Frost again and hard ground with fairly thick ice on the pools – the mokes* don’t fancy much sucking the (always) dirty water through a sieve of broken ice. The sun only attains about 20˚ above the horizon, around which it makes a very modest segment of a circle and effects an early retreat. Tonight is clear starlight with Venus in the West and Jove in the East, both in great splendour. The guns are growling away in ceaseless ire, spring offensives being replaced by winter offensives, in fact perpetual offensives. Have just been the grateful recipient of 3 small parcels from the Menteath girls. Tell E. Her sketch of the Kaiser, chased by (I presume) a New Zealander, is pinned to the roof of our tent.
Didn’t think I should ever need gloves, but am now glad of them especially when riding. Every day when out exercising the animals we have free entertainments at the expense of some unfortunate who loses control of one or both of his donks. Intoxicated with its unexpected freedom the weird one tosses its eary head, stamps on and breaks its bridle and then in sudden terror bounds off with a succession of startling rearward and upward lashings-out of heels, to be recovered later on, probably at his place in the line, looking quite innocent and unconcerned.
A short sketch of my companions may amuse you. W. you know. Next to him a big brawny lad of hearty, if boisterous disposition. Then a nondescript individual just returned from Hospital whom the others call Von Kluck, and roundly but good-humouredly accuse of being a professional lead-swinger. To this he makes very faint opposition and seems to be resigned to his fate. Then comes a chirpy youth with no specially outstanding features physical or otherwise. Then there is the low-browed villain – the tend brow-beater and know-all. A volcanic specimen of young Taranaki comes next – his nicknames are legion. Last on my right is “The Civil Servant”, rising 40 years, the oldest in the Battery.
* Moke: British term for a donkey, or slang used in Australia and New Zealand for a horse that is old or in poor condition.