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      From Tanganyika with Love

      continued  ~ part 4

      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

      Mchewe Estate. 31st January 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

      With much love,

      Mchewe Estate. 9th February 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

      Heaps of love to all,

      Mchewe Estate. 27th February 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Lots of love,

      Mchewe Estate. 12th March 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      With heaps of love,

      Mchewe Estate. 24th March 1936

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Heaps of love from a sadder but wiser,

      Mchewe Estate. 3rd April 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The wet season is definitely the time to stay home.

      Lots and lots of love,

      Mchewe Estate. 30th April 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

      Your very affectionate,

      Mchewe Estate. 17th September 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

      With love to you all,

      Mchewe Estate. 2nd October 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

      Much love to you all,

      Mchewe Estate. 10th October 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

      Your worried but affectionate,

      Tukuyu. 23rd October 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

      Much love,

      Mchewe. 12th November 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Lots and lots of love to all,

      Chunya 27th November 1936

      Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Much love to all,



        From Tanganyika with Love

        continued  ~ part 3

        With thanks to Mike Rushby.

        Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

        Very much love,

        Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

        Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

        your loving but anxious,

        Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

        Very much love to all,

        Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

        Lots and lots of love,

        Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

        Who would be a mother!

        Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

        Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


        Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Lots and lots of love,

        Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

        Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

        With love to all,

        Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

        With love to all,

        Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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


        Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

        Your very loving,

        Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

        With love to all,


          From Tanganyika with Love


          With thanks to Mike Rushby.

          Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

          Very much love,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Eleanor Rushby


          Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Your very loving,

          Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Lots and lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Much love to all,

          Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

          Much love to all,

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

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

          We all send our love,

          Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Very much love,

          Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

          Much love from a proud mother of two.

          Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

          Your affectionate,

          Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

          your affectionate,

          Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

          Very much love

          Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

          Dear Family,

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

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

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

          Lots and lots of love,

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

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Very much love,

          Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

          Much love to all,

          Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

          Lots of love,

          Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Lots of love to all,

          Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Much love to you all,

          Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

          Much love,

          Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

          Lots of love, Eleanor


            From Tanganyika with Love

            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Much love my dear,
            your jubilant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Bless you all,

            S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Eleanor Leslie.

            Eleanor and George Rushby:

            Eleanor and George Rushby

            Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Your cave woman

            Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Much love to you all,

            Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Your loving

            Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Very much love,

            Mbeya 23rd December 1930

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

            26th December 1930

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

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

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

            Lots and lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Your loving,

            Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

            Very much love,

            Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


            Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

            Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



              Kidsley Grange Farm and The Quakers Next Door

              Kidsley Grange Farm in Smalley, Derbyshire, was the home of the Housleys in the 1800s.  William Housley 1781-1848 was born in nearby Selston.   His wife Ellen Carrington 1795-1872 was from a long line of Carringtons in Smalley.  They had ten children between 1815 and 1838.  Samuel, my 3x great grandfather, was the second son born in 1816.

              The original farm has been made into a nursing home in recent years, which at the time of writing is up for sale at £500,000. Sadly none of the original farm appears visible with all the new additions.

              The farm before it was turned into a nursing home:

              Kidsley Grange Farm

              Kidsley Grange Farm and Kidsley Park, a neighbouring farm, are mentioned in a little book about the history of Smalley.  The neighbours at Kidsley Park, the Davy’s,  were friends of the Housleys. They were Quakers.

              Smalley Farms


              In Kerry’s History of Smalley:

              Kidsley Park Farm was owned by Daniel Smith,  a prominent Quaker and the last of the Quakers at Kidsley. His daughter, Elizabeth Davy, widow of William Davis, married WH Barber MB of Smalley. Elizabeth was the author of the poem “Farewell to Kidsley Park”.

              Emma Housley sent one of Elizabeth Davy’s poems to her brother George in USA.

               “We have sent you a piece of poetry that Mrs. Davy composed about our ‘Old House.’ I am sure you will like it though you may not understand all the allusions she makes use of as well as we do.”

              Farewell to Kidsley Park
              Farewell, Farewell, Thy pathways now by strangers feet are trod,
              And other hands and horses strange henceforth shall turn thy sod,
              Yes, other eyes may watch the buds expanding in the spring.
              And other children round the hearth the coming years may bring,
              But mine will be the memory of cares and pleasures there,
              Intenser ~ that no living thing in some of them can share,
              Commencing with the loved, and lost, in days of long ago,
              When one was present on whose head Atlantic’s breezes blow,
              Long years ago he left that roof, and made a home afar ~
              For that is really only “home” where life’s affections are!
              How many thoughts come o’er me, for old Kidsley has “a name
              And memory” ~ in the hearts of some not unknown to fame.
              We dream not, in those happy times, that I should be the last,
              Alone, to leave my native place ~ alone, to meet the blast,
              I loved each nook and corner there, each leaf and blade of grass,
              Each moonlight shadow on the pond I loved: but let it pass,
              For mine is still the memory that only death can mar;
              I fancy I shall see it reflecting every star.
              The graves of buried quadrupeds, affectionate and true,
              Will have the olden sunshine, and the same bright morning dew,
              But the birds that sang at even when the autumn leaves were seer,
              Will miss the crumbs they used to get, in winters long and drear.
              Will the poor down-trodden miss me? God help them if they do!
              Some manna in the wilderness, His goodness guide them to!
              Farewell to those who love me! I shall bear them still in mind,
              And hope to be remembered by those I left behind:
              Do not forget the aged man ~ though another fills his place ~
              Another, bearing not his name, nor coming of his race.
              His creed might be peculiar; but there was much of good
              Successors will not imitate, because not understood.
              Two hundred years have come and past since George Fox ~ first of “Friends” ~
              Established his religion there ~ which my departure ends.
              Then be it so: God prosper these in basket and in store,
              And make them happy in my place ~ my dwelling, never more!
              For I may be a wanderer ~ no roof nor hearthstone mine:
              May light that cometh from above my resting place define.
              Gloom hovers o’er the prospect now, but He who was my friend,
              In the midst of troubled waters, will see me to the end.

              Elizabeth Davy, June 6th, 1863, Derby.

              Another excerpt from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters from the family in Smalley to George in USA mentions the Davy’s:

              Anne’s will was probated October 14, 1856. Mr. William Davy of Kidsley Park appeared for the family. Her estate was valued at under £20. Emma was to receive fancy needlework, a four post bedstead, feather bed and bedding, a mahogany chest of drawers, plates, linen and china. Emma was also to receive Anne’s writing desk! There was a condition that Ellen would have use of these items until her death.
              The money that Anne was to receive from her grandfather, William Carrington, and her father, William Housley was to be distributed one third to Joseph, one third to Emma, and one third to be divided between her four neices: John’s daughter Elizabeth, 18, and Sam’s daughters Elizabeth, 10, Mary Anne, 9 and Catherine, age 7 to be paid by the trustees as they think “most useful and proper.” Emma Lyon and Elizabeth Davy were the witnesses.

              Mrs. Davy wrote to George on March 21 1856 sending some gifts from his sisters and a portrait of their mother–“Emma is away yet and A is so much worse.” Mrs. Davy concluded: “With best wishes
               for thy health and prosperity in this world and the next I am thy sincere friend.” Whenever the girls sent greetings from Mrs. Davy they used her Quaker speech pattern of “thee and thy.”



                Sydney Smith and Lawrence of Arabia

                Hannah Warren 1865-1946 was my great grandfather Samuel’s sister. Hannah married Charles Smith, and their son was Sydney Smith 1888-1971, Lawrence of Arabia’s commanding officer. Sydney’s wife, Clare Sydney Smith, wrote a book about their friendship with Lawrence of Arabia called The Golden Reign.

                This photograph of Sydney Smith and Clare is in our collection of family photos. Written on the back: Sydney Smith son of Hannah Smith sister of Samuel Warren married Clare Eustace Jameson, niece of Earl Haig.

                Sydney Smith and Clare

                The Burton Observer and Chronicle – Thursday 19 September 1940:

                BURTONIANS’ FRIENDSHIP WITH EX-ARAB LEADER. By Clare Sydney Smith (Cassell, 12s. 6d.).  general interest as an intimate study of the most romantic personality on the Allied side… this volume has distinctly local appeal, for the authoress, who is a niece of the late Earl Haig, is the wife of Mr Commodore Sydney Smith, eldest son of Mr. Charles Smith (former joint managing director of Allsopp’s). Her volume, on the whole, is a fascinating record of the devoted friendship which existed between Colonel Lawrence of Arabia, her husband and herself during the latter years of the one-time Arab leader’s life. Their acquaintance with  Lawrence, alias Aircraftman T. E. Shaw, commenced with the Cairo Conference in 1920.

                The Golden Reign


                A photograph from the book: From left to right: Lord Astor, Wing-Commander Sydney Smith, Lady Astor, George Bernard Shaw, Charlotte Shaw (hiding behind GBS’s shoulder), Sydney’s daughter Maureen Sydney Smith, an unknown man, Clare Sydney Smith, and on the ladder, T.E.’s feet.

                Sydney Smith and Lord Astor


                Also from Clare’s book:

                Clare Sydney Smith and TE Lawrence


                Sydney Smith with Lawrence of Arabia:

                Sydney Smith Lawrence of Arabia


                  Today the planets are aligned, thought Liz as she looked at the blue sky out the French door. The frills of her glitter pink Charnel bathing suit wiggled with excitement.

                  It was one of those rare days of this summer where rain wasn’t pouring somewhere in the garden. Every single day: clouds, clouds, clouds. If they weren’t above the mansion, they were above the pool. If they weren’t above the pool, they were flooding the lawn in between the mansion and the pool.

                  But today, the sun had risen in a sky free of clouds and Liz was determined to have that dip in the newly repaired swimming pool with a watermelon mojito served by Roberto in his shiny leather speedo. The pool had been half frozen half boiling for so long that they had forgotten the swimming part. Once fixed, the summer had turned into a mid season rainy weather.

                  ‘I don’t want to get wet before I get into the pool’, Liz had said to Finnley.

                  Liz looked at her pink notebook lying on the coffee table. Resisting the temptation to fill in the empty pages with gripping stories, she hopped on the patio, flounces bouncing and her goocci flip-flops clacking. With a sparkling foot, Liz tested the grass. It was dry enough, which meant she would not inadvertently walk on a slug or a snail. She particularly hated the cracking noise and the wetness afterward under her feet.

                  Roberto was bent forward. Liz frowned. He was not wearing his leather speedo. And his hands and pants were covered in green goo.

                  ‘What happened?’ she asked in front of the disaster.

                  Roberto shrugged, obviously overwhelmed by the goo.

                  ‘Green algae’, said Godfrey popping up out of nowhere with a handful of cashews. ‘The ice and fire had kept it at bay for some time. But once it was back to normal the pool was a perfect environment for their development. I already called the maintenance company. They come next week.’

                  ‘What? Next week?’

                  ‘Yes. That’s sad. It’s the season. We are not the only ones to have that problem.’

                  That said he threw a cashew in his mouth and popped back to nowhere he came from.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Where was this going?


                  Nora woke to the sun streaming  in the little dormer window in the attic bedroom. She stretched under the feather quilt and her feet encountered the cool air, an intoxicating contrast to the snug warmth of the bed. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept so well and was reluctant to awaken fully and confront the day. She felt peaceful and rested, and oddly, at home.

                  Unfortunately that thought roused her to sit and frown, and look around the room.  The dust was dancing in the sunbeams and rivulets of condensation trickled down the window panes.   A small statue of an owl was silhouetted on the sill, and a pitcher of dried herbs or flowers, strands of spider webs sparkled like silver thread between the desiccated buds.

                  An old whicker chair in the corner was piled with folded blankets and bed linens, and the bookshelf behind it  ~ Nora threw back the covers and padded over to the books. Why were they all facing the wall?   The spines were at the back, with just the pages showing. Intrigued, Nora extracted a book to see what it was, just as a gentle knock sounded on the door.

                  Yes? she said, turning, placing the book on top of the pile of bedclothes on the chair, her thoughts now on the events of the previous night.

                  “I expect you’re ready for some coffee!” Will called brightly. Nora opened the door, smiling. What a nice man he was, making her so welcome, and such a pleasant evening they’d spent, drinking sweet home made wine and sharing stories.  It had been late, very late, when he’d shown her to her room.  Nora has been tempted to invite him in with her (very tempted if the truth be known) and wasn’t quite sure why she hadn’t.

                  “I slept so well!” she said, thanking him as he handed her the mug.  “It looks like a lovely day today,” she added brightly, and then frowned a little. She didn’t really want to leave.  She was supposed to continue her journey, of course she knew that.  But she really wanted to stay a little bit longer.

                  “I’ve got a surprise planned for lunch,” he said, “and something I’d like to show you this morning.  No rush!”  he added with a twinkly smile.

                  Nora beamed at him and promptly ditched any thoughts of continuing her trip today.

                  “No rush” she repeated softly.


                  In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

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

                  Or was it?

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

                  “Maybe they are inside,” whispered Tara.

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

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

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

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

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

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


                  In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


                    secret feet clothes

                    finally story suddenly known

                    pain added sometimes feeling

                    chinese whatever

                    top side telling

                    whispered continue

                    mars work bag


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                    “You know, April … I’ve never felt myself suited to work. Never found my …” June screwed up her face in concentration. “… special calling.”

                    “Can’t we sit down over there for a minute? My feet are bloody killing me.” April nodded towards a park bench; she didn’t have much patience today for June and her philosophising, after all, wasn’t it June’s fault they were in this mess? “It’s too bad we can’t even afford the bus fare,” she grumbled as she settled herself on the wooden seat.

                    “Not too much further,” said June plonking down next to her.

                    April bent down to take off her socks and sneakers and massaged her grateful feet in the damp grass. “Think I’ve got a blister. And I’d kill for a cuppa tea. I do hope Finnley has kept on top of things.”

                    June snorted. “Not bloody likely. Anyway, while we’ve been walking I’ve been thinking … what if we sue?”

                    April yawned noisily without bothering to put a hand over her mouth—she knew June hated that. “Who is Sue? Does she have money?”

                    “No, you idiot, not, who Sue. I mean what if we sue for money? Sue the president for wrongdoings which have been done to us.”

                    “Oh!” April perked up. “There’s certainly been plenty of wrongdoings!”

                    June smiled smugly. “Exactly.”


                    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

                    “Shut up, Tara!” hissed Star, “And keep him singing while I think. This is a monumental clue!”

                    “But I can’t stand bloody opera singing,” Tara whispered back, “It’ll drive me mad.  When they said he had a melodious voice I was expecting something more modern than this ancient caterwauling.”

                    “Do you want to solve this case or not?”

                    “Oh alright then,” Tara said grudgingly. “But your thinking better be good!”  She clapped loudly and whistled. “More! More!” she shouted, stamping her feet. The assorted middle aged ladies joined in the applause.

                    Star leaned over and whispered in Tara’s ear, “Do you remember that client I had at Madame Limonella’s, that nice old man with a penchant for seeing me dressed up as a 13th century Italian peasant?”

                    “Yeah, you had to listen to opera with him, poor thing, but he did tip well.”

                    “Well, he told me a lot about opera. I thought it was a waste of time knowing all that useless old stuff, but listen: this song what he’s singing now, he’s singing this on purpose. It’s a clue, you see, to Uncle Basil and why Vince wants to find him.”

                    “Go on,” whispered Tara.

                    “There’s a lot of money involved, and a will that needs to be changed. If Uncle Basil dies while he’s still in the clutches of that cult, then Vince will lose his chance of inheriting Basil’s money.”

                    “Wasn’t that obvious from the start?”

                    “Well yes, but we got very cleverly sidetracked with all these middle aged ladies and that wardrobe!  This is where the mule comes in.”

                    “What mule?”

                    “Shh! Keep your voice down! It’s not the same kind of mule as in the opera, these middle aged ladies are trafficking mules!”

                    “Oh well that would make sense, they’d be perfect. Nobody suspects middle aged ladies.  But what are they trafficking, and why are they all here?”

                    “They’re here to keep us from finding out the truth with all these silly sidetracks and distractions.  And we’ve stupidly let ourselves be led astray from the real case.”

                    “What’s the real case, then?”

                    “We need to find Uncle Basil so that Vince can change his will. It wasn’t Vince that was in a coma, as that hatchet faced old butler told us. It was Basil.”

                    “How do you know that for sure?” asked Tara.

                    “I don’t know for sure, but this is the theory. Once we have a theory, we can prove it.  Now, about that wardrobe. We mustn’t let them take it away. No matter what story they come up with, that wardrobe stays where it is, in our office.”

                    “But why? It’s taking up space and it doesn’t go with the clean modern style.  And people keep getting locked inside it, it’s a death trap.”

                    “That’s what they want you to think! That it’s just another ghastly old wardrobe!  But it’s how they smuggle the stuff!”

                    “What stuff are they smuggling? Drugs?  That doesn’t explain what it’s doing in our office, though.”

                    “Well, I had an interesting intuition about that. You know that modified carrot story they tried to palm us off with? Well I reckon it’s vaccines.  They had to come up with a way to vaccinate the anti vaxxers, so they made this batch of vaccines hidden in hallucinogenic carrots.  They’re touting the carrots as a new age spiritual vibration enhancing wake up drug, and the anti vaxxers will flock to it in droves.”

                    “Surely if they’re so worried about the ingredients in vaccines, they won’t just take any old illegal drug off the street?”

                    Star laughed loudly, quickly putting her hand over her mouth to silence the guffaw.  Thankfully Vince had reached a powerful crescendo and nobody heard her.

                    Tara smiled ruefully. “Yeah, I guess that was a silly thing to say.  But now I’m confused.  Whose side are we on? Surely the carrot vaccine is a good idea?  Are we trying to stop them or what?  And what is Vince up to? Falsifying a will?” Tara frowned, puzzled. “Whose side are we on?” she repeated.

                    “We’re on the side of the client who pays us, Tara,” Star reminded her.

                    “But what if the client is morally bankrupt? What if it goes against our guidelines?”

                    “Guidelines don’t come into it when you’re financially bankrupt!” Star snapped.  “Hey, where has everyone gone?”

                    “They said they had to pick up a wardrobe,” said the waitress. “Shall I bring you the bill?  They all left without paying, they said you were treating them.”

                    “Pay the bill, Tara!” screamed Star, knocking over her chair as she flew out of the door. “And then make haste to the office and help me stop them!”


                    In reply to: Snooteries

                    The SnootThe Snoot

                      Fat Blue Whale sends her greetings
                      Of bubbles tickling the dream
                      For Snoot to dive in the stream
                      Flowing to City Plaza
                      Where hairy feet jumped on tiles.

                      All of them had long feathers,
                      And to solve your good riddle
                      You must spiral on the One,
                      To accept the world’s wonders,
                      Where can hatch your three graces.

                      Therein lies all your answers.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                      In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

                      Rosamund’s Aunt Joanie is a vegan anti-vaxxer,” said Tara, frowning at the large piece of pizza being shovelled into Rosamund’s mouth.

                      “That’s right,” Rosamund nodded enthusiastically. “Anti-vegan vaxxer and she don’t eat nothing with no eyes either. She drives Mum bloody mental going on about how the animals have got souls while Mum’s trying to enjoy a nice baccy fry up. Mum calls her Aunt Moanie.”

                      Tara shuddered and turned her attention firmly to the laptop. “This is very strange,” she muttered. “Star, what exactly do we know about Mr Vince French?”

                      Star smirked. “Other than his obvious attributes?”

                      “Which are?” Tara’s voice was sharp and Star sighed. Tara could be a mardy cow sometimes.

                      “You mean the fella with the voice like a bloody angel?” asked Rosamund, spitting an olive onto Tara’s sleeve. Tara swore under her breath as the olive bounced to the floor. Fortunately there was no mark; it was a new blouse and had cost Tara an arm and a leg. Worth the investment, she had reasoned at the time. One must look the part. And clearly, her Moulin Rouge ensemble wasn’t a good look for a Professional Investigator, even with fishnets and a feather boa.

                      “He cancelled his appointment but he paid the, quite frankly exorbitant, deposit we asked for,” said Star. “He’s going to email us the rest of the details. Do we need to know more that that?”

                      “Well, I’ve been doing a search and there is nothing anywhere online about him, or his world famous melodious voice. I suggest we pay this Mr French a visit.”

                      “Oh bloody awesome!” Rosamund leapt to her feet and pizza boxes went flying. “Oops, sorry about that. I’ll clean it soon as we get back.”

                      “You’re not coming!” shouted Tara and Star simultaneously.


                      “Why are you looking guilty?”  It was impossible for Godfrey to hide anything from Liz. She noticed at once the nervous tic in his left eye, and the way he was shuffling his feet around.  He was clearly rattled about something.

                      “I’ve g g g ot a confession to m m make,” he stuttered. Liz had never heard Godfrey stutter before, and it was unheard of for him to make confessions.  Something was troubling her old friend greatly, and she was concerned.

                      Liz sighed.  If only Finnley were here.  God knows where she was, gallivanting around and leaving Liz to deal with a demented Godfrey on her own, when she had so much writing to do.

                      Moving the bowl of peanuts out of Godfrey’s reach, in case he choked on them in his stuttering condition, Liz gently suggested that he spill the beans and tell her all about it.

                      “I put two of your characters in jail.”

                      Liz gasped and her hand flew to her mouth.

                      “And now,” Godfrey’s voice caught on a little sob,  “And now, I have to pay the bail money to get them out.”

                      “Why not just get Mr August to talk Mellie Noma into paying it? She got the kid back ~ mysteriously, I must say, quite a gap in the tale there..”

                      “Well it’s your book, so it’s your gap,” Godfrey retorted, reverting back to his old self.

                      “Then what were you doing in it, putting my characters in jail?” Liz snapped back. “Go and get that bail paid so they can go to Australia. Otherwise you’re going to muck up another book.”


                      Norma was taking the sheets for a clean when she ran into the tall black figure of Mr August in the neatly carpeted corridors that Finnley had got freshly cleaned. Those odd people from Alabama that had brought Barron back had been all too pleased to help with the carpet cleaning, gaining a contract with the Beige House rather than a one-time reward.

                      Norma immediately started to blush like a teenybopper feeling silly hidden under the mass of untidy sheets. She dropped the heap at Mr August’s feet and fumbled around in utter confusion.

                      August was a gentleman, and offered to help, while exchanging some innocent small talk. He was a married man after all. “Those carpets sure do look cleaner than they ever were.”

                      “Yeah, that Finnley knows her bossing around business, that’s a fact.” reluctantly replied Norma, jealous that the conversation had to mention the other maid.

                      “You look distressed Norma.” he paused looking genuinely concerned. “It’s nothing to do with the sacking of June & April, is it? Or is that the stress of all that sudden responsibility falling on your shoulder? Taking care of Mr. Barron and all?”

                      “Oh yes, but no!” she immediately answered. “It was such an honor that Mistress Mellie Noma entrusted me with her child. The Lord will forgive me for speaking ill of them, but these two were not fit and proper to raise a child, with all that partying and …” she stopped thinking she sounded like a bitter spinster.

                      “Amen.” smiled August. “Not to mention all the gossiping around.” he giggled.

                      He rose from the floor and gave her back the folded sheet in a neat package.

                      “Good luck with the kid. Now he’s back, there’s no telling what goes in this head of his. I still wonder how he managed to get on this little trip. I have to go, work to do before Pres. Lump is coming back from his impricotement hearings. Seems he won once again and will be here in no time.”

                      F LoveF Love

                        I grabbed the baby when nobody was watching. That’s most of the time. I nestled him comfortably on the dusting cloths in my cleaning cart and told him not to cry .

                        I popped my head into the lounge on the way past. The Aunties were both snoozing with their feet up and their mouths open. “Good afternoon, Miss June, Miss April!” I added a smile that would melt butter, maybe even stone. I don’t know. I’m new to this smiling carry-on. They ignored me, as usual, but maybe they were just asleep.

                        I didn’t really have a plan. I just had a feeling about this baby.

                        And, I was right. Barron turns out to be a girl. I don’t know who else know … that maid has to know. She’s the one changes his .. her … nappies.

                        I am going to get to the bottom of this. Haha. Excuse the joke.

                        In the meantime, the baby is safe with me.

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