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  • #6319

    In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg

    TracyTracy
    Participant

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

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

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

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

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

    Astonished, Egbert asked where they were going.

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

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

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

    #6299

    In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg

    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Looking at the blemish feverish man on the camp bed, General Lyaksandro Rudechenko clenched his fists. The wooden leg, that had been the symbol of the Oocranian Resistance for the last year was now lying on the floor. President Voldomeer had contracted a virus that confounded their best doctors and the remaining chiefs of the Oocranian Resistance feared he would soon join the men fallen for their country.

    — Nobody must know that the sexiest man of Oocrane is incapacitated. We need a replacement, said the General.

    — President Voldomeer told me of a man, the very man who made that wooden leg, said Major Myroslava Kovalev, the candle light reflecting in her glass eye. He lives in the Dumbass region. He’s a secret twin or something, President Voldomeer was not so clear about that part, but at least they look alike. To make it more real, we can have his leg removed, she added pointing at the wooden leg.

    She was proud of being one of the only women ranking that high in the military. His fellow people might not be Lazies, but they had some old idea about women, that were not the best choice for fighting. Myroslava had always wanted to prove them wrong, and this conflict had been her chance to rise almost to the top. She looked at the dying man who was once her ladder. He had been sexy, and certainly could do many things with his wooden leg. Now he was but the shadow of a man, pale and blurry as cataract. If she had loved him, she might have shed a tear.

    Myroslava looked at General Rudechenko’s pockmarked face and shivered. She wouldn’t even share a cab with him. But he was the next in command, and before Voldomeer fell ill, she was on her way to take his place, even closer to the top.

    — Let me bring him to you, she added.

    — That’s a suicide mission, said the general. Permission granted.

    — Thank you General ! said Myroslava doing the military salute before leaving the tent.

    Despite his being from Dumbass and having made some mistakes in his life, Lyaksandra was not stupid. He knew quite well what that woman wanted. He called, Glib, his aide-de-camp.

    — Make sure she gets lost behind the enemy lines.

    #6280
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    I started reading a book. In fact I started reading it three weeks ago, and have read the first page of the preface every night and fallen asleep. But my neck aches from doing too much gardening so I went back to bed to read this morning. I still fell asleep six times but at least I finished the preface. It’s the story of the family , initiated by the family collection of netsuke (whatever that is. Tiny Japanese carvings) But this is what stopped me reading and made me think (and then fall asleep each time I re read it)

    “And I’m not entitled to nostalgia about all that lost wealth and glamour from a century ago. And I am not interested in thin. I want to know what the relationship has been between this wooden object that I am rolling between my fingers – hard and tricky and Japanese – and where it has been. I want to be able to reach to the handle of the door and turn it and feel it open. I want to walk into each room where this object has lived, to feel the volume of the space, to know what pictures were on the walls, how the light fell from the windows. And I want to know whose hands it has been in, and what they felt about it and thought about it – if they thought about it. I want to know what it has witnessed.” ― Edmund de Waal, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss

    And I felt almost bereft that none of the records tell me which way the light fell in through the windows.

    I know who lived in the house in which years, but I don’t know who sat in the sun streaming through the window and which painting upon the wall they looked at and what the material was that covered the chair they sat on.

    Were his clothes confortable (or hers, likely not), did he have an old favourite pair of trousers that his mother hated?

    There is one house in particular that I keep coming back to. Like I got on the Housley train at Smalley and I can’t get off. Kidsley Grange Farm, they turned it into a nursing home and built extensions, and now it’s for sale for five hundred thousand pounds. But is the ghost still under the back stairs? Is there still a stain somewhere when a carafe of port was dropped?

    Did Anns writing desk survive? Does someone have that, polished, with a vase of spring tulips on it? (on a mat of course so it doesn’t make a ring, despite that there are layers of beeswaxed rings already)

    Does the desk remember the letters, the weight of a forearm or elbow, perhaps a smeared teardrop, or a comsumptive cough stain?

    Is there perhaps a folded bit of paper or card that propped an uneven leg that fell through the floorboards that might tear into little squares if you found it and opened it, and would it be a rough draft of a letter never sent, or just a receipt for five head of cattle the summer before?

    Did he hate the curtain material, or not even think of it? Did he love the house, or want to get away to see something new ~ or both?

    Did he have a favourite cup, a favourite food, did he hate liver or cabbage?

    Did he like his image when the photograph came from the studio or did he think it made his nose look big or his hair too thin, or did he wish he’d worn his other waistcoat?

    Did he love his wife so much he couldn’t bear to see her dying, was it neglect or was it the unbearableness of it all that made him go away and drink?

    Did the sun slanting in through the dormer window of his tiny attic room where he lodged remind him of ~ well no perhaps he was never in the room in daylight hours at all. Work all day and pub all night, keeping busy working hard and drinking hard and perhaps laughing hard, and maybe he only thought of it all on Sunday mornings.

    So many deaths, one after another, his father, his wife, his brother, his sister, and another and another, all the coughing, all the debility. Perhaps he never understood why he lived and they did not, what kind of justice was there in that?

    Did he take a souvenir or two with him, a handkerchief or a shawl perhaps, tucked away at the bottom of a battered leather bag that had his 3 shirts and 2 waistcoats in and a spare cap,something embroidered perhaps.

    The quote in that book started me off with the light coming in the window and the need to know the simplest things, something nobody ever wrote in a letter, maybe never even mentioned to anyone.

    Light coming in windows. I remeber when I was a teenager I had a day off sick and spent the whole day laying on the couch in a big window with the winter sun on my face all day, and I read Bonjour Tristesse in one sitting, and I’ll never forget that afternoon.  I don’t remember much about that book, but I remember being transported. But at the same time as being present in that sunny window.

    “Stories and objects share something, a patina…Perhaps patina is a process of rubbing back so that the essential is revealed…But it also seems additive, in the way that a piece of oak furniture gains over years and years of polishing.”

    “How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you. Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten? There can be a chain of forgetting, the rubbing away of previous ownership as much as the slow accretion of stories. What is being passed on to me with all these small Japanese objects?”

    “There are things in this world that the children hear, but whose sounds oscillate below an adult’s sense of pitch.”

    What did the children hear?

    #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.

    #6267
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued part 8

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Morogoro 20th January 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 30th July 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 26th August 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 25th December 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro Hospital 30th September 1943

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 26th January 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 20th March 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 15th May 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 18th July 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 16th August 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

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

    Dearest Mummy,

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Safari in Masailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lyamungu 10th November. 1944

    Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love,
    Eleanor.

     

    #6261
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots of love,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor Rushby

     

    Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your very loving,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Much love to all,
    Eleanor.

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

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    We all send our love,
    Eleanor.

    Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Much love from a proud mother of two.
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Your affectionate,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    your affectionate,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Very much love
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

    Dear Family,

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

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

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Much love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots of love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love to you all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots of love, Eleanor

    #6206
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “I’m not ‘aving this treatment, Mavis, I’ve booked meself in for the spirit chew all mender tations session instead. No need to loook at me like that, our Mavis, I aint going all new agey on yer, just thought I’d give it a try and see if it relaxes me a bit.”

    “Relaxes yer? Yer int done a stroke of work in years, whatcher on about?” Sha said, nudging Mavis in the ribs and cackling.

    “It’s not all about the body, y’ know!” Glor replied, feeling the futility of trying to make them understand the importance of it to her, or the significance in the wider picture.

    “I’m listening,” a melodious voice whispered behind her.  Andrew Anderson smiled and looked deep into her squinting eyes as she turned to face him (the sun was going down behind him and it was very hard to see, much to her chagrin).

    “Tell me more, Glor, what’s the score, Glor, I want to know more…”

    Gloria, who knees had momentarily turned to jelly, reeled backwards at this surprising change in the conversation, and lost her balance due to her temporarily affected knees.  Instinctively she reached out and grabbed Mr Anderson’s arm, and managed to avoid falling to the ground.

    She retracted her arm slowly as an increasingly baffled look spread across her face.

    Why did his arm feel so peculiar? It felt like a shop mannequin, unyielding, different somehow.  Creepy somehow. Glor mumbled, “Sure, later,” and quickly caught up with her friends.

    “Hey, You’ll never guess what, wait til I tell yer..” Glor started to tell them about Mr Anderson and then stopped. Would it be futile? Would they understand what she was trying to say?

    “I’m listening,” a melodious voice whispered in her ear.

    “Not bloody you again! You stalking me, or what?”  Visibly rattled, Gloria rushed over to her friends, wondering why every time that weirdo whispered in her ear, she had somehow fallen back and had to catch up again.

    She’d have to inform her friends of the danger, but would they listen? They were falling for him and wouldn’t be easily discouraged.  They’d be lured to the yacht and not want to escape. The fools! What could she do?

    “I’m listening,” the melodious voice whispered.

    #6161
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Dispersee sat on a fallen tree trunk, lost in thought. A long walk in the woods had seemed just the ticket……

    Nora wasn’t surprised to encounter a fallen tree trunk no more than 22 seconds after the random thought wafted through her mind ~ if thought was was the word for it ~ about Dispersee sitting on a fallen tree trunk.  Nora sat on the tree trunk ~ of course she had to sit on it; how could she not ~  simultaneously stretching her aching back and wondering who Dispersee might be.  Was it a Roman name?  Something to do with the garum on the shopping receipt?

    Nora knew she wasn’t going to get to the little village before night fall. Her attempts to consult the map failed. It was like a black hole.  No signal, no connection, just a blank screen.  She looked up at the sky.  The lowering dark clouds were turning orange and red as the sun went down behind the mountains, etching the tree skeletons in charcoal black in the middle distance.

    In a sudden flash of wordless alarm, Nora realized she was going to be out alone in the woods at night and wild boars are nocturnal and a long challenging walk in broad daylight was one thing but alone at night in the woods with the wild boars was quite another, and in a very short time indeed had worked herself up into a state approaching panic, and then had another flash of alarm when she realized she felt she would swoon in any moment and fall off the fallen trunk. The pounding of her, by then racing, heartbeats was yet further cause for alarm, and as is often the case, the combination of factors was sufficiently noteworthy to initiate a thankfully innate ability to re establish a calm lucidity, and pragmatic attention to soothe the beating physical heart as a matter of priority.

    It was at the blessed moment of restored equilibrium and curiosity (and the dissipation of the alarm and associated malfunctions) that the man appeared with the white donkey.

    #6120

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    After a minute or two of Tara banging on about morse code, Star gave up. “Okay, have it your way, Tara. I’ve got important stuff to do.”

    “Bugger off, then,” said Tara. “I’m going to have a few more gin and tonics before my hair appointment. Wish me luck!”

    As Star turned to leave, she tripped on Tara’s oversized handbag—goodness only knows what she kept in it— and crashed into an ornamental pot-plant revealing none other than Auntie April.

    “Oh, my!” said April with an embarrassed titter. “Fancy meeting you two here!”

    Tara leapt up. “You were spying on us! We are the spies!” She jabbed an accusing finger at April. “How dare you be the spy!”

    “How dare YOU!” said April, scrambling over the fallen pot-plant in her haste to get away.

    “HOW DARE YOU!” shouted Tara. She lunged at the fleeing April and managed to grab hold of her jacket.

    “Look!” cried Star. “On her shoulder! A bell-bird.”

    #5575
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “What are we waiting for?” asked Fox. “Let’s do it now. I’ll gather his blocks and pieces together before night falls.” He left the house before anyone could say anything and left the door open. The afternoon was near to its end and the light was dimming fast. Glynis, Rukshan and Eleri soon could hear the cyclical grating noise of the wheelbarrow and the thumping noise of the blocks being loaded.

    Glynis sighed.

    “I don’t have all the required ingredients,” she said, “That pink clay from Sina, I used it all to lift the jinx on the loo.”

    Olliver appeared at that moment. “You need my help?”

    “We would if you could go somewhere you have never seen before,” said Rukshan. His panda eyes gave him a really tired look.

    “Oh but I can, now,” said Olli. “If you’ve been there, I just need you to say the name and I can follow the vibration back to its origin.”

    “My, What have I missed? I’ve been away far too long,” said the fae.

    “You certainly have,” said Fox who was back and waiting at the door. The baby snoots, who were never far from the dwarf, had followed and their colourful glows brought an interesting set of nuances to Fox’s aura. “Can someone help me bring all those blocks into the house?”

    Eleri would have helped of course, but pain you know, her ankle was so bad at the moment, she couldn’t risk making it worse. Glynis cleared a space and put a table cloth on the floor. “Don’t you make a scratch on my new wooden floor,” she warned the boys who brought the pieces together.

    “Wow, the blocks are like magnets, but also different,” said Olliver, “It’s difficult to take one away because they attract each other, but if you bring them too close they repel each other. I can feel it.”

    “Yes,” said Rukshan, “the Master creator told me we can’t force the process without the proper requirements.”

    Once every pieces were on the table cloth, they all gathered around, even the baby snoots, and they looked at the rocks for a moment. Glynis had lit a few candles since the night had fallen and the light was painting dancing shadows on the walls. Fox’s stomach growled but his attention was all on what Rukshan would say next. They all were.

    “So where is this pink clay?” asked Olli who couldn’t wait longer.

    #4856
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Speaking of people hiding, has anyone seen Eleri since she went to that funeral?” asked Glynnis. “She promised she would help with the dusting … “

    “Perhaps said promise is the reason for her failure to materialise,” said Fox with an almost imperceptible twitch of his nose. “Not that I am one to be catty, but let’s call it … an astute observation.”

    “I am inclined to agree, though, like you, I am loth to come to such a harsh conclusion. It is possible, I suppose …” Glynnis paused doubtfully, “some misadventure may have befallen her?”

    “She does complain frequently of being locked out,” agreed Fox. “Although I confess, I fail to see the barriers to which she so often refers.”

    #4775
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The wind swooshed in the garden, making fallen apples roll on the ground. The air had a lively smell of earth and decaying fruit, and the grass was still moist from the morning dew.
    The statue of Gorrash was facing East, and the rising sun was bringing golden hues to his petrified face. Little snoots were curled in glowing colourful balls of liquid fur around the statue, making it pulsate with a quieting purr. Around Gorrash, the slope was peppered with some of the gargoyles rejects that Eleri had made and couldn’t sell at the market. Still, instead of discarding them, she’d arranged a little forest of painted gargoyles as a sort of silent watchful army guarding Gorrash’s sleep.
    Rukshan liked to meditate at the place, it helped with the stress he’d felt at coming back from the last ordeals. He wouldn’t have thought, but his identity had felt more shaken than he knew. He wasn’t feeling at home with the Faes any longer, and there were few people who could relate to his adventures in the villages nearby, where he was nothing more than an ominous stranger. Retreating in the Fae’s dimension, hidden from all and mostly abandoned was a tempting thought, but he’d found it was a lure with empty promises. He still had work to do.

    Tak and Nesy were already awake and were coming back for the rest of the story.
    He’d started to tell them about the Giants, the old forgotten story which he’d learnt many years ago in his previous life as a Dark Fae. Both were captivated at the prowess displayed by the Master Craftsmen, the old Rings of Stones that they built, the Cairns of the Fallen, and the Fields of Chanting Boulders where magic rituals where performed.

    “Tell us more Rukshan!” they said. “Tell us more about the Three Giant Kings.”
    “Do you remember their names?” he smiled back at the children.
    “Yes! There was Ceazar…” Tak started
    “Caesar, yes” he corrected gently
    “… and Archimedes,” Tak continued hesitantly
    “Yes, and who was the third one?”
    “He had a long and strange name! Nesy, help me!”
    The girl tried to help him “It starts with a V”
    “Vergincetorix!” the answer came from behind a bush.

    Fox!” Nesy cried reproachfully. “It’s not even right! It’s Vercingetorix!”
    “Correct Nesy! And Fox, no need to lurk in the shadows, stories are not only for children you know.”

    Fox took a place near the gargoyle army garden, and a baby snoot jumped into his lap, cooing in vibrating mruii.

    “So what about these Kings do you want to know?” Rukshan asked.
    “Everything!” they all said in unison.
    “Oh well, in this case, let me retell you the story of the Golden Age of the Three Giant Kings, and how they saved their people from a terrible catastrophe.”

    #4766
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    There had been no communications from either Connie or Hilda for some time. Ricardo went down the usual route of worrying that something had happened to them, and then it occurred to him to try out the remote viewing he’d been practicing. It was too easy to rely solely on technological means, he reminded himself, AI (short for Abnormal Intrusions) or no AI.

    Ricardo found himself in a moonlit sweeping landscape, with some dark indeterminate built structure shapes. Oh, very helpful, he snorted, and then reminded himself to simply observe. Then he saw the woman, dressed in gauzy floating white, and found himself sneering at how corny the image was, like a new age art poster woman, beautiful and ethereal in a moonlit scene.

    Stranger still was the next thought to waft through his wandering mind. Maybe he inserted that corny woman to distract any remote viewing spies, and throw them off the scent? Suddenly there was a crash behind him. Another picture had fallen off the wall, he assumed. But nothing was out of place. He looked again, sure that something had fallen to the floor to make such a noise. But there was nothing to see. He shrugged.

    Later, he wondered: what had made that noise?

    #4745
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Eleri was dressed in—too short— fairy garments and had sad looking transparent wings hanging on her back. Her hair was full of twigs and red and yellow leaves fallen from the trees.

    “Have you been rolling yourself into the piles of leaves Ollie had gathered this morning?” asked Glynis.
    Eleri looked like a child caught in the act.
    “Guilty I guess, that’s my little pleasure these days. I recall when I was a little girl and my mom was handing me candies for being a good girl.” She sighed of relief. “Gosh! How I hated that period. I got rid of that neat little girl long ago and now I’m just being myself.”
    She turned around and went back into the forest shouting like a tookantipooh trying to catch a young kakapo, leaving Glynis crestfallen with all the dish to clean again.

    #4632
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Sometimes, you have to go underground to uncover the truth.

    Rukshan thought it meant taking the new underground carts once only.

    Frankly, he’d preferred to travel through the familiar Shadow Maps, the ones Dark Faes like him could draw, that would give them access to a secret parallel world of mist and phantoms, shadows and secrets. It was the true world the Faes originated from, long ago, in a time before history.

    It wasn’t used much nowadays, most Centenial Faes having lost the capacity, or the interest in the place, leaving only bitter unsavoury people creeping there, spying on secrets, and trading in for favours, while being too afraid to leave the known parallel world, too afraid that if they left it, they’d lose the way back.
    For Rukshan and a few in the Queen’s lineage, the place was still more or less of a familiar dwelling, a winter residence of sorts, for when solace and retreat was required.

    Only the Shadow Maps weren’t safe any longer, something had crept along the lay lines and was lurking at every corner, keeping guard at most of the known entrances and reporting to some unknown power.

    Few moons back, Rukshan was still meditating in the Shadow world, not very far from the work at the cottage, which he could hear at times through the thin dimensional walls, when he came across Konrad. Konrad, another Fae from the Old Houses, one with a heavy secret. “I’ve hidden her from him” he told him in short broken sentences. “His daughter, Nesingwarys, she is hidden for now, but He’ll be looking for her, once He recovers, and she won’t be safe. He can’t find her, I have to protect her, she holds power to bring his reign of terror back.”

    Truly, it didn’t make a lot of sense, but it had picked his curiosity. Rukshan left the other Fae to his apparent madness, but wondered about the coincidence. That Garl, the name Konrad gave to the dark fallen monarch, according to what he could piece together, seemed to have been vanquished or disappeared about the same time they’d all managed to repel the Shadow in the Forest.

    He would usually have left it at that, but then, a few days later, started to realize something was wrong in the Shadow world, and that this very something was growing.

    “And now, I’m stuck in an underground cart crammed full of people to go to the city. And they call that progress…”

    A bearded guy smelling of piss and wine, was doing acrobatics with his crutches and what was left of his left leg. He was looking at people with a half-toothed grin and a blissful face while muttering things Rukshan couldn’t figure. His face reminded him of a thespian he’d known. Rukshan couldn’t shake the feeling there was message in that. When the underground cart dinged to announce the Grand Belfrey Station, Rukshan was relieved to finally be out for fresh air. Magnificent craftsmanship he would say to the gnomes in charge of the tunnels, but really, underground cart wasn’t his thing.

    #4593
    EricEric
    Keymaster

     :fleuron:‪

    Konrad had to cover his brown eyes as he watched the wall collapse.
    On his left was the Tower, the one-of-a-kind creation under which the Dark Lord, Garl, swore an oath. The stone from the center fell toward the right with a soft thunk. The walls surrounding the Tower were broken apart by a flash of light.

    Konrad continued to the center of the twelve-tiled square he drew onto the floor to make his escape.

    Two or three days later, he would meet another of his patrons, the mysterious Surt, who’d come across him first. They talked about the recent events leading up to the Dark Lord having fallen, and the dark rumors that were rampant.

    ‪Surt seemed to be one of those who didn’t believe the news. This one had only heard the official stories, but was still somewhat interested. He said, “My apologies for not making the trip to the capital earlier… it was not easy to travel in such close proximity to it.” Surt explained why he came to this place, even though he had no clue on his own.

    “So what brought you here?” Konrad asked the giant.

    “Surt has something you’ll want to know about the Dark Lord’s sister Nesingwarys.” Surt explained.

    “What about her?” asked Konrad.

    “She’s a magical girl. That sort of thing. She goes to school with a little girl with some special abilities. I’ve taken a keen interest.” His eyes narrowed. “Her abilities are her own. You know, something with the potential to kill the whole school. She’ll keep you safe. You’ll become her protector and help her survive the Dark Lord. Maybe one or two times. It’s her calling.”

    “N-no-it’s not my calling!” Konrad shouted. “My calling is to protect you!”

    “Surt is well versed in her abilities, and she has her own reasons not to go down the Dark Lord’s path. She has no interest in the Dark Lord, or anything related to him.”
    Konrad replied with a tone of bitterness. “I will help her by keeping my own thoughts hidden, and not talking about it outside of the school.” Konrad walked away to go back and forth between Surt and Soren. Surt continued to watch him with curiosity.

    Soren was looking around worried, confused, bewildered.

    #4554
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The wind was playing with the fine grained ash that had been the enchanted forest and Margorrit’s cottage. Fox felt empty, he sat prostrated like an old jute bag abandoned on the ground. He was unable to shake off the inertia that had befallen on him since his arrival.
    He was caught in an endless cycle of guilt that rolled over him, crushing his self esteem and motivation until it disappeared in the ashes like his friend and the whole world.

    After a moment, his stomach growled, reminding him that he was still alive and that he hadn’t eaten that well during the last few days. His nose wriggled as beyond the decay it had caught the smell of a living creature that was passing by. He heard a crow caw.
    Fox wailed, he didn’t want to be taken out of his lamentations and self pity. He thought he didn’t deserve it. But this time, like all the others before, hunger won the battle without that much of a fight and Fox was soon on his feet.

    He looked around, there was cold ash everywhere. It smell bad, but he couldn’t really tell where it came from. It seemed to be everywhere.
    The crow landed in front of him and cawed again. It looked at him intently.
    It cawed. As if it wanted to tell him something. The black of its feathers reminded him of Glynis’s burka. Glynis. She had told him something. They count on you, as if there was still time. The last potion, cawed the crow. And it took off, only to land in what would have been the cottage kitchen. It rummaged through the ashes.
    “The kitchen!” shouted Fox, suddenly recalling what she had said. The crow looked up at Fox and cawed as if encouraging him to join it in the search.
    “The last potion that can turn back time!?”
    “Caw”

    Fox ran and foraged the ashes with the crow. He found broken china, and melted silverware. He coughed as his foraging dispersed the ashes into the air. Suddenly he shivered. He had found a bone under a piece of china. He shook his head. What a fool, it’s only chicken bone.

    “Caw”
    The raven, which Fox wondered if it was Glynis, showed Fox a place with its beak. There was a small dark bottle. He wondered why they were always dark like that. He felt a rush of excitement run through his body and he was about to open it and drink it when he saw the skull and crossbones on the label. In fact it was the only thing that was on the label. Fill with a sudden repulsion, Fox almost let go of the bottle.

    “Caw”
    “I’m not drinking that,” said Fox.
    “Caw!”
    The bird jumped on his arm and attempted to uncork the bottle.
    “Caw”
    Glynis?”
    “Caw Caw”
    She picked at the cork.
    Fox looked at the dreaded sign on the bottle. He hesitated but opened it. When the smell reached his nose he was surprised that it was sweet and reminded him of strawberry. Maybe it was by contrast to the ambient decay.
    At least, he thought, if I die, the last thing I taste would be strawberry.
    He gulped the potion down and disappeared.
    The bottle fell on the floor, a drop hanging on the edge of its opening. Certainly attracted by the sweet smell, the crow took it with his black beak. It just had time for a last satisfied caw before it also disappeared.

    #4500
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “A diabolical plot twist, Godfrey. Really!” Liz was furious, but had trouble speaking clearly. Her lower denture had been floating around alarmingly since her last tooth had fallen out, and there was nothing to anchor the plastic, other than the slippery gravity of her caved in mouth.

    #4462
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Night had fallen when Rukshan came back to the cottage. He was thinking that they could wait a little bit for the trip. He did not like that much the idea of trusting the safety of their group to a stranger, even if it was a friend of Lhamom. They were not in such a rush after all.

    Rukshan looked at their luxuriant newly grown pergola. Thanks to the boost potion Glynis had prepared, it had only took a week to reach its full size and they have been able to enjoy it since the start of the unusual hot spell. The creatures that had hatched from the colourful eggs Gorrash had brought with him were flowing around the branches creating a nice glowing concerto of lights, inside and out.

    It was amazing how everyone were combining their resources and skills to make this little community function. In the shadow of the pergola there was an empty pedestal that Fox had built and Eleri had decorated with nice grapes carvings. Gorrash was certainly on patrol with the owls. His friends had thought that a pedestal would be more comfortable and the pergola would keep Gorrash’s stone from the scorching heat of the sun. Also, he wouldn’t get covered in mud during the sudden heavy rains accompanying the hot spell.

    Seeing the beautiful pedestal and the carved little stairs he could use to climb up, Gorrash had tried to hide the tears in his eyes. He mumbled it was due to some desert dust not to appear emotional, but they all knew his hard shell harboured the softest heart.

    The dwarf had repaid them in an unexpected way. Every day just before sunrise, he would take a big plate in his hands and jumped on the pedestal before turning to stone. It allowed them to put grapes or other fruits that they could eat under the shadow of the of the pergola.

    Rukshan came into the house and he found Margoritt sitting at the dining table on which there was a small parchment roll. Her angry look was so unusual that Rukshan’s felt his chest tighten.

    “They sent me a bloody pigeon,” she said when she arrived. She took the roll and handed it to Rukshan. “The city council… Leroway… he accuses us of unauthorised expansion of the house, of unauthorised construction on communal ground, and of unlicensed trade of manufactured goods.” Margoritt’s face was twisted with pain as the said the words.

    Rukshan winced. Too much bad news were arriving at the same time. If there was a pattern, it seemed rather chaotic and harassing.

    “They threaten us to send a bailif if we don’t stop our illegal activities and if we don’t pay the extra taxes they reclaim,” she continued. “I’m speechless at the guile of that man.”

    Rukshan smiled, he wondered if Margoritt could ever be rendered speechless by anything except for bad flu. He uncoiled the roll and quickly skimmed through the long string of accusations. Many of them were unfair and, to his own opinion unjustified. Since when the forest belonged to Leroway’s city? It had always been sacred ground, and its own master.

    “I have no money,” said Margoritt. “It’s so unfair. I can’t fight with that man. I’m too old and tired.”

    “Don’t forget we are all in the same cottage, Margoritt. It’s not just you. Eventhough, they clearly want to evict us,” said Rukshan. “Even if we had enough money, they would not let us stay.” He showed her the small roll. “The list of accusations is so ludicrous that it’s clearly a ploy to get rid of us. First, that road they want to build through the forest, now evicting us from the ground.” And those bad omens from the mountain, he thought with a shiver.

    “We are not going to give them that satisfaction, are we?” asked Margoritt, pleading like a little girl. “We have to find something Rukshan,” she said. “You have to help me fight Leroway.”

    “Ahem,” said a rockous voice. Gorrash had returned from his patrol. “I know where to find money,” he added. “At leas, I think I know. I had another dream about my maker. It’s just bits and pieces, but I’m sure he hid some treasure in the mountains. There was that big blue diamond, glowing as brightly as a blue sun. And other things.”

    A big blue diamond? It sounds familiar. Rukshan thought. There was an old fae legend that mentioned a blue diamond but he couldn’t remember. Is it connected to the blue light Olliver mentioned earlier? He wondered.

    “That’s it! You have to go find this treasure,” said Margoritt.

    Rukshan sighed as he could feel the first symptoms of a headache. There was so much to think about, so much to do. He massaged his temples. The trip had suddenly become urgent, but they also had to leave someone behind to help Margoritt with the “Leroway problem”. And he winced as he wondered who was going to take care of that road business. It was clear to him that he couldn’t be everywhere at the same time. He would have to delegate.

    He thought of the telebats. Maybe he could teach the others how to use them so that he could keep in touch and manage everything at distance. He sighed again. Who would be subtle and sensitive enough to master the telebats in time?

    #4457
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It was no shadow day. The sun was right above head, shining its blinding light right through you. Everybody at the cottage was feeling the heat and trying as much as they could to cool themselves down.
    Only Hasamelis didn’t seem to mind. Being a God even a fallen One had its perks. Eleri was glaring at him annoyed while she was profusely sweating. There was always a tense flirtatious hatred, or rather a murderous love between those two, and it kept pulling them together, in a paradoxical way.
    Everyone were glad for the herb cooler that Glynis would decant for them.

    Rukshan was looking longingly at the horizon, maybe (he wouldn’t admit) thinking about the Queen, or for some better place to be…
    But since their fire ceremonial, he could feel releasing the Shards through the burning of the book had awoken something, and danger from an unknown place seemed to be lurking beyond the mountains.

    The Doors to the God Realm had opened again, and he wasn’t all sure it was a good thing.

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