Touët-sur-Var, in the south of France
August 25th, 2016
My Dearest Ian,
Tonight, as you and Robbie slumber, my heart is filled with dread. Today we continued our long march towards Nice in the hope that it will deliver us a home for Mario, yet as the days have turned into weeks and weeks into months I have been unable to banish fully from my mind a growing blackness of thought.
I must admit that this depression washes over me wholly, and it is not helped by the blisters and the heat and the stale rations. The mules grow tired, and we have lost more good men to illness in these last few weeks than to the enemy.
Our journey to Ajax as the month began was especially difficult, and for a time I found myself taken sick with the chronic bronchitis just north of Antwerp as we crossed into Holland. When the haze of sickness cleared, I learned that this, too, had been a vain undertaking. There would be no salvation found in Amsterdam.
Yet I am told there is real hope for Nice. Hope that, this time, our tired journey will not end in the beginning of another. That unlike Crotone and Sion and Port Vale and all the rest of them, this will be the end of this ceaseless campaign. There is an excitement to be found at this news in some of the younger men, yet I have my doubts. How could I not?
Perhaps they are right, though. This is what I must tell myself. Perhaps Nice will be where we finally do find Mario a home and give ourselves over to a long-earned rest. There is nothing I could want in this life quite so much as that.
I have not heard from you since I have been here, but should like to do so if you find the time. If convenient, please send £5 the next time you write. Some pickled onions and dried apples would also be appreciated, as would a good bottle of vinegar. If they prove difficult to procure, a towel and a few handkerchiefs would be very acceptable as well.