17 April 1916

There is no news of the starting of leave yet, but I have it on fairly good authority that it is going to commence again soon.  I think I can safely say that I shall roll up; complete with a souvenir or two from the continents – visited since I last came home.  By the way since I last wrote I have been “strafed” by the Bosch, – that is I believe the correct “modern” trench expression.  I was observing through a periscope yesterday morning when the idiot over the way put a bullet through the top.  I got an awful whack over the head & two or three tons of broken glass in each eye.  Fortunately no damage was done, & I am not blinded or anything horrible of that sort.  This time my countenance was not broken as on a similar occasion about this time last year.  I have just taken a somewhat momentous step as far as my future existence is concerned.  You have probably gathered that my present occupation is largely understudying the Staff-Captain – Sitting on an office stool, & docketing gum-boots.  This may of course eventually lead to a Staff-Captaincy for myself.  But it is not in my line – I cannot stand papers – & though I might manage the job all right, I should never like it, & would always be fidgeting for something more active.  So today I have delivered a sort of ultimatum & asked to be allowed to go back to the good old intelligence job that I liked so much.  A red hat is now a very much more distant object, but on the other hand should I get anything it would be on the “G” or fighting side & not the administrative & quartermaster’s side. “G” has much more chance of getting on, whereas a Staff Captain is practically a dead end.  To a great many people it will seem like a step in the wrong direction; it will certainly mean giving up comfort, good food & a very safe billet; but whichever way I look at it I am absolutely convinced that at present I am on the wrong track all together. If the army is to be my profession I could never stick it all my life on a stool, even for the sake of a bit of red on my cap; if it is all to end with the war – then I may as well do what suits me the best.  One more consideration has urged me on.  Anyone can docket gum-boots – it is just the job for some respectable married man: there are not many who can do the Intelligence business & it is simply made for me & I for it.  I expect to hang on here for some time but shall probably return to the good old games in a month’s time.  Just at present my servant is ill – I do hope he won’t get really bad, as a good servant is really hard to replace out here.  My groom is doing the job at present.  The horse is getting really fit & looking very well.  She is very lively & somewhat obstinate – shies at everything & has a curious habit of turning sharp to the right or left in the middle of a canter.  I think I shall call her Kate when she is Shrew-like, & at other times Kitty – a suitable name because her jump is distinctly cat-like.  We are very shortly going to move out of our chateau – the most comfortable billet we have ever struck & are to go into rest – probably harder work than we have ever done before.

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