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0100_005E Carry On Coningsby Dawson

Letter XXVII

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All day I have been seeing lovely and familiar things as though for the first time. I've been a sort of Lazarus, rising out of his tomb and praising God at the sound of a divine voice. You don't know how exquisite a ploughed field can look, especially after rain, unless you have feared that you might never see one again.

I came to a grey little village, where civilians were still living, and then to a gate and a garden. In the cottage was a French peasant woman who smiled, patted my hair because it was curly, and chattered interminably. The result was a huge omelette and a bottle of champagne. Then came a touch of naughtiness--a lady visitor with a copy of La Vie Parisienne, which she promptly bestowed on the English soldier. I read it, and dreamt of the time when I should walk the Champs Elysées again. It was growing dusk when I turned back to the noise of battle. There was a white moon in a milky sky. Motor-bikes fled by me, great lorries driven by Jehus from London buses, and automobiles which too poignantly had been Strand taxis and had taken lovers home from the Gaiety. I jogged along thinking very little, but supremely happy. Now I'm back at the wagon-line; to-morrow I go back to the guns. Meanwhile I write to you by a guttering candle.

Life, how I love you! What a wonderful kindly thing I could make of you to-night. Strangely the vision has come to me of all that you mean. Now I could write. So soon you may go from me or be changed into a form of existence which all my training has taught me to dread. After death is there only nothingness? I think that for those who have missed love in this life there must be compensations--the little children whom they ought to have had, perhaps. To-day, after so many weeks, I have seen little children again.

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And yet, so strange a havoc does this war work that, if I have to "Go West," I shall go proudly and quietly. I have seen too many men die bravely to make a fuss if my turn comes. A mixed passenger list old Father Charon must have each night--Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Huns. To-morrow I shall have another sight of the greenness and then--the guns.

I don't know whether I have been able to make any of my emotions clear to you in my letters. Terror has a terrible fascination. Up to now I have always been afraid--afraid of small fears. At last I meet fear itself and it stings my pride into an unpremeditated courage.

I've just had a pile of letters from you all. How ripping it is to be remembered! Letters keep one civilised.

It's late and I'm very tired. God bless you each and all.

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Carry On
Coningsby Dawson

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