November 8, 1908
Kelowna, B. C.
My dearest Kathleen,
I went to another paperchase and a small surprise party last night, both of which were rather fun. The paper chase was exceptionally strenuous. We were pressing the horses so close at one time that they had to discard their original intention of descending a very steep hill by a nice easy grade cut out of it and instead they went down the steepest place they could pick out. Most of us led our horses down after them and in the general confusion they got away. I found my horse had got a very nasty overreach when I got back and I expect he will be laid up for a week or so, which is rather annoying.
The surprise party was rather an ordeal to start off with. As we got in we were shown into the drawing room with chairs all round the walls and there we sat solidly and silently till everybody had arrived. I know we sat there about half an hour, trying to make conversation. We danced in the smallest rooms I have ever danced in, one of which had the worst floor I have ever danced on, and yet I rather enjoyed myself. I have seldom been to a surprise party with less surprise about it. The hostess arranged everything except the guests and the eatables at supper, thereby getting rid of the two biggest drawbacks of dance giving–no invitations to send with their subsequent heartburnings because there wasn’t room for everybody to be asked; and no special preparations to make for supper, as people brought cakes etc. themselves. It is really rather a good way of having a small dance. I acted as escort to a small girl who was allowed to go as a great treat (which I imagine was the reason why I was asked, as I didn’t know my hostess) and we both rode. I was supposed to bring her back at 12:00 o’clock but didn’t bring her back till 2:00 o’clock and found rather a grumpy papa sitting up for her. She is a most eccentric kid. She has no brothers or sisters and a very proper mama, consequently she has a manner that I believe used to be called “ladylike” that is far from natural and rather appalling in a girl of 14 or 15. She got away with all the candies I could lay my hands on at the dance and a pretty good supper as well, so I expect she is really just an ordinary girl when there isn’t somebody around to say, “That will do, my dear,” all the time.
I wonder how the hunting’s going. I hope you will have a real good season, Kathleen, and find Utility just exactly the horse you want. Remember to keep a tight hold on your whip this time, for you won’t have me to pick it up for you when it gets stuck in the gates. Do you know it was an absolute pleasure to me to get off and get your whip and that I can remember exactly what both gateways are like, though I couldn’t say where they are. I also remember that you blushed very prettily the second time and I wondered why! Another gateway that sticks in my mind is one that swung to too quickly and hit me on the knee so that I uttered a very natural cuss-word and then felt awfully uncomfortable in case you might have heard, though I shouldn’t have cared a bit if all the rest of the hunt had heard.
Two days later. Yesterday was Thanksgiving day and a general holiday. I don’t know what we thanksgave for, but the correct thing is to have turkey for dinner that day. I went to stay with the Dennisons (Harry’s friends) for it. They live on the lake in a small house Dennison built himself. We went out in their launch in the afternoon and played bridge all the rest of the time. I play so little bridge out here that I don’t mind an occasional spell of it, though I used to get awfully tired of it at Little Barrow. They have a pianola, as I believe I have told you before, but I can’t work it to my satisfaction at all and they didn’t have any nice records, so I was rather disappointed. I have an idea in the back of my head of buying a gramophone this winter but can’t quite make up my mind whether I want one or not. Whenever I hear them at other houses I like them so much that I feel I must get one, but probably if I had one in the house I should soon have enough of it and either go broke buying new records all the time or else not use it at all.
Tomorrow night I am going to a whist-drive for young people. I don’t know why, I’m sure. I seem to be getting very sociable in my old age. Some rather dreadful people called Cameron are giving it. Mrs. C never stops talking by any possible chance and Mr. C is a canny Scotchman of the worst type, I mean the type that is ostentatiously godly as long as it doesn’t cost anything. I have never even called on them yet all the time I have been here.
I have come to the conclusion that calling is quite unnecessary for a man. I know quite a lot of people out here but have never yet called on anybody until I know them so well that it isn’t calling at all; for I don’t call it paying a call if you know the people so well you probably stay on to supper. My idea of “calling” is to spend a very uncomfortable 20 minutes in somebody’s drawing room wondering what on earth to talk about (I never did have the gift of the gab) and making my escape with a sigh of relief on the doorstep probably only equalled in sincerity by that of the good lady whose presence I have just left. You will probably find me a very busy man on those afternoons when the spirit moves you to pay a round of calls (if it ever should), for it’s a poor farmer who can’t find something very urgent to do when he doesn’t want to do something else; but also in my opinion it’s a poor farmer who can’t take an afternoon off when there is something he does want to do. There is a saying that
“God makes the grass grow greener
“While farmer be at a paperchase or playing tennis
or possibly in bed after a dance the night before.”
All this is very reprehensible, I know, and you will say I am not the industrious person you thought I was. Possibly not, but things that have to be done always get done somehow, even though I do not work ten solid hours every day of my life. [“God makes the wheat grow greener/While farmer be at his dinner.” Proverb quoted in R. D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.]
I wish you could come over the house with me now with a pencil and notebook and jot down all the things that are needed to furnish it. I haven’t the least idea myself what is wanted. It won’t be a very big job really, nothing like it would be to furnish a house in the Old Country, which I should imagine is a tremendous item. We can make this sitting room most awfully comfortable, I’m sure. It lacks curtains, blinds, rugs, and comfortable chairs; and when I come home we will pay a little visit to London and get such things and I will take you to theatres in the evenings.
Oh, Kathleen, when I think of next year and all it means to me I go nearly crazy with impatience and wonder how I shall ever get through the winter. The time seems to go fast enough and yet, when I look back, it seems years since I left you; and when I look forward, next spring seems an impossible distance away in the future. Do you remember I told you I wanted you badly if only for a short time, just to make a break in this wretched year. Well, the receipt of your photograph and to see you wear my brooch and the slip of paper you enclosed and the message you sent on the glass made a very welcome break and I think I love you more than ever, if that is possible, for thinking of so many nice ways of adding to the value of something that I had been looking forward to for months and would have been so thankful for even without the charming little etceteras.
Yours as always,