After nearly six months of mighty steady luck, it has broken finally. Otherwise, I would be on my way across the Atlantic today, instead of still here. The boat was to sail yesterday, but something is wrong and neither the Red Cross nor the office of the Company can give any information. This morning's rumor has it that she will leave before the 19th, which is the date for the next boat's departure. At that, though, it will take us twelve days to cross as I have reservation on the "Niagara", the same boat that I came home on last year.
Since I have been here in Paris, I haven't done anything worth mentioning. At first, we used to go to the movies, but they are very monotonous, as all that is shown is either the French or Americans entering one town or another in the newly occupied territory. Since I have been here at the old headquarters, I have usually just sat around here all day, except for a journey down town every morning looking for news.
It is very comfortable here now. Small iron beds have been put in most of the rooms upstairs and downstairs, three large rooms have been fixed as living rooms with an ample supply of big chairs, a piano, billiard table, and a rather complete little library. Mr. H. D. Sleeper, who was at the Boston office, is running the place on the money that was left over after the service was taken over by the U. S. Army - some 4500,000, he told me.
A few days ago, I was so tired of doing nothing that I bought a Trigonometry book and I have been putting in quite a bit of time since on that. In two years, I have forgotten quite a bit, but it won't take long to pick it up again. I have also been studying some books on electricity, which I found to make up for the part of my physics course that I missed by coming over here originally.
Of course, now I won't be home until nearly New Years, although I had planned to just make Christmas before. I don't know if I mentioned in my other letter from here that the men who originally held us up at the Red Cross has been removed on account of having done the same thing in other instances as well as he did with us.
Paris isn't a very pleasant place just now to be sitting around in. The sun hasn't been out since we arrived and every day there are showers or a continuous drizzle. Consequently, I haven't been able to get any photographs of all the trophies and relics there are in the Place d'Atoile and the Place de la Concorde. They have brought all sorts of cannon to the city, most of which were captured from the Boche in September. And besides, there are captured aeroplanes and wreckage from Zepplins.
The prices on everything are unreasonably high and seem to have been pushed up as peace approached. Meats downtown are very expensive for what you get, although there are still a few out-of-the-way places that maintain a fairly reasonable table d' hote.
I haven't the slightest idea how mail leaves France now, but if this goes via England or by transport, it should beat me home. Of course, it may be put on the boat I am waiting for, but I'll take a chance that it will go the other way.
I suppose that there is skating and coasting at home now and that the children are having a great time and looking forward to Christmas. I'm sorry I won't be there and particularly as I would like to sample a piece of pie again at Xmas dinner. I see the President says that he is not going to ask the people at home to cut down any more for the benefit of those over here who are crying about lack of food - i. e., the Boche. That ought to help at home, as by next winter I expect France and England, too, will be raising a lot more stuff for themselves. Already, they have begun letting some of the French soldiers go home and quite a few of the Canadians and Australians have been mustered out, too.
There is hardly any more news now. We are waiting patiently for the boat to get ready to leave, but the uncertainty of it all makes it rather provoking. Here's hoping I'll be with you all for New Years.
Best wishes to everybody for the Merry Xmas I know you will have.
21 Rue Raynonard,
[Last letter. HLW II returned to New York on Dec 28, 1918.]