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      From Tanganyika with Love

      continued  ~ part 5

      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

      Chunya 16th December 1936

      Dearest Family,

      Since last I wrote I have visited Chunya and met several of the diggers wives.
      On the whole I have been greatly disappointed because there is nothing very colourful
      about either township or women. I suppose I was really expecting something more like
      the goldrush towns and women I have so often seen on the cinema screen.
      Chunya consists of just the usual sun-dried brick Indian shops though there are
      one or two double storied buildings. Most of the life in the place centres on the
      Goldfields Hotel but we did not call there. From the store opposite I could hear sounds
      of revelry though it was very early in the afternoon. I saw only one sight which was quite
      new to me, some elegantly dressed African women, with high heels and lipsticked
      mouths teetered by on their way to the silk store. “Native Tarts,” said George in answer
      to my enquiry.

      Several women have called on me and when I say ‘called’ I mean called. I have
      grown so used to going without stockings and wearing home made dresses that it was
      quite a shock to me to entertain these ladies dressed to the nines in smart frocks, silk
      stockings and high heeled shoes, handbags, makeup and whatnot. I feel like some
      female Rip van Winkle. Most of the women have a smart line in conversation and their
      talk and views on life would make your nice straight hair curl Mummy. They make me feel
      very unsophisticated and dowdy but George says he has a weakness for such types
      and I am to stay exactly as I am. I still do not use any makeup. George says ‘It’s all right
      for them. They need it poor things, you don’t.” Which, though flattering, is hardly true.
      I prefer the men visitors, though they also are quite unlike what I had expected
      diggers to be. Those whom George brings home are all well educated and well
      groomed and I enjoy listening to their discussion of the world situation, sport and books.
      They are extremely polite to me and gentle with the children though I believe that after a
      few drinks at the pub tempers often run high. There were great arguments on the night
      following the abdication of Edward VIII. Not that the diggers were particularly attached to
      him as a person, but these men are all great individualists and believe in freedom of
      choice. George, rather to my surprise, strongly supported Edward. I did not.

      Many of the diggers have wireless sets and so we keep up to date with the
      news. I seldom leave camp. I have my hands full with the three children during the day
      and, even though Janey is a reliable ayah, I would not care to leave the children at night
      in these grass roofed huts. Having experienced that fire on the farm, I know just how
      unlikely it would be that the children would be rescued in time in case of fire. The other
      women on the diggings think I’m crazy. They leave their children almost entirely to ayahs
      and I must confess that the children I have seen look very well and happy. The thing is
      that I simply would not enjoy parties at the hotel or club, miles away from the children
      and I much prefer to stay at home with a book.

      I love hearing all about the parties from George who likes an occasional ‘boose
      up’ with the boys and is terribly popular with everyone – not only the British but with the
      Germans, Scandinavians and even the Afrikaans types. One Afrikaans woman said “Jou
      man is ‘n man, al is hy ‘n Engelsman.” Another more sophisticated woman said, “George
      is a handsome devil. Aren’t you scared to let him run around on his own?” – but I’m not. I
      usually wait up for George with sandwiches and something hot to drink and that way I
      get all the news red hot.

      There is very little gold coming in. The rains have just started and digging is
      temporarily at a standstill. It is too wet for dry blowing and not yet enough water for
      panning and sluicing. As this camp is some considerable distance from the claims, all I see of the process is the weighing of the daily taking of gold dust and tiny nuggets.
      Unless our luck changes I do not think we will stay on here after John Molteno returns.
      George does not care for the life and prefers a more constructive occupation.
      Ann and young George still search optimistically for gold. We were all saddened
      last week by the death of Fanny, our bull terrier. She went down to the shopping centre
      with us and we were standing on the verandah of a store when a lorry passed with its
      canvas cover flapping. This excited Fanny who rushed out into the street and the back
      wheel of the lorry passed right over her, killing her instantly. Ann was very shocked so I
      soothed her by telling her that Fanny had gone to Heaven. When I went to bed that
      night I found Ann still awake and she asked anxiously, “Mummy, do you think God
      remembered to give Fanny her bone tonight?”

      Much love to all,

      Itewe, Chunya 23rd December 1936

      Dearest Family,

      Your Christmas parcel arrived this morning. Thank you very much for all the
      clothing for all of us and for the lovely toys for the children. George means to go hunting
      for a young buffalo this afternoon so that we will have some fresh beef for Christmas for
      ourselves and our boys and enough for friends too.

      I had a fright this morning. Ann and Georgie were, as usual, searching for gold
      whilst I sat sewing in the living room with Kate toddling around. She wandered through
      the curtained doorway into the store and I heard her playing with the paraffin pump. At
      first it did not bother me because I knew the tin was empty but after ten minutes or so I
      became irritated by the noise and went to stop her. Imagine my horror when I drew the
      curtain aside and saw my fat little toddler fiddling happily with the pump whilst, curled up
      behind the tin and clearly visible to me lay the largest puffadder I have ever seen.
      Luckily I acted instinctively and scooped Kate up from behind and darted back into the
      living room without disturbing the snake. The houseboy and cook rushed in with sticks
      and killed the snake and then turned the whole storeroom upside down to make sure
      there were no more.

      I have met some more picturesque characters since I last wrote. One is a man
      called Bishop whom George has known for many years having first met him in the
      Congo. I believe he was originally a sailor but for many years he has wandered around
      Central Africa trying his hand at trading, prospecting, a bit of elephant hunting and ivory
      poaching. He is now keeping himself by doing ‘Sign Writing”. Bish is a gentle and
      dignified personality. When we visited his camp he carefully dusted a seat for me and
      called me ‘Marm’, quite ye olde world. The only thing is he did spit.

      Another spitter is the Frenchman in a neighbouring camp. He is in bed with bad
      rheumatism and George has been going across twice a day to help him and cheer him
      up. Once when George was out on the claim I went across to the Frenchman’s camp in
      response to an SOS, but I think he was just lonely. He showed me snapshots of his
      two daughters, lovely girls and extremely smart, and he chatted away telling me his life
      history. He punctuated his remarks by spitting to right and left of the bed, everywhere in
      fact, except actually at me.

      George took me and the children to visit a couple called Bert and Hilda Farham.
      They have a small gold reef which is worked by a very ‘Heath Robinson’ type of
      machinery designed and erected by Bert who is reputed to be a clever engineer though
      eccentric. He is rather a handsome man who always looks very spruce and neat and
      wears a Captain Kettle beard. Hilda is from Johannesburg and quite a character. She
      has a most generous figure and literally masses of beetroot red hair, but she also has a
      warm deep voice and a most generous disposition. The Farhams have built
      themselves a more permanent camp than most. They have a brick cottage with proper
      doors and windows and have made it attractive with furniture contrived from petrol
      boxes. They have no children but Hilda lavishes a great deal of affection on a pet
      monkey. Sometimes they do quite well out of their gold and then they have a terrific
      celebration at the Club or Pub and Hilda has an orgy of shopping. At other times they
      are completely broke but Hilda takes disasters as well as triumphs all in her stride. She
      says, “My dear, when we’re broke we just live on tea and cigarettes.”

      I have met a young woman whom I would like as a friend. She has a dear little
      baby, but unfortunately she has a very wet husband who is also a dreadful bore. I can’t
      imagine George taking me to their camp very often. When they came to visit us George
      just sat and smoked and said,”Oh really?” to any remark this man made until I felt quite
      hysterical. George looks very young and fit and the children are lively and well too. I ,
      however, am definitely showing signs of wear and tear though George says,
      “Nonsense, to me you look the same as you always did.” This I may say, I do not
      regard as a compliment to the young Eleanor.

      Anyway, even though our future looks somewhat unsettled, we are all together
      and very happy.

      With love,

      Itewe, Chunya 30th December 1936

      Dearest Family,

      We had a very cheery Christmas. The children loved the toys and are so proud
      of their new clothes. They wore them when we went to Christmas lunch to the
      Cresswell-Georges. The C-Gs have been doing pretty well lately and they have a
      comfortable brick house and a large wireless set. The living room was gaily decorated
      with bought garlands and streamers and balloons. We had an excellent lunch cooked by
      our ex cook Abel who now works for the Cresswell-Georges. We had turkey with
      trimmings and plum pudding followed by nuts and raisons and chocolates and sweets
      galore. There was also a large variety of drinks including champagne!

      There were presents for all of us and, in addition, Georgie and Ann each got a
      large tin of chocolates. Kate was much admired. She was a picture in her new party frock
      with her bright hair and rosy cheeks. There were other guests beside ourselves and
      they were already there having drinks when we arrived. Someone said “What a lovely
      child!” “Yes” said George with pride, “She’s a Marie Stopes baby.” “Truby King!” said I
      quickly and firmly, but too late to stop the roar of laughter.

      Our children played amicably with the C-G’s three, but young George was
      unusually quiet and surprised me by bringing me his unopened tin of chocolates to keep
      for him. Normally he is a glutton for sweets. I might have guessed he was sickening for
      something. That night he vomited and had diarrhoea and has had an upset tummy and a
      slight temperature ever since.

      Janey is also ill. She says she has malaria and has taken to her bed. I am dosing
      her with quinine and hope she will soon be better as I badly need her help. Not only is
      young George off his food and peevish but Kate has a cold and Ann sore eyes and
      they all want love and attention. To complicate things it has been raining heavily and I
      must entertain the children indoors.


      Itewe, Chunya 19th January 1937

      Dearest Family,

      So sorry I have not written before but we have been in the wars and I have had neither
      the time nor the heart to write. However the worst is now over. Young George and
      Janey are both recovering from Typhoid Fever. The doctor had Janey moved to the
      native hospital at Chunya but I nursed young George here in the camp.

      As I told you young George’s tummy trouble started on Christmas day. At first I
      thought it was only a protracted bilious attack due to eating too much unaccustomed rich
      food and treated him accordingly but when his temperature persisted I thought that the
      trouble might be malaria and kept him in bed and increased the daily dose of quinine.
      He ate less and less as the days passed and on New Years Day he seemed very
      weak and his stomach tender to the touch.

      George fetched the doctor who examined small George and said he had a very
      large liver due no doubt to malaria. He gave the child injections of emertine and quinine
      and told me to give young George frequent and copious drinks of water and bi-carb of
      soda. This was more easily said than done. Young George refused to drink this mixture
      and vomited up the lime juice and water the doctor had suggested as an alternative.
      The doctor called every day and gave George further injections and advised me
      to give him frequent sips of water from a spoon. After three days the child was very
      weak and weepy but Dr Spiers still thought he had malaria. During those anxious days I
      also worried about Janey who appeared to be getting worse rather that better and on
      January the 3rd I asked the doctor to look at her. The next thing I knew, the doctor had
      put Janey in his car and driven her off to hospital. When he called next morning he
      looked very grave and said he wished to talk to my husband. I said that George was out
      on the claim but if what he wished to say concerned young George’s condition he might
      just as well tell me.

      With a good deal of reluctance Dr Spiers then told me that Janey showed all the
      symptoms of Typhoid Fever and that he was very much afraid that young George had
      contracted it from her. He added that George should be taken to the Mbeya Hospital
      where he could have the professional nursing so necessary in typhoid cases. I said “Oh
      no,I’d never allow that. The child had never been away from his family before and it
      would frighten him to death to be sick and alone amongst strangers.” Also I was sure that
      the fifty mile drive over the mountains in his weak condition would harm him more than
      my amateur nursing would. The doctor returned to the camp that afternoon to urge
      George to send our son to hospital but George staunchly supported my argument that
      young George would stand a much better chance of recovery if we nursed him at home.
      I must say Dr Spiers took our refusal very well and gave young George every attention
      coming twice a day to see him.

      For some days the child was very ill. He could not keep down any food or liquid
      in any quantity so all day long, and when he woke at night, I gave him a few drops of
      water at a time from a teaspoon. His only nourishment came from sucking Macintosh’s
      toffees. Young George sweated copiously especially at night when it was difficult to
      change his clothes and sponge him in the draughty room with the rain teeming down
      outside. I think I told you that the bedroom is a sort of shed with only openings in the wall
      for windows and doors, and with one wall built only a couple of feet high leaving a six
      foot gap for air and light. The roof leaked and the damp air blew in but somehow young
      George pulled through.

      Only when he was really on the mend did the doctor tell us that whilst he had
      been attending George, he had also been called in to attend to another little boy of the same age who also had typhoid. He had been called in too late and the other little boy,
      an only child, had died. Young George, thank God, is convalescent now, though still on a
      milk diet. He is cheerful enough when he has company but very peevish when left
      alone. Poor little lad, he is all hair, eyes, and teeth, or as Ann says” Georgie is all ribs ribs
      now-a-days Mummy.” He shares my room, Ann and Kate are together in the little room.
      Anyway the doctor says he should be up and around in about a week or ten days time.
      We were all inoculated against typhoid on the day the doctor made the diagnosis
      so it is unlikely that any of us will develop it. Dr Spiers was most impressed by Ann’s
      unconcern when she was inoculated. She looks gentle and timid but has always been
      very brave. Funny thing when young George was very ill he used to wail if I left the
      room, but now that he is convalescent he greatly prefers his dad’s company. So now I
      have been able to take the girls for walks in the late afternoons whilst big George
      entertains small George. This he does with the minimum of effort, either he gets out
      cartons of ammunition with which young George builds endless forts, or else he just sits
      beside the bed and cleans one of his guns whilst small George watches with absorbed

      The Doctor tells us that Janey is also now convalescent. He says that exhusband
      Abel has been most attentive and appeared daily at the hospital with a tray of
      food that made his, the doctor’s, mouth water. All I dare say, pinched from Mrs

      I’ll write again soon. Lots of love to all,

      Chunya 29th January 1937

      Dearest Family,

      Georgie is up and about but still tires very easily. At first his legs were so weak
      that George used to carry him around on his shoulders. The doctor says that what the
      child really needs is a long holiday out of the Tropics so that Mrs Thomas’ offer, to pay all
      our fares to Cape Town as well as lending us her seaside cottage for a month, came as
      a Godsend. Luckily my passport is in order. When George was in Mbeya he booked
      seats for the children and me on the first available plane. We will fly to Broken Hill and go
      on to Cape Town from there by train.

      Ann and George are wildly thrilled at the idea of flying but I am not. I remember
      only too well how airsick I was on the old Hannibal when I flew home with the baby Ann.
      I am longing to see you all and it will be heaven to give the children their first seaside

      I mean to return with Kate after three months but, if you will have him, I shall leave
      George behind with you for a year. You said you would all be delighted to have Ann so
      I do hope you will also be happy to have young George. Together they are no trouble
      at all. They amuse themselves and are very independent and loveable.
      George and I have discussed the matter taking into consideration the letters from
      you and George’s Mother on the subject. If you keep Ann and George for a year, my
      mother-in-law will go to Cape Town next year and fetch them. They will live in England
      with her until they are fit enough to return to the Tropics. After the children and I have left
      on this holiday, George will be able to move around and look for a job that will pay
      sufficiently to enable us to go to England in a few years time to fetch our children home.
      We both feel very sad at the prospect of this parting but the children’s health
      comes before any other consideration. I hope Kate will stand up better to the Tropics.
      She is plump and rosy and could not look more bonny if she lived in a temperate

      We should be with you in three weeks time!

      Very much love,

      Broken Hill, N Rhodesia 11th February 1937

      Dearest Family,

      Well here we are safe and sound at the Great Northern Hotel, Broken Hill, all
      ready to board the South bound train tonight.

      We were still on the diggings on Ann’s birthday, February 8th, when George had
      a letter from Mbeya to say that our seats were booked on the plane leaving Mbeya on
      the 10th! What a rush we had packing up. Ann was in bed with malaria so we just
      bundled her up in blankets and set out in John Molteno’s car for the farm. We arrived that
      night and spent the next day on the farm sorting things out. Ann and George wanted to
      take so many of their treasures and it was difficult for them to make a small selection. In
      the end young George’s most treasured possession, his sturdy little boots, were left

      Before leaving home on the morning of the tenth I took some snaps of Ann and
      young George in the garden and one of them with their father. He looked so sad. After
      putting us on the plane, George planned to go to the fishing camp for a day or two
      before returning to the empty house on the farm.

      John Molteno returned from the Cape by plane just before we took off, so he
      will take over the running of his claims once more. I told John that I dreaded the plane trip
      on account of air sickness so he gave me two pills which I took then and there. Oh dear!
      How I wished later that I had not done so. We had an extremely bumpy trip and
      everyone on the plane was sick except for small George who loved every moment.
      Poor Ann had a dreadful time but coped very well and never complained. I did not
      actually puke until shortly before we landed at Broken Hill but felt dreadfully ill all the way.
      Kate remained rosy and cheerful almost to the end. She sat on my lap throughout the
      trip because, being under age, she travelled as baggage and was not entitled to a seat.
      Shortly before we reached Broken Hill a smartly dressed youngish man came up
      to me and said, “You look so poorly, please let me take the baby, I have children of my
      own and know how to handle them.” Kate made no protest and off they went to the
      back of the plane whilst I tried to relax and concentrate on not getting sick. However,
      within five minutes the man was back. Kate had been thoroughly sick all over his collar
      and jacket.

      I took Kate back on my lap and then was violently sick myself, so much so that
      when we touched down at Broken Hill I was unable to speak to the Immigration Officer.
      He was so kind. He sat beside me until I got my diaphragm under control and then
      drove me up to the hotel in his own car.

      We soon recovered of course and ate a hearty dinner. This morning after
      breakfast I sallied out to look for a Bank where I could exchange some money into
      Rhodesian and South African currency and for the Post Office so that I could telegraph
      to George and to you. What a picnic that trip was! It was a terribly hot day and there was
      no shade. By the time we had done our chores, the children were hot, and cross, and
      tired and so indeed was I. As I had no push chair for Kate I had to carry her and she is
      pretty heavy for eighteen months. George, who is still not strong, clung to my free arm
      whilst Ann complained bitterly that no one was helping her.

      Eventually Ann simply sat down on the pavement and declared that she could
      not go another step, whereupon George of course decided that he also had reached his
      limit and sat down too. Neither pleading no threats would move them so I had to resort
      to bribery and had to promise that when we reached the hotel they could have cool
      drinks and ice-cream. This promise got the children moving once more but I am determined that nothing will induce me to stir again until the taxi arrives to take us to the

      This letter will go by air and will reach you before we do. How I am longing for
      journeys end.

      With love to you all,

      Leaving home 10th February 1937,  George Gilman Rushby with Ann and Georgie (Mike) Rushby:

      George Rushby Ann and Georgie

      We had a very warm welcome to the family home at Plumstead Cape Town.
      After ten days with my family we moved to Hout Bay where Mrs Thomas lent us her
      delightful seaside cottage. She also provided us with two excellent maids so I had
      nothing to do but rest and play on the beach with the children.

      After a month at the sea George had fully recovered his health though not his
      former gay spirits. After another six months with my parents I set off for home with Kate,
      leaving Ann and George in my parent’s home under the care of my elder sister,

      One or two incidents during that visit remain clearly in my memory. Our children
      had never met elderly people and were astonished at the manifestations of age. One
      morning an elderly lady came around to collect church dues. She was thin and stooped
      and Ann surveyed her with awe. She turned to me with a puzzled expression and
      asked in her clear voice, “Mummy, why has that old lady got a moustache – oh and a
      beard?’ The old lady in question was very annoyed indeed and said, “What a rude little
      girl.” Ann could not understand this, she said, “But Mummy, I only said she had a
      moustache and a beard and she has.” So I explained as best I could that when people
      have defects of this kind they are hurt if anyone mentions them.

      A few days later a strange young woman came to tea. I had been told that she
      had a most disfiguring birthmark on her cheek and warned Ann that she must not
      comment on it. Alas! with the kindest intentions Ann once again caused me acute
      embarrassment. The young woman was hardly seated when Ann went up to her and
      gently patted the disfiguring mark saying sweetly, “Oh, I do like this horrible mark on your

      I remember also the afternoon when Kate and George were christened. My
      mother had given George a white silk shirt for the occasion and he wore it with intense
      pride. Kate was baptised first without incident except that she was lost in admiration of a
      gold bracelet given her that day by her Godmother and exclaimed happily, “My
      bangle, look my bangle,” throughout the ceremony. When George’s turn came the
      clergyman held his head over the font and poured water on George’s forehead. Some
      splashed on his shirt and George protested angrily, “Mum, he has wet my shirt!” over
      and over again whilst I led him hurriedly outside.

      My last memory of all is at the railway station. The time had come for Kate and
      me to get into our compartment. My sisters stood on the platform with Ann and George.
      Ann was resigned to our going, George was not so, at the last moment Sylvia, my
      younger sister, took him off to see the engine. The whistle blew and I said good-bye to
      my gallant little Ann. “Mummy”, she said urgently to me, “Don’t forget to wave to

      And so I waved good-bye to my children, never dreaming that a war would
      intervene and it would be eight long years before I saw them again.


        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,



          From Tanganyika with Love

          continued  ~ part 3

          With thanks to Mike Rushby.

          Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

          Dearest Family,

          I am feeling much better now that I am five months pregnant and have quite got
          my appetite back. Once again I go out with “the Mchewe Hunt” which is what George
          calls the procession made up of the donkey boy and donkey with Ann confidently riding
          astride, me beside the donkey with Georgie behind riding the stick which he much
          prefers to the donkey. The Alsatian pup, whom Ann for some unknown reason named
          ‘Tubbage’, and the two cats bring up the rear though sometimes Tubbage rushes
          ahead and nearly knocks me off my feet. He is not the loveable pet that Kelly was.
          It is just as well that I have recovered my health because my mother-in-law has
          decided to fly out from England to look after Ann and George when I am in hospital. I am
          very grateful for there is no one lse to whom I can turn. Kath Hickson-Wood is seldom on
          their farm because Hicky is working a guano claim and is making quite a good thing out of
          selling bat guano to the coffee farmers at Mbosi. They camp out at the claim, a series of
          caves in the hills across the valley and visit the farm only occasionally. Anne Molteno is
          off to Cape Town to have her baby at her mothers home and there are no women in
          Mbeya I know well. The few women are Government Officials wives and they come
          and go. I make so few trips to the little town that there is no chance to get on really
          friendly terms with them.

          Janey, the ayah, is turning into a treasure. She washes and irons well and keeps
          the children’s clothes cupboard beautifully neat. Ann and George however are still
          reluctant to go for walks with her. They find her dull because, like all African ayahs, she
          has no imagination and cannot play with them. She should however be able to help with
          the baby. Ann is very excited about the new baby. She so loves all little things.
          Yesterday she went into ecstasies over ten newly hatched chicks.

          She wants a little sister and perhaps it would be a good thing. Georgie is so very
          active and full of mischief that I feel another wild little boy might be more than I can
          manage. Although Ann is older, it is Georgie who always thinks up the mischief. They
          have just been having a fight. Georgie with the cooks umbrella versus Ann with her frilly
          pink sunshade with the inevitable result that the sunshade now has four broken ribs.
          Any way I never feel lonely now during the long hours George is busy on the
          shamba. The children keep me on my toes and I have plenty of sewing to do for the
          baby. George is very good about amusing the children before their bedtime and on
          Sundays. In the afternoons when it is not wet I take Ann and Georgie for a walk down
          the hill. George meets us at the bottom and helps me on the homeward journey. He
          grabs one child in each hand by the slack of their dungarees and they do a sort of giant
          stride up the hill, half walking half riding.

          Very much love,

          Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

          Dearest Family,

          A great flap here. We had a letter yesterday to say that mother-in-law will be
          arriving in four days time! George is very amused at my frantic efforts at spring cleaning
          but he has told me before that she is very house proud so I feel I must make the best
          of what we have.

          George is very busy building a store for the coffee which will soon be ripening.
          This time he is doing the bricklaying himself. It is quite a big building on the far end of the
          farm and close to the river. He is also making trays of chicken wire nailed to wooden
          frames with cheap calico stretched over the wire.

          Mother will have to sleep in the verandah room which leads off the bedroom
          which we share with the children. George will have to sleep in the outside spare room as
          there is no door between the bedroom and the verandah room. I am sewing frantically
          to make rose coloured curtains and bedspread out of material mother-in-law sent for
          Christmas and will have to make a curtain for the doorway. The kitchen badly needs
          whitewashing but George says he cannot spare the labour so I hope mother won’t look.
          To complicate matters, George has been invited to lunch with the Governor on the day
          of Mother’s arrival. After lunch they are to visit the newly stocked trout streams in the
          Mporotos. I hope he gets back to Mbeya in good time to meet mother’s plane.
          Ann has been off colour for a week. She looks very pale and her pretty fair hair,
          normally so shiny, is dull and lifeless. It is such a pity that mother should see her like this
          because first impressions do count so much and I am looking to the children to attract
          attention from me. I am the size of a circus tent and hardly a dream daughter-in-law.
          Georgie, thank goodness, is blooming but he has suddenly developed a disgusting
          habit of spitting on the floor in the manner of the natives. I feel he might say “Gran, look
          how far I can spit and give an enthusiastic demonstration.

          Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

          your loving but anxious,

          Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

          Dearest Family,

          Mother-in-law duly arrived in the District Commissioner’s car. George did not dare
          to use the A.C. as she is being very temperamental just now. They also brought the
          mail bag which contained a parcel of lovely baby clothes from you. Thank you very
          much. Mother-in-law is very put out because the large parcel she posted by surface
          mail has not yet arrived.

          Mother arrived looking very smart in an ankle length afternoon frock of golden
          brown crepe and smart hat, and wearing some very good rings. She is a very
          handsome woman with the very fair complexion that goes with red hair. The hair, once
          Titan, must now be grey but it has been very successfully tinted and set. I of course,
          was shapeless in a cotton maternity frock and no credit to you. However, so far, motherin-
          law has been uncritical and friendly and charmed with the children who have taken to
          her. Mother does not think that the children resemble me in any way. Ann resembles her
          family the Purdys and Georgie is a Morley, her mother’s family. She says they had the
          same dark eyes and rather full mouths. I say feebly, “But Georgie has my colouring”, but
          mother won’t hear of it. So now you know! Ann is a Purdy and Georgie a Morley.
          Perhaps number three will be a Leslie.

          What a scramble I had getting ready for mother. Her little room really looks pretty
          and fresh, but the locally woven grass mats arrived only minutes before mother did. I
          also frantically overhauled our clothes and it a good thing that I did so because mother
          has been going through all the cupboards looking for mending. Mother is kept so busy
          in her own home that I think she finds time hangs on her hands here. She is very good at
          entertaining the children and has even tried her hand at picking coffee a couple of times.
          Mother cannot get used to the native boy servants but likes Janey, so Janey keeps her
          room in order. Mother prefers to wash and iron her own clothes.

          I almost lost our cook through mother’s surplus energy! Abel our previous cook
          took a new wife last month and, as the new wife, and Janey the old, were daggers
          drawn, Abel moved off to a job on the Lupa leaving Janey and her daughter here.
          The new cook is capable, but he is a fearsome looking individual called Alfani. He has a
          thick fuzz of hair which he wears long, sometimes hidden by a dingy turban, and he
          wears big brass earrings. I think he must be part Somali because he has a hawk nose
          and a real Brigand look. His kitchen is never really clean but he is an excellent cook and
          as cooks are hard to come by here I just keep away from the kitchen. Not so mother!
          A few days after her arrival she suggested kindly that I should lie down after lunch
          so I rested with the children whilst mother, unknown to me, went out to the kitchen and
          not only scrubbed the table and shelves but took the old iron stove to pieces and
          cleaned that. Unfortunately in her zeal she poked a hole through the stove pipe.
          Had I known of these activities I would have foreseen the cook’s reaction when
          he returned that evening to cook the supper. he was furious and wished to leave on the
          spot and demanded his wages forthwith. The old Memsahib had insulted him by
          scrubbing his already spotless kitchen and had broken his stove and made it impossible
          for him to cook. This tirade was accompanied by such waving of hands and rolling of
          eyes that I longed to sack him on the spot. However I dared not as I might not get
          another cook for weeks. So I smoothed him down and he patched up the stove pipe
          with a bit of tin and some wire and produced a good meal. I am wondering what
          transformations will be worked when I am in hospital.

          Our food is really good but mother just pecks at it. No wonder really, because
          she has had some shocks. One day she found the kitchen boy diligently scrubbing the box lavatory seat with a scrubbing brush which he dipped into one of my best large
          saucepans! No one can foresee what these boys will do. In these remote areas house
          servants are usually recruited from the ranks of the very primitive farm labourers, who first
          come to the farm as naked savages, and their notions of hygiene simply don’t exist.
          One day I said to mother in George’s presence “When we were newly married,
          mother, George used to brag about your cooking and say that you would run a home
          like this yourself with perhaps one ‘toto’. Mother replied tartly, “That was very bad of
          George and not true. If my husband had brought me out here I would not have stayed a
          month. I think you manage very well.” Which reply made me warm to mother a lot.
          To complicate things we have a new pup, a little white bull terrier bitch whom
          George has named Fanny. She is tiny and not yet house trained but seems a plucky
          and attractive little animal though there is no denying that she does look like a piglet.

          Very much love to all,

          Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

          Dearest Family,

          Here I am in hospital, comfortably in bed with our new daughter in her basket
          beside me. She is a lovely little thing, very plump and cuddly and pink and white and
          her head is covered with tiny curls the colour of Golden Syrup. We meant to call her
          Margery Kate, after our Marj and my mother-in-law whose name is Catherine.
          I am enjoying the rest, knowing that George and mother will be coping
          successfully on the farm. My room is full of flowers, particularly with the roses and
          carnations which grow so well here. Kate was not due until August 5th but the doctor
          wanted me to come in good time in view of my tiresome early pregnancy.

          For weeks beforehand George had tinkered with the A.C. and we started for
          Mbeya gaily enough on the twenty ninth, however, after going like a dream for a couple
          of miles, she simply collapsed from exhaustion at the foot of a hill and all the efforts of
          the farm boys who had been sent ahead for such an emergency failed to start her. So
          George sent back to the farm for the machila and I sat in the shade of a tree, wondering
          what would happen if I had the baby there and then, whilst George went on tinkering
          with the car. Suddenly she sprang into life and we roared up that hill and all the way into
          Mbeya. The doctor welcomed us pleasantly and we had tea with his family before I
          settled into my room. Later he examined me and said that it was unlikely that the baby
          would be born for several days. The new and efficient German nurse said, “Thank
          goodness for that.” There was a man in hospital dying from a stomach cancer and she
          had not had a decent nights sleep for three nights.

          Kate however had other plans. I woke in the early morning with labour pains but
          anxious not to disturb the nurse, I lay and read or tried to read a book, hoping that I
          would not have to call the nurse until daybreak. However at four a.m., I went out into the
          wind which was howling along the open verandah and knocked on the nurse’s door. She
          got up and very crossly informed me that I was imagining things and should get back to
          bed at once. She said “It cannot be so. The Doctor has said it.” I said “Of course it is,”
          and then and there the water broke and clinched my argument. She then went into a flat
          spin. “But the bed is not ready and my instruments are not ready,” and she flew around
          to rectify this and also sent an African orderly to call the doctor. I paced the floor saying
          warningly “Hurry up with that bed. I am going to have the baby now!” She shrieked
          “Take off your dressing gown.” But I was passed caring. I flung myself on the bed and
          there was Kate. The nurse had done all that was necessary by the time the doctor

          A funny thing was, that whilst Kate was being born on the bed, a black cat had
          kittens under it! The doctor was furious with the nurse but the poor thing must have crept
          in out of the cold wind when I went to call the nurse. A happy omen I feel for the baby’s
          future. George had no anxiety this time. He stayed at the hospital with me until ten
          o’clock when he went down to the hotel to sleep and he received the news in a note
          from me with his early morning tea. He went to the farm next morning but will return on
          the sixth to fetch me home.

          I do feel so happy. A very special husband and three lovely children. What
          more could anyone possibly want.

          Lots and lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

          Dearest Family,

          Well here we are back at home and all is very well. The new baby is very placid
          and so pretty. Mother is delighted with her and Ann loved her at sight but Georgie is not
          so sure. At first he said, “Your baby is no good. Chuck her in the kalonga.” The kalonga
          being the ravine beside the house , where, I regret to say, much of the kitchen refuse is
          dumped. he is very jealous when I carry Kate around or feed her but is ready to admire
          her when she is lying alone in her basket.

          George walked all the way from the farm to fetch us home. He hired a car and
          native driver from the hotel, but drove us home himself going with such care over ruts
          and bumps. We had a great welcome from mother who had had the whole house
          spring cleaned. However George loyally says it looks just as nice when I am in charge.
          Mother obviously, had had more than enough of the back of beyond and
          decided to stay on only one week after my return home. She had gone into the kitchen
          one day just in time to see the houseboy scooping the custard he had spilt on the table
          back into the jug with the side of his hand. No doubt it would have been served up
          without a word. On another occasion she had walked in on the cook’s daily ablutions. He
          was standing in a small bowl of water in the centre of the kitchen, absolutely naked,
          enjoying a slipper bath. She left last Wednesday and gave us a big laugh before she
          left. She never got over her horror of eating food prepared by our cook and used to
          push it around her plate. Well, when the time came for mother to leave for the plane, she
          put on the very smart frock in which she had arrived, and then came into the sitting room
          exclaiming in dismay “Just look what has happened, I must have lost a stone!’ We
          looked, and sure enough, the dress which had been ankle deep before, now touched
          the floor. “Good show mother.” said George unfeelingly. “You ought to be jolly grateful,
          you needed to lose weight and it would have cost you the earth at a beauty parlour to
          get that sylph-like figure.”

          When mother left she took, in a perforated matchbox, one of the frilly mantis that
          live on our roses. She means to keep it in a goldfish bowl in her dining room at home.
          Georgie and Ann filled another matchbox with dead flies for food for the mantis on the

          Now that mother has left, Georgie and Ann attach themselves to me and firmly
          refuse to have anything to do with the ayah,Janey. She in any case now wishes to have
          a rest. Mother tipped her well and gave her several cotton frocks so I suspect she wants
          to go back to her hometown in Northern Rhodesia to show off a bit.
          Georgie has just sidled up with a very roguish look. He asked “You like your
          baby?” I said “Yes indeed I do.” He said “I’ll prick your baby with a velly big thorn.”

          Who would be a mother!

          Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

          Dearest Family,

          I have been rather in the wars with toothache and as there is still no dentist at
          Mbeya to do the fillings, I had to have four molars extracted at the hospital. George
          says it is fascinating to watch me at mealtimes these days because there is such a gleam
          of satisfaction in my eye when I do manage to get two teeth to meet on a mouthful.
          About those scissors Marj sent Ann. It was not such a good idea. First she cut off tufts of
          George’s hair so that he now looks like a bad case of ringworm and then she cut a scalp
          lock, a whole fist full of her own shining hair, which George so loves. George scolded
          Ann and she burst into floods of tears. Such a thing as a scolding from her darling daddy
          had never happened before. George immediately made a long drooping moustache
          out of the shorn lock and soon had her smiling again. George is always very gentle with
          Ann. One has to be , because she is frightfully sensitive to criticism.

          I am kept pretty busy these days, Janey has left and my houseboy has been ill
          with pneumonia. I now have to wash all the children’s things and my own, (the cook does
          George’s clothes) and look after the three children. Believe me, I can hardly keep awake
          for Kate’s ten o’clock feed.

          I do hope I shall get some new servants next month because I also got George
          to give notice to the cook. I intercepted him last week as he was storming down the hill
          with my large kitchen knife in his hand. “Where are you going with my knife?” I asked.
          “I’m going to kill a man!” said Alfani, rolling his eyes and looking extremely ferocious. “He
          has taken my wife.” “Not with my knife”, said I reaching for it. So off Alfani went, bent on
          vengeance and I returned the knife to the kitchen. Dinner was served and I made no
          enquiries but I feel that I need someone more restful in the kitchen than our brigand

          George has been working on the car and has now fitted yet another radiator. This
          is a lorry one and much too tall to be covered by the A.C.’s elegant bonnet which is
          secured by an old strap. The poor old A.C. now looks like an ancient shoe with a turned
          up toe. It only needs me in it with the children to make a fine illustration to the old rhyme!
          Ann and Georgie are going through a climbing phase. They practically live in
          trees. I rushed out this morning to investigate loud screams and found Georgie hanging
          from a fork in a tree by one ankle, whilst Ann stood below on tiptoe with hands stretched
          upwards to support his head.

          Do I sound as though I have straws in my hair? I have.
          Lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

          Dearest Family,

          Thank goodness! I have a new ayah name Mary. I had heard that there was a
          good ayah out of work at Tukuyu 60 miles away so sent a messenger to fetch her. She
          arrived after dark wearing a bright dress and a cheerful smile and looked very suitable by
          the light of a storm lamp. I was horrified next morning to see her in daylight. She was
          dressed all in black and had a rather sinister look. She reminds me rather of your old maid
          Candace who overheard me laughing a few days before Ann was born and croaked
          “Yes , Miss Eleanor, today you laugh but next week you might be dead.” Remember
          how livid you were, dad?

          I think Mary has the same grim philosophy. Ann took one look at her and said,
          “What a horrible old lady, mummy.” Georgie just said “Go away”, both in English and Ki-
          Swahili. Anyway Mary’s references are good so I shall keep her on to help with Kate
          who is thriving and bonny and placid.

          Thank you for the offer of toys for Christmas but, if you don’t mind, I’d rather have
          some clothing for the children. Ann is quite contented with her dolls Barbara and Yvonne.
          Barbara’s once beautiful face is now pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle having come
          into contact with Georgie’s ever busy hammer. However Ann says she will love her for
          ever and she doesn’t want another doll. Yvonne’s hay day is over too. She
          disappeared for weeks and we think Fanny, the pup, was the culprit. Ann discovered
          Yvonne one morning in some long wet weeds. Poor Yvonne is now a ghost of her
          former self. All the sophisticated make up was washed off her papier-mâché face and
          her hair is decidedly bedraggled, but Ann was radiant as she tucked her back into bed
          and Yvonne is as precious to Ann as she ever was.

          Georgie simply does not care for toys. His paint box, hammer and the trenching
          hoe George gave him for his second birthday are all he wants or needs. Both children
          love books but I sometimes wonder whether they stimulate Ann’s imagination too much.
          The characters all become friends of hers and she makes up stories about them to tell
          Georgie. She adores that illustrated children’s Bible Mummy sent her but you would be
          astonished at the yarns she spins about “me and my friend Jesus.” She also will call
          Moses “Old Noses”, and looking at a picture of Jacob’s dream, with the shining angels
          on the ladder between heaven and earth, she said “Georgie, if you see an angel, don’t
          touch it, it’s hot.”


          Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

          Dearest Family,

          I take back the disparaging things I said about my new Ayah, because she has
          proved her worth in an unexpected way. On Wednesday morning I settled Kate in he
          cot after her ten o’clock feed and sat sewing at the dining room table with Ann and
          Georgie opposite me, both absorbed in painting pictures in identical seed catalogues.
          Suddenly there was a terrific bang on the back door, followed by an even heavier blow.
          The door was just behind me and I got up and opened it. There, almost filling the door
          frame, stood a huge native with staring eyes and his teeth showing in a mad grimace. In
          his hand he held a rolled umbrella by the ferrule, the shaft I noticed was unusually long
          and thick and the handle was a big round knob.

          I was terrified as you can imagine, especially as, through the gap under the
          native’s raised arm, I could see the new cook and the kitchen boy running away down to
          the shamba! I hastily tried to shut and lock the door but the man just brushed me aside.
          For a moment he stood over me with the umbrella raised as though to strike. Rather
          fortunately, I now think, I was too petrified to say a word. The children never moved but
          Tubbage, the Alsatian, got up and jumped out of the window!

          Then the native turned away and still with the same fixed stare and grimace,
          began to attack the furniture with his umbrella. Tables and chairs were overturned and
          books and ornaments scattered on the floor. When the madman had his back turned and
          was busily bashing the couch, I slipped round the dining room table, took Ann and
          Georgie by the hand and fled through the front door to the garage where I hid the
          children in the car. All this took several minutes because naturally the children were
          terrified. I was worried to death about the baby left alone in the bedroom and as soon
          as I had Ann and Georgie settled I ran back to the house.

          I reached the now open front door just as Kianda the houseboy opened the back
          door of the lounge. He had been away at the river washing clothes but, on hearing of the
          madman from the kitchen boy he had armed himself with a stout stick and very pluckily,
          because he is not a robust boy, had returned to the house to eject the intruder. He
          rushed to attack immediately and I heard a terrific exchange of blows behind me as I
          opened our bedroom door. You can imagine what my feelings were when I was
          confronted by an empty cot! Just then there was an uproar inside as all the farm
          labourers armed with hoes and pangas and sticks, streamed into the living room from the
          shamba whence they had been summoned by the cook. In no time at all the huge
          native was hustled out of the house, flung down the front steps, and securely tied up
          with strips of cloth.

          In the lull that followed I heard a frightened voice calling from the bathroom.
          ”Memsahib is that you? The child is here with me.” I hastily opened the bathroom door
          to find Mary couched in a corner by the bath, shielding Kate with her body. Mary had
          seen the big native enter the house and her first thought had been for her charge. I
          thanked her and promised her a reward for her loyalty, and quickly returned to the garage
          to reassure Ann and Georgie. I met George who looked white and exhausted as well
          he might having run up hill all the way from the coffee store. The kitchen boy had led him
          to expect the worst and he was most relieved to find us all unhurt if a bit shaken.
          We returned to the house by the back way whilst George went to the front and
          ordered our labourers to take their prisoner and lock him up in the store. George then
          discussed the whole affair with his Headman and all the labourers after which he reported
          to me. “The boys say that the bastard is an ex-Askari from Nyasaland. He is not mad as
          you thought but he smokes bhang and has these attacks. I suppose I should take him to
          Mbeya and have him up in court. But if I do that you’ll have to give evidence and that will be a nuisance as the car won’t go and there is also the baby to consider.”

          Eventually we decided to leave the man to sleep off the effects of the Bhang
          until evening when he would be tried before an impromptu court consisting of George,
          the local Jumbe(Headman) and village Elders, and our own farm boys and any other
          interested spectators. It was not long before I knew the verdict because I heard the
          sound of lashes. I was not sorry at all because I felt the man deserved his punishment
          and so did all the Africans. They love children and despise anyone who harms or
          frightens them. With great enthusiasm they frog-marched him off our land, and I sincerely
          hope that that is the last we see or him. Ann and Georgie don’t seem to brood over this
          affair at all. The man was naughty and he was spanked, a quite reasonable state of
          affairs. This morning they hid away in the small thatched chicken house. This is a little brick
          building about four feet square which Ann covets as a dolls house. They came back
          covered in stick fleas which I had to remove with paraffin. My hens are laying well but
          they all have the ‘gapes’! I wouldn’t run a chicken farm for anything, hens are such fussy,
          squawking things.

          Now don’t go worrying about my experience with the native. Such things
          happen only once in a lifetime. We are all very well and happy, and life, apart from the
          children’s pranks is very tranquil.

          Lots and lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

          Dearest Family,

          The hot winds have dried up the shamba alarmingly and we hope every day for
          rain. The prices for coffee, on the London market, continue to be low and the local
          planters are very depressed. Coffee grows well enough here but we are over 400
          miles from the railway and transport to the railhead by lorry is very expensive. Then, as
          there is no East African Marketing Board, the coffee must be shipped to England for
          sale. Unless the coffee fetches at least 90 pounds a ton it simply doesn’t pay to grow it.
          When we started planting in 1931 coffee was fetching as much as 115 pounds a ton but
          prices this year were between 45 and 55 pounds. We have practically exhausted our
          capitol and so have all our neighbours. The Hickson -Woods have been keeping their
          pot boiling by selling bat guano to the coffee farmers at Mbosi but now everyone is
          broke and there is not a market for fertilisers. They are offering their farm for sale at a very
          low price.

          Major Jones has got a job working on the district roads and Max Coster talks of
          returning to his work as a geologist. George says he will have to go gold digging on the
          Lupa unless there is a big improvement in the market. Luckily we can live quite cheaply
          here. We have a good vegetable garden, milk is cheap and we have plenty of fruit.
          There are mulberries, pawpaws, grenadillas, peaches, and wine berries. The wine
          berries are very pretty but insipid though Ann and Georgie love them. Each morning,
          before breakfast, the old garden boy brings berries for Ann and Georgie. With a thorn
          the old man pins a large leaf from a wild fig tree into a cone which he fills with scarlet wine
          berries. There is always a cone for each child and they wait eagerly outside for the daily
          ceremony of presentation.

          The rats are being a nuisance again. Both our cats, Skinny Winnie and Blackboy
          disappeared a few weeks ago. We think they made a meal for a leopard. I wrote last
          week to our grocer at Mbalizi asking him whether he could let us have a couple of kittens
          as I have often seen cats in his store. The messenger returned with a nailed down box.
          The kitchen boy was called to prize up the lid and the children stood by in eager
          anticipation. Out jumped two snarling and spitting creatures. One rushed into the kalonga
          and the other into the house and before they were captured they had drawn blood from
          several boys. I told the boys to replace the cats in the box as I intended to return them
          forthwith. They had the colouring, stripes and dispositions of wild cats and I certainly
          didn’t want them as pets, but before the boys could replace the lid the cats escaped
          once more into the undergrowth in the kalonga. George fetched his shotgun and said he
          would shoot the cats on sight or they would kill our chickens. This was more easily said
          than done because the cats could not be found. However during the night the cats
          climbed up into the loft af the house and we could hear them moving around on the reed

          I said to George,”Oh leave the poor things. At least they might frighten the rats
          away.” That afternoon as we were having tea a thin stream of liquid filtered through the
          ceiling on George’s head. Oh dear!!! That of course was the end. Some raw meat was
          put on the lawn for bait and yesterday George shot both cats.

          I regret to end with the sad story of Mary, heroine in my last letter and outcast in
          this. She came to work quite drunk two days running and I simply had to get rid of her. I
          have heard since from Kath Wood that Mary lost her last job at Tukuyu for the same
          reason. She was ayah to twin girls and one day set their pram on fire.

          So once again my hands are more than full with three lively children. I did say
          didn’t I, when Ann was born that I wanted six children?

          Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

          Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

          Dearest Family,

          To set your minds at rest I must tell you that the native who so frightened me and
          the children is now in jail for attacking a Greek at Mbalizi. I hear he is to be sent back to
          Rhodesia when he has finished his sentence.

          Yesterday we had one of our rare trips to Mbeya. George managed to get a couple of
          second hand tyres for the old car and had again got her to work so we are celebrating our
          wedding anniversary by going on an outing. I wore the green and fawn striped silk dress
          mother bought me and the hat and shoes you sent for my birthday and felt like a million
          dollars, for a change. The children all wore new clothes too and I felt very proud of them.
          Ann is still very fair and with her refined little features and straight silky hair she
          looks like Alice in Wonderland. Georgie is dark and sturdy and looks best in khaki shirt
          and shorts and sun helmet. Kate is a pink and gold baby and looks good enough to eat.
          We went straight to the hotel at Mbeya and had the usual warm welcome from
          Ken and Aunty May Menzies. Aunty May wears her hair cut short like a mans and
          usually wears shirt and tie and riding breeches and boots. She always looks ready to go
          on safari at a moments notice as indeed she is. She is often called out to a case of illness
          at some remote spot.

          There were lots of people at the hotel from farms in the district and from the
          diggings. I met women I had not seen for four years. One, a Mrs Masters from Tukuyu,
          said in the lounge, “My God! Last time I saw you , you were just a girl and here you are
          now with two children.” To which I replied with pride, “There is another one in a pram on
          the verandah if you care to look!” Great hilarity in the lounge. The people from the
          diggings seem to have plenty of money to throw around. There was a big party on the
          go in the bar.

          One of our shamba boys died last Friday and all his fellow workers and our
          house boys had the day off to attend the funeral. From what I can gather the local
          funerals are quite cheery affairs. The corpse is dressed in his best clothes and laid
          outside his hut and all who are interested may view the body and pay their respects.
          The heir then calls upon anyone who had a grudge against the dead man to say his say
          and thereafter hold his tongue forever. Then all the friends pay tribute to the dead man
          after which he is buried to the accompaniment of what sounds from a distance, very
          cheerful keening.

          Most of our workmen are pagans though there is a Lutheran Mission nearby and
          a big Roman Catholic Mission in the area too. My present cook, however, claims to be
          a Christian. He certainly went to a mission school and can read and write and also sing
          hymns in Ki-Swahili. When I first engaged him I used to find a large open Bible
          prominently displayed on the kitchen table. The cook is middle aged and arrived here
          with a sensible matronly wife. To my surprise one day he brought along a young girl,
          very plump and giggly and announced proudly that she was his new wife, I said,”But I
          thought you were a Christian Jeremiah? Christians don’t have two wives.” To which he
          replied, “Oh Memsahib, God won’t mind. He knows an African needs two wives – one
          to go with him when he goes away to work and one to stay behind at home to cultivate
          the shamba.

          Needles to say, it is the old wife who has gone to till the family plot.

          With love to all,

          Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

          Dearest Family,

          The drought has broken with a bang. We had a heavy storm in the hills behind
          the house. Hail fell thick and fast. So nice for all the tiny new berries on the coffee! The
          kids loved the excitement and three times Ann and Georgie ran out for a shower under
          the eaves and had to be changed. After the third time I was fed up and made them both
          lie on their beds whilst George and I had lunch in peace. I told Ann to keep the
          casement shut as otherwise the rain would drive in on her bed. Half way through lunch I
          heard delighted squeals from Georgie and went into the bedroom to investigate. Ann
          was standing on the outer sill in the rain but had shut the window as ordered. “Well
          Mummy , you didn’t say I mustn’t stand on the window sill, and I did shut the window.”
          George is working so hard on the farm. I have a horrible feeling however that it is
          what the Africans call ‘Kazi buri’ (waste of effort) as there seems no chance of the price of
          coffee improving as long as this world depression continues. The worry is that our capitol
          is nearly exhausted. Food is becoming difficult now that our neighbours have left. I used
          to buy delicious butter from Kath Hickson-Wood and an African butcher used to kill a
          beast once a week. Now that we are his only European customers he very rarely kills
          anything larger than a goat, and though we do eat goat, believe me it is not from choice.
          We have of course got plenty to eat, but our diet is very monotonous. I was
          delighted when George shot a large bushbuck last week. What we could not use I cut
          into strips and the salted strips are now hanging in the open garage to dry.

          With love to all,

          Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

          Dearest Family,

          We have had a lot of rain and the countryside is lovely and green. Last week
          George went to Mbeya taking Ann with him. This was a big adventure for Ann because
          never before had she been anywhere without me. She was in a most blissful state as
          she drove off in the old car clutching a little basket containing sandwiches and half a bottle
          of milk. She looked so pretty in a new blue frock and with her tiny plaits tied with
          matching blue ribbons. When Ann is animated she looks charming because her normally
          pale cheeks become rosy and she shows her pretty dimples.

          As I am still without an ayah I rather looked forward to a quiet morning with only
          Georgie and Margery Kate to care for, but Georgie found it dull without Ann and wanted
          to be entertained and even the normally placid baby was peevish. Then in mid morning
          the rain came down in torrents, the result of a cloudburst in the hills directly behind our
          house. The ravine next to our house was a terrifying sight. It appeared to be a great
          muddy, roaring waterfall reaching from the very top of the hill to a point about 30 yards
          behind our house and then the stream rushed on down the gorge in an angry brown
          flood. The roar of the water was so great that we had to yell at one another to be heard.
          By lunch time the rain had stopped and I anxiously awaited the return of Ann and
          George. They returned on foot, drenched and hungry at about 2.30pm . George had
          had to abandon the car on the main road as the Mchewe River had overflowed and
          turned the road into a muddy lake. The lower part of the shamba had also been flooded
          and the water receded leaving branches and driftwood amongst the coffee. This was my
          first experience of a real tropical storm. I am afraid that after the battering the coffee has
          had there is little hope of a decent crop next year.

          Anyway Christmas is coming so we don’t dwell on these mishaps. The children
          have already chosen their tree from amongst the young cypresses in the vegetable
          garden. We all send our love and hope that you too will have a Happy Christmas.


          Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

          Dearest Family,

          I’ve been in the wars with my staff. The cook has been away ill for ten days but is
          back today though shaky and full of self pity. The houseboy, who really has been a brick
          during the cooks absence has now taken to his bed and I feel like taking to Mine! The
          children however have the Christmas spirit and are making weird and wonderful paper
          decorations. George’s contribution was to have the house whitewashed throughout and
          it looks beautifully fresh.

          My best bit of news is that my old ayah Janey has been to see me and would
          like to start working here again on Jan 1st. We are all very well. We meant to give
          ourselves an outing to Mbeya as a Christmas treat but here there is an outbreak of
          enteric fever there so will now not go. We have had two visitors from the Diggings this
          week. The children see so few strangers that they were fascinated and hung around
          staring. Ann sat down on the arm of the couch beside one and studied his profile.
          Suddenly she announced in her clear voice, “Mummy do you know, this man has got
          wax in his ears!” Very awkward pause in the conversation. By the way when I was
          cleaning out little Kate’s ears with a swab of cotton wool a few days ago, Ann asked
          “Mummy, do bees have wax in their ears? Well, where do you get beeswax from

          I meant to keep your Christmas parcel unopened until Christmas Eve but could
          not resist peeping today. What lovely things! Ann so loves pretties and will be
          delighted with her frocks. My dress is just right and I love Georgie’s manly little flannel
          shorts and blue shirt. We have bought them each a watering can. I suppose I shall
          regret this later. One of your most welcome gifts is the album of nursery rhyme records. I
          am so fed up with those that we have. Both children love singing. I put a record on the
          gramophone geared to slow and off they go . Georgie sings more slowly than Ann but
          much more tunefully. Ann sings in a flat monotone but Georgie with great expression.
          You ought to hear him render ‘Sing a song of sixpence’. He cannot pronounce an R or
          an S. Mother has sent a large home made Christmas pudding and a fine Christmas
          cake and George will shoot some partridges for Christmas dinner.
          Think of us as I shall certainly think of you.

          Your very loving,

          Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

          Dearest Family,

          Christmas was fun! The tree looked very gay with its load of tinsel, candles and
          red crackers and the coloured balloons you sent. All the children got plenty of toys
          thanks to Grandparents and Aunts. George made Ann a large doll’s bed and I made
          some elegant bedding, Barbara, the big doll is now permanently bed ridden. Her poor
          shattered head has come all unstuck and though I have pieced it together again it is a sad
          sight. If you have not yet chosen a present for her birthday next month would you
          please get a new head from the Handy House. I enclose measurements. Ann does so
          love the doll. She always calls her, “My little girl”, and she keeps the doll’s bed beside
          her own and never fails to kiss her goodnight.

          We had no guests for Christmas this year but we were quite festive. Ann
          decorated the dinner table with small pink roses and forget-me-knots and tinsel and the
          crackers from the tree. It was a wet day but we played the new records and both
          George and I worked hard to make it a really happy day for the children. The children
          were hugely delighted when George made himself a revolting set of false teeth out of
          plasticine and a moustache and beard of paper straw from a chocolate box. “Oh Daddy
          you look exactly like Father Christmas!” cried an enthralled Ann. Before bedtime we lit
          all the candles on the tree and sang ‘Away in a Manger’, and then we opened the box of
          starlights you sent and Ann and Georgie had their first experience of fireworks.
          After the children went to bed things deteriorated. First George went for his bath
          and found and killed a large black snake in the bathroom. It must have been in the
          bathroom when I bathed the children earlier in the evening. Then I developed bad
          toothache which kept me awake all night and was agonising next day. Unfortunately the
          bridge between the farm and Mbeya had been washed away and the water was too
          deep for the car to ford until the 30th when at last I was able to take my poor swollen
          face to Mbeya. There is now a young German woman dentist working at the hospital.
          She pulled out the offending molar which had a large abscess attached to it.
          Whilst the dentist attended to me, Ann and Georgie played happily with the
          doctor’s children. I wish they could play more often with other children. Dr Eckhardt was
          very pleased with Margery Kate who at seven months weighs 17 lbs and has lovely
          rosy cheeks. He admired Ann and told her that she looked just like a German girl. “No I
          don’t”, cried Ann indignantly, “I’m English!”

          We were caught in a rain storm going home and as the old car still has no
          windscreen or side curtains we all got soaked except for the baby who was snugly
          wrapped in my raincoat. The kids thought it great fun. Ann is growing up fast now. She
          likes to ‘help mummy’. She is a perfectionist at four years old which is rather trying. She
          gets so discouraged when things do not turn out as well as she means them to. Sewing
          is constantly being unpicked and paintings torn up. She is a very sensitive child.
          Georgie is quite different. He is a man of action, but not silent. He talks incessantly
          but lisps and stumbles over some words. At one time Ann and Georgie often
          conversed in Ki-Swahili but they now scorn to do so. If either forgets and uses a Swahili
          word, the other points a scornful finger and shouts “You black toto”.

          With love to all,


            From Tanganyika with Love


            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

            Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

            Dearest Family,

            You say that you would like to know more about our neighbours. Well there is
            not much to tell. Kath Wood is very good about coming over to see me. I admire her
            very much because she is so capable as well as being attractive. She speaks very
            fluent Ki-Swahili and I envy her the way she can carry on a long conversation with the
            natives. I am very slow in learning the language possibly because Lamek and the
            houseboy both speak basic English.

            I have very little to do with the Africans apart from the house servants, but I do
            run a sort of clinic for the wives and children of our employees. The children suffer chiefly
            from sore eyes and worms, and the older ones often have bad ulcers on their legs. All
            farmers keep a stock of drugs and bandages.

            George also does a bit of surgery and last month sewed up the sole of the foot
            of a boy who had trodden on the blade of a panga, a sort of sword the Africans use for
            hacking down bush. He made an excellent job of it. George tells me that the Africans
            have wonderful powers of recuperation. Once in his bachelor days, one of his men was
            disembowelled by an elephant. George washed his “guts” in a weak solution of
            pot.permang, put them back in the cavity and sewed up the torn flesh and he

            But to get back to the neighbours. We see less of Hicky Wood than of Kath.
            Hicky can be charming but is often moody as I believe Irishmen often are.
            Major Jones is now at home on his shamba, which he leaves from time to time
            for temporary jobs on the district roads. He walks across fairly regularly and we are
            always glad to see him for he is a great bearer of news. In this part of Africa there is no
            knocking or ringing of doorbells. Front doors are always left open and visitors always
            welcome. When a visitor approaches a house he shouts “Hodi”, and the owner of the
            house yells “Karibu”, which I believe means “Come near” or approach, and tea is
            produced in a matter of minutes no matter what hour of the day it is.
            The road that passes all our farms is the only road to the Gold Diggings and
            diggers often drop in on the Woods and Major Jones and bring news of the Goldfields.
            This news is sometimes about gold but quite often about whose wife is living with
            whom. This is a great country for gossip.

            Major Jones now has his brother Llewyllen living with him. I drove across with
            George to be introduced to him. Llewyllen’s health is poor and he looks much older than
            his years and very like the portrait of Trader Horn. He has the same emaciated features,
            burning eyes and long beard. He is proud of his Welsh tenor voice and often bursts into

            Both brothers are excellent conversationalists and George enjoys walking over
            sometimes on a Sunday for a bit of masculine company. The other day when George
            walked across to visit the Joneses, he found both brothers in the shamba and Llew in a
            great rage. They had been stooping to inspect a water furrow when Llew backed into a
            hornets nest. One furious hornet stung him on the seat and another on the back of his
            neck. Llew leapt forward and somehow his false teeth shot out into the furrow and were
            carried along by the water. When George arrived Llew had retrieved his teeth but
            George swears that, in the commotion, the heavy leather leggings, which Llew always
            wears, had swivelled around on his thin legs and were calves to the front.
            George has heard that Major Jones is to sell pert of his land to his Swedish brother-in-law, Max Coster, so we will soon have another couple in the neighbourhood.

            I’ve had a bit of a pantomime here on the farm. On the day we went to Tukuyu,
            all our washing was stolen from the clothes line and also our new charcoal iron. George
            reported the matter to the police and they sent out a plain clothes policeman. He wears
            the long white Arab gown called a Kanzu much in vogue here amongst the African elite
            but, alas for secrecy, huge black police boots protrude from beneath the Kanzu and, to
            add to this revealing clue, the askari springs to attention and salutes each time I pass by.
            Not much hope of finding out the identity of the thief I fear.

            George’s furrow was entirely successful and we now have water running behind
            the kitchen. Our drinking water we get from a lovely little spring on the farm. We boil and
            filter it for safety’s sake. I don’t think that is necessary. The furrow water is used for
            washing pots and pans and for bath water.

            Lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

            Dearest Family,

            I think it is about time I told you that we are going to have a baby. We are both
            thrilled about it. I have not seen a Doctor but feel very well and you are not to worry. I
            looked it up in my handbook for wives and reckon that the baby is due about February
            8th. next year.

            The announcement came from George, not me! I had been feeling queasy for
            days and was waiting for the right moment to tell George. You know. Soft lights and
            music etc. However when I was listlessly poking my food around one lunch time
            George enquired calmly, “When are you going to tell me about the baby?” Not at all
            according to the book! The problem is where to have the baby. February is a very wet
            month and the nearest Doctor is over 50 miles away at Tukuyu. I cannot go to stay at
            Tukuyu because there is no European accommodation at the hospital, no hotel and no
            friend with whom I could stay.

            George thinks I should go South to you but Capetown is so very far away and I
            love my little home here. Also George says he could not come all the way down with
            me as he simply must stay here and get the farm on its feet. He would drive me as far
            as the railway in Northern Rhodesia. It is a difficult decision to take. Write and tell me what
            you think.

            The days tick by quietly here. The servants are very willing but have to be
            supervised and even then a crisis can occur. Last Saturday I was feeling squeamish and
            decided not to have lunch. I lay reading on the couch whilst George sat down to a
            solitary curry lunch. Suddenly he gave an exclamation and pushed back his chair. I
            jumped up to see what was wrong and there, on his plate, gleaming in the curry gravy
            were small bits of broken glass. I hurried to the kitchen to confront Lamek with the plate.
            He explained that he had dropped the new and expensive bottle of curry powder on
            the brick floor of the kitchen. He did not tell me as he thought I would make a “shauri” so
            he simply scooped up the curry powder, removed the larger pieces of glass and used
            part of the powder for seasoning the lunch.

            The weather is getting warmer now. It was very cold in June and July and we had
            fires in the daytime as well as at night. Now that much of the land has been cleared we
            are able to go for pleasant walks in the weekends. My favourite spot is a waterfall on the
            Mchewe River just on the boundary of our land. There is a delightful little pool below the
            waterfall and one day George intends to stock it with trout.

            Now that there are more Europeans around to buy meat the natives find it worth
            their while to kill an occasional beast. Every now and again a native arrives with a large
            bowl of freshly killed beef for sale. One has no way of knowing whether the animal was
            healthy and the meat is often still warm and very bloody. I hated handling it at first but am
            becoming accustomed to it now and have even started a brine tub. There is no other
            way of keeping meat here and it can only be kept in its raw state for a few hours before
            going bad. One of the delicacies is the hump which all African cattle have. When corned
            it is like the best brisket.

            See what a housewife I am becoming.
            With much love,

            Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

            Dearest Family,

            I have grown to love the life here and am sad to think I shall be leaving
            Tanganyika soon for several months. Yes I am coming down to have the baby in the
            bosom of the family. George thinks it best and so does the doctor. I didn’t mention it
            before but I have never recovered fully from the effects of that bad bout of malaria and
            so I have been persuaded to leave George and our home and go to the Cape, in the
            hope that I shall come back here as fit as when I first arrived in the country plus a really
            healthy and bouncing baby. I am torn two ways, I long to see you all – but how I would
            love to stay on here.

            George will drive me down to Northern Rhodesia in early October to catch a
            South bound train. I’ll telegraph the date of departure when I know it myself. The road is
            very, very bad and the car has been giving a good deal of trouble so, though the baby
            is not due until early February, George thinks it best to get the journey over soon as
            possible, for the rains break in November and the the roads will then be impassable. It
            may take us five or six days to reach Broken Hill as we will take it slowly. I am looking
            forward to the drive through new country and to camping out at night.
            Our days pass quietly by. George is out on the shamba most of the day. He
            goes out before breakfast on weekdays and spends most of the day working with the
            men – not only supervising but actually working with his hands and beating the labourers
            at their own jobs. He comes to the house for meals and tea breaks. I potter around the
            house and garden, sew, mend and read. Lamek continues to be a treasure. he turns out
            some surprising dishes. One of his specialities is stuffed chicken. He carefully skins the
            chicken removing all bones. He then minces all the chicken meat and adds minced onion
            and potatoes. He then stuffs the chicken skin with the minced meat and carefully sews it
            together again. The resulting dish is very filling because the boned chicken is twice the
            size of a normal one. It lies on its back as round as a football with bloated legs in the air.
            Rather repulsive to look at but Lamek is most proud of his accomplishment.
            The other day he produced another of his masterpieces – a cooked tortoise. It
            was served on a dish covered with parsley and crouched there sans shell but, only too
            obviously, a tortoise. I took one look and fled with heaving diaphragm, but George said
            it tasted quite good. He tells me that he has had queerer dishes produced by former
            cooks. He says that once in his hunting days his cook served up a skinned baby
            monkey with its hands folded on its breast. He says it would take a cannibal to eat that

            And now for something sad. Poor old Llew died quite suddenly and it was a sad
            shock to this tiny community. We went across to the funeral and it was a very simple and
            dignified affair. Llew was buried on Joni’s farm in a grave dug by the farm boys. The
            body was wrapped in a blanket and bound to some boards and lowered into the
            ground. There was no service. The men just said “Good-bye Llew.” and “Sleep well
            Llew”, and things like that. Then Joni and his brother-in-law Max, and George shovelled
            soil over the body after which the grave was filled in by Joni’s shamba boys. It was a
            lovely bright afternoon and I thought how simple and sensible a funeral it was.
            I hope you will be glad to have me home. I bet Dad will be holding thumbs that
            the baby will be a girl.

            Very much love,

            “There are no letters to my family during the period of Sept. 1931 to June 1932
            because during these months I was living with my parents and sister in a suburb of
            Cape Town. I had hoped to return to Tanganyika by air with my baby soon after her
            birth in Feb.1932 but the doctor would not permit this.

            A month before my baby was born, a company called Imperial Airways, had
            started the first passenger service between South Africa and England. One of the night
            stops was at Mbeya near my husband’s coffee farm, and it was my intention to take the
            train to Broken Hill in Northern Rhodesia and to fly from there to Mbeya with my month
            old baby. In those days however, commercial flying was still a novelty and the doctor
            was not sure that flying at a high altitude might not have an adverse effect upon a young

            He strongly advised me to wait until the baby was four months old and I did this
            though the long wait was very trying to my husband alone on our farm in Tanganyika,
            and to me, cherished though I was in my old home.

            My story, covering those nine long months is soon told. My husband drove me
            down from Mbeya to Broken Hill in NorthernRhodesia. The journey was tedious as the
            weather was very hot and dry and the road sandy and rutted, very different from the
            Great North road as it is today. The wooden wheel spokes of the car became so dry
            that they rattled and George had to bind wet rags around them. We had several
            punctures and with one thing and another I was lucky to catch the train.
            My parents were at Cape Town station to welcome me and I stayed
            comfortably with them, living very quietly, until my baby was born. She arrived exactly
            on the appointed day, Feb.8th.

            I wrote to my husband “Our Charmian Ann is a darling baby. She is very fair and
            rather pale and has the most exquisite hands, with long tapering fingers. Daddy
            absolutely dotes on her and so would you, if you were here. I can’t bear to think that you
            are so terribly far away. Although Ann was born exactly on the day, I was taken quite by
            surprise. It was awfully hot on the night before, and before going to bed I had a fancy for
            some water melon. The result was that when I woke in the early morning with labour
            pains and vomiting I thought it was just an attack of indigestion due to eating too much
            melon. The result was that I did not wake Marjorie until the pains were pretty frequent.
            She called our next door neighbour who, in his pyjamas, drove me to the nursing home
            at breakneck speed. The Matron was very peeved that I had left things so late but all
            went well and by nine o’clock, Mother, positively twittering with delight, was allowed to
            see me and her first granddaughter . She told me that poor Dad was in such a state of
            nerves that he was sick amongst the grapevines. He says that he could not bear to go
            through such an anxious time again, — so we will have to have our next eleven in

            The next four months passed rapidly as my time was taken up by the demands
            of my new baby. Dr. Trudy King’s method of rearing babies was then the vogue and I
            stuck fanatically to all the rules he laid down, to the intense exasperation of my parents
            who longed to cuddle the child.

            As the time of departure drew near my parents became more and more reluctant
            to allow me to face the journey alone with their adored grandchild, so my brother,
            Graham, very generously offered to escort us on the train to Broken Hill where he could
            put us on the plane for Mbeya.

            Eleanor Rushby


            Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

            Dearest Family,

            You’ll be glad to know that we arrived quite safe and sound and very, very
            happy to be home.The train Journey was uneventful. Ann slept nearly all the way.
            Graham was very kind and saw to everything. He even sat with the baby whilst I went
            to meals in the dining car.

            We were met at Broken Hill by the Thoms who had arranged accommodation for
            us at the hotel for the night. They also drove us to the aerodrome in the morning where
            the Airways agent told us that Ann is the first baby to travel by air on this section of the
            Cape to England route. The plane trip was very bumpy indeed especially between
            Broken Hill and Mpika. Everyone was ill including poor little Ann who sicked up her milk
            all over the front of my new coat. I arrived at Mbeya looking a sorry caricature of Radiant
            Motherhood. I must have been pale green and the baby was snow white. Under the
            circumstances it was a good thing that George did not meet us. We were met instead
            by Ken Menzies, the owner of the Mbeya Hotel where we spent the night. Ken was
            most fatherly and kind and a good nights rest restored Ann and me to our usual robust

            Mbeya has greatly changed. The hotel is now finished and can accommodate
            fifty guests. It consists of a large main building housing a large bar and dining room and
            offices and a number of small cottage bedrooms. It even has electric light. There are
            several buildings out at the aerodrome and private houses going up in Mbeya.
            After breakfast Ken Menzies drove us out to the farm where we had a warm
            welcome from George, who looks well but rather thin. The house was spotless and the
            new cook, Abel, had made light scones for tea. George had prepared all sorts of lovely
            surprises. There is a new reed ceiling in the living room and a new dresser gay with
            willow pattern plates which he had ordered from England. There is also a writing table
            and a square table by the door for visitors hats. More personal is a lovely model ship
            which George assembled from one of those Hobbie’s kits. It puts the finishing touch to
            the rather old world air of our living room.

            In the bedroom there is a large double bed which George made himself. It has
            strips of old car tyres nailed to a frame which makes a fine springy mattress and on top
            of this is a thick mattress of kapok.In the kitchen there is a good wood stove which
            George salvaged from a Mission dump. It looks a bit battered but works very well. The
            new cook is excellent. The only blight is that he will wear rubber soled tennis shoes and
            they smell awful. I daren’t hurt his feelings by pointing this out though. Opposite the
            kitchen is a new laundry building containing a forty gallon hot water drum and a sink for
            washing up. Lovely!

            George has been working very hard. He now has forty acres of coffee seedlings
            planted out and has also found time to plant a rose garden and fruit trees. There are
            orange and peach trees, tree tomatoes, paw paws, guavas and berries. He absolutely
            adores Ann who has been very good and does not seem at all unsettled by the long

            It is absolutely heavenly to be back and I shall be happier than ever now that I
            have a baby to play with during the long hours when George is busy on the farm,
            Thank you for all your love and care during the many months I was with you. Ann
            sends a special bubble for granddad.

            Your very loving,

            Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

            Dearest Family,

            Ann at five months is enchanting. She is a very good baby, smiles readily and is
            gaining weight steadily. She doesn’t sleep much during the day but that does not
            matter, because, apart from washing her little things, I have nothing to do but attend to
            her. She sleeps very well at night which is a blessing as George has to get up very
            early to start work on the shamba and needs a good nights rest.
            My nights are not so good, because we are having a plague of rats which frisk
            around in the bedroom at night. Great big ones that come up out of the long grass in the
            gorge beside the house and make cosy homes on our reed ceiling and in the thatch of
            the roof.

            We always have a night light burning so that, if necessary, I can attend to Ann
            with a minimum of fuss, and the things I see in that dim light! There are gaps between
            the reeds and one night I heard, plop! and there, before my horrified gaze, lay a newly
            born hairless baby rat on the floor by the bed, plop, plop! and there lay two more.
            Quite dead, poor things – but what a careless mother.

            I have also seen rats scampering around on the tops of the mosquito nets and
            sometimes we have them on our bed. They have a lovely game. They swarm down
            the cord from which the mosquito net is suspended, leap onto the bed and onto the
            floor. We do not have our net down now the cold season is here and there are few

            Last week a rat crept under Ann’s net which hung to the floor and bit her little
            finger, so now I tuck the net in under the mattress though it makes it difficult for me to
            attend to her at night. We shall have to get a cat somewhere. Ann’s pram has not yet
            arrived so George carries her when we go walking – to her great content.
            The native women around here are most interested in Ann. They come to see
            her, bearing small gifts, and usually bring a child or two with them. They admire my child
            and I admire theirs and there is an exchange of gifts. They produce a couple of eggs or
            a few bananas or perhaps a skinny fowl and I hand over sugar, salt or soap as they
            value these commodities. The most lavish gift went to the wife of Thomas our headman,
            who produced twin daughters in the same week as I had Ann.

            Our neighbours have all been across to welcome me back and to admire the
            baby. These include Marion Coster who came out to join her husband whilst I was in
            South Africa. The two Hickson-Wood children came over on a fat old white donkey.
            They made a pretty picture sitting astride, one behind the other – Maureen with her arms
            around small Michael’s waist. A native toto led the donkey and the children’ s ayah
            walked beside it.

            It is quite cold here now but the sun is bright and the air dry. The whole
            countryside is beautifully green and we are a very happy little family.

            Lots and lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

            Dearest Family,

            George has been very unwell for the past week. He had a nasty gash on his
            knee which went septic. He had a swelling in the groin and a high temperature and could
            not sleep at night for the pain in his leg. Ann was very wakeful too during the same
            period, I think she is teething. I luckily have kept fit though rather harassed. Yesterday the
            leg looked so inflamed that George decided to open up the wound himself. he made
            quite a big cut in exactly the right place. You should have seen the blackish puss
            pouring out.

            After he had thoroughly cleaned the wound George sewed it up himself. he has
            the proper surgical needles and gut. He held the cut together with his left hand and
            pushed the needle through the flesh with his right. I pulled the needle out and passed it
            to George for the next stitch. I doubt whether a surgeon could have made a neater job
            of it. He is still confined to the couch but today his temperature is normal. Some

            The previous week was hectic in another way. We had a visit from lions! George
            and I were having supper about 8.30 on Tuesday night when the back verandah was
            suddenly invaded by women and children from the servants quarters behind the kitchen.
            They were all yelling “Simba, Simba.” – simba means lions. The door opened suddenly
            and the houseboy rushed in to say that there were lions at the huts. George got up
            swiftly, fetched gun and ammunition from the bedroom and with the houseboy carrying
            the lamp, went off to investigate. I remained at the table, carrying on with my supper as I
            felt a pioneer’s wife should! Suddenly something big leapt through the open window
            behind me. You can imagine what I thought! I know now that it is quite true to say one’s
            hair rises when one is scared. However it was only Kelly, our huge Irish wolfhound,
            taking cover.

            George returned quite soon to say that apparently the commotion made by the
            women and children had frightened the lions off. He found their tracks in the soft earth
            round the huts and a bag of maize that had been playfully torn open but the lions had
            moved on.

            Next day we heard that they had moved to Hickson-Wood’s shamba. Hicky
            came across to say that the lions had jumped over the wall of his cattle boma and killed
            both his white Muskat riding donkeys.
            He and a friend sat up all next night over the remains but the lions did not return to
            the kill.

            Apart from the little set back last week, Ann is blooming. She has a cap of very
            fine fair hair and clear blue eyes under straight brow. She also has lovely dimples in both
            cheeks. We are very proud of her.

            Our neighbours are picking coffee but the crops are small and the price is low. I
            am amazed that they are so optimistic about the future. No one in these parts ever
            seems to grouse though all are living on capital. They all say “Well if the worst happens
            we can always go up to the Lupa Diggings.”

            Don’t worry about us, we have enough to tide us over for some time yet.

            Much love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

            Dearest Family,

            News! News! I’m going to have another baby. George and I are delighted and I
            hope it will be a boy this time. I shall be able to have him at Mbeya because things are
            rapidly changing here. Several German families have moved to Mbeya including a
            German doctor who means to build a hospital there. I expect he will make a very good
            living because there must now be some hundreds of Europeans within a hundred miles
            radius of Mbeya. The Europeans are mostly British or German but there are also
            Greeks and, I believe, several other nationalities are represented on the Lupa Diggings.
            Ann is blooming and developing according to the Book except that she has no
            teeth yet! Kath Hickson-Wood has given her a very nice high chair and now she has
            breakfast and lunch at the table with us. Everything within reach goes on the floor to her
            amusement and my exasperation!

            You ask whether we have any Church of England missionaries in our part. No we
            haven’t though there are Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions. I have never even
            heard of a visiting Church of England Clergyman to these parts though there are babies
            in plenty who have not been baptised. Jolly good thing I had Ann Christened down

            The R.C. priests in this area are called White Fathers. They all have beards and
            wear white cassocks and sun helmets. One, called Father Keiling, calls around frequently.
            Though none of us in this area is Catholic we take it in turn to put him up for the night. The
            Catholic Fathers in their turn are most hospitable to travellers regardless of their beliefs.
            Rather a sad thing has happened. Lucas our old chicken-boy is dead. I shall miss
            his toothy smile. George went to the funeral and fired two farewell shots from his rifle
            over the grave – a gesture much appreciated by the locals. Lucas in his day was a good

            Several of the locals own muzzle loading guns but the majority hunt with dogs
            and spears. The dogs wear bells which make an attractive jingle but I cannot bear the
            idea of small antelope being run down until they are exhausted before being clubbed of
            stabbed to death. We seldom eat venison as George does not care to shoot buck.
            Recently though, he shot an eland and Abel rendered down the fat which is excellent for
            cooking and very like beef fat.

            Much love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. P.O.Mbeya 21st November 1932

            Dearest Family,

            George has gone off to the Lupa for a week with John Molteno. John came up
            here with the idea of buying a coffee farm but he has changed his mind and now thinks of
            staking some claims on the diggings and also setting up as a gold buyer.

            Did I tell you about his arrival here? John and George did some elephant hunting
            together in French Equatorial Africa and when John heard that George had married and
            settled in Tanganyika, he also decided to come up here. He drove up from Cape Town
            in a Baby Austin and arrived just as our labourers were going home for the day. The little
            car stopped half way up our hill and John got out to investigate. You should have heard
            the astonished exclamations when John got out – all 6 ft 5 ins. of him! He towered over
            the little car and even to me it seemed impossible for him to have made the long
            journey in so tiny a car.

            Kath Wood has been over several times lately. She is slim and looks so right in
            the shirt and corduroy slacks she almost always wears. She was here yesterday when
            the shamba boy, digging in the front garden, unearthed a large earthenware cooking pot,
            sealed at the top. I was greatly excited and had an instant mental image of fabulous
            wealth. We made the boy bring the pot carefully on to the verandah and opened it in
            happy anticipation. What do you think was inside? Nothing but a grinning skull! Such a
            treat for a pregnant female.

            We have a tree growing here that had lovely straight branches covered by a
            smooth bark. I got the garden boy to cut several of these branches of a uniform size,
            peeled off the bark and have made Ann a playpen with the poles which are much like
            broom sticks. Now I can leave her unattended when I do my chores. The other morning
            after breakfast I put Ann in her playpen on the verandah and gave her a piece of toast
            and honey to keep her quiet whilst I laundered a few of her things. When I looked out a
            little later I was horrified to see a number of bees buzzing around her head whilst she
            placidly concentrated on her toast. I made a rapid foray and rescued her but I still don’t
            know whether that was the thing to do.

            We all send our love,

            Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

            Dearest Family,

            Here I am, installed at the very new hospital, built by Dr Eckhardt, awaiting the
            arrival of the new baby. George has gone back to the farm on foot but will walk in again
            to spend the weekend with us. Ann is with me and enjoys the novelty of playing with
            other children. The Eckhardts have two, a pretty little girl of two and a half and a very fair
            roly poly boy of Ann’s age. Ann at fourteen months is very active. She is quite a little girl
            now with lovely dimples. She walks well but is backward in teething.

            George, Ann and I had a couple of days together at the hotel before I moved in
            here and several of the local women visited me and have promised to visit me in
            hospital. The trip from farm to town was very entertaining if not very comfortable. There
            is ten miles of very rough road between our farm and Utengule Mission and beyond the
            Mission there is a fair thirteen or fourteen mile road to Mbeya.

            As we have no car now the doctor’s wife offered to drive us from the Mission to
            Mbeya but she would not risk her car on the road between the Mission and our farm.
            The upshot was that I rode in the Hickson-Woods machila for that ten mile stretch. The
            machila is a canopied hammock, slung from a bamboo pole, in which I reclined, not too
            comfortably in my unwieldy state, with Ann beside me or sometime straddling me. Four
            of our farm boys carried the machila on their shoulders, two fore and two aft. The relief
            bearers walked on either side. There must have been a dozen in all and they sang a sort
            of sea shanty song as they walked. One man would sing a verse and the others took up
            the chorus. They often improvise as they go. They moaned about my weight (at least
            George said so! I don’t follow Ki-Swahili well yet) and expressed the hope that I would
            have a son and that George would reward them handsomely.

            George and Kelly, the dog, followed close behind the machila and behind
            George came Abel our cook and his wife and small daughter Annalie, all in their best
            attire. The cook wore a palm beach suit, large Terai hat and sunglasses and two colour
            shoes and quite lent a tone to the proceedings! Right at the back came the rag tag and
            bobtail who joined the procession just for fun.

            Mrs Eckhardt was already awaiting us at the Mission when we arrived and we had
            an uneventful trip to the Mbeya Hotel.

            During my last week at the farm I felt very tired and engaged the cook’s small
            daughter, Annalie, to amuse Ann for an hour after lunch so that I could have a rest. They
            played in the small verandah room which adjoins our bedroom and where I keep all my
            sewing materials. One afternoon I was startled by a scream from Ann. I rushed to the
            room and found Ann with blood steaming from her cheek. Annalie knelt beside her,
            looking startled and frightened, with my embroidery scissors in her hand. She had cut off
            half of the long curling golden lashes on one of Ann’s eyelids and, in trying to finish the
            job, had cut off a triangular flap of skin off Ann’s cheek bone.

            I called Abel, the cook, and demanded that he should chastise his daughter there and
            then and I soon heard loud shrieks from behind the kitchen. He spanked her with a
            bamboo switch but I am sure not as well as she deserved. Africans are very tolerant
            towards their children though I have seen husbands and wives fighting furiously.
            I feel very well but long to have the confinement over.

            Very much love,

            Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

            Dearest Family,

            Little George arrived at 7.30 pm on Saturday evening 29 th. April. George was
            with me at the time as he had walked in from the farm for news, and what a wonderful bit
            of luck that was. The doctor was away on a case on the Diggings and I was bathing Ann
            with George looking on, when the pains started. George dried Ann and gave her
            supper and put her to bed. Afterwards he sat on the steps outside my room and a
            great comfort it was to know that he was there.

            The confinement was short but pretty hectic. The Doctor returned to the Hospital
            just in time to deliver the baby. He is a grand little boy, beautifully proportioned. The
            doctor says he has never seen a better formed baby. He is however rather funny
            looking just now as his head is, very temporarily, egg shaped. He has a shock of black
            silky hair like a gollywog and believe it or not, he has a slight black moustache.
            George came in, looked at the baby, looked at me, and we both burst out
            laughing. The doctor was shocked and said so. He has no sense of humour and couldn’t
            understand that we, though bursting with pride in our son, could never the less laugh at

            Friends in Mbeya have sent me the most gorgeous flowers and my room is
            transformed with delphiniums, roses and carnations. The room would be very austere
            without the flowers. Curtains, bedspread and enamelware, walls and ceiling are all
            snowy white.

            George hired a car and took Ann home next day. I have little George for
            company during the day but he is removed at night. I am longing to get him home and
            away from the German nurse who feeds him on black tea when he cries. She insists that
            tea is a medicine and good for him.

            Much love from a proud mother of two.

            Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

            Dearest Family,

            We are all together at home again and how lovely it feels. Even the house
            servants seem pleased. The boy had decorated the lounge with sprays of
            bougainvillaea and Abel had backed one of his good sponge cakes.

            Ann looked fat and rosy but at first was only moderately interested in me and the
            new baby but she soon thawed. George is good with her and will continue to dress Ann
            in the mornings and put her to bed until I am satisfied with Georgie.

            He, poor mite, has a nasty rash on face and neck. I am sure it is just due to that
            tea the nurse used to give him at night. He has lost his moustache and is fast loosing his
            wild black hair and emerging as quite a handsome babe. He is a very masculine looking
            infant with much more strongly marked eyebrows and a larger nose that Ann had. He is
            very good and lies quietly in his basket even when awake.

            George has been making a hatching box for brown trout ova and has set it up in
            a small clear stream fed by a spring in readiness for the ova which is expected from
            South Africa by next weeks plane. Some keen fishermen from Mbeya and the District
            have clubbed together to buy the ova. The fingerlings are later to be transferred to
            streams in Mbeya and Tukuyu Districts.

            I shall now have my hands full with the two babies and will not have much time for the
            garden, or I fear, for writing very long letters. Remember though, that no matter how
            large my family becomes, I shall always love you as much as ever.

            Your affectionate,

            Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

            Dearest Family,

            The four of us are all well but alas we have lost our dear Kelly. He was rather a
            silly dog really, although he grew so big he retained all his puppy ways but we were all
            very fond of him, especially George because Kelly attached himself to George whilst I
            was away having Ann and from that time on he was George’s shadow. I think he had
            some form of biliary fever. He died stretched out on the living room couch late last night,
            with George sitting beside him so that he would not feel alone.

            The children are growing fast. Georgie is a darling. He now has a fluff of pale
            brown hair and his eyes are large and dark brown. Ann is very plump and fair.
            We have had several visitors lately. Apart from neighbours, a car load of diggers
            arrived one night and John Molteno and his bride were here. She is a very attractive girl
            but, I should say, more suited to life in civilisation than in this back of beyond. She has
            gone out to the diggings with her husband and will have to walk a good stretch of the fifty
            or so miles.

            The diggers had to sleep in the living room on the couch and on hastily erected
            camp beds. They arrived late at night and left after breakfast next day. One had half a
            beard, the other side of his face had been forcibly shaved in the bar the night before.

            your affectionate,

            Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

            Dearest Family,

            George is away on safari with two Indian Army officers. The money he will get for
            his services will be very welcome because this coffee growing is a slow business, and
            our capitol is rapidly melting away. The job of acting as White Hunter was unexpected
            or George would not have taken on the job of hatching the ova which duly arrived from
            South Africa.

            George and the District Commissioner, David Pollock, went to meet the plane
            by which the ova had been consigned but the pilot knew nothing about the package. It
            came to light in the mail bag with the parcels! However the ova came to no harm. David
            Pollock and George brought the parcel to the farm and carefully transferred the ova to
            the hatching box. It was interesting to watch the tiny fry hatch out – a process which took
            several days. Many died in the process and George removed the dead by sucking
            them up in a glass tube.

            When hatched, the tiny fry were fed on ant eggs collected by the boys. I had to
            take over the job of feeding and removing the dead when George left on safari. The fry
            have to be fed every four hours, like the baby, so each time I have fed Georgie. I hurry
            down to feed the trout.

            The children are very good but keep me busy. Ann can now say several words
            and understands more. She adores Georgie. I long to show them off to you.

            Very much love

            Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

            Dear Family,

            All just over flu. George and Ann were very poorly. I did not fare so badly and
            Georgie came off best. He is on a bottle now.

            There was some excitement here last Wednesday morning. At 6.30 am. I called
            for boiling water to make Georgie’s food. No water arrived but muffled shouting and the
            sound of blows came from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found a fierce fight in
            progress between the house boy and the kitchen boy. In my efforts to make them stop
            fighting I went too close and got a sharp bang on the mouth with the edge of an
            enamelled plate the kitchen boy was using as a weapon. My teeth cut my lip inside and
            the plate cut it outside and blood flowed from mouth to chin. The boys were petrified.
            By the time I had fed Georgie the lip was stiff and swollen. George went in wrath
            to the kitchen and by breakfast time both house boy and kitchen boy had swollen faces
            too. Since then I have a kettle of boiling water to hand almost before the words are out
            of my mouth. I must say that the fight was because the house boy had clouted the
            kitchen boy for keeping me waiting! In this land of piece work it is the job of the kitchen
            boy to light the fire and boil the kettle but the houseboy’s job to carry the kettle to me.
            I have seen little of Kath Wood or Marion Coster for the past two months. Major
            Jones is the neighbour who calls most regularly. He has a wireless set and calls on all of
            us to keep us up to date with world as well as local news. He often brings oranges for
            Ann who adores him. He is a very nice person but no oil painting and makes no effort to
            entertain Ann but she thinks he is fine. Perhaps his monocle appeals to her.

            George has bought a six foot long galvanised bath which is a great improvement
            on the smaller oval one we have used until now. The smaller one had grown battered
            from much use and leaks like a sieve. Fortunately our bathroom has a cement floor,
            because one had to fill the bath to the brim and then bath extremely quickly to avoid
            being left high and dry.

            Lots and lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 1st December 1933

            Dearest Family,

            Ann has not been well. We think she has had malaria. She has grown a good
            deal lately and looks much thinner and rather pale. Georgie is thriving and has such
            sparkling brown eyes and a ready smile. He and Ann make a charming pair, one so fair
            and the other dark.

            The Moltenos’ spent a few days here and took Georgie and me to Mbeya so
            that Georgie could be vaccinated. However it was an unsatisfactory trip because the
            doctor had no vaccine.

            George went to the Lupa with the Moltenos and returned to the farm in their Baby
            Austin which they have lent to us for a week. This was to enable me to go to Mbeya to
            have a couple of teeth filled by a visiting dentist.

            We went to Mbeya in the car on Saturday. It was quite a squash with the four of
            us on the front seat of the tiny car. Once George grabbed the babies foot instead of the
            gear knob! We had Georgie vaccinated at the hospital and then went to the hotel where
            the dentist was installed. Mr Dare, the dentist, had few instruments and they were very
            tarnished. I sat uncomfortably on a kitchen chair whilst he tinkered with my teeth. He filled
            three but two of the fillings came out that night. This meant another trip to Mbeya in the
            Baby Austin but this time they seem all right.

            The weather is very hot and dry and the garden a mess. We are having trouble
            with the young coffee trees too. Cut worms are killing off seedlings in the nursery and
            there is a borer beetle in the planted out coffee.

            George bought a large grey donkey from some wandering Masai and we hope
            the children will enjoy riding it later on.

            Very much love,

            Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

            Dearest Family,

            You will be sorry to hear that little Ann has been very ill, indeed we were terribly
            afraid that we were going to lose her. She enjoyed her birthday on the 8th. All the toys
            you, and her English granny, sent were unwrapped with such delight. However next
            day she seemed listless and a bit feverish so I tucked her up in bed after lunch. I dosed
            her with quinine and aspirin and she slept fitfully. At about eleven o’clock I was
            awakened by a strange little cry. I turned up the night light and was horrified to see that
            Ann was in a convulsion. I awakened George who, as always in an emergency, was
            perfectly calm and practical. He filled the small bath with very warm water and emersed
            Ann in it, placing a cold wet cloth on her head. We then wrapped her in blankets and
            gave her an enema and she settled down to sleep. A few hours later we had the same
            thing over again.

            At first light we sent a runner to Mbeya to fetch the doctor but waited all day in
            vain and in the evening the runner returned to say that the doctor had gone to a case on
            the diggings. Ann had been feverish all day with two or three convulsions. Neither
            George or I wished to leave the bedroom, but there was Georgie to consider, and in
            the afternoon I took him out in the garden for a while whilst George sat with Ann.
            That night we both sat up all night and again Ann had those wretched attacks of
            convulsions. George and I were worn out with anxiety by the time the doctor arrived the
            next afternoon. Ann had not been able to keep down any quinine and had had only
            small sips of water since the onset of the attack.

            The doctor at once diagnosed the trouble as malaria aggravated by teething.
            George held Ann whilst the Doctor gave her an injection. At the first attempt the needle
            bent into a bow, George was furious! The second attempt worked and after a few hours
            Ann’s temperature dropped and though she was ill for two days afterwards she is now
            up and about. She has also cut the last of her baby teeth, thank God. She looks thin and
            white, but should soon pick up. It has all been a great strain to both of us. Georgie
            behaved like an angel throughout. He played happily in his cot and did not seem to
            sense any tension as people say, babies do. Our baby was cheerful and not at all

            This is the rainy season and it is a good thing that some work has been done on
            our road or the doctor might not have got through.

            Much love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

            Dearest Family,

            We are all well now, thank goodness, but last week Georgie gave us such a
            fright. I was sitting on the verandah, busy with some sewing and not watching Ann and
            Georgie, who were trying to reach a bunch of bananas which hung on a rope from a
            beam of the verandah. Suddenly I heard a crash, Georgie had fallen backward over the
            edge of the verandah and hit the back of his head on the edge of the brick furrow which
            carries away the rainwater. He lay flat on his back with his arms spread out and did not
            move or cry. When I picked him up he gave a little whimper, I carried him to his cot and
            bathed his face and soon he began sitting up and appeared quite normal. The trouble
            began after he had vomited up his lunch. He began to whimper and bang his head
            against the cot.

            George and I were very worried because we have no transport so we could not
            take Georgie to the doctor and we could not bear to go through again what we had gone
            through with Ann earlier in the year. Then, in the late afternoon, a miracle happened. Two
            men George hardly knew, and complete strangers to me, called in on their way from the
            diggings to Mbeya and they kindly drove Georgie and me to the hospital. The Doctor
            allowed me to stay with Georgie and we spent five days there. Luckily he responded to
            treatment and is now as alive as ever. Children do put years on one!

            There is nothing much else to report. We have a new vegetable garden which is
            doing well but the earth here is strange. Gardens seem to do well for two years but by
            that time the soil is exhausted and one must move the garden somewhere else. The
            coffee looks well but it will be another year before we can expect even a few bags of
            coffee and prices are still low. Anyway by next year George should have some good
            return for all his hard work.

            Lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

            Dearest Family,

            George is home from his White Hunting safari looking very sunburnt and well.
            The elderly American, who was his client this time, called in here at the farm to meet me
            and the children. It is amazing what spirit these old lads have! This one looked as though
            he should be thinking in terms of slippers and an armchair but no, he thinks in terms of
            high powered rifles with telescopic sights.

            It is lovely being together again and the children are delighted to have their Dad
            home. Things are always exciting when George is around. The day after his return
            George said at breakfast, “We can’t go on like this. You and the kids never get off the
            shamba. We’ll simply have to get a car.” You should have heard the excitement. “Get a
            car Daddy?’” cried Ann jumping in her chair so that her plaits bounced. “Get a car
            Daddy?” echoed Georgie his brown eyes sparkling. “A car,” said I startled, “However
            can we afford one?”

            “Well,” said George, “on my way back from Safari I heard that a car is to be sold
            this week at the Tukuyu Court, diseased estate or bankruptcy or something, I might get it
            cheap and it is an A.C.” The name meant nothing to me, but George explained that an
            A.C. is first cousin to a Rolls Royce.

            So off he went to the sale and next day the children and I listened all afternoon for
            the sound of an approaching car. We had many false alarms but, towards evening we
            heard what appeared to be the roar of an aeroplane engine. It was the A.C. roaring her
            way up our steep hill with a long plume of steam waving gaily above her radiator.
            Out jumped my beaming husband and in no time at all, he was showing off her
            points to an admiring family. Her lines are faultless and seats though worn are most
            comfortable. She has a most elegant air so what does it matter that the radiator leaks like
            a sieve, her exhaust pipe has broken off, her tyres are worn almost to the canvas and
            she has no windscreen. She goes, and she cost only five pounds.

            Next afternoon George, the kids and I piled into the car and drove along the road
            on lookout for guinea fowl. All went well on the outward journey but on the homeward
            one the poor A.C. simply gasped and died. So I carried the shot gun and George
            carried both children and we trailed sadly home. This morning George went with a bunch
            of farmhands and brought her home. Truly temperamental, she came home literally
            under her own steam.

            George now plans to get a second hand engine and radiator for her but it won’t
            be an A.C. engine. I think she is the only one of her kind in the country.
            I am delighted to hear, dad, that you are sending a bridle for Joseph for
            Christmas. I am busy making a saddle out of an old piece of tent canvas stuffed with
            kapok, some webbing and some old rug straps. A car and a riding donkey! We’re
            definitely carriage folk now.

            Lots of love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

            Dearest Family,

            Thank you for the wonderful Christmas parcel. My frock is a splendid fit. George
            declares that no one can knit socks like Mummy and the children love their toys and new

            Joseph, the donkey, took his bit with an air of bored resignation and Ann now
            rides proudly on his back. Joseph is a big strong animal with the looks and disposition of
            a mule. he will not go at all unless a native ‘toto’ walks before him and when he does go
            he wears a pained expression as though he were carrying fourteen stone instead of
            Ann’s fly weight. I walk beside the donkey carrying Georgie and our cat, ‘Skinny Winnie’,
            follows behind. Quite a cavalcade. The other day I got so exasperated with Joseph that
            I took Ann off and I got on. Joseph tottered a few paces and sat down! to the huge
            delight of our farm labourers who were going home from work. Anyway, one good thing,
            the donkey is so lazy that there is little chance of him bolting with Ann.

            The Moltenos spent Christmas with us and left for the Lupa Diggings yesterday.
            They arrived on the 22nd. with gifts for the children and chocolates and beer. That very
            afternoon George and John Molteno left for Ivuna, near Lake Ruckwa, to shoot some
            guinea fowl and perhaps a goose for our Christmas dinner. We expected the menfolk
            back on Christmas Eve and Anne and I spent a busy day making mince pies and
            sausage rolls. Why I don’t know, because I am sure Abel could have made them better.
            We decorated the Christmas tree and sat up very late but no husbands turned up.
            Christmas day passed but still no husbands came. Anne, like me, is expecting a baby
            and we both felt pretty forlorn and cross. Anne was certain that they had been caught up
            in a party somewhere and had forgotten all about us and I must say when Boxing Day
            went by and still George and John did not show up I felt ready to agree with her.
            They turned up towards evening and explained that on the homeward trip the car
            had bogged down in the mud and that they had spent a miserable Christmas. Anne
            refused to believe their story so George, to prove their case, got the game bag and
            tipped the contents on to the dining room table. Out fell several guinea fowl, long past
            being edible, followed by a large goose so high that it was green and blue where all the
            feathers had rotted off.

            The stench was too much for two pregnant girls. I shot out of the front door
            closely followed by Anne and we were both sick in the garden.

            I could not face food that evening but Anne is made of stronger stuff and ate her
            belated Christmas dinner with relish.

            I am looking forward enormously to having Marjorie here with us. She will be able
            to carry back to you an eyewitness account of our home and way of life.

            Much love to you all,

            Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

            Dearest Family,

            You cannot imagine how lovely it is to have Marjorie here. She came just in time
            because I have had pernicious vomiting and have lost a great deal of weight and she
            took charge of the children and made me spend three days in hospital having treatment.
            George took me to the hospital on the afternoon of New Years Eve and decided
            to spend the night at the hotel and join in the New Years Eve celebrations. I had several
            visitors at the hospital that evening and George actually managed to get some imported
            grapes for me. He returned to the farm next morning and fetched me from the hospital
            four days later. Of course the old A.C. just had to play up. About half way home the
            back axle gave in and we had to send a passing native some miles back to a place
            called Mbalizi to hire a lorry from a Greek trader to tow us home to the farm.
            The children looked well and were full of beans. I think Marjorie was thankful to
            hand them over to me. She is delighted with Ann’s motherly little ways but Georgie she
            calls “a really wild child”. He isn’t, just has such an astonishing amount of energy and is
            always up to mischief. Marjorie brought us all lovely presents. I am so thrilled with my
            sewing machine. It may be an old model but it sews marvellously. We now have an
            Alsatian pup as well as Joseph the donkey and the two cats.

            Marjorie had a midnight encounter with Joseph which gave her quite a shock but
            we had a good laugh about it next day. Some months ago George replaced our wattle
            and daub outside pit lavatory by a substantial brick one, so large that Joseph is being
            temporarily stabled in it at night. We neglected to warn Marj about this and one night,
            storm lamp in hand, she opened the door and Joseph walked out braying his thanks.
            I am afraid Marjorie is having a quiet time, a shame when the journey from Cape
            Town is so expensive. The doctor has told me to rest as much as I can, so it is
            impossible for us to take Marj on sight seeing trips.

            I hate to think that she will be leaving in ten days time.

            Much love,

            Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

            Dearest Family,

            You must be able to visualise our life here quite well now that Marj is back and
            has no doubt filled in all the details I forget to mention in my letters. What a journey we
            had in the A.C. when we took her to the plane. George, the children and I sat in front and
            Marj sat behind with numerous four gallon tins of water for the insatiable radiator. It was
            raining and the canvas hood was up but part of the side flaps are missing and as there is
            no glass in the windscreen the rain blew in on us. George got fed up with constantly
            removing the hot radiator cap so simply stuffed a bit of rag in instead. When enough
            steam had built up in the radiator behind the rag it blew out and we started all over again.
            The car still roars like an aeroplane engine and yet has little power so that George sent
            gangs of boys to the steep hills between the farm and the Mission to give us a push if
            necessary. Fortunately this time it was not, and the boys cheered us on our way. We
            needed their help on the homeward journey however.

            George has now bought an old Chev engine which he means to install before I
            have to go to hospital to have my new baby. It will be quite an engineering feet as
            George has few tools.

            I am sorry to say that I am still not well, something to do with kidneys or bladder.
            George bought me some pills from one of the several small shops which have opened
            in Mbeya and Ann is most interested in the result. She said seriously to Kath Wood,
            “Oh my Mummy is a very clever Mummy. She can do blue wee and green wee as well
            as yellow wee.” I simply can no longer manage the children without help and have
            engaged the cook’s wife, Janey, to help. The children are by no means thrilled. I plead in
            vain that I am not well enough to go for walks. Ann says firmly, “Ann doesn’t want to go
            for a walk. Ann will look after you.” Funny, though she speaks well for a three year old,
            she never uses the first person. Georgie say he would much rather walk with
            Keshokutwa, the kitchen boy. His name by the way, means day-after-tomorrow and it
            suits him down to the ground, Kath Wood walks over sometimes with offers of help and Ann will gladly go walking with her but Georgie won’t. He on the other hand will walk with Anne Molteno
            and Ann won’t. They are obstinate kids. Ann has developed a very fertile imagination.
            She has probably been looking at too many of those nice women’s magazines you
            sent. A few days ago she said, “You are sick Mummy, but Ann’s got another Mummy.
            She’s not sick, and my other mummy (very smugly) has lovely golden hair”. This
            morning’ not ten minutes after I had dressed her, she came in with her frock wet and
            muddy. I said in exasperation, “Oh Ann, you are naughty.” To which she instantly
            returned, “My other Mummy doesn’t think I am naughty. She thinks I am very nice.” It
            strikes me I shall have to get better soon so that I can be gay once more and compete
            with that phantom golden haired paragon.

            We had a very heavy storm over the farm last week. There was heavy rain with
            hail which stripped some of the coffee trees and the Mchewe River flooded and the
            water swept through the lower part of the shamba. After the water had receded George
            picked up a fine young trout which had been stranded. This was one of some he had
            put into the river when Georgie was a few months old.

            The trials of a coffee farmer are legion. We now have a plague of snails. They
            ring bark the young trees and leave trails of slime on the glossy leaves. All the ring
            barked trees will have to be cut right back and this is heartbreaking as they are bearing
            berries for the first time. The snails are collected by native children, piled upon the
            ground and bashed to a pulp which gives off a sickening stench. I am sorry for the local
            Africans. Locusts ate up their maize and now they are losing their bean crop to the snails.

            Lots of love, Eleanor


              From Tanganyika with Love

              With thanks to Mike Rushby.

              • “The letters of Eleanor Dunbar Leslie to her parents and her sister in South Africa
                concerning her life with George Gilman Rushby of Tanganyika, and the trials and
                joys of bringing up a family in pioneering conditions.

              These letters were transcribed from copies of letters typed by Eleanor Rushby from
              the originals which were in the estate of Marjorie Leslie, Eleanor’s sister. Eleanor
              kept no diary of her life in Tanganyika, so these letters were the living record of an
              important part of her life.

              Having walked across Africa from the East coast to Ubangi Shauri Chad
              in French Equatorial Africa, hunting elephant all the way, George Rushby
              made his way down the Congo to Leopoldville. He then caught a ship to
              Europe and had a holiday in Brussels and Paris before visiting his family
              in England. He developed blackwater fever and was extremely ill for a
              while. When he recovered he went to London to arrange his return to

              Whilst staying at the Overseas Club he met Eileen Graham who had come
              to England from Cape Town to study music. On hearing that George was
              sailing for Cape Town she arranged to introduce him to her friend
              Eleanor Dunbar Leslie. “You’ll need someone lively to show you around,”
              she said. “She’s as smart as paint, a keen mountaineer, a very good school
              teacher, and she’s attractive. You can’t miss her, because her father is a
              well known Cape Town Magistrate. And,” she added “I’ve already written
              and told her what ship you are arriving on.”

              Eleanor duly met the ship. She and George immediately fell in love.
              Within thirty six hours he had proposed marriage and was accepted
              despite the misgivings of her parents. As she was under contract to her
              High School, she remained in South Africa for several months whilst
              George headed for Tanganyika looking for a farm where he could build
              their home.

              These details are a summary of chapter thirteen of the Biography of
              George Gilman Rushby ‘The Hunter is Death “ by T.V.Bulpin.


              Dearest Marj,
              Terrifically exciting news! I’ve just become engaged to an Englishman whom I
              met last Monday. The result is a family upheaval which you will have no difficulty in

              The Aunts think it all highly romantic and cry in delight “Now isn’t that just like our
              El!” Mummy says she doesn’t know what to think, that anyway I was always a harum
              scarum and she rather expected something like this to happen. However I know that
              she thinks George highly attractive. “Such a nice smile and gentle manner, and such
              good hands“ she murmurs appreciatively. “But WHY AN ELEPHANT HUNTER?” she
              ends in a wail, as though elephant hunting was an unmentionable profession.
              Anyway I don’t think so. Anyone can marry a bank clerk or a lawyer or even a
              millionaire – but whoever heard of anyone marrying anyone as exciting as an elephant
              hunter? I’m thrilled to bits.

              Daddy also takes a dim view of George’s profession, and of George himself as
              a husband for me. He says that I am so impulsive and have such wild enthusiasms that I
              need someone conservative and steady to give me some serenity and some ballast.
              Dad says George is a handsome fellow and a good enough chap he is sure, but
              he is obviously a man of the world and hints darkly at a possible PAST. George says
              he has nothing of the kind and anyway I’m the first girl he has asked to marry him. I don’t
              care anyway, I’d gladly marry him tomorrow, but Dad has other ideas.

              He sat in his armchair to deliver his verdict, wearing the same look he must wear
              on the bench. If we marry, and he doesn’t think it would be a good thing, George must
              buy a comfortable house for me in Central Africa where I can stay safely when he goes
              hunting. I interrupted to say “But I’m going too”, but dad snubbed me saying that in no
              time at all I’ll have a family and one can’t go dragging babies around in the African Bush.”
              George takes his lectures with surprising calm. He says he can see Dad’s point of
              view much better than I can. He told the parents today that he plans to buy a small
              coffee farm in the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika and will build a cosy cottage which
              will be a proper home for both of us, and that he will only hunt occasionally to keep the
              pot boiling.

              Mummy, of course, just had to spill the beans. She said to George, “I suppose
              you know that Eleanor knows very little about house keeping and can’t cook at all.” a fact
              that I was keeping a dark secret. But George just said, “Oh she won’t have to work. The
              boys do all that sort of thing. She can lie on a couch all day and read if she likes.” Well
              you always did say that I was a “Lily of the field,” and what a good thing! If I were one of
              those terribly capable women I’d probably die of frustration because it seems that
              African house boys feel that they have lost face if their Memsahibs do anything but the
              most gracious chores.

              George is absolutely marvellous. He is strong and gentle and awfully good
              looking too. He is about 5 ft 10 ins tall and very broad. He wears his curly brown hair cut
              very short and has a close clipped moustache. He has strongly marked eyebrows and
              very striking blue eyes which sometimes turn grey or green. His teeth are strong and
              even and he has a quiet voice.

              I expect all this sounds too good to be true, but come home quickly and see for
              yourself. George is off to East Africa in three weeks time to buy our farm. I shall follow as
              soon as he has bought it and we will be married in Dar es Salaam.

              Dad has taken George for a walk “to get to know him” and that’s why I have time
              to write such a long screed. They should be back any minute now and I must fly and
              apply a bit of glamour.

              Much love my dear,
              your jubilant

              S.S.Timavo. Durban. 28th.October. 1930.

              Dearest Family,
              Thank you for the lovely send off. I do wish you were all on board with me and
              could come and dance with me at my wedding. We are having a very comfortable
              voyage. There were only four of the passengers as far as Durban, all of them women,
              but I believe we are taking on more here. I have a most comfortable deck cabin to
              myself and the use of a sumptuous bathroom. No one is interested in deck games and I
              am having a lazy time, just sunbathing and reading.

              I sit at the Captain’s table and the meals are delicious – beautifully served. The
              butter for instance, is moulded into sprays of roses, most exquisitely done, and as for
              the ice-cream, I’ve never tasted anything like them.

              The meals are continental type and we have hors d’oeuvre in a great variety
              served on large round trays. The Italians souse theirs with oil, Ugh! We also of course
              get lots of spaghetti which I have some difficulty in eating. However this presents no
              problem to the Chief Engineer who sits opposite to me. He simply rolls it around his
              fork and somehow the spaghetti flows effortlessly from fork to mouth exactly like an
              ascending escalator. Wine is served at lunch and dinner – very mild and pleasant stuff.
              Of the women passengers the one i liked best was a young German widow
              from South west Africa who left the ship at East London to marry a man she had never
              met. She told me he owned a drapers shop and she was very happy at the prospect
              of starting a new life, as her previous marriage had ended tragically with the death of her
              husband and only child in an accident.

              I was most interested to see the bridegroom and stood at the rail beside the gay
              young widow when we docked at East London. I picked him out, without any difficulty,
              from the small group on the quay. He was a tall thin man in a smart grey suit and with a
              grey hat perched primly on his head. You can always tell from hats can’t you? I wasn’t
              surprised to see, when this German raised his head, that he looked just like the Kaiser’s
              “Little Willie”. Long thin nose and cold grey eyes and no smile of welcome on his tight
              mouth for the cheery little body beside me. I quite expected him to jerk his thumb and
              stalk off, expecting her to trot at his heel.

              However she went off blithely enough. Next day before the ship sailed, she
              was back and I saw her talking to the Captain. She began to cry and soon after the
              Captain patted her on the shoulder and escorted her to the gangway. Later the Captain
              told me that the girl had come to ask him to allow her to work her passage back to
              Germany where she had some relations. She had married the man the day before but
              she disliked him because he had deceived her by pretending that he owned a shop
              whereas he was only a window dresser. Bad show for both.

              The Captain and the Chief Engineer are the only officers who mix socially with
              the passengers. The captain seems rather a melancholy type with, I should say, no
              sense of humour. He speaks fair English with an American accent. He tells me that he
              was on the San Francisco run during Prohibition years in America and saw many Film
              Stars chiefly “under the influence” as they used to flock on board to drink. The Chief
              Engineer is big and fat and cheerful. His English is anything but fluent but he makes up
              for it in mime.

              I visited the relations and friends at Port Elizabeth and East London, and here at
              Durban. I stayed with the Trotters and Swans and enjoyed myself very much at both
              places. I have collected numerous wedding presents, china and cutlery, coffee
              percolator and ornaments, and where I shall pack all these things I don’t know. Everyone has been terribly kind and I feel extremely well and happy.

              At the start of the voyage I had a bit of bad luck. You will remember that a
              perfectly foul South Easter was blowing. Some men were busy working on a deck
              engine and I stopped to watch and a tiny fragment of steel blew into my eye. There is
              no doctor on board so the stewardess put some oil into the eye and bandaged it up.
              The eye grew more and more painful and inflamed and when when we reached Port
              Elizabeth the Captain asked the Port Doctor to look at it. The Doctor said it was a job for
              an eye specialist and telephoned from the ship to make an appointment. Luckily for me,
              Vincent Tofts turned up at the ship just then and took me off to the specialist and waited
              whilst he extracted the fragment with a giant magnet. The specialist said that I was very
              lucky as the thing just missed the pupil of my eye so my sight will not be affected. I was
              temporarily blinded by the Belladona the eye-man put in my eye so he fitted me with a
              pair of black goggles and Vincent escorted me back to the ship. Don’t worry the eye is
              now as good as ever and George will not have to take a one-eyed bride for better or

              I have one worry and that is that the ship is going to be very much overdue by
              the time we reach Dar es Salaam. She is taking on a big wool cargo and we were held
              up for three days in East london and have been here in Durban for five days.
              Today is the ninth Anniversary of the Fascist Movement and the ship was
              dressed with bunting and flags. I must now go and dress for the gala dinner.

              Bless you all,

              S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

              Dearest Family,

              Nearly there now. We called in at Lourenco Marques, Beira, Mozambique and
              Port Amelia. I was the only one of the original passengers left after Durban but there we
              took on a Mrs Croxford and her mother and two men passengers. Mrs C must have
              something, certainly not looks. She has a flat figure, heavily mascared eyes and crooked
              mouth thickly coated with lipstick. But her rather sweet old mother-black-pearls-type tells
              me they are worn out travelling around the world trying to shake off an admirer who
              pursues Mrs C everywhere.

              The one male passenger is very quiet and pleasant. The old lady tells me that he
              has recently lost his wife. The other passenger is a horribly bumptious type.
              I had my hair beautifully shingled at Lourenco Marques, but what an experience it
              was. Before we docked I asked the Captain whether he knew of a hairdresser, but he
              said he did not and would have to ask the agent when he came aboard. The agent was
              a very suave Asian. He said “Sure he did” and offered to take me in his car. I rather
              doubtfully agreed — such a swarthy gentleman — and was driven, not to a hairdressing
              establishment, but to his office. Then he spoke to someone on the telephone and in no
              time at all a most dago-y type arrived carrying a little black bag. He was all patent
              leather, hair, and flashing smile, and greeted me like an old and valued friend.
              Before I had collected my scattered wits tthe Agent had flung open a door and
              ushered me through, and I found myself seated before an ornate mirror in what was only
              too obviously a bedroom. It was a bedroom with a difference though. The unmade bed
              had no legs but hung from the ceiling on brass chains.

              The agent beamingly shut the door behind him and I was left with my imagination
              and the afore mentioned oily hairdresser. He however was very business like. Before I
              could say knife he had shingled my hair with a cut throat razor and then, before I could
              protest, had smothered my neck in stinking pink powder applied with an enormous and
              filthy swansdown powder puff. He held up a mirror for me to admire his handiwork but I
              was aware only of the enormous bed reflected in it, and hurriedly murmuring “very nice,
              very nice” I made my escape to the outer office where, to my relief, I found the Chief
              Engineer who escorted me back to the ship.

              In the afternoon Mrs Coxford and the old lady and I hired a taxi and went to the
              Polana Hotel for tea. Very swish but I like our Cape Peninsula beaches better.
              At Lorenco Marques we took on more passengers. The Governor of
              Portuguese Nyasaland and his wife and baby son. He was a large middle aged man,
              very friendly and unassuming and spoke perfect English. His wife was German and
              exquisite, as fragile looking and with the delicate colouring of a Dresden figurine. She
              looked about 18 but she told me she was 28 and showed me photographs of two
              other sons – hefty youngsters, whom she had left behind in Portugal and was missing
              very much.

              It was frightfully hot at Beira and as I had no money left I did not go up to the
              town, but Mrs Croxford and I spent a pleasant hour on the beach under the Casurina

              The Governor and his wife left the ship at Mozambique. He looked very
              imposing in his starched uniform and she more Dresden Sheperdish than ever in a
              flowered frock. There was a guard of honour and all the trimmings. They bade me a warm farewell and invited George and me to stay at any time.

              The German ship “Watussi” was anchored in the Bay and I decided to visit her
              and try and have my hair washed and set. I had no sooner stepped on board when a
              lady came up to me and said “Surely you are Beeba Leslie.” It was Mrs Egan and she
              had Molly with her. Considering Mrs Egan had not seen me since I was five I think it was
              jolly clever of her to recognise me. Molly is charming and was most friendly. She fixed
              things with the hairdresser and sat with me until the job was done. Afterwards I had tea
              with them.

              Port Amelia was our last stop. In fact the only person to go ashore was Mr
              Taylor, the unpleasant man, and he returned at sunset very drunk indeed.
              We reached Port Amelia on the 3rd – my birthday. The boat had anchored by
              the time I was dressed and when I went on deck I saw several row boats cluttered
              around the gangway and in them were natives with cages of wild birds for sale. Such tiny
              crowded cages. I was furious, you know me. I bought three cages, carried them out on
              to the open deck and released the birds. I expected them to fly to the land but they flew
              straight up into the rigging.

              The quiet male passenger wandered up and asked me what I was doing. I said
              “I’m giving myself a birthday treat, I hate to see caged birds.” So next thing there he
              was buying birds which he presented to me with “Happy Birthday.” I gladly set those
              birds free too and they joined the others in the rigging.

              Then a grinning steward came up with three more cages. “For the lady with
              compliments of the Captain.” They lost no time in joining their friends.
              It had given me so much pleasure to free the birds that I was only a little
              discouraged when the quiet man said thoughtfully “This should encourage those bird
              catchers you know, they are sold out. When evening came and we were due to sail I
              was sure those birds would fly home, but no, they are still there and they will probably
              remain until we dock at Dar es Salaam.

              During the morning the Captain came up and asked me what my Christian name
              is. He looked as grave as ever and I couldn’t think why it should interest him but said “the
              name is Eleanor.” That night at dinner there was a large iced cake in the centre of the
              table with “HELENA” in a delicate wreath of pink icing roses on the top. We had
              champagne and everyone congratulated me and wished me good luck in my marriage.
              A very nice gesture don’t you think. The unpleasant character had not put in an
              appearance at dinner which made the party all the nicer

              I sat up rather late in the lounge reading a book and by the time I went to bed
              there was not a soul around. I bathed and changed into my nighty,walked into my cabin,
              shed my dressing gown, and pottered around. When I was ready for bed I put out my
              hand to draw the curtains back and a hand grasped my wrist. It was that wretched
              creature outside my window on the deck, still very drunk. Luckily I was wearing that
              heavy lilac silk nighty. I was livid. “Let go at once”, I said, but he only grinned stupidly.
              “I’m not hurting you” he said, “only looking”. “I’ll ring for the steward” said I, and by
              stretching I managed to press the bell with my free hand. I rang and rang but no one
              came and he just giggled. Then I said furiously, “Remember this name, George
              Rushby, he is a fine boxer and he hates specimens like you. When he meets me at Dar
              es Salaam I shall tell him about this and I bet you will be sorry.” However he still held on
              so I turned and knocked hard on the adjoining wall which divided my cabin from Mrs
              Croxfords. Soon Mrs Croxford and the old lady appeared in dressing gowns . This
              seemed to amuse the drunk even more though he let go my wrist. So whilst the old
              lady stayed with me, Mrs C fetched the quiet passenger who soon hustled him off. He has kept out of my way ever since. However I still mean to tell George because I feel
              the fellow got off far too lightly. I reported the matter to the Captain but he just remarked
              that he always knew the man was low class because he never wears a jacket to meals.
              This is my last night on board and we again had free champagne and I was given
              some tooled leather work by the Captain and a pair of good paste earrings by the old
              lady. I have invited them and Mrs Croxford, the Chief Engineer, and the quiet
              passenger to the wedding.

              This may be my last night as Eleanor Leslie and I have spent this long while
              writing to you just as a little token of my affection and gratitude for all the years of your
              love and care. I shall post this letter on the ship and must turn now and get some beauty
              sleep. We have been told that we shall be in Dar es Salaam by 9 am. I am so excited
              that I shall not sleep.

              Very much love, and just for fun I’ll sign my full name for the last time.
              with my “bes respeks”,

              Eleanor Leslie.

              Eleanor and George Rushby:

              Eleanor and George Rushby

              Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

              Dearest Family,

              I’m writing this in the bedroom whilst George is out buying a tin trunk in which to
              pack all our wedding presents. I expect he will be gone a long time because he has
              gone out with Hicky Wood and, though our wedding was four days ago, it’s still an
              excuse for a party. People are all very cheery and friendly here.
              I am wearing only pants and slip but am still hot. One swelters here in the
              mornings, but a fresh sea breeze blows in the late afternoons and then Dar es Salaam is

              We arrived in Dar es Salaam harbour very early on Friday morning (7 th Nov).
              The previous night the Captain had said we might not reach Dar. until 9 am, and certainly
              no one would be allowed on board before 8 am. So I dawdled on the deck in my
              dressing gown and watched the green coastline and the islands slipping by. I stood on
              the deck outside my cabin and was not aware that I was looking out at the wrong side of
              the landlocked harbour. Quite unknown to me George and some friends, the Hickson
              Woods, were standing on the Gymkhana Beach on the opposite side of the channel
              anxiously scanning the ship for a sign of me. George says he had a horrible idea I had
              missed the ship. Blissfully unconscious of his anxiety I wandered into the bathroom
              prepared for a good soak. The anchor went down when I was in the bath and suddenly
              there was a sharp wrap on the door and I heard Mrs Croxford say “There’s a man in a
              boat outside. He is looking out for someone and I’m sure it’s your George. I flung on
              some clothes and rushed on deck with tousled hair and bare feet and it was George.
              We had a marvellous reunion. George was wearing shorts and bush shirt and
              looked just like the strong silent types one reads about in novels. I finished dressing then
              George helped me bundle all the wedding presents I had collected en route into my
              travelling rug and we went into the bar lounge to join the Hickson Woods. They are the
              couple from whom George bought the land which is to be our coffee farm Hicky-Wood
              was laughing when we joined them. he said he had called a chap to bring a couple of
              beers thinking he was the steward but it turned out to be the Captain. He does wear
              such a very plain uniform that I suppose it was easy to make the mistake, but Hicky
              says he was not amused.

              Anyway as the H-W’s are to be our neighbours I’d better describe them. Kath
              Wood is very attractive, dark Irish, with curly black hair and big brown eyes. She was
              married before to Viv Lumb a great friend of George’s who died some years ago of
              blackwater fever. They had one little girl, Maureen, and Kath and Hicky have a small son
              of three called Michael. Hicky is slightly below average height and very neat and dapper
              though well built. He is a great one for a party and good fun but George says he can be
              bad tempered.

              Anyway we all filed off the ship and Hicky and Cath went on to the hotel whilst
              George and I went through customs. Passing the customs was easy. Everyone
              seemed to know George and that it was his wedding day and I just sailed through,
              except for the little matter of the rug coming undone when George and I had to scramble
              on the floor for candlesticks and fruit knives and a wooden nut bowl.
              Outside the customs shed we were mobbed by a crowd of jabbering Africans
              offering their services as porters, and soon my luggage was piled in one rickshaw whilst
              George and I climbed into another and we were born smoothly away on rubber shod
              wheels to the Splendid Hotel. The motion was pleasing enough but it seemed weird to
              be pulled along by one human being whilst another pushed behind.  We turned up a street called Acacia Avenue which, as its name implies, is lined
              with flamboyant acacia trees now in the full glory of scarlet and gold. The rickshaw
              stopped before the Splendid Hotel and I was taken upstairs into a pleasant room which
              had its own private balcony overlooking the busy street.

              Here George broke the news that we were to be married in less than an hours
              time. He would have to dash off and change and then go straight to the church. I would
              be quite all right, Kath would be looking in and friends would fetch me.
              I started to dress and soon there was a tap at the door and Mrs Hickson-Wood
              came in with my bouquet. It was a lovely bunch of carnations and frangipani with lots of
              asparagus fern and it went well with my primrose yellow frock. She admired my frock
              and Leghorn hat and told me that her little girl Maureen was to be my flower girl. Then
              she too left for the church.

              I was fully dressed when there was another knock on the door and I opened it to
              be confronted by a Police Officer in a starched white uniform. I’m McCallum”, he said,
              “I’ve come to drive you to the church.” Downstairs he introduced me to a big man in a
              tussore silk suit. “This is Dr Shicore”, said McCallum, “He is going to give you away.”
              Honestly, I felt exactly like Alice in Wonderland. Wouldn’t have been at all surprised if
              the White Rabbit had popped up and said he was going to be my page.

              I walked out of the hotel and across the pavement in a dream and there, by the
              curb, was a big dark blue police car decorated with white ribbons and with a tall African
              Police Ascari holding the door open for me. I had hardly time to wonder what next when
              the car drew up before a tall German looking church. It was in fact the Lutheran Church in
              the days when Tanganyika was German East Africa.

              Mrs Hickson-Wood, very smart in mushroom coloured georgette and lace, and
              her small daughter were waiting in the porch, so in we went. I was glad to notice my
              friends from the boat sitting behind George’s friends who were all complete strangers to
              me. The aisle seemed very long but at last I reached George waiting in the chancel with
              Hicky-Wood, looking unfamiliar in a smart tussore suit. However this feeling of unreality
              passed when he turned his head and smiled at me.

              In the vestry after the ceremony I was kissed affectionately by several complete
              strangers and I felt happy and accepted by George’s friends. Outside the church,
              standing apart from the rest of the guests, the Italian Captain and Chief Engineer were
              waiting. They came up and kissed my hand, and murmured felicitations, but regretted
              they could not spare the time to come to the reception. Really it was just as well
              because they would not have fitted in at all well.

              Dr Shircore is the Director of Medical Services and he had very kindly lent his
              large house for the reception. It was quite a party. The guests were mainly men with a
              small sprinkling of wives. Champagne corks popped and there was an enormous cake
              and soon voices were raised in song. The chief one was ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’
              and I shall remember it for ever.

              The party was still in full swing when George and I left. The old lady from the ship
              enjoyed it hugely. She came in an all black outfit with a corsage of artificial Lily-of-the-
              Valley. Later I saw one of the men wearing the corsage in his buttonhole and the old
              lady was wearing a carnation.

              When George and I got back to the hotel,I found that my luggage had been
              moved to George’s room by his cook Lamek, who was squatting on his haunches and
              clapped his hands in greeting. My dears, you should see Lamek – exactly like a
              chimpanzee – receding forehead, wide flat nose, and long lip, and such splayed feet. It was quite a strain not to laugh, especially when he produced a gift for me. I have not yet
              discovered where he acquired it. It was a faded mauve straw toque of the kind worn by
              Queen Mary. I asked George to tell Lamek that I was touched by his generosity but felt
              that I could not accept his gift. He did not mind at all especially as George gave him a
              generous tip there and then.

              I changed into a cotton frock and shady straw hat and George changed into shorts
              and bush shirt once more. We then sneaked into the dining room for lunch avoiding our
              wedding guests who were carrying on the party in the lounge.

              After lunch we rejoined them and they all came down to the jetty to wave goodbye
              as we set out by motor launch for Honeymoon Island. I enjoyed the launch trip very
              much. The sea was calm and very blue and the palm fringed beaches of Dar es Salaam
              are as romantic as any bride could wish. There are small coral islands dotted around the
              Bay of which Honeymoon Island is the loveliest. I believe at one time it bore the less
              romantic name of Quarantine Island. Near the Island, in the shallows, the sea is brilliant
              green and I saw two pink jellyfish drifting by.

              There is no jetty on the island so the boat was stopped in shallow water and
              George carried me ashore. I was enchanted with the Island and in no hurry to go to the
              bungalow, so George and I took our bathing costumes from our suitcases and sent the
              luggage up to the house together with a box of provisions.

              We bathed and lazed on the beach and suddenly it was sunset and it began to
              get dark. We walked up the beach to the bungalow and began to unpack the stores,
              tea, sugar, condensed milk, bread and butter, sardines and a large tin of ham. There
              were also cups and saucers and plates and cutlery.

              We decided to have an early meal and George called out to the caretaker, “Boy
              letta chai”. Thereupon the ‘boy’ materialised and jabbered to George in Ki-Swaheli. It
              appeared he had no utensil in which to boil water. George, ever resourceful, removed
              the ham from the tin and gave him that. We had our tea all right but next day the ham
              was bad.

              Then came bed time. I took a hurricane lamp in one hand and my suitcase in the
              other and wandered into the bedroom whilst George vanished into the bathroom. To
              my astonishment I saw two perfectly bare iron bedsteads – no mattress or pillows. We
              had brought sheets and mosquito nets but, believe me, they are a poor substitute for a

              Anyway I arrayed myself in my pale yellow satin nightie and sat gingerly down
              on the iron edge of the bed to await my groom who eventually appeared in a
              handsome suit of silk pyjamas. His expression, as he took in the situation, was too much
              for me and I burst out laughing and so did he.

              Somewhere in the small hours I woke up. The breeze had dropped and the
              room was unbearably stuffy. I felt as dry as a bone. The lamp had been turned very
              low and had gone out, but I remembered seeing a water tank in the yard and I decided
              to go out in the dark and drink from the tap. In the dark I could not find my slippers so I
              slipped my feet into George’s shoes, picked up his matches and groped my way out
              of the room. I found the tank all right and with one hand on the tap and one cupped for
              water I stooped to drink. Just then I heard a scratchy noise and sensed movements
              around my feet. I struck a match and oh horrors! found that the damp spot on which I was
              standing was alive with white crabs. In my hurry to escape I took a clumsy step, put
              George’s big toe on the hem of my nightie and down I went on top of the crabs. I need
              hardly say that George was awakened by an appalling shriek and came rushing to my
              aid like a knight of old.  Anyway, alarms and excursions not withstanding, we had a wonderful weekend on the island and I was sorry to return to the heat of Dar es Salaam, though the evenings
              here are lovely and it is heavenly driving along the coast road by car or in a rickshaw.
              I was surprised to find so many Indians here. Most of the shops, large and small,
              seem to be owned by Indians and the place teems with them. The women wear
              colourful saris and their hair in long black plaits reaching to their waists. Many wear baggy
              trousers of silk or satin. They give a carnival air to the sea front towards sunset.
              This long letter has been written in instalments throughout the day. My first break
              was when I heard the sound of a band and rushed to the balcony in time to see The
              Kings African Rifles band and Askaris march down the Avenue on their way to an
              Armistice Memorial Service. They looked magnificent.

              I must end on a note of most primitive pride. George returned from his shopping
              expedition and beamingly informed me that he had thrashed the man who annoyed me
              on the ship. I felt extremely delighted and pressed for details. George told me that
              when he went out shopping he noticed to his surprise that the ‘Timavo” was still in the
              harbour. He went across to the Agents office and there saw a man who answered to the
              description I had given. George said to him “Is your name Taylor?”, and when he said
              “yes”, George said “Well my name is George Rushby”, whereupon he hit Taylor on the
              jaw so that he sailed over the counter and down the other side. Very satisfactory, I feel.
              With much love to all.

              Your cave woman

              Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

              Dearest Family,

              Well here we are at our Country Seat, Mchewe Estate. (pronounced
              Mn,-che’-we) but I will start at the beginning of our journey and describe the farm later.
              We left the hotel at Dar es Salaam for the station in a taxi crowded with baggage
              and at the last moment Keith Wood ran out with the unwrapped bottom layer of our
              wedding cake. It remained in its naked state from there to here travelling for two days in
              the train on the luggage rack, four days in the car on my knee, reposing at night on the
              roof of the car exposed to the winds of Heaven, and now rests beside me in the tent
              looking like an old old tombstone. We have no tin large enough to hold it and one
              simply can’t throw away ones wedding cake so, as George does not eat cake, I can see
              myself eating wedding cake for tea for months to come, ants permitting.

              We travelled up by train from Dar to Dodoma, first through the lush vegetation of
              the coastal belt to Morogoro, then through sisal plantations now very overgrown with
              weeds owing to the slump in prices, and then on to the arid area around Dodoma. This
              part of the country is very dry at this time of the year and not unlike parts of our Karoo.
              The train journey was comfortable enough but slow as the engines here are fed with
              wood and not coal as in South Africa.

              Dodoma is the nearest point on the railway to Mbeya so we left the train there to
              continue our journey by road. We arrived at the one and only hotel in the early hours and
              whilst someone went to rout out the night watchman the rest of us sat on the dismal
              verandah amongst a litter of broken glass. Some bright spark remarked on the obvious –
              that there had been a party the night before.

              When we were shown to a room I thought I rather preferred the verandah,
              because the beds had not yet been made up and there was a bucket of vomit beside
              the old fashioned washstand. However George soon got the boys to clean up the
              room and I fell asleep to be awakened by George with an invitation to come and see
              our car before breakfast.

              Yes, we have our own car. It is a Chev, with what is called a box body. That
              means that sides, roof and doors are made by a local Indian carpenter. There is just the
              one front seat with a kapok mattress on it. The tools are kept in a sort of cupboard fixed
              to the side so there is a big space for carrying “safari kit” behind the cab seat.
              Lamek, who had travelled up on the same train, appeared after breakfast, and
              helped George to pack all our luggage into the back of the car. Besides our suitcases
              there was a huge bedroll, kitchen utensils and a box of provisions, tins of petrol and
              water and all Lamek’s bits and pieces which included three chickens in a wicker cage and
              an enormous bunch of bananas about 3 ft long.

              When all theses things were packed there remained only a small space between
              goods and ceiling and into this Lamek squeezed. He lay on his back with his horny feet a
              mere inch or so from the back of my head. In this way we travelled 400 miles over
              bumpy earth roads and crude pole bridges, but whenever we stopped for a meal
              Lamek wriggled out and, like Aladdin’s genie, produced good meals in no time at all.
              In the afternoon we reached a large river called the Ruaha. Workmen were busy
              building a large bridge across it but it is not yet ready so we crossed by a ford below
              the bridge. George told me that the river was full of crocodiles but though I looked hard, I
              did not see any. This is also elephant country but I did not see any of those either, only
              piles of droppings on the road. I must tell you that the natives around these parts are called Wahehe and the river is Ruaha – enough to make a cat laugh. We saw some Wahehe out hunting with spears
              and bows and arrows. They live in long low houses with the tiniest shuttered windows
              and rounded roofs covered with earth.

              Near the river we also saw a few Masai herding cattle. They are rather terrifying to
              look at – tall, angular, and very aloof. They wear nothing but a blanket knotted on one
              shoulder, concealing nothing, and all carried one or two spears.
              The road climbs steeply on the far side of the Ruaha and one has the most
              tremendous views over the plains. We spent our first night up there in the high country.
              Everything was taken out of the car, the bed roll opened up and George and I slept
              comfortably in the back of the car whilst Lamek, rolled in a blanket, slept soundly by a
              small fire nearby. Next morning we reached our first township, Iringa, and put up at the
              Colonist Hotel. We had a comfortable room in the annex overlooking the golf course.
              our room had its own little dressing room which was also the bathroom because, when
              ordered to do so, the room boy carried in an oval galvanised bath and filled it with hot
              water which he carried in a four gallon petrol tin.

              When we crossed to the main building for lunch, George was immediately hailed
              by several men who wanted to meet the bride. I was paid some handsome
              compliments but was not sure whether they were sincere or the result of a nice alcoholic
              glow. Anyhow every one was very friendly.

              After lunch I went back to the bedroom leaving George chatting away. I waited and
              waited – no George. I got awfully tired of waiting and thought I’d give him a fright so I
              walked out onto the deserted golf course and hid behind some large boulders. Soon I
              saw George returning to the room and the boy followed with a tea tray. Ah, now the hue
              and cry will start, thought I, but no, no George appeared nor could I hear any despairing
              cry. When sunset came I trailed crossly back to our hotel room where George lay
              innocently asleep on his bed, hands folded on his chest like a crusader on his tomb. In a
              moment he opened his eyes, smiled sleepily and said kindly, “Did you have a nice walk
              my love?” So of course I couldn’t play the neglected wife as he obviously didn’t think
              me one and we had a very pleasant dinner and party in the hotel that evening.
              Next day we continued our journey but turned aside to visit the farm of a sprightly
              old man named St.Leger Seaton whom George had known for many years, so it was
              after dark before George decided that we had covered our quota of miles for the day.
              Whilst he and Lamek unpacked I wandered off to a stream to cool my hot feet which had
              baked all day on the floor boards of the car. In the rather dim moonlight I sat down on the
              grassy bank and gratefully dabbled my feet in the cold water. A few minutes later I
              started up with a shriek – I had the sensation of red hot pins being dug into all my most
              sensitive parts. I started clawing my clothes off and, by the time George came to the
              rescue with the lamp, I was practically in the nude. “Only Siafu ants,” said George calmly.
              Take off all your clothes and get right in the water.” So I had a bathe whilst George
              picked the ants off my clothes by the light of the lamp turned very low for modesty’s
              sake. Siafu ants are beastly things. They are black ants with outsized heads and
              pinchers. I shall be very, very careful where I sit in future.

              The next day was even hotter. There was no great variety in the scenery. Most
              of the country was covered by a tree called Miombo, which is very ordinary when the
              foliage is a mature deep green, but when in new leaf the trees look absolutely beautiful
              as the leaves,surprisingly, are soft pastel shades of red and yellow.

              Once again we turned aside from the main road to visit one of George’s friends.
              This man Major Hugh Jones MC, has a farm only a few miles from ours but just now he is supervising the making of an airstrip. Major Jones is quite a character. He is below
              average height and skinny with an almost bald head and one nearly blind eye into which
              he screws a monocle. He is a cultured person and will, I am sure, make an interesting
              neighbour. George and Major Jones’ friends call him ‘Joni’ but he is generally known in
              this country as ‘Ropesoles’ – as he is partial to that type of footwear.
              We passed through Mbeya township after dark so I have no idea what the place
              is like. The last 100 miles of our journey was very dusty and the last 15 miles extremely
              bumpy. The road is used so little that in some places we had to plow our way through
              long grass and I was delighted when at last George turned into a side road and said
              “This is our place.” We drove along the bank of the Mchewe River, then up a hill and
              stopped at a tent which was pitched beside the half built walls of our new home. We
              were expected so there was hot water for baths and after a supper of tinned food and
              good hot tea, I climbed thankfully into bed.

              Next morning I was awakened by the chattering of the African workmen and was
              soon out to inspect the new surroundings. Our farm was once part of Hickson Wood’s
              land and is separated from theirs by a river. Our houses cannot be more than a few
              hundred yards apart as the crow flies but as both are built on the slopes of a long range
              of high hills, and one can only cross the river at the foot of the slopes, it will be quite a
              safari to go visiting on foot . Most of our land is covered with shoulder high grass but it
              has been partly cleared of trees and scrub. Down by the river George has made a long
              coffee nursery and a large vegetable garden but both coffee and vegetable seedlings
              are too small to be of use.

              George has spared all the trees that will make good shade for the coffee later on.
              There are several huge wild fig trees as big as oaks but with smooth silvery-green trunks
              and branches and there are lots of acacia thorn trees with flat tops like Japanese sun
              shades. I’ve seen lovely birds in the fig trees, Louries with bright plumage and crested
              heads, and Blue Rollers, and in the grasslands there are widow birds with incredibly long
              black tail feathers.

              There are monkeys too and horrible but fascinating tree lizards with blue bodies
              and orange heads. There are so many, many things to tell you but they must wait for
              another time as James, the house boy, has been to say “Bafu tiari” and if I don’t go at
              once, the bath will be cold.

              I am very very happy and terribly interested in this new life so please don’t
              worry about me.

              Much love to you all,

              Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

              Dearest Family,

              I’ve lots of time to write letters just now because George is busy supervising the
              building of the house from early morning to late afternoon – with a break for lunch of

              On our second day here our tent was moved from the house site to a small
              clearing further down the slope of our hill. Next to it the labourers built a ‘banda’ , which is
              a three sided grass hut with thatched roof – much cooler than the tent in this weather.
              There is also a little grass lav. so you see we have every convenience. I spend most of
              my day in the banda reading or writing letters. Occasionally I wander up to the house site
              and watch the building, but mostly I just sit.

              I did try exploring once. I wandered down a narrow path towards the river. I
              thought I might paddle and explore the river a little but I came round a bend and there,
              facing me, was a crocodile. At least for a moment I thought it was and my adrenaline
              glands got very busy indeed. But it was only an enormous monitor lizard, four or five
              feet long. It must have been as scared as I was because it turned and rushed off through
              the grass. I turned and walked hastily back to the camp and as I passed the house site I
              saw some boys killing a large puff adder. Now I do my walking in the evenings with
              George. Nothing alarming ever seems to happen when he is around.

              It is interesting to watch the boys making bricks for the house. They make a pile
              of mud which they trample with their feet until it is the right consistency. Then they fill
              wooden moulds with the clayey mud, and press it down well and turn out beautiful shiny,
              dark brown bricks which are laid out in rows and covered with grass to bake slowly in the

              Most of the materials for the building are right here at hand. The walls will be sun
              dried bricks and there is a white clay which will make a good whitewash for the inside
              walls. The chimney and walls will be of burnt brick and tiles and George is now busy
              building a kiln for this purpose. Poles for the roof are being cut in the hills behind the
              house and every day women come along with large bundles of thatching grass on their
              heads. Our windows are modern steel casement ones and the doors have been made
              at a mission in the district. George does some of the bricklaying himself. The other
              bricklayer is an African from Northern Rhodesia called Pedro. It makes me perspire just
              to look at Pedro who wears an overcoat all day in the very hot sun.
              Lamek continues to please. He turns out excellent meals, chicken soup followed
              by roast chicken, vegetables from the Hickson-Woods garden and a steamed pudding
              or fruit to wind up the meal. I enjoy the chicken but George is fed up with it and longs for
              good red meat. The chickens are only about as large as a partridge but then they cost
              only sixpence each.

              I had my first visit to Mbeya two days ago. I put on my very best trousseau frock
              for the occasion- that yellow striped silk one – and wore my wedding hat. George didn’t
              comment, but I saw later that I was dreadfully overdressed.
              Mbeya at the moment is a very small settlement consisting of a bundle of small
              Indian shops – Dukas they call them, which stock European tinned foods and native soft
              goods which seem to be mainly of Japanese origin. There is a one storied Government
              office called the Boma and two attractive gabled houses of burnt brick which house the
              District Officer and his Assistant. Both these houses have lovely gardens but i saw them
              only from the outside as we did not call. After buying our stores George said “Lets go to the pub, I want you to meet Mrs Menzies.” Well the pub turned out to be just three or four grass rondavels on a bare
              plot. The proprietor, Ken Menzies, came out to welcome us. I took to him at once
              because he has the same bush sandy eyebrows as you have Dad. He told me that
              unfortunately his wife is away at the coast, and then he ushered me through the door
              saying “Here’s George with his bride.” then followed the Iringa welcome all over again,
              only more so, because the room was full of diggers from the Lupa Goldfields about fifty
              miles away.

              Champagne corks popped as I shook hands all around and George was
              clapped on the back. I could see he was a favourite with everyone and I tried not to be
              gauche and let him down. These men were all most kind and most appeared to be men
              of more than average education. However several were unshaven and looked as
              though they had slept in their clothes as I suppose they had. When they have a little luck
              on the diggings they come in here to Menzies pub and spend the lot. George says
              they bring their gold dust and small nuggets in tobacco tins or Kruschen salts jars and
              hand them over to Ken Menzies saying “Tell me when I’ve spent the lot.” Ken then
              weighs the gold and estimates its value and does exactly what the digger wants.
              However the Diggers get good value for their money because besides the drink
              they get companionship and good food and nursing if they need it. Mrs Menzies is a
              trained nurse and most kind and capable from what I was told. There is no doctor or
              hospital here so her experience as a nursing sister is invaluable.
              We had lunch at the Hotel and afterwards I poured tea as I was the only female
              present. Once the shyness had worn off I rather enjoyed myself.

              Now to end off I must tell you a funny story of how I found out that George likes
              his women to be feminine. You will remember those dashing black silk pyjamas Aunt
              Mary gave me, with flowered “happy coat” to match. Well last night I thought I’d give
              George a treat and when the boy called me for my bath I left George in the ‘banda’
              reading the London Times. After my bath I put on my Japanese pyjamas and coat,
              peered into the shaving mirror which hangs from the tent pole and brushed my hair until it
              shone. I must confess that with my fringe and shingled hair I thought I made quite a
              glamourous Japanese girl. I walked coyly across to the ‘banda’. Alas no compliment.
              George just glanced up from the Times and went on reading.
              He was away rather a long time when it came to his turn to bath. I glanced up
              when he came back and had a slight concussion. George, if you please, was arrayed in
              my very best pale yellow satin nightie. The one with the lace and ribbon sash and little
              bows on the shoulder. I knew exactly what he meant to convey. I was not to wear the
              trousers in the family. I seethed inwardly, but pretending not to notice, I said calmly “shall
              I call for food?” In this garb George sat down to dinner and it says a great deal for African
              phlegm that the boy did not drop the dishes.

              We conversed politely about this and that, and then, as usual, George went off
              to bed. I appeared to be engrossed in my book and did not stir. When I went to the
              tent some time later George lay fast asleep still in my nightie, though all I could see of it
              was the little ribbon bows looking farcically out of place on his broad shoulders.
              This morning neither of us mentioned the incident, George was up and dressed
              by the time I woke up but I have been smiling all day to think what a ridiculous picture
              we made at dinner. So farewell to pyjamas and hey for ribbons and bows.

              Your loving

              Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

              Dearest Family,

              A mere shadow of her former buxom self lifts a languid pen to write to you. I’m
              convalescing after my first and I hope my last attack of malaria. It was a beastly
              experience but all is now well and I am eating like a horse and will soon regain my

              I took ill on the evening of the day I wrote my last letter to you. It started with a
              splitting headache and fits of shivering. The symptoms were all too familiar to George
              who got me into bed and filled me up with quinine. He then piled on all the available
              blankets and packed me in hot water bottles. I thought I’d explode and said so and
              George said just to lie still and I’d soon break into a good sweat. However nothing of the
              kind happened and next day my temperature was 105 degrees. Instead of feeling
              miserable as I had done at the onset, I now felt very merry and most chatty. George
              now tells me I sang the most bawdy songs but I hardly think it likely. Do you?
              You cannot imagine how tenderly George nursed me, not only that day but
              throughout the whole eight days I was ill. As we do not employ any African house
              women, and there are no white women in the neighbourhood at present to whom we
              could appeal for help, George had to do everything for me. It was unbearably hot in the
              tent so George decided to move me across to the Hickson-Woods vacant house. They
              have not yet returned from the coast.

              George decided I was too weak to make the trip in the car so he sent a
              messenger over to the Woods’ house for their Machila. A Machila is a canopied canvas
              hammock slung from a bamboo pole and carried by four bearers. The Machila duly
              arrived and I attempted to walk to it, clinging to George’s arm, but collapsed in a faint so
              the trip was postponed to the next morning when I felt rather better. Being carried by
              Machila is quite pleasant but I was in no shape to enjoy anything and got thankfully into
              bed in the Hickson-Woods large, cool and rather dark bedroom. My condition did not
              improve and George decided to send a runner for the Government Doctor at Tukuyu
              about 60 miles away. Two days later Dr Theis arrived by car and gave me two
              injections of quinine which reduced the fever. However I still felt very weak and had to
              spend a further four days in bed.

              We have now decided to stay on here until the Hickson-Woods return by which
              time our own house should be ready. George goes off each morning and does not
              return until late afternoon. However don’t think “poor Eleanor” because I am very
              comfortable here and there are lots of books to read and the days seem to pass very

              The Hickson-Wood’s house was built by Major Jones and I believe the one on
              his shamba is just like it. It is a square red brick building with a wide verandah all around
              and, rather astonishingly, a conical thatched roof. There is a beautiful view from the front
              of the house and a nice flower garden. The coffee shamba is lower down on the hill.
              Mrs Wood’s first husband, George’s friend Vi Lumb, is buried in the flower
              garden. He died of blackwater fever about five years ago. I’m told that before her
              second marriage Kath lived here alone with her little daughter, Maureen, and ran the farm
              entirely on her own. She must be quite a person. I bet she didn’t go and get malaria
              within a few weeks of her marriage.

              The native tribe around here are called Wasafwa. They are pretty primitive but
              seem amiable people. Most of the men, when they start work, wear nothing but some
              kind of sheet of unbleached calico wrapped round their waists and hanging to mid calf. As soon as they have drawn their wages they go off to a duka and buy a pair of khaki
              shorts for five or six shillings. Their women folk wear very short beaded skirts. I think the
              base is goat skin but have never got close enough for a good look. They are very shy.
              I hear from George that they have started on the roof of our house but I have not
              seen it myself since the day I was carried here by Machila. My letters by the way go to
              the Post Office by runner. George’s farm labourers take it in turn to act in this capacity.
              The mail bag is given to them on Friday afternoon and by Saturday evening they are
              back with our very welcome mail.

              Very much love,

              Mbeya 23rd December 1930

              Dearest Family,

              George drove to Mbeya for stores last week and met Col. Sherwood-Kelly VC.
              who has been sent by the Government to Mbeya as Game Ranger. His job will be to
              protect native crops from raiding elephants and hippo etc., and to protect game from
              poachers. He has had no training for this so he has asked George to go with him on his
              first elephant safari to show him the ropes.

              George likes Col. Kelly and was quite willing to go on safari but not willing to
              leave me alone on the farm as I am still rather shaky after malaria. So it was arranged that
              I should go to Mbeya and stay with Mrs Harmer, the wife of the newly appointed Lands
              and Mines Officer, whose husband was away on safari.

              So here I am in Mbeya staying in the Harmers temporary wattle and daub
              house. Unfortunately I had a relapse of the malaria and stayed in bed for three days with
              a temperature. Poor Mrs Harmer had her hands full because in the room next to mine
              she was nursing a digger with blackwater fever. I could hear his delirious babble through
              the thin wall – very distressing. He died poor fellow , and leaves a wife and seven

              I feel better than I have done for weeks and this afternoon I walked down to the
              store. There are great signs of activity and people say that Mbeya will grow rapidly now
              owing to the boom on the gold fields and also to the fact that a large aerodrome is to be
              built here. Mbeya is to be a night stop on the proposed air service between England
              and South Africa. I seem to be the last of the pioneers. If all these schemes come about
              Mbeya will become quite suburban.

              26th December 1930

              George, Col. Kelly and Mr Harmer all returned to Mbeya on Christmas Eve and
              it was decided that we should stay and have midday Christmas dinner with the
              Harmers. Col. Kelly and the Assistant District Commissioner came too and it was quite a
              festive occasion, We left Mbeya in the early afternoon and had our evening meal here at
              Hickson-Wood’s farm. I wore my wedding dress.

              I went across to our house in the car this morning. George usually walks across to
              save petrol which is very expensive here. He takes a short cut and wades through the
              river. The distance by road is very much longer than the short cut. The men are now
              thatching the roof of our cottage and it looks charming. It consists of a very large living
              room-dinning room with a large inglenook fireplace at one end. The bedroom is a large
              square room with a smaller verandah room adjoining it. There is a wide verandah in the
              front, from which one has a glorious view over a wide valley to the Livingstone
              Mountains on the horizon. Bathroom and storeroom are on the back verandah and the
              kitchen is some distance behind the house to minimise the risk of fire.

              You can imagine how much I am looking forward to moving in. We have some
              furniture which was made by an Indian carpenter at Iringa, refrectory dining table and
              chairs, some small tables and two armchairs and two cupboards and a meatsafe. Other
              things like bookshelves and extra cupboards we will have to make ourselves. George
              has also bought a portable gramophone and records which will be a boon.
              We also have an Irish wolfhound puppy, a skinny little chap with enormous feet
              who keeps me company all day whilst George is across at our farm working on the

              Lots and lots of love,

              Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

              Dearest Family,

              Alas, I have lost my little companion. The Doctor called in here on Boxing night
              and ran over and killed Paddy, our pup. It was not his fault but I was very distressed
              about it and George has promised to try and get another pup from the same litter.
              The Hickson-Woods returned home on the 29th December so we decided to
              move across to our nearly finished house on the 1st January. Hicky Wood decided that
              we needed something special to mark the occasion so he went off and killed a sucking
              pig behind the kitchen. The piglet’s screams were terrible and I felt that I would not be
              able to touch any dinner. Lamek cooked and served sucking pig up in the traditional way
              but it was high and quite literally, it stank. Our first meal in our own home was not a

              However next day all was forgotten and I had something useful to do. George
              hung doors and I held the tools and I also planted rose cuttings I had brought from
              Mbeya and sowed several boxes with seeds.

              Dad asked me about the other farms in the area. I haven’t visited any but there
              are five besides ours. One belongs to the Lutheran Mission at Utengule, a few miles
              from here. The others all belong to British owners. Nearest to Mbeya, at the foot of a
              very high peak which gives Mbeya its name, are two farms, one belonging to a South
              African mining engineer named Griffiths, the other to I.G.Stewart who was an officer in the
              Kings African Rifles. Stewart has a young woman called Queenie living with him. We are
              some miles further along the range of hills and are some 23 miles from Mbeya by road.
              The Mchewe River divides our land from the Hickson-Woods and beyond their farm is
              Major Jones.

              All these people have been away from their farms for some time but have now
              returned so we will have some neighbours in future. However although the houses are
              not far apart as the crow flies, they are all built high in the foothills and it is impossible to
              connect the houses because of the rivers and gorges in between. One has to drive right
              down to the main road and then up again so I do not suppose we will go visiting very
              often as the roads are very bumpy and eroded and petrol is so expensive that we all
              save it for occasional trips to Mbeya.

              The rains are on and George has started to plant out some coffee seedlings. The
              rains here are strange. One can hear the rain coming as it moves like a curtain along the
              range of hills. It comes suddenly, pours for a little while and passes on and the sun
              shines again.

              I do like it here and I wish you could see or dear little home.

              Your loving,

              Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

              Dearest Family,

              Everything is now running very smoothly in our home. Lamek continues to
              produce palatable meals and makes wonderful bread which he bakes in a four gallon
              petrol tin as we have no stove yet. He puts wood coals on the brick floor of the kitchen,
              lays the tin lengh-wise on the coals and heaps more on top. The bread tins are then put
              in the petrol tin, which has one end cut away, and the open end is covered by a flat
              piece of tin held in place by a brick. Cakes are also backed in this make-shift oven and I
              have never known Lamek to have a failure yet.

              Lamek has a helper, known as the ‘mpishi boy’ , who does most of the hard
              work, cleans pots and pans and chops the firewood etc. Another of the mpishi boy’s
              chores is to kill the two chickens we eat each day. The chickens run wild during the day
              but are herded into a small chicken house at night. One of the kitchen boy’s first duties is
              to let the chickens out first thing in the early morning. Some time after breakfast it dawns
              on Lamek that he will need a chicken for lunch. he informs the kitchen boy who selects a
              chicken and starts to chase it in which he is enthusiastically joined by our new Irish
              wolfhound pup, Kelly. Together they race after the frantic fowl, over the flower beds and
              around the house until finally the chicken collapses from sheer exhaustion. The kitchen
              boy then hands it over to Lamek who murders it with the kitchen knife and then pops the
              corpse into boiling water so the feathers can be stripped off with ease.

              I pointed out in vain, that it would be far simpler if the doomed chickens were kept
              in the chicken house in the mornings when the others were let out and also that the correct
              way to pluck chickens is when they are dry. Lamek just smiled kindly and said that that
              may be so in Europe but that his way is the African way and none of his previous
              Memsahibs has complained.

              My houseboy, named James, is clean and capable in the house and also a
              good ‘dhobi’ or washboy. He takes the washing down to the river and probably
              pounds it with stones, but I prefer not to look. The ironing is done with a charcoal iron
              only we have no charcoal and he uses bits of wood from the kitchen fire but so far there
              has not been a mishap.

              It gets dark here soon after sunset and then George lights the oil lamps and we
              have tea and toast in front of the log fire which burns brightly in our inglenook. This is my
              favourite hour of the day. Later George goes for his bath. I have mine in the mornings
              and we have dinner at half past eight. Then we talk a bit and read a bit and sometimes
              play the gramophone. I expect it all sounds pretty unexciting but it doesn’t seem so to

              Very much love,

              Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

              Dearest Family,

              It is still raining here and the countryside looks very lush and green, very different
              from the Mbeya district I first knew, when plains and hills were covered in long brown
              grass – very course stuff that grows shoulder high.

              Most of the labourers are hill men and one can see little patches of cultivation in
              the hills. Others live in small villages near by, each consisting of a cluster of thatched huts
              and a few maize fields and perhaps a patch of bananas. We do not have labour lines on
              the farm because our men all live within easy walking distance. Each worker has a labour
              card with thirty little squares on it. One of these squares is crossed off for each days work
              and when all thirty are marked in this way the labourer draws his pay and hies himself off
              to the nearest small store and blows the lot. The card system is necessary because
              these Africans are by no means slaves to work. They work only when they feel like it or
              when someone in the family requires a new garment, or when they need a few shillings
              to pay their annual tax. Their fields, chickens and goats provide them with the food they
              need but they draw rations of maize meal beans and salt. Only our headman is on a
              salary. His name is Thomas and he looks exactly like the statues of Julius Caesar, the
              same bald head and muscular neck and sardonic expression. He comes from Northern
              Rhodesia and is more intelligent than the locals.

              We still live mainly on chickens. We have a boy whose job it is to scour the
              countryside for reasonable fat ones. His name is Lucas and he is quite a character. He
              has such long horse teeth that he does not seem able to close his mouth and wears a
              perpetual amiable smile. He brings his chickens in beehive shaped wicker baskets
              which are suspended on a pole which Lucas carries on his shoulder.

              We buy our groceries in bulk from Mbeya, our vegetables come from our
              garden by the river and our butter from Kath Wood. Our fresh milk we buy from the
              natives. It is brought each morning by three little totos each carrying one bottle on his
              shaven head. Did I tell you that the local Wasafwa file their teeth to points. These kids
              grin at one with their little sharks teeth – quite an “all-ready-to-eat-you-with-my-dear” look.
              A few nights ago a message arrived from Kath Wood to say that Queenie
              Stewart was very ill and would George drive her across to the Doctor at Tukuyu. I
              wanted George to wait until morning because it was pouring with rain, and the mountain
              road to Tukuyu is tricky even in dry weather, but he said it is dangerous to delay with any
              kind of fever in Africa and he would have to start at once. So off he drove in the rain and I
              did not see him again until the following night.

              George said that it had been a nightmare trip. Queenie had a high temperature
              and it was lucky that Kath was able to go to attend to her. George needed all his
              attention on the road which was officially closed to traffic, and very slippery, and in some
              places badly eroded. In some places the decking of bridges had been removed and
              George had to get out in the rain and replace it. As he had nothing with which to fasten
              the decking to the runners it was a dangerous undertaking to cross the bridges especially
              as the rivers are now in flood and flowing strongly. However they reached Tukuyu safely
              and it was just as well they went because the Doctor diagnosed Queenies illness as
              Spirillium Tick Fever which is a very nasty illness indeed.


              Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

              Dear Family,

              I’m feeling fit and very happy though a bit lonely sometimes because George
              spends much of his time away in the hills cutting a furrow miles long to bring water to the
              house and to the upper part of the shamba so that he will be able to irrigate the coffee
              during the dry season.

              It will be quite an engineering feat when it is done as George only has makeshift
              surveying instruments. He has mounted an ordinary cheap spirit level on an old camera
              tripod and has tacked two gramophone needles into the spirit level to give him a line.
              The other day part of a bank gave way and practically buried two of George’s labourers
              but they were quickly rescued and no harm was done. However he will not let them
              work unless he is there to supervise.

              I keep busy so that the days pass quickly enough. I am delighted with the
              material you sent me for curtains and loose covers and have hired a hand sewing
              machine from Pedro-of-the-overcoat and am rattling away all day. The machine is an
              ancient German one and when I say rattle, I mean rattle. It is a most cumbersome, heavy
              affair of I should say, the same vintage as George Stevenson’s Rocket locomotive.
              Anyway it sews and I am pleased with my efforts. We made a couch ourselves out of a
              native bed, a mattress and some planks but all this is hidden under the chintz cover and
              it looks quite the genuine bought article. I have some diversions too. Small black faced
              monkeys sit in the trees outside our bedroom window and they are most entertaining to
              watch. They are very mischievous though. When I went out into the garden this morning
              before breakfast I found that the monkeys had pulled up all my carnations. There they
              lay, roots in the air and whether they will take again I don’t know.

              I like the monkeys but hate the big mountain baboons that come and hang
              around our chicken house. I am terrified that they will tear our pup into bits because he is
              a plucky young thing and will rush out to bark at the baboons.

              George usually returns for the weekends but last time he did not because he had
              a touch of malaria. He sent a boy down for the mail and some fresh bread. Old Lucas
              arrived with chickens just as the messenger was setting off with mail and bread in a
              haversack on his back. I thought it might be a good idea to send a chicken to George so
              I selected a spry young rooster which I handed to the messenger. He, however,
              complained that he needed both hands for climbing. I then had one of my bright ideas
              and, putting a layer of newspaper over the bread, I tucked the rooster into the haversack
              and buckled down the flap so only his head protruded.

              I thought no more about it until two days later when the messenger again
              appeared for fresh bread. He brought a rather terse note from George saying that the
              previous bread was uneatable as the rooster had eaten some of it and messed on the
              rest. Ah me!

              The previous weekend the Hickson-Woods, Stewarts and ourselves, went
              across to Tukuyu to attend a dance at the club there. the dance was very pleasant. All
              the men wore dinner jackets and the ladies wore long frocks. As there were about
              twenty men and only seven ladies we women danced every dance whilst the surplus
              men got into a huddle around the bar. George and I spent the night with the Agricultural
              Officer, Mr Eustace, and I met his fiancee, Lillian Austin from South Africa, to whom I took
              a great liking. She is Governess to the children of Major Masters who has a farm in the
              Tukuyu district.

              On the Sunday morning we had a look at the township. The Boma was an old German one and was once fortified as the Africans in this district are a very warlike tribe.
              They are fine looking people. The men wear sort of togas and bands of cloth around
              their heads and look like Roman Senators, but the women go naked except for a belt
              from which two broad straps hang down, one in front and another behind. Not a graceful
              garb I assure you.

              We also spent a pleasant hour in the Botanical Gardens, laid out during the last
              war by the District Commissioner, Major Wells, with German prisoner of war labour.
              There are beautiful lawns and beds of roses and other flowers and shady palm lined
              walks and banana groves. The gardens are terraced with flights of brick steps connecting
              the different levels and there is a large artificial pond with little islands in it. I believe Major
              Wells designed the lake to resemble in miniature, the Lakes of Killarney.
              I enjoyed the trip very much. We got home at 8 pm to find the front door locked
              and the kitchen boy fast asleep on my newly covered couch! I hastily retreated to the
              bedroom whilst George handled the situation.



                My Grandparents

                George Samuel Marshall 1903-1995

                Florence Noreen Warren (Nora) 1906-1988

                I always called my grandfather Mop, apparently because I couldn’t say the name Grandpa, but whatever the reason, the name stuck. My younger brother also called him Mop, but our two cousins did not.

                My earliest memories of my grandparents are the picnics.  Grandma and Mop loved going out in the car for a picnic. Favourite spots were the Clee Hills in Shropshire, North Wales, especially Llanbedr, Malvern, and Derbyshire, and closer to home, the caves and silver birch woods at Kinver Edge, Arley by the river Severn, or Bridgnorth, where Grandma’s sister Hildreds family lived.  Stourbridge was on the western edge of the Black Country in the Midlands, so one was quickly in the countryside heading west.  They went north to Derbyshire less, simply because the first part of the trip entailed driving through Wolverhampton and other built up and not particularly pleasant urban areas.  I’m sure they’d have gone there more often, as they were both born in Derbyshire, if not for that initial stage of the journey.

                There was predominantly grey tartan car rug in the car for picnics, and a couple of folding chairs.  There were always a couple of cushions on the back seat, and I fell asleep in the back more times than I can remember, despite intending to look at the scenery.  On the way home Grandma would always sing,  “Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed, I had a little drink about an hour ago, And it’s gone right to my head.”  I’ve looked online for that song, and have not found it anywhere!

                Grandma didn’t just make sandwiches for picnics, there were extra containers of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and so on.  I used to love to wash up the picnic plates in the little brook on the Clee Hills, near Cleeton St Mary.  The close cropped grass was ideal for picnics, and Mop and the sheep would Baaa at each other.

                Mop would base the days outting on the weather forcast, but Grandma often used to say he always chose the opposite of what was suggested. She said if you want to go to Derbyshire, tell him you want to go to Wales.  I recall him often saying, on a gloomy day, Look, there’s a bit of clear sky over there.  Mop always did the driving as Grandma never learned to drive. Often she’d dust the dashboard with a tissue as we drove along.

                My brother and I often spent the weekend at our grandparents house, so that our parents could go out on a Saturday night.  They gave us 5 shillings pocket money, which I used to spend on two Ladybird books at 2 shillings and sixpence each.  We had far too many sweets while watching telly in the evening ~ in the dark, as they always turned the lights off to watch television.  The lemonade and pop was Corona, and came in returnable glass bottles.  We had Woodpecker cider too, even though it had a bit of an alcohol content.

                Mop smoked Kensitas and Grandma smoked Sovereign cigarettes, or No6, and the packets came with coupons.  They often let me choose something for myself out of the catalogue when there were enough coupons saved up.

                When I had my first garden, in a rented house a short walk from theirs, they took me to garden nurseries and taught me all about gardening.  In their garden they had berberis across the front of the house under the window, and cotoneaster all along the side of the garage wall. The silver birth tree on the lawn had been purloined as a sapling from Kinver edge, when they first moved into the house.  (they lived in that house on Park Road for more than 60 years).  There were perennials and flowering shrubs along the sides of the back garden, and behind the silver birch, and behind that was the vegeatable garden.  Right at the back was an Anderson shelter turned into a shed, the rhubarb, and the washing line, and the canes for the runner beans in front of those.  There was a little rose covered arch on the path on the left, and privet hedges all around the perimeter.

                My grandfather was a dental technician. He worked for various dentists on their premises over the years, but he always had a little workshop of his own at the back of his garage. His garage was full to the brim of anything that might potentially useful, but it was not chaotic. He knew exactly where to find anything, from the tiniest screw for spectacles to a useful bit of wire. He was “mechanicaly minded” and could always fix things like sewing machines and cars and so on.

                Mop used to let me sit with him in his workshop, and make things out of the pink wax he used for gums to embed the false teeth into prior to making the plaster casts. The porcelain teeth came on cards, and were strung in place by means of little holes on the back end of the teeth. I still have a necklace I made by threading teeth onto a string. There was a foot pedal operated drill in there as well, possibly it was a dentists drill previously, that he used with miniature grinding or polishing attachments. Sometimes I made things out of the pink acrylic used for the final denture, which had a strong smell and used to harden quickly, so you had to work fast. Initially, the workshop was to do the work for Uncle Ralph, Grandmas’s sisters husband, who was a dentist. In later years after Ralph retired, I recall a nice man called Claude used to come in the evening to collect the dentures for another dental laboratory. Mop always called his place of work the laboratory.

                Grandma loved books and was always reading, in her armchair next to the gas fire. I don’t recall seeing Mop reading a book, but he was amazingly well informed about countless topics.
                At family gatherings, Mops favourite topic of conversation after dinner was the atrocities committed over the centuries by organized religion.

                My grandfather played snooker in his younger years at the Conservative club. I recall my father assuming he voted Conservative, and Mop told him in no uncertain terms that he’s always voted Labour. When asked why he played snooker at the Conservative club and not the Labour club, he said with a grin that “it was a better class of people”, but that he’d never vote Conservative because it was of no benefit to the likes of us working people.

                Grandma and her sister in law Marie had a little grocers shop on Brettel Lane in Amblecote for a few years but I have no personal recollection of that as it was during the years we lived in USA. I don’t recall her working other than that. She had a pastry making day once a week, and made Bakewell tart, apple pie, a meat pie, and her own style of pizza. She had an old black hand operated sewing machine, and made curtains and loose covers for the chairs and sofa, but I don’t think she made her own clothes, at least not in later years. I have her sewing machine here in Spain.
                At regular intervals she’d move all the furniture around and change the front room into the living room and the back into the dining room and vice versa. In later years Mop always had the back bedroom (although when I lived with them aged 14, I had the back bedroom, and painted the entire room including the ceiling purple). He had a very lumpy mattress but he said it fit his bad hip perfectly.

                Grandma used to alternate between the tiny bedroom and the big bedroom at the front. (this is in later years, obviously) The wardrobes and chests of drawers never changed, they were oak and substantial, but rather dated in appearance. They had a grandfather clock with a brass face and a grandmother clock. Over the fireplace in the living room was a Utrillo print. The bathroom and lavatory were separate rooms, and the old claw foot bath had wood panels around it to make it look more modern. There was a big hot water geyser above it. Grandma was fond of using stick on Fablon tile effects to try to improve and update the appearance of the bathroom and kitchen. Mop was a generous man, but would not replace household items that continued to function perfectly well. There were electric heaters in all the rooms, of varying designs, and gas fires in living room and dining room. The coal house on the outside wall was later turned into a downstairs shower room, when Mop moved his bedroom downstairs into the front dining room, after Grandma had died and he was getting on.


                Mop was 91 when he told me he wouldn’t be growing any vegetables that year. He said the sad thing was that he knew he’d never grow vegetables again. He worked part time until he was in his early 80s.


                  Phyllis Ellen Marshall

                  1909 – 1983

                  Phyllis Marshall


                  Phyllis, my grandfather George Marshall’s sister, never married. She lived in her parents home in Love Lane, and spent decades of her later life bedridden, living alone and crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. She had her bed in the front downstairs room, and had cords hanging by her bed to open the curtains, turn on the tv and so on, and she had carers and meals on wheels visit her daily. The room was dark and grim, but Phyllis was always smiling and cheerful.  Phyllis loved the Degas ballerinas and had a couple of prints on the walls.

                  I remember visiting her, but it has only recently registered that this was my great grandparents house. When I was a child, we visited her and she indicated a tin on a chest of drawers and said I could take a biscuit. It was a lemon puff, and was the stalest biscuit I’d ever had. To be polite I ate it. Then she offered me another one! I declined, but she thought I was being polite and said “Go on! You can have another!” I ate another one, and have never eaten a lemon puff since that day.

                  Phyllis’s nephew Bryan Marshall used to visit her regularly. I didn’t realize how close they were until recently, when I resumed contact with Bryan, who emigrated to USA in the 1970s following a successful application for a job selling stained glass windows and church furnishings.

                  I asked on a Stourbridge facebook group if anyone remembered her.

                  AF  Yes I remember her. My friend and I used to go up from Longlands school every Friday afternoon to do jobs for her. I remember she had a record player and we used to put her 45rpm record on Send in the Clowns for her. Such a lovely lady. She had her bed in the front room.

                  KW I remember very clearly a lady in a small house in Love Lane with alley at the left hand.  I was intrigued by this lady who used to sit with the front door open and she was in a large chair of some sort. I used to see people going in and out and the lady was smiling. I was young then (31) and wondered how she coped but my sense was she had lots of help.  I’ve never forgotten that lady in Love Lane sitting in the open door way I suppose when it was warm enough.

                  LR I used to deliver meals on wheels to her lovely lady.

                  I sent Bryan the comments from the Stourbridge group and he replied:

                  Thanks Tracy. I don’t recognize the names here but lovely to see such kind comments.
                  In the early 70’s neighbors on Corser Street, Mr. & Mrs. Walter Braithwaite would pop around with occasional visits and meals. Walter was my piano teacher for awhile when I was in my early twenties. He was a well known music teacher at Rudolph Steiner School (former Elmfield School) on Love Lane. A very fine school. I seem to recall seeing a good article on Walter recently…perhaps on the Stourbridge News website. He was very well known.
                  I’m ruminating about life with my Aunt Phyllis. We were very close. Our extra special time was every Saturday at 5pm (I seem to recall) we’d watch Doctor Who. Right from the first episode. We loved it. Likewise I’d do the children’s crossword out of Woman’s Realm magazine…always looking to win a camera but never did ! She opened my mind to the Bible, music and ballet. She once got tickets and had a taxi take us into Birmingham to see the Bolshoi Ballet…at a time when they rarely left their country. It was a very big deal in the early 60’s. ! I’ve many fond memories about her and grandad which I’ll share in due course. I’d change the steel needle on the old record player, following each play of the 78rpm records…oh my…another world.

                  Bryan continues reminiscing about Phyllis in further correspondence:

                  Yes, I can recall those two Degas prints. I don’t know much of Phyllis’ early history other than she was a hairdresser in Birmingham. I want to say at John Lewis, for some reason (so there must have been a connection and being such a large store I bet they did have a salon?)
                  You will know that she had severe and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis that eventually gnarled her hands and moved through her body. I remember strapping on her leg/foot braces and hearing her writhe in pain as I did so but she wanted to continue walking standing/ getting up as long as she could. I’d take her out in the wheelchair and I can’t believe I say it along …but down Stanley Road!! (I had subsequent nightmares about what could have happened to her, had I tripped or let go!) She loved Mary Stevens Park, the swans, ducks and of course Canadian geese. Was grateful for everything in creation. As I used to go over Hanbury Hill on my visit to Love Lane, she would always remind me to smell the “sea-air” as I crested the hill.
                  In the earlier days she smoked cigarettes with one of those long filters…looking like someone from the twenties.

                  I’ll check on “Send in the clowns”. I do recall that music. I remember also she loved to hear Neil Diamond. Her favorites in classical music gave me an appreciation of Elgar and Delius especially. She also loved ballet music such as Swan Lake and Nutcracker. Scheherazade and La Boutique Fantastic also other gems.
                  When grandad died she and aunt Dorothy shared more about grandma (who died I believe when John and I were nine-months old…therefore early 1951). Grandma (Mary Ann Gilman Purdy) played the piano and loved Strauss and Offenbach. The piano in the picture you sent had a bad (wonky) leg which would fall off and when we had the piano at 4, Mount Road it was rather dangerous. In any event my parents didn’t want me or others “banging on it” for fear of waking the younger brothers so it disappeared at sometime.
                  By the way, the dog, Flossy was always so rambunctious (of course, she was a JRT!) she was put on the stairway which fortunately had a door on it. Having said that I’ve always loved dogs so was very excited to see her and disappointed when she was not around. 

                  Phyllis with her parents William and Mary Marshall, and Flossie the dog in the garden at Love Lane:

                  Phyllis William and Mary Marshall


                  Bryan continues:

                  I’ll always remember the early days with the outside toilet with the overhead cistern caked in active BIG spider webs. I used to have to light a candle to go outside, shielding the flame until destination. In that space I’d set the candle down and watch the eery shadows move from side to side whilst…well anyway! Then I’d run like hell back into the house. Eventually the kitchen wall was broken through so it became an indoor loo. Phew!
                  In the early days the house was rented for ten-shillings a week…I know because I used to take over a ten-bob-note to a grumpy lady next door who used to sign the receipt in the rent book. Then, I think she died and it became available for $600.00 yes…the whole house for $600.00 but it wasn’t purchased then. Eventually aunt Phyllis purchased it some years later…perhaps when grandad died.

                  I used to work much in the back garden which was a lovely walled garden with arch-type decorations in the brickwork and semicircular shaped capping bricks. The abundant apple tree. Raspberry and loganberry canes. A gooseberry bush and huge Victoria plum tree on the wall at the bottom of the garden which became a wonderful attraction for wasps! (grandad called the “whasps”). He would stew apples and fruit daily.
                  Do you remember their black and white cat Twinky? Always sat on the pink-screen TV and when she died they were convinced that “that’s wot got ‘er”. Grandad of course loved all his cats and as he aged, he named them all “Billy”.

                  Have you come across the name “Featherstone” in grandma’s name. I don’t recall any details but Dorothy used to recall this. She did much searching of the family history Such a pity she didn’t hand anything on to anyone. She also said that we had a member of the family who worked with James Watt….but likewise I don’t have details.
                  Gifts of chocolates to Phyllis were regular and I became the recipient of the overflow!

                  What a pity Dorothy’s family history research has disappeared!  I have found the Featherstone’s, and the Purdy who worked with James Watt, but I wonder what else Dorothy knew.

                  I mentioned DH Lawrence to Bryan, and the connection to Eastwood, where Bryan’s grandma (and Phyllis’s mother) Mary Ann Gilman Purdy was born, and shared with him the story about Francis Purdy, the Primitive Methodist minister, and about Francis’s son William who invented the miners lamp.

                  He replied:

                  As a nosy young man I was looking through the family bookcase in Love Lane and came across a brown paper covered book. Intrigued, I found “Sons and Lovers” D.H. Lawrence. I knew it was a taboo book (in those days) as I was growing up but now I see the deeper connection. Of course! I know that Phyllis had I think an earlier boyfriend by the name of Maurice who lived in Perry Barr, Birmingham. I think he later married but was always kind enough to send her a book and fond message each birthday (Feb.12). I guess you know grandad’s birthday – July 28. We’d always celebrate those days. I’d usually be the one to go into Oldswinford and get him a cardigan or pullover and later on, his 2oz tins of St. Bruno tobacco for his pipe (I recall the room filled with smoke as he puffed away).
                  Dorothy and Phyllis always spoke of their ancestor’s vocation as a Minister. So glad to have this history! Wow, what a story too. The Lord rescued him from mischief indeed. Just goes to show how God can change hearts…one at a time.
                  So interesting to hear about the Miner’s Lamp. My vicar whilst growing up at St. John’s in Stourbridge was from Durham and each Harvest Festival, there would be a miner’s lamp placed upon the altar as a symbol of the colliery and the bountiful harvest.

                  More recollections from Bryan about the house and garden at Love Lane:

                  I always recall tea around the three legged oak table bedecked with a colorful seersucker cloth. Battenburg cake. Jam Roll. Rich Tea and Digestive biscuits. Mr. Kipling’s exceedingly good cakes! Home-made jam.  Loose tea from the Coronation tin cannister. The ancient mangle outside the back door and the galvanized steel wash tub with hand-operated agitator on the underside of the lid. The hand operated water pump ‘though modernisation allowed for a cold tap only inside, above the single sink and wooden draining board. A small gas stove and very little room for food preparation. Amazing how the Marshalls (×7) managed in this space!

                  The small window over the sink in the kitchen brought in little light since the neighbor built on a bathroom annex at the back of their house, leaving #47 with limited light, much to to upset of grandad and Phyllis. I do recall it being a gloomy place..i.e.the kitchen and back room.

                  The garden was lovely. Long and narrow with privet hedge dividing the properties on the right and the lovely wall on the left. Dorothy planted spectacular lilac bushes against the wall. Vivid blues, purples and whites. Double-flora. Amazing…and with stunning fragrance. Grandad loved older victorian type plants such as foxgloves and comfrey. Forget-me-nots and marigolds (calendulas) in abundance.  Rhubarb stalks. Always plantings of lettuce and other vegetables. Lots of mint too! A large varigated laurel bush outside the front door!

                  Such a pleasant walk through the past. 

                  An autograph book belonging to Phyllis from the 1920s has survived in which each friend painted a little picture, drew a cartoon, or wrote a verse.  This entry is perhaps my favourite:

                  Ripping Time


                    Murder At The Bennistons

                    We don’t know exactly what happened immediately after the death of Catherine Housley’s mother in 1849, but by 1850 the two older daughters Elizabeth and Mary Anne were inmates in Belper Workhouse.  Catherine was just six weeks old, so presumably she was with a wet nurse, possibly even prior to her mothers death.  By 1851, according to the census, she was living in Heanor, a small town near to Smalley,  with John Benniston, a framework knitter, and his family. Framework knitters (abbreviated to FWK should you happen to see it on a census) rented a large loom and made stockings and everyone in the family helped. Often the occupation of other household members would be “seamer”: they would stitch the stocking seams together.  Catherine was still living with the Bennistons ten years later in 1861.

                    Framework Knitters


                    I read some chapters of a thesis on the south Derbyshire poor in the 1800s and found some illuminating information about indentured apprenticeship of children especially if one parent died. It was not at all uncommon,  and framework knitters in particular often had indentured apprentices.  It was a way to ensure the child was fed and learned a skill.  Children commonly worked from the age of ten or 12 anyway. They were usually placed walking distance of the family home and maintained contact. The indenture could be paid by the parish poor fund, which cost them slightly less than sending them to the poorhouse, and could be paid off by a parent if circumstances improved to release the child from the apprenticeship.
                    A child who was an indentured apprentice would continue a normal life after the term of apprenticeship, usually still in contact with family locally.

                    I found a newspaper article titled “Child Murder at Heanor” dated 1858.

                    Heanor baby murder

                    A 23 year old lodger at the Bennistons, Hannah Cresswell, apparently murdered a new born baby that she gave birth to in the privy, which the midwife took away and had buried as a still birth. The baby was exhumed after an anonymous tip off from a neighbour, citing that it was the 4th such incident. Catherine Housley would have been nine years old at the time.

                    Heanor baby murder 2


                    Subsequent newspaper articles indicate that the case was thrown out, despite the doctors evidence that the baby had been beaten to death.

                    In July 1858 the inquest was held in the King of Prussia,  on the Hannah Cresswell baby murder at the Bennistons.

                    The King of Prussia, Heanor, in 1860:

                    King of Prussia Heanor


                    I don’t know how long it’s been since I ran away but I wish I’d done it years ago. I’m having a whale of a time. Every day is different and always new people to talk to.  Boggles my mind to think how long I spent sitting in the same place seeing the same two or three faces day in day out.  I miss my old comfy chair sometimes, though. That’s one thing that’s hard to find, a nice recliner to kick back and snooze in.  You can find things to sit on, but not with arms and a backrest.

                    I discovered a good trick for getting a bit of a lie down, though, especially when it rains.  I go and sit in an emergency ward waiting room and start doubling over saying I’m in pain, and they let me lie on a trolley.   If I fall asleep quietly they tend to forget me, they’re that busy rushing all over the place, and then when I wake up I just sneak out.  Always make full use of the bathroom facilities before I go and if I wander around a bit I can usually find one with a shower as well.  Usually find some useful odds and ends on the carts the staff push around, and then I’m on my way, rested, showered, toileted and ready to roll.

                    I always wear a mask though, I don’t take unnecessary risks.  And I only take unused syringes to trade with the junkies.  I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that I’d passed the plague on to anyone vulnerable.


                    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

                    The words of the Great Leader Undisputed Gabe were still resonating in the back of Gavin’s mind. The promotion to Operating Tomathetan seemed a great honour on the surface, but it certainly brought its lot of responsibilities with it. And from what he had seen before, it would only add to his current ones.

                    Gavin descended the Pealgrim path to the Dark Room where all the sorting happened. Many trails from the many carrot fields combined into one and all led to that central building all painted in black, hence its name.

                    A zealous Seed level had recently been put in charge of the re-painting. As there was only black paint in the warehouse he had the genius idea to save the order some money by using only what they already had, and as there was enough paint he covered all the windows, certainly thinking light could damage the crops. Repainting everything was out of the question so they had kept it like that and just added some artificial light to help the workers. Great Leader Undisputed Gabe, had thought it was a nice initiative as now workers could work any hour of the day.

                    When Gavin entered the Dark Room, it reeked of carrot and sweat. Members of the cult of all ages were sorting the divine roots by shapes, sizes and thickness. Most of them didn’t know what was the final purpose, innocent minds. All they had was the Sorting Song written by Britta the one legged vestal to help her fellow cultshipers in their work.

                    If a carrot is short, not worth the effort
                    As a long stalactites, like ice on your tits
                    A bar thick as a fist, you’ve just been blissed

                    Each verse gave advices about what they were looking for, where to put them after sorting and each team had their own songs that they sang while doing their work with the enthusiasm of cultshipers. Even though the song had been crafted to answer most of the situations in terms of carrot shapes, sizes and thickness, it happened that some would not fit into any categories. And recently, those seem to happen more often than once and the pile of misshapen carrots threaten to exceed that of the others combined.

                    “Eugene, Have you found what is the problem?” asked Gavin to their agronomist. His surname was Carrot and he came from noble Irish descent, quite appropriate for his work, thought Gavin. Eugene was skinny with a long neck and he often seemed to abuse the ritual fasting ceremony ending with the consumption of sacred mushroom soup.

                    “It’s because of the microscopic snails that infest the crops,” Eugene said. Gavin couldn’t help but notice an accumulation of dried saliva at the corner of his mouth. “They’re carried by bird shit and they are too small to be eaten by our ducks and in the end they cause the carrots to grow random shapes unfit for Odin.”

                    Odin, short for Organic Dildo Industry, has been the main source of revenue for the cult. Since the start of the confinement the demand has skyrocketed. Especially appreciated by vegans and nature lovers, it also procured a nice orange tan on the skin after usage.

                    “Can’t you find smaller dwarf ducks?”

                    “Your Gourdness, microscopic means very tiny, even dwarf ducks wouldn’t be able to eat them unless they eat the carrots.”

                    “And that would be a problem,” sighed Gavin. “What is your solution then?”

                    “I don’t have one.”

                    Gavin raised his hands to the black roof in despair. Did he have to do the jobs of everyone? He needed some fresh eyes and fresh ideas.


                      Since the sudden disappearance of the two au pair maids, a lot had happened. But for August Finest it has been a lot of the same routine going on.

                      He wakes up in the early, early morning, his eyelids rubs on his eyeballs as if they are made of sandpaper. He seizes his belly with his hands, feels a little guilty about the nice meals prepared by Noor Mary especially for him since the start of the confinement. His six packs have started to fade away under a layer of fatty insulation and he tries to compensate by a daily routine in white T-shirt and underwear.

                      The coffee machine has detected his movements and starts to make what it does. It’s always cleaned and replenished by the discrete Mary. The noise and the smell creates an ambiance and when it rings he eats breakfast before taking his shower.

                      When he’s dressed up, his real work starts. It had not been easy for a man of his origins to appear as the best choice for the job under the Lump administration. President Lump was known to make bad jokes about his tan and him having spent too much time at the beach, and other worse things. But his worth was in the network he could connect the president with, his high discretion, which Lump was in dire need to compensate his innate tendency to boasting, and a strong adaptability to fix the president’s frequent messing around.

                      If August Finest had once admired the man and accepted the job for him, it soon changed when he realised there was nothing more underneath the boasting than more boasting and unpredictability. At the moment the only thing that make him continue was his ability to go stealth when the president had a fit of nerves, and the imposed confinement that made it impossible to leave the Beige House.

                      After the morning meeting during which the president asked him to fire a few members of the staff, August had to prepare a press conference. President Lump said he had thought about a few remarks about China and making a connection with the Mexican immigrants threatening the country by stealing the masks of the American People. After which, he had to plan a charity with first Lady Mellie Noma and redefine what a Masquerade meant. He had been asked to invite nurses and medical personnel, meaning republican and good looking in a blouse with a medical mask to make the promotion of the new mask industry Made in America. One of Mr Lump’s friend had just started a brand and was in need of some media promotion.

                      August reread the memo to be addressed to the director of the FBI, a good friend of his. A special cell at the FBI had been created especially since Lump came to power. For this particular occasion, agents posing as patients victims of the virus would be sent in the best ranked hospitals in the country with the task to look for the best nurse and doctor candidates and send them an invitation printed by Lump’s nephew’s printing company.

                      As Lump always said: “America Fist! And don’t forget people, I am America.”

                      August hit the enter button and closed the window of his professional mail account, leaving the draft of a personal mail on screen. He wasn’t sure if he could send this one. It was addressed to Noor Mary and he feared she would misunderstand the meaning of it.


                      They had to stop to get some rest. Rukshan knew the signs, the song of a black swan, a nesting bear in the forest, cubic clouds… All strange omens not to be taken lightly. He told the others they’d better find shelter somewhere and not spend the night outside.

                      As soon had he make the announcement that he saw the relief on their faces. They’d been enthusiastic for half a day, but the monotony of walking got the better of their motivation, especially the kids who were not used to such long journeys out of the cottage’s safety.

                      Fortunately they were not far from the Sooricat Inn, a place lost in the woods, it still had four walls, warm food and almost certainly a hot bath. Let’s just hope they’re open, thought the Fae.

                      When they arrived, the owner, an old man from Sina, looked at them suspiciously.

                      “Ya’ll have your attestation? I can’t believe ya’re all family. Don’t think I’m a fool, ya’re a Fae, and this little fella there, he’s smaller than the children but has a beard. Never saw anything like him,” he said with rumbling r’s pointing at the children and Gorrash with his chin. The dwarf seemed offended but a stern look from Rukshan prevented him from speaking.

                      “Anyway,” continued the innkeeper, “I can just sell ya food. Not’ing parsonal. That’s rooles, ya’know with the all stayin’at home thing from Gavernor Leraway, I can not even let ya’in. Ya can buy food and eat it outside if ya want.”

                      “Look, it’s almost twilight,” said Rukshan. “We’ve walked the whole day, the children are exhausted.”

                      Tak and Nesy showed their best puppy face, risking to make Fox burst into laughter. That seemed to soften the man a little.

                      “Oh! I really shouldn’t. I don’t like breaking rooles.”

                      “I knew you more daring, Admirable Fuyi,” said a booming voice coming from behind them. They all turned around to see Kumihimo. She was wearing a cloak made of green and yellow gingko leaves, her silvery white hair, almost glowing in the dark, cascading beautifully on her shoulders. A grey cat strode alongside her.

                      “Oh! that’s just the donkey, Ronaldo. It got transformed into a cat after walking directly into a trap to get one of those darn carrots. He knew better, don’t pity him. He got what he deserved.” Kumihimo’s rant got a indignant meow, close to a heehaw, from Ronaldo.

                      Kumi! I can’t believe it’s ya!” said the innkeeper.

                      “You two know each others?” asked Rukshan.

                      “It’s a long story,” said the innkeeper, “From when I was serving in Sina’s army, we had conquered the high plateaus. I gave up the title of Admirable when I left the army. After Kumi opened my eyes.” Fuyi’s eyes got wet. “Ah! I’m sure I’ll regret it, but come on in, ya’ll. Let me hear yar story after you taste the soup.”


                        Based on post #5959 in The Whale’s Diaries Collection.

                        As soon as Charlton finished editing his journal entry, someone knocked at the door. It was Kady in a red dress. She looked different than his dream. For starter she was not restless and she had some kind of self-assurance that she didn’t have before.

                        “Oh! Hello,” Charlton said. “Are we going to the pistil?”

                        “So you got the dream I sent you. It’ll be easier. I’m not against a cup of tea. It’s been a long time since I could enjoy one in a couch.”

                        Charlton made some rare Da Hong Pao Chinese tea, the one called Big Red Dress. A warm and rich aroma steamed out of the purple clay teapot he had brought from a trip in China. He thought the tea was a nice touch considering his friend’s garment.

                        “So, where have you been?” he asked.

                        Kady brought up the little cup to her nose and smelled the tea.

                        “Oh! You truly know your shit, Charlton.” She took a sip before continuing. “The pistils, they have been around for longer than everybody think. We call it the Pistil Maze,” Kady said. She looked at him with hesitation in her eyes. “You may not believe me, but aliens put it there, you know. Who else? But most of the people they don’t understand. They don’t want to. It’s too frightening for their little comfort. People are perceiving them now because of the virus. It’s making them able to see their frequency when they weren’t able to before. But they have been there for a long time.”

                        Then Kady told Charlton about an ancient alien race from another dimension that was bringing a power, a treasure of knowledge and abilities, but that current humans bodies were too weak to bear its intensity, and that people had to somehow upgrade before they could. The pistils, they were a series of mazes, a path to transformation. People had to follow it in order to change themselves and there was not just one path. Everyone had to follow their own.

                        The whole story about the pistils fascinated Charlton, especially after his dream. It didn’t took him long before asking his next question.

                        “Do I need to pack up special things for the trip?”

                        “Actually you don’t. We’ll find all that we need inside.”


                        In reply to: Story Bored


                          Board 8, Story 2

                          Margit, the maudlin woman on the beach, was clearly the mad doctors mother. The old snapshot Aunt Idle found of the boy Brynjúlfursdóttir a.k.a. Bronklehampton proved that he was indulging in strange experiments even as a young child.

                          Becky regretted marrying Sean but was glad she kept the wedding presents, especially that YouDo doll.  Who knew what that YouDo doll was capable of at the time, but it’s ability to teleport items during the quarantine was proving extremely useful.

                          Sam wasn’t impressed with the  Spider Amusement Park.  “It may have a spider, but it’s not much of a park and certainly doesn’t look very amusing,” he said while perusing the holiday brochures.


                          In reply to: Story Bored


                            Board 7, Story 2

                            Hector Coon announces the winner of the biggest carrot competition at the Pillaughpiffleston Manor fete, as Phlynn the gamekeeper gloats over his first prize for the fancy dress party.  Lady Theresa Eaglestone (a.k.a. T’eggy)  is confident she can continue to conceal the true paternity of the newborn Lord of the Manor, with the help of her old friend Marvin Scrozzezi.

                            Aunt Idle found the food in Iceland ghastly, especially if you weren’t a fishy sort of person. She contemplated roasting the cat instead.

                            Francette Fine of the Theatre du Soleil and Igor Popinkin of Russian Ballet troupe set up a food stall to try and make ends meet during La Cuarentena, until large theatre gatherings are permitted again.


                            Fanella was frantic, trying to think of a way to escape with her baby.  The atmosphere in this city was unbearable at the best of times, and especially in this house, but now it was excruciating. It wasn’t that she was afraid of the plague that was terrorizing people, it was the way the people were reacting that was so alarming.  They were howling like wolves, a sure sign of lunacy since time immemorial. The sound of it made her blood run cold.

                            Nobody had seen the president for over a week and rumours were rife. Many said that he’d died, and they were keeping it secret to avoid civil unrest.  An office junior was continuing his tweets to the nation, using a random predictive text algorithm. Nobody had noticed. That wasn’t strictly true of course as many had commented that the messages now made marginally more sense.

                            Fanella could sense the swelling chaos in the air, both inside the house and beyond, in the city and in the nation. Everyone was losing their minds. She had to escape.

                            She consulted the U Chong:

                             (Chin / Jin) : Progress / Advance. It represents Prospering, as well as Progress. It is symbolic of meeting the great man.

                            The great man! Of course! Lazuli Galore would come to rescue her! But how would he know where to find her? Would he be able to travel freely? He’d find a way, surely! But how would he know she needed help? It was so complicated. So hard to know what to do!

                            But first things first. Fanella crept down to the kitchen, in the dead  of the night while everyone was tucked up in their beds with their fitful nightmares, and filled a rucksack with provisions. Then she crept up the back stairs to her hideout in the attic of the west wing.  The baby was still sleeping soundly. Fanella lay down and pulled a blanket round them both. Maybe the answer would come in a dream. If not, she’d think about it again tomorrow.


                            It wasn’t such a bad day, thought Olliverand it might even be a good day. The birds are singing, we saw a boar and a few deers already. Animals are getting back and they don’t seem to fear the humans so much.

                            Rukshan was walking first and Fox was following him with a heavy backpack. Tak and Nesy were mostly playing around and marvelling at everything their path crossed. Olliver envied their innocence, the innocence he had lost not so long ago.

                            Except the animals and the two guards they had to hide from, the day had mostly been uneventful and Olliver’s mind was wandering off into the mountain where he could feel useful and strong. He felt strangely blissed and suddenly had the impulse to walk toward a patch of yellow flowers.

                            “STOP! Pay attention where you walk,” said Rukshan. “Come back to your left two feet and walk straight. I told you to follow my every steps.”

                            “Okay, uncle Ruk!” said Olliver a bit ashamed to have been caught not paying attention.

                            “I don’t understand,” said the Fae. “Glynis’s potion doesn’t seem to work for you. The aetherical tentacles around the traps don’t seem to detect us but only you, and you also seem susceptible to their power to attract you. It’s not the first time I had to warn you.”

                            The Fae could see the etherical traps and especially the free flowing tentacles or the tension lines attached to trees, stones, wooden posts, anything that would cross a trail at different heights. With the potions they should be impervious to detection and affections by the traps. Olliver hadn’t thought that far. He had thought that by following them he could manage not to be caught. Right now, he feared more Rukshan’s piercing eyes than the traps. He looked at Fox involuntarily.

                            “It’s my fault,” said Fox looking a bit contrite. Sweat was pearling on his face. “It’s becoming too dangerous for Olli so I must confess something.” He put his heavy bag on the floor and opened it and a dwarf’s head peered timidly out.

                            “Ohh!” said Tak and Nesy together. They looked rather happily surprised but looked at Rukshan’s waiting for the storm.

                            “Are we already there?” asked Gorrash, his face rendered a bit red by the lack of breathable air in the bag. When he saw the anger on Rukshan’s face he stopped talking.

                            “By the fat belly of the giants! What made you do such a stupid thing?”

                            “We thought that it would be enough to follow you for Olli to avoid the traps,” said Fox.

                            “You didn’t think at all!” said the Fae. “The potions were not just for the fun of drinking something pungent and bitter with the taste and texture of yak wool.”

                            “Please! Don’t make me and Gorrash teleport back to the cottage,” said Olliver.

                            “Leave me out of this teleportation stuff!” said Gorrash.

                            “What an idea! But I already thought of that my little friend. You two are going to to back.”

                            “No we’re not! If you make us go back we’ll follow you from a distance.”

                            “You know the boys,” said Fox putting a hand on Rukshan’s arm.

                            “Oh You, I’m sure it’s your idea,” started Rukshan.

                            “No, it’s mine,” said Olliver. “Uncle Fox had almost convinced Gorrash it was better to stay, but I couldn’t let him be stay behind after just being reborn. You said it once, we don’t leave our friends behind.”

                            “I’m sure it was under another set of circumstances,” countered the Fae.

                            “Anyway you see the traps, I can follow your instructions. And if there is any fever problem I can teleport Gorrash back to the cottage.”

                            “I do not totally agree with you but I see you have learned to make an argumentation.”

                            Fox felt the Fae relax. “Agreed, you come with us to the Great Lakes to meet the Graetaceans and you’ll follow what I tell you to do from now on. I’ll treat you as a responsible adult.”

                            “Yay! We’ll meet the Graetaceans!” said Nesy.

                            Olli and Gorrash will stay with us,” said Tak jumping around his friends with such a broad smile. Rukshan thought he was growing too soft on them all, with the new generation growing he started to feel his own age.


                            The latex rompers were shaping her old body in a way she quite enjoyed. It was like being back in her… she counted on her fingers to be sure. To be even surer she counted twice. Yes! It was like being back in the sixties, especially with the choice of colours that had been made by whomever had made the rompers. Her silhouette looked gorgeous, if you didn’t pay too much attention to the bingo wings and the pelican throat. She laughed. It was like seeing a superposition of a younger and an older self. She would have loved the face of Ricardo if he saw her like that. And the beehive haircut, it certainly was a good idea. She wondered if she was still under LSD. But the walls and the beehive hair seemed too solid for that.

                            A sliding door that she had not noticed before opened.

                            “Good to see you’re settling in,” said the woman who entered with a puff of bacon smell. “I’m Barbara.” She was holding a tray with a steaming plate of sweet peas and carrots. Sophie always had a sharp eye but couldn’t see any real bacon among the peas and the carrots. She smiled to the newcomer anyway. Barbara had the same latex rompers with the same colours. And she had a beehive haircut.

                            “Hello! Barbara,” said Sophie. “I like that name. I knew a man once… well not that you’re a man. Are you? Anyway I see you have a beehive haircut too. Am I back in the sixties?” She realised she was a bit confused, not able to finish one sentence or follow a single narrative. But the smell of bacon was so unnerving.

                            Barbara put the tray on the table.

                            “Well, no,” she said to Sophie. “It’s just a haircut that I like and it’s very practical for all sort of things.” She reached into hers and got out a pen and a notebook. Sophie lifted her hand to her haircut.

                            “Do I have?..”

                            “No dear. But, I need your sign here… just a formality.” Barbara smiled and handed the notebook to Sophie along with the pen. Then she crossed her arms waiting. Her fingers were drumming on her soft pale skin and Sophie couldn’t help but notice that Barbara had six fingers on one of her hands.

                            “Where am I?” she asked.


                            Life around the woods had changed in a strange way since the appearance of the beaver fever. It was called after some theory from where it came from. Some said patient zero was a trapper far off in the woods who caught an infected beaver and sold its fur to the market. The fur then contaminated the coat maker and then the clients who tried on that coat, hence leading to contamination nests in the entire realm. The beaver fever took time to incubate, so when people first noticed the trapper wasn’t coming back, it was too late.

                            That’s not such a bad thing to live a little recluse in the woods, thought Eleri. She usually was restless and lately had been wandering off into town and into the countryside looking for things to paint with her tar black pigment. It is a new phase of experimentation, she had said to Glynis who had been wondering if she could include more variety to her palette. I’m looking to capture the contrasting soul of what I’m painting.

                            Don’t you mean contrasted? asked Glynis.

                            Do I? Whatever, I’m experimenting.

                            Glynis knew better than to argue with Eleri, and Eleri knew better than trying to make words fit the world. It was better to make the world fit her words. How could you explain that to someone? So she assumed people understood.

                            With the curfew, though, it had first become harder. Then she had found a way by painting her own garments tar black and to complete her attire, she had asked Fox. He had also found a hobby and with a sharp knife and a log he could make you a mask so vivid to look alike anything you asked. Eleri had asked him for a crow and had painted it tar black. She looked like those doctors during the plague a few centuries back and dressed like that people certainly respected the safety distance promulgated by Leroway’s decree.

                            That man seemed hard to get rid off, especially in time such as those. Eleri suspected that Leroway was not the man she knew and once courted her. She needed to get close to investigate. Her new attire, if it might not help with the investigation at least would help embolden her and stave off boredom.


                            The clay mixture was giving off a golden hue. Everyone had gathered to look at the miracle happen, especially the two kids and their Snootish pets.

                            “I think there’s a word in the old language for what we are,” mentioned Glynis feeling that pregnant silence was too dangerously promising of unsilent babies. She was looking fondly at the odd looking family. “Tūrangawaewae. They are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home.”

                            Eleri whistled a tentative “whoohoo to that!” but she was starting to get inebriated with the fermented goat milk, and was wondering what it was all about.

                            “We’re reviving Gorrash!” the kids Tak and Nesy were chanting, like a sort of strange memory spell for her.

                            “I got news from Mr Minn,” Glynis said “Margoritt is going to be back for a few days. She said she wanted to write a novel about weaving clay and had to gather some proper material.”

                            “Good for her,” said Eleri “although I wished you’d kept some of that magical clay for me, had experiments to make on that. Could help in the great fires recovery process down under.”

                            “As a matter of fact, there was some left that I kept for you.” said Glynis. “I’ll give it to you later, but for now, just shush, and let the process unravel, or we’ll never catch up.”

                            Indeed, the protective golden carapace around Gorrash embued with rebuilding powers was finally starting to crack as the last ray of light of the day were vanishing behind the horizon.

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