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  • #6289
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Ever get the feeling you’re talking to yourself?” Liz said to herself.

    “YOU TART!!!”

    Liz swung round, wondering where the dreadful shreik came from. The little black communication device on her desk was vibrating madly, causing the tea in her cup to slosh over the side into the saucer.

    “Good Godfrey!” exclaimed Liz, visibly shaken.

    “You rang?” smiled Godfrey, crawling out from under the desk.

    “You were under my desk the whole time?” Liz was shocked.

    “Allo allo allo!”

    Roberto! You were under my desk the entire time too?”

    “Zere iz a zecret door under ze desk, madame, you did not know zis?”

    Fanella!  Good lord, not you as well!”

    Fanella grinned sheepishly. “I ‘ave come to ‘elp Finnley wiz ze bedding.”

    Liz bent down and peered under her desk. Who else was under there? But it was dark as a black hole, and covered in cobwebs.

    Fanella, do you know where Finnley is?” asked Liz.  “I miss her terribly. Everything is so dreadfully dusty without her.”

    Fanella shrugged.  “She was drugged, Madame.  It was when she tried to put a bug under the rug, someone ‘hit ‘er on ze ‘ead wiz a mug, and lugged her to a zecret location and filled her wiz drugs.” Fanella shrugged again. “Zis is why I ‘ave come to ‘elp.”

    #6268
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued part 9

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Lyamungu 3rd January 1945

    Dearest Family.

    We had a novel Christmas this year. We decided to avoid the expense of
    entertaining and being entertained at Lyamungu, and went off to spend Christmas
    camping in a forest on the Western slopes of Kilimanjaro. George decided to combine
    business with pleasure and in this way we were able to use Government transport.
    We set out the day before Christmas day and drove along the road which skirts
    the slopes of Kilimanjaro and first visited a beautiful farm where Philip Teare, the ex
    Game Warden, and his wife Mary are staying. We had afternoon tea with them and then
    drove on in to the natural forest above the estate and pitched our tent beside a small
    clear mountain stream. We decorated the tent with paper streamers and a few small
    balloons and John found a small tree of the traditional shape which we decorated where
    it stood with tinsel and small ornaments.

    We put our beer, cool drinks for the children and bottles of fresh milk from Simba
    Estate, in the stream and on Christmas morning they were as cold as if they had been in
    the refrigerator all night. There were not many presents for the children, there never are,
    but they do not seem to mind and are well satisfied with a couple of balloons apiece,
    sweets, tin whistles and a book each.

    George entertain the children before breakfast. He can make a magical thing out
    of the most ordinary balloon. The children watched entranced as he drew on his pipe
    and then blew the smoke into the balloon. He then pinched the neck of the balloon
    between thumb and forefinger and released the smoke in little puffs. Occasionally the
    balloon ejected a perfect smoke ring and the forest rang with shouts of “Do it again
    Daddy.” Another trick was to blow up the balloon to maximum size and then twist the
    neck tightly before releasing. Before subsiding the balloon darted about in a crazy
    fashion causing great hilarity. Such fun, at the cost of a few pence.

    After breakfast George went off to fish for trout. John and Jim decided that they
    also wished to fish so we made rods out of sticks and string and bent pins and they
    fished happily, but of course quite unsuccessfully, for hours. Both of course fell into the
    stream and got soaked, but I was prepared for this, and the little stream was so shallow
    that they could not come to any harm. Henry played happily in the sand and I had a
    most peaceful morning.

    Hamisi roasted a chicken in a pot over the camp fire and the jelly set beautifully in the
    stream. So we had grilled trout and chicken for our Christmas dinner. I had of course
    taken an iced cake for the occasion and, all in all, it was a very successful Christmas day.
    On Boxing day we drove down to the plains where George was to investigate a
    report of game poaching near the Ngassari Furrow. This is a very long ditch which has
    been dug by the Government for watering the Masai stock in the area. It is also used by
    game and we saw herds of zebra and wildebeest, and some Grant’s Gazelle and
    giraffe, all comparatively tame. At one point a small herd of zebra raced beside the lorry
    apparently enjoying the fun of a gallop. They were all sleek and fat and looked wild and
    beautiful in action.

    We camped a considerable distance from the water but this precaution did not
    save us from the mosquitoes which launched a vicious attack on us after sunset, so that
    we took to our beds unusually early. They were on the job again when we got up at
    sunrise so I was very glad when we were once more on our way home.

    “I like Christmas safari. Much nicer that silly old party,” said John. I agree but I think
    it is time that our children learned to play happily with others. There are no other young
    children at Lyamungu though there are two older boys and a girl who go to boarding
    school in Nairobi.

    On New Years Day two Army Officers from the military camp at Moshi, came for
    tea and to talk game hunting with George. I think they rather enjoy visiting a home and
    seeing children and pets around.

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 14 May 1945

    Dearest Family.

    So the war in Europe is over at last. It is such marvellous news that I can hardly
    believe it. To think that as soon as George can get leave we will go to England and
    bring Ann and George home with us to Tanganyika. When we know when this leave can
    be arranged we will want Kate to join us here as of course she must go with us to
    England to meet George’s family. She has become so much a part of your lives that I
    know it will be a wrench for you to give her up but I know that you will all be happy to
    think that soon our family will be reunited.

    The V.E. celebrations passed off quietly here. We all went to Moshi to see the
    Victory Parade of the King’s African Rifles and in the evening we went to a celebration
    dinner at the Game Warden’s house. Besides ourselves the Moores had invited the
    Commanding Officer from Moshi and a junior officer. We had a very good dinner and
    many toasts including one to Mrs Moore’s brother, Oliver Milton who is fighting in Burma
    and has recently been awarded the Military Cross.

    There was also a celebration party for the children in the grounds of the Moshi
    Club. Such a spread! I think John and Jim sampled everything. We mothers were
    having our tea separately and a friend laughingly told me to turn around and have a look.
    I did, and saw the long tea tables now deserted by all the children but my two sons who
    were still eating steadily, and finding the party more exciting than the game of Musical
    Bumps into which all the other children had entered with enthusiasm.

    There was also an extremely good puppet show put on by the Italian prisoners
    of war from the camp at Moshi. They had made all the puppets which included well
    loved characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Babes in the Wood as
    well as more sophisticated ones like an irritable pianist and a would be prima donna. The
    most popular puppets with the children were a native askari and his family – a very
    happy little scene. I have never before seen a puppet show and was as entranced as
    the children. It is amazing what clever manipulation and lighting can do. I believe that the
    Italians mean to take their puppets to Nairobi and am glad to think that there, they will
    have larger audiences to appreciate their art.

    George has just come in, and I paused in my writing to ask him for the hundredth
    time when he thinks we will get leave. He says I must be patient because it may be a
    year before our turn comes. Shipping will be disorganised for months to come and we
    cannot expect priority simply because we have been separated so long from our
    children. The same situation applies to scores of other Government Officials.
    I have decided to write the story of my childhood in South Africa and about our
    life together in Tanganyika up to the time Ann and George left the country. I know you
    will have told Kate these stories, but Ann and George were so very little when they left
    home that I fear that they cannot remember much.

    My Mother-in-law will have told them about their father but she can tell them little
    about me. I shall send them one chapter of my story each month in the hope that they
    may be interested and not feel that I am a stranger when at last we meet again.

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 19th September 1945

    Dearest Family.

    In a months time we will be saying good-bye to Lyamungu. George is to be
    transferred to Mbeya and I am delighted, not only as I look upon Mbeya as home, but
    because there is now a primary school there which John can attend. I feel he will make
    much better progress in his lessons when he realises that all children of his age attend
    school. At present he is putting up a strong resistance to learning to read and spell, but
    he writes very neatly, does his sums accurately and shows a real talent for drawing. If
    only he had the will to learn I feel he would do very well.

    Jim now just four, is too young for lessons but too intelligent to be interested in
    the ayah’s attempts at entertainment. Yes I’ve had to engage a native girl to look after
    Henry from 9 am to 12.30 when I supervise John’s Correspondence Course. She is
    clean and amiable, but like most African women she has no initiative at all when it comes
    to entertaining children. Most African men and youths are good at this.

    I don’t regret our stay at Lyamungu. It is a beautiful spot and the change to the
    cooler climate after the heat of Morogoro has been good for all the children. John is still
    tall for his age but not so thin as he was and much less pale. He is a handsome little lad
    with his large brown eyes in striking contrast to his fair hair. He is wary of strangers but
    very observant and quite uncanny in the way he sums up people. He seldom gets up
    to mischief but I have a feeling he eggs Jim on. Not that Jim needs egging.

    Jim has an absolute flair for mischief but it is all done in such an artless manner that
    it is not easy to punish him. He is a very sturdy child with a cap of almost black silky hair,
    eyes brown, like mine, and a large mouth which is quick to smile and show most beautiful
    white and even teeth. He is most popular with all the native servants and the Game
    Scouts. The servants call Jim, ‘Bwana Tembo’ (Mr Elephant) because of his sturdy
    build.

    Henry, now nearly two years old, is quite different from the other two in
    appearance. He is fair complexioned and fair haired like Ann and Kate, with large, black
    lashed, light grey eyes. He is a good child, not so merry as Jim was at his age, nor as
    shy as John was. He seldom cries, does not care to be cuddled and is independent and
    strong willed. The servants call Henry, ‘Bwana Ndizi’ (Mr Banana) because he has an
    inexhaustible appetite for this fruit. Fortunately they are very inexpensive here. We buy
    an entire bunch which hangs from a beam on the back verandah, and pluck off the
    bananas as they ripen. This way there is no waste and the fruit never gets bruised as it
    does in greengrocers shops in South Africa. Our three boys make a delightful and
    interesting trio and I do wish you could see them for yourselves.

    We are delighted with the really beautiful photograph of Kate. She is an
    extraordinarily pretty child and looks so happy and healthy and a great credit to you.
    Now that we will be living in Mbeya with a school on the doorstep I hope that we will
    soon be able to arrange for her return home.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 30th October 1945

    Dearest Family.

    How nice to be able to write c/o Game Dept. Mbeya at the head of my letters.
    We arrived here safely after a rather tiresome journey and are installed in a tiny house on
    the edge of the township.

    We left Lyamungu early on the morning of the 22nd. Most of our goods had
    been packed on the big Ford lorry the previous evening, but there were the usual
    delays and farewells. Of our servants, only the cook, Hamisi, accompanied us to
    Mbeya. Japhet, Tovelo and the ayah had to be paid off and largesse handed out.
    Tovelo’s granny had come, bringing a gift of bananas, and she also brought her little
    granddaughter to present a bunch of flowers. The child’s little scolded behind is now
    completely healed. Gifts had to be found for them too.

    At last we were all aboard and what a squash it was! Our few pieces of furniture
    and packing cases and trunks, the cook, his wife, the driver and the turney boy, who
    were to take the truck back to Lyamungu, and all their bits and pieces, bunches of
    bananas and Fanny the dog were all crammed into the body of the lorry. George, the
    children and I were jammed together in the cab. Before we left George looked
    dubiously at the tyres which were very worn and said gloomily that he thought it most
    unlikely that we would make our destination, Dodoma.

    Too true! Shortly after midday, near Kwakachinja, we blew a back tyre and there
    was a tedious delay in the heat whilst the wheel was changed. We were now without a
    spare tyre and George said that he would not risk taking the Ford further than Babati,
    which is less than half way to Dodoma. He drove very slowly and cautiously to Babati
    where he arranged with Sher Mohammed, an Indian trader, for a lorry to take us to
    Dodoma the next morning.

    It had been our intention to spend the night at the furnished Government
    Resthouse at Babati but when we got there we found that it was already occupied by
    several District Officers who had assembled for a conference. So, feeling rather
    disgruntled, we all piled back into the lorry and drove on to a place called Bereku where
    we spent an uncomfortable night in a tumbledown hut.

    Before dawn next morning Sher Mohammed’s lorry drove up, and there was a
    scramble to dress by the light of a storm lamp. The lorry was a very dilapidated one and
    there was already a native woman passenger in the cab. I felt so tired after an almost
    sleepless night that I decided to sit between the driver and this woman with the sleeping
    Henry on my knee. It was as well I did, because I soon found myself dosing off and
    drooping over towards the woman. Had she not been there I might easily have fallen
    out as the battered cab had no door. However I was alert enough when daylight came
    and changed places with the woman to our mutual relief. She was now able to converse
    with the African driver and I was able to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air!
    George, John and Jim were less comfortable. They sat in the lorry behind the
    cab hemmed in by packing cases. As the lorry was an open one the sun beat down
    unmercifully upon them until George, ever resourceful, moved a table to the front of the
    truck. The two boys crouched under this and so got shelter from the sun but they still had
    to endure the dust. Fanny complicated things by getting car sick and with one thing and
    another we were all jolly glad to get to Dodoma.

    We spent the night at the Dodoma Hotel and after hot baths, a good meal and a
    good nights rest we cheerfully boarded a bus of the Tanganyika Bus Service next
    morning to continue our journey to Mbeya. The rest of the journey was uneventful. We slept two nights on the road, the first at Iringa Hotel and the second at Chimala. We
    reached Mbeya on the 27th.

    I was rather taken aback when I first saw the little house which has been allocated
    to us. I had become accustomed to the spacious houses we had in Morogoro and
    Lyamungu. However though the house is tiny it is secluded and has a long garden
    sloping down to the road in front and another long strip sloping up behind. The front
    garden is shaded by several large cypress and eucalyptus trees but the garden behind
    the house has no shade and consists mainly of humpy beds planted with hundreds of
    carnations sadly in need of debudding. I believe that the previous Game Ranger’s wife
    cultivated the carnations and, by selling them, raised money for War Funds.
    Like our own first home, this little house is built of sun dried brick. Its original
    owners were Germans. It is now rented to the Government by the Custodian of Enemy
    Property, and George has his office in another ex German house.

    This afternoon we drove to the school to arrange about enrolling John there. The
    school is about four miles out of town. It was built by the German settlers in the late
    1930’s and they were justifiably proud of it. It consists of a great assembly hall and
    classrooms in one block and there are several attractive single storied dormitories. This
    school was taken over by the Government when the Germans were interned on the
    outbreak of war and many improvements have been made to the original buildings. The
    school certainly looks very attractive now with its grassed playing fields and its lawns and
    bright flower beds.

    The Union Jack flies from a tall flagpole in front of the Hall and all traces of the
    schools German origin have been firmly erased. We met the Headmaster, Mr
    Wallington, and his wife and some members of the staff. The school is co-educational
    and caters for children from the age of seven to standard six. The leaving age is elastic
    owing to the fact that many Tanganyika children started school very late because of lack
    of educational facilities in this country.

    The married members of the staff have their own cottages in the grounds. The
    Matrons have quarters attached to the dormitories for which they are responsible. I felt
    most enthusiastic about the school until I discovered that the Headmaster is adamant
    upon one subject. He utterly refuses to take any day pupils at the school. So now our
    poor reserved Johnny will have to adjust himself to boarding school life.
    We have arranged that he will start school on November 5th and I shall be very
    busy trying to assemble his school uniform at short notice. The clothing list is sensible.
    Boys wear khaki shirts and shorts on weekdays with knitted scarlet jerseys when the
    weather is cold. On Sundays they wear grey flannel shorts and blazers with the silver
    and scarlet school tie.

    Mbeya looks dusty, brown and dry after the lush evergreen vegetation of
    Lyamungu, but I prefer this drier climate and there are still mountains to please the eye.
    In fact the lower slopes of Lolesa Mountain rise at the upper end of our garden.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 21st November 1945

    Dearest Family.

    We’re quite settled in now and I have got the little house fixed up to my
    satisfaction. I have engaged a rather uncouth looking houseboy but he is strong and
    capable and now that I am not tied down in the mornings by John’s lessons I am able to
    go out occasionally in the mornings and take Jim and Henry to play with other children.
    They do not show any great enthusiasm but are not shy by nature as John is.
    I have had a good deal of heartache over putting John to boarding school. It
    would have been different had he been used to the company of children outside his
    own family, or if he had even known one child there. However he seems to be adjusting
    himself to the life, though slowly. At least he looks well and tidy and I am quite sure that
    he is well looked after.

    I must confess that when the time came for John to go to school I simply did not
    have the courage to take him and he went alone with George, looking so smart in his
    new uniform – but his little face so bleak. The next day, Sunday, was visiting day but the
    Headmaster suggested that we should give John time to settle down and not visit him
    until Wednesday.

    When we drove up to the school I spied John on the far side of the field walking
    all alone. Instead of running up with glad greetings, as I had expected, he came almost
    reluctently and had little to say. I asked him to show me his dormitory and classroom and
    he did so politely as though I were a stranger. At last he volunteered some information.
    “Mummy,” he said in an awed voice, Do you know on the night I came here they burnt a
    man! They had a big fire and they burnt him.” After a blank moment the penny dropped.
    Of course John had started school and November the fifth but it had never entered my
    head to tell him about that infamous character, Guy Fawkes!

    I asked John’s Matron how he had settled down. “Well”, she said thoughtfully,
    John is very good and has not cried as many of the juniors do when they first come
    here, but he seems to keep to himself all the time.” I went home very discouraged but
    on the Sunday John came running up with another lad of about his own age.” This is my
    friend Marks,” he announced proudly. I could have hugged Marks.

    Mbeya is very different from the small settlement we knew in the early 1930’s.
    Gone are all the colourful characters from the Lupa diggings for the alluvial claims are all
    worked out now, gone also are our old friends the Menzies from the Pub and also most
    of the Government Officials we used to know. Mbeya has lost its character of a frontier
    township and has become almost suburban.

    The social life revolves around two places, the Club and the school. The Club
    which started out as a little two roomed building, has been expanded and the golf
    course improved. There are also tennis courts and a good library considering the size of
    the community. There are frequent parties and dances, though most of the club revenue
    comes from Bar profits. The parties are relatively sober affairs compared with the parties
    of the 1930’s.

    The school provides entertainment of another kind. Both Mr and Mrs Wallington
    are good amateur actors and I am told that they run an Amateur Dramatic Society. Every
    Wednesday afternoon there is a hockey match at the school. Mbeya town versus a
    mixed team of staff and scholars. The match attracts almost the whole European
    population of Mbeya. Some go to play hockey, others to watch, and others to snatch
    the opportunity to visit their children. I shall have to try to arrange a lift to school when
    George is away on safari.

    I have now met most of the local women and gladly renewed an old friendship
    with Sheilagh Waring whom I knew two years ago at Morogoro. Sheilagh and I have
    much in common, the same disregard for the trappings of civilisation, the same sense of
    the ludicrous, and children. She has eight to our six and she has also been cut off by the
    war from two of her children. Sheilagh looks too young and pretty to be the mother of so
    large a family and is, in fact, several years younger than I am. her husband, Donald, is a
    large quiet man who, as far as I can judge takes life seriously.

    Our next door neighbours are the Bank Manager and his wife, a very pleasant
    couple though we seldom meet. I have however had correspondence with the Bank
    Manager. Early on Saturday afternoon their houseboy brought a note. It informed me
    that my son was disturbing his rest by precipitating a heart attack. Was I aware that my
    son was about 30 feet up in a tree and balanced on a twig? I ran out and,sure enough,
    there was Jim, right at the top of the tallest eucalyptus tree. It would be the one with the
    mound of stones at the bottom! You should have heard me fluting in my most
    wheedling voice. “Sweets, Jimmy, come down slowly dear, I’ve some nice sweets for
    you.”

    I’ll bet that little story makes you smile. I remember how often you have told me
    how, as a child, I used to make your hearts turn over because I had no fear of heights
    and how I used to say, “But that is silly, I won’t fall.” I know now only too well, how you
    must have felt.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 14th January 1946

    Dearest Family.

    I hope that by now you have my telegram to say that Kate got home safely
    yesterday. It was wonderful to have her back and what a beautiful child she is! Kate
    seems to have enjoyed the train journey with Miss Craig, in spite of the tears she tells
    me she shed when she said good-bye to you. She also seems to have felt quite at
    home with the Hopleys at Salisbury. She flew from Salisbury in a small Dove aircraft
    and they had a smooth passage though Kate was a little airsick.

    I was so excited about her home coming! This house is so tiny that I had to turn
    out the little store room to make a bedroom for her. With a fresh coat of whitewash and
    pretty sprigged curtains and matching bedspread, borrowed from Sheilagh Waring, the
    tiny room looks most attractive. I had also iced a cake, made ice-cream and jelly and
    bought crackers for the table so that Kate’s home coming tea could be a proper little
    celebration.

    I was pleased with my preparations and then, a few hours before the plane was
    due, my crowned front tooth dropped out, peg and all! When my houseboy wants to
    describe something very tatty, he calls it “Second-hand Kabisa.” Kabisa meaning
    absolutely. That is an apt description of how I looked and felt. I decided to try some
    emergency dentistry. I think you know our nearest dentist is at Dar es Salaam five
    hundred miles away.

    First I carefully dried the tooth and with a match stick covered the peg and base
    with Durofix. I then took the infants rubber bulb enema, sucked up some heat from a
    candle flame and pumped it into the cavity before filling that with Durofix. Then hopefully
    I stuck the tooth in its former position and held it in place for several minutes. No good. I
    sent the houseboy to a shop for Scotine and tried the whole process again. No good
    either.

    When George came home for lunch I appealed to him for advice. He jokingly
    suggested that a maize seed jammed into the space would probably work, but when
    he saw that I really was upset he produced some chewing gum and suggested that I
    should try that . I did and that worked long enough for my first smile anyway.
    George and the three boys went to meet Kate but I remained at home to
    welcome her there. I was afraid that after all this time away Kate might be reluctant to
    rejoin the family but she threw her arms around me and said “Oh Mummy,” We both
    shed a few tears and then we both felt fine.

    How gay Kate is, and what an infectious laugh she has! The boys follow her
    around in admiration. John in fact asked me, “Is Kate a Princess?” When I said
    “Goodness no, Johnny, she’s your sister,” he explained himself by saying, “Well, she
    has such golden hair.” Kate was less complementary. When I tucked her in bed last night
    she said, “Mummy, I didn’t expect my little brothers to be so yellow!” All three boys
    have been taking a course of Atebrin, an anti-malarial drug which tinges skin and eyeballs
    yellow.

    So now our tiny house is bursting at its seams and how good it feels to have one
    more child under our roof. We are booked to sail for England in May and when we return
    we will have Ann and George home too. Then I shall feel really content.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 2nd March 1946

    Dearest Family.

    My life just now is uneventful but very busy. I am sewing hard and knitting fast to
    try to get together some warm clothes for our leave in England. This is not a simple
    matter because woollen materials are in short supply and very expensive, and now that
    we have boarding school fees to pay for both Kate and John we have to budget very
    carefully indeed.

    Kate seems happy at school. She makes friends easily and seems to enjoy
    communal life. John also seems reconciled to school now that Kate is there. He no
    longer feels that he is the only exile in the family. He seems to rub along with the other
    boys of his age and has a couple of close friends. Although Mbeya School is coeducational
    the smaller boys and girls keep strictly apart. It is considered extremely
    cissy to play with girls.

    The local children are allowed to go home on Sundays after church and may bring
    friends home with them for the day. Both John and Kate do this and Sunday is a very
    busy day for me. The children come home in their Sunday best but bring play clothes to
    change into. There is always a scramble to get them to bath and change again in time to
    deliver them to the school by 6 o’clock.

    When George is home we go out to the school for the morning service. This is
    taken by the Headmaster Mr Wallington, and is very enjoyable. There is an excellent
    school choir to lead the singing. The service is the Church of England one, but is
    attended by children of all denominations, except the Roman Catholics. I don’t think that
    more than half the children are British. A large proportion are Greeks, some as old as
    sixteen, and about the same number are Afrikaners. There are Poles and non-Nazi
    Germans, Swiss and a few American children.

    All instruction is through the medium of English and it is amazing how soon all the
    foreign children learn to chatter in English. George has been told that we will return to
    Mbeya after our leave and for that I am very thankful as it means that we will still be living
    near at hand when Jim and Henry start school. Because many of these children have to
    travel many hundreds of miles to come to school, – Mbeya is a two day journey from the
    railhead, – the school year is divided into two instead of the usual three terms. This
    means that many of these children do not see their parents for months at a time. I think
    this is a very sad state of affairs especially for the seven and eight year olds but the
    Matrons assure me , that many children who live on isolated farms and stations are quite
    reluctant to go home because they miss the companionship and the games and
    entertainment that the school offers.

    My only complaint about the life here is that I see far too little of George. He is
    kept extremely busy on this range and is hardly at home except for a few days at the
    months end when he has to be at his office to check up on the pay vouchers and the
    issue of ammunition to the Scouts. George’s Range takes in the whole of the Southern
    Province and the Southern half of the Western Province and extends to the border with
    Northern Rhodesia and right across to Lake Tanganyika. This vast area is patrolled by
    only 40 Game Scouts because the Department is at present badly under staffed, due
    partly to the still acute shortage of rifles, but even more so to the extraordinary reluctance
    which the Government shows to allocate adequate funds for the efficient running of the
    Department.

    The Game Scouts must see that the Game Laws are enforced, protect native
    crops from raiding elephant, hippo and other game animals. Report disease amongst game and deal with stock raiding lions. By constantly going on safari and checking on
    their work, George makes sure the range is run to his satisfaction. Most of the Game
    Scouts are fine fellows but, considering they receive only meagre pay for dangerous
    and exacting work, it is not surprising that occasionally a Scout is tempted into accepting
    a bribe not to report a serious infringement of the Game Laws and there is, of course,
    always the temptation to sell ivory illicitly to unscrupulous Indian and Arab traders.
    Apart from supervising the running of the Range, George has two major jobs.
    One is to supervise the running of the Game Free Area along the Rhodesia –
    Tanganyika border, and the other to hunt down the man-eating lions which for years have
    terrorised the Njombe District killing hundreds of Africans. Yes I know ‘hundreds’ sounds
    fantastic, but this is perfectly true and one day, when the job is done and the official
    report published I shall send it to you to prove it!

    I hate to think of the Game Free Area and so does George. All the game from
    buffalo to tiny duiker has been shot out in a wide belt extending nearly two hundred
    miles along the Northern Rhodesia -Tanganyika border. There are three Europeans in
    widely spaced camps who supervise this slaughter by African Game Guards. This
    horrible measure is considered necessary by the Veterinary Departments of
    Tanganyika, Rhodesia and South Africa, to prevent the cattle disease of Rinderpest
    from spreading South.

    When George is home however, we do relax and have fun. On the Saturday
    before the school term started we took Kate and the boys up to the top fishing camp in
    the Mporoto Mountains for her first attempt at trout fishing. There are three of these
    camps built by the Mbeya Trout Association on the rivers which were first stocked with
    the trout hatched on our farm at Mchewe. Of the three, the top camp is our favourite. The
    scenery there is most glorious and reminds me strongly of the rivers of the Western
    Cape which I so loved in my childhood.

    The river, the Kawira, flows from the Rungwe Mountain through a narrow valley
    with hills rising steeply on either side. The water runs swiftly over smooth stones and
    sometimes only a foot or two below the level of the banks. It is sparkling and shallow,
    but in places the water is deep and dark and the banks high. I had a busy day keeping
    an eye on the boys, especially Jim, who twice climbed out on branches which overhung
    deep water. “Mummy, I was only looking for trout!”

    How those kids enjoyed the freedom of the camp after the comparative
    restrictions of town. So did Fanny, she raced about on the hills like a mad dog chasing
    imaginary rabbits and having the time of her life. To escape the noise and commotion
    George had gone far upstream to fish and returned in the late afternoon with three good
    sized trout and four smaller ones. Kate proudly showed George the two she had caught
    with the assistance or our cook Hamisi. I fear they were caught in a rather unorthodox
    manner but this I kept a secret from George who is a stickler for the orthodox in trout
    fishing.

    Eleanor.

    Jacksdale England 24th June 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Here we are all together at last in England. You cannot imagine how wonderful it
    feels to have the whole Rushby family reunited. I find myself counting heads. Ann,
    George, Kate, John, Jim, and Henry. All present and well. We had a very pleasant trip
    on the old British India Ship Mantola. She was crowded with East Africans going home
    for the first time since the war, many like us, eagerly looking forward to a reunion with their
    children whom they had not seen for years. There was a great air of anticipation and
    good humour but a little anxiety too.

    “I do hope our children will be glad to see us,” said one, and went on to tell me
    about a Doctor from Dar es Salaam who, after years of separation from his son had
    recently gone to visit him at his school. The Doctor had alighted at the railway station
    where he had arranged to meet his son. A tall youth approached him and said, very
    politely, “Excuse me sir. Are you my Father?” Others told me of children who had
    become so attached to their relatives in England that they gave their parents a very cool
    reception. I began to feel apprehensive about Ann and George but fortunately had no
    time to mope.

    Oh, that washing and ironing for six! I shall remember for ever that steamy little
    laundry in the heat of the Red Sea and queuing up for the ironing and the feeling of guilt
    at the size of my bundle. We met many old friends amongst the passengers, and made
    some new ones, so the voyage was a pleasant one, We did however have our
    anxious moments.

    John was the first to disappear and we had an anxious search for him. He was
    quite surprised that we had been concerned. “I was just talking to my friend Chinky
    Chinaman in his workshop.” Could John have called him that? Then, when I returned to
    the cabin from dinner one night I found Henry swigging Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. He had
    drunk half the bottle neat and the label said ‘five drops in water’. Luckily it did not harm
    him.

    Jim of course was forever risking his neck. George had forbidden him to climb on
    the railings but he was forever doing things which no one had thought of forbidding him
    to do, like hanging from the overhead pipes on the deck or standing on the sill of a
    window and looking down at the well deck far below. An Officer found him doing this and
    gave me the scolding.

    Another day he climbed up on a derrick used for hoisting cargo. George,
    oblivious to this was sitting on the hatch cover with other passengers reading a book. I
    was in the wash house aft on the same deck when Kate rushed in and said, “Mummy
    come and see Jim.” Before I had time to more than gape, the butcher noticed Jim and
    rushed out knife in hand. “Get down from there”, he bellowed. Jim got, and with such
    speed that he caught the leg or his shorts on a projecting piece of metal. The cotton
    ripped across the seam from leg to leg and Jim stood there for a humiliating moment in a
    sort of revealing little kilt enduring the smiles of the passengers who had looked up from
    their books at the butcher’s shout.

    That incident cured Jim of his urge to climb on the ship but he managed to give
    us one more fright. He was lost off Dover. People from whom we enquired said, “Yes
    we saw your little boy. He was by the railings watching that big aircraft carrier.” Now Jim,
    though mischievous , is very obedient. It was not until George and I had conducted an
    exhaustive search above and below decks that I really became anxious. Could he have
    fallen overboard? Jim was returned to us by an unamused Officer. He had been found
    in one of the lifeboats on the deck forbidden to children.

    Our ship passed Dover after dark and it was an unforgettable sight. Dover Castle
    and the cliffs were floodlit for the Victory Celebrations. One of the men passengers sat
    down at the piano and played ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, and people sang and a few
    wept. The Mantola docked at Tilbury early next morning in a steady drizzle.
    There was a dockers strike on and it took literally hours for all the luggage to be
    put ashore. The ships stewards simply locked the public rooms and went off leaving the
    passengers shivering on the docks. Eventually damp and bedraggled, we arrived at St
    Pancras Station and were given a warm welcome by George’s sister Cath and her
    husband Reg Pears, who had come all the way from Nottingham to meet us.
    As we had to spend an hour in London before our train left for Nottingham,
    George suggested that Cath and I should take the children somewhere for a meal. So
    off we set in the cold drizzle, the boys and I without coats and laden with sundry
    packages, including a hand woven native basket full of shoes. We must have looked like
    a bunch of refugees as we stood in the hall of The Kings Cross Station Hotel because a
    supercilious waiter in tails looked us up and down and said, “I’m afraid not Madam”, in
    answer to my enquiry whether the hotel could provide lunch for six.
    Anyway who cares! We had lunch instead at an ABC tea room — horrible
    sausage and a mound or rather sloppy mashed potatoes, but very good ice-cream.
    After the train journey in a very grimy third class coach, through an incredibly green and
    beautiful countryside, we eventually reached Nottingham and took a bus to Jacksdale,
    where George’s mother and sisters live in large detached houses side by side.
    Ann and George were at the bus stop waiting for us, and thank God, submitted
    to my kiss as though we had been parted for weeks instead of eight years. Even now
    that we are together again my heart aches to think of all those missed years. They have
    not changed much and I would have picked them out of a crowd, but Ann, once thin and
    pale, is now very rosy and blooming. She still has her pretty soft plaits and her eyes are
    still a clear calm blue. Young George is very striking looking with sparkling brown eyes, a
    ready, slightly lopsided smile, and charming manners.

    Mother, and George’s elder sister, Lottie Giles, welcomed us at the door with the
    cheering news that our tea was ready. Ann showed us the way to mother’s lovely lilac
    tiled bathroom for a wash before tea. Before I had even turned the tap, Jim had hung
    form the glass towel rail and it lay in three pieces on the floor. There have since been
    similar tragedies. I can see that life in civilisation is not without snags.

    I am most grateful that Ann and George have accepted us so naturally and
    affectionately. Ann said candidly, “Mummy, it’s a good thing that you had Aunt Cath with
    you when you arrived because, honestly, I wouldn’t have known you.”

    Eleanor.

    Jacksdale England 28th August 1946

    Dearest Family.

    I am sorry that I have not written for some time but honestly, I don’t know whether
    I’m coming or going. Mother handed the top floor of her house to us and the
    arrangement was that I should tidy our rooms and do our laundry and Mother would
    prepare the meals except for breakfast. It looked easy at first. All the rooms have wall to
    wall carpeting and there was a large vacuum cleaner in the box room. I was told a
    window cleaner would do the windows.

    Well the first time I used the Hoover I nearly died of fright. I pressed the switch
    and immediately there was a roar and the bag filled with air to bursting point, or so I
    thought. I screamed for Ann and she came at the run. I pointed to the bag and shouted
    above the din, “What must I do? It’s going to burst!” Ann looked at me in astonishment
    and said, “But Mummy that’s the way it works.” I couldn’t have her thinking me a
    complete fool so I switched the current off and explained to Ann how it was that I had
    never seen this type of equipment in action. How, in Tanganyika , I had never had a
    house with electricity and that, anyway, electric equipment would be superfluous
    because floors are of cement which the houseboy polishes by hand, one only has a
    few rugs or grass mats on the floor. “But what about Granny’s house in South Africa?’”
    she asked, so I explained about your Josephine who threatened to leave if you
    bought a Hoover because that would mean that you did not think she kept the house
    clean. The sad fact remains that, at fourteen, Ann knows far more about housework than I
    do, or rather did! I’m learning fast.

    The older children all go to school at different times in the morning. Ann leaves first
    by bus to go to her Grammar School at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Shortly afterwards George
    catches a bus for Nottingham where he attends the High School. So they have
    breakfast in relays, usually scrambled egg made from a revolting dried egg mixture.
    Then there are beds to make and washing and ironing to do, so I have little time for
    sightseeing, though on a few afternoons George has looked after the younger children
    and I have gone on bus tours in Derbyshire. Life is difficult here with all the restrictions on
    foodstuffs. We all have ration books so get our fair share but meat, fats and eggs are
    scarce and expensive. The weather is very wet. At first I used to hang out the washing
    and then rush to bring it in when a shower came. Now I just let it hang.

    We have left our imprint upon my Mother-in-law’s house for ever. Henry upset a
    bottle of Milk of Magnesia in the middle of the pale fawn bedroom carpet. John, trying to
    be helpful and doing some dusting, broke one of the delicate Dresden china candlesticks
    which adorn our bedroom mantelpiece.Jim and Henry have wrecked the once
    professionally landscaped garden and all the boys together bored a large hole through
    Mother’s prized cherry tree. So now Mother has given up and gone off to Bournemouth
    for a much needed holiday. Once a week I have the capable help of a cleaning woman,
    called for some reason, ‘Mrs Two’, but I have now got all the cooking to do for eight. Mrs
    Two is a godsend. She wears, of all things, a print mob cap with a hole in it. Says it
    belonged to her Grandmother. Her price is far beyond Rubies to me, not so much
    because she does, in a couple of hours, what it takes me all day to do, but because she
    sells me boxes of fifty cigarettes. Some non-smoking relative, who works in Players
    tobacco factory, passes on his ration to her. Until Mrs Two came to my rescue I had
    been starved of cigarettes. Each time I asked for them at the shop the grocer would say,
    “Are you registered with us?” Only very rarely would some kindly soul sell me a little
    packet of five Woodbines.

    England is very beautiful but the sooner we go home to Tanganyika, the better.
    On this, George and I and the children agree.

    Eleanor.

    Jacksdale England 20th September 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Our return passages have now been booked on the Winchester Castle and we
    sail from Southampton on October the sixth. I look forward to returning to Tanganyika but
    hope to visit England again in a few years time when our children are older and when
    rationing is a thing of the past.

    I have grown fond of my Sisters-in-law and admire my Mother-in-law very much.
    She has a great sense of humour and has entertained me with stories of her very
    eventful life, and told me lots of little stories of the children which did not figure in her
    letters. One which amused me was about young George. During one of the air raids
    early in the war when the sirens were screaming and bombers roaring overhead Mother
    made the two children get into the cloak cupboard under the stairs. Young George
    seemed quite unconcerned about the planes and the bombs but soon an anxious voice
    asked in the dark, “Gran, what will I do if a spider falls on me?” I am afraid that Mother is
    going to miss Ann and George very much.

    I had a holiday last weekend when Lottie and I went up to London on a spree. It
    was a most enjoyable weekend, though very rushed. We placed ourselves in the
    hands of Thos. Cook and Sons and saw most of the sights of London and were run off
    our feet in the process. As you all know London I shall not describe what I saw but just
    to say that, best of all, I enjoyed walking along the Thames embankment in the evening
    and the changing of the Guard at Whitehall. On Sunday morning Lottie and I went to
    Kew Gardens and in the afternoon walked in Kensington Gardens.

    We went to only one show, ‘The Skin of our Teeth’ starring Vivienne Leigh.
    Neither of us enjoyed the performance at all and regretted having spent so much on
    circle seats. The show was far too highbrow for my taste, a sort of satire on the survival
    of the human race. Miss Leigh was unrecognisable in a blond wig and her voice strident.
    However the night was not a dead loss as far as entertainment was concerned as we
    were later caught up in a tragicomedy at our hotel.

    We had booked communicating rooms at the enormous Imperial Hotel in Russell
    Square. These rooms were comfortably furnished but very high up, and we had a rather
    terrifying and dreary view from the windows of the enclosed courtyard far below. We
    had some snacks and a chat in Lottie’s room and then I moved to mine and went to bed.
    I had noted earlier that there was a special lock on the outer door of my room so that
    when the door was closed from the inside it automatically locked itself.
    I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard a hammering which seemed to
    come from my wardrobe. I got up, rather fearfully, and opened the wardrobe door and
    noted for the first time that the wardrobe was set in an opening in the wall and that the
    back of the wardrobe also served as the back of the wardrobe in the room next door. I
    quickly shut it again and went to confer with Lottie.

    Suddenly a male voice was raised next door in supplication, “Mary Mother of
    God, Help me! They’ve locked me in!” and the hammering resumed again, sometimes
    on the door, and then again on the back of the wardrobe of the room next door. Lottie
    had by this time joined me and together we listened to the prayers and to the
    hammering. Then the voice began to threaten, “If you don’t let me out I’ll jump out of the
    window.” Great consternation on our side of the wall. I went out into the passage and
    called through the door, “You’re not locked in. Come to your door and I’ll tell you how to
    open it.” Silence for a moment and then again the prayers followed by a threat. All the
    other doors in the corridor remained shut.

    Luckily just then a young man and a woman came walking down the corridor and I
    explained the situation. The young man hurried off for the night porter who went into the
    next door room. In a matter of minutes there was peace next door. When the night
    porter came out into the corridor again I asked for an explanation. He said quite casually,
    “It’s all right Madam. He’s an Irish Gentleman in Show Business. He gets like this on a
    Saturday night when he has had a drop too much. He won’t give any more trouble
    now.” And he didn’t. Next morning at breakfast Lottie and I tried to spot the gentleman in
    the Show Business, but saw no one who looked like the owner of that charming Irish
    voice.

    George had to go to London on business last Monday and took the older
    children with him for a few hours of sight seeing. They returned quite unimpressed.
    Everything was too old and dirty and there were far too many people about, but they
    had enjoyed riding on the escalators at the tube stations, and all agreed that the highlight
    of the trip was, “Dad took us to lunch at the Chicken Inn.”

    Now that it is almost time to leave England I am finding the housework less of a
    drudgery, Also, as it is school holiday time, Jim and Henry are able to go on walks with
    the older children and so use up some of their surplus energy. Cath and I took the
    children (except young George who went rabbit shooting with his uncle Reg, and
    Henry, who stayed at home with his dad) to the Wakes at Selston, the neighbouring
    village. There were the roundabouts and similar contraptions but the side shows had
    more appeal for the children. Ann and Kate found a stall where assorted prizes were
    spread out on a sloping table. Anyone who could land a penny squarely on one of
    these objects was given a similar one as a prize.

    I was touched to see that both girls ignored all the targets except a box of fifty
    cigarettes which they were determined to win for me. After numerous attempts, Kate
    landed her penny successfully and you would have loved to have seen her radiant little
    face.

    Eleanor.

    Dar es Salaam 22nd October 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Back in Tanganyika at last, but not together. We have to stay in Dar es Salaam
    until tomorrow when the train leaves for Dodoma. We arrived yesterday morning to find
    all the hotels filled with people waiting to board ships for England. Fortunately some
    friends came to the rescue and Ann, Kate and John have gone to stay with them. Jim,
    Henry and I are sleeping in a screened corner of the lounge of the New Africa Hotel, and
    George and young George have beds in the Palm Court of the same hotel.

    We travelled out from England in the Winchester Castle under troopship
    conditions. We joined her at Southampton after a rather slow train journey from
    Nottingham. We arrived after dark and from the station we could see a large ship in the
    docks with a floodlit red funnel. “Our ship,” yelled the children in delight, but it was not the
    Winchester Castle but the Queen Elizabeth, newly reconditioned.

    We had hoped to board our ship that evening but George made enquiries and
    found that we would not be allowed on board until noon next day. Without much hope,
    we went off to try to get accommodation for eight at a small hotel recommended by the
    taxi driver. Luckily for us there was a very motherly woman at the reception desk. She
    looked in amusement at the six children and said to me, “Goodness are all these yours,
    ducks? Then she called over her shoulder, “Wilf, come and see this lady with lots of
    children. We must try to help.” They settled the problem most satisfactorily by turning
    two rooms into a dormitory.

    In the morning we had time to inspect bomb damage in the dock area of
    Southampton. Most of the rubble had been cleared away but there are still numbers of
    damaged buildings awaiting demolition. A depressing sight. We saw the Queen Mary
    at anchor, still in her drab war time paint, but magnificent nevertheless.
    The Winchester Castle was crammed with passengers and many travelled in
    acute discomfort. We were luckier than most because the two girls, the three small boys
    and I had a stateroom to ourselves and though it was stripped of peacetime comforts,
    we had a private bathroom and toilet. The two Georges had bunks in a huge men-only
    dormitory somewhere in the bowls of the ship where they had to share communal troop
    ship facilities. The food was plentiful but unexciting and one had to queue for afternoon
    tea. During the day the decks were crowded and there was squatting room only. The
    many children on board got bored.

    Port Said provided a break and we were all entertained by the ‘Gully Gully’ man
    and his conjuring tricks, and though we had no money to spend at Simon Artz, we did at
    least have a chance to stretch our legs. Next day scores of passengers took ill with
    sever stomach upsets, whether from food poisoning, or as was rumoured, from bad
    water taken on at the Egyptian port, I don’t know. Only the two Georges in our family
    were affected and their attacks were comparatively mild.

    As we neared the Kenya port of Mombassa, the passengers for Dar es Salaam
    were told that they would have to disembark at Mombassa and continue their journey in
    a small coaster, the Al Said. The Winchester Castle is too big for the narrow channel
    which leads to Dar es Salaam harbour.

    From the wharf the Al Said looked beautiful. She was once the private yacht of
    the Sultan of Zanzibar and has lovely lines. Our admiration lasted only until we were
    shown our cabins. With one voice our children exclaimed, “Gosh they stink!” They did, of
    a mixture of rancid oil and sweat and stale urine. The beds were not yet made and the
    thin mattresses had ominous stains on them. John, ever fastidious, lifted his mattress and two enormous cockroaches scuttled for cover.

    We had a good homely lunch served by two smiling African stewards and
    afterwards we sat on deck and that was fine too, though behind ones enjoyment there
    was the thought of those stuffy and dirty cabins. That first night nearly everyone,
    including George and our older children, slept on deck. Women occupied deck chairs
    and men and children slept on the bare decks. Horrifying though the idea was, I decided
    that, as Jim had a bad cough, he, Henry and I would sleep in our cabin.

    When I announced my intention of sleeping in the cabin one of the passengers
    gave me some insecticide spray which I used lavishly, but without avail. The children
    slept but I sat up all night with the light on, determined to keep at least their pillows clear
    of the cockroaches which scurried about boldly regardless of the light. All the next day
    and night we avoided the cabins. The Al Said stopped for some hours at Zanzibar to
    offload her deck cargo of live cattle and packing cases from the hold. George and the
    elder children went ashore for a walk but I felt too lazy and there was plenty to watch
    from deck.

    That night I too occupied a deck chair and slept quite comfortably, and next
    morning we entered the palm fringed harbour of Dar es Salaam and were home.

    Eleanor.

    Mbeya 1st November 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Home at last! We are all most happily installed in a real family house about three
    miles out of Mbeya and near the school. This house belongs to an elderly German and
    has been taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property and leased to the
    Government.

    The owner, whose name is Shenkel, was not interned but is allowed to occupy a
    smaller house on the Estate. I found him in the garden this morning lecturing the children
    on what they may do and may not do. I tried to make it quite clear to him that he was not
    our landlord, though he clearly thinks otherwise. After he had gone I had to take two
    aspirin and lie down to recover my composure! I had been warned that he has this effect
    on people.

    Mr Shenkel is a short and ugly man, his clothes are stained with food and he
    wears steel rimmed glasses tied round his head with a piece of dirty elastic because
    one earpiece is missing. He speaks with a thick German accent but his English is fluent
    and I believe he is a cultured and clever man. But he is maddening. The children were
    more amused than impressed by his exhortations and have happily Christened our
    home, ‘Old Shenks’.

    The house has very large grounds as the place is really a derelict farm. It suits us
    down to the ground. We had no sooner unpacked than George went off on safari after
    those maneating lions in the Njombe District. he accounted for one, and a further two
    jointly with a Game Scout, before we left for England. But none was shot during the five
    months we were away as George’s relief is quite inexperienced in such work. George
    thinks that there are still about a dozen maneaters at large. His theory is that a female
    maneater moved into the area in 1938 when maneating first started, and brought up her
    cubs to be maneaters, and those cubs in turn did the same. The three maneating lions
    that have been shot were all in very good condition and not old and maimed as
    maneaters usually are.

    George anticipates that it will be months before all these lions are accounted for
    because they are constantly on the move and cover a very large area. The lions have to
    be hunted on foot because they range over broken country covered by bush and fairly
    dense thicket.

    I did a bit of shooting myself yesterday and impressed our African servants and
    the children and myself. What a fluke! Our houseboy came to say that there was a snake
    in the garden, the biggest he had ever seen. He said it was too big to kill with a stick and
    would I shoot it. I had no gun but a heavy .450 Webley revolver and I took this and
    hurried out with the children at my heels.

    The snake turned out to be an unusually large puff adder which had just shed its
    skin. It looked beautiful in a repulsive way. So flanked by servants and children I took
    aim and shot, not hitting the head as I had planned, but breaking the snake’s back with
    the heavy bullet. The two native boys then rushed up with sticks and flattened the head.
    “Ma you’re a crack shot,” cried the kids in delighted surprise. I hope to rest on my laurels
    for a long, long while.

    Although there are only a few weeks of school term left the four older children will
    start school on Monday. Not only am I pleased with our new home here but also with
    the staff I have engaged. Our new houseboy, Reuben, (but renamed Robin by our
    children) is not only cheerful and willing but intelligent too, and Jumbe, the wood and
    garden boy, is a born clown and a source of great entertainment to the children.

    I feel sure that we are all going to be very happy here at ‘Old Shenks!.

    Eleanor.

    #6264
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    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,
    Eleanor.

    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,
    Eleanor.

    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.

    Eleanor.

    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
    attention.

    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
    Cresswell-George.

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

    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
    holiday.

    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
    climate.

    We should be with you in three weeks time!

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    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
    behind.

    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
    station.

    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,
    Eleanor.

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

    George Rushby Ann and Georgie

    NOTE
    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,
    Marjorie.

    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
    face.”

    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
    George.”

    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.

    #6199
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The philodendron leaf was so large that on it’s trajectory towards Finnley it caught a bottle a Bhum on the edge of the desk, causing it to topple onto the floor.

    “Now look what you’ve done, you clumsy thing!” exclaimed Liz.  “That was a gift from Godfrey!”

    “Don’t worry, he’ll never know,” replied Finnley, picking up the pieces.  “And don’t shout at me, after my, you know…”

    Liz softened and said gently, “Well speaking of brushes, dear, you’d be better cleaning that up with a dustpan and brush, or you might cut yourself.”

    #6188
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Reddening, Bob stammered, “Yeah, yes, uh, yeah. Um…”

    Clara squeezed her grandfathers arm reassuringly.  “We’re looking for my friend Nora.” she interrupted, to give him time to compose himself.  Poor dear was easily flustered these days. Turning to Will, “She was hiking over to visit us and should have arrived yesterday and she’d have passed right by here, but her phone seems to be dead.”

    Will had to think quickly. If he could keep them both here with Nora long enough to get the box ~ or better yet, replace the contents with something else. Yes, that was it!  He could take a sack of random stuff to put in the box, and they’d never suspect a thing. He was going to hide the contents in a statue anyway, so he didn’t even need the box.

    Spreading his arms wide in welcome and smiling broadly, he said “This is your lucky day! Come inside and I’ll put the kettle on, Nora’s gone up to take some photos of the old ruin, she’ll be back soon.”

    Bob and Clara relaxed and returned the smile and allowed themselves to be ushered into the kitchen and seated at the table.

    Will lit the gas flame under the soup before filling the kettle with water. They’d be too polite to refuse, if he put a bowl in front of them, and if they didn’t drink it, well then he’d have to resort to plan B.  He put a little pinch of powder from a tiny jar into each cup of  tea; it wouldn’t hurt and would likely make them more biddable.  Then the soup would do the trick.

    Will steered the conversation to pleasant banter about the wildflowers on the way up to the ruins that he’d said Nora was visiting, and the birds that were migrating at this time of year, keeping the topics off anything potentially agitating.  The tea was starting to take effect and Clara and Bob relaxed and enjoyed the conversation.  They sipped the soup without protest, although Bob did grimace a bit at the thought of eating on an agitated stomach. He’d have indigestion for days, but didn’t want to be rude and refuse. He was enjoying the respite from all the vexation,  though, and was quite happy for the moment just to let the man prattle on while he ate the damn soup.

    “Oh, I think Nora must be back! I just heard her voice!” exclaimed Clara.

    Will had heard it too, but he said, “That wasn’t Nora, that was the parrot! It’s a fast leaner, and Nora’s been training it to say things….I tell you what, you stay here and finish your soup, and I’ll go and fetch the parrot.”

    “Parrot? What parrot?” Clara and Bob said in unison.  They both found it inordinately funny and by the time Will had exited the kitchen, locking the door from the outside, they were hooting and wiping the tears of laughter from their cheeks.

    “What the hell was in that tea!” Clara joked, finishing her soup.

    What was Nora doing awake already? Will didn’t have to keep her quiet for long, but he needed to keep her quiet now, just until the soup took effect on the others.

    Either that or find a parrot.

    #6168

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    The wardrobe was sitting solidly in the middle of the office, exactly where they had left it.

    Or was it?

    “I was expecting a room full of middle-aged ladies,” said Star, her voice troubled. She frowned at the wardrobe. “Has it moved a little do you think? I’m sure it was closer to the window before. Or was it smaller. There’s something different about it …”

    “Maybe they are inside,” whispered Tara.

    “What! All of them?” Star sniggered nervously.

    “We should check.” But Tara didn’t move— she felt an odd reluctance to approach the wardrobe. “You check, Star.”

    Star shook her head. “Where’s Rosamund? Checking wardrobes for middle-aged drug mules is the sort of job she should be doing.”

    “Are you looking for me?” asked a soft voice from the doorway. Tara and Star spun round.

    “Good grief!” exclaimed Tara. “Rosamund! What are you wearing?”

    Rosamund was dressed in a silky yellow thing that floated to her ankles. Her feet were bare and her long hair, usually worn loose, was now neatly plaited. Encircling the top of her head was a daisy chain. She smiled gently at Star and Tara. “Peace, my friends.” Dozens of gold bracelets jangled as she extended her hands to them. “Come, my dear friends, let us partake of carrot juice together.”

    #6167
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Box?” said Bob placing a hand on his chest. “Not the … ”

    “Not box, Grandpa. Crops.” Clara spoke loudly. Poor old Grandpa must be going a bit deaf as well—he’d gone downhill since Grandma died. “His dogs got into your garden and dug up the crops. He says he’ll come by in the morning and fix up the damage. ”

    “No, need to shout, Clara. I swear you said box. I thought you meant the box in the garage.”

    “Oh, no that would be awful!” Clara shuddered at the thought of anything happening to her precious treasure. “Maybe we should bring the box inside, Grandpa? Make sure it’s safe.”

    Bob sighed. Last thing he wanted was the damn box inside the house. But Clara had that look on her face, the one that means she’s made up her mind. He glanced around, wondering where they could put it so it was out of the way.

    “Hey!” exclaimed Clara. “Where’s VanGogh gone? Did he sneak outside when Mr Willets came.” She went to the door and peered out into the darkness. “VanGogh! Here, Boy!” she shouted. “VanGogh!”

    #6166
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Grandpa,” Clara said, partly to distract him ~ poor dear was looking a little anxious ~ and partly because she was starting to get twangs of gilt about Nora, “Grandpa, do you remember that guy who used to make sculptures?  I can’t recall his name and need his phone number. Do you remember, used to see him driving around with gargoyles in the back of his truck. You look awfully pale, are you alright?”

    “No idea,” Bob replied weakly.

    Tell her! said Jane.

    “No!” Bob exclaimed, feeling vexed.  He wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t want to rush into anything. Why was Clara asking about the man whose phone number was on the note? What did she know about all this? What did he, Bob, know for that matter!

    “I only asked!” replied Clara, then seeing his face, patted his arm gently and said “It’s ok, Grandpa.”

    For the love of god will you just tell her! 

    “Tell who what?” asked Clara.

    “What! What did you say?” Bob wondered where this was going and if it would ever end. It began to feel surreal.

    They were both relieved when the door bell rang, shattering the unaccustomed tension between them.

    “Who can that be?” they asked in unison, as Clara rose from the table.

    Bob waited expectantly, pushing his plate away. It would take days to settle his digestive system down after all this upset at a meal time.

    “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost, Clara! Who was it?”  Bob said as Clara returned from the front door. “Not the water board again to cut us off I hope!”

    “It’s the neighbour, Mr Willets, he says he’s ever so sorry but his dogs, they got loose and got into some kind of a box on your property.  He said…”

    #6134

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Let me see that,” said Tara, snatching the phone off Star.  “Aha!” she exclaimed. “Just as I thought! You’ve been hacked. I’d spot those tell tale typo’s anywhere. That’s not the real Lemoon.  Now the question is, what have they been advising you to do?  That’s exactly what these cults and oracles do, they infiltrate and dish out bad advice.”

    “But why?” asked Star, “It doesn’t make sense!”

    “To cause chaos, apathy and inertia?” interjected one of the middle aged ladies, who got a swift dig in the ribs with the other ones elbow and a whispered  “Shh! You’ll blow our cover!”

    “Since everyone seems to be blowing their cover, maybe we should all come clean,” said the elderly man, who had sidled up behind them unnoticed.  “May I join you?” he asked, pulling a chair out.

    “It’s another trick!” hissed Rosamund, hoping to salvage the situation. “Don’t trust him! Look at the tattoo on his neck!”

    “Ah, yes,” the elderly man said, rubbing his neck ruefully. “Let me explain.  I was kidnapped and this tattoo was done against my wishes.”

    “Why should we believe you?” asked Tara suspiciously.

    “Will you believe me if I take you to the cult headquarters?”

    “But I wanted a raspberry tart!” whined one of the middle aged ladies. “You promised!”

    “Oh bugger off and buy your own tart,” snapped Star. “We’re on an important case and we don’t have time for starving middle aged ladies.”

    #6133

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Will you look at these prices!” exclaimed one of the middle aged ladies.

    Privately, Tara called them the miserable old bag and the crazy old witch, or Mob and Cow for ease of reference. Anyway, it was Mob who was banging on about the prices.

    “Feel free to take yourself somewhere cheaper to eat,” she snarled.

    “Oh, no, that’s okay, as long as you’re happy paying these outrageous prices.”

    Cow cackled. “I’ve not eaten for a month so bugger the prices! Not that I need to eat, airs good enough for me seeing as I have special powers. Still, a raspberry bun wouldn’t go amiss. Thank you, Ladies!”

    Star sighed heavily and glanced reproachfully at Rosamund.

    “Sorry, I were trying to help,” she said with a shrug.

    Tara scanned the room. The only other people in the cafe were an elderly gentleman reading the newspaper and a bedraggled mother with two noisy snot-bags in tow. Tara shuddered and turned her attention to the elderly man. “Those deep wrinkles and wasted muscles look genuine,” she whispered to Star. “There’s nobody here who could possibly be Vince French. I’m going to go and keep watch by the door.”

    “Good thinking,” said Star, after covertly checking her Lemoon quote of the day app on her phone; she realised uneasily she was increasingly relying on it for guidance. “There’s a sunny seat over there; I’ll grab a coffee and look inconspicuous by doing nothing. I don’t want to blow our cover.”

    Tara glared at her. “I saw you checking your app! What did the oracle say?”

    “Oh, just some crazy stuff.” She laughed nervously. “There is some kind of peace in not feelign like there’s anythign to do.

    “Well that’s not going to get us far, is it now?”

    #6131

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “It’s Thursday today,” remarked Star.

    “Special subject the bloody obvious?” Tara replied rudely.   “You should be on Mastermind.”

    “Well, we were wondering what we were going to do to pass the time until Thursday, and here we are. It’s Thursday!”

    “Are you losing your marbles?”

    “Actually it’s you losing your memory,” Star sighed.  “Remember the case?”

    “What case?”

    “The case we were working on!”

    “Oh, that case! Well you can hardly expect me to remember that when it’s been such a strange week!” Tara was starting to get tearful and agitated.

    “Look, Tara, the tests came back negative. You can stop worrying about it now.  We can go back to normal now and carry on. And just in time for the rendezvous at the cafe on Main Street.” Star patted Tara’s arm encouragingly.  “And what timing! If the results hadn’t come back yet, or we’d tested positive, we wouldn’t have been able to go to the cafe.”

    “Well we could have gone and just not said anything about the tests,” sniffed Tara.  “Everyone else seems to be doing what they want regardless.”

    “Yes, but we’re not as morally bankrupt as them,” retorted Star.

    Tara giggled. “But we used to work for Madame Limonella.”

    “That’s an entirely different kind of morals,” Star replied, but chose not to pursue the issue. She was relieved to see Tara’s mood lighten.  “What are you going to wear to the cafe?”

    “Is it a fancy dress party? I could wear my plague doctor outfit.”

    Star rolled her eyes. “No! We have to dress appropriately, something subtle and serious.  A dark suit perhaps.”

    “Oh like my Ace of Spades T shirt?”

    This is going nowhere fast, Star thought, but then had a revelation.  A moment later, she had forgotten what the revelation was when the door burst open.

    “Ta Da!” shouted Rosamund, entering the office with two middle aged ladies in tow.  “I nabbed them both, they were lurking in the queue for the food bank! And I single handedly brought then back.  Can we talk about my bonus now?”

    Both Tara and Star were frowning at the two unfamiliar ladies. “Yes but who are these two middle aged ladies?”

    One of the ladies piped up, “She said you’d be taking us out for afternoon tea at a nice cafe!”

    The other one added, “We haven’t eaten for days, we’re starving!”

    “But neither of you is April!” exclaimed Tara.

    The first middle aged lady said, “Oh no dear, it’s September. I’m quite sure of that.”

    #6123

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Did someone say drinks are on the house?” asked Rosamund, pushing past the burly bouncer as she entered the pub.  “What’s your name, handsome?”

    “Percival,” the bouncer replied with a wry grin.  “Yeah I know, doesn’t fit the image.”

    Rosamund looked him up and down while simultaneously flicking a bit of food from between her teeth with a credit card.  “I keep forgetting to buy dental floss,” she said.

    “Is that really necessary?” hissed Tara. “Is that moving the plot forward?”

    “Careful now,” Star said, “Your Liz is showing.”

    “I’ll be away for a while on an important mission,” Rosamund said to Percival, “But give me your number and I’ll call you when I get back.”

    “The trip is cancelled, you’re not going anywhere,” Star told her, “Except to the shop to buy dental floss.”

    “Will someone please tell me why we’re talking about dental floss when we have this serious case to solve?” Tara sounded exasperated, and glared at Rosamund.  What a brazen hussy she was!

    “I’m glad you mentioned it!” piped up a middle aged lady sitting at the corner table. “I have run out of dental floss too.”

    “See?” said Rosamund.  “You never can tell how helpful you are when you just act yourself and let it flow.  Now tell me why I’m not going to New Zealand? I already packed my suitcase!”

    “Because it seems that New Zealand has come to us,” replied Star, “Or should I say, the signs of the cult are everywhere.  It’s not so much a case of finding the cult as a case of, well finding somewhere the cult hasn’t already infected.  And as for April,” she continued, “She changes her story every five minutes, I think we should ignore everything she says from now on. Nothing but a distraction.”

    “That’s it!” exclaimed Tara. “Exactly! Distraction tactics!  A well known ruse, tried and tested.  She has been sent to us to distract us from the case. She isn’t a new client. She’s a red herring for the old clients enemies.”

    “Oh, good one, Tara,” Star was impressed. Tara could be an abusive drunk, but some of the things she blurted out were pure gold.  Or had a grain of gold in them, it would be more accurate to say. A certain perspicacity shone through at times when she was well lubricated.  “Perhaps we should lock her back in the wardrobe for the time being until we’ve worked out what to do with her.”

    “You’re right, Star, we must restrain her….oy! oy!  Percival, catch that fleeing aunt at once!”  April had made a dash for it out of the pub door.  The burly bouncer missed his chance. April legged it up the road and disappeared round the corner.

    “That’s entirely your fault, Rosamund,” Tara spat, “Distracting the man from his duties, you rancid little strumpet!”

    “Oh I say, that’s going a bit far,” interjected the middle aged lady sitting at the corner table.

    “What’s it got to do with you?” Tara turned on her.

    “This,” the woman replied with a smugly Trumpish smile. She pulled her trouser leg up to reveal a bell bird tattoo.

    “Oh my fucking god,” Tara was close to tears again.

    #6121

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Now then ladies, what’s all this about?” The burly bouncer appeared, blocking the doorway.

    “Look!” hissed Tara, showing him the tattoo on April’s shoulder.  “This!”

    “Nice tattoo!” he said appreciatively.  “Why, I even have one myself just like it!”

    “On your buttock?” asked Star incredulously.

    “Why you cheeky thing,” replied the bouncer with a smile. “No, as it happens it’s on my ankle.  I left the cult before I reached buttock bell bird status.”

    “Wait, what? What cult?”

    “The same cult as you were in,” he said, turning to April. “Am I right?”

    “I don’t know what you mean,” stammered April, reddening.

    “What the hell is going on!” shouted Tara.  “Are we the only ones NOT in the damn cult?”

    “Looks like it” smirked the waitress, pulling her blouse up to reveal a bell bird tattoo on her belly.

    “That’s it, I’ve had enough of this! I’m going back to the wardrobe!” exclaimed Star.

    The bouncer and the waitress exchanged glances. “Unwoke sheeple losing their minds,” the waitress said knowingly.

    “Oh my fucking god,” Tara said, close to tears.

    #6118

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Star rolled her eyes. “Already done,” she said. “Based on what I saw, I believe Vincent French to be in New Zealand.”

    “New Zealand!” exclaimed Tara. “That’s madness.”

    Star took a slurp of her gin and tonic. “Also, the bellbird motif … that’s from over there, isn’t it?”

    “God knows,” said Tara, “But we’ve got no other leads so New Zealand it is. Let’s ask filthy rich Auntie April for some travel funds.”

    Star beamed at her and waved her arms towards the ceiling.”We have to be like clouds, Tara. Clouds never make mistakes. Isn’t that freeing?”

    #5628
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Realizing that she had to come up with a plan quickly to distract April from taking her pith helmet, June took a few deep breaths and calmed herself.   It was true she was often flaky and disorganized, but in an emergency she was capable of acting swiftly and efficiently.

    “I’ve got it!” she exclaimed. April paused on her way over to the hat stand and looked over her shoulder at June.  “Come and sit down, I have a plan,” June said, patting the sofa cushion beside her.

    “Remember Jacqui who we met in Scotland at the Nanny and Au Pair convention?  Called herself Nanny Gibbon and tried to pass herself off as Scottish?” April frowned, trying to remember. Europeans all looked the same to her. “Ended up with that eccentric family with all the strange goings on?” June prompted.

    “Oh yes, now I remember. Wasn’t there an odd story about a mummy that had washed up from, where was it?”

    “Alabama!” shouted June triumphantly. “Exactly!”

    “Well excuse me for being dense, but how does that help?”

    June leaned back into the sofa with a happy smile. April had forgotten all about the pith helmet and was now focused on the new plan.  “Well,” she said, rearranging some scatter cushions behind her back into a more comfortable position, “Do you remember the woman who arrived with the mummy, Ella Marie?  She stayed with Jacqui for a while and they became good friends.  Apparently she loved that crazy Wrick family;  Jacqui said Ella Marie felt right at home there. She would have stayed, but she missed her husband in the end and felt guilty about leaving him, so she went back to Alabama.”

    Aprils eyes widened slightly as she started to understand.   “Did they stay in contact?”

    “Oh yes!” replied June, leaning forward. “And not only that, Jacqui is there right now, on holiday!  I’ve been seeing her holiday photos on FleeceCrack.”

    “Maybe they can find that baby for us,” April said, looking relieved.  “Or at least swap it for that girl baby. Where did that come from anyway?”

    #5623
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Who can that be now!” exclaimed May as she made her way to the back door.  A flustered looking woman in odd looking mismatched clothes was standing on the door step.

    I ’ave come to ’elp Finnley wiz ze bedding!” she said by way of introduction, “But I ‘ave lost my baby, ’ave you seen ’er? My name is Fanella.  I ’ave come to ’elp Finnley wiz ze bedding, but I must find my daughter first!”

    “You’d better come in,” replied May, wondering what to do.  Until the right baby turned up, she could hardly give this woman her daughter back.  But the poor woman was distraught, and May wanted to ease her distress.  She would have to try to delay her somehow.

    “There is no need to worry, er, Fanella, as it happens there is an unexpected baby girl visiting with the bosses son, but they are both fast asleep. They are quite safe, but I am not in a position to disturb them yet. Do sit down, you look exhausted.  Let me get you a drink.”

    May handed her a glass of wine. “How on earth did you manage to lose your daughter?”

    “I was just about to ring ze bell but I was so nervous I ’ad to pee so I ran quickly be’ind ze bushes. And when I ’ad finished, my baby was gone!” Fanella started to weep.

    “Did you say you’d come to help Finnley in the bed?” Suddenly May started to wonder if this was another call girl for Mr August. Was he planning a threesome?

    “Yes, I ’ave come to ’elp Finnley,” Fanella replied, “Wiz ze bedding.”

    “And you brought your baby with you?”  aghast, May wondered what to do next. Maybe this woman shouldn’t be given the child back after all.  It had been a long night, with far too many babies.

    #4762
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “There it is, look!” exclaimed Hilda, wiping the sweat from her eyes with a soggy paper tissue. “The mine entrance , I told you it wasn’t far.”

    “Not far? Hilda, we’ve been walking for hours!” retorted Connie. “We’ll be lucky not to get sunstroke.”

    “It’ll be shady inside the mine, and the sun will be going down by the time we walk back to the inn.”

    “Do we have to go inside?” The feeling of apprehension had been steadily increasing as they neared the location, and had now ramped up to an ominous dread. Not wanting Hilda to see how frightened she was, she added, “I mean without equipment, all we have is one torch. What if the batteries run out? We’re not very well prepared, are we?”

    “So what’s new?” replied Hilda with a snort. “We’re not going to get an exclusive scoop by telling all and sundry our plans, are we? Not to mention sharing anything we might find.”

    “If we get lost, nobody will know where to look for us.”

    “Exciting, isn’t it?” snapped Hilda. Connie wanted to punch her. “You wait out here then. I’m going in.”

    Unwilling to stay outside in the merciless heat, Connie reluctantly followed Hilda into the mine.

    #4697
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    During summer, activity was slow at the mall in Kelowna, BC, so Jerk had a little more time to check on his other pastimes. Interestingly there seemed to be a lot of unusual activity on the findmydolls group.

    He was also tinkering with a home brewed AI, and launched the program.

    “Trancie are you awake?”
    “Did I fall asleep?” the AI answered back.
    “For a little while, yes. Trancie, analyse logs from findmystuff website, check group findmydolls.”
    “A moment. A moment. A moment. Analysis complete. Activity spike 57.21% increase.”

    This was quite unusual, but he wasn’t sure were to look. He looked at his administrator box, in case another message had required moderation. The filters triggers were not too sensitive, so there wasn’t a lot of messages.

    One in particular had triggered the system.

    “Trancie, read message in moderation queue #5363.”
    You need to come for information. Am sending you tickets and instructions for hotspot, so it won’t cost you a bomb. hashtag flagged for terror threat. D for Destroy, A for Approve.”

    That was obviously amateur work, Jerk thought. Criminals nowadays were much more careful.

    “Trancie, Approve.”

    Another thought crossed his mind.

    “Trancie, plot past month activity by geolocation on mapearth.com”

    It took a few minutes to refine the query so he could check the heatmap, and remove the background noise.

    The last messages all seemed to concentrate in the middle of nowhere in Australia.

    “How odd. So glad I’m not an investigative journalist, that place must be crawling with nasty things, scaly and poisonous and downright deadly.”

    Interestingly, a second point on the map was close to Kelowna. Actually, although it could just be narrowed down to a 5 kilometer radius, it looked ominously close to where he lived.

    Shivers started to run down his spine. Maybe he’d just stumbled onto a dangerous conspiracy. Dolls could be a code word for horrible things, possibly even human trafficking.

    He closed the laptop suddenly, his mind racing. What if they were onto him? He struggled for a moment with the urge to destroy his laptop and burn down the place and disappear off the grid, but he remembered he needed to breathe, so his rational mind could be oxygenated and think properly.

    “I may be a tad on the paranoid side.”
    But it ain’t paranoia, if they are trying to get you.

    He looked around. He was already as close as possible to off-the-grid without vanishing out of society. The place was deserted, and only a janitor was roaming the place mindlessly on his cleaning car. There was zero chance he could be a target.

    Yet.

    “Oh shut up!” he exclaimed out loud.

    He was intrigued by the mystery, but for now, he wanted to let it play out. He needed more data points to have Trancie plot a heuristic pattern. Well, to make sense of it, while he was working on her personality.

    #4576
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “What you all don’t realize,” Liz said, “Is that all of this so called fun is in fact highly significant. You think we’re all playing around scribbling nonsense and gadding about on the lawn acting the fool for no reason just for something to do. But this is a vital and rare artifact in the future! My dears, you have no idea!”

    “I think it might be vascular dementia,” Finnley whispered to Roberto, “I read about it in a magazine this morning.”

    “Mint tea from the Basque country?” replied Roberto, holding his glass up to the light for a closer look.

    Finnley rolled her eyes and inched closer to Godfrey, hoping for a better response when she told him her theory.

    “Imagine her in a denim basque, you say? I’d rather not! HA!” Godfrey spit out a few bits of peanut with the final HA!, which was forceful enough to send a few of them flying across the room.

    “You’ve got bits of nut in my Basque mint tea now!” Roberto exclaimed ~ somewhat rudely; he forgot for a moment he was just the gardener.

    “I think they’ve all lost their marbles,” remarked Liz, just for the written record for the historians in the future who would find this story; and for the benefit of the AI they had unwittingly been programming all along. Although what the AI was actually being programmed with perhaps didn’t bear thinking about. A further though nagged at Liz despite her efforts to ignore it. What if it did matter? What were they creating?

    #4569
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Elizabeth was even more impressed when the Obviously Intelligent Daily Comment Generator mentioned something very similar to Alice’s cookies .
    She was delighted to see that Sanso was one of the early arrivals to the garden party, and that he’d brought with him a rag tag assortment of strapping young Arduino time hackers.

    And who was that following then? Hypatia ~ and someone else. Could it be Galatea? Liz clapped her hands delightedly. What a party this was going to be!

    Finnley bustled past with her arms full of colourful bed linen, muttering under her breath.

    “Would you like me to write that the French maids arrive next Finnely, perhaps they’d give you a hand with that….I’ve forgotten their names though ~ Mirabelle?”

    Liz scratched her head, perplexed. Suddenly it came to her along with the sounds of a carriage approaching with a deafening clatter of hooves. “Adeline and Fanella, of course!” she exclaimed.

    The horses snorted as they were reined in to a halt an the front entrance. A young woman in what appeared to be a fancy dress costume descended from the carriage.

    “I ‘ave come to ‘elp Finnley wiz ze bedding!”

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