My dearest Emma;-
I have your letter of July 16 containing your gentle reproach for me because of my tardiness in writing. I wrote you a few minutes after reaching my dugout on the night of July 12. I was kept fairly well hustled up until that time. I am afraid though that it was some time before you received the letter if indeed it reached you at all.
You ask me why I did not give you a hint of what I was thinking – when I thought. I do not exactly get your meaning but I have thought of you every day since I first came to the war, and surely my dear girl you know I cared for you before I told you so. No, I am grieved to say my dear mother is not alive, and I think it was perfectly lovely of you to ask me about her. I have a brother older than myself and two sisters younger. Our father and mother both died within 10 days of each other many years ago. Margaret was 15 years of age at the time. Ever since the four of us have always maintained a strong family relationship although we have been much scattered most of the time. We are indeed I am afraid inclined to be “clannish”. My brother who has been married for years hardly ever lets a week go by without writing to me, and his wife has been a third sister. They have 3 children.
We don’t know much about each other’s family relationships do we? But I know that you are a good lovely girl with a keen sense of humour. Did you ever think what a terrible thing it would be for two people, neither with the sense of humour, to live together? Small jolts would de detonated into mine explosions. As for myself – a few unimportant particulars. I was born in Peterborough County, Ont. on the twenty first day of December 1879 A.D. So you see I am no longer in the first flush of youth. During the past few years indeed I have been alarmed and discouraged at the speed with which the old gentleman with the scythe has been tearing down the road. So far as I know, apart from the hazards of my present occupation, I am a first class risk for a life insurance company, I have never served a term in prison, and my religious belief is very unorthodox. And lastly as I think I warned you I do not belong to the class of predatory rich.
We got our gramophone going yesterday but before it came the Colonel went off to take temporary charge of the brigade and he did not get a chance to hear “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”. I hope you are enjoying your ankle’s recovery. It was a most lucky sprain that, for me. Had it not happened you probably could not have come up to London while I was there and I noticed that the cars at Liphook have no tops on them. Be careful of the Tb cases when you get back.
We are going back to do another tour in the line shortly. Write as often as you conveniently can. Have you a small sized photo of yourself that you could send me? I still have the other one and look at it every day. Certainly write to Mr Grant; why should you give up your friends?
Harold W McGill