Frank Proudfoot Jarvis has been at the Front with the First Canadian Mounted Rifles for three years, and his sense of humor and the joy of life still survive. In a letter dated, “Somewhere in Mud, 17th of Ireland,” he writes to his brother, Paul Jarvis, of New York:
“Dear Old Top:
“I had expected to be in gay (?) Paree on furlough at this time, swinging down the Boys de Belogne with girls de Belogne on each arm, but this is postponed till April. The papers say that von Hindy has ordered dinner for himself and the Crown Prince on April Fools’ day, and, if we meet, there will be a sound of deviltry by night and a Waterloo that will cause the princelet to wireless his dad:
“‘Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these, we’re ”soaked“ again.’
“However that may be, here I am sitting in a shed, with a sheepskin over my shoulders, looking like a lady—but not smelling like one. Fritz is acting rather nasty, sending us his R. S. V. P.’s by the air-line, and we reply P. D. Q., and the ‘wake’ is a howling success as the big bulls and the little terriers ‘barcarole.’ And speaking of wakes, I was awake myself the other night in my hut and the Gothas were whirring overhead and Fritz pulling the string every now and then. It was pitch-dark and a big Bertha had just shaken all creation, when I overheard two ‘blimeys’ fanning buckwheat while they hunted a shell-hole.
“‘Where are yer, Bill?’ asked one.
“I’m ’ere,’ says Bill.
“‘Where’s ’ere?’ says his pal.
“‘Ow the blinkin’ ’ell do I know where ’ere is?’ says Bill.
“Just then Fritz put one alongside of my hut and snuffed out all the candles, but thanks to the good old soft mud—and how we have cussed that mud!—I am writing to you, Old Top, tonight. I expect to be on the hike again in a day or so, I know not where and I do not care. All places look alike to this old kid. They can set me down in a field of mud and inside of forty-eight hours I have got a home fit for a prince, or a ground-hog—sometimes I am living several feet under ground and other times I am living in a tent, a hut, a stable, barn, shed, and, when in luck, in some deserted chateau.”
Jarvis, lying on his back looking up at a twinkling star through a hole in the roof seems to have started a train of verse in his brain, for he writes:
“I got to cogitating about a lot of things, and for the first time in my life I found rimes running through what I am pleased to call my mind. So, I lighted my dip and jotted down the enclosed doggerel. They say it is a bad sign when a man starts to write poetry, but I don’t for a moment think anyone would call this by that name or that I shall even be acclaimed a Backyard Kipling. Besides, as I flourish under the sobriquet ‘Bully Beef,’ owing to my major-general proportions, I am certainly no Longfellow. But here it is, such as it is: