My DEAR PADRE: Your letter came with several others, and I could picture to myself the circumstances and surroundings under which it was written. The dear old library lighted up by the fire, by whose side I have spent many a fleeting hour browsing through Scott’s novels, or Plutarch’s masterly lives. I can see the pug dog and the “kids,” who must be rather resentful of such a title by this time. Then I can see you reading in that comfortable chair by the front window, and gazing at the heavy laden trees outside. Yes, Sunday is a day of rest; but here in the trenches every day is very much alike, but there is a little variety occasionally, when some person has to be examined at our post. Every woman and male child twelve years old is allowed to pass without question along the main road, but men must have government passes, and we usually take all the contraband of war we can find. Some thirty or forty men are just starting for target practice to our front. We start the recruits at one hundred yards and work back to three hundred. So you see that everything in the army goes on just the same, the only difference being that we are so far from the United States, a few of the “niggers” might give us a go, but they have been thoroughly beaten in this part of the island, and it 1s hardly likely that there will ever be much more fighting so near Manila.
We have a reading club in the company, and we get the newspapers and comic papers in every mail. On the table where I am writing, under Mr. Clement’s tent fly, there is a San Francisco Chronicle, May 21, 1899, which I intend to look at soon. Mr. Clement went to the city this morning and returns this evening. Back of my tent there is the noise of building all day, for the government is having some nipa barracks built. These are constructed like the native nipa huts, but on a much larger scale. A regiment is to be quartered here, and it is interesting to see the Chinese laborers working. A framework of some hard wood is first erected, and then a pitched roof of bamboo is put up, the bamboos being fastened to the side timbers, and enough overhang being left to allow of a good shedding of water. When this framework has been finished, it is covered with strips of dry nipa leaves, which overhang each other and make a cool, dry house. There are some of these barracks in use in the city at present. It is the rainy season, and one should get under a good dry roof tent. My tent is very comfortable, and sheds water like a duck, and then everything dries so nicely after a rain when the hot sun comes out.
We had lunch about twelve o’clock, and then at one a sergeant took nine men and finished our target practice for new men at one hundred yards. There is so much hammering and chattering among the workmen back of the tent that it is hard to sleep in the daytime ; but I make it up by going to bed every night at nine and getting up to take the reveille report at 5.30. Nearly every morning I go out to inspect our two Cossask posts, three hundred yards or more at our front. The country here is very flat, and there is an open field, broken here and there by trees, which stretches along our front and ends in woods about two miles off, so that you see we have a good secure position with a fine field of fire. My rubber boots are just the thing for this season, and they have saved me many a cold while in camp. Mr. Clement and I each have a man from the company to look after us, and my man is a hustler. I have a washstand, a cracker box made into a table with the inside of the box to be used as a shelf, a bamboo pole stretched through my front and rear windows on which I hang my clothes. The man washes all my clothes and has a bamboo clothes-horse on which to dry things back of my tent.
With all of these comforts, and by being careful of dieting, avoiding much spirituous liquors, and keeping dry, one can manage to stand the rainy season. There is a small bookstore in town, where I buy novels, The dealer has not got a large assortment, and most of them second-hand. When we are settled in regular barracks I intend to get at my box of books in our storehouse. I have about two hundred good books in the box, but one might as well hunt for a needle in a haystack as to try to find it in the mass of stuff we have there. Some- time you might send a batch of old magazines, which are just the thing in camp.
I am glad to hear that General Bates is going to be paymaster-general; perhaps he can land a V occasionally.
Does this letter sound homesicky ?