8 August 1916

The formentations have at last had the desired effect and things are now going more rapidly in my knee. That is to say all sorts of varicoloured things are being produced from the inside of what looks like a perfectly ordinary though rather large knee. There was no need for a knife though I almost wish they had decided to use one before, as for the last few days things have been distinctly painful. I am absolutely motionless and getting bored in consequence, it will be a great relief to stroll about a bit. At present I cannot put my foot on the ground without the most remarkable excruciations. Enough of knees. The other bed is at present occupied by the Doctor man of whom I told you in my last letter; he has had a slight relapse and has had to stay in for a day or two. I expect he will be up again and out tomorrow. Mould is up and very fit, expecting to return to his unit almost immediately. I hope the man with the face will also go soon – he bores me – unfortunately I see no prospect of it. However we live in hopes. There was a certain amount of excitement the other night and Barton, who, of course, was in the middle of everything, managed to run himself on to one of our own bayonets when getting into the trench. It went a few inches into his thigh but is nothing very serious and he expects to be back in about three weeks or so. He may of course get to England – in which case he will probably get married and we may not see him back here for some time. The regiment will be very sorry to lose him, he is a most valued institution. I hoped that he would come to this hospital but apparently he has gone elsewhere. It was rather characteristic of him that having punctured himself he strolled quietly back to his dug-out, bandaged himself up and went on with his work. It was quite by accident that the C.O. discovered what had happened from some soldier who saw it – and then of course Barton was ordered out. I have just been censoring letters and have come across one really good example of the danger of using a dictionary – a priceless jewel of dog French put at the end of a letter.

“Ecrive dos bientot s’il v.p.” You will of course see how he has arrived at it. Interval of five minutes for a formentation – and a very terror too. The squeezing operations which are the feature of the present stage are exciting but none too pleasant. Do you know if there is any fairly small edition of Browning which you could possible get hold of and send out to me. I believe Everyman has two volumes which contain all except the King and the Book which I cannot hope to tackle out here. I have been reading the few selections of him in the blue anthology that you sent out and have almost learnt them by heart. He has always appealed to me ever since Lumb first introduced me to him.

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