France, July 31, 1917

Dearest Emma;-

You have been doing splendidly as a letter writer but your letters have been reaching me in a very irregular manner. That of July 22 came three days ago while those of July 21 & 23 respectively arrived to day. I was having a very busy time of it when I got the letter of July 22. When ever I had a few minutes to spare through the night I would dive into my dugout and read your letter over once again. I confess that some of the contents left me puzzled & uneasy. Why do you still doubt the sincerity of my purpose? Your remarks seem to imply that you have an idea that I acted on the impulse of the moment and that I would now begin to regret my action. My dear lovely girl, that jab hurts like a needle going in. I know I am clownish in my manners and especially when I am somewhat excited but really you must not think that I had not given the matter some previous consideration. When I went on leave I had made up my mind before I should return that I would find out from you whether or not you cared for me as I wished. You will acknowledge that my opportunities of a confidential i.e. – very confidential – interview were not of the best, and whenever the chance did come my courage would ooze away. Do you remember the evening we went home from the Savoy and we rode together from the Kingsley to the R. Palace? I very nearly made my declaration that night but my courage failed me at the last moment. Do you know the particular reason for my grabbing off that extra day?

When I told you that I had been hoping to wait until the war was over before speaking to you I was telling you the plain truth. These war time engagements to my mind are not the best arrangement and I hope we may terminate ours by getting married before very long. Waiting until after the war does not appeal to me at all and means the possibility of too much tragedy. I cannot help thinking of poor Capt. Pinkham and the cruel end of what his dreams must have been.

Why did you not send me all of the letter you had written? You have made me anxiously wonder what it could have possibly been that you wrote and then did not care to have me know. Now do not think I am trying to scold you for your lack of faith in me. I do not blame you a bit and your profession has taught you what a lot of unhappiness there is in the world through ill advised marriages. Personally I have always deeply sympathized with the “Old Man” in the novel in his strenuous objection to the penniless hero running off with the heroine his only daughter. Now I shall tell you the old familiar lie, but in my case the absolute truth. You are the first and only woman I have ever asked to marry me and while I may have been remiss in the past I hope in the future to prove to you the depth of my affection for you.

Now you will notice that this letter is very mixed in form as well as in substance. This is caused by my mistaking two sheets of paper for one.

You have given me permission to tell my relatives of our engagement but I have not told a soul yet. Have you? I wished permission only to tell my immediate relatives as it is only fair to them for to be so informed, and the same applies to your brothers and sisters. As for others I do not care whether they know or not i.e. until such time as we may choose to tell them. However I shall not tell any of my people until I hear from you again after you get this letter. I want to make sure that you have got rid of that chilly feeling of doubt in your heart.

I am afraid this is a rambling incoherent letter but I shall try to write you something better when we get back to reserve billets again. Except for a few days I have been with the battalion either in the front line or support ever since I returned on the night of July 12. I got some sleep that night the one you inquired about. Quite a few casualties came through but those not serious my corporal looked after without requiring to get me up. The corporal worked like a beaver all night to make it unnecessary for me to get up as he knew I was tired. I slept very much better with the guns roaring all around than I did the last night in London. I was too excited to get much sleep that night.

Now please forgive me for my poor mixed up letter. I am enclosing you a note Col. Fotheringham, now General Fotheringham, wrote me on the occasion of my decoration. I wish you to keep it for me.

Yours lovingly but somewhat anxiously

Harold W McGill

Published in: on October 23, 2006 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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