Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday 30th September 1940

I today received a letter from Lois, written from Briar Cottage, 74 Lower Ham Road, Kingston on Thames. Lois, the girl to whom I became engaged 2 1/2 years ago, to whom I gave a ring of green emerald, red rubies and gold – rubies for life, emerald for our beloved green fields, gold for sunshine and happiness. Lois, who was Stephanie, and Angel and Milady. And Angel Davidson. Stephanie indeed, the feminine counterpart of Stephen!

Well I'm “free” now, it seems! “Free!” It will be a long while before I feel free in my heart and perhaps my conscience will never forgive me. One punishment, to my rotten mind (which worships lovely words) will be that never again can I call anyone Milady, or Angel, or Stephanie. Another punishment, to my rotten mind (which worships sentimental memory) is that the memory of all the happiness we had, of all our idyllic hours, of all the sweet places we found together, must be blurred by the remembrance that I was a real worm. Yes! It will be some time before I again make a fool – of someone else! In case I'm ever likely to, I'll put down a few extracts of that letter which came today, written mostly in a scrawl, not like Lois' usual neat hand:-

“Still no news of or from you, making it now 10 weeks without news. I'm getting worried and beginning to imagine all sorts of things, illnesses... the Government nowadays hold up news of any military activity until it is well launched... It was only...this week... we were told of fighting... in British Somaliland... Of course, it's no use my getting “het-up”, I know, but I do, why, heaven alone knows, for since we decided that we couldn't go on with our pact and that our engagement was to be finally ended, you've given no reason or even the slightest indication in any of your letters for me to remain faithful or go on loving you. Nevertheless, that flame of love for you burns as brightly as ever it did, altho I have done my damnedest to put it out, even to reading Brooke's “Desertion” and saying that it is to us that this poem implies... You once told me that you'd return if you'd gone far from me, if I asked you to read that poem, but my love was far too big and I too proud to chain you to me by such means...

... My dear I'm sorry to talk to you like this but my feelings got on top of me and I just threw myself down and sobbed silently for you, your arms round me, your kisses and your love. I've got war nerves! I'm going mad or something! Too much time to think! You're a blaguardly Don Juan and I must be mad to go on loving you a full year and waste my life!... Maybe it would be better for me if we ceased to correspond and if from now I vanish from your life and you from mine... It should have been a clean break last August when we decided we couldn't continue. I'm going to make a clean break now. Heaven alone knows when you will get this letter... Then we shall be gon from this riverside cottage... On my way into the blue I give you a toast, Good Luck and Good Health Always. Ours was a lovely year of glorious life and it will remain one of my most precious memories. “Two spots of life, green fields and golden happiness.”

Fare thee well my Dear. Lois.

Maybe I shouldn't do what I've done in this letter but I'm sticking to my decision. It will be best so for both of us! God speed”

That is the letter I received today, in a damned, fly ridden, dusty desert. From Lois (Loychen) at a riverside cottage in England. If only I could sincerely send a cablegram: “I remember each word of Desertion. Don't go. Let's try again”. If only – but I couldn't do that. And if I could, I wouldn't know what address to send it to.
So I am now certain – my mind, my instincts and emotions all agree – that I'm a cad. “Stephen will never let you down,” my Mother once told Lois, proudly.
Well I did. I let them both down.

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