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    The Housley Letters 

    From Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters.

     

    William Housley (1781-1848) and Ellen Carrington were married on May 30, 1814 at St. Oswald’s church in Ashbourne. William died in 1848 at the age of 67 of “disease of lungs and general debility”. Ellen died in 1872.

    Marriage of William Housley and Ellen Carrington in Ashbourne in 1814:

    William and Ellen Marriage

     

    Parish records show three children for William and his first wife, Mary, Ellens’ sister, who were married December 29, 1806: Mary Ann, christened in 1808 and mentioned frequently in the letters; Elizabeth, christened in 1810, but never mentioned in any letters; and William, born in 1812, probably referred to as Will in the letters. Mary died in 1813.

    William and Ellen had ten children: John, Samuel, Edward, Anne, Charles, George, Joseph, Robert, Emma, and Joseph. The first Joseph died at the age of four, and the last son was also named Joseph. Anne never married, Charles emigrated to Australia in 1851, and George to USA, also in 1851. The letters are to George, from his sisters and brothers in England.

    The following are excerpts of those letters, including excerpts of Barbara Housley’s “Narrative on Historic Letters”. They are grouped according to who they refer to, rather than chronological order.

     

    ELLEN HOUSLEY 1795-1872

    Joseph wrote that when Emma was married, Ellen “broke up the comfortable home and the things went to Derby and she went to live with them but Derby didn’t agree with her so she left again leaving her things behind and came to live with John in the new house where she died.” Ellen was listed with John’s household in the 1871 census.
    In May 1872, the Ilkeston Pioneer carried this notice: “Mr. Hopkins will sell by auction on Saturday next the eleventh of May 1872 the whole of the useful furniture, sewing machine, etc. nearly new on the premises of the late Mrs. Housley at Smalley near Heanor in the county of Derby. Sale at one o’clock in the afternoon.”

    Ellen’s family was evidently rather prominant in Smalley. Two Carringtons (John and William) served on the Parish Council in 1794. Parish records are full of Carrington marriages and christenings; census records confirm many of the family groupings.

    In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “Mother looks as well as ever and was told by a lady the other day that she looked handsome.” Later she wrote: “Mother is as stout as ever although she sometimes complains of not being able to do as she used to.”

     

    Mary’s children:

    MARY ANN HOUSLEY  1808-1878

    There were hard feelings between Mary Ann and Ellen and her children. Anne wrote: “If you remember we were not very friendly when you left. They never came and nothing was too bad for Mary Ann to say of Mother and me, but when Robert died Mother sent for her to the funeral but she did not think well to come so we took no more notice. She would not allow her children to come either.”

    Mary Ann was unlucky in love! In Anne’s second letter she wrote: “William Carrington is paying Mary Ann great attention. He is living in London but they write to each other….We expect it will be a match.” Apparantly the courtship was stormy for in 1855, Emma wrote: “Mary Ann’s wedding with William Carrington has dropped through after she had prepared everything, dresses and all for the occassion.” Then in 1856, Emma wrote: “William Carrington and Mary Ann are separated. They wore him out with their nonsense.” Whether they ever married is unclear. Joseph wrote in 1872: “Mary Ann was married but her husband has left her. She is in very poor health. She has one daughter and they are living with their mother at Smalley.”

    Regarding William Carrington, Emma supplied this bit of news: “His sister, Mrs. Lily, has eloped with a married man. Is she not a nice person!”

     

    WILLIAM HOUSLEY JR. 1812-1890

    According to a letter from Anne, Will’s two sons and daughter were sent to learn dancing so they would be “fit for any society.” Will’s wife was Dorothy Palfry. They were married in Denby on October 20, 1836 when Will was 24. According to the 1851 census, Will and Dorothy had three sons: Alfred 14, Edwin 12, and William 10. All three boys were born in Denby.

    In his letter of May 30, 1872, after just bemoaning that all of his brothers and sisters are gone except Sam and John, Joseph added: “Will is living still.” In another 1872 letter Joseph wrote, “Will is living at Heanor yet and carrying on his cattle dealing.” The 1871 census listed Will, 59, and his son William, 30, of Lascoe Road, Heanor, as cattle dealers.

     

    Ellen’s children:

    JOHN HOUSLEY  1815-1893

    John married Sarah Baggally in Morely in 1838. They had at least six children. Elizabeth (born 2 May 1838) was “out service” in 1854. In her “third year out,Elizabeth was described by Anne as “a very nice steady girl but quite a woman in appearance.” One of her positions was with a Mrs. Frearson in Heanor. Emma wrote in 1856: Elizabeth is still at Mrs. Frearson. She is such a fine stout girl you would not know her.” Joseph wrote in 1872 that Elizabeth was in service with Mrs. Eliza Sitwell at Derby. (About 1850, Miss Eliza Wilmot-Sitwell provided for a small porch with a handsome Norman doorway at the west end of the St. John the Baptist parish church in Smalley.)

    According to Elizabeth’s birth certificate and the 1841 census, John was a butcher. By 1851, the household included a nurse and a servant, and John was listed as a “victular.” Anne wrote in February 1854, John has left the Public House a year and a half ago. He is living where Plumbs (Ann Plumb witnessed William’s death certificate with her mark) did and Thomas Allen has the land. He has been working at James Eley’s all winter.” In 1861, Ellen lived with John and Sarah and the three boys.

    John sold his share in the inheritance from their mother and disappeared after her death. (He died in Doncaster, Yorkshire, in 1893.) At that time Charles, the youngest would have been 21. Indeed, Joseph wrote in July 1872: John’s children are all grown up”.

    In May 1872, Joseph wrote: “For what do you think, John has sold his share and he has acted very bad since his wife died and at the same time he sold all his furniture. You may guess I have never seen him but once since poor mother’s funeral and he is gone now no one knows where.”

    In February 1874 Joseph wrote: “You want to know what made John go away. Well, I will give you one reason. I think I told you that when his wife died he persuaded me to leave Derby and come to live with him. Well so we did and dear Harriet to keep his house. Well he insulted my wife and offered things to her that was not proper and my dear wife had the power to resist his unmanly conduct. I did not think he could of served me such a dirty trick so that is one thing dear brother. He could not look me in the face when we met. Then after we left him he got a woman in the house and I suppose they lived as man and wife. She caught the small pox and died and there he was by himself like some wild man. Well dear brother I could not go to him again after he had served me and mine as he had and I believe he was greatly in debt too so that he sold his share out of the property and when he received the money at Belper he went away and has never been seen by any of us since but I have heard of him being at Sheffield enquiring for Sam Caldwell. You will remember him. He worked in the Nag’s Head yard but I have heard nothing no more of him.”

    A mention of a John Housley of Heanor in the Nottinghma Journal 1875.  I don’t know for sure if the John mentioned here is the brother John who Joseph describes above as behaving improperly to his wife. John Housley had a son Joseph, born in 1840, and John’s wife Sarah died in 1870.

    John Housley

     

    In 1876, the solicitor wrote to George: “Have you heard of John Housley? He is entitled to Robert’s share and I want him to claim it.”

     

    SAMUEL HOUSLEY 1816-

    Sam married Elizabeth Brookes of Sutton Coldfield, and they had three daughters: Elizabeth, Mary Anne and Catherine.  Elizabeth his wife died in 1849, a few months after Samuel’s father William died in 1848. The particular circumstances relating to these individuals have been discussed in previous chapters; the following are letter excerpts relating to them.

    Death of William Housley 15 Dec 1848, and Elizabeth Housley 5 April 1849, Smalley:

    Housley Deaths

     

    Joseph wrote in December 1872: “I saw one of Sam’s daughters, the youngest Kate, you would remember her a baby I dare say. She is very comfortably married.”

    In the same letter (December 15, 1872), Joseph wrote:  “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that….His daughter and her husband went to Brimingham and also to Sutton Coldfield that is where he married his wife from and found out his wife’s brother. It appears he has been there and at Birmingham ever since he went away but ever fond of drink.”

    (Sam, however, was still alive in 1871, living as a lodger at the George and Dragon Inn, Henley in Arden. And no trace of Sam has been found since. It would appear that Sam did not want to be found.)

     

    EDWARD HOUSLEY 1819-1843

    Edward died before George left for USA in 1851, and as such there is no mention of him in the letters.

     

    ANNE HOUSLEY 1821-1856

    Anne wrote two letters to her brother George between February 1854 and her death in 1856. Apparently she suffered from a lung disease for she wrote: “I can say you will be surprised I am still living and better but still cough and spit a deal. Can do nothing but sit and sew.” According to the 1851 census, Anne, then 29, was a seamstress. Their friend, Mrs. Davy, wrote in March 1856: “This I send in a box to my Brother….The pincushion cover and pen wiper are Anne’s work–are for thy wife. She would have made it up had she been able.” Anne was not living at home at the time of the 1841 census. She would have been 19 or 20 and perhaps was “out service.”

    In her second letter Anne wrote: “It is a great trouble now for me to write…as the body weakens so does the mind often. I have been very weak all summer. That I continue is a wonder to all and to spit so much although much better than when you left home.” She also wrote: “You know I had a desire for America years ago. Were I in health and strength, it would be the land of my adoption.”

    In November 1855, Emma wrote, “Anne has been very ill all summer and has not been able to write or do anything.” Their neighbor Mrs. Davy wrote on March 21, 1856: “I fear Anne will not be long without a change.” In a black-edged letter the following June, Emma wrote: “I need not tell you how happy she was and how calmly and peacefully she died. She only kept in bed two days.”

    Certainly Anne was a woman of deep faith and strong religious convictions. When she wrote that they were hoping to hear of Charles’ success on the gold fields she added: “But I would rather hear of him having sought and found the Pearl of great price than all the gold Australia can produce, (For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?).” Then she asked George: “I should like to learn how it was you were first led to seek pardon and a savior. I do feel truly rejoiced to hear you have been led to seek and find this Pearl through the workings of the Holy Spirit and I do pray that He who has begun this good work in each of us may fulfill it and carry it on even unto the end and I can never doubt the willingness of Jesus who laid down his life for us. He who said whoever that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”

    Anne’s will was probated October 14, 1856. Mr. William Davy of Kidsley Park appeared for the family. Her estate was valued at under £20. Emma was to receive fancy needlework, a four post bedstead, feather bed and bedding, a mahogany chest of drawers, plates, linen and china. Emma was also to receive Anne’s writing desk. There was a condition that Ellen would have use of these items until her death.

    The money that Anne was to receive from her grandfather, William Carrington, and her father, William Housley was to be distributed one third to Joseph, one third to Emma, and one third to be divided between her four neices: John’s daughter Elizabeth, 18, and Sam’s daughters Elizabeth, 10, Mary Ann, 9 and Catharine, age 7 to be paid by the trustees as they think “most useful and proper.” Emma Lyon and Elizabeth Davy were the witnesses.

    The Carrington Farm:

    Carringtons Farm

     

    CHARLES HOUSLEY 1823-1855

    Charles went to Australia in 1851, and was last heard from in January 1853. According to the solicitor, who wrote to George on June 3, 1874, Charles had received advances on the settlement of their parent’s estate. “Your promissory note with the two signed by your brother Charles for 20 pounds he received from his father and 20 pounds he received from his mother are now in the possession of the court.”

    Charles and George were probably quite close friends. Anne wrote in 1854: “Charles inquired very particularly in both his letters after you.”

    According to Anne, Charles and a friend married two sisters. He and his father-in-law had a farm where they had 130 cows and 60 pigs. Whatever the trade he learned in England, he never worked at it once he reached Australia. While it does not seem that Charles went to Australia because gold had been discovered there, he was soon caught up in “gold fever”. Anne wrote: “I dare say you have heard of the immense gold fields of Australia discovered about the time he went. Thousands have since then emigrated to Australia, both high and low. Such accounts we heard in the papers of people amassing fortunes we could not believe. I asked him when I wrote if it was true. He said this was no exaggeration for people were making their fortune daily and he intended going to the diggings in six weeks for he could stay away no longer so that we are hoping to hear of his success if he is alive.”

    In March 1856, Mrs. Davy wrote: “I am sorry to tell thee they have had a letter from Charles’s wife giving account of Charles’s death of 6 months consumption at the Victoria diggings. He has left 2 children a boy and a girl William and Ellen.” In June of the same year in a black edged letter, Emma wrote: “I think Mrs. Davy mentioned Charles’s death in her note. His wife wrote to us. They have two children Helen and William. Poor dear little things. How much I should like to see them all. She writes very affectionately.”

    In December 1872, Joseph wrote: “I’m told that Charles two daughters has wrote to Smalley post office making inquiries about his share….” In January 1876, the solicitor wrote: “Charles Housley’s children have claimed their father’s share.”

     

    GEORGE HOUSLEY 1824-1877

    George emigrated to the United states in 1851, arriving in July. The solicitor Abraham John Flint referred in a letter to a 15-pound advance which was made to George on June 9, 1851. This certainly was connected to his journey. George settled along the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The letters from the solicitor were addressed to: Lahaska Post Office, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

    George married Sarah Ann Hill on May 6, 1854 in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In her first letter (February 1854), Anne wrote: “We want to know who and what is this Miss Hill you name in your letter. What age is she? Send us all the particulars but I would advise you not to get married until you have sufficient to make a comfortable home.”

    Upon learning of George’s marriage, Anne wrote: “I hope dear brother you may be happy with your wife….I hope you will be as a son to her parents. Mother unites with me in kind love to you both and to your father and mother with best wishes for your health and happiness.” In 1872 (December) Joseph wrote: “I am sorry to hear that sister’s father is so ill. It is what we must all come to some time and hope we shall meet where there is no more trouble.”

    Emma wrote in 1855, “We write in love to your wife and yourself and you must write soon and tell us whether there is a little nephew or niece and what you call them.” In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “We want to see dear Sarah Ann and the dear little boy. We were much pleased with the “bit of news” you sent.” The bit of news was the birth of John Eley Housley, January 11, 1855. Emma concluded her letter “Give our very kindest love to dear sister and dearest Johnnie.”

    In September 1872, Joseph wrote, “I was very sorry to hear that John your oldest had met with such a sad accident but I hope he is got alright again by this time.” In the same letter, Joseph asked: “Now I want to know what sort of a town you are living in or village. How far is it from New York? Now send me all particulars if you please.”

    In March 1873 Harriet asked Sarah Ann: “And will you please send me all the news at the place and what it is like for it seems to me that it is a wild place but you must tell me what it is like….”.  The question of whether she was referring to Bucks County, Pennsylvania or some other place is raised in Joseph’s letter of the same week.
    On March 17, 1873, Joseph wrote: “I was surprised to hear that you had gone so far away west. Now dear brother what ever are you doing there so far away from home and family–looking out for something better I suppose.”

    The solicitor wrote on May 23, 1874: “Lately I have not written because I was not certain of your address and because I doubted I had much interesting news to tell you.” Later, Joseph wrote concerning the problems settling the estate, “You see dear brother there is only me here on our side and I cannot do much. I wish you were here to help me a bit and if you think of going for another summer trip this turn you might as well run over here.”

    Apparently, George had indicated he might return to England for a visit in 1856. Emma wrote concerning the portrait of their mother which had been sent to George: “I hope you like mother’s portrait. I did not see it but I suppose it was not quite perfect about the eyes….Joseph and I intend having ours taken for you when you come over….Do come over before very long.”

    In March 1873, Joseph wrote: “You ask me what I think of you coming to England. I think as you have given the trustee power to sign for you I think you could do no good but I should like to see you once again for all that. I can’t say whether there would be anything amiss if you did come as you say it would be throwing good money after bad.”

    On June 10, 1875, the solicitor wrote: “I have been expecting to hear from you for some time past. Please let me hear what you are doing and where you are living and how I must send you your money.” George’s big news at that time was that on May 3, 1875, he had become a naturalized citizen “renouncing and abjuring all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state and sovereignity whatsoever, and particularly to Victoria Queen of Great Britain of whom he was before a subject.”

     

    ROBERT HOUSLEY 1832-1851

    In 1854, Anne wrote: “Poor Robert. He died in August after you left he broke a blood vessel in the lung.”
    From Joseph’s first letter we learn that Robert was 19 when he died: “Dear brother there have been a great many changes in the family since you left us. All is gone except myself and John and Sam–we have heard nothing of him since he left. Robert died first when he was 19 years of age. Then Anne and Charles too died in Australia and then a number of years elapsed before anyone else. Then John lost his wife, then Emma, and last poor dear mother died last January on the 11th.”

    Anne described Robert’s death in this way: “He had thrown up blood many times before in the spring but the last attack weakened him that he only lived a fortnight after. He died at Derby. Mother was with him. Although he suffered much he never uttered a murmur or regret and always a smile on his face for everyone that saw him. He will be regretted by all that knew him”.

    Robert died a resident of St. Peter’s Parish, Derby, but was buried in Smalley on August 16, 1851.
    Apparently Robert was apprenticed to be a joiner for, according to Anne, Joseph took his place: “Joseph wanted to be a joiner. We thought we could do no better than let him take Robert’s place which he did the October after and is there still.”

    In 1876, the solicitor wrote to George: “Have you heard of John Housley? He is entitled to Robert’s share and I want him to claim it.”

     

    EMMA HOUSLEY 1836-1871

    Emma was not mentioned in Anne’s first letter. In the second, Anne wrote that Emma was living at Spondon with two ladies in her “third situation,” and added, “She is grown a bouncing woman.” Anne described her sister well. Emma wrote in her first letter (November 12, 1855): “I must tell you that I am just 21 and we had my pudding last Sunday. I wish I could send you a piece.”

    From Emma’s letters we learn that she was living in Derby from May until November 1855 with Mr. Haywood, an iron merchant. She explained, “He has failed and I have been obliged to leave,” adding, “I expect going to a new situation very soon. It is at Belper.” In 1851 records, William Haywood, age 22, was listed as an iron foundry worker. In the 1857 Derby Directory, James and George were listed as iron and brass founders and ironmongers with an address at 9 Market Place, Derby.

    In June 1856, Emma wrote from “The Cedars, Ashbourne Road” where she was working for Mr. Handysides.
    While she was working for Mr. Handysides, Emma wrote: “Mother is thinking of coming to live at Derby. That will be nice for Joseph and I.”

    Friargate and Ashbourne Road were located in St. Werburgh’s Parish. (In fact, St. Werburgh’s vicarage was at 185 Surrey Street. This clue led to the discovery of the record of Emma’s marriage on May 6, 1858, to Edwin Welch Harvey, son of Samuel Harvey in St. Werburgh’s.)

    In 1872, Joseph wrote: “Our sister Emma, she died at Derby at her own home for she was married. She has left two young children behind. The husband was the son of the man that I went apprentice to and has caused a great deal of trouble to our family and I believe hastened poor Mother’s death….”.   Joseph added that he believed Emma’s “complaint” was consumption and that she was sick a good bit. Joseph wrote: “Mother was living with John when I came home (from Ascension Island around 1867? or to Smalley from Derby around 1870?) for when Emma was married she broke up the comfortable home and the things went to Derby and she went to live with them but Derby did not agree with her so she had to leave it again but left all her things there.”

    Emma Housley and Edwin Welch Harvey wedding, 1858:

    Emma Housley wedding

     

    JOSEPH HOUSLEY 1838-1893

    We first hear of Joseph in a letter from Anne to George in 1854. “Joseph wanted to be a joiner. We thought we could do no better than let him take Robert’s place which he did the October after (probably 1851) and is there still. He is grown as tall as you I think quite a man.” Emma concurred in her first letter: “He is quite a man in his appearance and quite as tall as you.”

    From Emma we learn in 1855: “Joseph has left Mr. Harvey. He had not work to employ him. So mother thought he had better leave his indenture and be at liberty at once than wait for Harvey to be a bankrupt. He has got a very good place of work now and is very steady.” In June of 1856, Emma wrote “Joseph and I intend to have our portraits taken for you when you come over….Mother is thinking of coming to Derby. That will be nice for Joseph and I. Joseph is very hearty I am happy to say.”

    According to Joseph’s letters, he was married to Harriet Ballard. Joseph described their miraculous reunion in this way: “I must tell you that I have been abroad myself to the Island of Ascension. (Elsewhere he wrote that he was on the island when the American civil war broke out). I went as a Royal Marine and worked at my trade and saved a bit of money–enough to buy my discharge and enough to get married with but while I was out on the island who should I meet with there but my dear wife’s sister. (On two occasions Joseph and Harriet sent George the name and address of Harriet’s sister, Mrs. Brooks, in Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania, but it is not clear whether this was the same sister.) She was lady’s maid to the captain’s wife. Though I had never seen her before we got to know each other somehow so from that me and my wife recommenced our correspondence and you may be sure I wanted to get home to her. But as soon as I did get home that is to England I was not long before I was married and I have not regretted yet for we are very comfortable as well as circumstances will allow for I am only a journeyman joiner.”

    Proudly, Joseph wrote: “My little family consists of three nice children–John, Joseph and Susy Annie.” On her birth certificate, Susy Ann’s birthdate is listed as 1871. Parish records list a Lucy Annie christened in 1873. The boys were born in Derby, John in 1868 and Joseph in 1869. In his second letter, Joseph repeated: “I have got three nice children, a good wife and I often think is more than I have deserved.” On August 6, 1873, Joseph and Harriet wrote: “We both thank you dear sister for the pieces of money you sent for the children. I don’t know as I have ever see any before.” Joseph ended another letter: “Now I must close with our kindest love to you all and kisses from the children.”

    In Harriet’s letter to Sarah Ann (March 19, 1873), she promised: “I will send you myself and as soon as the weather gets warm as I can take the children to Derby, I will have them taken and send them, but it is too cold yet for we have had a very cold winter and a great deal of rain.” At this time, the children were all under 6 and the baby was not yet two.

    In March 1873 Joseph wrote: “I have been working down at Heanor gate there is a joiner shop there where Kings used to live I have been working there this winter and part of last summer but the wages is very low but it is near home that is one comfort.” (Heanor Gate is about 1/4 mile from Kidsley Grange. There was a school and industrial park there in 1988.) At this time Joseph and his family were living in “the big house–in Old Betty Hanson’s house.” The address in the 1871 census was Smalley Lane.

    A glimpse into Joseph’s personality is revealed by this remark to George in an 1872 letter: “Many thanks for your portrait and will send ours when we can get them taken for I never had but one taken and that was in my old clothes and dear Harriet is not willing to part with that. I tell her she ought to be satisfied with the original.”

    On one occasion Joseph and Harriet both sent seeds. (Marks are still visible on the paper.) Joseph sent “the best cow cabbage seed in the country–Robinson Champion,” and Harriet sent red cabbage–Shaw’s Improved Red. Possibly cow cabbage was also known as ox cabbage: “I hope you will have some good cabbages for the Ox cabbage takes all the prizes here. I suppose you will be taking the prizes out there with them.” Joseph wrote that he would put the name of the seeds by each “but I should think that will not matter. You will tell the difference when they come up.”

    George apparently would have liked Joseph to come to him as early as 1854. Anne wrote: “As to his coming to you that must be left for the present.” In 1872, Joseph wrote: “I have been thinking of making a move from here for some time before I heard from you for it is living from hand to mouth and never certain of a job long either.” Joseph then made plans to come to the United States in the spring of 1873. “For I intend all being well leaving England in the spring. Many thanks for your kind offer but I hope we shall be able to get a comfortable place before we have been out long.” Joseph promised to bring some things George wanted and asked: “What sort of things would be the best to bring out there for I don’t want to bring a lot that is useless.” Joseph’s plans are confirmed in a letter from the solicitor May 23, 1874: “I trust you are prospering and in good health. Joseph seems desirous of coming out to you when this is settled.”

    George must have been reminiscing about gooseberries (Heanor has an annual gooseberry show–one was held July 28, 1872) and Joseph promised to bring cuttings when they came: “Dear Brother, I could not get the gooseberries for they was all gathered when I received your letter but we shall be able to get some seed out the first chance and I shall try to bring some cuttings out along.” In the same letter that he sent the cabbage seeds Joseph wrote: “I have got some gooseberries drying this year for you. They are very fine ones but I have only four as yet but I was promised some more when they were ripe.” In another letter Joseph sent gooseberry seeds and wrote their names: Victoria, Gharibaldi and Globe.

    In September 1872 Joseph wrote; “My wife is anxious to come. I hope it will suit her health for she is not over strong.” Elsewhere Joseph wrote that Harriet was “middling sometimes. She is subject to sick headaches. It knocks her up completely when they come on.” In December 1872 Joseph wrote, “Now dear brother about us coming to America you know we shall have to wait until this affair is settled and if it is not settled and thrown into Chancery I’m afraid we shall have to stay in England for I shall never be able to save money enough to bring me out and my family but I hope of better things.”

    On July 19, 1875 Abraham Flint (the solicitor) wrote: “Joseph Housley has removed from Smalley and is working on some new foundry buildings at Little Chester near Derby. He lives at a village called Little Eaton near Derby. If you address your letter to him as Joseph Housley, carpenter, Little Eaton near Derby that will no doubt find him.”

    George did not save any letters from Joseph after 1874, hopefully he did reach him at Little Eaton. Joseph and his family are not listed in either Little Eaton or Derby on the 1881 census.

    In his last letter (February 11, 1874), Joseph sounded very discouraged and wrote that Harriet’s parents were very poorly and both had been “in bed for a long time.” In addition, Harriet and the children had been ill.
    The move to Little Eaton may indicate that Joseph received his settlement because in August, 1873, he wrote: “I think this is bad news enough and bad luck too, but I have had little else since I came to live at Kiddsley cottages but perhaps it is all for the best if one could only think so. I have begun to think there will be no chance for us coming over to you for I am afraid there will not be so much left as will bring us out without it is settled very shortly but I don’t intend leaving this house until it is settled either one way or the other. “

    Joseph Housley and the Kiddsley cottages:

    Joseph Housley

    #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.

    #6238
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Ellen (Nellie) Purdy

    My grandfathers aunt Nellie Purdy 1872-1947 grew up with his mother Mary Ann at the Gilmans in Buxton.  We knew she was a nurse or a matron, and that she made a number of trips to USA.

    I started looking for passenger lists and immigration lists (we had already found some of them, and my cousin Linda Marshall in Boston found some of them), and found one in 1904 with details of the “relatives address while in US”.

    October 31st, 1904, Ellen Purdy sailed from Liverpool to Baltimore on the Friesland. She was a 32 year old nurse and she paid for her own ticket. The address of relatives in USA was Druid Hill and Lafayette Ave, Baltimore, Maryland.

    I wondered if she stayed with relatives, perhaps they were the Housley descendants. It was her great uncle George Housley who emigrated in 1851, not so far away in Pennsylvania. I wanted to check the Baltimore census to find out the names at that address, in case they were Housley’s. So I joined a Baltimore History group on facebook, and asked how I might find out.  The people were so enormously helpful!  The address was the Home of the Friendless, an orphanage. (a historic landmark of some note I think), and someone even found Ellen Purdy listed in the Baltimore directory as a nurse there.

    She sailed back to England in 1913.   Ellen sailed in 1900 and 1920 as well but I haven’t unraveled those trips yet.

    THE HOME OF THE FRIENDLESS, is situated at the corner of Lafayette and Druid Hill avenues, Baltimore. It is a large brick building, which was erected at a cost of $62,000. It was organized in 1854.The chief aim of the founders of this institution was to respond to a need for providing a home for the friendless and homeless children, orphans, and half-orphans, or the offspring of vagrants. It has been managed since its organization by a board of ladies, who, by close attention and efficient management, have made the institution one of the most prominent charitable institutions in the State. From its opening to the present time there have been received 5,000 children, and homes have been secured for nearly one thousand of this number. The institution has a capacity of about 200 inmates. The present number of beneficiaries is 165. A kindergarten and other educational facilities are successfully conducted. The home knows no demonimational creed, being non-sectarian. Its principal source of revenue is derived from private contributions. For many years the State has appropriated different sums towards it maintenance, and the General Assembly of 1892 contributed the sum of $3,000 per annum.

    A later trip:   The ship’s manifest from May 1920 the Baltic lists Ellen on board arriving in Ellis Island heading to Baltimore age 48. The next of kin is listed as George Purdy (her father) of 2 Gregory Blvd Forest Side, Nottingham. She’s listed as a nurse, and sailed from Liverpool May 8 1920.

    Ellen Purdy

     

    Ellen eventually retired in England and married Frank Garbett, a tax collector,  at the age of 51 in Herefordshire.  Judging from the number of newspaper articles I found about her, she was an active member of the community and was involved in many fundraising activities for the local cottage hospital.

    Her obituary in THE KINGTON TIMES, NOVEMBER 8, 1947:
    Mrs. Ellen Garbett wife of Mr. F. Garbett, of Brook Cottage, Kingsland, whose funeral took place at St. Michael’s Church, Kingsland, on October 30th, was a familiar figure in the district, and by her genial manner and kindly ways had endeared herself to many.
    Mrs Garbett had had a wide experience in the nursing profession. Beginning her training in this country, she went to the Italian Riviera and there continued her work, later going to the United States. In 1916 she gained the Q.A.I.M.N.S. and returned to England and was appointed sister at the Lord Derby Military Hospital, an appointment she held for four years.

    We didn’t know that Ellen had worked on the Italian Riviera, and hope in due course to find out more about it.

    Mike Rushby, Ellen’s sister Kate’s grandson in Australia, spoke to his sister in USA recently about Nellie Purdy. She replied:   I told you I remembered Auntie Nellie coming to Jacksdale. She gave me a small green leatherette covered bible which I still have ( though in a very battered condition). Here is a picture of it.

    Ellen Purdy bible

    #6024

    In reply to: Story Bored

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Story Bored 8

    one

    Liz was waxing hysterical to her publisher. “I tell you, Bronkel, you complain of the loose threads wandering into nothingness, the deranged and meaningless story lines … turns out it isn’t a personality flaw; it’s those lonely vacations in the desert where I was forced to be the boy my mother always wanted.” 

    two

    (plagiarised)

    “Oh that’s a fantastic idea Becky!” encouraged Tina (anxious to divert attention from the fact her egg shampoo had turned her own hair green) when Becky suggested tentatively that perhaps she could try Al’s advanced visualisation techniques to turn this disastrous start to her wedding day around.

    “Yes, imagine it as you would like it to be, no matter how unrealistic it may seem. Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing your skin glowing like a glowing diamond. After all, you have nothing to lose Becky-pooh.”

    three

    Tifikijoo Island has been a casualty of rising sea levels. The question is, who is seeking to repopulate the island with giant spiders?

    #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?

    #5988
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Shawn Paul looked suspiciously at the pictures of the dolls in the Michigan forest on Maeve’s phone. He had heard about the Cottingley Fairies pictures, supposedly taken a long time ago by two little girls. The two little girls came out long after confessing they had staged the whole thing. Some said they had been coerced into it to keep the world from knowing the truth. It could well be the same thing with the whole dollmania, and Shawn Paul thought one was never dubious enough.

    He noded politely to Maeve and decided to hide his doubts for now. They were resting on sunbeds near the hotel swimming pool.

    “Do you want another cocktail?” asked a waitress dressed up in the local costume. Not much really, and so close-fitting. She was presenting them with a tray of colourful drinks and a candid smile. Her bosom was on the brink of spilling over the band of cloth she had around her chest. It was decorated with a pair of parrots stretched in such a way their lubricious eyes threatening to pop out at any moment.

    Shawn Paul, who had the talent to see the odd and misplaced, forced himself to look at the tray and spotted the strangest one. He pushed his glasses back up on his nose and asked without looking at the waitress.

    “What’s that strange bluish blob under the layers of alcohol and fruits?”

    Maeve raised one eyebrow and looked at her companion with disapproval, but the waitress answered as if she heard that all the time.

    “That’s a spoonful of honey from the blue bees. We feed them a special treat and they make us honey with remarkable properties that we have learned to use for the treatments we offer.”

    “Oh,” said Shawn Paul who did not dare ask more about the treatments.

    They had arrived to Tikfidjikoo just before the confinement had been declared all over the world, and they had a moment of hesitation to take the last plane with the other tourists and go back safely to Canada. But after the inconclusive adventure in Australia, Maeve had convinced him they had to stay to find out more about the dolls.

    They had met those three old ladies and one of them had one of the dolls. Sharon, Mavis and Gloria, they were called and they were going to a smaller island of the archipelago, one that was not even on the maps apparently. That should have given them suspicions, but it seemed so important to Maeve that Shawn Paul hadn’t had the heart to leave her alone.

    “I have a plan,” had said Maeve, “We’re going to follow them, befriend them and learn more about how they came to have the doll and try and get the key that’s inside of it.”

    “You’re here for the beauty treatment?” had asked the girl at the counter. “You’re lucky, with the confinement a lot of our reservations have been canceled. We have plenty of vacancy and some fantastic deals.”

    Maeve had enrolled them for a free week treatment before Shawn Paul could say anything. They hadn’t seen the ladies much since they had arrived on the island, and now there were no way in or out of the island. They had been assured they had plenty of food and alcohol and a lot of activities that could be fitted to everyone’s taste.

    #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.

    #4838
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “You forget, Agent X, I have lived on *Tifi my whole life. It is most certainly not a local tradition to wear a beanie with a wooden top. Now, tell me? What’s really going on?”

    Agent X leaned on the mangled bicycle and stared silently at V. “It’s good to see you. I’d forgotten how hot you are when you are being assertive,” he said at last.

    • The locals call the island Tifi.
    #4820
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Hang on. I just saw a friend of mine,” said the driver, skidding to a stop. “You don’t mind, do ya?”

    Without waiting for an answer, he leaned over and opened the front passenger door.

    “Oy, Veranassessee! You wanna a lift somewhere?”

    “I’m out for the exercise. Thanks though. “ She waved them on.

    She’s a good sort,” said the driver, narrowly avoiding a large pot hole. “Bloody roads are a disgrace. She’s been on the island for years. Since the upset.”

    “What upset was that?” Asked Maeve, raising questioning eyebrows at Shawn-Paul.

    The driver turned round and looked at them in the back seat. “I’ve probably said more than I should but …. “

    “Watch out!” shouted Shawn-Paul.

    #4800
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Ed Steam had called for a strategic team meeting this morning.
    He looked at his pocket watch. It was only a queerter to thriety, which meant they were all late, as usual. True that time was notoriously difficult to read in these alternate dimensions, but this particular dimension had been fairly stable since Bea was taking her homeopathic pills, keeping her sneezing fits under control, and all their identities rather clear.

    The next mission required a two pronged approach, with one part of the action on the Pacific Island where another doll was to be revealed, and the other at the Doctor’s lair.

    The Australian tunnels were still under observation, in case the murlocks that were crawling there would be awoken by the blunderous adventurers that had gone investigating.

    Frooteen past thriety. They wouldn’t come now. He probably shouldn’t have left the organization of the meeting to Aqua Luna.

    He looked at the next item on his agenda. “Interdimensional call to Miss Bossy.”

    True, he had to get her update on her investigation into the Doctor’s history. That would surely reveal clues as to his current whereabouts.

    #4788
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Tikfijikoo? I’ve never heard of an island called Tikfijikoo…” Shawn-Paul said once they were seated in the airplane.

    “Really?” Maeve was surprised. “My childhood was full of stories that happened in that island.”
    She was distracted though. She was sure she’d seen the man in black follow them through the customs and sneak into the plane. She had a doubt though, how could he have followed, the planed seemed so completely packed, she even wondered how Fergus had managed to get them tickets during what was surely peak season.

    It’s probably all in your mind… she said to herself.

    “What did you say?” Shawn-Paul inquired, fingers full of salt and a grin on his face after a violent struggle with the little bag of roasted pistachios the attendant had given him.

    “I said, you better rest. The trip is long, and you won’t sleep much in the next plane to the island. It’s not going to be a big and comfy plane, I can tell you.”

    #4570
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Liz felt someone tug at her almost transparent pink silk gown. She tried to ignore it as she worked hard to recall the young woman’s name, she had it on the tip of her tongue.

    The tug got stronger and Liz feared that whomever was doing it they were going to tore her silk veil. She turned around, her irritation colouring her high cheekbones with a nice tint of pink and gasped.
    “What I do with the spiders,” asked a small woman with dark skin and wearing a rainbow sari. “They’re so big big, and SOOOO hungry. They’re going to eat the guests only.”

    Liz shook her head, seeing the curls of her newly acquired blond wig bounce about her face. She looked at the cocktail. What did Roberto said was in those? she wondered.

    “What spiders?” she asked. The maid pointed behind Liz with her chin. When Liz looked she almost dropped her glass. A swarm of colourful giant jumping spiders were running and jumping near the swimming pool, frightening the human guests, while Roberto was riding one of them in his sparkling cowboy costume, laughing like a teenager.
    “So?” asked the maid insistently. “What I do?”
    Liz was confused.
    “Why are they here?” she asked, “I don’t understand. Where’s Godfrey?”

    “They are the daughters and sons of Narani from the giant spiders island,” said a man with a beard in a WWII uniform. A ghost dog barked silently at his feet.

    “Of course,” Liz said. But it was too much for her and she gulped, all at once, the remaining fifteen jewels of condensed information floating in her cocktail. She shoved the glass in the maid’s hands and said: “Bring me another,” before she collapsed under the afflux of so much knowledge.

    #4166
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    One of the best things about going away is the pleasure of coming home. Never in a million years would I expect to miss dust, or overflowing ashtrays, but it was so good to see that familiar layer of dust all over everything.

    I cut Maters grumbling short and lugged my case up to my bedroom, calling “Jet lag, speak later” over my shoulder. What was she on about anyway, two more twins from the past? It rings a bell, but I’ll think about that later. I hope she’s preparing a bit of dinner, some of that food in Iceland was ghastly, especially if you’re not a fishy sort of person.

    Now all I want to do is get out of these clothes and into an old tattered T shirt ~ the oldest favourite, the black faded to greenish grey ~ and sprawl back on my bed smoking. Dropping ash on the bed cover watching the smoke and dust motes dancing in the shaft of warm sunlight. Stretching my limbs out unencumbered with layers of clothing and feeling the air on my skin.

    Iceland is very nice in many ways, I took hundreds of photographs of the scenery and all, but shivering outside while quickly sucking down a lungful, or leaning out of an open window in the arctic blasts is not my idea of a relaxing holiday. Not that I went there to relax I suppose, which is just as well, because it wasn’t the least bit relaxing.

    I drifted off to sleep, contentedly gazing at the stains on the ceiling that looked like maps of other worlds, vaguely recalling some of the names I’d made up for the islands and continents over the years, and woke up later dreaming of Fred, of all people. For a minute when I woke up I could have sworn he was standing right there next to my bed, watching me sleep. I blinked, trying to focus, and he was gone.

    #4125
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Corrie:

    I’m getting a bit worried about Aunt Idle, she’s been in Iceland ages and we haven’t heard from her, and nothing on her blog for ages, either. When I found this, I did a bit of research into the Bronklehampton case. That’s another story.

    Aunt Idle was going to visit her old friend Margit Brynjúlfursdóttir. It was all very hush hush: Margit had intimated that there was to be a family reunion, but it was to be a surprise party, and she mustn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. Margit had sent her the tickets to Keflavik, instructing her to inform her family and friends that she had won the trip in a story writing competition.

    It was Idle’s first trip to Iceland. She had met Margit in a beach bar near Cairns some years ago, just after the scandalous expose on the goings on of a mad doctor on a remote south Pacific island. The Icelandic woman had been drowning her sorrows, and Idle had been a shoulder to cry on. The age old story of a wayward son, a brilliant mind, so full of potential, victim of a conniving nurse , and now sadly incarcerated on the wrong side of the law.

    Aunt Idle didn’t immediately make a connection between the name Brynjúlfursdóttir and Bronklehampton, indeed it would have been impossible to do so using conventional means, Icelandic naming laws and traditions being what they were. But the intuitive Idle had made a connection notwithstanding. The maudlin woman in the beach bar was clearly the mad doctors mother.

    Idle had invited Margit to come and stay at the Flying Fish Inn for a few weeks before returning to Iceland, a visit which turned out to last almost a year. Over the months, Margit confided in her new friend Idle. Nobody back home in Iceland knew that the doctor in the lurid headlines was her son, and Margit wanted to keep it that way, but it was a relief to be able to talk about it to someone. Idle wasn’t all that sure that Margit was fully in the picture regarding the depths to which the fruit of her loins had sunk, but she witnessed the womans outpourings with tact and compassion and they became good friends.

    The fasten your seatbelts sign flashed and pinged. The landing at Keflavik was going to be on time.”

    ~~~

    ““I wish you’d told me about the 60’s fancy dress party, Margit, I’d have brought an outfit with me,” said Idle.

    Margit looked at her friend quizzically. “What makes you think there’s a fancy dress party?”

    “Why, all the beehive hair do’s! It’s the only explanation I could think of. If it’s not a 60’s party, then why…..?”

    Idle noticed Margit eyeing her long grey dreadlocks distastefully. Self consciously she flung them over her shoulder, inopportunely landing the end of one of them in a plate of some foul substance the passing waiter was carrying.

    Margit jumped at the chance. “Darling, how horrid! All that rams bottom sauce all over your hair! Do try the coconut shampoo I put in your bathroom.””

    ~~~

    And that was the last I’d heard from Aunt Idle.

    #4116

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    job seems try getting second
    certain dream leaving mean
    sat quiet wondering run thread
    island door common
    continued self leader concrete

    #4095

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    AvatarJib
    Participant

    roberto rubbish tell
    beginning package close hotel island
    character work wondering answer
    start bar
    latest business told idle call bossy play

    #4073

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    situation talking
    certain food
    themselves short paper comment
    nor missed island night self stopped working
    lead concrete character help thinking ask

    #4072
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle was going to visit her old friend Margit Brynjúlfursdóttir. It was all very hush hush: Margit had intimated that there was to be a family reunion, but it was to be a surprise party, and she mustn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. Margit had sent her the tickets to Keflavik, instructing her to inform her family and friends that she had won the trip in a story writing competition.

    It was Idle’s first trip to Iceland. She had met Margit in a beach bar near Cairns some years ago, just after the scandalous expose on the goings on of a mad doctor on a remote south Pacific island. The Icelandic woman had been drowning her sorrows, and Idle had been a shoulder to cry on. The age old story of a wayward son, a brilliant mind, so full of potential, victim of a conniving nurse , and now sadly incarcerated on the wrong side of the law.

    Aunt Idle didn’t immediately make a connection between the name Brynjúlfursdóttir and Bronklehampton, indeed it would have been impossible to do so using conventional means, Icelandic naming laws and traditions being what they were. But the intuitive Idle had made a connection notwithstanding. The maudlin woman in the beach bar was clearly the mad doctors mother.

    Idle had invited Margit to come and stay at the Flying Fish Inn for a few weeks before returning to Iceland, a visit which turned out to last almost a year. Over the months, Margit confided in her new friend Idle. Nobody back home in Iceland knew that the doctor in the lurid headlines was her son, and Margit wanted to keep it that way, but it was a relief to be able to talk about it to someone. Idle wasn’t all that sure that Margit was fully in the picture regarding the depths to which the fruit of her loins had sunk, but she witnessed the womans outpourings with tact and compassion and they became good friends.

    The fasten your seatbelts sign flashed and pinged. The landing at Keflavik was going to be on time.

    #4071
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Thanks,” said Bossy taking her cup of tea.

    “So, tell me more about this evil fruit-loop doctor,” said Ricardo with an encouraging smile.

    Bossy looked intently at him. “It’s no joke,” she admonished him sharply.

    “Oh, no. No, of course not. I mean, yeah, I really want to know. It all sounds very … intriguing. And sort of creepy, to be honest. But definitely not a joke.”

    Bossy relented and gestured imperatively for Ricardo to be seated.

    The doctor could best be described as a mad genius. He believed he had found the answer to looking eternally youthful but didn’t want to go through the time and expense of clinical trials through the normal channels. So he set up a testing laboratory on a small and relatively unknown Pacific Island. Tifikijoo, I believe it was called.”

    “Uh huh. Actually I do vaguely remember something about that story.”

    “We got the story first,” Bossie said proudly, “but there was a media ban on publishing some of the information, unfortunately. The Doctor managed to get funding for his tests through an undercover organisation whose hidden agenda was to hide an ancient crystal skull while at the same time providing them with a facility where they could continue their own secret testing into spider genomes. I can’t tell you too much about that — it was all hush hush. So, you wouldn’t have read about that in the news, I bet,” she added with a smug smile.

    “Uh, no,” answered Ricardo, privately wondering if Bossy was the mad one. It was all starting to feel a bit surreal to him.

    “Did the doctor know about the skull stuff?”

    “No, the doctor was genuinely only interested in preserving beauty. Unfortunately, to this end, he killed one of his first guinea pigs. And tried to disguise his crime by mummifying the body. That’s when it all began to implode on him.”

    “What happened to him?”

    “He had some good lawyers and was found not competent to stand trial on the grounds of insanity. And the fact that all his clients had signed liability waivers helped a bit. He was sent to a high security psychiatric institution but managed to escape by reverting to his female identity—he was transsexual—and hiding in a laundry trolley.

    The doctor hated the way he was portrayed in the media and most of his venom was focused on our people. We had a guy working with us then, John Smith, and he covered the story with Connie. They got the brunt of the hate emails. John nearly had a nervous breakdown with the stress of it and moved to the country. Pity, he was a good writer.”

    “So what makes you think Santa Claus and the doctor are one and the same?”

    “Call it a very strong hunch. The Doctor was born in Iceland and had strong family ties there. And now I fear he has lured Connie and Sophie there in order to exact his evil revenge!”

    #4069
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Where the devil is everyone?”

    Miss Bossy Pants looked around the empty office with a mixture of disappointment and confusion. She had been anticipating the surprised looks on her colleagues’ faces at her unannounced return —she had no illusions about her popularity and knew better than to expect a joyous reunion—but the room was disconcertingly empty.

    Hearing the door behind her, she spun around in relief. It was the new guy, Prout, carrying a brown paper bag and a take out coffee.

    “Hello!” he said, hoping he did not sound as awkward as he felt and wondering if he could back out the door again. He had only met Bossy a couple of times and found her bluntness disconcerting. Terrifying, even. There was no reply, so, taking a sip of his steaming coffee, he bravely persevered.

    “Welcome back. How are you feeling?”

    “Are you the only one here? Where is everyone?” snapped Bossy Pants.

    Ricardo took a deep breath and focused on a wilted pot plant on the window ledge.

    God, I hope I don’t start rambling.

    Connie and the temp, Sophie, went to Iceland … something about following a lead from Santa Claus and I’ve not heard from them since. And Hilda … I don’t know where Hilda went to be honest. She emailed me a few days ago wanting to know what to feed Orangutans.”

    Bossy had paled. She seemed to shudder slightly and put out a hand to steady herself on a nearby desk.

    “They eat mostly fruit,” he continued, “but other stuff too of course. Insects and flowers and stuff like that. Honey I think, if they can find it I guess, and bark. And leaves. Mostly fruit though.”

    That’s probably enough about the Orangutans. She is clearly not into it.

    “I got a bit held up actually; there is a young boy outside drawing maps. Quite young … youngish. I am not sure how old really but he was little.They are bloody good too—there is quite a crowd out there watching him draw.”

    “Iceland,” whispered Bossy, her face a deathly white colour.

    “Yeah, Iceland. Keflavik … Miss Bossy, are you sure you are well enough to be back? You don’t look so good. I mean, you look good … attractive of course … I don’t mean you look bad or anything but you do look sort of pale. Are you okay?”

    “Santa Claus.” Bossy sat down slowly.

    “Yeah … I know, a bit crazy, right? They seemed to think it was a really hot lead.”

    “Stupid idiots; the lead wasn’t from Santa Claus— I will bet my life that it was from that depraved scoundrel, Dr Bronkelhampton! I heard through the grapevine he had gone to Iceland with a new identity after the Island fiasco destroyed his reputation—we covered the story at the time and it was huge—and now he is clearly after revenge. Dear God, what have they got themselves into?”

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