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  • #6312

    In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    When she’d heard of the miracle happening at the Flovlinden Tree, Egna initially shrugged it off as another conman’s attempt at fooling the crowds.

    “No, it’s real, my Auntie saw it.”

    “Stop fretting” she’d told the little girl, as she was carefully removing the lice from her hair. “This is just someone’s idea of a smart joke. Don’t get fooled, you’re smarter than this.”

    She sure wasn’t responsible for that one. If that were a true miracle, she would have known. The little calf next week being resuscitated after being dead a few minutes, well, that was her. Shame nobody was even there to notice. Most of the best miracles go about this way anyway.

    So, after having lived close to a millennia in relatively rock solid health and with surprisingly unaging looks, Egna had thought she’d seen it all; at least last time the tree started to ooze sacred oil, it didn’t last for too long, people’s greed starting to sell it stopped it right in its tracks.

    But maybe there was more to it this time. Egna’d often wondered why God had let her live that long. She was a useful instrument to Her for sure, but living in secrecy, claiming no ownership, most miracles were just facts of life. She somehow failed to see the point, even after 957 years of existence.

    The little girl had left to go back to her nearby town. This side of the country was still quite safe from all the craziness. Egna knew well most of the branches of the ancestral trees leading to that particular little leaf. This one had probably no idea she shared a common ancestor with President Voldomeer, but Egna remembered the fellow. He was a clogmaker in the turn of the 18th century, as was his father before. That was until a rather unexpected turn of events precipitated him to a different path as his brother.

    She had a book full of these records, as she’d tracked the lives of many, to keep them alive, and maybe remind people they all share so much in common. That is, if people were able to remember more than 2 generations before them.

    “Well, that’s set.” she said to herself and to Her as She’s always listening “I’ll go and see for myself.”
    her trusty old musty cloak at the door seemed to have been begging for the journey.

    #6267
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued part 8

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Morogoro 20th January 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 30th July 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 26th August 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 25th December 1941

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro Hospital 30th September 1943

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 26th January 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 20th March 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 15th May 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 18th July 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 16th August 1944

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

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

    Dearest Mummy,

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Safari in Masailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lyamungu 10th November. 1944

    Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love,
    Eleanor.

     

    #6262
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued  ~ part 3

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

    your loving but anxious,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Who would be a mother!
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    With love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

    With love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Your very loving,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    With love to all,
    Eleanor.

    #6260
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love my dear,
    your jubilant
    Eleanor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Bless you all,
    Eleanor.

    S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor Leslie.

    Eleanor and George Rushby:

    Eleanor and George Rushby

    Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your cave woman
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love to you all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your loving
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mbeya 23rd December 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    26th December 1930

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your loving,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

    Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    #6241
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Kidsley Grange Farm and The Quakers Next Door

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

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

    The farm before it was turned into a nursing home:

    Kidsley Grange Farm

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

    Smalley Farms

     

    In Kerry’s History of Smalley:

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

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

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

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

    Elizabeth Davy, June 6th, 1863, Derby.

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

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

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

     

    #6202
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    While Finnley was making the tea, Liz consulted the Possibe L’Oracle for a reading. It said:

    “We are the collective of the Ancient Draigh’Ones, we greet you and your queries, Liz.

     Well, well. Looking at the concepts you brought up in your last offering to this story thread, we couldn’t really pick up what your energy was trying to express.
    Forgive us, humans still elude us at times. 

     We must withhold points for continuity {audible snort} though, as it feels it needs to gather more support from your fellow companions {snort} for now. But who knows, you may just be a pioneer. Go on trailblazing Liz!

     Psst. We’ll give you a hint, here are some trending concepts here you may want to check out for yourself.”

    Perplexa the robot provided her typically superfluous additional information, with baffling lists of numbers, but Liz noted the many mentions of cleanliness and cleaning implements, and wondered why that hadn’t manifested into a marvelously clean house.

    Leaf (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6198, 2 days ago
    Cleanliness (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6200, 22 hours ago
    The Glow (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6200, 22 hours ago
    The Edge (1 ), with mentions by Tracy (1) — last seen in  #6199, 2 days ago
    Cleaning tools (1 ), with mentions by Tracy (1) — last seen in  #6199, 2 days ago
    Brush (1 ), with mentions by Tracy (1) — last seen in  #6199, 2 days ago
    Jeffrey Combs (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6198, 2 days ago
    The Times (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6198, 2 days ago
    Drama (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6198, 2 days ago
    Fern (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6198, 2 days ago
    Time (1 ), with mentions by Flove (1) — last seen in  #6198, 2 days ago

    #6199
    TracyTracy
    Participant

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

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

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

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

    #6198
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “You were listening, Finnley!” said Liz barely able to hide her surprise. It had been a long time since anyone had listened to her. Godfrey said it was because she mostly talked nonsense. He’d smiled kindly and handed her a doughnut to soften the harsh words, but it had stung nonetheless.

    Finnley rolled her eyes. “I told you already, I’ve turned over a new leaf. Since my brush with … ” She lowered her voice dramatically as her eyes slid around the room. “… death.”

    “Death! Oh, you really are ridiculous and very dramatic, Finnley. And why are you squinting like that? It’s most unattractive.” Liz paused. Should she mention the hair? Finnley could be so sensitive about her appearance. Oh dear lord, now the silly girl is crying!

    “I’m sorry, Madam. I’m sorry for all the times I haven’t listened to you in your numerous times of need.” Finnley gasped for air through her sobs as Liz flung a philodendron leaf at her.

    “Speaking of leaves, you can wipe your nose with that. Now, Finnley, I always say, it does no good to cry over milk which has been spilled. The question is, where to from here?”

    #6159
    TracyTracy
    Participant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #6071

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Listen” said Gabe, the cult leader. “How long have you been Gourd level? One year?”

    The other nodded.

    “See Gavin, I think you’re ready to go Operating Tomathetan.”

    Gavin gulped. “But, but… are you sure about such a leap? And… what about…”

    “Oh, don’t worry about him, the yielding of his crops has been written, and it’s not good. Better look toward the future Gavin. And let me ask you something, don’t you think about the future?”

    When the Great Leader Undisputed Gabe had spoken, it was customary to bow and continue listen, in case he wasn’t finished.

    “Is there anything more I can do you for, oh GLUG?”

    “Sure. Get me your proposal for the new organization of the crops. No rush. Tomorrow will be fine.”

    “Your great leaderness is too bountiful.”

    “Of course. Now scram, I have rituals to attend to.” And with that, Great Leader Undisputed Gabe made a hasty retreat into the inner sanctum with his favourite vestal priestess of the moment.

    :fleuron:

    Gavin was flummoxed. It had all been foretold by the heretic Basil. He wondered, should he consult him? The weight of this sudden assignment felt heavy on his shoulders. He wondered how he could solve the mountain of problems that had accumulated like horse shit on a pile of manure.

    :fleuron:

    “You’ll see, it’s all connected.” Star signaled Tara when they were ushered into the inner sanctum. “I’m sure all the trail of clues have led to this for a reason. Have I told you about my theories about multiple timelines and probable selves? Maybe the Vince who called us called us from a different probability…”

    “You probably right, but that nurse outfit is really too tight.” Tara wiggled impatiently on her chair.

    “AH! There you are!” a manly voice behind them. “Welcome, welcome, young fresh divine sprouts.”

    “Did he call us prouts?” Tara almost tittered. “Sshtt” Star elbowed her.

    Gabe took a while to observe them, then made a face. “Not the freshest batch I had, I must admit, but that should do.”

    He clapped his hands, and a woman entered. “Get those two well anointed, and prepared in the art of leafing.”

    Tara and Star looked at each other with an air of utter incomprehension on their faces, but decided unanimously to just go with the flow. Who knows, if all was indeed connected, it would probably bring them one step closer to Uncle Basil and the solving of mysterious comatose Vince.

    #5822
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The evening helper said she was very sorry to tell me that my niece wouldn’t be able to make it this week, as she’d been on holiday and got quarantined.  You needn’t be sorry about that, I told her, I don’t know who she is anyway.  Not that I’m ungrateful, it’s very kind of her to come and visit me.  She tells me all about people I’ve never heard of, and I pretend to take an interest. I’m polite you see, brought up that way.

    Then she said, you’ll have to go easy on the toilet paper, it’s all sold out. Panic buying, she said.

    That’s what happens when people start shitting themselves with fear, I said, and she tutted at me as if I was a seven year old, the cheeky young whippersnapper.  And how shall I go easy on it, shall I crap outside behind the flat topped bushes under my window? Wipe my arse on a leaf?

    Don’t be daft, you’d fall over, she replied crisply. She had a point.  My hip’s still playing me up, so my plans to escape are on hold. Not much point in it with all this quarantine nonsense going on anyway.   I might get rounded up and put in a tent by a faceless moron in a hazmat suit.  I must say the plague doctors outfits were much more stylish.  And there was no panic buying of loo rolls in those days either.

    I don’t know what the world’s coming to. A handful of people with a cough and everyone loses their minds.  Then again, when the plague came, everyone lost their minds too. Not over toilet paper though.  We didn’t start losing our minds until the carts started rolling past every night full of the bodies.  No paper masks in those days either, we wound scarves around our faces because of the stench.

    The worst thing was being locked in the house when the kitchen maid came down with it.  All of us, all of the nine children, my wife and her mother, the cook and the maids, all of us untouched, all but that one kitchen maid.  If only they’d taken her away, the rest of us might not have perished.  Not having enough food did us in, we were weakened with starvation. Shut in the house for weeks, with no escape.  Nothing to do but feast on the fears, like a smothering cloud. Like as not, we just gave up, and said, plague, carry me off, I can bear no more. I know after the youngest 6 children and the oldest boy died, I had no will to live.  I died before the wife did and felt a bit guilty about that, leaving her to face the rest of it alone.  She wasn’t happy about that, and who can blame her.

    One thing for sure, it wasn’t running out of blasted toilet paper that was worrying me.

    #5659
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “You know, I wasn’t initially fond of this idea, GodfreyElizabeth said, while looking at Roberto doing the dishes. A bit unusual of her to spend time in the kitchen, probably her least favourite room in the house, but she was keen to revise her judgment as the view was never as entertaining.

    Godfrey was finishing a goblet full of cashews while leafing through the “Plot like it’s hot” new book from the publishing house that Bronkel had sent autographed and dedicated to Liz “without whom this book may have never seen the light of day”.

    Godfrey, are you listening to me? You can’t be distracted when I talk to you, I may say something important, and don’t count on me to remember it afterwards. Besides, what’s with the cashews anyway?”

    “Oh, I read they’re good natural anti-depressant… Anyway, you were saying?”

    “You see, like I just said, you made me lose my stream of thought! And no… the view is for nothing in that.” She winked at Roberto who was blissfully unaware of the attention. “Yes! I was saying. About that idea to write Finnley in the new novel. Completely rash, if you’ve had asked before. But now I see the benefit. At least some of it.”

    “Wait, what?”

    “Why are you never paying attention?”

    “No, no, I heard you. But I never… wait a minute.” The pushy ghostwriting ghostediting, and most probably ghostcleaning maid (though never actually seen a proof of that last one) had surely taken some new brazen initiative. Well, at least Liz wasn’t taking it too badly. There maybe even was a good possibility she was trying hard to stay on continuity track about it. Godfrey continued “Benefit, you said?”

    “Yes, don’t make me repeat myself, I’ll sound like a daft old person if ever a biopic is made of me, which by the way according to Bronkel is quite a probability. He’s heard it from a screenwriter friend of his, although his speciality is on more racy things, but don’t get me carried away. The benefit you see, and I’ve been reading Bronkel’s stupid book, yes. The benefit is… it moves the plot forward, with ‘but therefore’ instead of ‘and then’. It adds a bit of spice, if you get what I mean. Adds beats into the story. Might be useful for my next whydunit.”

    Godfrey was finding her indeed lingering a tad too obviously on the ‘but‘ and their beats, but abstained from saying anything, and nodded silently, his mouth full of the last of the cashews.

    Liz pursed her lips “Well, all this literature theory is a great deal of nonsense, you know my stance on it; I made my success without a shred of it…”

    “Maybe you’re a natural” Godfrey ventured.

    “Maybe… but then, they’ve got some points, although none as profound as Lemone’s. His last one got me pondering: finckleways is not a way in, delete it or it’ll get you locked out; only flove exists now. “

    #4811
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    A red leaf fell on the nose of the biggest gargoyle and Fox stopped his rehearsal. It had been exhausting and he didn’t remember why on earth he was doing that. He also didn’t remember how long he had been speaking in front of the Gargoyles, maybe he drank the wrong potion in the morning. Glynis had given him a potion especially made for him to calm his anxiety and help him solve a few energy blockages from childhood, or in his case, cubhood.

    One of the baby snoots giggled behind the back of the shrieking gargoyle.
    “You don’t mess with me, little…” He found himself lacking the creativity to find any insult the could understand. It was no use cursing the little rainbow creatures, they didn’t seem to care. Fox suspected it was not because of a lack of intelligence but simply because they didn’t view life, or anything, as a problem. He took note that he should get some inspiration from that.

    “What were you doing, uncle Fox?” asked Olliver.
    Fox opened his eyes wide. The boy seemed taller everyday and Fox had to look up to actually meet his eyes.
    “Will you never stop to grow?” he asked with a little resentment.
    “Well…” the boy started with his breaking voice.
    “Where were you,” asked Fox. “I thought you had left with Rukshan.” In a way Fox was relieved that it was not the case and it soothed a little the pain caused by the sudden departure of the Fae.

    “Oh! Teleporting here and there,” said the boy, considering adding some semi-truth about going to school.
    An idea sprouted in Fox’s mind. It was too tiny for him to know what it was but his unconscious mind was already working about a plan to catch up with Rukshan, connecting the bits and pieces left by the Fae in his tales to the children and his innocuous comments.
    “What do you think about… having some dinner,” he said not yet able to formulate in his imagination that he could even go on an adventure with Olliver.

    #4648
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Beetroot, you mean?” asked Roberto. “I thought you liked that shade of lippy! “
    “I am not talking about lunch, you fool! And don’t ever call me a hippy again. It brings back such awful recollections of my fourth husband, Buzz Peaceleaf.”
    “Rude tart,” said Finnley.
    What did you say, Finnley?”
    “I asked if you’d like to take a look at the food cart.” Finnley smile benignly. “Olexa has been hiding it under her kitchen towel.”

    #4378
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “The mansion to yourself?” snorted Liz. “You, Godfrey, will be going on ahead to make sure everything is ready for us. We’d like a nice leafy garden and a balcony, and do make sure we have a really good cook.”

    “And we want first class tickets,” added Finnley. “Because we are worth it,” she added defiantly, noticing the various raised eyebrows. “I’ll go and find Roberto then shall I?”

    “That’s a very good question, Finnley. Where the devil is he anyway? Godfrey, perhaps you should go and find him, and lay the law down a bit about wandering off the thread while on duty.”

    “Funnily enough,” said Godfrey, clearing his throat, “Roberto appears to have fetched up in Mumbai. He was spotted a few days ago chasing chickens and trying to stuff them into a story thread. I was, ahem, going to mention it…”

    Liz was just about to start complaining about always being the last to know what was going on, when a thought struck her about how marvelously fortuitous it was that she wanted Godfrey to go on ahead to India, and to also look for Roberto ~ who was conveniently in India!

    #4334
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    While the others were posturing and staring at each other threateningly like a pack of territorial stray dogs, Roberto inched closer to the mysterious sack. Something had started to protrude through a ragged hole in the side of the hessian weave. With a surreptitious glance at the others, who were still glaring at each other ~ with the exception of Godfrey who was still eyeing the lone peanut ~ he took another step closer. He bent down, ostensibly to flick a bit of mud from his trouser knee, and peered at the thing poking out of the sack.

    “Why, it’s a tiny furled leaf!” he gasped. “It’s sprouting!” Like a sack of old potatoes left to rot in a damp corner, forgotten and discarded, a pale shoot was striking out in search of light.

    Roberto held back when Liz demanded that Finnley lead her to the attic forthwith, followed by the Inspector. Godfrey shuffled along after them, picking up the stray peanut and popping it into his mouth. As soon as the gardener heard their footsteps creaking on the first floor landing, he made his move. There was life in that sack and he was going to give it the chance to thrive, to grow and blossom.

    He knew just where to plant it. It would take some time to reach that place, but he knew what he must do.

    Roberto set off for The Enchanted Woods, with a determined smile and a spring in his step. He was going to save the characters and grow them himself, nurture them all back to life.

    #4306
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The drizzle wasn’t meant to last. At least that’s what the smell in the air was telling Fox. With the night it was getting colder and the drizzle would soon turn into small ice crystals, and maybe worse.
    “We should get going,” Fox said, enjoying the last pieces of rabbit stew. The dwarf had been busy looking around in the leafless bushes and behind the tree trunks. He had been silent the whole time and Fox was beginning to worry.
    “What have you been doing anyway?” he asked. “Are you hunting? You can still have a piece of that stew before I swallow it.” He handed his bowl toward the dwarf, who grumpfed without looking at Fox.
    “I don’t eat. I’m a stone dwarf. I think I get recharged by daylight.”
    Gorash kept on looking around very intently.
    “We should get going,” repeated Fox. The weather is going to be worse.
    “Grmpf. I don’t care. I’m made to stay outside. I’m a stone statue.”
    “Well even stone gets cracked with the help of ice when temperature drops below zero. How am I supposed to carry you if you fall into pieces,” said Fox. He thought his idea rather cunning, but he had no idea if Gorash would be affected by the bad weather or not, since he was not really like stone during the night.

    “And what are you looking for? It’s winter, there’s not much of anything behind those naked bushes.”
    “It’s Easter. You had your rabbit. I want my eggs,” said the dwarf.
    “Oh.” Fox was speechless for a few moments. He too had been thinking of the colourful eggs of the dwarf’s friend they had left in the witch’s garden. He wondered what had happened to it? Gorash had been gloomier and gloomier since they had left the garden and Fox didn’t understand why. He had thought his friend happy to go on a quest and see the outside world. But something was missing, and now Fox realised what it was.

    He didn’t really know what to say to comfort the dwarf, so he said nothing. Instead he thought about the strange seasonal pattern shifts. If it was Easter then it should be spring time, but the temperatures were still a havoc. And the trees had no leaves in that part of the forest. Fox remembered the clock tower of the city had had some problems functioning recently, maybe it was all connected. The problems with the bad smell around the city, the nonsensical seasonal changes and that gloomy quest… maybe it was all connected.

    Fox gulped the last pieces of rabbit stew without enjoying it. He licked the inside of the bowl and put it in his backpack without further cleaning. He had suddenly realised that it was not much use to ask Gorash’s permission to leave as Fox was doing all the walk during the day anyway. So he could as well do it at night. He didn’t have as much difficulties to put out the fire as he had lighting it up. He cleaned the place as much as he could and then looked around him. The night was dark, the drizzle had turned into small snow flakes. Fox smelled the air. It would soon turn into bigger flakes. The dwarf could stay outside if he wanted, but Fox needed to move. Let him follow if he wants to.

    #4219
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    As the crow flies, Glenville is about 100 miles from the Forest of Enchantment.

    “What a pretty town!” tourists to the area would exclaim, delighted by the tree lined streets and quaint houses with thatched roofs and brightly painted exteriors. They didn’t see the dark underside which rippled just below the surface of this exuberant facade. If they stayed for more than a few days, sure enough, they would begin to sense it. “Time to move on, perhaps,” they would say uneasily, although unsure exactly why and often putting it down to their own restless natures.

    Glynis Cotfield was born in one of these houses. Number 4 Leafy Lane. Number 4 had a thatched roof and was painted a vibrant shade of yellow. There were purple trims around each window and a flower box either side of the front door containing orange flowers which each spring escaped their confines to sprawl triumphantly down the side of the house.

    Her father, Kevin Cotfield, was a bespectacled clerk who worked in an office at the local council. He was responsible for building permits and making sure people adhered to very strict requirements to ‘protect the special and unique character of Glenville’.

    And her mother, Annelie … well, her mother was a witch. Annelie Cotfield came from a long line of witches and she had 3 siblings, all of whom practised the magical arts in some form or other.

    Uncle Brettwick could make fire leap from any part of his body. Once, he told Glynis she could put her hand in the fire and it wouldn’t hurt her. Tentatively she did. To her amazement the fire was cold; it felt like the air on a frosty winter’s day. She knew he could also make the fire burning hot, if he wanted. Some people were a little scared of her Uncle Brettwick and there were occasions—such as when Lucy Dickwit told everyone at school they should spit at Glynis because she came from an ‘evil witch family’—when she used this to her advantage.

    “Yes, and I will tell my Uncle to come and burn down your stinking house if you don’t shut your stinking stupid mouth!” she said menacingly, sticking her face close to Lucy’s face. “And give me your bracelet,” she added as an after thought. It had worked. She got her peace and she got the bracelet.

    Aunt Janelle could move objects with her mind. She set up a stall in the local market and visitors to the town would give her money to watch their trinkets move. “Lay it on the table”, she would command them imperiously. “See, I place my hands very far from your coin. I do not touch it. See?” Glynis would giggle because Aunt Janelle put on a funny accent and wore lots of garish makeup and would glare ferociously at the tourists.

    But Aunt Bethell was Glynis’s favourite—she made magic with stories. “I am the Mistress of Illusions,” she would tell people proudly. When Glynis was little, Aunt Bethell would create whole stories for her entertainment. When Glynis tried to touch the story characters, her hand would go right through them. And Aunt Bethell didn’t even have to be in the same room as Glynis to send her a special magical story. Glynis adored Aunt Bethell.

    Her mother, Annelie, called herself a healer but others called her a witch. She concocted powerful healing potions using recipes from her ’Big Book of Spells’, a book which had belonged to Annelie’s mother and her mother before her. On the first page of the book, in spindly gold writing it said: ‘May we never forget our LOVE of Nature and the Wisdom of Ages’. When Glynis asked what the ‘Wisdom of Ages’ meant, her mother said it was a special knowing that came from the heart and from our connection with All That Is. She said Glynis had the Wisdom of Ages too and then she would ask Glynis to gather herbs from the garden for her potions. Glynis didn’t think she had any particular wisdom and wondered if it was a ploy on her mother’s part to get free labour. She obeyed grudgingly but drew the line at learning any spells. And on this matter her father sided with her. “Don’t fill her mind with all that hocus pocus stuff,” he would say grumpily.

    Despite this, the house was never empty; people came from all over to buy her mother’s potions and often to have their fortunes told as well. Mostly while her father was at work.

    Glynis’s best friend when she was growing up was Tomas. Tomas lived at number 6 Leafy Lane. They both knew instinctively they shared a special bond because Tomas’s father also practised magic. He was a sorcerer. Glynis was a bit scared of Tomas’s Dad who had a funny crooked walk and never spoke directly to her. “Tell your friend you must come home now, Tomas,” he would call over the fence.

    Being the son of a sorcerer, Tomas would also be a sorcerer. “It is my birthright,” he told her seriously one day. Glynis was impressed and wondered if Tomas had the Wisdom of Ages but it seemed a bit rude to ask in case he didn’t.

    When Tomas was 13, his father took him away to begin his sorcery apprenticeship. Sometimes he would be gone for days at a time. Tomas never talked about where he went or what he did there. But he started to change: always a quiet boy, he became increasingly dark and brooding.

    Glynis felt uneasy around this new Tomas and his growing possessiveness towards her. When Paul Ackleworthy asked her to the School Ball, Tomas was so jealous he broke Paul’s leg. Of course, nobody other than Glynis guessed it was Tomas who caused Paul’s bike to suddenly wobble so that he fell in the way of a passing car.

    “You could have fucking killed him!” she had shouted at Tomas.

    Tomas just shrugged. This was when she started to be afraid of him.

    One day he told her he was going for his final initiation into the ‘Sorcerer Fraternity’.

    “I have to go away for quite some time; I am not sure how long, but I want you to wait for me, Glynis.”

    “Wait for you?”

    He looked at her intensely. “It is destined for us to be together and you must promise you will be here for me when I get back.”

    Glynis searched for her childhood friend in his eyes but she could no longer find him there.

    “Look, Tomas, I don’t know,” she stuttered, wary of him, unwilling to tell the truth. “Maybe we shouldn’t make any arrangements like this … after all you might be away for a long time. You might meet someone else even …. some hot Sorceress,” she added, trying not to sound hopeful.

    Suddenly, Glynis found herself flying. A gust of wind from nowhere lifted her from her feet, spun her round and then held her suspended, as though trying to decide what to do next, before letting her go. She landed heavily at Tomas’s feet.

    “Ow!” she said angrily.

    “Promise me.”

    “Okay! I promise!” she said.

    Her mother’s face went white when Glynis told her what Tomas had done.

    That evening there was a gathering of Uncle Brettwick and the Aunts. There was much heated discussion which would cease abruptly when Glynis or her father entered the room. “Alright, dearie?” one of the Aunts would say, smiling way too brightly. And over the following days and weeks there was a flurry of magical activity at 4 Leafy Lane, all accompanied by fervent and hushed whisperings.

    Glynis knew they were trying to help her, and was grateful, but after the initial fear, she became defiant. “Who the hell did he think he was, anyway?” She left Glenville to study architecture at the prestigious College of Mugglebury. It was there she met Conway, who worked in the cafe where she stopped for coffee each morning on her way to class. They fell in love and moved in together, deciding that as soon as Glynis had graduated they would marry. It had been 4 years since she had last seen Tomas and he was now no more than a faint anxious fluttering in her chest.

    It was a Friday when she got the news that Conway had driven in the path of an oncoming truck and was killed instantly. She knew it was Friday because she was in the supermarket buying supplies for a party that weekend to celebrate her exams being over when she got the call. And it was the same day Tomas turned up at her house.

    And it was then she knew.

    “You murderer!” she had screamed through her tears. “Kill me too, if you want to. I will never love you.”

    “You’ve broken my heart,” he said. “And for that you must pay the price. If I can’t have you then I will make sure no-one else wants you either.”

    “You don’t have a heart to break,” she whispered.

    Dragon face,” Tomas hissed as he left.

    Glynis returned to Glenville just long enough to tell her family she was leaving again. “No, she didn’t know where,” she said, her heart feeling like stone. Her mother and her Aunts cried and begged her to reconsider. Her Uncle smouldered in silent fury and let off little puffs of smoke from his ears which he could not contain. Her father was simply bewildered and wanted to know what was all the fuss about and for crying out loud why was she wearing a burka?

    The day she left her mother gave her the ‘Book of Spells”. Glynis knew how precious this book was to her mother but could only think how heavy it would be to lug around with her on her journey.

    “Remember, Glynis,” her mother said as she hugged Glynis tightly to her, “the sorcerers have powerful magic but it is a mere drop in the ocean in comparison to the magic of All That Is. You have that great power within you and no sorcerer can take take that from you. You have the power to transform this into something beautiful.”

    #4096
    prUneprUne
    Participant

    I don’t know exactly when it struck me first. The passage of time.
    When you are young, it’s easy to miss it, some would say “you’re a child, you don’t know about such things”, and maybe they are right.

    In a few months, it will already be 2 years that we reopened the Inn. The results have been mixed, we haven’t gotten any richer, but it definitely helps pay the bills.

    It definitely helped to pay for Aunt Idle’s rehab, after her nervous breakdown last March. Well, rehab is a big word. We got professional help from some friend of Mater, Jiemba, who knows someone who knows someone.
    Of course, we had to package it nicely for Didle to take the bait. She would have none of that rehab thing of course. But she was sold at the first syllable of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Psychotria viridis leaf, well aya for short.

    After that, seems she wanted to travel to Iceland. Got to figure how she gets all that fancy money. Mater says it’s her sugar daddy lovers. Not Mater’s, you silly. Dido’s.
    Mater says that without any judgment, which is rare. She still calls her a tart and all sorts of nice things, but it’s like she’s proud that she made it in the world —or just that she slowed down on the gin bottle.

    Speaking of Mater, she hasn’t been so well. After she tried to grab some can of chicken broth from the shelves, she broke her hip bone. Of course she couldn’t stand staying at the hospital and got herself discharged as soon as her doctor looked the other way, but I can see she’s not completely healed. Finnly is doing her best with the circumstances, adding nursing to her housekeeping skills. And Bert’s been around to support with the inn maintenance.

    Well my twin sisters are another story altogether. They’ll be moving out, they said, live in the big city. They had no intention of going to college anyway. Seems they are looking for a full-time blogger job. I’m betting they’ll be back soon enough. Nothing beats Finnly’s mince pice and charbroiled spicy huhu skewers.

    It’s been a while I’ve seen Dev’. Always working at the gas station. Mater always says his lack of ambition will save him from trouble.

    So yes, time has passed. It’s funny how nobody else seems to notice.

    #4048
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Oh, there you are Hilda, can I have a word?”

    Hilda started guiltily at Connie’s voice, and pushed her teacup behind a stack of papers on her desk. Slurping down the last of the tea before making her way to the airport for the Boston flight, she hadn’t been able to resist looking into the dregs for a minute or two. What she’d seen had made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. But what was she to do about it? And now here was Connie, fidgeting in the doorway. Well, see what she wants first, Hilda told herself, and then decide.

    “Do you know anything about these?” asked Connie, thrusting the flight tickets in front of Hilda. “And what’s the background on the old crone, Sophie? I thought she was just a temp?”

    Hilda’s head was spinning. Should she say nothing, let Connie take the flight, and hope for the best? Or try and prevent her making the trip, just in case? How accurate was her tea leaf reading really? What if she had misinterpreted the signs? It could be too embarrassing. Better just hope for the best and say nothing.

    “Sorry Connie, must dash.” Hilda quickly gathered her things together and shoved them in the flight bag at her feet. Pushing past Connie she said, “Er, have a good trip!” and with a sickly smile she fled.

    When Hilda arrived at the airport an hour later, she made a snap decision to change her flight. Luckily there were a few seats left to Keflavik in Iceland. She really hadn’t fancied Boston and the crotch grabbers anyway. She wouldn’t tell the others she was already in Iceland, but at least she would be there to monitor events as they unfolded.

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