December 15th, 1916.
At the present I'm just where mother hoped I'd be—in a deep dug-out about twenty feet down—we're trying to get a fire lighted, and consequently the place is smoked out. Where I'll be for Christmas I don't know, but I hope by then to be in billets. I've just come back from the trenches, where I've been observing. The mud is not nearly so bad where I am now, and with a few days' more work, we should be quite comfortable. You'll have received my cable about my getting leave soon—I'm wondering whether the Atlantic is sufficiently quiet for any of you to risk a crossing.
Poor Basil! Your letter was the first news I got of his death. I must have watched the attack in which he lost his life. One wonders now how it was that some instinct did not warn me that one of those khaki dots jumping out of the trenches was the cousin who stayed with us in London.
I'm wondering what this mystery of the German Chancellor is all about—some peace proposals, I suppose—which are sure to prove bombastic and unacceptable. It seems to us out here as though the war must go on forever. Like a boy's dream of the far-off freedom of manhood, the day appears when we shall step out into the old liberty of owning our own lives. What a celebration we'll have when I come home! I can't quite grasp the joy of it.
I've got to get this letter off quite soon if it's to go to-day. It ought to reach you by January 12th or thereabouts. You may be sure my thoughts will have been with you on Christmas day. I shall look back and remember all the by-gone good times and then plan for Christmas, 1917. God keep us all.