10 March 1918
I’ve posted a ‘greenie’ to Mack today, but there is still time for a note before the mail closes, so I’ll answer your last letter of 7th January. We hear that there is another mail in the country – but goodness knows when it will catch us. I hope it won’t be long.
I’m glad you liked ‘Captain Cub’ so much – it’s not so strange after all – or is it more so? Because I had been reading the story, which appears in short instalments in the Observer each week & I thought of asking the girls to get it for you for Xmas – but left it too late & they did buy it after all. I wonder if Captain Cub it still at the war? What do you think? Your short account of the story wasn’t bad at all.
Glad you managed to beat that exam all right & I hope you’ll like the Junior work. You’ll find all the subjects are pretty interesting at that stage – at least I thought so – especially English & no doubt French with you. You can come over here after & translate a bit for me. Lots of people speak Arabic, many of them French but they don’t know too much English. I suppose up here the Hebrew language is much used.
We still manage with our deals tho – when buying almonds, oranges or dried figs. Stuff is dearer here than down in the plains where the oranges grow so abundantly. That reminds me of a little girl who could speak English – she was selling oranges just outside one of the gates in the big wall that encircles Jerusalem. We were there a fortnight ago today – & as we left our horses outside, the fruit sellers etc came up. I said to this girl ‘How much?’ She said ‘Two for a piastre.’ I said ‘Too dear – we can buy 10 for a piastre at Jaffa’ to which she quickly replied ‘This is Jerusalem, not Jaffa!’ Pretty smart, wasn’t she?
You were having plenty of visitors & fun for Xmas – with Billy & Lewer & Hazel & Mavis all staying with you. Does ‘Mary Mary quite contrary’ still come to tennis sometimes – or to help ride the bike? & how have you got on swimming this summer? Perhaps I’ll hear in my next letters about some swims etc at Henley Beach.
Bad luck Dora being so ill. I hope she is quite better before this: I’m going to write to Aunt Carrie directly in answer to her letter.
A little black & white puppy has just been here talking to me – probably belongs to one of the chaps on the transports: they have more chance of keeping a dog than we have. I’m afraid in our section he would go mighty short of tucker.
We have had plenty of tucker up to date through the stunt – tho at times the scarcity of wood makes the pots scratch their heads – not knowing where the next boil is coming from but somehow or other we manager to get them boiled & the tea made. We have had a bit of brown bread lately – some shortage of flour I suppose: the brown isn’t bad & certainly licks the old biscuits by a street.
Various jams come to light: apple, plum, strawberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry – but no marmalade of late at all. We can manage all right without it as long as the other keeps up. Plenty of water in this rocky country. Here we walk about ¼ mile to where the water is trickling from a hole in the rock-side of the hill, lovely & fresh & clear: that is for our own use of course, the horses are watered from wells – many of them now with our engines & pumps drawing the water.
I’ve just been away holding Brownie for the shoeing smith while he put a couple of shoes on: he is kept busy wherever we stop along these rough tracks..
Well by this time you’ll just about be in bed – so if you’re going to sleep it’s no good for me to keep on talking. Here’s a little piece I saw in the Register the other day – I meant to keep it – but I lost the paper – however I’ve kept it all the same I believe – or very nearly so. It’s something like the following: ‘I’d rather be a could be, if I could not be an are. For a could be is a may be – with a chance of touching par. I’d rather be a has been than a might have been, by far. For a might have been has never been & a has been was an are.’
If your autograph book isn’t full you can put that in for me. Did you get my bike mended?
Hooroo the noo.
Good luck for school this year & don’t grow up quite.
Love from Spence