April 11, 1917
I like them there—not exactly gaunt, you know,
No, Minkie, my love,
I like them there—not exactly gaunt, you know, so that one can feel each separate rib in one’s natural explorations, but then enough not to be too much of a burden to one’s rather exogenous though of course, venerable) legs. Did I ever prophecy corpulence for you? It must have been in one of my dark moments. Certainly, that prediction, if made, (which I doubt) did not intimate my desire with reference to your general expansiveness—which, I hope, will be in a mental rather than a physical direction. Savages like their women fat, yes, even disgustingly obese; perhaps the Yankee who looks to his wife as a household drudge prefers an eye filling specimen as a sign of endurance; I know that crude souls hanker for heavy armored cruisers—women with a full panoply of fleshy charm. Not for me, thank you. I suppose I could make love to a fat lady, if she increased her circumference gradually, so that the increment was developed imperceptibly, but there seems something almost ridiculous at present in the idea of pressing to my breast a roly poly whose gunwhales (so to speak) exceeded the compass of my arms. However, if you will pass the crestable limits, fear not my dearest, I shall love you still, for I am not in love with your body, at least not with that enduring passion with which the thought of your mind and heart and charming ribs position set me on fire.
Your letter reached me on time all right. I am very sorry I have to set you so bad an example. It was altogether fortuitous, my not working Wednesday night. I freely intended to. Of course, if you made some Junoesque remarks, you owe it to me to confess just what you said. Did you think I was with some other young damsel—so for instance, or perchance, Gertrude. Would you be so unkind as to set a gadfly on poor Jo’s lovely flanks (pardon the crude image, I do not visualize well.) No, dear, I have not even resumed quasi diplomatic relations with the siren, although I shall most certainly not follow your detailed instructions.
I should, think you’d have some sense of humor enough to see what an absurd proposal you made. Imagine saying to a girl who practically tells you she wants you
back. “You mustn’t tempt me anymore, dearie; I’m engaged to such a lovely little girl way out in Wisconsin and I really can’t just can’t see you anymore. I belong now to the great army of ineligibles.” Can’t you see that no matter how I said it, it would be equivalent to what is vulgarly called “putting a person in his place,” and could be considered in no other way. No, ma’am, if I do take the lady to the theatre, I’ll do it in such an impersonal way that even the lovely Gertrude, who is not over sensitive with regard to shades and distinctions in manners. Even she will see that the jig is up. I’m taking this trouble to explain because it is obvious that you don’t like the idea at all. For my part, I’d be damned sore at the thought of your accepting attentions from (say) a discarded lover who still had hopes. I shouldn’t be jealous, for if I thought he had a chance to wean you away, I’d say, “Damn him (and her); let them go their way. Life is no joke, but I won’t pull and whine as if it were a tragedy. I made a mistake. I’ll forget it.” But even if I knew he had no chance, I’d still be angry with you, because I should regard you as in a sense disloyal and if I know you, you’d feel exactly the same way— and with perfect justice. So you can be very sure indeed that I shall not call on the lady, and if I do ask her to some show, it will be just once, and to let her see I am not afraid of her. — You know, dearie, I sometimes can’t resist the temptation to tease you a bit, but I’d hate to give you even a bad minute. If I have (ever, my darling forgive me and teach me better manners for the future.
Now for Digby. I’m not sure your folks will want you to go there. And if they do, I shall certainly, if I can. For where you are, I shall be — unless conditions are so bad that I can’t bring myself to idle the summer away. As you say, I’ll need the rest. I’m as sure of that as you, and as things are now, I’d be silly enlist to as a private. I’m going to wait till I can get more definite data about the best place for a mere schoolteacher who hasn’t any military brains and absolutely no desire for “la glorie militaire.” They’re talking of forming a home ground of H.S.C. men. Perhaps I shall be like Festus of “The Trumpet Major” only without the horse and the gold braid. Downey offered to Storrow, Chairman of the Mass. Public Safety Co. and said his and my sources the other day. With that for the time being, I am content.
But one idea I want you to put out of your head. You made a remark which seemed to me to indicate more than perhaps was meant. You said, “Let us be contented with one victory.” As if I wanted to persuade or induce your folks to alter their plans. In the least on my account. I don’t want any victories over them or over you, for that matter. I want you here, of course, but only if you want to be here as much as I want you. I knew perfectly well at the beginning that your folks would do whatever you really wanted, if you had nerve enough to make it plain that you’d want a change. In saying this, don’t think I’m finding fault. I’m simply trying to put myself right in your inner consciousness— the one which let the cat out of the bag, without knowing it.
Now, sweetness, just a kiss— a lovely one— linked sweetness long drawn out —and a reluctant goodnight. It’s hard to let you go from my arms, darling.
11 April 2017 (only two more months)