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    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


      Although not one to remember dreams very often, Zara awoke the next morning with vivid and colourful dream recall.  She wondered if it was something to do with the dreamtime mural on the wall of her room.  If this turned out to be the case, she considered painting some murals on her bedroom wall back at the Bungwalley Valley animal rescue centre when she got home.

      Zara and Idle had hit it off immediately, chatting and laughing on the verandah after supper.   Idle told her a bit about the local area and the mines.  Despite Bert’s warnings, she wanted to see them. They were only an hour away from the inn.

      When she retired to her room for the night, she looked on the internet for more information. The more she read online about the mines, the more intrigued she became.

      “Interestingly there are no actual houses left from the original township. The common explanation is that a rumour spread that there was gold hidden in the walls of the houses and consequently they were knocked down by people believing there was ‘gold in them there walls”. Of course it was only a rumour. No gold was found.”

      “Miners attracted to the area originally by the garnets, found alluvial and reef gold at Arltunga…”

      Garnets!  Zara recalled the story her friend had told her about finding a cursed garnet near a fort in St Augustine in Florida.  Apparently there were a number of mines that one could visit:

      “the MacDonnell Range Reef Mine, the Christmas Reef Mine, the Golden Chance Mine, the Joker Mine and the Great Western Mine all of which are worth a visit.”

      Zara imagined Xavier making a crack about the Joker Mine, and wondered why it had been named that.

      “The whole area is preserved as though the inhabitants simply walked away from it only yesterday. The curious visitor who walks just a little way off the paths will see signs of previous habitation. Old pieces of meat safes, pieces of rusted wire, rusted cans, and pieces of broken glass litter the ground. There is nothing of great importance but each little shard is reminder of the people who once lived and worked here.”

      I wonder if Bert will take me there, Zara wondered. If not, maybe one of the others can pick up a hire car when they arrive at Alice.   Might even be best not to tell anyone at the inn where they were going.  Funny coincidence the nearest town was called Alice ~ it was already beginning to seem like some kind of rabbit hole she was falling into.

      Undecided whether to play some more of the game which had ended abruptly upon encountering the blue robed vendor, Zara decided not to and picked up the book on Dreamtime that was on the bedside table.

      “Some of the ancestors or spirit beings inhabiting the Dreamtime become one with parts of the landscape, such as rocks or trees…”  Flicking through the book, she read random excerpts.   “A mythic map of Australia would show thousands of characters, varying in their importance, but all in some way connected with the land. Some emerged at their specific sites and stayed spiritually in that vicinity. Others came from somewhere else and went somewhere else. Many were shape changing, transformed from or into human beings or natural species, or into natural features such as rocks but all left something of their spiritual essence at the places noted in their stories….”

      Thousands of characters. Zara smiled sleepily, recalling the many stories she and her friends had written together over the years.

      “People come and go but the Land, and stories about the Land, stay. This is a wisdom that takes lifetimes of listening, observing and experiencing … There is a deep understanding of human nature and the environment… sites hold ‘feelings’ which cannot be described in physical terms… subtle feelings that resonate through the bodies of these people… It is only when talking and being with these people that these ‘feelings’ can truly be appreciated. This is… the intangible reality of these people…..”

      With such strong ancestral connections to the land, Zara couldn’t help but wonder what the aboriginal people felt about all the mines.   If one of their ancestors had shape changed into rocks, and then some foreignors came along and hacked and blasted their way through, what would they think of that?

      “….many Aboriginal groups widely distributed across the Australian continent all appeared to share variations of a single (common) myth telling of an unusually powerful, often creative, often dangerous snake or serpent of sometimes enormous size closely associated with the rainbows, rain, rivers, and deep waterholes…..”

      She drifted off to sleep thinking of water holes in red rocky gorges, the book laying open in her hand.

      When she awoke the next morning with the slatted morning sun shining through the venetian blinds,  the dream image of the water hole was bright and clear in her minds eye.  But what was that strange character from the game doing in her dream?

      Osnas dreamtime waterhole


      She closed her eyes, remembering more of the strange dream.  Deeply orange red boulders and rocky outcrops, shivering gum trees, and green pools ~ it was coming back to her now, that creature in the blue robes had appeared more than once.  In one scene he appeared with a blue diamond lantern with what looked like a compass inside.

      Osnas lantern compass

      I’ll ask about the hiking trails today, Zara decided, and go for a walk in that gorge I read about yesterday. Bert said there were good hiking trails.   You came here early so you could play the game, she reminded herself.

      “It’s all a game,” she heard the parrot outside her window.

      “I’d forgotten about the bloody parrot!” Zara said under her breath. “Pretty Girl!” she said, opening the blinds. “We’re going out for a walk today.”


      In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


        With a determined glint in his eye, Xavier set his sights on the slot machines. He scanned the rows of blinking lights and flashing screens until one caught his attention. He approached the machine and inserted a coin, feeling a rush of excitement as he pulled the lever.

        With a satisfying whir, the reels began to spin, and before he knew it, the golden banana appeared on the screen, lining up perfectly. The machine erupted in flashing lights and loud noises, and a ticket spilled out onto the floor.

        🎰 · 💰

        Xavier picked it up, reading aloud the inscriptions on the ticket, “Congratulations on completing your quest. You may enjoy your trip until the next stage of your journey. Look for the cook on the pirate boat, she will give you directions to regroup with your friends. And don’t forget to confirm your bookings.”

        Glimmer let out a whoop of trepidation, “Let’s go find that cook, Xav! I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for us!”

        But Xavier, feeling a bit worn out, replied with a smile, “Hold on a minute, love. All I need at the moment is just some R&R after all that brouhaha.”

        Glimmer nodded in understanding and they both made their way to the deck, taking in the fresh air and the breathtaking scenery as the boat sailed towards its next destination.

        As the boat continued its journey, sailing and gliding on the river in the air filled with moist, they could start to see across the mist opening like a heavy curtain a colourful floating market in the distance, and the sounds of haggling and laughter filled the air.

        They couldn’t wait to explore and see what treasures and surprises awaited them. The journey was far from over, but for now, they were content to simply enjoy the ride.


        Xavier closed his laptop while his friends were still sending messages on the chatroom. He’d had long days of work before leaving to take his flights to Australia, during which he hoped he could rest enough during the flights.

        Most of the flights he’d checked had a minimum of 3 layovers, and a unbelievably long durations (not to count the astronomic amount of carbon emissions). Against all common sense, he’d taken one of the longest flight duration. It was 57h, but only 3 layovers. From Berlin, to Stockholm, then Dubai and Sydney. He could probably catch up with Youssef there as apparently he sent a message before boarding. They could go to Alice Spring and the Frying Mush Inn together. He’d try to find the reviews, but they were only listed on and didn’t have the rave reviews of the prestigious Kookynie Grand Hotel franchise. God knows what Zara had in mind while booking this place, it’d better be good. Reminded him of the time they all went to that improbably ghastly hotel in Spain (at the time Yasmin was still volunteering in a mission and couldn’t join) for a seminar with other game loonies and cosplayers. Those were the early days of the game, and the technology frankly left a lot to be desired at the time. They’d ended up eating raspberry jam with disposable toothbrushes, and get drunk on laughter.

        When Brytta had seen the time it took to go there, she’d reconsidered coming. She couldn’t afford taking that much time off, and spending the equivalent of 4 full days of her hard-won vacation as a nurse into a plane simply for the round-trip —there was simply no way.
        Xavier had proposed to shorten his stay, but she’d laughed and said, “you go there, I’ll enjoy some girl time with my friends, and I’ll work on my painting” —it was more convenient when he was gone for business trips, she would be able to put all the materials out, and not care to keep the apartment neat and tidy.

        The backpack was ready with the essentials; Xavier liked to travel light.


        In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


          Have you booked your flight yet?  Zara sent a message to Yasmin. I’m spending a few more days in Camden, probably be at the Flying Fish Inn by the end of the week.

            :yahoo_rolling_eyes: :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    I told you already when my flight is, Air Fiji, remeber?  bloody Sister Finnlie on my case all the time, haven’t had a minute. Zara had to wait over an hour for Yamsin’s reply.

          Took you long enough to reply. Zara replied promptly. Heard nothing from Youssef for ages either, have you heard from him? I’ll be arriving there on my own at this rate.

          :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   Not a word, I expect Xavier’s booked his but he hasn’t said.  Probably doing his secret monkey thing.

          Have you tried the free roaming thing on the game yet?

          :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    I just told you Sister Finnlie hasn’t given me a minute to myself, she’s a right tart! Why, have you?

          Yeah it’s amazing, been checking out the Flying Fish Inn. Looks a bit of a dump. Not much to do around there, well not from what I can see anyway.  But you know what?

          :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   What?

          You’ll lose your eyes in the back of your head one day and look like that AI avatart with the wall eye.  Get this though: we haven’t started the game yet, that quest for quirks thing, I was just having a roman around ha ha typo having a roam around see what’s there and stuff I don’t know anything about online games like you lot and I ended up here.  Zara sent a screenshot of the image she’d seen and added:   Did I already start the game or what, I don’t even know how we actually start the game, I was just wandering around….oh…and happened to chance upon this…


          Zaras Game

          :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   How rude to start playing before us

          I didn’t start playing the game before you, I just told you, I was wandering around playing about waiting for you lot!   Zara thought Yasmin sounded like she needed a holiday.

          :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    Yeah well that was your quest, wasn’t it? To wander around or something?  What’s that silver chest on her back?

          I dunno but looks intriguing eh maybe she’s hidden all her devices and techy gadgets in an antiquey looking box so she doesn’t blow her cover

          Gotta go Sister Finnlie’s coming

          Zara muttered how rude under her breath and put her phone down.  She’d retired to her bedroom early, telling Bertie that she needed an early night but really had wanted some time alone to explore the new game world.  She didn’t want to make mistakes and look daft to her friends when the game started.

          “Too late for that”, Pretty Girl said.

          “SSHHH!” Zara hissed at the parrot. “And stop reading my mind, it’s disconcerting, not to mention rude.”

          She heard the sound of the lavatory flush and Berties bedroom door closing and looked at the time. 23:36.

          Zara decided to give him an hour to make sure he was asleep and then sneak out and go back to that church.


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


            At the board game, Zara was the first to break character, although Yasmin had been rolling her eyes in silence for quite some time.

            “They’re all so young and attractive…”

            Yasmin chimed in “Could you add averagely attractive to the prompt? Oh hark at me! Moaning already!”

            Xavier was glad at the break, and stretched his arms, leaning back against the chair. “Time for a bio-break guys, all this setting up is taking a lot of time.”

            Youssef, who was connected via a stream, started to post emojis of food in the chat. He’d been obviously hungry for a while as usual.

            “Ok guys,” said Zara sighing. “That’s settled for today then. Anyway, it’s pretty late for Youssef, let’s resume tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ll be posting the characters concept art, but don’t hold your breath on that.”


              The Grattidge Family


              The first Grattidge to appear in our tree was Emma Grattidge (1853-1911) who married Charles Tomlinson (1847-1907) in 1872.

              Charles Tomlinson (1873-1929) was their son and he married my great grandmother Nellie Fisher. Their daughter Margaret (later Peggy Edwards) was my grandmother on my fathers side.

              Emma Grattidge was born in Wolverhampton, the daughter and youngest child of William Grattidge (1820-1887) born in Foston, Derbyshire, and Mary Stubbs, born in Burton on Trent, daughter of Solomon Stubbs, a land carrier. William and Mary married at St Modwens church, Burton on Trent, in 1839. It’s unclear why they moved to Wolverhampton. On the 1841 census William was employed as an agent, and their first son William was nine months old. Thereafter, William was a licensed victuallar or innkeeper.

              William Grattidge was born in Foston, Derbyshire in 1820. His parents were Thomas Grattidge, farmer (1779-1843) and Ann Gerrard (1789-1822) from Ellastone. Thomas and Ann married in 1813 in Ellastone. They had five children before Ann died at the age of 25:

              Bessy was born in 1815, Thomas in 1818, William in 1820, and Daniel Augustus and Frederick were twins born in 1822. They were all born in Foston. (records say Foston, Foston and Scropton, or Scropton)

              On the 1841 census Thomas had nine people additional to family living at the farm in Foston, presumably agricultural labourers and help.

              After Ann died, Thomas had three children with Kezia Gibbs (30 years his junior) before marrying her in 1836, then had a further four with her before dying in 1843. Then Kezia married Thomas’s nephew Frederick Augustus Grattidge (born in 1816 in Stafford) in London in 1847 and had two more!


              The siblings of William Grattidge (my 3x great grandfather):


              Frederick Grattidge (1822-1872) was a schoolmaster and never married. He died at the age of 49 in Tamworth at his twin brother Daniels address.

              Daniel Augustus Grattidge (1822-1903) was a grocer at Gungate in Tamworth.

              Thomas Grattidge (1818-1871) married in Derby, and then emigrated to Illinois, USA.

              Bessy Grattidge  (1815-1840) married John Buxton, farmer, in Ellastone in January 1838. They had three children before Bessy died in December 1840 at the age of 25: Henry in 1838, John in 1839, and Bessy Buxton in 1840. Bessy was baptised in January 1841. Presumably the birth of Bessy caused the death of Bessy the mother.

              Bessy Buxton’s gravestone:

              “Sacred to the memory of Bessy Buxton, the affectionate wife of John Buxton of Stanton She departed this life December 20th 1840, aged 25 years. “Husband, Farewell my life is Past, I loved you while life did last. Think on my children for my sake, And ever of them with I take.”

              20 Dec 1840, Ellastone, Staffordshire

              Bessy Buxton


              In the 1843 will of Thomas Grattidge, farmer of Foston, he leaves fifth shares of his estate, including freehold real estate at Findern,  to his wife Kezia, and sons William, Daniel, Frederick and Thomas. He mentions that the children of his late daughter Bessy, wife of John Buxton, will be taken care of by their father.  He leaves the farm to Keziah in confidence that she will maintain, support and educate his children with her.

              An excerpt from the will:

              I give and bequeath unto my dear wife Keziah Grattidge all my household goods and furniture, wearing apparel and plate and plated articles, linen, books, china, glass, and other household effects whatsoever, and also all my implements of husbandry, horses, cattle, hay, corn, crops and live and dead stock whatsoever, and also all the ready money that may be about my person or in my dwelling house at the time of my decease, …I also give my said wife the tenant right and possession of the farm in my occupation….

              A page from the 1843 will of Thomas Grattidge:

              1843 Thomas Grattidge


              William Grattidges half siblings (the offspring of Thomas Grattidge and Kezia Gibbs):


              Albert Grattidge (1842-1914) was a railway engine driver in Derby. In 1884 he was driving the train when an unfortunate accident occured outside Ambergate. Three children were blackberrying and crossed the rails in front of the train, and one little girl died.

              Albert Grattidge:

              Albert Grattidge


              George Grattidge (1826-1876) was baptised Gibbs as this was before Thomas married Kezia. He was a police inspector in Derby.

              George Grattidge:

              George Grattidge


              Edwin Grattidge (1837-1852) died at just 15 years old.

              Ann Grattidge (1835-) married Charles Fletcher, stone mason, and lived in Derby.

              Louisa Victoria Grattidge (1840-1869) was sadly another Grattidge woman who died young. Louisa married Emmanuel Brunt Cheesborough in 1860 in Derby. In 1861 Louisa and Emmanuel were living with her mother Kezia in Derby, with their two children Frederick and Ann Louisa. Emmanuel’s occupation was sawyer. (Kezia Gibbs second husband Frederick Augustus Grattidge was a timber merchant in Derby)

              At the time of her death in 1869, Emmanuel was the landlord of the White Hart public house at Bridgegate in Derby.

              The Derby Mercury of 17th November 1869:

              “On Wednesday morning Mr Coroner Vallack held an inquest in the Grand
              Jury-room, Town-hall, on the body of Louisa Victoria Cheeseborough, aged
              33, the wife of the landlord of the White Hart, Bridge-gate, who committed
              suicide by poisoning at an early hour on Sunday morning. The following
              evidence was taken:

              Mr Frederick Borough, surgeon, practising in Derby, deposed that he was
              called in to see the deceased about four o’clock on Sunday morning last. He
              accordingly examined the deceased and found the body quite warm, but dead.
              He afterwards made enquiries of the husband, who said that he was afraid
              that his wife had taken poison, also giving him at the same time the
              remains of some blue material in a cup. The aunt of the deceased’s husband
              told him that she had seen Mrs Cheeseborough put down a cup in the
              club-room, as though she had just taken it from her mouth. The witness took
              the liquid home with him, and informed them that an inquest would
              necessarily have to be held on Monday. He had made a post mortem
              examination of the body, and found that in the stomach there was a great
              deal of congestion. There were remains of food in the stomach and, having
              put the contents into a bottle, he took the stomach away. He also examined
              the heart and found it very pale and flabby. All the other organs were
              comparatively healthy; the liver was friable.

              Hannah Stone, aunt of the deceased’s husband, said she acted as a servant
              in the house. On Saturday evening, while they were going to bed and whilst
              witness was undressing, the deceased came into the room, went up to the
              bedside, awoke her daughter, and whispered to her. but what she said the
              witness did not know. The child jumped out of bed, but the deceased closed
              the door and went away. The child followed her mother, and she also
              followed them to the deceased’s bed-room, but the door being closed, they
              then went to the club-room door and opening it they saw the deceased
              standing with a candle in one hand. The daughter stayed with her in the
              room whilst the witness went downstairs to fetch a candle for herself, and
              as she was returning up again she saw the deceased put a teacup on the
              table. The little girl began to scream, saying “Oh aunt, my mother is
              going, but don’t let her go”. The deceased then walked into her bed-room,
              and they went and stood at the door whilst the deceased undressed herself.
              The daughter and the witness then returned to their bed-room. Presently
              they went to see if the deceased was in bed, but she was sitting on the
              floor her arms on the bedside. Her husband was sitting in a chair fast
              asleep. The witness pulled her on the bed as well as she could.
              Ann Louisa Cheesborough, a little girl, said that the deceased was her
              mother. On Saturday evening last, about twenty minutes before eleven
              o’clock, she went to bed, leaving her mother and aunt downstairs. Her aunt
              came to bed as usual. By and bye, her mother came into her room – before
              the aunt had retired to rest – and awoke her. She told the witness, in a
              low voice, ‘that she should have all that she had got, adding that she
              should also leave her her watch, as she was going to die’. She did not tell
              her aunt what her mother had said, but followed her directly into the
              club-room, where she saw her drink something from a cup, which she
              afterwards placed on the table. Her mother then went into her own room and
              shut the door. She screamed and called her father, who was downstairs. He
              came up and went into her room. The witness then went to bed and fell
              asleep. She did not hear any noise or quarrelling in the house after going
              to bed.

              Police-constable Webster was on duty in Bridge-gate on Saturday evening
              last, about twenty minutes to one o’clock. He knew the White Hart
              public-house in Bridge-gate, and as he was approaching that place, he heard
              a woman scream as though at the back side of the house. The witness went to
              the door and heard the deceased keep saying ‘Will you be quiet and go to
              bed’. The reply was most disgusting, and the language which the
              police-constable said was uttered by the husband of the deceased, was
              immoral in the extreme. He heard the poor woman keep pressing her husband
              to go to bed quietly, and eventually he saw him through the keyhole of the
              door pass and go upstairs. his wife having gone up a minute or so before.
              Inspector Fearn deposed that on Sunday morning last, after he had heard of
              the deceased’s death from supposed poisoning, he went to Cheeseborough’s
              public house, and found in the club-room two nearly empty packets of
              Battie’s Lincoln Vermin Killer – each labelled poison.

              Several of the Jury here intimated that they had seen some marks on the
              deceased’s neck, as of blows, and expressing a desire that the surgeon
              should return, and re-examine the body. This was accordingly done, after
              which the following evidence was taken:

              Mr Borough said that he had examined the body of the deceased and observed
              a mark on the left side of the neck, which he considered had come on since
              death. He thought it was the commencement of decomposition.
              This was the evidence, after which the jury returned a verdict “that the
              deceased took poison whilst of unsound mind” and requested the Coroner to
              censure the deceased’s husband.

              The Coroner told Cheeseborough that he was a disgusting brute and that the
              jury only regretted that the law could not reach his brutal conduct.
              However he had had a narrow escape. It was their belief that his poor
              wife, who was driven to her own destruction by his brutal treatment, would
              have been a living woman that day except for his cowardly conduct towards

              The inquiry, which had lasted a considerable time, then closed.”


              In this article it says:

              “it was the “fourth or fifth remarkable and tragical event – some of which were of the worst description – that has taken place within the last twelve years at the White Hart and in the very room in which the unfortunate Louisa Cheesborough drew her last breath.”

              Sheffield Independent – Friday 12 November 1869:

              Louisa Cheesborough


              In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


                Stung by Egberts question, Olga reeled and almost lost her footing on the stairs. What had happened to her?  That damned selfish individualism that was running rampant must have seeped into her room through the gaps in the windows or under the door.  “No!” she shouted, her voice cracking.

                “Say it isn’t true, Olga,” Egbert said, his voice breaking.  “Not you as well.”

                It took Olga a minute or two to still her racing heart.  The near fall down the stairs had shaken her but with trembling hands she levered herself round to sit beside Egbert on the step.

                Gripping his bony knee with her knobbly arthritic fingers, she took a deep breath.

                “You are right to have said that, Egbert.  If there is one thing we must hold onto, it’s our hearts. Nothing else matters, or at least nothing else matters as much as that.  We are old and tired and we don’t like change. But if we escalate the importance of this frankly dreary and depressing home to the point where we lose our hearts…” she faltered and continued.  “We will be homeless soon, very soon, and we know not what will happen to us.  We must trust in the kindness of strangers, we must hope they have a heart.”

                Egbert winced as Olga squeezed his knee. “And that is why”, Olga continued, slapping Egberts thigh with gusto, “We must have a heart…”

                “If you’d just stop squeezing and hitting me, Olga…”

                Olga loosened her grip on the old mans thigh bone and peered into his eyes. Quietly she thanked him. “You’ve cleared my mind and given me something to live for, and I thank you for that. But you do need to launder your clothes more often,” she added, pulling a face. She didn’t want the old coot to start blubbing, and he looked alarmingly close to tears.

                “Come on, let’s go and see Obadiah. We’re all in this together. Homelessness and adventure can wait until tomorrow.”  Olga heaved herself upright with a surprising burst of vitality.   Noticing a weak smile trembling on Egberts lips, she said “That’s the spirit!”


                In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


                  “Calm yourself, Egbert, and sit down. And be quiet! I can barely hear myself think with your frantic gibbering and flailing around,” Olga said, closing her eyes.  “I need to think.”

                  Egbert clutched the eiderdown on either side of his bony trembling knees and clamped his remaining teeth together, drawing ragged whistling breaths in an attempt to calm himself.  Olga was right, he needed to calm down. Besides the unfortunate effects of the letter on his habitual tremor, he felt sure his blood pressure had risen alarmingly.  He dared not become so ill that he needed medical assistance, not with the state of the hospitals these days. He’d be lucky to survive the plague ridden wards.

                  What had become of him! He imagined his younger self looking on with horror, appalled at his feeble body and shattered mind.  Imagine becoming so desperate that he wanted to fight to stay in this godforsaken dump, what had become of him! If only he knew of somewhere else to go, somewhere safe and pleasant, somewhere that smelled sweetly of meadows and honesuckle and freshly baked cherry pies, with the snorting of pigs in the yard…

                  But wait, that was Olga snoring. Useless old bag had fallen asleep! For the first time since Viktor had died he felt close to tears. What a sad sorry pathetic old man he’d become, desperately counting on a old woman to save him.

                  “Stop sniveling, Egbert, and go and pack a bag.” Olga had woken up from her momentary but illuminating lapse.    “Don’t bring too much, we may have much walking to do. I hear the buses and trains are in a shambles and full of refugees. We don’t want to get herded up with them.”

                  Astonished, Egbert asked where they were going.

                  “To see Rosa. My cousins father in laws neice. Don’t look at me like that, immediate family are seldom the ones who help.  The distant ones are another matter.  And be honest Egbert,” Olga said with a piercing look, “Do we really want to stay here? You may think you do, but it’s the fear of change, that’s all. Change feels like too much bother, doesn’t it?”

                  Egbert nodded sadly, his eyes fixed on the stain on the grey carpet.

                  Olga leaned forward and took his hand gently. “Egbert, look at me.” He raised his head and looked into her eyes. He’d never seen a sparkle in her faded blue eyes before.  “I still have another adventure in me. How about you?”


                  In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


                    The sharp rat-a-tat on the door startled Olga Herringbonevsky. The initial surprise quickly turned to annoyance. It was 11am and she wasn’t expecting a knock on the door at 11am. At 10am she expected a knock. It would be Larysa with the lukewarm cup of tea and a stale biscuit. Sometimes Olga complained about it and Larysa would say, Well you’re on the third floor so what do you expect? And she’d look cross and pour the tea so some of it slopped into the saucer. So the biscuits go stale on the way up do they? Olga would mutter. At 10:30am Larysa would return to collect the cup and saucer. I can’t do this much longer, she’d say. I’m not young any more and all these damn stairs. She’d been saying that for as long as Olga could remember.

                    For a moment, Olga contemplated ignoring the intrusion but the knocking started up again, this time accompanied by someone shouting her name.

                    With a very loud sigh, she put her book on the side table, face down so she would not lose her place for it was a most enjoyable whodunit, and hauled herself up from the chair. Her ankle was not good since she’d gone over on it the other day and Olga was in a very poor mood by the time she reached the door.

                    “Yes?” She glowered at Egbert.

                    “Have you seen this?” Egbert was waving a piece of paper at her.

                    “No,” Olga started to close the door.

                    “Olga stop!” Egbert’s face had reddened and Olga wondered if he might cry. Again, he waved the piece of paper in her face and then let his hand fall defeated to his side. “Olga, it’s bad news. You should have got a letter .”

                    Olga glanced at the pile of unopened letters on her dresser. It was never good news. She couldn’t be bothered with letters any more.

                    “Well, Egbert, I suppose you’d better come in”.

                    “That Ursula has a heart of steel,” said Olga when she’d heard the news.

                    “Pfft,” said Egbert. “She has no heart. This place has always been about money for her.”

                    “It’s bad times, Egbert. Bad times.”

                    Egbert nodded. “It is, Olga. But there must be something we can do.” He pursed his lips and Olga noticed that he would not meet her eyes.

                    “What? Spit it out, Old Man.”

                    He looked at her briefly before his eyes slid back to the dirty grey carpet. “I have heard stories, Olga. That you are … well connected. That you know people.”

                    Olga noticed that it had become difficult to breathe. Seeing Egbert looking at her with concern, she made an effort to steady herself. She took an extra big gasp of air and pointed to the book face-down on the side table. “That is a very good book I am reading. You may borrow it when I have finished.”

                    Egbert nodded. “Thank you.” he said and they both stared at the book.

                    “It was a long time ago, Egbert. And no business of anyone else.” Olga  knew her voice was sharp but not sharp enough it seemed as Egbert was not done yet with all his prying words.

                    “Olga, you said it yourself. These are bad times. And desperate measures are needed or we will all perish.” Now he looked her in the eyes. “Old woman, swallow your pride. You must save yourself and all of us here.”


                      From Tanganyika with Love

                      continued part 8

                      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                      Morogoro 20th January 1941

                      Dearest Family,

                      It is all arranged for us to go on three months leave to Cape Town next month so
                      get out your flags. How I shall love showing off Kate and John to you and this time
                      George will be with us and you’ll be able to get to know him properly. You can’t think
                      what a comfort it will be to leave all the worries of baggage and tipping to him. We will all
                      be travelling by ship to Durban and from there to Cape Town by train. I rather dread the
                      journey because there is a fifth little Rushby on the way and, as always, I am very

                      Kate has become such a little companion to me that I dread the thought of leaving
                      her behind with you to start schooling. I miss Ann and George so much now and must
                      face separation from Kate as well. There does not seem to be any alternative though.
                      There is a boarding school in Arusha and another has recently been started in Mbeya,
                      but both places are so far away and I know she would be very unhappy as a boarder at
                      this stage. Living happily with you and attending a day school might wean her of her
                      dependance upon me. As soon as this wretched war ends we mean to get Ann and
                      George back home and Kate too and they can then all go to boarding school together.
                      If I were a more methodical person I would try to teach Kate myself, but being a
                      muddler I will have my hands full with Johnny and the new baby. Life passes pleasantly
                      but quietly here. Much of my time is taken up with entertaining the children and sewing
                      for them and just waiting for George to come home.

                      George works so hard on these safaris and this endless elephant hunting to
                      protect native crops entails so much foot safari, that he has lost a good deal of weight. it
                      is more than ten years since he had a holiday so he is greatly looking forward to this one.
                      Four whole months together!

                      I should like to keep the ayah, Janet, for the new baby, but she says she wants
                      to return to her home in the Southern Highlands Province and take a job there. She is
                      unusually efficient and so clean, and the houseboy and cook are quite scared of her. She
                      bawls at them if the children’s meals are served a few minutes late but she is always
                      respectful towards me and practically creeps around on tiptoe when George is home.
                      She has a room next to the outside kitchen. One night thieves broke into the kitchen and
                      stole a few things, also a canvas chair and mat from the verandah. Ayah heard them, and
                      grabbing a bit of firewood, she gave chase. Her shouts so alarmed the thieves that they
                      ran off up the hill jettisoning their loot as they ran. She is a great character.


                      Morogoro 30th July 1941

                      Dearest Family,

                      Safely back in Morogoro after a rather grim voyage from Durban. Our ship was
                      completely blacked out at night and we had to sleep with warm clothing and life belts
                      handy and had so many tedious boat drills. It was a nuisance being held up for a whole
                      month in Durban, because I was so very pregnant when we did embark. In fact George
                      suggested that I had better hide in the ‘Ladies’ until the ship sailed for fear the Captain
                      might refuse to take me. It seems that the ship, on which we were originally booked to
                      travel, was torpedoed somewhere off the Cape.

                      We have been given a very large house this tour with a mosquito netted
                      sleeping porch which will be fine for the new baby. The only disadvantage is that the
                      house is on the very edge of the residential part of Morogoro and Johnny will have to
                      go quite a distance to find playmates.

                      I still miss Kate terribly. She is a loving little person. I had prepared for a scene
                      when we said good-bye but I never expected that she would be the comforter. It
                      nearly broke my heart when she put her arms around me and said, “I’m so sorry
                      Mummy, please don’t cry. I’ll be good. Please don’t cry.” I’m afraid it was all very
                      harrowing for you also. It is a great comfort to hear that she has settled down so happily.
                      I try not to think consciously of my absent children and remind myself that there are
                      thousands of mothers in the same boat, but they are always there at the back of my

                      Mother writes that Ann and George are perfectly happy and well, and that though
                      German bombers do fly over fairly frequently, they are unlikely to drop their bombs on
                      a small place like Jacksdale.

                      George has already left on safari to the Rufiji. There was no replacement for his
                      job while he was away so he is anxious to get things moving again. Johnny and I are
                      going to move in with friends until he returns, just in case all the travelling around brings
                      the new baby on earlier than expected.


                      Morogoro 26th August 1941

                      Dearest Family,

                      Our new son, James Caleb. was born at 3.30 pm yesterday afternoon, with a
                      minimum of fuss, in the hospital here. The Doctor was out so my friend, Sister Murray,
                      delivered the baby. The Sister is a Scots girl, very efficient and calm and encouraging,
                      and an ideal person to have around at such a time.

                      Everything, this time, went without a hitch and I feel fine and proud of my
                      bouncing son. He weighs nine pounds and ten ounces and is a big boned fellow with
                      dark hair and unusually strongly marked eyebrows. His eyes are strong too and already
                      seem to focus. George is delighted with him and brought Hugh Nelson to see him this
                      morning. Hugh took one look, and, astonished I suppose by the baby’s apparent
                      awareness, said, “Gosh, this one has been here before.” The baby’s cot is beside my
                      bed so I can admire him as much as I please. He has large strong hands and George
                      reckons he’ll make a good boxer some day.

                      Another of my early visitors was Mabemba, George’s orderly. He is a very big
                      African and looks impressive in his Game Scouts uniform. George met him years ago at
                      Mahenge when he was a young elephant hunter and Mabemba was an Askari in the
                      Police. Mabemba takes quite a proprietary interest in the family.


                      Morogoro 25th December 1941

                      Dearest Family,

                      Christmas Day today, but not a gay one. I have Johnny in bed with a poisoned
                      leg so he missed the children’s party at the Club. To make things a little festive I have
                      put up a little Christmas tree in the children’s room and have hung up streamers and
                      balloons above the beds. Johnny demands a lot of attention so it is fortunate that little
                      James is such a very good baby. He sleeps all night until 6 am when his feed is due.
                      One morning last week I got up as usual to feed him but I felt so dopey that I
                      thought I’d better have a cold wash first. I went into the bathroom and had a hurried
                      splash and then grabbed a towel to dry my face. Immediately I felt an agonising pain in
                      my nose. Reason? There was a scorpion in the towel! In no time at all my nose looked
                      like a pear and felt burning hot. The baby screamed with frustration whilst I feverishly
                      bathed my nose and applied this and that in an effort to cool it.

                      For three days my nose was very red and tender,”A real boozer nose”, said
                      George. But now, thank goodness, it is back to normal.

                      Some of the younger marrieds and a couple of bachelors came around,
                      complete with portable harmonium, to sing carols in the early hours. No sooner had we
                      settled down again to woo sleep when we were disturbed by shouts and screams from
                      our nearest neighbour’s house. “Just celebrating Christmas”, grunted George, but we
                      heard this morning that the neighbour had fallen down his verandah steps and broken his


                      Morogoro Hospital 30th September 1943

                      Dearest Family,

                      Well now we are eight! Our new son, Henry, was born on the night of the 28th.
                      He is a beautiful baby, weighing ten pounds three and a half ounces. This baby is very
                      well developed, handsome, and rather superior looking, and not at all amusing to look at
                      as the other boys were.George was born with a moustache, John had a large nose and
                      looked like a little old man, and Jim, bless his heart, looked rather like a baby
                      chimpanzee. Henry is different. One of my visitors said, “Heaven he’ll have to be a
                      Bishop!” I expect the lawn sleeves of his nightie really gave her that idea, but the baby
                      does look like ‘Someone’. He is very good and George, John, and Jim are delighted
                      with him, so is Mabemba.

                      We have a dear little nurse looking after us. She is very petite and childish
                      looking. When the baby was born and she brought him for me to see, the nurse asked
                      his name. I said jokingly, “His name is Benjamin – the last of the family.” She is now very
                      peeved to discover that his real name is Henry William and persists in calling him
                      ‘Benjie’.I am longing to get home and into my pleasant rut. I have been away for two
                      whole weeks and George is managing so well that I shall feel quite expendable if I don’t
                      get home soon. As our home is a couple of miles from the hospital, I arranged to move
                      in and stay with the nursing sister on the day the baby was due. There I remained for ten
                      whole days before the baby was born. Each afternoon George came and took me for a
                      ride in the bumpy Bedford lorry and the Doctor tried this and that but the baby refused
                      to be hurried.

                      On the tenth day I had the offer of a lift and decided to go home for tea and
                      surprise George. It was a surprise too, because George was entertaining a young
                      Game Ranger for tea and my arrival, looking like a perambulating big top, must have
                      been rather embarrassing.Henry was born at the exact moment that celebrations started
                      in the Township for the end of the Muslim religious festival of Ramadan. As the Doctor
                      held him up by his ankles, there was the sound of hooters and firecrackers from the town.
                      The baby has a birthmark in the shape of a crescent moon above his left eyebrow.


                      Morogoro 26th January 1944

                      Dearest Family,

                      We have just heard that we are to be transferred to the Headquarters of the
                      Game Department at a place called Lyamungu in the Northern Province. George is not
                      at all pleased because he feels that the new job will entail a good deal of office work and
                      that his beloved but endless elephant hunting will be considerably curtailed. I am glad of
                      that and I am looking forward to seeing a new part of Tanganyika and particularly
                      Kilimanjaro which dominates Lyamungu.

                      Thank goodness our menagerie is now much smaller. We found a home for the
                      guinea pigs last December and Susie, our mischievous guinea-fowl, has flown off to find
                      a mate.Last week I went down to Dar es Salaam for a check up by Doctor John, a
                      woman doctor, leaving George to cope with the three boys. I was away two nights and
                      a day and returned early in the morning just as George was giving Henry his six o’clock
                      bottle. It always amazes me that so very masculine a man can do my chores with no
                      effort and I have a horrible suspicion that he does them better than I do. I enjoyed the
                      short break at the coast very much. I stayed with friends and we bathed in the warm sea
                      and saw a good film.

                      Now I suppose there will be a round of farewell parties. People in this country
                      are most kind and hospitable.


                      Lyamungu 20th March 1944

                      Dearest Family,

                      We left Morogoro after the round of farewell parties I had anticipated. The final
                      one was at the Club on Saturday night. George made a most amusing speech and the
                      party was a very pleasant occasion though I was rather tired after all the packing.
                      Several friends gathered to wave us off on Monday morning. We had two lorries
                      loaded with our goods. I rode in the cab of the first one with Henry on my knee. George
                      with John and Jim rode in the second one. As there was no room for them in the cab,
                      they sat on our couch which was placed across the width of the lorry behind the cab. This
                      seat was not as comfortable as it sounds, because the space behind the couch was
                      taken up with packing cases which were not lashed in place and these kept moving
                      forward as the lorry bumped its way over the bad road.

                      Soon there was hardly any leg room and George had constantly to stand up and
                      push the second layer of packing cases back to prevent them from toppling over onto
                      the children and himself. As it is now the rainy season the road was very muddy and
                      treacherous and the lorries travelled so slowly it was dark by the time we reached
                      Karogwe from where we were booked to take the train next morning to Moshi.
                      Next morning we heard that there had been a washaway on the line and that the
                      train would be delayed for at least twelve hours. I was not feeling well and certainly did
                      not enjoy my day. Early in the afternoon Jimmy ran into a wall and blackened both his
                      eyes. What a child! As the day wore on I felt worse and worse and when at last the train
                      did arrive I simply crawled into my bunk whilst George coped nobly with the luggage
                      and the children.

                      We arrived at Moshi at breakfast time and went straight to the Lion Cub Hotel
                      where I took to my bed with a high temperature. It was, of course, malaria. I always have
                      my attacks at the most inopportune times. Fortunately George ran into some friends
                      called Eccles and the wife Mollie came to my room and bathed Henry and prepared his
                      bottle and fed him. George looked after John and Jim. Next day I felt much better and
                      we drove out to Lyamungu the day after. There we had tea with the Game Warden and
                      his wife before moving into our new home nearby.

                      The Game Warden is Captain Monty Moore VC. He came out to Africa
                      originally as an Officer in the King’s African Rifles and liked the country so much he left the
                      Army and joined the Game Department. He was stationed at Banagi in the Serengetti
                      Game Reserve and is well known for his work with the lions there. He particularly tamed
                      some of the lions by feeding them so that they would come out into the open and could
                      readily be photographed by tourists. His wife Audrey, has written a book about their
                      experiences at Banagi. It is called “Serengetti”

                      Our cook, Hamisi, soon had a meal ready for us and we all went to bed early.
                      This is a very pleasant house and I know we will be happy here. I still feel a little shaky
                      but that is the result of all the quinine I have taken. I expect I shall feel fine in a day or two.


                      Lyamungu 15th May 1944

                      Dearest Family,

                      Well, here we are settled comfortably in our very nice house. The house is
                      modern and roomy, and there is a large enclosed verandah, which will be a Godsend in
                      the wet weather as a playroom for the children. The only drawback is that there are so
                      many windows to be curtained and cleaned. The grounds consist of a very large lawn
                      and a few beds of roses and shrubs. It is an ideal garden for children, unlike our steeply
                      terraced garden at Morogoro.

                      Lyamungu is really the Government Coffee Research Station. It is about sixteen
                      miles from the town of Moshi which is the centre of the Tanganyika coffee growing
                      industry. Lyamungu, which means ‘place of God’ is in the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro and
                      we have a beautiful view of Kilimanjaro. Kibo, the more spectacular of the two mountain
                      peaks, towers above us, looking from this angle, like a giant frosted plum pudding. Often the mountain is veiled by cloud and mist which sometimes comes down to
                      our level so that visibility is practically nil. George dislikes both mist and mountain but I
                      like both and so does John. He in fact saw Kibo before I did. On our first day here, the
                      peak was completely hidden by cloud. In the late afternoon when the children were
                      playing on the lawn outside I was indoors hanging curtains. I heard John call out, “Oh
                      Mummy, isn’t it beautiful!” I ran outside and there, above a scarf of cloud, I saw the
                      showy dome of Kibo with the setting sun shining on it tingeing the snow pink. It was an
                      unforgettable experience.

                      As this is the rainy season, the surrounding country side is very lush and green.
                      Everywhere one sees the rich green of the coffee plantations and the lighter green of
                      the banana groves. Unfortunately our walks are rather circumscribed. Except for the main road to Moshi, there is nowhere to walk except through the Government coffee
                      plantation. Paddy, our dog, thinks life is pretty boring as there is no bush here and
                      nothing to hunt. There are only half a dozen European families here and half of those are
                      on very distant terms with the other half which makes the station a rather uncomfortable

                      The coffee expert who runs this station is annoyed because his European staff
                      has been cut down owing to the war, and three of the vacant houses and some office
                      buildings have been taken over temporarily by the Game Department. Another house
                      has been taken over by the head of the Labour Department. However I don’t suppose
                      the ill feeling will effect us much. We are so used to living in the bush that we are not
                      socially inclined any way.

                      Our cook, Hamisi, came with us from Morogoro but I had to engage a new
                      houseboy and kitchenboy. I first engaged a houseboy who produced a wonderful ‘chit’
                      in which his previous employer describes him as his “friend and confidant”. I felt rather
                      dubious about engaging him and how right I was. On his second day with us I produced
                      some of Henry’s napkins, previously rinsed by me, and asked this boy to wash them.
                      He looked most offended and told me that it was beneath his dignity to do women’s
                      work. We parted immediately with mutual relief.

                      Now I have a good natured fellow named Japhet who, though hard on crockery,
                      is prepared to do anything and loves playing with the children. He is a local boy, a
                      member of the Chagga tribe. These Chagga are most intelligent and, on the whole, well
                      to do as they all have their own small coffee shambas. Japhet tells me that his son is at
                      the Uganda University College studying medicine.The kitchen boy is a tall youth called
                      Tovelo, who helps both Hamisi, the cook, and the houseboy and also keeps an eye on
                      Henry when I am sewing. I still make all the children’s clothes and my own. Life is
                      pleasant but dull. George promises that he will take the whole family on safari when
                      Henry is a little older.


                      Lyamungu 18th July 1944

                      Dearest Family,

                      Life drifts quietly by at Lyamungu with each day much like the one before – or
                      they would be, except that the children provide the sort of excitement that prohibits
                      boredom. Of the three boys our Jim is the best at this. Last week Jim wandered into the
                      coffee plantation beside our house and chewed some newly spayed berries. Result?
                      A high temperature and nasty, bloody diarrhoea, so we had to rush him to the hospital at
                      Moshi for treatment. however he was well again next day and George went off on safari.
                      That night there was another crisis. As the nights are now very cold, at this high
                      altitude, we have a large fire lit in the living room and the boy leaves a pile of logs
                      beside the hearth so that I can replenish the fire when necessary. Well that night I took
                      Henry off to bed, leaving John and Jim playing in the living room. When their bedtime
                      came, I called them without leaving the bedroom. When I had tucked John and Jim into
                      bed, I sat reading a bedtime story as I always do. Suddenly I saw smoke drifting
                      through the door, and heard a frightening rumbling noise. Japhet rushed in to say that the
                      lounge chimney was on fire! Picture me, panic on the inside and sweet smile on the
                      outside, as I picked Henry up and said to the other two, “There’s nothing to be
                      frightened about chaps, but get up and come outside for a bit.” Stupid of me to be so
                      heroic because John and Jim were not at all scared but only too delighted at the chance
                      of rushing about outside in the dark. The fire to them was just a bit of extra fun.

                      We hurried out to find one boy already on the roof and the other passing up a
                      brimming bucket of water. Other boys appeared from nowhere and soon cascades of
                      water were pouring down the chimney. The result was a mountain of smouldering soot
                      on the hearth and a pool of black water on the living room floor. However the fire was out
                      and no serious harm done because all the floors here are cement and another stain on
                      the old rug will hardly be noticed. As the children reluctantly returned to bed John
                      remarked smugly, “I told Jim not to put all the wood on the fire at once but he wouldn’t
                      listen.” I might have guessed!

                      However it was not Jim but John who gave me the worst turn of all this week. As
                      a treat I decided to take the boys to the river for a picnic tea. The river is not far from our
                      house but we had never been there before so I took the kitchen boy, Tovelo, to show
                      us the way. The path is on the level until one is in sight of the river when the bank slopes
                      steeply down. I decided that it was too steep for the pram so I stopped to lift Henry out
                      and carry him. When I looked around I saw John running down the slope towards the
                      river. The stream is not wide but flows swiftly and I had no idea how deep it was. All I
                      knew was that it was a trout stream. I called for John, “Stop, wait for me!” but he ran on
                      and made for a rude pole bridge which spanned the river. He started to cross and then,
                      to my horror, I saw John slip. There was a splash and he disappeared under the water. I
                      just dumped the baby on the ground, screamed to the boy to mind him and ran madly
                      down the slope to the river. Suddenly I saw John’s tight fitting felt hat emerge, then his
                      eyes and nose. I dashed into the water and found, to my intense relief, that it only
                      reached up to my shoulders but, thank heaven no further. John’s steady eyes watched
                      me trustingly as I approached him and carried him safely to the bank. He had been
                      standing on a rock and had not panicked at all though he had to stand up very straight
                      and tall to keep his nose out of water. I was too proud of him to scold him for
                      disobedience and too wet anyway.

                      I made John undress and put on two spare pullovers and wrapped Henry’s
                      baby blanket round his waist like a sarong. We made a small fire over which I crouched
                      with literally chattering teeth whilst Tovelo ran home to fetch a coat for me and dry clothes
                      for John.


                      Lyamungu 16th August 1944

                      Dearest Family,

                      We have a new bull terrier bitch pup whom we have named Fanny III . So once
                      more we have a menagerie , the two dogs, two cats Susie and Winnie, and
                      some pet hens who live in the garage and are a real nuisance.

                      As John is nearly six I thought it time that he started lessons and wrote off to Dar
                      es Salaam for the correspondence course. We have had one week of lessons and I am
                      already in a state of physical and mental exhaustion. John is a most reluctant scholar.
                      “Why should I learn to read, when you can read to me?” he asks, and “Anyway why
                      should I read such stupid stuff, ‘Run Rover Run’, and ‘Mother play with baby’ . Who
                      wants to read about things like that? I don’t.”

                      He rather likes sums, but the only subject about which he is enthusiastic is
                      prehistoric history. He laps up information about ‘The Tree Dwellers’, though he is very
                      sceptical about the existence of such people. “God couldn’t be so silly to make people
                      so stupid. Fancy living in trees when it is easy to make huts like the natives.” ‘The Tree
                      Dwellers is a highly imaginative story about a revolting female called Sharptooth and her
                      offspring called Bodo. I have a very clear mental image of Sharptooth, so it came as a
                      shock to me and highly amused George when John looked at me reflectively across the
                      tea table and said, “Mummy I expect Sharptooth looked like you. You have a sharp
                      tooth too!” I have, my eye teeth are rather sharp, but I hope the resemblance stops

                      John has an uncomfortably logical mind for a small boy. The other day he was
                      lying on the lawn staring up at the clouds when he suddenly muttered “I don’t believe it.”
                      “Believe what?” I asked. “That Jesus is coming on a cloud one day. How can he? The
                      thick ones always stay high up. What’s he going to do, jump down with a parachute?”
                      Tovelo, my kitchen boy, announced one evening that his grandmother was in the
                      kitchen and wished to see me. She was a handsome and sensible Chagga woman who
                      brought sad news. Her little granddaughter had stumbled backwards into a large cooking
                      pot of almost boiling maize meal porridge and was ‘ngongwa sana’ (very ill). I grabbed
                      a large bottle of Picric Acid and a packet of gauze which we keep for these emergencies
                      and went with her, through coffee shambas and banana groves to her daughter’s house.
                      Inside the very neat thatched hut the mother sat with the naked child lying face
                      downwards on her knee. The child’s buttocks and the back of her legs were covered in
                      huge burst blisters from which a watery pus dripped. It appeared that the accident had
                      happened on the previous day.

                      I could see that it was absolutely necessary to clean up the damaged area, and I
                      suddenly remembered that there was a trained African hospital dresser on the station. I
                      sent the father to fetch him and whilst the dresser cleaned off the sloughed skin with
                      forceps and swabs saturated in Picric Acid, I cut the gauze into small squares which I
                      soaked in the lotion and laid on the cleaned area. I thought the small pieces would be
                      easier to change especially as the whole of the most tender parts, front and back, were
                      badly scalded. The child seemed dazed and neither the dresser nor I thought she would
                      live. I gave her half an aspirin and left three more half tablets to be given four hourly.
                      Next day she seemed much brighter. I poured more lotion on the gauze
                      disturbing as few pieces as possible and again the next day and the next. After a week
                      the skin was healing well and the child eating normally. I am sure she will be all right now.
                      The new skin is a brilliant red and very shiny but it is pale round the edges of the burnt
                      area and will I hope later turn brown. The mother never uttered a word of thanks, but the
                      granny is grateful and today brought the children a bunch of bananas.


                      c/o Game Dept. P.O.Moshi. 29th September 1944

                      Dearest Mummy,

                      I am so glad that you so enjoyed my last letter with the description of our very
                      interesting and enjoyable safari through Masailand. You said you would like an even
                      fuller description of it to pass around amongst the relations, so, to please you, I have
                      written it out in detail and enclose the result.

                      We have spent a quiet week after our exertions and all are well here.

                      Very much love,

                      Safari in Masailand

                      George and I were at tea with our three little boys on the front lawn of our house
                      in Lyamungu, Northern Tanganyika. It was John’s sixth birthday and he and Jim, a
                      happy sturdy three year old, and Henry, aged eleven months, were munching the
                      squares of plain chocolate which rounded off the party, when George said casually
                      across the table to me, “Could you be ready by the day after tomorrow to go on
                      safari?” “Me too?” enquired John anxiously, before I had time to reply, and “Me too?”
                      echoed Jim. “yes, of course I can”, said I to George and “of course you’re coming too”,
                      to the children who rate a day spent in the bush higher than any other pleasure.
                      So in the early morning two days later, we started out happily for Masailand in a
                      three ton Ford lorry loaded to capacity with the five Rushbys, the safari paraphernalia,
                      drums of petrol and quite a retinue of servants and Game Scouts. George travelling
                      alone on his monthly safaris, takes only the cook and a couple of Game Scouts, but this was to be a safari de luxe.

                      Henry and I shared the cab with George who was driving, whilst John and Jim
                      with the faithful orderly Mabemba beside them to point out the game animals, were
                      installed upon rolls of bedding in the body of the lorry. The lorry lumbered along, first
                      through coffee shambas, and then along the main road between Moshi and Arusha.
                      After half an hour or so, we turned South off the road into a track which crossed the
                      Sanya Plains and is the beginning of this part of Masailand. Though the dry season was
                      at its height, and the pasture dry and course, we were soon passing small groups of
                      game. This area is a Game Sanctuary and the antelope grazed quietly quite undisturbed
                      by the passing lorry. Here and there zebra stood bunched by the road, a few wild
                      ostriches stalked jerkily by, and in the distance some wildebeest cavorted around in their
                      crazy way.

                      Soon the grasslands gave way to thorn bush, and we saw six fantastically tall
                      giraffe standing motionless with their heads turned enquiringly towards us. George
                      stopped the lorry so the children could have a good view of them. John was enchanted
                      but Jim, alas, was asleep.

                      At mid day we reached the Kikoletwa River and turned aside to camp. Beside
                      the river, under huge leafy trees, there was a beautiful camping spot, but the river was
                      deep and reputed to be full of crocodiles so we passed it by and made our camp
                      some distance from the river under a tall thorn tree with a flat lacy canopy. All around the
                      camp lay uprooted trees of similar size that had been pushed over by elephants. As
                      soon as the lorry stopped a camp chair was set up for me and the Game Scouts quickly
                      slashed down grass and cleared the camp site of thorns. The same boys then pitched the tent whilst George himself set up the three camp beds and the folding cot for Henry,
                      and set up the safari table and the canvas wash bowl and bath.

                      The cook in the meantime had cleared a cool spot for the kitchen , opened up the
                      chop boxes and started a fire. The cook’s boy and the dhobi (laundry boy) brought
                      water from the rather muddy river and tea was served followed shortly afterward by an
                      excellent lunch. In a very short time the camp had a suprisingly homely look. Nappies
                      fluttered from a clothes line, Henry slept peacefully in his cot, John and Jim sprawled on
                      one bed looking at comics, and I dozed comfortably on another.

                      George, with the Game Scouts, drove off in the lorry about his work. As a Game
                      Ranger it is his business to be on a constant look out for poachers, both African and
                      European, and for disease in game which might infect the valuable herds of Masai cattle.
                      The lorry did not return until dusk by which time the children had bathed enthusiastically in
                      the canvas bath and were ready for supper and bed. George backed the lorry at right
                      angles to the tent, Henry’s cot and two camp beds were set up in the lorry, the tarpaulin
                      was lashed down and the children put to bed in their novel nursery.

                      When darkness fell a large fire was lit in front of the camp, the exited children at
                      last fell asleep and George and I sat on by the fire enjoying the cool and quiet night.
                      When the fire subsided into a bed of glowing coals, it was time for our bed. During the
                      night I was awakened by the sound of breaking branches and strange indescribable
                      noises.” Just elephant”, said George comfortably and instantly fell asleep once more. I
                      didn’t! We rose with the birds next morning, but breakfast was ready and in a
                      remarkably short time the lorry had been reloaded and we were once more on our way.
                      For about half a mile we made our own track across the plain and then we turned
                      into the earth road once more. Soon we had reached the river and were looking with
                      dismay at the suspension bridge which we had to cross. At the far side, one steel
                      hawser was missing and there the bridge tilted dangerously. There was no handrail but
                      only heavy wooden posts which marked the extremities of the bridge. WhenGeorge
                      measured the distance between the posts he found that there could be barely two
                      inches to spare on either side of the cumbersome lorry.

                      He decided to risk crossing, but the children and I and all the servants were told to
                      cross the bridge and go down the track out of sight. The Game Scouts remained on the
                      river bank on the far side of the bridge and stood ready for emergencies. As I walked
                      along anxiously listening, I was horrified to hear the lorry come to a stop on the bridge.
                      There was a loud creaking noise and I instantly visualised the lorry slowly toppling over
                      into the deep crocodile infested river. The engine restarted, the lorry crossed the bridge
                      and came slowly into sight around the bend. My heart slid back into its normal position.
                      George was as imperturbable as ever and simply remarked that it had been a near
                      thing and that we would return to Lyamungu by another route.

                      Beyond the green river belt the very rutted track ran through very uninteresting
                      thorn bush country. Henry was bored and tiresome, jumping up and down on my knee
                      and yelling furiously. “Teeth”, said I apologetically to George, rashly handing a match
                      box to Henry to keep him quiet. No use at all! With a fat finger he poked out the tray
                      spilling the matches all over me and the floor. Within seconds Henry had torn the
                      matchbox to pieces with his teeth and flung the battered remains through the window.
                      An empty cigarette box met with the same fate as the match box and the yells
                      continued unabated until Henry slept from sheer exhaustion. George gave me a smile,
                      half sympathetic and half sardonic, “Enjoying the safari, my love?” he enquired. On these
                      trying occasions George has the inestimable advantage of being able to go into a Yogilike
                      trance, whereas I become irritated to screaming point.

                      In an effort to prolong Henry’s slumber I braced my feet against the floor boards
                      and tried to turn myself into a human shock absorber as we lurched along the eroded
                      track. Several times my head made contact with the bolt of a rifle in the rack above, and
                      once I felt I had shattered my knee cap against the fire extinguisher in a bracket under the
                      dash board.

                      Strange as it may seem, I really was enjoying the trip in spite of these
                      discomforts. At last after three years I was once more on safari with George. This type of
                      country was new to me and there was so much to see We passed a family of giraffe
                      standing in complete immobility only a few yards from the track. Little dick-dick. one of the smallest of the antelope, scuttled in pairs across the road and that afternoon I had my first view of Gerenuk, curious red brown antelope with extremely elongated legs and giraffe-like necks.

                      Most interesting of all was my first sight of Masai at home. We could hear a tuneful
                      jangle of cattle bells and suddenly came across herds of humped cattle browsing upon
                      the thorn bushes. The herds were guarded by athletic,striking looking Masai youths and men.
                      Each had a calabash of water slung over his shoulder and a tall, highly polished spear in his
                      hand. These herdsmen were quite unselfconscious though they wore no clothing except for one carelessly draped blanket. Very few gave us any greeting but glanced indifferently at us from under fringes of clay-daubed plaited hair . The rest of their hair was drawn back behind the ears to display split earlobes stretched into slender loops by the weight of heavy brass or copper tribal ear rings.

                      Most of the villages were set well back in the bush out of sight of the road but we did pass one
                      typical village which looked most primitive indeed. It consisted simply of a few mound like mud huts which were entirely covered with a plaster of mud and cattle dung and the whole clutch of huts were surrounded by a ‘boma’ of thorn to keep the cattle in at night and the lions out. There was a gathering of women and children on the road at this point. The children of both sexes were naked and unadorned, but the women looked very fine indeed. This is not surprising for they have little to do but adorn themselves, unlike their counterparts of other tribes who have to work hard cultivating the fields. The Masai women, and others I saw on safari, were far more amiable and cheerful looking than the men and were well proportioned.

                      They wore skirts of dressed goat skin, knee length in front but ankle length behind. Their arms
                      from elbow to wrist, and legs from knee to ankle, were encased in tight coils of copper and
                      galvanised wire. All had their heads shaved and in some cases bound by a leather band
                      embroidered in red white and blue beads. Circular ear rings hung from slit earlobes and their
                      handsome throats were encircled by stiff wire necklaces strung with brightly coloured beads. These
                      necklaces were carefully graded in size and formed deep collars almost covering their breasts.
                      About a quarter of a mile further along the road we met eleven young braves in gala attire, obviously on their way to call on the girls. They formed a line across the road and danced up and down until the lorry was dangerously near when they parted and grinned cheerfully at us. These were the only cheerful
                      looking male Masai that I saw. Like the herdsmen these youths wore only a blanket, but their
                      blankets were ochre colour, and elegantly draped over their backs. Their naked bodies gleamed with oil. Several had painted white stripes on their faces, and two had whitewashed their faces entirely which I
                      thought a pity. All had their long hair elaborately dressed and some carried not only one,
                      but two gleaming spears.

                      By mid day George decided that we had driven far enough for that day. He
                      stopped the lorry and consulted a rather unreliable map. “Somewhere near here is a
                      place called Lolbeni,” he said. “The name means Sweet Water, I hear that the
                      government have piped spring water down from the mountain into a small dam at which
                      the Masai water their cattle.” Lolbeni sounded pleasant to me. Henry was dusty and
                      cross, the rubber sheet had long slipped from my lap to the floor and I was conscious of
                      a very damp lap. ‘Sweet Waters’ I felt, would put all that right. A few hundred yards
                      away a small herd of cattle was grazing, so George lit his pipe and relaxed at last, whilst
                      a Game Scout went off to find the herdsman. The scout soon returned with an ancient
                      and emaciated Masai who was thrilled at the prospect of his first ride in a lorry and
                      offered to direct us to Lolbeni which was off the main track and about four miles away.

                      Once Lolbeni had been a small administrative post and a good track had
                      led to it, but now the Post had been abandoned and the road is dotted with vigourous
                      thorn bushes and the branches of larger thorn trees encroach on the track The road had
                      deteriorated to a mere cattle track, deeply rutted and eroded by heavy rains over a
                      period of years. The great Ford truck, however, could take it. It lurched victoriously along,
                      mowing down the obstructions, tearing off branches from encroaching thorn trees with its
                      high railed sides, spanning gorges in the track, and climbing in and out of those too wide
                      to span. I felt an army tank could not have done better.

                      I had expected Lolbeni to be a green oasis in a desert of grey thorns, but I was
                      quickly disillusioned. To be sure the thorn trees were larger and more widely spaced and
                      provided welcome shade, but the ground under the trees had been trampled by thousands of cattle into a dreary expanse of dirty grey sand liberally dotted with cattle droppings and made still more uninviting by the bleached bones of dead beasts.

                      To the right of this waste rose a high green hill which gave the place its name and from which
                      the precious water was piped, but its slopes were too steep to provide a camping site.
                      Flies swarmed everywhere and I was most relieved when George said that we would
                      stay only long enough to fill our cans with water. Even the water was a disappointment!
                      The water in the small dam was low and covered by a revolting green scum, and though
                      the water in the feeding pipe was sweet, it trickled so feebly that it took simply ages to
                      fill a four gallon can.

                      However all these disappointments were soon forgotten for we drove away
                      from the flies and dirt and trampled sand and soon, with their quiet efficiency, George
                      and his men set up a comfortable camp. John and Jim immediately started digging
                      operations in the sandy soil whilst Henry and I rested. After tea George took his shot
                      gun and went off to shoot guinea fowl and partridges for the pot. The children and I went
                      walking, keeping well in site of camp, and soon we saw a very large flock of Vulturine
                      Guineafowl, running aimlessly about and looking as tame as barnyard fowls, but melting
                      away as soon as we moved in their direction.

                      We had our second quiet and lovely evening by the camp fire, followed by a
                      peaceful night.

                      We left Lolbeni very early next morning, which was a good thing, for as we left
                      camp the herds of thirsty cattle moved in from all directions. They were accompanied by
                      Masai herdsmen, their naked bodies and blankets now covered by volcanic dust which
                      was being stirred in rising clouds of stifling ash by the milling cattle, and also by grey
                      donkeys laden with panniers filled with corked calabashes for water.

                      Our next stop was Nabarera, a Masai cattle market and trading centre, where we
                      reluctantly stayed for two days in a pokey Goverment Resthouse because George had
                      a job to do in that area. The rest was good for Henry who promptly produced a tooth
                      and was consequently much better behaved for the rest of the trip. George was away in the bush most of the day but he returned for afternoon tea and later took the children out
                      walking. We had noticed curious white dumps about a quarter mile from the resthouse
                      and on the second afternoon we set out to investigate them. Behind the dumps we
                      found passages about six foot wide, cut through solid limestone. We explored two of
                      these and found that both passages led steeply down to circular wells about two and a
                      half feet in diameter.

                      At the very foot of each passage, beside each well, rough drinking troughs had
                      been cut in the stone. The herdsmen haul the water out of the well in home made hide
                      buckets, the troughs are filled and the cattle driven down the ramps to drink at the trough.
                      It was obvious that the wells were ancient and the sloping passages new. George tells
                      me that no one knows what ancient race dug the original wells. It seems incredible that
                      these deep and narrow shafts could have been sunk without machinery. I craned my
                      neck and looked above one well and could see an immensely long shaft reaching up to
                      ground level. Small footholds were cut in the solid rock as far as I could see.
                      It seems that the Masai are as ignorant as ourselves about the origin of these
                      wells. They do say however that when their forebears first occupied what is now known
                      as Masailand, they not only found the Wanderobo tribe in the area but also a light
                      skinned people and they think it possible that these light skinned people dug the wells.
                      These people disappeared. They may have been absorbed or, more likely, they were

                      The Masai had found the well impractical in their original form and had hired
                      labourers from neighbouring tribes to cut the passages to water level. Certainly the Masai are not responsible for the wells. They are a purely pastoral people and consider manual labour extremely degrading.

                      They live chiefly on milk from their herd which they allow to go sour, and mix with blood that has been skilfully tapped from the necks of living cattle. They do not eat game meat, nor do they cultivate any
                      land. They hunt with spears, but hunt only lions, to protect their herds, and to test the skill
                      and bravery of their young warriors. What little grain they do eat is transported into
                      Masailand by traders. The next stage of our journey took us to Ngassamet where
                      George was to pick up some elephant tusks. I had looked forward particularly to this
                      stretch of road for I had heard that there was a shallow lake at which game congregates,
                      and at which I had great hopes of seeing elephants. We had come too late in the
                      season though, the lake was dry and there were only piles of elephant droppings to
                      prove that elephant had recently been there in numbers. Ngassamet, though no beauty
                      spot, was interesting. We saw more elaborate editions of the wells already described, and as this area
                      is rich in cattle we saw the aristocrats of the Masai. You cannot conceive of a more arrogant looking male than a young Masai brave striding by on sandalled feet, unselfconscious in all his glory. All the young men wore the casually draped traditional ochre blanket and carried one or more spears. But here belts and long knife sheaths of scarlet leather seem to be the fashion. Here fringes do not seem to be the thing. Most of these young Masai had their hair drawn smoothly back and twisted in a pointed queue, the whole plastered with a smooth coating of red clay. Some tied their horn shaped queues over their heads
                      so that the tip formed a deep Satanic peak on the brow. All these young men wore the traditional
                      copper earrings and I saw one or two with copper bracelets and one with a necklace of brightly coloured

                      It so happened that, on the day of our visit to Ngassamet, there had been a
                      baraza (meeting) which was attended by all the local headmen and elders. These old
                      men came to pay their respects to George and a more shrewd and rascally looking
                      company I have never seen, George told me that some of these men own up to three
                      thousand head of cattle and more. The chief was as fat and Rabelasian as his second in
                      command was emaciated, bucktoothed and prim. The Chief shook hands with George
                      and greeted me and settled himself on the wall of the resthouse porch opposite
                      George. The lesser headmen, after politely greeting us, grouped themselves in a
                      semi circle below the steps with their ‘aides’ respectfully standing behind them. I
                      remained sitting in the only chair and watched the proceedings with interest and

                      These old Masai, I noticed, cared nothing for adornment. They had proved
                      themselves as warriors in the past and were known to be wealthy and influential so did
                      not need to make any display. Most of them had their heads comfortably shaved and
                      wore only a drab blanket or goatskin cloak. Their only ornaments were earrings whose
                      effect was somewhat marred by the serviceable and homely large safety pin that
                      dangled from the lobe of one ear. All carried staves instead of spears and all, except for
                      Buckteeth and one blind old skeleton of a man, appeared to have a keenly developed
                      sense of humour.

                      “Mummy?” asked John in an urgent whisper, “Is that old blind man nearly dead?”
                      “Yes dear”, said I, “I expect he’ll soon die.” “What here?” breathed John in a tone of
                      keen anticipation and, until the meeting broke up and the old man left, he had John’s
                      undivided attention.

                      After local news and the game situation had been discussed, the talk turned to the
                      war. “When will the war end?” moaned the fat Chief. “We have made great gifts of cattle
                      to the War Funds, we are taxed out of existence.” George replied with the Ki-Swahili
                      equivalent of ‘Sez you!’. This sally was received with laughter and the old fellows rose to
                      go. They made their farewells and dignified exits, pausing on their way to stare at our
                      pink and white Henry, who sat undismayed in his push chair giving them stare for stare
                      from his striking grey eyes.

                      Towards evening some Masai, prompted no doubt by our native servants,
                      brought a sheep for sale. It was the last night of the fast of Ramadan and our
                      Mohammedan boys hoped to feast next day at our expense. Their faces fell when
                      George refused to buy the animal. “Why should I pay fifteen shillings for a sheep?” he
                      asked, “Am I not the Bwana Nyama and is not the bush full of my sheep?” (Bwana
                      Nyama is the native name for a Game Ranger, but means literally, ‘Master of the meat’)
                      George meant that he would shoot a buck for the men next day, but this incident was to
                      have a strange sequel. Ngassamet resthouse consists of one room so small we could
                      not put up all our camp beds and George and I slept on the cement floor which was
                      unkind to my curves. The night was bitterly cold and all night long hyaenas screeched
                      hideously outside. So we rose at dawn without reluctance and were on our way before it
                      was properly light.

                      George had decided that it would be foolhardy to return home by our outward
                      route as he did not care to risk another crossing of the suspension bridge. So we
                      returned to Nabarera and there turned onto a little used track which would eventually take
                      us to the Great North Road a few miles South of Arusha. There was not much game
                      about but I saw Oryx which I had not previously seen. Soon it grew intolerably hot and I
                      think all of us but George were dozing when he suddenly stopped the lorry and pointed
                      to the right. “Mpishi”, he called to the cook, “There’s your sheep!” True enough, on that
                      dreary thorn covered plain,with not another living thing in sight, stood a fat black sheep.

                      There was an incredulous babbling from the back of the lorry. Every native
                      jumped to the ground and in no time at all the wretched sheep was caught and
                      slaughtered. I felt sick. “Oh George”, I wailed, “The poor lost sheep! I shan’t eat a scrap
                      of it.” George said nothing but went and had a look at the sheep and called out to me,
                      “Come and look at it. It was kindness to kill the poor thing, the vultures have been at it
                      already and the hyaenas would have got it tonight.” I went reluctantly and saw one eye
                      horribly torn out, and small deep wounds on the sheep’s back where the beaks of the
                      vultures had cut through the heavy fleece. Poor thing! I went back to the lorry more
                      determined than ever not to eat mutton on that trip. The Scouts and servants had no
                      such scruples. The fine fat sheep had been sent by Allah for their feast day and that was
                      the end of it.

                      “ ‘Mpishi’ is more convinced than ever that I am a wizard”, said George in
                      amusement as he started the lorry. I knew what he meant. Several times before George
                      had foretold something which had later happened. Pure coincidence, but strange enough
                      to give rise to a legend that George had the power to arrange things. “What happened
                      of course”, explained George, “Is that a flock of Masai sheep was driven to market along
                      this track yesterday or the day before. This one strayed and was not missed.”

                      The day grew hotter and hotter and for long miles we looked out for a camping
                      spot but could find little shade and no trace of water anywhere. At last, in the early
                      afternoon we reached another pokey little rest house and asked for water. “There is no
                      water here,” said the native caretaker. “Early in the morning there is water in a well nearby
                      but we are allowed only one kerosene tin full and by ten o’clock the well is dry.” I looked
                      at George in dismay for we were all so tired and dusty. “Where do the Masai from the
                      village water their cattle then?” asked George. “About two miles away through the bush.
                      If you take me with you I shall show you”, replied the native.

                      So we turned off into the bush and followed a cattle track even more tortuous than
                      the one to Lolbeni. Two Scouts walked ahead to warn us of hazards and I stretched my
                      arm across the open window to fend off thorns. Henry screamed with fright and hunger.
                      But George’s efforts to reach water went unrewarded as we were brought to a stop by
                      a deep donga. The native from the resthouse was apologetic. He had mistaken the
                      path, perhaps if we turned back we might find it. George was beyond speech. We
                      lurched back the way we had come and made our camp under the first large tree we
                      could find. Then off went our camp boys on foot to return just before dark with the water.
                      However they were cheerful for there was an unlimited quantity of dry wood for their fires
                      and meat in plenty for their feast. Long after George and I left our campfire and had gone
                      to bed, we could see the cheerful fires of the boys and hear their chatter and laughter.
                      I woke in the small hours to hear the insane cackling of hyaenas gloating over a
                      find. Later I heard scuffling around the camp table, I peered over the tailboard of the lorry
                      and saw George come out of his tent. What are you doing?” I whispered. “Looking for
                      something to throw at those bloody hyaenas,” answered George for all the world as
                      though those big brutes were tomcats on the prowl. Though the hyaenas kept up their
                      concert all night the children never stirred, nor did any of them wake at night throughout
                      the safari.

                      Early next morning I walked across to the camp kitchen to enquire into the loud
                      lamentations coming from that quarter. “Oh Memsahib”, moaned the cook, “We could
                      not sleep last night for the bad hyaenas round our tents. They have taken every scrap of
                      meat we had left over from the feast., even the meat we had left to smoke over the fire.”
                      Jim, who of our three young sons is the cook’s favourite commiserated with him. He said
                      in Ki-Swahili, which he speaks with great fluency, “Truly those hyaenas are very bad
                      creatures. They also robbed us. They have taken my hat from the table and eaten the
                      new soap from the washbowl.

                      Our last day in the bush was a pleasantly lazy one. We drove through country
                      that grew more open and less dry as we approached Arusha. We pitched our camp
                      near a large dam, and the water was a blessed sight after a week of scorched country.
                      On the plains to the right of our camp was a vast herd of native cattle enjoying a brief
                      rest after their long day trek through Masailand. They were destined to walk many more
                      weary miles before reaching their destination, a meat canning factory in Kenya.
                      The ground to the left of the camp rose gently to form a long low hill and on the
                      grassy slopes we could see wild ostriches and herds of wildebeest, zebra and
                      antelope grazing amicably side by side. In the late afternoon I watched the groups of
                      zebra and wildebeest merge into one. Then with a wildebeest leading, they walked
                      down the slope in single file to drink at the vlei . When they were satisfied, a wildebeest
                      once more led the herd up the trail. The others followed in a long and orderly file, and
                      vanished over the hill to their evening pasture.

                      When they had gone, George took up his shotgun and invited John to
                      accompany him to the dam to shoot duck. This was the first time John had acted as
                      retriever but he did very well and proudly helped to carry a mixed bag of sand grouse
                      and duck back to camp.

                      Next morning we turned into the Great North Road and passed first through
                      carefully tended coffee shambas and then through the township of Arusha, nestling at
                      the foot of towering Mount Meru. Beyond Arusha we drove through the Usa River
                      settlement where again coffee shambas and European homesteads line the road, and
                      saw before us the magnificent spectacle of Kilimanjaro unveiled, its white snow cap
                      gleaming in the sunlight. Before mid day we were home. “Well was it worth it?” enquired
                      George at lunch. “Lovely,” I replied. ”Let’s go again soon.” Then thinking regretfully of
                      our absent children I sighed, “If only Ann, George, and Kate could have gone with us

                      Lyamungu 10th November. 1944

                      Dearest Family.

                      Mummy wants to know how I fill in my time with George away on safari for weeks
                      on end. I do believe that you all picture me idling away my days, waited on hand and
                      foot by efficient servants! On the contrary, life is one rush and the days never long

                      To begin with, our servants are anything but efficient, apart from our cook, Hamisi
                      Issa, who really is competent. He suffers from frustration because our budget will not run
                      to elaborate dishes so there is little scope for his culinary art. There is one masterpiece
                      which is much appreciated by John and Jim. Hamisi makes a most realistic crocodile out
                      of pastry and stuffs its innards with minced meat. This revolting reptile is served on a
                      bed of parsley on my largest meat dish. The cook is a strict Mohammedan and
                      observes all the fasts and daily prayers and, like all Mohammedans he is very clean in
                      his person and, thank goodness, in the kitchen.

                      His wife is his pride and joy but not his helpmate. She does absolutely nothing
                      but sit in a chair in the sun all day, sipping tea and smoking cigarettes – a more
                      expensive brand than mine! It is Hamisi who sweeps out their quarters, cooks
                      delectable curries for her, and spends more than he can afford on clothing and trinkets for
                      his wife. She just sits there with her ‘Mona Lisa’ smile and her painted finger and toe
                      nails, doing absolutely nothing.

                      The thing is that natives despise women who do work and this applies especially
                      to their white employers. House servants much prefer a Memsahib who leaves
                      everything to them and is careless about locking up her pantry. When we first came to
                      Lyamungu I had great difficulty in employing a houseboy. A couple of rather efficient
                      ones did approach me but when they heard the wages I was prepared to pay and that
                      there was no number 2 boy, they simply were not interested. Eventually I took on a
                      local boy called Japhet who suits me very well except that his sight is not good and he
                      is extremely hard on the crockery. He tells me that he has lost face by working here
                      because his friends say that he works for a family that is too mean to employ a second
                      boy. I explained that with our large family we simply cannot afford to pay more, but this
                      didn’t register at all. Japhet says “But Wazungu (Europeans) all have money. They just
                      have to get it from the Bank.”

                      The third member of our staff is a strapping youth named Tovelo who helps both
                      cook and boy, and consequently works harder than either. What do I do? I chivvy the
                      servants, look after the children, supervise John’s lessons, and make all my clothing and
                      the children’s on that blessed old hand sewing machine.

                      The folk on this station entertain a good deal but we usually decline invitations
                      because we simply cannot afford to reciprocate. However, last Saturday night I invited
                      two couples to drinks and dinner. This was such an unusual event that the servants and I
                      were thrown into a flurry. In the end the dinner went off well though it ended in disaster. In
                      spite of my entreaties and exhortations to Japhet not to pile everything onto the tray at
                      once when clearing the table, he did just that. We were starting our desert and I was
                      congratulating myself that all had gone well when there was a frightful crash of breaking
                      china on the back verandah. I excused myself and got up to investigate. A large meat
                      dish, six dinner plates and four vegetable dishes lay shattered on the cement floor! I
                      controlled my tongue but what my eyes said to Japhet is another matter. What he said
                      was, “It is not my fault Memsahib. The handle of the tray came off.”

                      It is a curious thing about native servants that they never accept responsibility for
                      a mishap. If they cannot pin their misdeeds onto one of their fellow servants then the responsibility rests with God. ‘Shauri ya Mungu’, (an act of God) is a familiar cry. Fatalists
                      can be very exasperating employees.

                      The loss of my dinner service is a real tragedy because, being war time, one can
                      buy only china of the poorest quality made for the native trade. Nor was that the final
                      disaster of the evening. When we moved to the lounge for coffee I noticed that the
                      coffee had been served in the battered old safari coffee pot instead of the charming little
                      antique coffee pot which my Mother-in-law had sent for our tenth wedding anniversary.
                      As there had already been a disturbance I made no comment but resolved to give the
                      cook a piece of my mind in the morning. My instructions to the cook had been to warm
                      the coffee pot with hot water immediately before serving. On no account was he to put
                      the pewter pot on the hot iron stove. He did and the result was a small hole in the base
                      of the pot – or so he says. When I saw the pot next morning there was a two inch hole in

                      Hamisi explained placidly how this had come about. He said he knew I would be
                      mad when I saw the little hole so he thought he would have it mended and I might not
                      notice it. Early in the morning he had taken the pewter pot to the mechanic who looks
                      after the Game Department vehicles and had asked him to repair it. The bright individual
                      got busy with the soldering iron with the most devastating result. “It’s his fault,” said
                      Hamisi, “He is a mechanic, he should have known what would happen.”
                      One thing is certain, there will be no more dinner parties in this house until the war
                      is ended.

                      The children are well and so am I, and so was George when he left on his safari
                      last Monday.

                      Much love,



                        From Tanganyika with Love

                        continued part 7

                        With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                        Oldeani Hospital. 19th September 1938

                        Dearest Family,

                        George arrived today to take us home to Mbulu but Sister Marianne will not allow
                        me to travel for another week as I had a bit of a set back after baby’s birth. At first I was
                        very fit and on the third day Sister stripped the bed and, dictionary in hand, started me
                        off on ante natal exercises. “Now make a bridge Mrs Rushby. So. Up down, up down,’
                        whilst I obediently hoisted myself aloft on heels and head. By the sixth day she
                        considered it was time for me to be up and about but alas, I soon had to return to bed
                        with a temperature and a haemorrhage. I got up and walked outside for the first time this

                        I have had lots of visitors because the local German settlers seem keen to see
                        the first British baby born in the hospital. They have been most kind, sending flowers
                        and little German cards of congratulations festooned with cherubs and rather sweet. Most
                        of the women, besides being pleasant, are very smart indeed, shattering my illusion that
                        German matrons are invariably fat and dowdy. They are all much concerned about the
                        Czecko-Slovakian situation, especially Sister Marianne whose home is right on the
                        border and has several relations who are Sudentan Germans. She is ant-Nazi and
                        keeps on asking me whether I think England will declare war if Hitler invades Czecko-
                        Slovakia, as though I had inside information.

                        George tells me that he has had a grass ‘banda’ put up for us at Mbulu as we are
                        both determined not to return to those prison-like quarters in the Fort. Sister Marianne is
                        horrified at the idea of taking a new baby to live in a grass hut. She told George,
                        “No,No,Mr Rushby. I find that is not to be allowed!” She is an excellent Sister but rather
                        prim and George enjoys teasing her. This morning he asked with mock seriousness,
                        “Sister, why has my wife not received her medal?” Sister fluttered her dictionary before
                        asking. “What medal Mr Rushby”. “Why,” said George, “The medal that Hitler gives to
                        women who have borne four children.” Sister started a long and involved explanation
                        about the medal being only for German mothers whilst George looked at me and

                        Later. Great Jubilation here. By the noise in Sister Marianne’s sitting room last night it
                        sounded as though the whole German population had gathered to listen to the wireless
                        news. I heard loud exclamations of joy and then my bedroom door burst open and
                        several women rushed in. “Thank God “, they cried, “for Neville Chamberlain. Now there
                        will be no war.” They pumped me by the hand as though I were personally responsible
                        for the whole thing.

                        George on the other hand is disgusted by Chamberlain’s lack of guts. Doesn’t
                        know what England is coming to these days. I feel too content to concern myself with
                        world affairs. I have a fine husband and four wonderful children and am happy, happy,


                        Mbulu. 30th September 1938

                        Dearest Family,

                        Here we are, comfortably installed in our little green house made of poles and
                        rushes from a nearby swamp. The house has of course, no doors or windows, but
                        there are rush blinds which roll up in the day time. There are two rooms and a little porch
                        and out at the back there is a small grass kitchen.

                        Here we have the privacy which we prize so highly as we are screened on one
                        side by a Forest Department plantation and on the other three sides there is nothing but
                        the rolling countryside cropped bare by the far too large herds of cattle and goats of the
                        Wambulu. I have a lovely lazy time. I still have Kesho-Kutwa and the cook we brought
                        with us from the farm. They are both faithful and willing souls though not very good at
                        their respective jobs. As one of these Mbeya boys goes on safari with George whose
                        job takes him from home for three weeks out of four, I have taken on a local boy to cut
                        firewood and heat my bath water and generally make himself useful. His name is Saa,
                        which means ‘Clock’

                        We had an uneventful but very dusty trip from Oldeani. Johnny Jo travelled in his
                        pram in the back of the boxbody and got covered in dust but seems none the worst for
                        it. As the baby now takes up much of my time and Kate was showing signs of
                        boredom, I have engaged a little African girl to come and play with Kate every morning.
                        She is the daughter of the head police Askari and a very attractive and dignified little
                        person she is. Her name is Kajyah. She is scrupulously clean, as all Mohammedan
                        Africans seem to be. Alas, Kajyah, though beautiful, is a bore. She simply does not
                        know how to play, so they just wander around hand in hand.

                        There are only two drawbacks to this little house. Mbulu is a very windy spot so
                        our little reed house is very draughty. I have made a little tent of sheets in one corner of
                        the ‘bedroom’ into which I can retire with Johnny when I wish to bathe or sponge him.
                        The other drawback is that many insects are attracted at night by the lamp and make it
                        almost impossible to read or sew and they have a revolting habit of falling into the soup.
                        There are no dangerous wild animals in this area so I am not at all nervous in this
                        flimsy little house when George is on safari. Most nights hyaenas come around looking
                        for scraps but our dogs, Fanny and Paddy, soon see them off.


                        Mbulu. 25th October 1938

                        Dearest Family,

                        Great news! a vacancy has occurred in the Game Department. George is to
                        transfer to it next month. There will be an increase in salary and a brighter prospect for
                        the future. It will mean a change of scene and I shall be glad of that. We like Mbulu and
                        the people here but the rains have started and our little reed hut is anything but water

                        Before the rain came we had very unpleasant dust storms. I think I told you that
                        this is a treeless area and the grass which normally covers the veldt has been cropped
                        to the roots by the hungry native cattle and goats. When the wind blows the dust
                        collects in tall black columns which sweep across the country in a most spectacular
                        fashion. One such dust devil struck our hut one day whilst we were at lunch. George
                        swept Kate up in a second and held her face against his chest whilst I rushed to Johnny
                        Jo who was asleep in his pram, and stooped over the pram to protect him. The hut
                        groaned and creaked and clouds of dust blew in through the windows and walls covering
                        our persons, food, and belongings in a black pall. The dogs food bowls and an empty
                        petrol tin outside the hut were whirled up and away. It was all over in a moment but you
                        should have seen what a family of sweeps we looked. George looked at our blackened
                        Johnny and mimicked in Sister Marianne’s primmest tones, “I find that this is not to be

                        The first rain storm caught me unprepared when George was away on safari. It
                        was a terrific thunderstorm. The quite violent thunder and lightening were followed by a
                        real tropical downpour. As the hut is on a slight slope, the storm water poured through
                        the hut like a river, covering the entire floor, and the roof leaked like a lawn sprinkler.
                        Johnny Jo was snug enough in the pram with the hood raised, but Kate and I had a
                        damp miserable night. Next morning I had deep drains dug around the hut and when
                        George returned from safari he managed to borrow an enormous tarpaulin which is now
                        lashed down over the roof.

                        It did not rain during the next few days George was home but the very next night
                        we were in trouble again. I was awakened by screams from Kate and hurriedly turned up
                        the lamp to see that we were in the midst of an invasion of siafu ants. Kate’s bed was
                        covered in them. Others appeared to be raining down from the thatch. I quickly stripped
                        Kate and carried her across to my bed, whilst I rushed to the pram to see whether
                        Johnny Jo was all right. He was fast asleep, bless him, and slept on through all the
                        commotion, whilst I struggled to pick all the ants out of Kate’s hair, stopping now and
                        again to attend to my own discomfort. These ants have a painful bite and seem to
                        choose all the most tender spots. Kate fell asleep eventually but I sat up for the rest of
                        the night to make sure that the siafu kept clear of the children. Next morning the servants
                        dispersed them by laying hot ash.

                        In spite of the dampness of the hut both children are blooming. Kate has rosy
                        cheeks and Johnny Jo now has a fuzz of fair hair and has lost his ‘old man’ look. He
                        reminds me of Ann at his age.


                        Iringa. 30th November 1938

                        Dearest Family,

                        Here we are back in the Southern Highlands and installed on the second floor of
                        another German Fort. This one has been modernised however and though not so
                        romantic as the Mbulu Fort from the outside, it is much more comfortable.We are all well
                        and I am really proud of our two safari babies who stood up splendidly to a most trying
                        journey North from Mbulu to Arusha and then South down the Great North Road to
                        Iringa where we expect to stay for a month.

                        At Arusha George reported to the headquarters of the Game Department and
                        was instructed to come on down here on Rinderpest Control. There is a great flap on in
                        case the rinderpest spread to Northern Rhodesia and possibly onwards to Southern
                        Rhodesia and South Africa. Extra veterinary officers have been sent to this area to
                        inoculate all the cattle against the disease whilst George and his African game Scouts will
                        comb the bush looking for and destroying diseased game. If the rinderpest spreads,
                        George says it may be necessary to shoot out all the game in a wide belt along the
                        border between the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika and Northern Rhodesia, to
                        prevent the disease spreading South. The very idea of all this destruction sickens us

                        George left on a foot safari the day after our arrival and I expect I shall be lucky if I
                        see him occasionally at weekends until this job is over. When rinderpest is under control
                        George is to be stationed at a place called Nzassa in the Eastern Province about 18
                        miles from Dar es Salaam. George’s orderly, who is a tall, cheerful Game Scout called
                        Juma, tells me that he has been stationed at Nzassa and it is a frightful place! However I
                        refuse to be depressed. I now have the cheering prospect of leave to England in thirty
                        months time when we will be able to fetch Ann and George and be a proper family
                        again. Both Ann and George look happy in the snapshots which mother-in-law sends
                        frequently. Ann is doing very well at school and loves it.

                        To get back to our journey from Mbulu. It really was quite an experience. It
                        poured with rain most of the way and the road was very slippery and treacherous the
                        120 miles between Mbulu and Arusha. This is a little used earth road and the drains are
                        so blocked with silt as to be practically non existent. As usual we started our move with
                        the V8 loaded to capacity. I held Johnny on my knee and Kate squeezed in between
                        George and me. All our goods and chattels were in wooden boxes stowed in the back
                        and the two houseboys and the two dogs had to adjust themselves to the space that
                        remained. We soon ran into trouble and it took us all day to travel 47 miles. We stuck
                        several times in deep mud and had some most nasty skids. I simply clutched Kate in
                        one hand and Johnny Jo in the other and put my trust in George who never, under any
                        circumstances, loses his head. Poor Johnny only got his meals when circumstances
                        permitted. Unfortunately I had put him on a bottle only a few days before we left Mbulu
                        and, as I was unable to buy either a primus stove or Thermos flask there we had to
                        make a fire and boil water for each meal. Twice George sat out in the drizzle with a rain
                        coat rapped over his head to protect a miserable little fire of wet sticks drenched with
                        paraffin. Whilst we waited for the water to boil I pacified John by letting him suck a cube
                        of Tate and Lyles sugar held between my rather grubby fingers. Not at all according to
                        the book.

                        That night George, the children and I slept in the car having dumped our boxes
                        and the two servants in a deserted native hut. The rain poured down relentlessly all night
                        and by morning the road was more of a morass than ever. We swerved and skidded
                        alarmingly till eventually one of the wheel chains broke and had to be tied together with
                        string which constantly needed replacing. George was so patient though he was wet
                        and muddy and tired and both children were very good. Shortly before reaching the Great North Road we came upon Jack Gowan, the Stock Inspector from Mbulu. His car
                        was bogged down to its axles in black mud. He refused George’s offer of help saying
                        that he had sent his messenger to a nearby village for help.

                        I hoped that conditions would be better on the Great North Road but how over
                        optimistic I was. For miles the road runs through a belt of ‘black cotton soil’. which was
                        churned up into the consistency of chocolate blancmange by the heavy lorry traffic which
                        runs between Dodoma and Arusha. Soon the car was skidding more fantastically than
                        ever. Once it skidded around in a complete semi circle so George decided that it would
                        be safer for us all to walk whilst he negotiated the very bad patches. You should have
                        seen me plodding along in the mud and drizzle with the baby in one arm and Kate
                        clinging to the other. I was terrified of slipping with Johnny. Each time George reached
                        firm ground he would return on foot to carry Kate and in this way we covered many bad
                        patches.We were more fortunate than many other travellers. We passed several lorries
                        ditched on the side of the road and one car load of German men, all elegantly dressed in
                        lounge suits. One was busy with his camera so will have a record of their plight to laugh
                        over in the years to come. We spent another night camping on the road and next day
                        set out on the last lap of the journey. That also was tiresome but much better than the
                        previous day and we made the haven of the Arusha Hotel before dark. What a picture
                        we made as we walked through the hall in our mud splattered clothes! Even Johnny was
                        well splashed with mud but no harm was done and both he and Kate are blooming.
                        We rested for two days at Arusha and then came South to Iringa. Luckily the sun
                        came out and though for the first day the road was muddy it was no longer so slippery
                        and the second day found us driving through parched country and along badly
                        corrugated roads. The further South we came, the warmer the sun which at times blazed
                        through the windscreen and made us all uncomfortably hot. I have described the country
                        between Arusha and Dodoma before so I shan’t do it again. We reached Iringa without
                        mishap and after a good nights rest all felt full of beans.


                        Mchewe Estate, Mbeya. 7th January 1939.

                        Dearest Family,

                        You will be surprised to note that we are back on the farm! At least the children
                        and I are here. George is away near the Rhodesian border somewhere, still on
                        Rinderpest control.

                        I had a pleasant time at Iringa, lots of invitations to morning tea and Kate had a
                        wonderful time enjoying the novelty of playing with children of her own age. She is not
                        shy but nevertheless likes me to be within call if not within sight. It was all very suburban
                        but pleasant enough. A few days before Christmas George turned up at Iringa and
                        suggested that, as he would be working in the Mbeya area, it might be a good idea for
                        the children and me to move to the farm. I agreed enthusiastically, completely forgetting
                        that after my previous trouble with the leopard I had vowed to myself that I would never
                        again live alone on the farm.

                        Alas no sooner had we arrived when Thomas, our farm headman, brought the
                        news that there were now two leopards terrorising the neighbourhood, and taking dogs,
                        goats and sheep and chickens. Traps and poisoned bait had been tried in vain and he
                        was sure that the female was the same leopard which had besieged our home before.
                        Other leopards said Thomas, came by stealth but this one advertised her whereabouts
                        in the most brazen manner.

                        George stayed with us on the farm over Christmas and all was quiet at night so I
                        cheered up and took the children for walks along the overgrown farm paths. However on
                        New Years Eve that darned leopard advertised her presence again with the most blood
                        chilling grunts and snarls. Horrible! Fanny and Paddy barked and growled and woke up
                        both children. Kate wept and kept saying, “Send it away mummy. I don’t like it.” Johnny
                        Jo howled in sympathy. What a picnic. So now the whole performance of bodyguards
                        has started again and ‘till George returns we confine our exercise to the garden.
                        Our little house is still cosy and sweet but the coffee plantation looks very
                        neglected. I wish to goodness we could sell it.


                        Nzassa 14th February 1939.

                        Dearest Family,

                        After three months of moving around with two small children it is heavenly to be
                        settled in our own home, even though Nzassa is an isolated spot and has the reputation
                        of being unhealthy.

                        We travelled by car from Mbeya to Dodoma by now a very familiar stretch of
                        country, but from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam by train which made a nice change. We
                        spent two nights and a day in the Splendid Hotel in Dar es Salaam, George had some
                        official visits to make and I did some shopping and we took the children to the beach.
                        The bay is so sheltered that the sea is as calm as a pond and the water warm. It is
                        wonderful to see the sea once more and to hear tugs hooting and to watch the Arab
                        dhows putting out to sea with their oddly shaped sails billowing. I do love the bush, but
                        I love the sea best of all, as you know.

                        We made an early start for Nzassa on the 3rd. For about four miles we bowled
                        along a good road. This brought us to a place called Temeke where George called on
                        the District Officer. His house appears to be the only European type house there. The
                        road between Temeke and the turn off to Nzassa is quite good, but the six mile stretch
                        from the turn off to Nzassa is a very neglected bush road. There is nothing to be seen
                        but the impenetrable bush on both sides with here and there a patch of swampy
                        ground where rice is planted in the wet season.

                        After about six miles of bumpy road we reached Nzassa which is nothing more
                        than a sandy clearing in the bush. Our house however is a fine one. It was originally built
                        for the District Officer and there is a small court house which is now George’s office. The
                        District Officer died of blackwater fever so Nzassa was abandoned as an administrative
                        station being considered too unhealthy for Administrative Officers but suitable as
                        Headquarters for a Game Ranger. Later a bachelor Game Ranger was stationed here
                        but his health also broke down and he has been invalided to England. So now the
                        healthy Rushbys are here and we don’t mean to let the place get us down. So don’t

                        The house consists of three very large and airy rooms with their doors opening
                        on to a wide front verandah which we shall use as a living room. There is also a wide
                        back verandah with a store room at one end and a bathroom at the other. Both
                        verandahs and the end windows of the house are screened my mosquito gauze wire
                        and further protected by a trellis work of heavy expanded metal. Hasmani, the Game
                        Scout, who has been acting as caretaker, tells me that the expanded metal is very
                        necessary because lions often come out of the bush at night and roam around the
                        house. Such a comforting thought!

                        On our very first evening we discovered how necessary the mosquito gauze is.
                        After sunset the air outside is thick with mosquitos from the swamps. About an acre of
                        land has been cleared around the house. This is a sandy waste because there is no
                        water laid on here and absolutely nothing grows here except a rather revolting milky
                        desert bush called ‘Manyara’, and a few acacia trees. A little way from the house there is
                        a patch of citrus trees, grape fruit, I think, but whether they ever bear fruit I don’t know.
                        The clearing is bordered on three sides by dense dusty thorn bush which is
                        ‘lousy with buffalo’ according to George. The open side is the road which leads down to
                        George’s office and the huts for the Game Scouts. Only Hasmani and George’s orderly
                        Juma and their wives and families live there, and the other huts provide shelter for the
                        Game Scouts from the bush who come to Nzassa to collect their pay and for a short
                        rest. I can see that my daily walk will always be the same, down the road to the huts and
                        back! However I don’t mind because it is far too hot to take much exercise.

                        The climate here is really tropical and worse than on the coast because the thick
                        bush cuts us off from any sea breeze. George says it will be cooler when the rains start
                        but just now we literally drip all day. Kate wears nothing but a cotton sun suit, and Johnny
                        a napkin only, but still their little bodies are always moist. I have shorn off all Kate’s lovely
                        shoulder length curls and got George to cut my hair very short too.

                        We simply must buy a refrigerator. The butter, and even the cheese we bought
                        in Dar. simply melted into pools of oil overnight, and all our meat went bad, so we are
                        living out of tins. However once we get organised I shall be quite happy here. I like this
                        spacious house and I have good servants. The cook, Hamisi Issa, is a Swahili from Lindi
                        whom we engaged in Dar es Salaam. He is a very dignified person, and like most
                        devout Mohammedan Cooks, keeps both his person and the kitchen spotless. I
                        engaged the house boy here. He is rather a timid little body but is very willing and quite
                        capable. He has an excessively plain but cheerful wife whom I have taken on as ayah. I
                        do not really need help with the children but feel I must have a woman around just in
                        case I go down with malaria when George is away on safari.


                        Nzassa 28th February 1939.

                        Dearest Family,

                        George’s birthday and we had a special tea party this afternoon which the
                        children much enjoyed. We have our frig now so I am able to make jellies and provide
                        them with really cool drinks.

                        Our very first visitor left this morning after spending only one night here. He is Mr
                        Ionides, the Game Ranger from the Southern Province. He acted as stand in here for a
                        short while after George’s predecessor left for England on sick leave, and where he has
                        since died. Mr Ionides returned here to hand over the range and office formally to
                        George. He seems a strange man and is from all accounts a bit of a hermit. He was at
                        one time an Officer in the Regular Army but does not look like a soldier, he wears the
                        most extraordinary clothes but nevertheless contrives to look top-drawer. He was
                        educated at Rugby and Sandhurst and is, I should say, well read. Ionides told us that he
                        hated Nzassa, particularly the house which he thinks sinister and says he always slept
                        down in the office.

                        The house, or at least one bedroom, seems to have the same effect on Kate.
                        She has been very nervous at night ever since we arrived. At first the children occupied
                        the bedroom which is now George’s. One night, soon after our arrival, Kate woke up
                        screaming to say that ‘something’ had looked at her through the mosquito net. She was
                        in such a hysterical state that inspite of the heat and discomfort I was obliged to crawl into
                        her little bed with her and remained there for the rest of the night.

                        Next night I left a night lamp burning but even so I had to sit by her bed until she
                        dropped off to sleep. Again I was awakened by ear-splitting screams and this time
                        found Kate standing rigid on her bed. I lifted her out and carried her to a chair meaning to
                        comfort her but she screeched louder than ever, “Look Mummy it’s under the bed. It’s
                        looking at us.” In vain I pointed out that there was nothing at all there. By this time
                        George had joined us and he carried Kate off to his bed in the other room whilst I got into
                        Kate’s bed thinking she might have been frightened by a rat which might also disturb

                        Next morning our houseboy remarked that he had heard Kate screaming in the
                        night from his room behind the kitchen. I explained what had happened and he must
                        have told the old Scout Hasmani who waylaid me that afternoon and informed me quite
                        seriously that that particular room was haunted by a ‘sheitani’ (devil) who hates children.
                        He told me that whilst he was acting as caretaker before our arrival he one night had his
                        wife and small daughter in the room to keep him company. He said that his small
                        daughter woke up and screamed exactly as Kate had done! Silly coincidence I
                        suppose, but such strange things happen in Africa that I decided to move the children
                        into our room and George sleeps in solitary state in the haunted room! Kate now sleeps
                        peacefully once she goes to sleep but I have to stay with her until she does.

                        I like this house and it does not seem at all sinister to me. As I mentioned before,
                        the rooms are high ceilinged and airy, and have cool cement floors. We have made one
                        end of the enclosed verandah into the living room and the other end is the playroom for
                        the children. The space in between is a sort of no-mans land taken over by the dogs as
                        their special territory.


                        Nzassa 25th March 1939.

                        Dearest Family,

                        George is on safari down in the Rufigi River area. He is away for about three
                        weeks in the month on this job. I do hate to see him go and just manage to tick over until
                        he comes back. But what fun and excitement when he does come home.
                        Usually he returns after dark by which time the children are in bed and I have
                        settled down on the verandah with a book. The first warning is usually given by the
                        dogs, Fanny and her son Paddy. They stir, sit up, look at each other and then go and sit
                        side by side by the door with their noses practically pressed to the mosquito gauze and
                        ears pricked. Soon I can hear the hum of the car, and so can Hasmani, the old Game
                        Scout who sleeps on the back verandah with rifle and ammunition by his side when
                        George is away. When he hears the car he turns up his lamp and hurries out to rouse
                        Juma, the houseboy. Juma pokes up the fire and prepares tea which George always
                        drinks whist a hot meal is being prepared. In the meantime I hurriedly comb my hair and
                        powder my nose so that when the car stops I am ready to rush out and welcome
                        George home. The boy and Hasmani and the garden boy appear to help with the
                        luggage and to greet George and the cook, who always accompanies George on
                        Safari. The home coming is always a lively time with much shouting of greetings.
                        ‘Jambo’, and ‘Habari ya safari’, whilst the dogs, beside themselves with excitement,
                        rush around like lunatics.

                        As though his return were not happiness enough, George usually collects the
                        mail on his way home so there is news of Ann and young George and letters from you
                        and bundles of newspapers and magazines. On the day following his return home,
                        George has to deal with official mail in the office but if the following day is a weekday we
                        all, the house servants as well as ourselves, pile into the boxbody and go to Dar es
                        Salaam. To us this means a mornings shopping followed by an afternoon on the beach.
                        It is a bit cooler now that the rains are on but still very humid. Kate keeps chubby
                        and rosy in spite of the climate but Johnny is too pale though sturdy enough. He is such
                        a good baby which is just as well because Kate is a very demanding little girl though
                        sunny tempered and sweet. I appreciate her company very much when George is
                        away because we are so far off the beaten track that no one ever calls.


                        Nzassa 28th April 1939.

                        Dearest Family,

                        You all seem to wonder how I can stand the loneliness and monotony of living at
                        Nzassa when George is on safari, but really and truly I do not mind. Hamisi the cook
                        always goes on safari with George and then the houseboy Juma takes over the cooking
                        and I do the lighter housework. the children are great company during the day, and when
                        they are settled for the night I sit on the verandah and read or write letters or I just dream.
                        The verandah is entirely enclosed with both wire mosquito gauze and a trellis
                        work of heavy expanded metal, so I am safe from all intruders be they human, animal, or
                        insect. Outside the air is alive with mosquitos and the cicadas keep up their monotonous
                        singing all night long. My only companions on the verandah are the pale ghecco lizards
                        on the wall and the two dogs. Fanny the white bull terrier, lies always near my feet
                        dozing happily, but her son Paddy, who is half Airedale has a less phlegmatic
                        disposition. He sits alert and on guard by the metal trellis work door. Often a lion grunts
                        from the surrounding bush and then his hackles rise and he stands up stiffly with his nose
                        pressed to the door. Old Hasmani from his bedroll on the back verandah, gives a little
                        cough just to show he is awake. Sometimes the lions are very close and then I hear the
                        click of a rifle bolt as Hasmani loads his rifle – but this is usually much later at night when
                        the lights are out. One morning I saw large pug marks between the wall of my bedroom
                        and the garage but I do not fear lions like I did that beastly leopard on the farm.
                        A great deal of witchcraft is still practiced in the bush villages in the
                        neighbourhood. I must tell you about old Hasmani’s baby in connection with this. Last
                        week Hasmani came to me in great distress to say that his baby was ‘Ngongwa sana ‘
                        (very ill) and he thought it would die. I hurried down to the Game Scouts quarters to see
                        whether I could do anything for the child and found the mother squatting in the sun
                        outside her hut with the baby on her lap. The mother was a young woman but not an
                        attractive one. She appeared sullen and indifferent compared with old Hasmani who
                        was very distressed. The child was very feverish and breathing with difficulty and
                        seemed to me to be suffering from bronchitis if not pneumonia. I rubbed his back and
                        chest with camphorated oil and dosed him with aspirin and liquid quinine. I repeated the
                        treatment every four hours, but next day there was no apparent improvement.
                        In the afternoon Hasmani begged me to give him that night off duty and asked for
                        a loan of ten shillings. He explained to me that it seemed to him that the white man’s
                        medicine had failed to cure his child and now he wished to take the child to the local witch
                        doctor. “For ten shillings” said Hasmani, “the Maganga will drive the devil out of my
                        child.” “How?” asked I. “With drums”, said Hasmani confidently. I did not know what to
                        do. I thought the child was too ill to be exposed to the night air, yet I knew that if I
                        refused his request and the child were to die, Hasmani and all the other locals would hold
                        me responsible. I very reluctantly granted his request. I was so troubled by the matter
                        that I sent for George’s office clerk. Daniel, and asked him to accompany Hasmani to the
                        ceremony and to report to me the next morning. It started to rain after dark and all night
                        long I lay awake in bed listening to the drums and the light rain. Next morning when I
                        went out to the kitchen to order breakfast I found a beaming Hasmani awaiting me.
                        “Memsahib”, he said. “My child is well, the fever is now quite gone, the Maganga drove
                        out the devil just as I told you.” Believe it or not, when I hurried to his quarters after
                        breakfast I found the mother suckling a perfectly healthy child! It may be my imagination
                        but I thought the mother looked pretty smug.The clerk Daniel told me that after Hasmani
                        had presented gifts of money and food to the ‘Maganga’, the naked baby was placed
                        on a goat skin near the drums. Most of the time he just lay there but sometimes the witch
                        doctor picked him up and danced with the child in his arms. Daniel seemed reluctant to
                        talk about it. Whatever mumbo jumbo was used all this happened a week ago and the
                        baby has never looked back.


                        Nzassa 3rd July 1939.

                        Dearest Family,

                        Did I tell you that one of George’s Game Scouts was murdered last month in the
                        Maneromango area towards the Rufigi border. He was on routine patrol, with a porter
                        carrying his bedding and food, when they suddenly came across a group of African
                        hunters who were busy cutting up a giraffe which they had just killed. These hunters were
                        all armed with muzzle loaders, spears and pangas, but as it is illegal to kill giraffe without
                        a permit, the Scout went up to the group to take their names. Some argument ensued
                        and the Scout was stabbed.

                        The District Officer went to the area to investigate and decided to call in the Police
                        from Dar es Salaam. A party of police went out to search for the murderers but after
                        some days returned without making any arrests. George was on an elephant control
                        safari in the Bagamoyo District and on his return through Dar es Salaam he heard of the
                        murder. George was furious and distressed to hear the news and called in here for an
                        hour on his way to Maneromango to search for the murderers himself.

                        After a great deal of strenuous investigation he arrested three poachers, put them
                        in jail for the night at Maneromango and then brought them to Dar es Salaam where they
                        are all now behind bars. George will now have to prosecute in the Magistrate’s Court
                        and try and ‘make a case’ so that the prisoners may be committed to the High Court to
                        be tried for murder. George is convinced of their guilt and justifiably proud to have
                        succeeded where the police failed.

                        George had to borrow handcuffs for the prisoners from the Chief at
                        Maneromango and these he brought back to Nzassa after delivering the prisoners to
                        Dar es Salaam so that he may return them to the Chief when he revisits the area next

                        I had not seen handcuffs before and picked up a pair to examine them. I said to
                        George, engrossed in ‘The Times’, “I bet if you were arrested they’d never get
                        handcuffs on your wrist. Not these anyway, they look too small.” “Standard pattern,”
                        said George still concentrating on the newspaper, but extending an enormous relaxed
                        left wrist. So, my dears, I put a bracelet round his wrist and as there was a wide gap I
                        gave a hard squeeze with both hands. There was a sharp click as the handcuff engaged
                        in the first notch. George dropped the paper and said, “Now you’ve done it, my love,
                        one set of keys are in the Dar es Salaam Police Station, and the others with the Chief at
                        Maneromango.” You can imagine how utterly silly I felt but George was an angel about it
                        and said as he would have to go to Dar es Salaam we might as well all go.

                        So we all piled into the car, George, the children and I in the front, and the cook
                        and houseboy, immaculate in snowy khanzus and embroidered white caps, a Game
                        Scout and the ayah in the back. George never once complain of the discomfort of the
                        handcuff but I was uncomfortably aware that it was much too tight because his arm
                        above the cuff looked red and swollen and the hand unnaturally pale. As the road is so
                        bad George had to use both hands on the wheel and all the time the dangling handcuff
                        clanked against the dashboard in an accusing way.

                        We drove straight to the Police Station and I could hear the roars of laughter as
                        George explained his predicament. Later I had to put up with a good deal of chaffing
                        and congratulations upon putting the handcuffs on George.


                        Nzassa 5th August 1939

                        Dearest Family,

                        George made a point of being here for Kate’s fourth birthday last week. Just
                        because our children have no playmates George and I always do all we can to make
                        birthdays very special occasions. We went to Dar es Salaam the day before the
                        birthday and bought Kate a very sturdy tricycle with which she is absolutely delighted.
                        You will be glad to know that your parcels arrived just in time and Kate loved all your
                        gifts especially the little shop from Dad with all the miniature tins and packets of
                        groceries. The tea set was also a great success and is much in use.

                        We had a lively party which ended with George and me singing ‘Happy
                        Birthday to you’, and ended with a wild game with balloons. Kate wore her frilly white net
                        party frock and looked so pretty that it seemed a shame that there was no one but us to
                        see her. Anyway it was a good party. I wish so much that you could see the children.
                        Kate keeps rosy and has not yet had malaria. Johnny Jo is sturdy but pale. He
                        runs a temperature now and again but I am not sure whether this is due to teething or
                        malaria. Both children of course take quinine every day as George and I do. George
                        quite frequently has malaria in spite of prophylactic quinine but this is not surprising as he
                        got the germ thoroughly established in his system in his early elephant hunting days. I
                        get it too occasionally but have not been really ill since that first time a month after my
                        arrival in the country.

                        Johnny is such a good baby. His chief claim to beauty is his head of soft golden
                        curls but these are due to come off on his first birthday as George considers them too
                        girlish. George left on safari the day after the party and the very next morning our wood
                        boy had a most unfortunate accident. He was chopping a rather tough log when a chip
                        flew up and split his upper lip clean through from mouth to nostril exposing teeth and
                        gums. A truly horrible sight and very bloody. I cleaned up the wound as best I could
                        and sent him off to the hospital at Dar es Salaam on the office bicycle. He wobbled
                        away wretchedly down the road with a white cloth tied over his mouth to keep off the
                        dust. He returned next day with his lip stitched and very swollen and bearing a
                        resemblance to my lip that time I used the hair remover.


                        Splendid Hotel. Dar es Salaam 7th September 1939

                        Dearest Family,

                        So now another war has started and it has disrupted even our lives. We have left
                        Nzassa for good. George is now a Lieutenant in the King’s African Rifles and the children
                        and I are to go to a place called Morogoro to await further developments.
                        I was glad to read in today’s paper that South Africa has declared war on
                        Germany. I would have felt pretty small otherwise in this hotel which is crammed full of
                        men who have been called up for service in the Army. George seems exhilarated by
                        the prospect of active service. He is bursting out of his uniform ( at the shoulders only!)
                        and all too ready for the fray.

                        The war came as a complete surprise to me stuck out in the bush as I was without
                        wireless or mail. George had been away for a fortnight so you can imagine how
                        surprised I was when a messenger arrived on a bicycle with a note from George. The
                        note informed me that war had been declared and that George, as a Reserve Officer in
                        the KAR had been called up. I was to start packing immediately and be ready by noon
                        next day when George would arrive with a lorry for our goods and chattels. I started to
                        pack immediately with the help of the houseboy and by the time George arrived with
                        the lorry only the frig remained to be packed and this was soon done.

                        Throughout the morning Game Scouts had been arriving from outlying parts of
                        the District. I don’t think they had the least idea where they were supposed to go or
                        whom they were to fight but were ready to fight anybody, anywhere, with George.
                        They all looked very smart in well pressed uniforms hung about with water bottles and
                        ammunition pouches. The large buffalo badge on their round pill box hats absolutely
                        glittered with polish. All of course carried rifles and when George arrived they all lined up
                        and they looked most impressive. I took some snaps but unfortunately it was drizzling
                        and they may not come out well.

                        We left Nzassa without a backward glance. We were pretty fed up with it by
                        then. The children and I are spending a few days here with George but our luggage, the
                        dogs, and the houseboys have already left by train for Morogoro where a small house
                        has been found for the children and me.

                        George tells me that all the German males in this Territory were interned without a
                        hitch. The whole affair must have been very well organised. In every town and
                        settlement special constables were sworn in to do the job. It must have been a rather
                        unpleasant one but seems to have gone without incident. There is a big transit camp
                        here at Dar for the German men. Later they are to be sent out of the country, possibly to

                        The Indian tailors in the town are all terribly busy making Army uniforms, shorts
                        and tunics in khaki drill. George swears that they have muddled their orders and he has
                        been given the wrong things. Certainly the tunic is far too tight. His hat, a khaki slouch hat
                        like you saw the Australians wearing in the last war, is also too small though it is the
                        largest they have in stock. We had a laugh over his other equipment which includes a
                        small canvas haversack and a whistle on a black cord. George says he feels like he is
                        back in his Boy Scouting boyhood.

                        George has just come in to say the we will be leaving for Morogoro tomorrow


                        Morogoro 14th September 1939

                        Dearest Family,

                        Morogoro is a complete change from Nzassa. This is a large and sprawling
                        township. The native town and all the shops are down on the flat land by the railway but
                        all the European houses are away up the slope of the high Uluguru Mountains.
                        Morogoro was a flourishing town in the German days and all the streets are lined with
                        trees for coolness as is the case in other German towns. These trees are the flamboyant
                        acacia which has an umbrella top and throws a wide but light shade.

                        Most of the houses have large gardens so they cover a considerable area and it
                        is quite a safari for me to visit friends on foot as our house is on the edge of this area and
                        the furthest away from the town. Here ones house is in accordance with ones seniority in
                        Government service. Ours is a simple affair, just three lofty square rooms opening on to
                        a wide enclosed verandah. Mosquitoes are bad here so all doors and windows are
                        screened and we will have to carry on with our daily doses of quinine.

                        George came up to Morogoro with us on the train. This was fortunate because I
                        went down with a sharp attack of malaria at the hotel on the afternoon of our departure
                        from Dar es Salaam. George’s drastic cure of vast doses of quinine, a pillow over my
                        head, and the bed heaped with blankets soon brought down the temperature so I was
                        fit enough to board the train but felt pretty poorly on the trip. However next day I felt
                        much better which was a good thing as George had to return to Dar es Salaam after two
                        days. His train left late at night so I did not see him off but said good-bye at home
                        feeling dreadful but trying to keep the traditional stiff upper lip of the wife seeing her
                        husband off to the wars. He hopes to go off to Abyssinia but wrote from Dar es Salaam
                        to say that he is being sent down to Rhodesia by road via Mbeya to escort the first
                        detachment of Rhodesian white troops.

                        First he will have to select suitable camping sites for night stops and arrange for
                        supplies of food. I am very pleased as it means he will be safe for a while anyway. We
                        are both worried about Ann and George in England and wonder if it would be safer to
                        have them sent out.


                        Morogoro 4th November 1939

                        Dearest Family,

                        My big news is that George has been released from the Army. He is very
                        indignant and disappointed because he hoped to go to Abyssinia but I am terribly,
                        terribly glad. The Chief Secretary wrote a very nice letter to George pointing out that he
                        would be doing a greater service to his country by his work of elephant control, giving
                        crop protection during the war years when foodstuffs are such a vital necessity, than by
                        doing a soldiers job. The Government plan to start a huge rice scheme in the Rufiji area,
                        and want George to control the elephant and hippo there. First of all though. he must go
                        to the Southern Highlands Province where there is another outbreak of Rinderpest, to
                        shoot out diseased game especially buffalo, which might spread the disease.

                        So off we go again on our travels but this time we are leaving the two dogs
                        behind in the care of Daniel, the Game Clerk. Fanny is very pregnant and I hate leaving
                        her behind but the clerk has promised to look after her well. We are taking Hamisi, our
                        dignified Swahili cook and the houseboy Juma and his wife whom we brought with us
                        from Nzassa. The boy is not very good but his wife makes a cheerful and placid ayah
                        and adores Johnny.


                        Iringa 8th December 1939

                        Dearest Family,

                        The children and I are staying in a small German house leased from the
                        Custodian of Enemy Property. I can’t help feeling sorry for the owners who must be in
                        concentration camps somewhere.George is away in the bush dealing with the
                        Rinderpest emergency and the cook has gone with him. Now I have sent the houseboy
                        and the ayah away too. Two days ago my houseboy came and told me that he felt
                        very ill and asked me to write a ‘chit’ to the Indian Doctor. In the note I asked the Doctor
                        to let me know the nature of his complaint and to my horror I got a note from him to say
                        that the houseboy had a bad case of Venereal Disease. Was I horrified! I took it for
                        granted that his wife must be infected too and told them both that they would have to
                        return to their home in Nzassa. The boy shouted and the ayah wept but I paid them in
                        lieu of notice and gave them money for the journey home. So there I was left servant
                        less with firewood to chop, a smokey wood burning stove to control, and of course, the
                        two children.

                        To add to my troubles Johnny had a temperature so I sent for the European
                        Doctor. He diagnosed malaria and was astonished at the size of Johnny’s spleen. He
                        said that he must have had suppressed malaria over a long period and the poor child
                        must now be fed maximum doses of quinine for a long time. The Doctor is a fatherly
                        soul, he has been recalled from retirement to do this job as so many of the young
                        doctors have been called up for service with the army.

                        I told him about my houseboy’s complaint and the way I had sent him off
                        immediately, and he was very amused at my haste, saying that it is most unlikely that
                        they would have passed the disease onto their employers. Anyway I hated the idea. I
                        mean to engage a houseboy locally, but will do without an ayah until we return to
                        Morogoro in February.

                        Something happened today to cheer me up. A telegram came from Daniel which
                        read, “FLANNEL HAS FIVE CUBS.”


                        Morogoro 10th March 1940

                        Dearest Family,

                        We are having very heavy rain and the countryside is a most beautiful green. In
                        spite of the weather George is away on safari though it must be very wet and
                        unpleasant. He does work so hard at his elephant hunting job and has got very thin. I
                        suppose this is partly due to those stomach pains he gets and the doctors don’t seem
                        to diagnose the trouble.

                        Living in Morogoro is much like living in a country town in South Africa, particularly
                        as there are several South African women here. I go out quite often to morning teas. We
                        all take our war effort knitting, and natter, and are completely suburban.
                        I sometimes go and see an elderly couple who have been interred here. They
                        are cold shouldered by almost everyone else but I cannot help feeling sorry for them.
                        Usually I go by invitation because I know Mrs Ruppel prefers to be prepared and
                        always has sandwiches and cake. They both speak English but not fluently and
                        conversation is confined to talking about my children and theirs. Their two sons were
                        students in Germany when war broke out but are now of course in the German Army.
                        Such nice looking chaps from their photographs but I suppose thorough Nazis. As our
                        conversation is limited I usually ask to hear a gramophone record or two. They have a
                        large collection.

                        Janet, the ayah whom I engaged at Mbeya, is proving a great treasure. She is a
                        trained hospital ayah and is most dependable and capable. She is, perhaps, a little strict
                        but the great thing is that I can trust her with the children out of my sight.
                        Last week I went out at night for the first time without George. The occasion was
                        a farewell sundowner given by the Commissioner of Prisoners and his wife. I was driven
                        home by the District Officer and he stopped his car by the back door in a large puddle.
                        Ayah came to the back door, storm lamp in hand, to greet me. My escort prepared to
                        drive off but the car stuck. I thought a push from me might help, so without informing the
                        driver, I pushed as hard as I could on the back of the car. Unfortunately the driver
                        decided on other tactics. He put the engine in reverse and I was knocked flat on my back
                        in the puddle. The car drove forward and away without the driver having the least idea of
                        what happened. The ayah was in quite a state, lifting me up and scolding me for my
                        stupidity as though I were Kate. I was a bit shaken but non the worse and will know
                        better next time.


                        Morogoro 14th July 1940

                        Dearest Family,

                        How good it was of Dad to send that cable to Mother offering to have Ann and
                        George to live with you if they are accepted for inclusion in the list of children to be
                        evacuated to South Africa. It would be wonderful to know that they are safely out of the
                        war zone and so much nearer to us but I do dread the thought of the long sea voyage
                        particularly since we heard the news of the sinking of that liner carrying child evacuees to
                        Canada. I worry about them so much particularly as George is so often away on safari.
                        He is so comforting and calm and I feel brave and confident when he is home.
                        We have had no news from England for five weeks but, when she last wrote,
                        mother said the children were very well and that she was sure they would be safe in the
                        country with her.

                        Kate and John are growing fast. Kate is such a pretty little girl, rosy in spite of the
                        rather trying climate. I have allowed her hair to grow again and it hangs on her shoulders
                        in shiny waves. John is a more slightly built little boy than young George was, and quite
                        different in looks. He has Dad’s high forehead and cleft chin, widely spaced brown eyes
                        that are not so dark as mine and hair that is still fair and curly though ayah likes to smooth it
                        down with water every time she dresses him. He is a shy child, and although he plays
                        happily with Kate, he does not care to play with other children who go in the late
                        afternoons to a lawn by the old German ‘boma’.

                        Kate has playmates of her own age but still rather clings to me. Whilst she loves
                        to have friends here to play with her, she will not go to play at their houses unless I go
                        too and stay. She always insists on accompanying me when I go out to morning tea
                        and always calls JanetJohn’s ayah”. One morning I went to a knitting session at a
                        neighbours house. We are all knitting madly for the troops. As there were several other
                        women in the lounge and no other children, I installed Kate in the dining room with a
                        colouring book and crayons. My hostess’ black dog was chained to the dining room
                        table leg, but as he and Kate are on friendly terms I was not bothered by this.
                        Some time afterwards, during a lull in conversation, I heard a strange drumming
                        noise coming from the dining room. I went quickly to investigate and, to my horror, found
                        Kate lying on her back with the dog chain looped around her neck. The frightened dog
                        was straining away from her as far as he could get and the chain was pulled so tightly
                        around her throat that she could not scream. The drumming noise came from her heels
                        kicking in a panic on the carpet.

                        Even now I do not know how Kate got herself into this predicament. Luckily no
                        great harm was done but I think I shall do my knitting at home in future.


                        Morogoro 16th November 1940

                        Dearest Family,

                        I much prefer our little house on the hillside to the larger one we had down below.
                        The only disadvantage is that the garden is on three levels and both children have had
                        some tumbles down the steps on the tricycle. John is an extremely stoical child. He
                        never cries when he hurts himself.

                        I think I have mentioned ‘Morningside’ before. It is a kind of Resthouse high up in
                        the Uluguru Mountains above Morogoro. Jess Howe-Browne, who runs the large
                        house as a Guest House, is a wonderful woman. Besides running the boarding house
                        she also grows vegetables, flowers and fruit for sale in Morogoro and Dar es Salaam.
                        Her guests are usually women and children from Dar es Salaam who come in the hot
                        season to escape the humidity on the coast. Often the mothers leave their children for
                        long periods in Jess Howe-Browne’s care. There is a road of sorts up the mountain side
                        to Morningside, but this is so bad that cars do not attempt it and guests are carried up
                        the mountain in wicker chairs lashed to poles. Four men carry an adult, and two a child,
                        and there are of course always spare bearers and they work in shifts.

                        Last week the children and I went to Morningside for the day as guests. John
                        rode on my lap in one chair and Kate in a small chair on her own. This did not please
                        Kate at all. The poles are carried on the bearers shoulders and one is perched quite high.
                        The motion is a peculiar rocking one. The bearers chant as they go and do not seem
                        worried by shortness of breath! They are all hillmen of course and are, I suppose, used
                        to trotting up and down to the town.

                        Morningside is well worth visiting and we spent a delightful day there. The fresh
                        cool air is a great change from the heavy air of the valley. A river rushes down the
                        mountain in a series of cascades, and the gardens are shady and beautiful. Behind the
                        property is a thick indigenous forest which stretches from Morningside to the top of the
                        mountain. The house is an old German one, rather in need of repair, but Jess has made
                        it comfortable and attractive, with some of her old family treasures including a fine old
                        Grandfather clock. We had a wonderful lunch which included large fresh strawberries and
                        cream. We made the return journey again in the basket chairs and got home before dark.
                        George returned home at the weekend with a baby elephant whom we have
                        called Winnie. She was rescued from a mud hole by some African villagers and, as her
                        mother had abandoned her, they took her home and George was informed. He went in
                        the truck to fetch her having first made arrangements to have her housed in a shed on the
                        Agriculture Department Experimental Farm here. He has written to the Game Dept
                        Headquarters to inform the Game Warden and I do not know what her future will be, but
                        in the meantime she is our pet. George is afraid she will not survive because she has
                        had a very trying time. She stands about waist high and is a delightful creature and quite
                        docile. Asian and African children as well as Europeans gather to watch her and George
                        encourages them to bring fruit for her – especially pawpaws which she loves.
                        Whilst we were there yesterday one of the local ladies came, very smartly
                        dressed in a linen frock, silk stockings, and high heeled shoes. She watched fascinated
                        whilst Winnie neatly split a pawpaw and removed the seeds with her trunk, before
                        scooping out the pulp and putting it in her mouth. It was a particularly nice ripe pawpaw
                        and Winnie enjoyed it so much that she stretched out her trunk for more. The lady took
                        fright and started to run with Winnie after her, sticky trunk outstretched. Quite an
                        entertaining sight. George managed to stop Winnie but not before she had left a gooey
                        smear down the back of the immaculate frock.




                          From Tanganyika with Love

                          continued  ~ part 4

                          With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                          Mchewe Estate. 31st January 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          Life is very quiet just now. Our neighbours have left and I miss them all especially
                          Joni who was always a great bearer of news. We also grew fond of his Swedish
                          brother-in-law Max, whose loud ‘Hodi’ always brought a glad ‘Karibu’ from us. His wife,
                          Marion, I saw less often. She is not strong and seldom went visiting but has always
                          been friendly and kind and ready to share her books with me.

                          Ann’s birthday is looming ahead and I am getting dreadfully anxious that her
                          parcels do not arrive in time. I am delighted that you were able to get a good head for
                          her doll, dad, but horrified to hear that it was so expensive. You would love your
                          ‘Charming Ann’. She is a most responsible little soul and seems to have outgrown her
                          mischievous ways. A pity in a way, I don’t want her to grow too serious. You should see
                          how thoroughly Ann baths and towels herself. She is anxious to do Georgie and Kate
                          as well.

                          I did not mean to teach Ann to write until after her fifth birthday but she has taught
                          herself by copying the large print in newspaper headlines. She would draw a letter and
                          ask me the name and now I find that at four Ann knows the whole alphabet. The front
                          cement steps is her favourite writing spot. She uses bits of white clay we use here for

                          Coffee prices are still very low and a lot of planters here and at Mbosi are in a
                          mess as they can no longer raise mortgages on their farms or get advances from the
                          Bank against their crops. We hear many are leaving their farms to try their luck on the

                          George is getting fed up too. The snails are back on the shamba and doing
                          frightful damage. Talk of the plagues of Egypt! Once more they are being collected in
                          piles and bashed into pulp. The stench on the shamba is frightful! The greybeards in the
                          village tell George that the local Chief has put a curse on the farm because he is angry
                          that the Government granted George a small extension to the farm two years ago! As
                          the Chief was consulted at the time and was agreeable this talk of a curse is nonsense
                          but goes to show how the uneducated African put all disasters down to witchcraft.

                          With much love,

                          Mchewe Estate. 9th February 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          Ann’s birthday yesterday was not quite the gay occasion we had hoped. The
                          seventh was mail day so we sent a runner for the mail, hoping against hope that your
                          parcel containing the dolls head had arrived. The runner left for Mbeya at dawn but, as it
                          was a very wet day, he did not return with the mail bag until after dark by which time Ann
                          was fast asleep. My heart sank when I saw the parcel which contained the dolls new
                          head. It was squashed quite flat. I shed a few tears over that shattered head, broken
                          quite beyond repair, and George felt as bad about it as I did. The other parcel arrived in
                          good shape and Ann loves her little sewing set, especially the thimble, and the nursery
                          rhymes are a great success.

                          Ann woke early yesterday and began to open her parcels. She said “But
                          Mummy, didn’t Barbara’s new head come?” So I had to show her the fragments.
                          Instead of shedding the flood of tears I expected, Ann just lifted the glass eyes in her
                          hand and said in a tight little voice “Oh poor Barbara.” George saved the situation. as
                          usual, by saying in a normal voice,”Come on Ann, get up and lets play your new
                          records.” So we had music and sweets before breakfast. Later I removed Barbara’s
                          faded old blond wig and gummed on the glossy new brown one and Ann seems quite

                          Last night, after the children were tucked up in bed, we discussed our financial
                          situation. The coffee trees that have survived the plagues of borer beetle, mealie bugs
                          and snails look strong and fine, but George says it will be years before we make a living
                          out of the farm. He says he will simply have to make some money and he is leaving for
                          the Lupa on Saturday to have a look around on the Diggings. If he does decide to peg
                          a claim and work it he will put up a wattle and daub hut and the children and I will join him
                          there. But until such time as he strikes gold I shall have to remain here on the farm and
                          ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

                          Now don’t go and waste pity on me. Women all over the country are having to
                          stay at home whilst their husbands search for a livelihood. I am better off than most
                          because I have a comfortable little home and loyal servants and we still have enough
                          capitol to keep the wolf from the door. Anyway this is the rainy season and hardly the
                          best time to drag three small children around the sodden countryside on prospecting

                          So I’ll stay here at home and hold thumbs that George makes a lucky strike.

                          Heaps of love to all,

                          Mchewe Estate. 27th February 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          Well, George has gone but here we are quite safe and cosy. Kate is asleep and
                          Ann and Georgie are sprawled on the couch taking it in turns to enumerate the things
                          God has made. Every now and again Ann bothers me with an awkward question. “Did
                          God make spiders? Well what for? Did he make weeds? Isn’t He silly, mummy? She is
                          becoming a very practical person. She sews surprisingly well for a four year old and has
                          twice made cakes in the past week, very sweet and liberally coloured with cochineal and
                          much appreciated by Georgie.

                          I have been without George for a fortnight and have adapted myself to my new
                          life. The children are great company during the day and I have arranged my evenings so
                          that they do not seem long. I am determined that when George comes home he will find
                          a transformed wife. I read an article entitled ‘Are you the girl he married?’ in a magazine
                          last week and took a good look in the mirror and decided that I certainly was not! Hair dry,
                          skin dry, and I fear, a faint shadow on the upper lip. So now I have blown the whole of
                          your Christmas Money Order on an order to a chemist in Dar es Salaam for hair tonic,
                          face cream and hair remover and am anxiously awaiting the parcel.

                          In the meantime, after tucking the children into bed at night, I skip on the verandah
                          and do the series of exercises recommended in the magazine article. After this exertion I
                          have a leisurely bath followed by a light supper and then read or write letters to pass
                          the time until Kate’s ten o’clock feed. I have arranged for Janey to sleep in the house.
                          She comes in at 9.30 pm and makes up her bed on the living room floor by the fire.

                          The days are by no means uneventful. The day before yesterday the biggest
                          troop of monkeys I have ever seen came fooling around in the trees and on the grass
                          only a few yards from the house. These monkeys were the common grey monkeys
                          with black faces. They came in all sizes and were most entertaining to watch. Ann and
                          Georgie had a great time copying their antics and pulling faces at the monkeys through
                          the bedroom windows which I hastily closed.

                          Thomas, our headman, came running up and told me that this troop of monkeys
                          had just raided his maize shamba and asked me to shoot some of them. I would not of
                          course do this. I still cannot bear to kill any animal, but I fired a couple of shots in the air
                          and the monkeys just melted away. It was fantastic, one moment they were there and
                          the next they were not. Ann and Georgie thought I had been very unkind to frighten the
                          poor monkeys but honestly, when I saw what they had done to my flower garden, I
                          almost wished I had hardened my heart and shot one or two.

                          The children are all well but Ann gave me a nasty fright last week. I left Ann and
                          Georgie at breakfast whilst I fed Fanny, our bull terrier on the back verandah. Suddenly I
                          heard a crash and rushed inside to find Ann’s chair lying on its back and Ann beside it on
                          the floor perfectly still and with a paper white face. I shouted for Janey to bring water and
                          laid Ann flat on the couch and bathed her head and hands. Soon she sat up with a wan
                          smile and said “I nearly knocked my head off that time, didn’t I.” She must have been
                          standing on the chair and leaning against the back. Our brick floors are so terribly hard that
                          she might have been seriously hurt.

                          However she was none the worse for the fall, but Heavens, what an anxiety kids

                          Lots of love,

                          Mchewe Estate. 12th March 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          It was marvellous of you to send another money order to replace the one I spent
                          on cosmetics. With this one I intend to order boots for both children as a protection from
                          snake bite, though from my experience this past week the threat seems to be to the
                          head rather than the feet. I was sitting on the couch giving Kate her morning milk from a
                          cup when a long thin snake fell through the reed ceiling and landed with a thud just behind
                          the couch. I shouted “Nyoka, Nyoka!” (Snake,Snake!) and the houseboy rushed in with
                          a stick and killed the snake. I then held the cup to Kate’s mouth again but I suppose in
                          my agitation I tipped it too much because the baby choked badly. She gasped for
                          breath. I quickly gave her a sharp smack on the back and a stream of milk gushed
                          through her mouth and nostrils and over me. Janey took Kate from me and carried her
                          out into the fresh air on the verandah and as I anxiously followed her through the door,
                          another long snake fell from the top of the wall just missing me by an inch or so. Luckily
                          the houseboy still had the stick handy and dispatched this snake also.

                          The snakes were a pair of ‘boomslangs’, not nice at all, and all day long I have
                          had shamba boys coming along to touch hands and say “Poli Memsahib” – “Sorry
                          madam”, meaning of course ‘Sorry you had a fright.’

                          Apart from that one hectic morning this has been a quiet week. Before George
                          left for the Lupa he paid off most of the farm hands as we can now only afford a few
                          labourers for the essential work such as keeping the weeds down in the coffee shamba.
                          There is now no one to keep the grass on the farm roads cut so we cannot use the pram
                          when we go on our afternoon walks. Instead Janey carries Kate in a sling on her back.
                          Janey is a very clean slim woman, and her clothes are always spotless, so Kate keeps
                          cool and comfortable. Ann and Georgie always wear thick overalls on our walks as a
                          protection against thorns and possible snakes. We usually make our way to the
                          Mchewe River where Ann and Georgie paddle in the clear cold water and collect shiny

                          The cosmetics parcel duly arrived by post from Dar es Salaam so now I fill the
                          evenings between supper and bed time attending to my face! The much advertised
                          cream is pink and thick and feels revolting. I smooth it on before bedtime and keep it on
                          all night. Just imagine if George could see me! The advertisements promise me a skin
                          like a rose in six weeks. What a surprise there is in store for George!

                          You will have been wondering what has happened to George. Well on the Lupa
                          he heard rumours of a new gold strike somewhere in the Sumbawanga District. A couple
                          of hundred miles from here I think, though I am not sure where it is and have no one to
                          ask. You look it up on the map and tell me. John Molteno is also interested in this and
                          anxious to have it confirmed so he and George have come to an agreement. John
                          Molteno provided the porters for the journey together with prospecting tools and
                          supplies but as he cannot leave his claims, or his gold buying business, George is to go
                          on foot to the area of the rumoured gold strike and, if the strike looks promising will peg
                          claims in both their names.

                          The rainy season is now at its height and the whole countryside is under water. All
                          roads leading to the area are closed to traffic and, as there are few Europeans who
                          would attempt the journey on foot, George proposes to get a head start on them by
                          making this uncomfortable safari. I have just had my first letter from George since he left
                          on this prospecting trip. It took ages to reach me because it was sent by runner to
                          Abercorn in Northern Rhodesia, then on by lorry to Mpika where it was put on a plane
                          for Mbeya. George writes the most charming letters which console me a little upon our
                          all too frequent separations.

                          His letter was cheerful and optimistic, though reading between the lines I should
                          say he had a grim time. He has reached Sumbawanga after ‘a hell of a trip’, to find that
                          the rumoured strike was at Mpanda and he had a few more days of foot safari ahead.
                          He had found the trip from the Lupa even wetter than he had expected. The party had
                          three days of wading through swamps sometimes waist deep in water. Of his sixteen
                          porters, four deserted an the second day out and five others have had malaria and so
                          been unable to carry their loads. He himself is ‘thin but very fit’, and he sounds full of
                          beans and writes gaily of the marvellous holiday we will have if he has any decent luck! I
                          simply must get that mink and diamonds complexion.

                          The frustrating thing is that I cannot write back as I have no idea where George is

                          With heaps of love,

                          Mchewe Estate. 24th March 1936

                          Dearest Family,
                          How kind you are. Another parcel from home. Although we are very short
                          of labourers I sent a special runner to fetch it as Ann simply couldn’t bear the suspense
                          of waiting to see Brenda, “My new little girl with plaits.” Thank goodness Brenda is
                          unbreakable. I could not have born another tragedy. She really is an exquisite little doll
                          and has hardly been out of Ann’s arms since arrival. She showed Brenda proudly to all
                          the staff. The kitchen boy’s face was a study. His eyes fairly came out on sticks when he
                          saw the dolls eyes not only opening and shutting, but moving from side to side in that
                          incredibly lifelike way. Georgie loves his little model cars which he carries around all day
                          and puts under his pillow at night.

                          As for me, I am enchanted by my very smart new frock. Janey was so lavish with
                          her compliments when I tried the frock on, that in a burst of generosity I gave her that
                          rather tartish satin and lace trousseau nighty, and she was positively enthralled. She
                          wore it that very night when she appeared as usual to doss down by the fire.
                          By the way it was Janey’s turn to have a fright this week. She was in the
                          bathroom washing the children’s clothes in an outsize hand basin when it happened. As
                          she took Georgie’s overalls from the laundry basket a large centipede ran up her bare
                          arm. Luckily she managed to knock the centipede off into the hot water in the hand basin.
                          It was a brute, about six inches long of viciousness with a nasty sting. The locals say that
                          the bite is much worse than a scorpions so Janey had a lucky escape.

                          Kate cut her first two teeth yesterday and will, I hope, sleep better now. I don’t
                          feel that pink skin food is getting a fair trial with all those broken nights. There is certainly
                          no sign yet of ‘The skin he loves to touch”. Kate, I may say, is rosy and blooming. She
                          can pull herself upright providing she has something solid to hold on to. She is so plump
                          I have horrible visions of future bow legs so I push her down, but she always bobs up

                          Both Ann and Georgie are mad on books. Their favourites are ‘Barbar and
                          Celeste” and, of all things, ‘Struvel Peter’ . They listen with absolute relish to the sad tale
                          of Harriet who played with matches.

                          I have kept a laugh for the end. I am hoping that it will not be long before George
                          comes home and thought it was time to take the next step towards glamour, so last
                          Wednesday after lunch I settled the children on their beds and prepared to remove the ,
                          to me, obvious down on my upper lip. (George always loyally says that he can’t see
                          any.) Well I got out the tube of stuff and carefully followed the directions. I smoothed a
                          coating on my upper lip. All this was watched with great interest by the children, including
                          the baby, who stood up in her cot for a better view. Having no watch, I had propped
                          the bedroom door open so that I could time the operation by the cuckoo clock in the
                          living room. All the children’s surprised comments fell on deaf ears. I would neither talk
                          nor smile for fear of cracking the hair remover which had set hard. The set time was up
                          and I was just about to rinse the remover off when Kate slipped, knocking her head on
                          the corner of the cot. I rushed to the rescue and precious seconds ticked off whilst I
                          pacified her.

                          So, my dears, when I rinsed my lip, not only the plaster and the hair came away
                          but the skin as well and now I really did have a Ronald Coleman moustache – a crimson
                          one. I bathed it, I creamed it, powdered it but all to no avail. Within half an hour my lip
                          had swollen until I looked like one of those Duckbilled West African women. Ann’s
                          comments, “Oh Mummy, you do look funny. Georgie, doesn’t Mummy look funny?”
                          didn’t help to soothe me and the last straw was that just then there was the sound of a car drawing up outside – the first car I had heard for months. Anyway, thank heaven, it
                          was not George, but the representative of a firm which sells agricultural machinery and
                          farm implements, looking for orders. He had come from Dar es Salaam and had not
                          heard that all the planters from this district had left their farms. Hospitality demanded that I
                          should appear and offer tea. I did not mind this man because he was a complete
                          stranger and fat, middle aged and comfortable. So I gave him tea, though I didn’t
                          attempt to drink any myself, and told him the whole sad tale.

                          Fortunately much of the swelling had gone next day and only a brown dryness
                          remained. I find myself actually hoping that George is delayed a bit longer. Of one thing
                          I am sure. If ever I grow a moustache again, it stays!

                          Heaps of love from a sadder but wiser,

                          Mchewe Estate. 3rd April 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          Sound the trumpets, beat the drums. George is home again. The safari, I am sad
                          to say, was a complete washout in more ways than one. Anyway it was lovely to be
                          together again and we don’t yet talk about the future. The home coming was not at all as
                          I had planned it. I expected George to return in our old A.C. car which gives ample
                          warning of its arrival. I had meant to wear my new frock and make myself as glamourous
                          as possible, with our beautiful babe on one arm and our other jewels by my side.
                          This however is what actually happened. Last Saturday morning at about 2 am , I
                          thought I heard someone whispering my name. I sat up in bed, still half asleep, and
                          there was George at the window. He was thin and unshaven and the tiredest looking
                          man I have ever seen. The car had bogged down twenty miles back along the old Lupa
                          Track, but as George had had no food at all that day, he decided to walk home in the
                          bright moonlight.

                          This is where I should have served up a tasty hot meal but alas, there was only
                          the heal of a loaf and no milk because, before going to bed I had given the remaining
                          milk to the dog. However George seemed too hungry to care what he ate. He made a
                          meal off a tin of bully, a box of crustless cheese and the bread washed down with cup
                          after cup of black tea. Though George was tired we talked for hours and it was dawn
                          before we settled down to sleep.

                          During those hours of talk George described his nightmarish journey. He started
                          up the flooded Rukwa Valley and there were days of wading through swamp and mud
                          and several swollen rivers to cross. George is a strong swimmer and the porters who
                          were recruited in that area, could also swim. There remained the problem of the stores
                          and of Kianda the houseboy who cannot swim. For these they made rough pole rafts
                          which they pulled across the rivers with ropes. Kianda told me later that he hopes never
                          to make such a journey again. He swears that the raft was submerged most of the time
                          and that he was dragged through the rivers underwater! You should see the state of
                          George’s clothes which were packed in a supposedly water tight uniform trunk. The
                          whole lot are mud stained and mouldy.

                          To make matters more trying for George he was obliged to live mostly on
                          porters rations, rice and groundnut oil which he detests. As all the district roads were
                          closed the little Indian Sores in the remote villages he passed had been unable to
                          replenish their stocks of European groceries. George would have been thinner had it not
                          been for two Roman Catholic missions enroute where he had good meals and dry
                          nights. The Fathers are always wonderfully hospitable to wayfarers irrespective of
                          whether or not they are Roman Catholics. George of course is not a Catholic. One finds
                          the Roman Catholic missions right out in the ‘Blue’ and often on spots unhealthy to
                          Europeans. Most of the Fathers are German or Dutch but they all speak a little English
                          and in any case one can always fall back on Ki-Swahili.

                          George reached his destination all right but it soon became apparent that reports
                          of the richness of the strike had been greatly exaggerated. George had decided that
                          prospects were brighter on the Lupa than on the new strike so he returned to the Lupa
                          by the way he had come and, having returned the borrowed equipment decided to
                          make his way home by the shortest route, the old and now rarely used road which
                          passes by the bottom of our farm.

                          The old A.C. had been left for safe keeping at the Roman Catholic Galala
                          Mission 40 miles away, on George’s outward journey, and in this old car George, and
                          the houseboy Kianda , started for home. The road was indescribably awful. There were long stretches that were simply one big puddle, in others all the soil had been washed
                          away leaving the road like a rocky river bed. There were also patches where the tall
                          grass had sprung up head high in the middle of the road,
                          The going was slow because often the car bogged down because George had
                          no wheel chains and he and Kianda had the wearisome business of digging her out. It
                          was just growing dark when the old A.C. settled down determinedly in the mud for the
                          last time. They could not budge her and they were still twenty miles from home. George
                          decided to walk home in the moonlight to fetch help leaving Kianda in charge of the car
                          and its contents and with George’s shot gun to use if necessary in self defence. Kianda
                          was reluctant to stay but also not prepared to go for help whilst George remained with
                          the car as lions are plentiful in that area. So George set out unarmed in the moonlight.
                          Once he stopped to avoid a pride of lion coming down the road but he circled safely
                          around them and came home without any further alarms.

                          Kianda said he had a dreadful night in the car, “With lions roaming around the car
                          like cattle.” Anyway the lions did not take any notice of the car or of Kianda, and the next
                          day George walked back with all our farm boys and dug and pushed the car out of the
                          mud. He brought car and Kianda back without further trouble but the labourers on their
                          way home were treed by the lions.

                          The wet season is definitely the time to stay home.

                          Lots and lots of love,

                          Mchewe Estate. 30th April 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          Young George’s third birthday passed off very well yesterday. It started early in
                          the morning when he brought his pillow slip of presents to our bed. Kate was already
                          there and Ann soon joined us. Young George liked all the presents you sent, especially
                          the trumpet. It has hardly left his lips since and he is getting quite smart about the finger

                          We had quite a party. Ann and I decorated the table with Christmas tree tinsel
                          and hung a bunch of balloons above it. Ann also decorated young George’s chair with
                          roses and phlox from the garden. I had made and iced a fruit cake but Ann begged to
                          make a plain pink cake. She made it entirely by herself though I stood by to see that
                          she measured the ingredients correctly. When the cake was baked I mixed some soft
                          icing in a jug and she poured it carefully over the cake smoothing the gaps with her

                          During the party we had the gramophone playing and we pulled crackers and
                          wore paper hats and altogether had a good time. I forgot for a while that George is
                          leaving again for the Lupa tomorrow for an indefinite time. He was marvellous at making
                          young George’s party a gay one. You will have noticed the change from Georgie to
                          young George. Our son declares that he now wants to be called George, “Like Dad”.
                          He an Ann are a devoted couple and I am glad that there is only a fourteen
                          months difference in their ages. They play together extremely well and are very
                          independent which is just as well for little Kate now demands a lot of my attention. My
                          garden is a real cottage garden and looks very gay and colourful. There are hollyhocks
                          and Snapdragons, marigolds and phlox and of course the roses and carnations which, as
                          you know, are my favourites. The coffee shamba does not look so good because the
                          small labour force, which is all we can afford, cannot cope with all the weeds. You have
                          no idea how things grow during the wet season in the tropics.

                          Nothing alarming ever seems to happen when George is home, so I’m afraid this
                          letter is rather dull. I wanted you to know though, that largely due to all your gifts of toys
                          and sweets, Georgie’s 3rd birthday party went with a bang.

                          Your very affectionate,

                          Mchewe Estate. 17th September 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          I am sorry to hear that Mummy worries about me so much. “Poor Eleanor”,
                          indeed! I have a quite exceptional husband, three lovely children, a dear little home and
                          we are all well.It is true that I am in rather a rut but what else can we do? George comes
                          home whenever he can and what excitement there is when he does come. He cannot
                          give me any warning because he has to take advantage of chance lifts from the Diggings
                          to Mbeya, but now that he is prospecting nearer home he usually comes walking over
                          the hills. About 50 miles of rough going. Really and truly I am all right. Although our diet is
                          monotonous we have plenty to eat. Eggs and milk are cheap and fruit plentiful and I
                          have a good cook so can devote all my time to the children. I think it is because they are
                          my constant companions that Ann and Georgie are so grown up for their years.
                          I have no ayah at present because Janey has been suffering form rheumatism
                          and has gone home for one of her periodic rests. I manage very well without her except
                          in the matter of the afternoon walks. The outward journey is all right. George had all the
                          grass cut on his last visit so I am able to push the pram whilst Ann, George and Fanny
                          the dog run ahead. It is the uphill return trip that is so trying. Our walk back is always the
                          same, down the hill to the river where the children love to play and then along the car
                          road to the vegetable garden. I never did venture further since the day I saw a leopard
                          jump on a calf. I did not tell you at the time as I thought you might worry. The cattle were
                          grazing on a small knoll just off our land but near enough for me to have a clear view.
                          Suddenly the cattle scattered in all directions and we heard the shouts of the herd boys
                          and saw – or rather had the fleeting impression- of a large animal jumping on a calf. I
                          heard the herd boy shout “Chui, Chui!” (leopard) and believe me, we turned in our
                          tracks and made for home. To hasten things I picked up two sticks and told the children
                          that they were horses and they should ride them home which they did with
                          commendable speed.

                          Ann no longer rides Joseph. He became increasingly bad tempered and a
                          nuisance besides. He took to rolling all over my flower beds though I had never seen
                          him roll anywhere else. Then one day he kicked Ann in the chest, not very hard but
                          enough to send her flying. Now George has given him to the native who sells milk to us
                          and he seems quite happy grazing with the cattle.

                          With love to you all,

                          Mchewe Estate. 2nd October 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          Since I last wrote George has been home and we had a lovely time as usual.
                          Whilst he was here the District Commissioner and his wife called. Mr Pollock told
                          George that there is to be a big bush clearing scheme in some part of the Mbeya
                          District to drive out Tsetse Fly. The game in the area will have to be exterminated and
                          there will probably be a job for George shooting out the buffalo. The pay would be
                          good but George says it is a beastly job. Although he is a professional hunter, he hates

                          Mrs P’s real reason for visiting the farm was to invite me to stay at her home in
                          Mbeya whilst she and her husband are away in Tukuyu. Her English nanny and her small
                          daughter will remain in Mbeya and she thought it might be a pleasant change for us and
                          a rest for me as of course Nanny will do the housekeeping. I accepted the invitation and I
                          think I will go on from there to Tukuyu and visit my friend Lillian Eustace for a fortnight.
                          She has given us an open invitation to visit her at any time.

                          I had a letter from Dr Eckhardt last week, telling me that at a meeting of all the
                          German Settlers from Mbeya, Tukuyu and Mbosi it had been decided to raise funds to
                          build a school at Mbeya. They want the British Settlers to co-operate in this and would
                          be glad of a subscription from us. I replied to say that I was unable to afford a
                          subscription at present but would probably be applying for a teaching job.
                          The Eckhardts are the leaders of the German community here and are ardent
                          Nazis. For this reason they are unpopular with the British community but he is the only
                          doctor here and I must say they have been very decent to us. Both of them admire
                          George. George has still not had any luck on the Lupa and until he makes a really
                          promising strike it is unlikely that the children and I will join him. There is no fresh milk there
                          and vegetables and fruit are imported from Mbeya and Iringa and are very expensive.
                          George says “You wouldn’t be happy on the diggings anyway with a lot of whores and
                          their bastards!”

                          Time ticks away very pleasantly here. Young George and Kate are blooming
                          and I keep well. Only Ann does not look well. She is growing too fast and is listless and
                          pale. If I do go to Mbeya next week I shall take her to the doctor to be overhauled.
                          We do not go for our afternoon walks now that George has returned to the Lupa.
                          That leopard has been around again and has killed Tubbage that cowardly Alsatian. We
                          gave him to the village headman some months ago. There is no danger to us from the
                          leopard but I am terrified it might get Fanny, who is an excellent little watchdog and
                          dearly loved by all of us. Yesterday I sent a note to the Boma asking for a trap gun and
                          today the farm boys are building a trap with logs.

                          I had a mishap this morning in the garden. I blundered into a nest of hornets and
                          got two stings in the left arm above the elbow. Very painful at the time and the place is
                          still red and swollen.

                          Much love to you all,

                          Mchewe Estate. 10th October 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          Well here we are at Mbeya, comfortably installed in the District Commissioner’s
                          house. It is one of two oldest houses in Mbeya and is a charming gabled place with tiled
                          roof. The garden is perfectly beautiful. I am enjoying the change very much. Nanny
                          Baxter is very entertaining. She has a vast fund of highly entertaining tales of the goings
                          on amongst the British Aristocracy, gleaned it seems over the nursery teacup in many a
                          Stately Home. Ann and Georgie are enjoying the company of other children.
                          People are very kind about inviting us out to tea and I gladly accept these
                          invitations but I have turned down invitations to dinner and one to a dance at the hotel. It
                          is no fun to go out at night without George. There are several grass widows at the pub
                          whose husbands are at the diggings. They have no inhibitions about parties.
                          I did have one night and day here with George, he got the chance of a lift and
                          knowing that we were staying here he thought the chance too good to miss. He was
                          also anxious to hear the Doctor’s verdict on Ann. I took Ann to hospital on my second
                          day here. Dr Eckhardt said there was nothing specifically wrong but that Ann is a highly
                          sensitive type with whom the tropics does not agree. He advised that Ann should
                          spend a year in a more temperate climate and that the sooner she goes the better. I felt
                          very discouraged to hear this and was most relieved when George turned up
                          unexpectedly that evening. He phoo-hood Dr Eckhardt’s recommendation and next
                          morning called in Dr Aitkin, the Government Doctor from Chunya and who happened to
                          be in Mbeya.

                          Unfortunately Dr Aitkin not only confirmed Dr Eckhardt’s opinion but said that he
                          thought Ann should stay out of the tropics until she had passed adolescence. I just don’t
                          know what to do about Ann. She is a darling child, very sensitive and gentle and a
                          lovely companion to me. Also she and young George are inseparable and I just cannot
                          picture one without the other. I know that you would be glad to have Ann but how could
                          we bear to part with her?

                          Your worried but affectionate,

                          Tukuyu. 23rd October 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          As you see we have moved to Tukuyu and we are having a lovely time with
                          Lillian Eustace. She gave us such a warm welcome and has put herself out to give us
                          every comfort. She is a most capable housekeeper and I find her such a comfortable
                          companion because we have the same outlook in life. Both of us are strictly one man
                          women and that is rare here. She has a two year old son, Billy, who is enchanted with
                          our rolly polly Kate and there are other children on the station with whom Ann and
                          Georgie can play. Lillian engaged a temporary ayah for me so I am having a good rest.
                          All the children look well and Ann in particular seems to have benefited by the
                          change to a cooler climate. She has a good colour and looks so well that people all
                          exclaim when I tell them, that two doctors have advised us to send Ann out of the
                          country. Perhaps after all, this holiday in Tukuyu will set her up.

                          We had a trying journey from Mbeya to Tukuyu in the Post Lorry. The three
                          children and I were squeezed together on the front seat between the African driver on
                          one side and a vast German on the other. Both men smoked incessantly – the driver
                          cigarettes, and the German cheroots. The cab was clouded with a blue haze. Not only
                          that! I suddenly felt a smarting sensation on my right thigh. The driver’s cigarette had
                          burnt a hole right through that new checked linen frock you sent me last month.
                          I had Kate on my lap all the way but Ann and Georgie had to stand against the
                          windscreen all the way. The fat German offered to take Ann on his lap but she gave him
                          a very cold “No thank you.” Nor did I blame her. I would have greatly enjoyed the drive
                          under less crowded conditions. The scenery is gorgeous. One drives through very high
                          country crossing lovely clear streams and at one point through rain forest. As it was I
                          counted the miles and how thankful I was to see the end of the journey.
                          In the days when Tanganyika belonged to the Germans, Tukuyu was the
                          administrative centre for the whole of the Southern Highlands Province. The old German
                          Fort is still in use as Government offices and there are many fine trees which were
                          planted by the Germans. There is a large prosperous native population in this area.
                          They go in chiefly for coffee and for bananas which form the basis of their diet.
                          There are five British married couples here and Lillian and I go out to tea most
                          mornings. In the afternoon there is tennis or golf. The gardens here are beautiful because
                          there is rain or at least drizzle all the year round. There are even hedge roses bordering
                          some of the district roads. When one walks across the emerald green golf course or
                          through the Boma gardens, it is hard to realise that this gentle place is Tropical Africa.
                          ‘Such a green and pleasant land’, but I think I prefer our corner of Tanganyika.

                          Much love,

                          Mchewe. 12th November 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          We had a lovely holiday but it is so nice to be home again, especially as Laza,
                          the local Nimrod, shot that leopard whilst we were away (with his muzzleloader gun). He
                          was justly proud of himself, and I gave him a tip so that he could buy some native beer
                          for a celebration. I have never seen one of theses parties but can hear the drums and
                          sounds of merrymaking, especially on moonlight nights.

                          Our house looks so fresh and uncluttered. Whilst I was away, the boys
                          whitewashed the house and my houseboy had washed all the curtains, bedspreads,
                          and loose covers and watered the garden. If only George were here it would be

                          Ann looked so bonny at Tukuyu that I took her to the Government Doctor there
                          hoping that he would find her perfectly healthy, but alas he endorsed the finding of the
                          other two doctors so, when an opportunity offers, I think I shall have to send Ann down
                          to you for a long holiday from the Tropics. Mother-in-law has offered to fetch her next
                          year but England seems so far away. With you she will at least be on the same

                          I left the children for the first time ever, except for my stay in hospital when Kate
                          was born, to go on an outing to Lake Masoko in the Tukuyu district, with four friends.
                          Masoko is a beautiful, almost circular crater lake and very very deep. A detachment of
                          the King’s African Rifles are stationed there and occupy the old German barracks
                          overlooking the lake.

                          We drove to Masoko by car and spent the afternoon there as guests of two
                          British Army Officers. We had a good tea and the others went bathing in the lake but i
                          could not as I did not have a costume. The Lake was as beautiful as I had been lead to
                          imagine and our hosts were pleasant but I began to grow anxious as the afternoon
                          advanced and my friends showed no signs of leaving. I was in agonies when they
                          accepted an invitation to stay for a sundowner. We had this in the old German beer
                          garden overlooking the Lake. It was beautiful but what did I care. I had promised the
                          children that I would be home to give them their supper and put them to bed. When I
                          did at length return to Lillian’s house I found the situation as I had expected. Ann, with her
                          imagination had come to the conclusion that I never would return. She had sobbed
                          herself into a state of exhaustion. Kate was screaming in sympathy and George 2 was
                          very truculent. He wouldn’t even speak to me. Poor Lillian had had a trying time.
                          We did not return to Mbeya by the Mail Lorry. Bill and Lillian drove us across to
                          Mbeya in their new Ford V8 car. The children chattered happily in the back of the car
                          eating chocolate and bananas all the way. I might have known what would happen! Ann
                          was dreadfully and messily car sick.

                          I engaged the Mbeya Hotel taxi to drive us out to the farm the same afternoon
                          and I expect it will be a long time before we leave the farm again.

                          Lots and lots of love to all,

                          Chunya 27th November 1936

                          Dearest Family,

                          You will be surprised to hear that we are all together now on the Lupa goldfields.
                          I have still not recovered from my own astonishment at being here. Until last Saturday
                          night I never dreamed of this move. At about ten o’clock I was crouched in the inglenook
                          blowing on the embers to make a fire so that I could heat some milk for Kate who is
                          cutting teeth and was very restless. Suddenly I heard a car outside. I knew it must be
                          George and rushed outside storm lamp in hand. Sure enough, there was George
                          standing by a strange car, and beaming all over his face. “Something for you my love,”
                          he said placing a little bundle in my hand. It was a knotted handkerchief and inside was a
                          fine gold nugget.

                          George had that fire going in no time, Kate was given the milk and half an aspirin
                          and settles down to sleep, whilst George and I sat around for an hour chatting over our
                          tea. He told me that he had borrowed the car from John Molteno and had come to fetch
                          me and the children to join him on the diggings for a while. It seems that John, who has a
                          camp at Itewe, a couple of miles outside the township of Chunya, the new
                          Administrative Centre of the diggings, was off to the Cape to visit his family for a few
                          months. John had asked George to run his claims in his absence and had given us the
                          loan of his camp and his car.

                          George had found the nugget on his own claim but he is not too elated because
                          he says that one good month on the diggings is often followed by several months of
                          dead loss. However, I feel hopeful, we have had such a run of bad luck that surely it is
                          time for the tide to change. George spent Sunday going over the farm with Thomas, the
                          headman, and giving him instructions about future work whilst I packed clothes and
                          kitchen equipment. I have brought our ex-kitchenboy Kesho Kutwa with me as cook and
                          also Janey, who heard that we were off to the Lupa and came to offer her services once
                          more as ayah. Janey’s ex-husband Abel is now cook to one of the more successful
                          diggers and I think she is hoping to team up with him again.

                          The trip over the Mbeya-Chunya pass was new to me and I enjoyed it very
                          much indeed. The road winds over the mountains along a very high escarpment and
                          one looks down on the vast Usangu flats stretching far away to the horizon. At the
                          highest point the road rises to about 7000 feet, and this was too much for Ann who was
                          leaning against the back of my seat. She was very thoroughly sick, all over my hair.
                          This camp of John Molteno’s is very comfortable. It consists of two wattle and
                          daub buildings built end to end in a clearing in the miombo bush. The main building
                          consists of a large living room, a store and an office, and the other of one large bedroom
                          and a small one separated by an area for bathing. Both buildings are thatched. There are
                          no doors, and there are no windows, but these are not necessary because one wall of
                          each building is built up only a couple of feet leaving a six foot space for light and air. As
                          this is the dry season the weather is pleasant. The air is fresh and dry but not nearly so
                          hot as I expected.

                          Water is a problem and must be carried long distances in kerosene tins.
                          vegetables and fresh butter are brought in a van from Iringa and Mbeya Districts about
                          once a fortnight. I have not yet visited Chunya but I believe it is as good a shopping
                          centre as Mbeya so we will be able to buy all the non perishable food stuffs we need.
                          What I do miss is the fresh milk. The children are accustomed to drinking at least a pint of
                          milk each per day but they do not care for the tinned variety.

                          Ann and young George love being here. The camp is surrounded by old
                          prospecting trenches and they spend hours each day searching for gold in the heaps of gravel. Sometimes they find quartz pitted with little spots of glitter and they bring them
                          to me in great excitement. Alas it is only Mica. We have two neighbours. The one is a
                          bearded Frenchman and the other an Australian. I have not yet met any women.
                          George looks very sunburnt and extremely fit and the children also look well.
                          George and I have decided that we will keep Ann with us until my Mother-in-law comes
                          out next year. George says that in spite of what the doctors have said, he thinks that the
                          shock to Ann of being separated from her family will do her more harm than good. She
                          and young George are inseparable and George thinks it would be best if both
                          George and Ann return to England with my Mother-in-law for a couple of years. I try not
                          to think at all about the breaking up of the family.

                          Much love to all,



                            “Not so fast!” Glor muttered grimly, grabbing a flapping retreating arm of each of her friends, and yanking them to her sides. “Now’s our chance. It’s a trap, dontcha see? They got the wind up, and they’re gonna round us all up, it don’t bear thinking about what they’ll do next!”

                            With her free hand Mavis felt Gloria’s forehead, her palm slipping unpleasantly over the feverish salty slick.  “Her’s deplirious, Sha, not right in the ‘ead, the ‘eat’s got to her.  Solar over dose or whatever they call it nowadays.”

                            “My life depends on going to the bloody assembly hall, Glor, let go of my arm before I give yer a Glasgow kiss,” Sharon hissed, ignoring Mavis.

                            “I’m trying to save you!” screeched Gloria, her head exploding in exasperation.  She took a deep breath.  Told herself to stop screeching like that, wasn’t helping her cause.  Should she just let go of Sharon’s arm?

                            Mavis started trying to take the pulse on Glor’s restraining wrists, provoking Gloria beyond endurance, and she lashed out and slapped Mavis’s free hand away, unintentionally freeing Sharon from her grasp.  This further upset the balance and Gloria tumbled into Mavis at the moment of slapping her hand, causing a considerably more forceful manoeuvre than was intended.

                            Sharon didn’t hesitate to defend Mavis from the apparently deranged attack, and dived on to Gloria, pinning her arms behind her back.

                            Mavis scrambled to her feet and backed away slowly, nursing her hand, wide eyed and slack jawed in astonishment.

                            Where was this going?


                              “The same thing happened to me when I was planting trees in  Normandy!” Nora laughed.

                              “Why am I not surprised,” replied Will with a smile.

                              It did seem to Nora that Will was less surprised that she was at all the similarities in their       stories.  The way the little anecdotes would bounce back and forth and spark another memory, and another, how many of them were unaccountably bizarre or unusual incidents, was enchanting to Nora.  Spellbound and quite giddy with the delight of it.  Will, on the other hand, seemed delighted but in a different kind of way.

                              Nora noticed, but didn’t think any more of it until much later.  The ping pong stories continued apace, and she was was gasping for breath by the end of a somewhat longer story, as they made the final ascent to the top of the hill.

                              “This is what I wanted to show you,” Will said.


                                Clara breathed a sigh of relief when she saw VanGogh running towards her; in the moonlight he looked like a pale ghost.

                                “Where’ve you been eh?” she asked as he nuzzled her excitedly. She crouched down to pat him. “And what’s this?” A piece of paper folded into quarters had been tucked into VanGogh’s collar. Clara stood upright and looked uneasily around the garden; a small wind made the leaves rustle and the deep shadows stirred. Clara shivered.

                                “Clara?” called Bob from the door.

                                “It’s okay Grandpa, I found him. We’re coming in now.”

                                In the warm light of the kitchen, Clara showed Bob the piece of paper. “It’s a map, but I don’t know those place names.”

                                “And it was stuffed into his collar you say?” Bob frowned. “That’s very strange indeed. Who’d of done that?”

                                Clara shook her head. “It wasn’t Mr Willets because I saw him drive off. But why didn’t VanGogh bark? He always barks when someone comes on the property.”

                                “You really should tell her about the note,” said Jane. She was perched on the kitchen bench. VanGogh pricked his ears up and wagged his tail as he looked towards her. Bob couldn’t figure out if the dog could see Jane or just somehow sensed her there. He nodded.

                                “What?” asked Clara.

                                “There’s something I should tell you, Clara. It’s about that box you found.”


                                  “Knock, knock! Dinner’s ready!” Clara popped her head around the door to Bob’s room. “What are you doing?” she asked as Bob started and hurriedly put his hand over a small piece of paper.

                                  “Er, nothing, just …” His words trailed off. He smiled brightly at her. “Dinner eh. Smells good. I’ll be right with you.”

                                  Clara’s gaze travelled from Bob’s face to the cardboard box on the bed. “Are you okay? You look strange. What’s in that box?”

                                  “Odds and ends. Just doing a bit of sorting.” He put the piece of paper in the box and placed the lid back on. “Nothing that won’t keep till after dinner.”

                                  “If there are any old photos in the box I’d love to see them.”

                                  “Tell her,” said Jane. There she was, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed near the box. “Go on, tell her about the number.”

                                  Bob shook his head vigorously and Clara regarded him strangely. “Not to worry about photos then,” she said

                                  “You were wishing I was here and now here I am and you aren’t even going to listen to me?” Now Jane was whispering into his ear and he imagined he could almost feel her breath like a feather tickling his cheek—it was all he could do not to laugh. “Tell her or I will.”


                                    Nora moves silently along the path, placing her feet with care. It is more overgrown in the wood than she remembers, but then it is such a long time since she came this way. She can see in the distance something small and pale. A gentle gust of wind and It seems to stir, as if shivering, as if caught.

                                    Nora feels strange, there is a strong sense of deja vu now that she has entered the forest.

                                    She comes to a halt. The trees are still now, not a leaf stirs. She can hear nothing other than the sound of her own breathing. She can’t see the clearing yet either, but she remembers it’s further on, beyond the next winding of the path. She can see it in her mind’s eye though, a rough circle of random stones, with a greenish liquid light filtering through. The air smells of leaf mould and it is spongy underfoot. There’s a wooden bench, a grassy bank, and a circular area of emerald green moss. Finn thinks of it as place of enchantment, a fairy ring.

                                    Wait! Who is Finn? Where is this story coming from that whispers in her ear as she makes her way through the woods to her destination, the halfway point of her clandestine journey? Who is Finn?

                                    She reaches the tiny shivering thing and sees that it is a scrap of paper, impaled on a broken branch. She reaches out gently and touches it, then eases if off the branch, taking care not to rip it further. There is a message scribbled on the paper, incomplete. meet me, is all it says now

                                    The crumpled up paper among the dead leaves beside the path catches her eye.  No, not impaled on a branch but still, a bit of paper catches her eye as the mysterious  ~ ephemeral, invisible ~ story teller continues softly telling her tale

                                    Finn feels dreamy and floaty. She smiles to herself, thinking of the purpose of her mission, feeling as though it is a message to her from the past. She is overwhelmed for a moment with a sense of love and acceptance towards her younger self. Yes, she whispers softly to the younger Finn, I will meet you at the fairy ring. We will talk a bit. Maybe I can help

                                    But wait, there is no meaningful message on the crumpled paper that Nora picks up and opens out. It’s nothing but a shopping receipt.  Disappointed, she screws it back up and aims to toss it into the undergrowth, but she hesitates.  Surely it can’t have no meaning at all, she thinks, not after the strange whispered story and the synchronicity of finding it just at that moment.  She opens it back up again, and reads the list of items.

                                    Olive oil, wine, wheat, garum…. wait, what? Garum? She looks at the date on the receipt ~ a common enough looking till roll receipt, the kind you find in any supermarket ~ but what is this date? 57BC?   How can that be?  Even if she had mistranslated BC ~ perhaps it means British Cooperative, or Better Compare or some such supermarket name ~  the year of 57 makes little sense anyway.  And garum, how to explain that! Nora only knows of garum in relation to Romans, there is no garum on the shelves between the mayonaisse and the ketchup these days, after all.

                                    Nora smooths the receipt and folds it neatly in half and puts it in her pocket.  The shadows are long now and she still has some distance to walk before the halfway village.  As she resumes her journey, she hears whispered in her ear: You unlocked the blue diamond mode. You’re on a quest now!

                                    Smiling now, she accelerates her pace.  The lowering sun is casting a golden light, and she feels fortified.


                                    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


                                      Star paused in the lobby. “I need some more persuading,” she said. “What if she dies in that wardrobe? What will we do with the body? Or, worse, what if she doesn’t die and sues us?”

                                      Tara decided to ignore Star’s dubious reasoning; after all it was late. “She’s probably going to sue anyway,” said Tara morosely. “Another night won’t make any difference.”

                                      “I’m going back. I can’t leave Rosamund to face the consequences of our drunken stupidity.” Star headed defiantly towards the stairs; the lift was out of order, again. “We would have to be on the eight bloody floor,” she muttered. “You do what you like,” she flung over her shoulder to Tara.

                                      Tara sighed. “Wait up,” she shouted.

                                      Star was relieved that Tara decided to follow. The building was scary at night – the few tenants who did lease office space, were, much like themselves, dodgy start-ups that couldn’t afford anything better. Missing bulbs meant the lighting in the stairwell was dim, and, on some floors, non-existent.

                                      “I’m amazed they managed to bring that wardrobe up,” puffed Tara. “Just slow down and let me get my breath will you, Star.”

                                      “My gym membership is really paying off,” said Star proudly. “Come on,Tara! just one floor to go!”

                                      As they approached the door to their office, they paused to listen. “Can you hear something … ?” whispered Star.

                                      “Is it … singing?”

                                      “That’s never Rosamund singing. She’s got a voice like … well let’s just say you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.”

                                      “I’m going in,” hissed Tara and flung open the door.

                                      “Don’t come any closer!” cried a woman in a mink coat; she did make a peculiar sight, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and brandishing a broom. “And you, shut up!” she said reaching out to bang the wardrobe with her broom. There were muffled cries from within, and then silence.

                                      “Was that you singing?” asked Star in her most polite voice.

                                      “Yes, what’s it to you?”

                                      “It was rather… lovely.”

                                      The woman smirked. “I was rehearsing.”

                                      “We are awfully sorry about locking you in the wardrobe. We thought you were a masked intruder.”

                                      “Well, I’m not. I am Rosamund’s Aunt April, and you …” she glowered at Star … “should have recognised me, seeing as how I am your cousin.”

                                      “Oh!” Star put her hand to her head. “Silly me! Of course, Cousin April! But I have not seen you for so many years. Not since I was a child and you were off to Europe to study music!”

                                      Tara groaned. “Really, Star, you are hopeless.”

                                      Loud banging emanated from the wardrobe followed by mostly unintelligible shouting but it went something like: “Bloody-let-me-out-or-I-will-friggin-kill-you-stupid-bloody-tarts!”

                                      “It wasn’t really Rosamund’s fault,” said Star. “I don’t suppose we could …?”

                                      April nodded. “Go on then, little fool’s learnt her lesson. The cheek of her not letting me have pineapple on my pizza.”

                                      “About bloody time,” sniffed Rosamund when the door was opened. She made a sorry sight, mascara streaked under her eyes and her red fingernails broken from where she had tried to force the door.

                                      “Now, then,” said Tara decisively, “now we’ve said our sorries and whatnot, what’s all this really about, April?”

                                      April crinkled her brow.”Well, as I may of mentioned on the phone, my husband, Albert — that’s your Uncle Albie,” she said to Rosamund, “is cheating on me. He denies it vehemently of course, but I found this note in his pocket.” She reached into her Louis Vuitton hand-bag and pulled out a sheet of paper. “That’s his handwriting and the paper is from the Royal Albert Hotel. He was there on a business trip last month.” Her face crumpled.

                                      “Chin up,” said Tara quickly, handing April a tissue from the desk. “What does the note say?”. Really, this case did seem a bit beneath them, a straightforward occurrence of adultery from the sounds.

                                      April sniffed. “It says, meet you at the usual place. Bring the money and the suitcase and I will make it worth your while.”

                                      “Let me see that,” said Rosamund, snatching the note from April. She reached into the front of her tee-shirt and pulled out another crumpled note which had been stuffed into her bra. She smirked. “I found this in the wardrobe. I was keeping it secret to pay you back but … ” She brandished both notes triumphantly. “The handwriting is the same!”

                                      “What does your note say, Rosamund?” asked Star.

                                      “It says, If you find this note, please help me. All is not what it seems..”

                                      “Wow, cool!” said Tara, her face lit up. This was more like it!

                                      Star, noticing April’s wretched face, frowned warningly at Tara. “So,” she mused, “I suggest we explore this wardrobe further and see what we can find out.”


                                        Liz!” shouted Finnley, without pausing from her writing. “Liz, be a love and make me a cup of tea. The organic green tea in the second drawer down.” There was a crash and some unintelligible screaming from the next room. Fortunately, Finnley was used to unintelligible noises coming from Liz’s mouth. “Oh for the … what do you mean you don’t know where the kitchen is?”

                                        Finnley took a deep breath. She recalled the words of Lemon Tzu:

                                        Tension is who you think you are, relaxation is who you are.

                                        “Okay, okay. Don’t get your knickers in a twist. I will interrupt my important writing for a few minutes to elucidate you on the mysteries of the kitchen.”

                                        A duster came flying into the room, closely followed by a red-faced Liz. “There is really no need for sarcasm, Finnley. I trust you remember it is all down to MY goodness that you have this opportunity.”


                                          Those last few days have been hectic. But we finally arrived. I can’t believe we survived all those police controls and those christian mobs, and I didn’t know Kady was a adept at car borrowing.

                                          I forgot my journal because it was on the computer and I didn’t take the computer. So I don’t know how to contact you, Whale, other than using the old method: with a pen and a sheet of paper. Max gave me this piece of wrapping in which Kady had put the chocolate. He said he can still reuse it later with the writing. He’s nice, although he doesn’t look like it. I think I like him.

                                          However, the whole thing is not like I expected. Oh sure, the pistil itself is quite impressive: that lone and long stem coming out of that canyon and surrounded by those mountains in the distance. I’m talking about the camp. It’s like a refugee camp, and all of them avid to be able to go in somehow. I’m not sure what they expect. Kady hasn’t been in a sharing mood lately, and I haven’t asked that many questions. But she told Max we had to discuss before we go in tomorrow. So I’m feeling nervous about what I’ll learn tonight.

                                          I’ve been told once: ask and you will receive. What am I supposed to know now? What am I supposed to do? Maybe that’s not the right question because I just got my voice telling me that I’m not supposed to know or do anything. Maybe supposed is not the right word. I’m too tired and excited at the same time to figure it out, but you get the gist I’m sure.

                                          I didn’t have any more dreams. I’ve been watching the drawings in that book religiously every night of that trip before I go to sleep. Although I’m not truly sincere when I say that I didn’t have any more dreams. I had at least one that I recall. It was like some news about a parallel self, one that got the virus. I dreamt about that other me before, he couldn’t breath and it hurt. I had wondered if he had died because I didn’t have any more dreams about him, until last night. He seemed ok, he had recovered quite well considering the difficulties. He was at a gathering with other people at some kind of Lebanese buffet. I’m not too fond of the spicy merguez sausages, I prefer the hummus.

                                          Max is calling, diner is ready. He’s made lasagna, apparently he makes the the best lasagna in the whole camp. I’m not sure when will be the next time I contact you so far Whale.


                                          In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


                                            turning head high roberto needed kitchen breath

                                            star kept thread gave woods fox

                                            mine taste mad

                                            told vince next normal change

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