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  • #6310

    In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Olek wished he wasn’t so easy to find.

    The old caretaker of the shrine of Saint Edigna couldn’t have chosen a less conspicuous place to live in this warring time. People were flocking from afar, more and more each day drawn about by the ancient place, and the sacred oil bleeding linden tree which had suddenly and quite miraculously resumed its flow in the midst of the ambiant chaos started by the war.

    It wasn’t always like this. A few months ago, the linden tree was just an old linden tree that may or may not have been miraculous, if the old wifes’ tales were to be trusted. Mankind’s memory is a flimsy thing as it occurs, and while for many generations before, speculations had abounded about whether or not the Saint was real, had such or such filiation, et cætera— it now seemed the old tales that were passed down from mother to children had managed to keep alive a knowledge that had but all dried up on old flaky parchments scribbled in pale inks that kept eluding old scholars’ exegesis.

    Olek himself wasn’t a learned man. A man of faith, he was a little — more by upbringing than by choice, and by slow attunement to nature it would seem. Over the years, he’d be servicing the country in many ways, and after a rather long carrier started at young age, he had finally managed to retire in this place.
    He thought he’d be left alone, to care for a little garden patch, checking in from times to times on the old grumpy neighbours, but alas, the Holy Nation’s destiny still had something in store for him.

    The latest pilgrim family had brought a message. It was another push to action. “Plan acceleration needs to happen”.
    “What clucking plan again?” was his first reaction. Bad temper had a way of flaring right up his vents as in old times. When he’d calmed down, he wondered if he had ever seen a call for slowing down in his life. People were always so busy mindlessly carting around, bumping into the darkness.

    He smiled thinking of something his old man used to say. He’d never planned for a thing in his life, and was always very carefree it was often scary. His mantra was “People are always getting prepared for the wrong things. They never can prepare for the unexpected, and surely enough, only the unexpected happens.”
    That sort of chaos paddling approach to life didn’t seem to bring him any sort of extraordinary success, and while he had the same mixed bag of ups and downs as the rest of his compatriots, just so much less did he suffer for the same result! Olek guessed that was the whole point, even if he really couldn’t accept it until much later in life.

    Maybe Olek would start playing by his father’s book. Until he could find a way to get lost behind enemy lines.

    #6265
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued  ~ part 6

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Mchewe 6th June 1937

    Dearest Family,

    Home again! We had an uneventful journey. Kate was as good as gold all the
    way. We stopped for an hour at Bulawayo where we had to change trains but
    everything was simplified for me by a very pleasant man whose wife shared my
    compartment. Not only did he see me through customs but he installed us in our new
    train and his wife turned up to see us off with magazines for me and fruit and sweets for
    Kate. Very, very kind, don’t you think?

    Kate and I shared the compartment with a very pretty and gentle girl called
    Clarice Simpson. She was very worried and upset because she was going home to
    Broken Hill in response to a telegram informing her that her young husband was
    dangerously ill from Blackwater Fever. She was very helpful with Kate whose
    cheerfulness helped Clarice, I think, though I, quite unintentionally was the biggest help
    at the end of our journey. Remember the partial dentures I had had made just before
    leaving Cape Town? I know I shall never get used to the ghastly things, I’ve had them
    two weeks now and they still wobble. Well this day I took them out and wrapped them
    in a handkerchief, but when we were packing up to leave the train I could find the
    handkerchief but no teeth! We searched high and low until the train had slowed down to
    enter Broken Hill station. Then Clarice, lying flat on the floor, spied the teeth in the dark
    corner under the bottom bunk. With much stretching she managed to retrieve the
    dentures covered in grime and fluff. My look of horror, when I saw them, made young
    Clarice laugh. She was met at the station by a very grave elderly couple. I do wonder
    how things turned out for her.

    I stayed overnight with Kate at the Great Northern Hotel, and we set off for
    Mbeya by plane early in the morning. One of our fellow passengers was a young
    mother with a three week old baby. How ideas have changed since Ann was born. This
    time we had a smooth passage and I was the only passenger to get airsick. Although
    there were other women passengers it was a man once again, who came up and
    offered to help. Kate went off with him amiably and he entertained her until we touched
    down at Mbeya.

    George was there to meet us with a wonderful surprise, a little red two seater
    Ford car. She is a bit battered and looks a bit odd because the boot has been
    converted into a large wooden box for carrying raw salt, but she goes like the wind.
    Where did George raise the cash to buy a car? Whilst we were away he found a small
    cave full of bat guano near a large cave which is worked by a man called Bob Sargent.
    As Sargent did not want any competition he bought the contents of the cave from
    George giving him the small car as part payment.

    It was lovely to return to our little home and find everything fresh and tidy and the
    garden full of colour. But it was heartbreaking to go into the bedroom and see George’s
    precious forgotten boots still standing by his empty bed.

    With much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 25th June 1937

    Dearest Family,

    Last Friday George took Kate and me in the little red Ford to visit Mr Sargent’s
    camp on the Songwe River which cuts the Mbeya-Mbosi road. Mr Sargent bought
    Hicky-Wood’s guano deposit and also our small cave and is making a good living out of
    selling the bat guano to the coffee farmers in this province. George went to try to interest
    him in a guano deposit near Kilwa in the Southern Province. Mr Sargent agreed to pay
    25 pounds to cover the cost of the car trip and pegging costs. George will make the trip
    to peg the claim and take samples for analysis. If the quality is sufficiently high, George
    and Mr Sargent will go into partnership. George will work the claim and ship out the
    guano from Kilwa which is on the coast of the Southern Province of Tanganyika. So now
    we are busy building castles in the air once more.

    On Saturday we went to Mbeya where George had to attend a meeting of the
    Trout Association. In the afternoon he played in a cricket match so Kate and I spent the
    whole day with the wife of the new Superintendent of Police. They have a very nice
    new house with lawns and a sunken rose garden. Kate had a lovely romp with Kit, her
    three year old son.

    Mrs Wolten also has two daughters by a previous marriage. The elder girl said to
    me, “Oh Mrs Rushby your husband is exactly like the strong silent type of man I
    expected to see in Africa but he is the only one I have seen. I think he looks exactly like
    those men in the ‘Barney’s Tobacco’ advertisements.”

    I went home with a huge pile of magazines to keep me entertained whilst
    George is away on the Kilwa trip.

    Lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 9th July 1937

    Dearest Family,

    George returned on Monday from his Kilwa safari. He had an entertaining
    tale to tell.

    Before he approached Mr Sargent about going shares in the Kilwa guano
    deposit he first approached a man on the Lupa who had done very well out of a small
    gold reef. This man, however said he was not interested so you can imagine how
    indignant George was when he started on his long trip, to find himself being trailed by
    this very man and a co-driver in a powerful Ford V8 truck. George stopped his car and
    had some heated things to say – awful threats I imagine as to what would happen to
    anyone who staked his claim. Then he climbed back into our ancient little two seater and
    went off like a bullet driving all day and most of the night. As the others took turns in
    driving you can imagine what a feat it was for George to arrive in Kilwa ahead of them.
    When they drove into Kilwa he met them with a bright smile and a bit of bluff –
    quite justifiable under the circumstances I think. He said, you chaps can have a rest now,
    you’re too late.” He then whipped off and pegged the claim. he brought some samples
    of guano back but until it has been analysed he will not know whether the guano will be
    an economic proposition or not. George is not very hopeful. He says there is a good
    deal of sand mixed with the guano and that much of it was damp.

    The trip was pretty eventful for Kianda, our houseboy. The little two seater car
    had been used by its previous owner for carting bags of course salt from his salt pans.
    For this purpose the dicky seat behind the cab had been removed, and a kind of box
    built into the boot of the car. George’s camp kit and provisions were packed into this
    open box and Kianda perched on top to keep an eye on the belongings. George
    travelled so fast on the rough road that at some point during the night Kianda was
    bumped off in the middle of the Game Reserve. George did not notice that he was
    missing until the next morning. He concluded, quite rightly as it happened, that Kianda
    would be picked up by the rival truck so he continued his journey and Kianda rejoined
    him at Kilwa.

    Believe it or not, the same thing happened on the way back but fortunately this
    time George noticed his absence. He stopped the car and had just started back on his
    tracks when Kianda came running down the road still clutching the unlighted storm lamp
    which he was holding in his hand when he fell. The glass was not even cracked.
    We are finding it difficult just now to buy native chickens and eggs. There has
    been an epidemic amongst the poultry and one hesitates to eat the survivors. I have a
    brine tub in which I preserve our surplus meat but I need the chickens for soup.
    I hope George will be home for some months. He has arranged to take a Mr
    Blackburn, a wealthy fruit farmer from Elgin, Cape, on a hunting safari during September
    and October and that should bring in some much needed cash. Lillian Eustace has
    invited Kate and me to spend the whole of October with her in Tukuyu.
    I am so glad that you so much enjoy having Ann and George with you. We miss
    them dreadfully. Kate is a pretty little girl and such a little madam. You should hear the
    imperious way in which she calls the kitchenboy for her meals. “Boy Brekkis, Boy Lunch,
    and Boy Eggy!” are her three calls for the day. She knows no Ki-Swahili.

    Eleanor

    Mchewe 8th October 1937

    Dearest Family,

    I am rapidly becoming as superstitious as our African boys. They say the wild
    animals always know when George is away from home and come down to have their
    revenge on me because he has killed so many.

    I am being besieged at night by a most beastly leopard with a half grown cub. I
    have grown used to hearing leopards grunt as they hunt in the hills at night but never
    before have I had one roaming around literally under the windows. It has been so hot at
    night lately that I have been sleeping with my bedroom door open onto the verandah. I
    felt quite safe because the natives hereabouts are law-abiding and in any case I always
    have a boy armed with a club sleeping in the kitchen just ten yards away. As an added
    precaution I also have a loaded .45 calibre revolver on my bedside table, and Fanny
    our bullterrier, sleeps on the mat by my bed. I am also looking after Barney, a fine
    Airedale dog belonging to the Costers. He slept on a mat by the open bedroom door
    near a dimly burning storm lamp.

    As usual I went to sleep with an easy mind on Monday night, but was awakened
    in the early hours of Tuesday by the sound of a scuffle on the front verandah. The noise
    was followed by a scream of pain from Barney. I jumped out of bed and, grabbing the
    lamp with my left hand and the revolver in my right, I rushed outside just in time to see
    two animal figures roll over the edge of the verandah into the garden below. There they
    engaged in a terrific tug of war. Fortunately I was too concerned for Barney to be
    nervous. I quickly fired two shots from the revolver, which incidentally makes a noise like
    a cannon, and I must have startled the leopard for both animals, still locked together,
    disappeared over the edge of the terrace. I fired two more shots and in a few moments
    heard the leopard making a hurried exit through the dry leaves which lie thick under the
    wild fig tree just beyond the terrace. A few seconds later Barney appeared on the low
    terrace wall. I called his name but he made no move to come but stood with hanging
    head. In desperation I rushed out, felt blood on my hands when I touched him, so I
    picked him up bodily and carried him into the house. As I regained the verandah the boy
    appeared, club in hand, having been roused by the shots. He quickly grasped what had
    happened when he saw my blood saturated nightie. He fetched a bowl of water and a
    clean towel whilst I examined Barney’s wounds. These were severe, the worst being a
    gaping wound in his throat. I washed the gashes with a strong solution of pot permang
    and I am glad to say they are healing remarkably well though they are bound to leave
    scars. Fanny, very prudently, had taken no part in the fighting except for frenzied barking
    which she kept up all night. The shots had of course wakened Kate but she seemed
    more interested than alarmed and kept saying “Fanny bark bark, Mummy bang bang.
    Poor Barney lots of blood.”

    In the morning we inspected the tracks in the garden. There was a shallow furrow
    on the terrace where Barney and the leopard had dragged each other to and fro and
    claw marks on the trunk of the wild fig tree into which the leopard climbed after I fired the
    shots. The affair was of course a drama after the Africans’ hearts and several of our
    shamba boys called to see me next day to make sympathetic noises and discuss the
    affair.

    I went to bed early that night hoping that the leopard had been scared off for
    good but I must confess I shut all windows and doors. Alas for my hopes of a restful
    night. I had hardly turned down the lamp when the leopard started its terrifying grunting
    just under the bedroom windows. If only she would sniff around quietly I should not
    mind, but the noise is ghastly, something like the first sickening notes of a braying
    donkey, amplified here by the hills and the gorge which is only a stones throw from the
    bedroom. Barney was too sick to bark but Fanny barked loud enough for two and the more
    frantic she became the hungrier the leopard sounded. Kate of course woke up and this
    time she was frightened though I assured her that the noise was just a donkey having
    fun. Neither of us slept until dawn when the leopard returned to the hills. When we
    examined the tracks next morning we found that the leopard had been accompanied by
    a fair sized cub and that together they had prowled around the house, kitchen, and out
    houses, visiting especially the places to which the dogs had been during the day.
    As I feel I cannot bear many more of these nights, I am sending a note to the
    District Commissioner, Mbeya by the messenger who takes this letter to the post,
    asking him to send a game scout or an armed policeman to deal with the leopard.
    So don’t worry, for by the time this reaches you I feel sure this particular trouble
    will be over.

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 17th October 1937

    Dearest Family,

    More about the leopard I fear! My messenger returned from Mbeya to say that
    the District Officer was on safari so he had given the message to the Assistant District
    Officer who also apparently left on safari later without bothering to reply to my note, so
    there was nothing for me to do but to send for the village Nimrod and his muzzle loader
    and offer him a reward if he could frighten away or kill the leopard.

    The hunter, Laza, suggested that he should sleep at the house so I went to bed
    early leaving Laza and his two pals to make themselves comfortable on the living room
    floor by the fire. Laza was armed with a formidable looking muzzle loader, crammed I
    imagine with nuts and bolts and old rusty nails. One of his pals had a spear and the other
    a panga. This fellow was also in charge of the Petromax pressure lamp whose light was
    hidden under a packing case. I left the campaign entirely to Laza’s direction.
    As usual the leopard came at midnight stealing down from the direction of the
    kitchen and announcing its presence and position with its usual ghastly grunts. Suddenly
    pandemonium broke loose on the back verandah. I heard the roar of the muzzle loader
    followed by a vigourous tattoo beaten on an empty paraffin tin and I rushed out hoping
    to find the dead leopard. however nothing of the kind had happened except that the
    noise must have scared the beast because she did not return again that night. Next
    morning Laza solemnly informed me that, though he had shot many leopards in his day,
    this was no ordinary leopard but a “sheitani” (devil) and that as his gun was no good
    against witchcraft he thought he might as well retire from the hunt. Scared I bet, and I
    don’t blame him either.

    You can imagine my relief when a car rolled up that afternoon bringing Messers
    Stewart and Griffiths, two farmers who live about 15 miles away, between here and
    Mbeya. They had a note from the Assistant District Officer asking them to help me and
    they had come to set up a trap gun in the garden. That night the leopard sniffed all
    around the gun and I had the added strain of waiting for the bang and wondering what I
    should do if the beast were only wounded. I conjured up horrible visions of the two little
    totos trotting up the garden path with the early morning milk and being horribly mauled,
    but I needn’t have worried because the leopard was far too wily to be caught that way.
    Two more ghastly nights passed and then I had another visitor, a Dr Jackson of
    the Tsetse Department on safari in the District. He listened sympathetically to my story
    and left his shotgun and some SSG cartridges with me and instructed me to wait until the
    leopard was pretty close and blow its b—– head off. It was good of him to leave his
    gun. George always says there are three things a man should never lend, ‘His wife, his
    gun and his dog.’ (I think in that order!)I felt quite cheered by Dr Jackson’s visit and sent
    once again for Laza last night and arranged a real show down. In the afternoon I draped
    heavy blankets over the living room windows to shut out the light of the pressure lamp
    and the four of us, Laza and his two stooges and I waited up for the leopard. When we
    guessed by her grunts that she was somewhere between the kitchen and the back door
    we all rushed out, first the boy with the panga and the lamp, next Laza with his muzzle
    loader, then me with the shotgun followed closely by the boy with the spear. What a
    farce! The lamp was our undoing. We were blinded by the light and did not even
    glimpse the leopard which made off with a derisive grunt. Laza said smugly that he knew
    it was hopeless to try and now I feel tired and discouraged too.

    This morning I sent a runner to Mbeya to order the hotel taxi for tomorrow and I
    shall go to friends in Mbeya for a day or two and then on to Tukuyu where I shall stay
    with the Eustaces until George returns from Safari.

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 18th November 1937

    My darling Ann,

    Here we are back in our own home and how lovely it is to have Daddy back from
    safari. Thank you very much for your letter. I hope by now you have got mine telling you
    how very much I liked the beautiful tray cloth you made for my birthday. I bet there are
    not many little girls of five who can embroider as well as you do, darling. The boy,
    Matafari, washes and irons it so carefully and it looks lovely on the tea tray.

    Daddy and I had some fun last night. I was in bed and Daddy was undressing
    when we heard a funny scratching noise on the roof. I thought it was the leopard. Daddy
    quickly loaded his shotgun and ran outside. He had only his shirt on and he looked so
    funny. I grabbed the loaded revolver from the cupboard and ran after Dad in my nightie
    but after all the rush it was only your cat, Winnie, though I don’t know how she managed
    to make such a noise. We felt so silly, we laughed and laughed.

    Kate talks a lot now but in such a funny way you would laugh to her her. She
    hears the houseboys call me Memsahib so sometimes instead of calling me Mummy
    she calls me “Oompaab”. She calls the bedroom a ‘bippon’ and her little behind she
    calls her ‘sittendump’. She loves to watch Mandawi’s cattle go home along the path
    behind the kitchen. Joseph your donkey, always leads the cows. He has a lazy life now.
    I am glad you had such fun on Guy Fawkes Day. You will be sad to leave
    Plumstead but I am sure you will like going to England on the big ship with granny Kate.
    I expect you will start school when you get to England and I am sure you will find that
    fun.

    God bless my dear little girl. Lots of love from Daddy and Kate,
    and Mummy

    Mchewe 18th November 1937

    Hello George Darling,

    Thank you for your lovely drawing of Daddy shooting an elephant. Daddy says
    that the only thing is that you have drawn him a bit too handsome.

    I went onto the verandah a few minutes ago to pick a banana for Kate from the
    bunch hanging there and a big hornet flew out and stung my elbow! There are lots of
    them around now and those stinging flies too. Kate wears thick corduroy dungarees so
    that she will not get her fat little legs bitten. She is two years old now and is a real little
    pickle. She loves running out in the rain so I have ordered a pair of red Wellingtons and a
    tiny umbrella from a Nairobi shop for her Christmas present.

    Fanny’s puppies have their eyes open now and have very sharp little teeth.
    They love to nip each other. We are keeping the fiercest little one whom we call Paddy
    but are giving the others to friends. The coffee bushes are full of lovely white flowers
    and the bees and ants are very busy stealing their honey.

    Yesterday a troop of baboons came down the hill and Dad shot a big one to
    scare the others off. They are a nuisance because they steal the maize and potatoes
    from the native shambas and then there is not enough food for the totos.
    Dad and I are very proud of you for not making a fuss when you went to the
    dentist to have that tooth out.

    Bye bye, my fine little son.
    Three bags full of love from Kate, Dad and Mummy.

    Mchewe 12th February, 1938

    Dearest Family,

    here is some news that will please you. George has been offered and has
    accepted a job as Forester at Mbulu in the Northern Province of Tanganyika. George
    would have preferred a job as Game Ranger, but though the Game Warden, Philip
    Teare, is most anxious to have him in the Game Department, there is no vacancy at
    present. Anyway if one crops up later, George can always transfer from one
    Government Department to another. Poor George, he hates the idea of taking a job. He
    says that hitherto he has always been his own master and he detests the thought of
    being pushed around by anyone.

    Now however he has no choice. Our capitol is almost exhausted and the coffee
    market shows no signs of improving. With three children and another on the way, he
    feels he simply must have a fixed income. I shall be sad to leave this little farm. I love
    our little home and we have been so very happy here, but my heart rejoices at the
    thought of overseas leave every thirty months. Now we shall be able to fetch Ann and
    George from England and in three years time we will all be together in Tanganyika once
    more.

    There is no sale for farms so we will just shut the house and keep on a very small
    labour force just to keep the farm from going derelict. We are eating our hens but will
    take our two dogs, Fanny and Paddy with us.

    One thing I shall be glad to leave is that leopard. She still comes grunting around
    at night but not as badly as she did before. I do not mind at all when George is here but
    until George was accepted for this forestry job I was afraid he might go back to the
    Diggings and I should once more be left alone to be cursed by the leopard’s attentions.
    Knowing how much I dreaded this George was most anxious to shoot the leopard and
    for weeks he kept his shotgun and a powerful torch handy at night.

    One night last week we woke to hear it grunting near the kitchen. We got up very
    quietly and whilst George loaded the shotgun with SSG, I took the torch and got the
    heavy revolver from the cupboard. We crept out onto the dark verandah where George
    whispered to me to not switch on the torch until he had located the leopard. It was pitch
    black outside so all he could do was listen intently. And then of course I spoilt all his
    plans. I trod on the dog’s tin bowl and made a terrific clatter! George ordered me to
    switch on the light but it was too late and the leopard vanished into the long grass of the
    Kalonga, grunting derisively, or so it sounded.

    She never comes into the clearing now but grunts from the hillside just above it.

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu 18th March, 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Journeys end at last. here we are at Mbulu, installed in our new quarters which are
    as different as they possibly could be from our own cosy little home at Mchewe. We
    live now, my dears, in one wing of a sort of ‘Beau Geste’ fort but I’ll tell you more about
    it in my next letter. We only arrived yesterday and have not had time to look around.
    This letter will tell you just about our trip from Mbeya.

    We left the farm in our little red Ford two seater with all our portable goods and
    chattels plus two native servants and the two dogs. Before driving off, George took one
    look at the flattened springs and declared that he would be surprised if we reached
    Mbeya without a breakdown and that we would never make Mbulu with the car so
    overloaded.

    However luck was with us. We reached Mbeya without mishap and at one of the
    local garages saw a sturdy used Ford V8 boxbody car for sale. The garage agreed to
    take our small car as part payment and George drew on our little remaining capitol for the
    rest. We spent that night in the house of the Forest Officer and next morning set out in
    comfort for the Northern Province of Tanganyika.

    I had done the journey from Dodoma to Mbeya seven years before so was
    familiar with the scenery but the road was much improved and the old pole bridges had
    been replaced by modern steel ones. Kate was as good as gold all the way. We
    avoided hotels and camped by the road and she found this great fun.
    The road beyond Dodoma was new to me and very interesting country, flat and
    dry and dusty, as little rain falls there. The trees are mostly thorn trees but here and there
    one sees a giant baobab, weird trees with fantastically thick trunks and fat squat branches
    with meagre foliage. The inhabitants of this area I found interesting though. They are
    called Wagogo and are a primitive people who ape the Masai in dress and customs
    though they are much inferior to the Masai in physique. They are also great herders of
    cattle which, rather surprisingly, appear to thrive in that dry area.

    The scenery alters greatly as one nears Babati, which one approaches by a high
    escarpment from which one has a wonderful view of the Rift Valley. Babati township
    appears to be just a small group of Indian shops and shabby native houses, but I
    believe there are some good farms in the area. Though the little township is squalid,
    there is a beautiful lake and grand mountains to please the eye. We stopped only long
    enough to fill up with petrol and buy some foodstuffs. Beyond Babati there is a tsetse
    fly belt and George warned our two native servants to see that no tsetse flies settled on
    the dogs.

    We stopped for the night in a little rest house on the road about 80 miles from
    Arusha where we were to spend a few days with the Forest Officer before going on to
    Mbulu. I enjoyed this section of the road very much because it runs across wide plains
    which are bounded on the West by the blue mountains of the Rift Valley wall. Here for
    the first time I saw the Masai on their home ground guarding their vast herds of cattle. I
    also saw their strange primitive hovels called Manyattas, with their thorn walled cattle
    bomas and lots of plains game – giraffe, wildebeest, ostriches and antelope. Kate was
    wildly excited and entranced with the game especially the giraffe which stood gazing
    curiously and unafraid of us, often within a few yards of the road.

    Finally we came across the greatest thrill of all, my first view of Mt Meru the extinct
    volcano about 16,000 feet high which towers over Arusha township. The approach to
    Arusha is through flourishing coffee plantations very different alas from our farm at Mchewe. George says that at Arusha coffee growing is still a paying proposition
    because here the yield of berry per acre is much higher than in the Southern highlands
    and here in the North the farmers have not such heavy transport costs as the railway runs
    from Arusha to the port at Tanga.

    We stayed overnight at a rather second rate hotel but the food was good and we
    had hot baths and a good nights rest. Next day Tom Lewis the Forest Officer, fetched
    us and we spent a few days camping in a tent in the Lewis’ garden having meals at their
    home. Both Tom and Lillian Lewis were most friendly. Tom lewis explained to George
    what his work in the Mbulu District was to be, and they took us camping in a Forest
    Reserve where Lillian and her small son David and Kate and I had a lovely lazy time
    amidst beautiful surroundings. Before we left for Mbulu, Lillian took me shopping to buy
    material for curtains for our new home. She described the Forest House at Mbulu to me
    and it sounded delightful but alas, when we reached Mbulu we discovered that the
    Assistant District Officer had moved into the Forest House and we were directed to the
    Fort or Boma. The night before we left Arusha for Mbulu it rained very heavily and the
    road was very treacherous and slippery due to the surface being of ‘black cotton’ soil
    which has the appearance and consistency of chocolate blancmange, after rain. To get to
    Mbulu we had to drive back in the direction of Dodoma for some 70 miles and then turn
    to the right and drive across plains to the Great Rift Valley Wall. The views from this
    escarpment road which climbs this wall are magnificent. At one point one looks down
    upon Lake Manyara with its brilliant white beaches of soda.

    The drive was a most trying one for George. We had no chains for the wheels
    and several times we stuck in the mud and our two houseboys had to put grass and
    branches under the wheels to stop them from spinning. Quite early on in the afternoon
    George gave up all hope of reaching Mbulu that day and planned to spend the night in
    a little bush rest camp at Karatu. However at one point it looked as though we would not
    even reach this resthouse for late afternoon found us properly bogged down in a mess
    of mud at the bottom of a long and very steep hill. In spite of frantic efforts on the part of
    George and the two boys, all now very wet and muddy, the heavy car remained stuck.
    Suddenly five Masai men appeared through the bushes beside the road. They
    were all tall and angular and rather terrifying looking to me. Each wore only a blanket
    knotted over one shoulder and all were armed with spears. They lined up by the side of
    the road and just looked – not hostile but simply aloof and supercilious. George greeted
    them and said in Ki-Swahili, “Help to push and I will reward you.” But they said nothing,
    just drawing back imperceptibly to register disgust at the mere idea of manual labour.
    Their expressions said quite clearly “A Masai is a warrior and does not soil his hands.”
    George then did something which startled them I think, as much as me. He
    plucked their spears from their hands one by one and flung them into the back of the
    boxbody. “Now push!” he said, “And when we are safely out of the mud you shall have
    your spears back.” To my utter astonishment the Masai seemed to applaud George’s
    action. I think they admire courage in a man more than anything else. They pushed with a
    will and soon we were roaring up the long steep slope. “I can’t stop here” quoth George
    as up and up we went. The Masai were in mad pursuit with their blankets streaming
    behind. They took a very steep path which was a shortcut to the top. They are certainly
    amazing athletes and reached the top at the same time as the car. Their route of course
    was shorter but much more steep, yet they came up without any sign of fatigue to claim
    their spears and the money which George handed out with a friendly grin. The Masai
    took the whole episode in good heart and we parted on the most friendly terms.

    After a rather chilly night in the three walled shack, we started on the last lap of our
    journey yesterday morning in bright weather and made the trip to Mbulu without incident.

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu 24th March, 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Mbulu is an attractive station but living in this rather romantic looking fort has many
    disadvantages. Our quarters make up one side of the fort which is built up around a
    hollow square. The buildings are single storied but very tall in the German manner and
    there is a tower on one corner from which the Union Jack flies. The tower room is our
    sitting room, and one has very fine views from the windows of the rolling country side.
    However to reach this room one has to climb a steep flight of cement steps from the
    court yard. Another disadvantage of this tower room is that there is a swarm of bees in
    the roof and the stray ones drift down through holes in the ceiling and buzz angrily
    against the window panes or fly around in a most menacing manner.

    Ours are the only private quarters in the Fort. Two other sides of the Fort are
    used as offices, storerooms and court room and the fourth side is simply a thick wall with
    battlements and loopholes and a huge iron shod double door of enormous thickness
    which is always barred at sunset when the flag is hauled down. Two Police Askari always
    remain in the Fort on guard at night. The effect from outside the whitewashed fort is very
    romantic but inside it is hardly homely and how I miss my garden at Mchewe and the
    grass and trees.

    We have no privacy downstairs because our windows overlook the bare
    courtyard which is filled with Africans patiently waiting to be admitted to the courtroom as
    witnesses or spectators. The outside windows which overlook the valley are heavily
    barred. I can only think that the Germans who built this fort must have been very scared
    of the local natives.

    Our rooms are hardly cosy and are furnished with typical heavy German pieces.
    We have a vast bleak bedroom, a dining room and an enormous gloomy kitchen in
    which meals for the German garrison were cooked. At night this kitchen is alive with
    gigantic rats but fortunately they do not seem to care for the other rooms. To crown
    everything owls hoot and screech at night on the roof.

    On our first day here I wandered outside the fort walls with Kate and came upon a
    neatly fenced plot enclosing the graves of about fifteen South African soldiers killed by
    the Germans in the 1914-18 war. I understand that at least one of theses soldiers died in
    the courtyard here. The story goes, that during the period in the Great War when this fort
    was occupied by a troop of South African Horse, a German named Siedtendorf
    appeared at the great barred door at night and asked to speak to the officer in command
    of the Troop. The officer complied with this request and the small shutter in the door was
    opened so that he could speak with the German. The German, however, had not come
    to speak. When he saw the exposed face of the officer, he fired, killing him, and
    escaped into the dark night. I had this tale on good authority but cannot vouch for it. I do
    know though, that there are two bullet holes in the door beside the shutter. An unhappy
    story to think about when George is away, as he is now, and the moonlight throws queer
    shadows in the court yard and the owls hoot.

    However though I find our quarters depressing, I like Mbulu itself very much. It is
    rolling country, treeless except for the plantations of the Forestry Dept. The land is very
    fertile in the watered valleys but the grass on hills and plains is cropped to the roots by
    the far too numerous cattle and goats. There are very few Europeans on the station, only
    Mr Duncan, the District Officer, whose wife and children recently left for England, the
    Assistant District Officer and his wife, a bachelor Veterinary Officer, a Road Foreman and
    ourselves, and down in the village a German with an American wife and an elderly
    Irishman whom I have not met. The Government officials have a communal vegetable
    garden in the valley below the fort which keeps us well supplied with green stuff. 

    Most afternoons George, Kate and I go for walks after tea. On Fridays there is a
    little ceremony here outside the fort. In the late afternoon a little procession of small
    native schoolboys, headed by a drum and penny whistle band come marching up the
    road to a tune which sounds like ‘Two lovely black eyes”. They form up below our tower
    and as the flag is lowered for the day they play ‘God save the King’, and then march off
    again. It is quite a cheerful little ceremony.

    The local Africans are a skinny lot and, I should say, a poor tribe. They protect
    themselves against the cold by wrapping themselves in cotton blankets or a strip of
    unbleached sheeting. This they drape over their heads, almost covering their faces and
    the rest is wrapped closely round their bodies in the manner of a shroud. A most
    depressing fashion. They live in very primitive comfortless houses. They simply make a
    hollow in the hillside and build a front wall of wattle and daub. Into this rude shelter at night
    go cattle and goats, men, women, and children.

    Mbulu village has the usual mud brick and wattle dukas and wattle and daub
    houses. The chief trader is a Goan who keeps a surprisingly good variety of tinned
    foodstuffs and also sells hardware and soft goods.

    The Europeans here have been friendly but as you will have noted there are
    only two other women on station and no children at all to be companions for Kate.

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu 20th June 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Here we are on Safari with George at Babati where we are occupying a rest
    house on the slopes of Ufiome Mountain. The slopes are a Forest Reserve and
    George is supervising the clearing of firebreaks in preparation for the dry weather. He
    goes off after a very early breakfast and returns home in the late afternoon so Kate and I
    have long lazy days.

    Babati is a pleasant spot and the resthouse is quite comfortable. It is about a mile
    from the village which is just the usual collection of small mud brick and corrugated iron
    Indian Dukas. There are a few settlers in the area growing coffee, or going in for mixed
    farming but I don’t think they are doing very well. The farm adjoining the rest house is
    owned by Lord Lovelace but is run by a manager.

    George says he gets enough exercise clambering about all day on the mountain,
    so Kate and I do our walking in the mornings when George is busy, and we all relax in
    the evenings when George returns from his field work. Kate’s favourite walk is to the big
    block of mtama (sorghum) shambas lower down the hill. There are huge swarms of tiny
    grain eating birds around waiting the chance to plunder the mtama, so the crops are
    watched from sunrise to sunset.

    Crude observation platforms have been erected for this purpose in the centre of
    each field and the women and the young boys of the family concerned, take it in turn to
    occupy the platform and scare the birds. Each watcher has a sling and uses clods of
    earth for ammunition. The clod is placed in the centre of the sling which is then whirled
    around at arms length. Suddenly one end of the sling is released and the clod of earth
    flies out and shatters against the mtama stalks. The sling makes a loud whip like crack and
    the noise is quite startling and very effective in keeping the birds at a safe distance.

    Eleanor.

    Karatu 3rd July 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Still on safari you see! We left Babati ten days ago and passed through Mbulu
    on our way to this spot. We slept out of doors one night beside Lake Tiawa about eight
    miles from Mbulu. It was a peaceful spot and we enjoyed watching the reflection of the
    sunset on the lake and the waterhens and duck and pelicans settling down for the night.
    However it turned piercingly cold after sunset so we had an early supper and then all
    three of us lay down to sleep in the back of the boxbody (station wagon). It was a tight
    fit and a real case of ‘When Dad turns, we all turn.’

    Here at Karatu we are living in a grass hut with only three walls. It is rather sweet
    and looks like the setting for a Nativity Play. Kate and I share the only camp bed and
    George and the dogs sleep on the floor. The air here is very fresh and exhilarating and
    we all feel very fit. George is occupied all day supervising the cutting of firebreaks
    around existing plantations and the forest reserve of indigenous trees. Our camp is on
    the hillside and below us lie the fertile wheat lands of European farmers.

    They are mostly Afrikaners, the descendants of the Boer families who were
    invited by the Germans to settle here after the Boer War. Most of them are pro-British
    now and a few have called in here to chat to George about big game hunting. George
    gets on extremely well with them and recently attended a wedding where he had a
    lively time dancing at the reception. He likes the older people best as most are great
    individualists. One fine old man, surnamed von Rooyen, visited our camp. He is a Boer
    of the General Smuts type with spare figure and bearded face. George tells me he is a
    real patriarch with an enormous family – mainly sons. This old farmer fought against the
    British throughout the Boer War under General Smuts and again against the British in the
    German East Africa campaign when he was a scout and right hand man to Von Lettow. It
    is said that Von Lettow was able to stay in the field until the end of the Great War
    because he listened to the advise given to him by von Rooyen. However his dislike for
    the British does not extend to George as they have a mutual interest in big game
    hunting.

    Kate loves being on safari. She is now so accustomed to having me as her nurse
    and constant companion that I do not know how she will react to paid help. I shall have to
    get someone to look after her during my confinement in the little German Red Cross
    hospital at Oldeani.

    George has obtained permission from the District Commissioner, for Kate and
    me to occupy the Government Rest House at Oldeani from the end of July until the end
    of August when my baby is due. He will have to carry on with his field work but will join
    us at weekends whenever possible.

    Eleanor.

    Karatu 12th July 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Not long now before we leave this camp. We have greatly enjoyed our stay
    here in spite of the very chilly earl mornings and the nights when we sit around in heavy
    overcoats until our early bed time.

    Last Sunday I persuaded George to take Kate and me to the famous Ngoro-
    Ngoro Crater. He was not very keen to do so because the road is very bumpy for
    anyone in my interesting condition but I feel so fit that I was most anxious to take this
    opportunity of seeing the enormous crater. We may never be in this vicinity again and in
    any case safari will not be so simple with a small baby.

    What a wonderful trip it was! The road winds up a steep escarpment from which
    one gets a glorious birds eye view of the plains of the Great Rift Valley far, far below.
    The crater is immense. There is a road which skirts the rim in places and one has quite
    startling views of the floor of the crater about two thousand feet below.

    A camp for tourists has just been built in a clearing in the virgin forest. It is most
    picturesque as the camp buildings are very neatly constructed log cabins with very high
    pitched thatched roofs. We spent about an hour sitting on the grass near the edge of the
    crater enjoying the sunshine and the sharp air and really awe inspiring view. Far below us
    in the middle of the crater was a small lake and we could see large herds of game
    animals grazing there but they were too far away to be impressive, even seen through
    George’s field glasses. Most appeared to be wildebeest and zebra but I also picked
    out buffalo. Much more exciting was my first close view of a wild elephant. George
    pointed him out to me as we approached the rest camp on the inward journey. He
    stood quietly under a tree near the road and did not seem to be disturbed by the car
    though he rolled a wary eye in our direction. On our return journey we saw him again at
    almost uncomfortably close quarters. We rounded a sharp corner and there stood the
    elephant, facing us and slap in the middle of the road. He was busily engaged giving
    himself a dust bath but spared time to give us an irritable look. Fortunately we were on a
    slight slope so George quickly switched off the engine and backed the car quietly round
    the corner. He got out of the car and loaded his rifle, just in case! But after he had finished
    his toilet the elephant moved off the road and we took our chance and passed without
    incident.

    One notices the steepness of the Ngoro-Ngoro road more on the downward
    journey than on the way up. The road is cut into the side of the mountain so that one has
    a steep slope on one hand and a sheer drop on the other. George told me that a lorry
    coming down the mountain was once charged from behind by a rhino. On feeling and
    hearing the bash from behind the panic stricken driver drove off down the mountain as
    fast as he dared and never paused until he reached level ground at the bottom of the
    mountain. There was no sign of the rhino so the driver got out to examine his lorry and
    found the rhino horn embedded in the wooden tail end of the lorry. The horn had been
    wrenched right off!

    Happily no excitement of that kind happened to us. I have yet to see a rhino.

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani. 19th July 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Greetings from a lady in waiting! Kate and I have settled down comfortably in the
    new, solidly built Government Rest House which comprises one large living room and
    one large office with a connecting door. Outside there is a kitchen and a boys quarter.
    There are no resident Government officials here at Oldeani so the office is in use only
    when the District Officer from Mbulu makes his monthly visit. However a large Union
    Jack flies from a flagpole in the front of the building as a gentle reminder to the entirely
    German population of Oldeani that Tanganyika is now under British rule.

    There is quite a large community of German settlers here, most of whom are
    engaged in coffee farming. George has visited several of the farms in connection with his
    forestry work and says the coffee plantations look very promising indeed. There are also
    a few German traders in the village and there is a large boarding school for German
    children and also a very pleasant little hospital where I have arranged to have the baby.
    Right next door to the Rest House is a General Dealers Store run by a couple named
    Schnabbe. The shop is stocked with drapery, hardware, china and foodstuffs all
    imported from Germany and of very good quality. The Schnabbes also sell local farm
    produce, beautiful fresh vegetables, eggs and pure rich milk and farm butter. Our meat
    comes from a German butchery and it is a great treat to get clean, well cut meat. The
    sausages also are marvellous and in great variety.

    The butcher is an entertaining character. When he called round looking for custom I
    expected him to break out in a yodel any minute, as it was obvious from a glance that
    the Alps are his natural background. From under a green Tyrollean hat with feather,
    blooms a round beefy face with sparkling small eyes and such widely spaced teeth that
    one inevitably thinks of a garden rake. Enormous beefy thighs bulge from greasy
    lederhosen which are supported by the traditional embroidered braces. So far the
    butcher is the only cheery German, male or female, whom I have seen, and I have met
    most of the locals at the Schnabbe’s shop. Most of the men seem to have cultivated
    the grim Hitler look. They are all fanatical Nazis and one is usually greeted by a raised
    hand and Heil Hitler! All very theatrical. I always feel like crying in ringing tones ‘God
    Save the King’ or even ‘St George for England’. However the men are all very correct
    and courteous and the women friendly. The women all admire Kate and cry, “Ag, das
    kleine Englander.” She really is a picture with her rosy cheeks and huge grey eyes and
    golden curls. Kate is having a wonderful time playing with Manfried, the Scnabbe’s small
    son. Neither understands a word said by the other but that doesn’t seem to worry them.

    Before he left on safari, George took me to hospital for an examination by the
    nurse, Sister Marianne. She has not been long in the country and knows very little
    English but is determined to learn and carried on an animated, if rather quaint,
    conversation with frequent references to a pocket dictionary. She says I am not to worry
    because there is not doctor here. She is a very experienced midwife and anyway in an
    emergency could call on the old retired Veterinary Surgeon for assistance.
    I asked sister Marianne whether she knew of any German woman or girl who
    would look after Kate whilst I am in hospital and today a very top drawer German,
    bearing a strong likeness to ‘Little Willie’, called and offered the services of his niece who
    is here on a visit from Germany. I was rather taken aback and said, “Oh no Baron, your
    niece would not be the type I had in mind. I’m afraid I cannot pay much for a companion.”
    However the Baron was not to be discouraged. He told me that his niece is seventeen
    but looks twenty, that she is well educated and will make a cheerful companion. Her
    father wishes her to learn to speak English fluently and that is why the Baron wished her
    to come to me as a house daughter. As to pay, a couple of pounds a month for pocket
    money and her keep was all he had in mind. So with some misgivings I agreed to take
    the niece on as a companion as from 1st August.

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani. 10th August 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Never a dull moment since my young companion arrived. She is a striking looking
    girl with a tall boyish figure and very short and very fine dark hair which she wears
    severely slicked back. She wears tweeds, no make up but has shiny rosy cheeks and
    perfect teeth – she also,inevitably, has a man friend and I have an uncomfortable
    suspicion that it is because of him that she was planted upon me. Upon second
    thoughts though, maybe it was because of her excessive vitality, or even because of
    her healthy appetite! The Baroness, I hear is in poor health and I can imagine that such
    abundant health and spirit must have been quite overpowering. The name is Ingeborg,
    but she is called Mouche, which I believe means Mouse. Someone in her family must
    have a sense of humour.

    Her English only needed practice and she now chatters fluently so that I know her
    background and views on life. Mouche’s father is a personal friend of Goering. He was
    once a big noise in the German Airforce but is now connected with the car industry and
    travels frequently and intensively in Europe and America on business. Mouche showed
    me some snap shots of her family and I must say they look prosperous and charming.
    Mouche tells me that her father wants her to learn to speak English fluently so that
    she can get a job with some British diplomat in Cairo. I had immediate thought that I
    might be nursing a future Mata Hari in my bosom, but this was immediately extinguished
    when Mouche remarked that her father would like her to marry an Englishman. However
    it seems that the mere idea revolts her. “Englishmen are degenerates who swill whisky
    all day.” I pointed out that she had met George, who was a true blue Englishman, but
    was nevertheless a fine physical specimen and certainly didn’t drink all day. Mouche
    replied that George is not an Englishman but a hunter, as though that set him apart.
    Mouche is an ardent Hitler fan and an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth
    Movement. The house resounds with Hitler youth songs and when she is not singing,
    her gramophone is playing very stirring marching songs. I cannot understand a word,
    which is perhaps as well. Every day she does the most strenuous exercises watched
    with envy by me as my proportions are now those of a circus Big Top. Mouche eats a
    fantastic amount of meat and I feel it is a blessing that she is much admired by our
    Tyrollean butcher who now delivers our meat in person and adds as a token of his
    admiration some extra sausages for Mouche.

    I must confess I find her stimulating company as George is on safari most of the
    time and my evenings otherwise would be lonely. I am a little worried though about
    leaving Kate here with Mouche when I go to hospital. The dogs and Kate have not taken
    to her. I am trying to prepare Kate for the separation but she says, “She’s not my
    mummy. You are my dear mummy, and I want you, I want you.” George has got
    permission from the Provincial Forestry Officer to spend the last week of August here at
    the Rest House with me and I only hope that the baby will be born during that time.
    Kate adores her dad and will be perfectly happy to remain here with him.

    One final paragraph about Mouche. I thought all German girls were domesticated
    but not Mouche. I have Kesho-Kutwa here with me as cook and I have engaged a local
    boy to do the laundry. I however expected Mouche would take over making the
    puddings and pastry but she informed me that she can only bake a chocolate cake and
    absolutely nothing else. She said brightly however that she would do the mending. As
    there is none for her to do, she has rescued a large worn handkerchief of George’s and
    sits with her feet up listening to stirring gramophone records whilst she mends the
    handkerchief with exquisite darning.

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani. 20th August 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Just after I had posted my last letter I received what George calls a demi official
    letter from the District Officer informing me that I would have to move out of the Rest
    House for a few days as the Governor and his hangers on would be visiting Oldeani
    and would require the Rest House. Fortunately George happened to be here for a few
    hours and he arranged for Kate and Mouche and me to spend a few days at the
    German School as borders. So here I am at the school having a pleasant and restful
    time and much entertained by all the goings on.

    The school buildings were built with funds from Germany and the school is run on
    the lines of a contemporary German school. I think the school gets a grant from the
    Tanganyika Government towards running expenses, but I am not sure. The school hall is
    dominated by a more than life sized oil painting of Adolf Hitler which, at present, is
    flanked on one side by the German Flag and on the other by the Union Jack. I cannot
    help feeling that the latter was put up today for the Governor’s visit today.
    The teachers are very amiable. We all meet at mealtimes, and though few of the
    teachers speak English, the ones who do are anxious to chatter. The headmaster is a
    scholarly man but obviously anti-British. He says he cannot understand why so many
    South Africans are loyal to Britain – or rather to England. “They conquered your country
    didn’t they?” I said that that had never occurred to me and that anyway I was mainly of
    Scots descent and that loyalty to the crown was natural to me. “But the English
    conquered the Scots and yet you are loyal to England. That I cannot understand.” “Well I
    love England,” said I firmly, ”and so do all British South Africans.” Since then we have
    stuck to English literature. Shakespeare, Lord Byron and Galsworthy seem to be the
    favourites and all, thank goodness, make safe topics for conversation.
    Mouche is in her element but Kate and I do not enjoy the food which is typically
    German and consists largely of masses of fat pork and sauerkraut and unfamiliar soups. I
    feel sure that the soup at lunch today had blobs of lemon curd in it! I also find most
    disconcerting the way that everyone looks at me and says, “Bon appetite”, with much
    smiling and nodding so I have to fight down my nausea and make a show of enjoying
    the meals.

    The teacher whose room adjoins mine is a pleasant woman and I take my
    afternoon tea with her. She, like all the teachers, has a large framed photo of Hitler on her
    wall flanked by bracket vases of fresh flowers. One simply can’t get away from the man!
    Even in the dormitories each child has a picture of Hitler above the bed. Hitler accepting
    flowers from a small girl, or patting a small boy on the head. Even the children use the
    greeting ‘Heil Hitler’. These German children seem unnaturally prim when compared with
    my cheerful ex-pupils in South Africa but some of them are certainly very lovely to look
    at.

    Tomorrow Mouche, Kate and I return to our quarters in the Rest House and in a
    few days George will join us for a week.

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani Hospital. 9th September 1938

    Dearest Family,

    You will all be delighted to hear that we have a second son, whom we have
    named John. He is a darling, so quaint and good. He looks just like a little old man with a
    high bald forehead fringed around the edges with a light brown fluff. George and I call
    him Johnny Jo because he has a tiny round mouth and a rather big nose and reminds us
    of A.A.Milne’s ‘Jonathan Jo has a mouth like an O’ , but Kate calls him, ‘My brother John’.
    George was not here when he was born on September 5th, just two minutes
    before midnight. He left on safari on the morning of the 4th and, of course, that very night
    the labour pains started. Fortunately Kate was in bed asleep so Mouche walked with
    me up the hill to the hospital where I was cheerfully received by Sister Marianne who
    had everything ready for the confinement. I was lucky to have such an experienced
    midwife because this was a breech birth and sister had to manage single handed. As
    there was no doctor present I was not allowed even a sniff of anaesthetic. Sister slaved
    away by the light of a pressure lamp endeavouring to turn the baby having first shoved
    an inverted baby bath under my hips to raise them.

    What a performance! Sister Marianne was very much afraid that she might not be
    able to save the baby and great was our relief when at last she managed to haul him out
    by the feet. One slap and the baby began to cry without any further attention so Sister
    wrapped him up in a blanket and took Johnny to her room for the night. I got very little
    sleep but was so thankful to have the ordeal over that I did not mind even though I
    heard a hyaena cackling and calling under my window in a most evil way.
    When Sister brought Johnny to me in the early morning I stared in astonishment.
    Instead of dressing him in one of his soft Viyella nighties, she had dressed him in a short
    sleeved vest of knitted cotton with a cotton cloth swayed around his waist sarong
    fashion. When I protested, “But Sister why is the baby not dressed in his own clothes?”
    She answered firmly, “I find it is not allowed. A baby’s clotheses must be boiled and I
    cannot boil clotheses of wool therefore your baby must wear the clotheses of the Red
    Cross.”

    It was the same with the bedding. Poor Johnny lies all day in a deep wicker
    basket with a detachable calico lining. There is no pillow under his head but a vast kind of
    calico covered pillow is his only covering. There is nothing at all cosy and soft round my
    poor baby. I said crossly to the Sister, “As every thing must be so sterile, I wonder you
    don’t boil me too.” This she ignored.

    When my message reached George he dashed back to visit us. Sister took him
    first to see the baby and George was astonished to see the baby basket covered by a
    sheet. “She has the poor little kid covered up like a bloody parrot,” he told me. So I
    asked him to go at once to buy a square of mosquito netting to replace the sheet.
    Kate is quite a problem. She behaves like an Angel when she is here in my
    room but is rebellious when Sister shoos her out. She says she “Hates the Nanny”
    which is what she calls Mouche. Unfortunately it seems that she woke before midnight
    on the night Johnny Jo was born to find me gone and Mouche in my bed. According to
    Mouche, Kate wept all night and certainly when she visited me in the early morning
    Kate’s face was puffy with crying and she clung to me crying “Oh my dear mummy, why
    did you go away?” over and over again. Sister Marianne was touched and suggested
    that Mouche and Kate should come to the hospital as boarders as I am the only patient
    at present and there is plenty of room. Luckily Kate does not seem at all jealous of the
    baby and it is a great relief to have here here under my eye.

    Eleanor.

    #6260
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    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.

    Prelude
    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
    Africa.

    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
    imagining!!

    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
    Eleanor

    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
    worse.

    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,
    Eleanor.

    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
    trees.

    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
    heavenly.

    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
    mattress.

    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
    Eleanor.

    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,
    Eleanor.

    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
    course.

    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
    sun.

    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
    Eleanor.

    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
    bounce.

    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
    quickly.

    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,
    Eleanor.

    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
    children.

    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
    house.

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    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
    success.

    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,
    Eleanor.

    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
    me.

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    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.

    Eleanor.

    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.

    Eleanor.

    #6234
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Ben Warren

    Derby County and England football legend who died aged 37 penniless and ‘insane’

     

    Ben Warren

    Ben Warren 1879 – 1917  was Samuel Warren’s (my great grandfather) cousin.

    From the Derby Telegraph:

    Just 17 months after earning his 22nd England cap, against Scotland at Everton on April 1, 1911, he was certified insane. What triggered his decline was no more than a knock on the knee while playing for Chelsea against Clapton Orient.

    The knee would not heal and the longer he was out, the more he fretted about how he’d feed his wife and four children. In those days, if you didn’t play, there was no pay. 

    …..he had developed “brain fever” and this mild-mannered man had “become very strange and, at times, violent”. The coverage reflected his celebrity status.

    On December 15, 1911, as Rick Glanvill records in his Official Biography of Chelsea FC: “He was admitted to a private clinic in Nottingham, suffering from acute mania, delusions that he was being poisoned and hallucinations of hearing and vision.”

    He received another blow in February, 1912, when his mother, Emily, died. She had congestion of the lungs and caught influenza, her condition not helped, it was believed, by worrying about Ben.

    She had good reason: her famous son would soon be admitted to the unfortunately named Derby County Lunatic Asylum.

    Ben Warren Madman

     

    As Britain sleepwalked towards the First World War, Ben’s condition deteriorated. Glanvill writes: “His case notes from what would be a five-year stay, catalogue a devastating decline in which he is at various times described as incoherent, restless, destructive, ‘stuporose’ and ‘a danger to himself’.’”

    photo: Football 27th April 1914. A souvenir programme for the testimonial game for Chelsea and England’s Ben Warren, (pictured) who had been declared insane and sent to a lunatic asylum. The game was a select XI for the North playing a select XI from The South proceeds going to Warren’s family.

    Ben Warren 1914

     

    In September, that decline reached a new and pitiable low. The following is an abridged account of what The Courier called “an amazing incident” that took place on September 4.

    “Spotted by a group of men while walking down Derby Road in Nottingham, a man was acting strangely, smoking a cigarette and had nothing on but a collar and tie.

    “He jumped about the pavement and roadway, as though playing an imaginary game of football. When approached, he told them he was going to Trent Bridge to play in a match and had to be there by 3.30.”

    Eventually he was taken to a police station and recognised by a reporter as England’s erstwhile right-half. What made the story even harder to digest was that Ben had escaped from the asylum and walked the 20 miles to Nottingham apparently unnoticed.

    He had played at “Trent Bridge” many times – at least on Nottingham Forest’s adjacent City Ground.

    As a shocked nation came to terms with the desperate plight of one of its finest footballers, some papers suggested his career was not yet over. And his relatives claimed that he had been suffering from nothing more than a severe nervous breakdown.

    He would never be the same again – as a player or a man. He wasn’t even a shadow of the weird “footballer” who had walked 20 miles to Nottingham.

    Then, he had nothing on, now he just had nothing – least of all self-respect. He ripped sheets into shreds and attempted suicide, saying: “I’m no use to anyone – and ought to be out of the way.”

    “A year before his suicide attempt in 1916 the ominous symptom of ‘dry cough’ had been noted. Two months after it, in October 1916, the unmistakable signs of tuberculosis were noted and his enfeebled body rapidly succumbed.

    At 11.30pm on 15 January 1917, international footballer Ben Warren was found dead by a night attendant.

    He was 37 and when they buried him the records described him as a “pauper’.”

    However you look at it, it is the salutary tale of a footballer worrying about money. And it began with a knock on the knee.

    On 14th November 2021, Gill Castle posted on the Newhall and Swadlincote group:

    I would like to thank Colin Smith and everyone who supported him in getting my great grandfather’s grave restored (Ben Warren who played for Derby, Chelsea and England)

    The month before, Colin Smith posted:

    My Ben Warren Journey is nearly complete.
    It started two years ago when I was sent a family wedding photograph asking if I recognised anyone. My Great Great Grandmother was on there. But soon found out it was the wedding of Ben’s brother Robert to my 1st cousin twice removed, Eveline in 1910.
    I researched Ben and his football career and found his resting place in St Johns Newhall, all overgrown and in a poor state with the large cross all broken off. I stood there and decided he needed to new memorial & headstone. He was our local hero, playing Internationally for England 22 times. He needs to be remembered.
    After seeking family permission and Council approval, I had a quote from Art Stone Memorials, Burton on Trent to undertake the work. Fundraising then started and the memorial ordered.
    Covid came along and slowed the process of getting materials etc. But we have eventually reached the final installation today.
    I am deeply humbled for everyone who donated in January this year to support me and finally a massive thank you to everyone, local people, football supporters of Newhall, Derby County & Chelsea and football clubs for their donations.
    Ben will now be remembered more easily when anyone walks through St Johns and see this beautiful memorial just off the pathway.
    Finally a huge thank you for Art Stone Memorials Team in everything they have done from the first day I approached them. The team have worked endlessly on this project to provide this for Ben and his family as a lasting memorial. Thank you again Alex, Pat, Matt & Owen for everything. Means a lot to me.
    The final chapter is when we have a dedication service at the grave side in a few weeks time,
    Ben was born in The Thorntree Inn Newhall South Derbyshire and lived locally all his life.
    He played local football for Swadlincote, Newhall Town and Newhall Swifts until Derby County signed Ben in May 1898. He made 242 appearances and scored 19 goals at Derby County.
    28th July 1908 Chelsea won the bidding beating Leicester Fosse & Manchester City bids.
    Ben also made 22 appearance’s for England including the 1908 First Overseas tour playing Austria twice, Hungary and Bohemia all in a week.
    28 October 1911 Ben Injured his knee and never played football again
    Ben is often compared with Steven Gerard for his style of play and team ethic in the modern era.
    Herbert Chapman ( Player & Manager ) comments “ Warren was a human steam engine who played through 90 minutes with intimidating strength and speed”.
    Charles Buchan comments “I am certain that a better half back could not be found, Part of the Best England X1 of all time”
    Chelsea allowed Ben to live in Sunnyside Newhall, he used to run 5 miles every day round Bretby Park and had his own gym at home. He was compared to the likes of a Homing Pigeon, as he always came back to Newhall after his football matches.
    Ben married Minnie Staley 21st October 1902 at Emmanuel Church Swadlincote and had four children, Harry, Lillian, Maurice & Grenville. Harry went on to be Manager at Coventry & Southend following his father in his own career as football Manager.
    After Ben’s football career ended in 1911 his health deteriorated until his passing at Derby Pastures Hospital aged 37yrs
    Ben’s youngest son, Grenville passed away 22nd May 1929 and is interred together in St John’s Newhall with his Father
    His wife, Minnie’s ashes are also with Ben & Grenville.
    Thank you again everyone.
    RIP Ben Warren, our local Newhall Hero. You are remembered.

    Ben Warren grave

     

    Ben Warren GraveBen Warren Grave

     

    #6227
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The Scottish Connection

    My grandfather always used to say we had some Scottish blood because his “mother was a Purdy”, and that they were from the low counties of Scotland near to the English border.

    My mother had a Scottish hat in among the boxes of souvenirs and old photographs. In one of her recent house moves, she finally threw it away, not knowing why we had it or where it came from, and of course has since regretted it!  It probably came from one of her aunts, either Phyllis or Dorothy. Neither of them had children, and they both died in 1983. My grandfather was executor of the estate in both cases, and it’s assumed that the portraits, the many photographs, the booklet on Primitive Methodists, and the Scottish hat, all relating to his mother’s side of the family, came into his possession then. His sister Phyllis never married and was living in her parents home until she died, and is the likeliest candidate for the keeper of the family souvenirs.

    Catherine Housley married George Purdy, and his father was Francis Purdy, the Primitive Methodist preacher.  William Purdy was the father of Francis.

    Record searches find William Purdy was born on 16 July 1767 in Carluke, Lanarkshire, near Glasgow in Scotland. He worked for James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, and moved to Derbyshire for the purpose of installing steam driven pumps to remove the water from the collieries in the area.

    Another descendant of Francis Purdy found the following in a book in a library in Eastwood:

    William Purdy

    William married a local girl, Ruth Clarke, in Duffield in Derbyshire in 1786.  William and Ruth had nine children, and the seventh was Francis who was born at West Hallam in 1795.

    Perhaps the Scottish hat came from William Purdy, but there is another story of Scottish connections in Smalley:  Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.  Although the Purdy’s were not from Smalley, Catherine Housley was.

    From an article on the Heanor and District Local History Society website:

    The Jacobites in Smalley

    Few people would readily associate the village of Smalley, situated about two miles west of Heanor, with Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 – but there is a clear link.

    During the winter of 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, the “Bonnie Prince” or “The Young Pretender”, marched south from Scotland. His troops reached Derby on 4 December, and looted the town, staying for two days before they commenced a fateful retreat as the Duke of Cumberland’s army approached.

    While staying in Derby, or during the retreat, some of the Jacobites are said to have visited some of the nearby villages, including Smalley.

    A history of the local aspects of this escapade was written in 1933 by L. Eardley-Simpson, entitled “Derby and the ‘45,” from which the following is an extract:

    “The presence of a party at Smalley is attested by several local traditions and relics. Not long ago there were people living who remember to have seen at least a dozen old pikes in a room adjoining the stables at Smalley Hall, and these were stated to have been left by a party of Highlanders who came to exchange their ponies for horses belonging to the then owner, Mrs Richardson; in 1907, one of these pikes still remained. Another resident of Smalley had a claymore which was alleged to have been found on Drumhill, Breadsall Moor, while the writer of the History of Smalley himself (Reverend C. Kerry) had a magnificent Andrew Ferrara, with a guard of finely wrought iron, engraved with two heads in Tudor helmets, of the same style, he states, as the one left at Wingfield Manor, though why the outlying bands of Army should have gone so far afield, he omits to mention. Smalley is also mentioned in another strange story as to the origin of the family of Woolley of Collingham who attained more wealth and a better position in the world than some of their relatives. The story is to the effect that when the Scots who had visited Mrs Richardson’s stables were returning to Derby, they fell in with one Woolley of Smalley, a coal carrier, and impressed him with horse and cart for the conveyance of certain heavy baggage. On the retreat, the party with Woolley was surprised by some of the Elector’s troopers (the Royal army) who pursued the Scots, leaving Woolley to shift for himself. This he did, and, his suspicion that the baggage he was carrying was part of the Prince’s treasure turning out to be correct, he retired to Collingham, and spent the rest of his life there in the enjoyment of his luckily acquired gains. Another story of a similar sort was designed to explain the rise of the well-known Derbyshire family of Cox of Brailsford, but the dates by no means agree with the family pedigree, and in any event the suggestion – for it is little more – is entirely at variance with the views as to the rights of the Royal House of Stuart which were expressed by certain members of the Cox family who were alive not many years ago.”

    A letter from Charles Kerry, dated 30 July 1903, narrates another strange twist to the tale. When the Highlanders turned up in Smalley, a large crowd, mainly women, gathered. “On a command in Gaelic, the regiment stooped, and throwing their kilts over their backs revealed to the astonished ladies and all what modesty is careful to conceal. Father, who told me, said they were not any more troubled with crowds of women.”

    Folklore or fact? We are unlikely to know, but the Scottish artefacts in the Smalley area certainly suggest that some of the story is based on fact.

    We are unlikely to know where that Scottish hat came from, but we did find the Scottish connection.  William Purdy’s mother was Grizel Gibson, and her mother was Grizel Murray, both of Lanarkshire in Scotland.  The name Grizel is a Scottish form of the name Griselda, and means “grey battle maiden”.  But with the exception of the name Murray, The Purdy and Gibson names are not traditionally Scottish, so there is not much of a Scottish connection after all.  But the mystery of the Scottish hat remains unsolved.

    #6163

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    secret feet clothes

    finally story suddenly known

    pain added sometimes feeling

    chinese whatever

    top side telling

    whispered continue

    mars work bag

    #6142
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Everyone seems happy about the rain, and I don’t blame them. I’m not daft, I know we need rain but it’s not so easy when you don’t have a home.  But I am nothing if not stalwart and stoic, resourceful and adaptable, and I found a good way to keep warm and dry during the downpours.  It’s amazing how much heat an animal gives off, so I camp down in stables or kennels when it’s cold and wet.  It can get a bit smelly, but it’s warm and dry and when my clothes are damp and stinking I just throw them all away and get some new ones out of the recycling bins. Just to clarify, I find the new clothes first before throwing the ones I’m wearing away. I’m not daft, I know walking around naked would catch attention and I try to stay under the radar. Nobody really notices smelly old ladies wandering around these days anyway, but naked would be another matter.

    There’s a stable I really like just outside of town, lots of nice deep clean straw. There’s a white horse in there that knows me now and the gentle whicker of recognition when she sees me warms my heart. I don’t stay there any two nights running though.  One thing I’ve learned is don’t do anything too regular, keep it random and varied.  I don’t want anyone plotting my movements and interfering with me in any way.

    There’s not much to do in a stable when it rains for days and nights on end but remember things, so I may as well write them down. I’m never quite sure if the things I remember are my memories or someone elses, a past life of my own perhaps, or another person entirely.  I used to worry a bit about that, but not anymore. Nobody cares and there’s nobody to flag my memories as false, and if there was, I wouldn’t care if they did.

    Anyway, the other day while I was nestled in a pile of sweet hay listening to the thunder, I recalled that day when someone offered me a fortune for that old mirror I’d bought at the flea market. I know I hadn’t paid much for it, because I never did pay much for anything. Never have done.  I bought it because it was unusual (hideous is what everyone said about it, but people have got very strangely ordinary taste, I’ve found) and because it was cheap enough that I could buy it without over thinking the whole thing.  At the end of the day you can’t beat the magic of spontaneity, it out performs long winded assessment every time.

    So this man was a friend of a friend who happened to visit and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse so of course I sold the mirror to him. He was so delighted about it that I’d have given him the mirror for nothing if I knew he wanted it that much, but I’m not daft, I took the money.  I found out later that he’d won the lottery, so I never felt guilty about it.

    Well, after he’d gone I sat there looking at this pile of money in my hands and knew exactly what I was going to do. But first I had to find them.  They’d moved again and we’d lost contact but I knew I’d find a way. And I did.  They’d given up all hope of ever getting that money back that I’d borrowed, but they said the timing was perfect, couldn’t have been better, they said. It wouldn’t have meant all that much to them if I’d paid it back right away, they said, because they didn’t need it then as much as they did when they finally got it back.

    They were strange times back then, and one thing after another was happening all over the world, what with the strange weather, and all the pandemics and refugees.  Hard to keep food on the table, let alone make plans or pay debts back.  But debt is a funny thing. I felt stung when I realized they didn’t think I intended to pay them back but the fact was, I couldn’t do it at the time. And I wanted it to be a magical perfect timing surprise when I did.  I suppose in a way I wanted it to be like it was when they loaned me the money. I remember I wept at the kindness of it.  Well I didn’t want them to weep necessarily, but I wanted it to mean something wonderful, somehow.  And timing is everything and you can’t plan that kind of thing, not really.

    It was a happy ending in the end though, I gave them the whole amount I got for that old mirror, which was considerably more than the loan.

    The rain has stopped now and the sun is shining. My damp clothes are steaming and probably much smellier than I think. Time to find a recycling bin and a fresh new look.

    #6065
    AvatarJib
    Participant

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #6018

    In reply to: Story Bored

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    BOARD 8

    Mater in fitting red gabardine is enjoying some quality time with her grand-daughter. Prune is working hard to get her first baby rocket to Mars.

    The Time-travelling Drag Queens Reginald, Amar and Cedric have finally summoned St Germain’s crystal and are getting ready for the disco party, while worrying about being underdressed for such occasion.

    Phurt is not happy about her assignment on this island. Bloody too small! she says. What am I supposed to eat? Coconuts?

    #5835

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    inside

    answered rather granola

    loved often wonder comes

    laughed finally sorry close

    person inspector asking

    dust tell strange worn

    crack story

    #5821
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Day 6

    Finally! We’ve been disembarked, I thought I would go mad on this ship. Felt it must have been less excruciating for those on the Pequod. But whales are too smart nowadays, they don’t want to catch our silly viruses, they don’t taste as good as walruses.

    The voices have quieted down for now, maybe it was only the voices of the other passengers carried through the pipes. Wife didn’t seem to suffer as much from the confinement, she just can’t wait to resume her life.

    Just received a text from our daughter who went to buy groceries for when we return: “In the store now. All the pasta, rice and sauces have been cleared out. Preppers craze much? 🤦”

    I had to laugh to myself. Guess it looks promising for when the real apocalypse comes…

    #5808
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Truth be told, April was missing the US. She missed all their little coterie of maids living in the shadows of the powerful. Missed the drama most of all.

    She’d been secretly texting Norma and May, while June was lazily sipping mojitos with Jacqui.
    Norma was fine, but May and the other alien staff had suddenly disappeared when the Secret Services had started to investigate more deeply into the staff’s backgrounds after all the kidnapping fiasco. At least, August had been covering for Norma, such kind soul he was. Besides, the President’s wife could no longer live without her butter chicken. But May and the others couldn’t face the music apparently. Funnily, they couldn’t find “real” American maids nowadays suited to replace them. Good luck with that!

    April couldn’t tell June, obviously, since her friend harboured such hatred for the system that had them put in jail. As for herself, she couldn’t argue with the fact they’d deserved it. Nothing a good lawyer couldn’t fix though. That’s why she loved the idea of America. Guilty as charged, indeed. Those charges now vanished.

    She’d thought first that it would fuel her inspiration nicely, but it was the opposite. The sudden extra time had distracted her entirely, and her inspiration seemed inaccessible.

    She was starting to make up her mind. She would go back, to her family in Arkansas. That could only be temporary of course, as her mother, bless her soul, would start to have her meet all the gents in the neighbourhood in the hopes to finally get her only daughter married. Talk about drama. If that doesn’t kick-start her inspiration engine, nothing would.

    Problem was, with the virus around spreading mass panic, there seemed to be no sure way to fly back. She would have to devise some circuitous plan.

    #5807

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The front door of Mr French had a certain Gothic quality to it which caught the eye of Star. She was a sucker for the glitz and the extravagant –the more garish, the better. Had she got her way, their office would be full of the cumbersome stuff. Catching the glint in Star’s green eyes, Tara rolled hers. She clanged the metal lion to signal their presence.

    A decrepit butler called off their ruckus after what seemed like a pause in eternity. They could hear the rambling from a distance behind the door. “I’m coming! No need for such noise! Ah, these youngs nowadays, not a shred of patience!…”

    “Are you sure about it Star? After all, the deposit check cleared, why should we be concerned about Mr French. And we still haven’t got much to go on about Uncle Basil…”

    “Shttt, let me handle it,” replied Star shaping her face into a genial one, oozing honey and butterflies.

    When the butler finally opened the door, he snapped her shut “We’re not interested in whatever… hem, services you’re offering Mesdames.”

    Tara caught Star’s hand mid-air, as it was about to fly and land square on the rude dried up mummy’s face in front of them.

    “Sir, you must have us confused. We’ve been hired a week ago by Mr French for a very private matter we cannot obviously discuss on the doorstep. Please check with Mr French, maybe?”

    The butler’s face turned sour. “Yes of course, I understand. Then you should know Mr French has been in a coma since his dreadful accident last month. Since you have a direct line to him, I suggest you… call him?” And with that, he slammed the door shut on their faces.

    “Rude!” Tara mouthed.

    “At least, that tells us something my dear.”

    “Don’t bait me like this. I’ll ask, what exactly?”

    “That our Mr French is not who he says he is…”

    “I wonder if it has something to do with the immense fortune he made with his voice…”

    “That would be a very interesting question to answer indeed.”

    #5806
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Day 1 of the Experiment

    There is comfort in an empty page; ideas seem to recoil at its touch. It quiets the voices, all of them vying for a place in the mind, eager to start and conquer this new expanse.
    So this is an experiment, to bring in some of the voices, maybe one at a time. Writing them down levels the ground, they have to pause. And wait for the ink to dry.

    I’ll burn those pages once I write them down; can’t risk any of them leaping off the pages and taking a life of their own… That’s the reason I’m not using one of these fancy electronic typewriters. They’re all connected now. They could escape through the wires.
    So I’ll burn these pages. But not yet. I have to lure them out first. With a promise of an escape. And to finally drain them out, one by one.

    Someone is coming. Will resume later.

    #5742
    EricEric
    Keymaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #5671
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    With her pink glove on and her lips apart, Liz passed her finger on the bookshelf. Making the most of the opportunity of Finnley’s excursion outside, Liz had pretexted she wanted to show Roberto how to check for dust. In truth, but she would never confess to it, except to Godfrey after a few drink and some cashew nuts later that day, in truth she had bought a new pink uniform for the gardener/handyman and wanted to see how it fitted him. Of course, she had ordered a few sizes under, so Roberto’s muscles bulged quite nicely under the fabric of the short sleeves, stretching the seam in a dangerously exciting way.

    “What’s this book?” asked Roberto.

    “What?” asked Liz who had been lost in one of the worst case scenario. Why would Roberto talk about something as undersexying as a book? Nonetheless, without wanting to, her eyes followed the gardener’s sexy arm down to his sexy finger pointing at the book spine and her brain froze on the title: “An Aesthetic of the Night Mare“, by Vanina Vain.

    “What’s this book doing among my personal work?” she asked, all sexying forgotten.

    “Don’t you remember?” asked Godfrey who happened to pass behind her. “Years ago when you still read your fanmail you answered one from a young girl wanting to follow in your footsteps. You sent her a handwritten copy of Rilke’s letter to a young poet. I wrote it myself and Finnley signed it for you. She’s so good at imitating your signature. Well anyway a few years later that girl finally published her first book and sent you a copy to thank you.”

    “Have I read it?” Liz asked.

    “You might have. But I’m not sure. It’s quite Gothic. The girl takes advantage of her sleep paralysis at night to do some crazy experiences.”

    Liz had no recollection whatsoever of it, but that was not the point.

    “Tsk. What’s it doing among my personal work bookshelves? Don’t we have somewhere else to put that kind of…”

    “The trash you mean?” asked Finnley.

    “Oh! You’re back”, said Liz.

    “Tsk, tsk. Such disappointment in your voice. But I’m never far away, and luckily for some”, she added with a look at Roberto who was trying to stretch the sleeve without breaking the seam.

    #5663
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Meanwhile, Granola was doing her yearly assessment with Ailill, and it didn’t go as planned. She’d hoped for recognition and an increase of responsibilities, but nothing of that sort was given.

    She’d felt like crying and had to pop in the little dog in the room to whine insistently and express her frustration.

    Ailill had said she wasn’t at fault, but management, blahblah. She would have loved to strangle him at the moment; all her efforts, her successful pop-ins, and the gruesome timeless experience trapped in the Doctor’s crystal… That ought to be worth something. She was still dedicated to her work and her vision to help people around. Rather that than being hanging around with blissful dudes in an ethereal after-life.

    “Where is the fun?” she’d asked to the vortex Ailill had made when he left. The vortex had answered in sparkles and she’d suddenly felt connected to her friends. She felt confident their story was now in their own capable hands, and she was free to explore new dimensions. There was potential in a tart wreck repackage. It finally brought an inner smile back to her thoughts before she jumped in: “To boldly go where no man has gone before!”

    #5662
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Jerk had been tracking all of it. He’d done a nice map of all the location the both of  them had travelled, with little animated pins for the dolls they’d collected.

    It was a bit difficult to get them all to focus, and by them he didn’t mean the pins.

    After Shawn-Paul and Maeve had come back home, their little lives at the building had resumed with some slight changes. For one, he’d finally realized through some fine deductive work worthy of Sherlock that Maeve was the one behind the dolls postings on his website. He was finally sure after a firewall update got her locked out of the website and she requested to get back in. Anyways, that made things easier, although they still mostly exchanged and discussed though the website despite them being front door neighbours on the same floor. But the arrangement was convenient, especially since Shawn-Paul had kind of unofficially moved in with her and Fabio.

    He’d invited them in Lucinda’s apartment to do a little old fashioned slide show  —Lucinda’s apartment was bigger he’d argued; and all the funny collection of paraphernalia she’d gathered on the walls and cabinets tops was always great to set the mood or do an improvised theme party. For sure, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact he wouldn’t need to clean up and push all the mess in the corners of his own apartment.

    Lucinda was all excited. And not just by her new boyfriend Jasper. She wanted to make a book about their expedition, and everybody had immediately rolled their eyes. Books in this century, she must be the last one dinosaur raving about books.

    The slide show started by the end. Where the dolls all ended up finally. La Isla de las Muñecas in Mexico: the Island of Dolls.

    That’s when they were all appreciating the fitting finish line that the door bell rang.

    Uncle Fergus?!” Maeve was incredulous; it was months they weren’t in contact.

    “I’m here for Jasper.” he said ominously.

    #5655
    prUneprUne
    Participant

    I don’t know if that’s a second youth or what, but getting to that 100 line has put Mater in an energetic frenzy. She’s been putting her things in order, like she said.

    My studies on machine learning and artificial intelligence are keeping me away for now. I’ve been studying hard for that Mars program selection, but it looks like it’s hopeless. Anyway, I had the good idea to put nannycams in all the hidden spots of the Inn. It’s not been as much fun as I’d hoped, spying on Aunt Idle and her manic ramblings. You would think she’s drunk all the time, but for all the recordings, I’d be damned if I’ve caught her yet on tape with a bottle. I guess her body just distills it on its own…

    So, I’ve kept an eye on Mater too; she’s been acting funny at the mention of Jasper. And I found her quick to put a tight lid back on the topic.

    I’m not even mentioning the dubious trails of “Uncles” of late: the Fergus, Basil or otherwise. She’d known quite a few of these in her days, although she’s claimed to have been a paragon of matrimonial virtue, being single woman with kids in these parts must have been rough after she lost Pater.

    I think I finally caught something between all the cloak and dagger mascarades, tatty letters and all. Digital footprint isn’t big, but it may be something tangible to begin with.

    Meanwhile, we’ll have to get started getting the invitation list in order; Mater’s contemporaries are falling by the minute, and Aunt Dido’s braincells are probably dying as fast as that— it won’t be easy to get a complete list. I know I should enlist Devan, I even put him on that family group thing, but he’s not big with all the tech stuff. As for the twins, well… We still have to hear about their stories. At this rate, might be faster to learn to telepathically tack on Dodo’s brainwaves. She says to whomever wants to hear she’s got direct connection to them… Would sound cultish to me, if I didn’t know better about the sisters! I’ll be worried when Mater starts to take this woowoo seriously.

    #5624
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Finnley

    It’s a funny thing what tiredness can do to a girl. I could have sworn it was daytime when I knocked on Mr August’s door. Turned out it was nearly midnight and Mr August wasn’t best pleased to see me. Judging by the giggling I could hear and the way he was trying to barricade the door, he already had company. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was a bit of a ladies’ man with his smooth chest and satin bath-robe. (Although, if you ask me, the embroidered dragon down the front is overkill). Mr August snapped at me that I had the job and he’d get the paperwork sorted tomorrow. The mix-up worked out in my favour; he was that keen to get shot of me and back to business.

    Not knowing what else to do, I made myself a possie under a large desk in the hall and tried to get comfy. Anyway, that’s when the fun really started. The maid, the rude one who took the baby, came tiptoeing out of her room wringing her hands and muttering that she had a doubt. Not long after that, two middle-aged ladies barged in, both off their faces I would say. “I’ll give that maid Alabama if anything has happened to our Barron!” shouted the short one, and they lurched their way into the baby’s room.

    Good grief.

    Finally, the maid tiptoed back to her room and the ladies went back to whatever hole they’d crawled from and I hoped that me and the baby would be able to get some sleep at last. Who was I kidding? I nearly managed to drop off when the doorbell rang again. The maid answered it—I’m starting to understand why she is so ill-tempered; she never gets any sleep. This time it’s some crazy looking lady who said she had come to help me! But I’ve never seen her before in my life!

    Weirdo, right?
    ,
    I’m pretty flabbergasted by the lack of security and all the comings and goings. Things are going to be a bit different from now on, I can tell you that right now.

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