Life With the Children
Lewis writes to his brother, Warren, about the children who have arrived at The Kilns (Lewis's residence) as war evacuees from the blitzed areas of London:
Our schoolgirls have arrived and all seem to me--and, what's more important, to Minto--to be very nice, unaffected creatures and all most flatteringly delighted with their new surroundings. They're fond of animals which is a good thing (for them as well as for us).
Life at the Kilns is going on at least as well as I expected. We had our first air raid warning at 7.45 the other morning when I expect you had yours too. Everyone got to the dug-out quite quickly and I must say they all behaved well, and though very hungry and thirsty before the all clear went, we quite enjoyed the most perfect late summer morning I have ever seen. The main trouble of life at present is the blacking out which is done (as you may imagine) with a most complicated Arthur Rackham system of odd rags--quite effectively but at the cost of much labour. Luckily I do most of the rooms myself, so it doesn't take me nearly so long as if I were assisted.
Another thing which would amuse you is the daily bathe (swim)--I've never known the pond so clean at this time of year--which is in two shifts because they have not enough bathing suits to go round, and each shift interminable because of the insatiable appetite of children. In fact we had the whole Dunbar technique--me bawling 'Time to come out' and a head disappearing and then emerging ten yards further away to say 'What?', and then twenty yards further away still to say 'I can't hear what you say.'
Your father had a great deal more patience than we boys thought. But Lord!, what a thing youth is. Last Sunday when I came back from Church--the children had been but gone out after sermon--they met me on the avenue, jumping with joy, to tell me 'War has been declared'--and one added 'Perhaps there'll be an air raid to-night!!' The nicest of the three is a Rose Macaulay child--pure boy in everything except anatomy, a reader of Henty. Quite a new phenomenon to me.
~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume II, Letters of Sept. 2 and Sept 10, 1939