.
As I picked up the nuts of the chestnut tree
Now Leafless and bare
I thought of my home and the wood per the sea
And wished I was there.
I got a letter from Palmer lately and must answer it soon, and one from David O Thankful. So with the best of intentions of writing soon again I will close and go to bed. As you will notice by the corrections I’ve had to make in these pages I am not very wide awake. Besides the adjutant has had me busy several times since these recorded. I will ask to be remembered with love to the bairnies and our friends and neighbors with kind regards. Your well pleased and loving Hubby.
W. J. Wood.