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      “What? What’s that you say? Do speak up, dear.  Not now Finnley! Can’t you see I’m on the phone? Now then dear,” Liz said into the telephone, “Have I got this right? He hasn’t seeen a doctor yet? What do you mean, there aren’t any, they must have some at the hospital? Only the youngest ones nobody wants and the very old ones?  A lousy hospital and the cardiologist isn’t very techy and doesn’t know what to do?  So Michael is a what did you say, a PA? Oh a physicians assistant. Wait a minute, have I got this right? The doctor only comes to the clinic twice a month?  So you can only see the PA?  But what about the difficulty breathing and the coughing,  I don’t know about in rural Arkansas, but in the rest of the world an 89 year old who’s been coughing so much for three weeks that he can hardly breathe is known as a medical emergency! But why are you waiting for diabetes and heart tests, surely he needs to breathe now and do the tests later? Couldn’t taste the Worcester sauce on his scrambled eggs, you say?”

      Finnley’s gentle hand appeared as if by magic and restrained Liz from pulling a third handful of hair out.

      “They’re going to fucking kill him, Finnley, and there’s nothing I can do.”

      “There never is, really, in situations like this.  Here, drink this. It’ll buck you up.”


        The trio entered the medical bay, Barney proudly perched on Salomé’s shoulder. Léonard was sitting on the edge of his bed in a blue hospital dress, looking around him, confused. He turned his head toward them and squinted.

        Georges?” he asked. “Salomé? Where…” He winced and slapped his forehead.

        “Are you ok?” asked Salomé, moving toward him.

        Léonard stretched his arm in front of him and Salomé felt her body pushed backward. Barney squeaked and the wave subsided.

        “I’m ok,” Léonard said a few seconds later, breathing with difficulties, “just a headache. Where…”

        Georges exchanged a look and a brief telepathic communication with Salomé. He had felt the wave too, and he was also feeling some kind of shield around his mind. It was different from all they had encountered before. They might have to fall back to the old ways.

        “We’re back on Duane,” he said with a cheerful tone, hoping it would help their friend relax. Léonard had explored this system extensively, and it was there he had introduced Georges and Salomé to the reality of multidimensional travels and Elemental magic. It was a place full of memories and Georges was looking closely at his friend’s face and at the same time prodding his mind. But Léonard’s face didn’t show any reaction and his mind appeared empty.

        “Actually, way back… in time,” Georges continued. “Jorid’s navigation array was gravely disturbed by this little creature… where is Barney?”

        A weak chirp came out of Salomé’s luscious raven black hair.

        “Come on, Barney,” she said, trying to take him out. “Come meet our friend Léonard.”

        The creature was trembling like a leaf and clinging to strands of her hair, clearly not wanting to leave his hiding place.

        “I think he likes your shampoo,” said Georges with a smirk. “Well, we just found this little sand Rin on Jorid’s hull, and the little culprit is generating interferences in the Boodenbaum quantum field. So until we find a way to neutralise whatever he’s doing, we’re stuck.”

        Léonard looked annoyed. He tried to stand up, but his legs wouldn’t support him and he fell back on the bed.

        “Why did the Zathu put you in that sand egg on Bluhm’Oxl?” asked Salomé, trying not to sound too concerned.

        Léonard opened his mouth and froze, looking surprised. He frowned.

        “I don’t recall,” he said.

        “What do you recall?”

        “I recall… receiving a tip from an old friend.”



        “Jorid, can you read us the message from his friend?” asked Georges with a smile, as if he had found a simple solution.

        “I can’t access the data,” said the ship. “Léonard deleted it, and the backups before he left.”

        Georges’ smile faded. He looked at Salomé. She was thinking the same thing he was thinking and nodded.

        “Why don’t we let you have some rest, you’ll join us for lunch when you’re dressed up and ready.”


          Chapter 4: There is no place like home

          A Visit to Duckailingtown

          The group arrives in the small city of Duckailingtown, known for its unusual name and the legendary wooden leg carpenter, Dumbass Voldomeer.
          Maryechka, is shown by Liliya and Lina the local museum where they learn about the famous wooden leg carpenter and the swan flu outbreak that left the President incapacitated.
          The group visits the workshop of Dumbass Voldomeer and they are shocked to find that he is the spitting image of the President.
          Dumbass Voldomeer tells them about his connection to the President and how he was approached to take his place as the President.
          The group learns about the Rootian border and the close relationship between Rootia and Dumbass, and the possibility of a future cross-border conflict.
          The group visits the swan sanctuary and learns about the mysterious swan flu virus that has affected the President and the citizens of Dumbass.
          The group makes a decision to continue their journey to Rootia to find a cure for the swan flu and save the President.

          Cross-border Conflict

          The group crosses the Rootian border and finds themselves in the midst of a conflict between Rootia and Dumbass.
          They meet with a Rootian diplomat who explains the conflict and the role of the President in resolving it.
          The group encounters Myroslava who is still being pursued by her pursuers and they team up to find a cure for the swan flu.
          They visit the Rootian medical facility where they meet with the chief medical officer who explains the research being done on the swan flu virus.
          The group travels to a remote location where they meet with Olek, the caretaker of the Flovlinden Tree, and learns about the sacred oil that is believed to have healing properties.
          The group collects the sacred oil and returns to the medical facility where they successfully cure the President and put an end to the conflict between Rootia and Dumbass.
          The group returns home, proud of their accomplishment and the newfound knowledge and experiences they have gained on their journey.

          A Homecoming Celebration

          The group returns home and is greeted with open arms by their families and friends.
          Maryechka, Liliya, and Lina visit Egna who is thrilled to hear about their journey and the success of their mission.
          The group shares their experiences and knowledge with their friends and families, and they all celebrate their homecoming together.
          Dumbass Voldomeer visits the group and thanks them for their help in resolving the conflict between Rootia and Dumbass.
          The group visits the Flovlinden Tree and pays homage to Olek and the sacred oil that played a critical role in their journey.
          Maryechka, Liliya, and Lina reflect on their journey and the life-long friendships they have formed.
          The group concludes their journey and looks forward to their future adventures and discoveries.



            Isaac Stokes 1804-1877


            Isaac was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire in 1804, and was the youngest brother of my 4X great grandfather Thomas Stokes. The Stokes family were stone masons for generations in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and Isaac’s occupation was a mason’s labourer in 1834 when he was sentenced at the Lent Assizes in Oxford to fourteen years transportation for stealing tools.

            Churchill where the Stokes stonemasons came from: on 31 July 1684 a fire destroyed 20 houses and many other buildings, and killed four people. The village was rebuilt higher up the hill, with stone houses instead of the old timber-framed and thatched cottages. The fire was apparently caused by a baker who, to avoid chimney tax, had knocked through the wall from her oven to her neighbour’s chimney.

            Isaac stole a pick axe, the value of 2 shillings and the property of Thomas Joyner of Churchill; a kibbeaux and a trowel value 3 shillings the property of Thomas Symms; a hammer and axe value 5 shillings, property of John Keen of Sarsden.

            (The word kibbeaux seems to only exists in relation to Isaac Stokes sentence and whoever was the first to write it was perhaps being creative with the spelling of a kibbo, a miners or a metal bucket. This spelling is repeated in the criminal reports and the newspaper articles about Isaac, but nowhere else).

            In March 1834 the Removal of Convicts was announced in the Oxford University and City Herald: Isaac Stokes and several other prisoners were removed from the Oxford county gaol to the Justitia hulk at Woolwich “persuant to their sentences of transportation at our Lent Assizes”.

            via digitalpanopticon:

            Hulks were decommissioned (and often unseaworthy) ships that were moored in rivers and estuaries and refitted to become floating prisons. The outbreak of war in America in 1775 meant that it was no longer possible to transport British convicts there. Transportation as a form of punishment had started in the late seventeenth century, and following the Transportation Act of 1718, some 44,000 British convicts were sent to the American colonies. The end of this punishment presented a major problem for the authorities in London, since in the decade before 1775, two-thirds of convicts at the Old Bailey received a sentence of transportation – on average 283 convicts a year. As a result, London’s prisons quickly filled to overflowing with convicted prisoners who were sentenced to transportation but had no place to go.

            To increase London’s prison capacity, in 1776 Parliament passed the “Hulks Act” (16 Geo III, c.43). Although overseen by local justices of the peace, the hulks were to be directly managed and maintained by private contractors. The first contract to run a hulk was awarded to Duncan Campbell, a former transportation contractor. In August 1776, the Justicia, a former transportation ship moored in the River Thames, became the first prison hulk. This ship soon became full and Campbell quickly introduced a number of other hulks in London; by 1778 the fleet of hulks on the Thames held 510 prisoners.
            Demand was so great that new hulks were introduced across the country. There were hulks located at Deptford, Chatham, Woolwich, Gosport, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheerness and Cork.

            The Justitia via rmg collections:


            Convicts perform hard labour at the Woolwich Warren. The hulk on the river is the ‘Justitia’. Prisoners were kept on board such ships for months awaiting deportation to Australia. The ‘Justitia’ was a 260 ton prison hulk that had been originally moored in the Thames when the American War of Independence put a stop to the transportation of criminals to the former colonies. The ‘Justitia’ belonged to the shipowner Duncan Campbell, who was the Government contractor who organized the prison-hulk system at that time. Campbell was subsequently involved in the shipping of convicts to the penal colony at Botany Bay (in fact Port Jackson, later Sydney, just to the north) in New South Wales, the ‘first fleet’ going out in 1788.


            While searching for records for Isaac Stokes I discovered that another Isaac Stokes was transported to New South Wales in 1835 as well. The other one was a butcher born in 1809, sentenced in London for seven years, and he sailed on the Mary Ann. Our Isaac Stokes sailed on the Lady Nugent, arriving in NSW in April 1835, having set sail from England in December 1834.

            Lady Nugent was built at Bombay in 1813. She made four voyages under contract to the British East India Company (EIC). She then made two voyages transporting convicts to Australia, one to New South Wales and one to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). (via Wikipedia)

            via freesettlerorfelon website:

            On 20 November 1834, 100 male convicts were transferred to the Lady Nugent from the Justitia Hulk and 60 from the Ganymede Hulk at Woolwich, all in apparent good health. The Lady Nugent departed Sheerness on 4 December 1834.


            Oliver Sproule kept a Medical Journal from 7 November 1834 to 27 April 1835. He recorded in his journal the weather conditions they experienced in the first two weeks:

            ‘In the course of the first week or ten days at sea, there were eight or nine on the sick list with catarrhal affections and one with dropsy which I attribute to the cold and wet we experienced during that period beating down channel. Indeed the foremost berths in the prison at this time were so wet from leaking in that part of the ship, that I was obliged to issue dry beds and bedding to a great many of the prisoners to preserve their health, but after crossing the Bay of Biscay the weather became fine and we got the damp beds and blankets dried, the leaks partially stopped and the prison well aired and ventilated which, I am happy to say soon manifested a favourable change in the health and appearance of the men.

            Besides the cases given in the journal I had a great many others to treat, some of them similar to those mentioned but the greater part consisted of boils, scalds, and contusions which would not only be too tedious to enter but I fear would be irksome to the reader. There were four births on board during the passage which did well, therefore I did not consider it necessary to give a detailed account of them in my journal the more especially as they were all favourable cases.

            Regularity and cleanliness in the prison, free ventilation and as far as possible dry decks turning all the prisoners up in fine weather as we were lucky enough to have two musicians amongst the convicts, dancing was tolerated every afternoon, strict attention to personal cleanliness and also to the cooking of their victuals with regular hours for their meals, were the only prophylactic means used on this occasion, which I found to answer my expectations to the utmost extent in as much as there was not a single case of contagious or infectious nature during the whole passage with the exception of a few cases of psora which soon yielded to the usual treatment. A few cases of scurvy however appeared on board at rather an early period which I can attribute to nothing else but the wet and hardships the prisoners endured during the first three or four weeks of the passage. I was prompt in my treatment of these cases and they got well, but before we arrived at Sydney I had about thirty others to treat.’

            The Lady Nugent arrived in Port Jackson on 9 April 1835 with 284 male prisoners. Two men had died at sea. The prisoners were landed on 27th April 1835 and marched to Hyde Park Barracks prior to being assigned. Ten were under the age of 14 years.

            The Lady Nugent:

            Lady Nugent


            Isaac’s distinguishing marks are noted on various criminal registers and record books:

            “Height in feet & inches: 5 4; Complexion: Ruddy; Hair: Light brown; Eyes: Hazel; Marks or Scars: Yes [including] DEVIL on lower left arm, TSIS back of left hand, WS lower right arm, MHDW back of right hand.”

            Another includes more detail about Isaac’s tattoos:

            “Two slight scars right side of mouth, 2 moles above right breast, figure of the devil and DEVIL and raised mole, lower left arm; anchor, seven dots half moon, TSIS and cross, back of left hand; a mallet, door post, A, mans bust, sun, WS, lower right arm; woman, MHDW and shut knife, back of right hand.”


            Lady Nugent record book


            From How tattoos became fashionable in Victorian England (2019 article in TheConversation by Robert Shoemaker and Zoe Alkar):

            “Historical tattooing was not restricted to sailors, soldiers and convicts, but was a growing and accepted phenomenon in Victorian England. Tattoos provide an important window into the lives of those who typically left no written records of their own. As a form of “history from below”, they give us a fleeting but intriguing understanding of the identities and emotions of ordinary people in the past.
            As a practice for which typically the only record is the body itself, few systematic records survive before the advent of photography. One exception to this is the written descriptions of tattoos (and even the occasional sketch) that were kept of institutionalised people forced to submit to the recording of information about their bodies as a means of identifying them. This particularly applies to three groups – criminal convicts, soldiers and sailors. Of these, the convict records are the most voluminous and systematic.
            Such records were first kept in large numbers for those who were transported to Australia from 1788 (since Australia was then an open prison) as the authorities needed some means of keeping track of them.”

            On the 1837 census Isaac was working for the government at Illiwarra, New South Wales. This record states that he arrived on the Lady Nugent in 1835. There are three other indent records for an Isaac Stokes in the following years, but the transcriptions don’t provide enough information to determine which Isaac Stokes it was. In April 1837 there was an abscondment, and an arrest/apprehension in May of that year, and in 1843 there was a record of convict indulgences.

            From the Australian government website regarding “convict indulgences”:

            “By the mid-1830s only six per cent of convicts were locked up. The vast majority worked for the government or free settlers and, with good behaviour, could earn a ticket of leave, conditional pardon or and even an absolute pardon. While under such orders convicts could earn their own living.”


            In 1856 in Camden, NSW, Isaac Stokes married Catherine Daly. With no further information on this record it would be impossible to know for sure if this was the right Isaac Stokes. This couple had six children, all in the Camden area, but none of the records provided enough information. No occupation or place or date of birth recorded for Isaac Stokes.

            I wrote to the National Library of Australia about the marriage record, and their reply was a surprise! Issac and Catherine were married on 30 September 1856, at the house of the Rev. Charles William Rigg, a Methodist minister, and it was recorded that Isaac was born in Edinburgh in 1821, to parents James Stokes and Sarah Ellis!  The age at the time of the marriage doesn’t match Isaac’s age at death in 1877, and clearly the place of birth and parents didn’t match either. Only his fathers occupation of stone mason was correct.  I wrote back to the helpful people at the library and they replied that the register was in a very poor condition and that only two and a half entries had survived at all, and that Isaac and Catherines marriage was recorded over two pages.

            I searched for an Isaac Stokes born in 1821 in Edinburgh on the Scotland government website (and on all the other genealogy records sites) and didn’t find it. In fact Stokes was a very uncommon name in Scotland at the time. I also searched Australian immigration and other records for another Isaac Stokes born in Scotland or born in 1821, and found nothing.  I was unable to find a single record to corroborate this mysterious other Isaac Stokes.

            As the age at death in 1877 was correct, I assume that either Isaac was lying, or that some mistake was made either on the register at the home of the Methodist minster, or a subsequent mistranscription or muddle on the remnants of the surviving register.  Therefore I remain convinced that the Camden stonemason Isaac Stokes was indeed our Isaac from Oxfordshire.


            I found a history society newsletter article that mentioned Isaac Stokes, stone mason, had built the Glenmore church, near Camden, in 1859.

            Glenmore Church


            From the Wollondilly museum April 2020 newsletter:

            Glenmore Church Stokes


            From the Camden History website:

            “The stone set over the porch of Glenmore Church gives the date of 1860. The church was begun in 1859 on land given by Joseph Moore. James Rogers of Picton was given the contract to build and local builder, Mr. Stokes, carried out the work. Elizabeth Moore, wife of Edward, laid the foundation stone. The first service was held on 19th March 1860. The cemetery alongside the church contains the headstones and memorials of the areas early pioneers.”


            Isaac died on the 3rd September 1877. The inquest report puts his place of death as Bagdelly, near to Camden, and another death register has put Cambelltown, also very close to Camden.  His age was recorded as 71 and the inquest report states his cause of death was “rupture of one of the large pulmonary vessels of the lung”.  His wife Catherine died in childbirth in 1870 at the age of 43.


            Isaac and Catherine’s children:

            William Stokes 1857-1928

            Catherine Stokes 1859-1846

            Sarah Josephine Stokes 1861-1931

            Ellen Stokes 1863-1932

            Rosanna Stokes 1865-1919

            Louisa Stokes 1868-1844.


            It’s possible that Catherine Daly was a transported convict from Ireland.


            Some time later I unexpectedly received a follow up email from The Oaks Heritage Centre in Australia.

            “The Gaudry papers which we have in our archive record him (Isaac Stokes) as having built: the church, the school and the teachers residence.  Isaac is recorded in the General return of convicts: 1837 and in Grevilles Post Office directory 1872 as a mason in Glenmore.”

            Isaac Stokes directory


            In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg

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

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

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

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

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

            Astonished, Egbert asked where they were going.

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

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

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


              To Australia


              Charles Herbert Gretton 1876-1954

              Charles Gretton, my great grandmothers youngest brother, arrived in Sydney Australia on 12 February 1912, having set sail on 5 January 1912 from London. His occupation on the passenger list was stockman, and he was traveling alone.  Later that year, in October, his wife and two sons sailed out to join him.

              Gretton 1912 passenger


              Charles was born in Swadlincote.  He married Mary Anne Illsley, a local girl from nearby Church Gresley, in 1898. Their first son, Leslie Charles Bloemfontein Gretton, was born in 1900 in Church Gresley, and their second son, George Herbert Gretton, was born in 1910 in Swadlincote.  In 1901 Charles was a colliery worker, and on the 1911 census, his occupation was a sanitary ware packer.

              Charles and Mary Anne had two more sons, both born in Footscray:  Frank Orgill Gretton in 1914, and Arthur Ernest Gretton in 1920.

              On the Australian 1914 electoral rolls, Charles and Mary Ann were living at 72 Moreland Street, Footscray, and in 1919 at 134 Cowper Street, Footscray, and Charles was a labourer.  In 1924, Charles was a sub foreman, living at 3, Ryan Street E, Footscray, Australia.  On a later electoral register, Charles was a foreman.  Footscray is a suburb of Melbourne, and developed into an industrial zone in the second half of the nineteenth century.

              Charles died in Victoria in 1954 at the age of 77. His wife Mary Ann died in 1958.

              Gretton obit 1954


              Charles and Mary Ann Gretton:

              Charles and Mary Ann Gretton


              Leslie Charles Bloemfontein Gretton 1900-1955

              Leslie was an electrician.   He married Ethel Christine Halliday, born in 1900 in Footscray, in 1927.  They had four children: Tom, Claire, Nancy and Frank. By 1943 they were living in Yallourn.  Yallourn, Victoria was a company town in Victoria, Australia built between the 1920s and 1950s to house employees of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, who operated the nearby Yallourn Power Station complex. However, expansion of the adjacent open-cut brown coal mine led to the closure and removal of the town in the 1980s.

              On the 1954 electoral registers, daughter Claire Elizabeth Gretton, occupation teacher, was living at the same address as Leslie and Ethel.

              Leslie died in Yallourn in 1955, and Ethel nine years later in 1964, also in Yallourn.


              George Herbert Gretton 1910-1970

              George married Florence May Hall in 1934 in Victoria, Australia.  In 1942 George was listed on the electoral roll as a grocer, likewise in 1949. In 1963 his occupation was a process worker, and in 1968 in Flinders, a horticultural advisor.

              George died in Lang Lang, not far from Melbourne, in 1970.


              Frank Orgill Gretton 1914-

              Arthur Ernest Gretton 1920-



              John Orgill 1835-1911

              John Orgill was Charles Herbert Gretton’s uncle.  He emigrated to Australia in 1865, and married Elizabeth Mary Gladstone 1845-1926 in Victoria in 1870. Their first child was born in December that year, in Dandenong. They had seven children, and their three sons all have the middle name Gladstone.

              John Orgill was a councillor for the Shire of Dandenong in 1873, and between 1876 and 1879.

              John Orgill:

              John Orgill


              John Orgill obituary in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal, 21 December 1911:

              John Orgill obit



              John’s wife Elizabeth Orgill, a teacher and a “a public spirited lady” according to newspaper articles, opened a hydropathic hospital in Dandenong called Gladstone House.

              Elizabeth Gladstone Orgill:

              Elizabeth Gladstone Orgill


              On the Old Dandenong website:

              Gladstone House hydropathic hospital on the corner of Langhorne and Foster streets (153 Foster Street) Dandenong opened in 1896, working on the theory of water therapy, no medicine or operations. Her husband passed away in 1911 at 77, around similar time Dr Barclay Thompson obtained control of the practice. Mrs Orgill remaining on in some capacity.

              Elizabeth Mary Orgill (nee Gladstone) operated Gladstone House until at least 1911, along with another hydropathic hospital (Birthwood) on Cheltenham road. She was the daughter of William Gladstone (Nephew of William Ewart Gladstone, UK prime minister in 1874).

              Around 1912 Dr A. E. Taylor took over the location from Dr. Barclay Thompson. Mrs Orgill was still working here but no longer controlled the practice, having given it up to Barclay. Taylor served as medical officer for the Shire for before his death in 1939. After Taylor’s death Dr. T. C. Reeves bought his practice in 1939, later that year being appointed medical officer,

              Gladstone Road in Dandenong is named after her family, who owned and occupied a farming paddock in the area on former Police Paddock ground, the Police reserve having earlier been reduced back to Stud Road.

              Hydropathy (now known as Hydrotherapy) and also called water cure, is a part of medicine and alternative medicine, in particular of naturopathy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment.

              Gladstone House, Dandenong:

              Gladstone House



              John’s brother Robert Orgill 1830-1915 also emigrated to Australia. I met (online) his great great grand daughter Lidya Orgill via the Old Dandenong facebook group.

              John’s other brother Thomas Orgill 1833-1908 also emigrated to the same part of Australia.

              Thomas Orgill:

              Thomas Orgill


              One of Thomas Orgills sons was George Albert Orgill 1880-1949:

              George Albert Orgill


              A letter was published in The South Bourke & Mornington Journal (Richmond, Victoria, Australia) on 17 Jun 1915, to Tom Orgill, Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) from hospital by his brother George Albert Orgill (4th Pioneers) describing landing of Covering Party prior to dawn invasion of Gallipoli:

              George Albert Orgill letter


              Another brother Henry Orgill 1837-1916 was born in Measham and died in Dandenong, Australia. Henry was a bricklayer living in Measham on the 1861 census. Also living with his widowed mother Elizabeth at that address was his sister Sarah and her husband Richard Gretton, the baker (my great great grandparents). In October of that year he sailed to Melbourne.  His occupation was bricklayer on his death records in 1916.

              Two of Henry’s sons, Arthur Garfield Orgill born 1888 and Ernest Alfred Orgill born 1880 were killed in action in 1917 and buried in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Another son, Frederick Stanley Orgill, died in 1897 at the age of seven.

              A fifth brother, William Orgill 1842-   sailed from Liverpool to Melbourne in 1861, at 19 years of age. Four years later in 1865 he sailed from Victoria, Australia to New Zealand.


              I assumed I had found all of the Orgill brothers who went to Australia, and resumed research on the Orgills in Measham, in England. A search in the British Newspaper Archives for Orgills in Measham revealed yet another Orgill brother who had gone to Australia.

              Matthew Orgill 1828-1907 went to South Africa and to Australia, but returned to Measham.

              The Orgill brothers had two sisters. One was my great great great grandmother Sarah, and the other was Hannah.  Hannah married Francis Hart in Measham. One of her sons, John Orgill Hart 1862-1909, was born in Measham.  On the 1881 census he was a 19 year old carpenters apprentice.  Two years later in 1883 he was listed as a joiner on the passenger list of the ship Illawarra, bound for Australia.   His occupation at the time of his death in Dandenong in 1909 was contractor.

              An additional coincidental note about Dandenong: my step daughter Emily’s Australian partner is from Dandenong.




              Charles Housley 1823-1856

              Charles Housley emigrated to Australia in 1851, the same year that his brother George emigrated to USA.  Charles is mentioned in the Narrative on the Letters by Barbara Housley, and appears in the Housley Letters chapters.



              George “Mike” Rushby 1933-

              Mike moved to Australia from South Africa. His story is a separate chapter.


                From Tanganyika with Love

                With thanks to Mike Rushby.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Much love my dear,
                your jubilant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Bless you all,

                S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Eleanor Leslie.

                Eleanor and George Rushby:

                Eleanor and George Rushby

                Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Your cave woman

                Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Much love to you all,

                Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Your loving

                Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Very much love,

                Mbeya 23rd December 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                26th December 1930

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

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

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

                Lots and lots of love,

                Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Your loving,

                Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                Very much love,

                Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

                Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



                  George “Mike” Rushby

                  A short autobiography of George Gilman Rushby’s son, published in the Blackwall Bugle, Australia.

                  Early in 2009, Ballina Shire Council Strategic and
                  Community Services Group Manager, Steve Barnier,
                  suggested that it would be a good idea for the Wardell
                  and District community to put out a bi-monthly
                  newsletter. I put my hand up to edit the publication and
                  since then, over 50 issues of “The Blackwall Bugle”
                  have been produced, encouraged by Ballina Shire
                  Council who host the newsletter on their website.
                  Because I usually write the stories that other people
                  generously share with me, I have been asked by several
                  community members to let them know who I am. Here is
                  my attempt to let you know!

                  My father, George Gilman Rushby was born in England
                  in 1900. An Electrician, he migrated to Africa as a young
                  man to hunt and to prospect for gold. He met Eleanor
                  Dunbar Leslie who was a high school teacher in Cape
                  Town. They later married in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika.
                  I was the second child and first son and was born in a
                  mud hut in Tanganyika in 1933. I spent my first years on
                  a coffee plantation. When four years old, and with
                  parents and elder sister on a remote goldfield, I caught
                  typhoid fever. I was seriously ill and had no access to
                  proper medical facilities. My paternal grandmother
                  sailed out to Africa from England on a steam ship and
                  took me back to England for medical treatment. My
                  sister Ann came too. Then Adolf Hitler started WWII and
                  Ann and I were separated from our parents for 9 years.

                  Sister Ann and I were not to see him or our mother for
                  nine years because of the war. Dad served as a Captain in
                  the King’s African Rifles operating in the North African
                  desert, while our Mum managed the coffee plantation at
                  home in Tanganyika.

                  Ann and I lived with our Grandmother and went to
                  school in Nottingham England. In 1946 the family was
                  reunited. We lived in Mbeya in Southern Tanganyika
                  where my father was then the District Manager of the
                  National Parks and Wildlife Authority. There was no
                  high school in Tanganyika so I had to go to school in
                  Nairobi, Kenya. It took five days travelling each way by
                  train and bus including two days on a steamer crossing
                  Lake Victoria.

                  However, the school year was only two terms with long
                  holidays in between.

                  When I was seventeen, I left high school. There was
                  then no university in East Africa. There was no work
                  around as Tanganyika was about to become
                  independent of the British Empire and become
                  Tanzania. Consequently jobs were reserved for

                  A war had broken out in Korea. I took a day off from
                  high school and visited the British Army headquarters
                  in Nairobi. I signed up for military service intending to
                  go to Korea. The army flew me to England. During
                  Army basic training I was nicknamed ‘Mike’ and have
                  been called Mike ever since. I never got to Korea!
                  After my basic training I volunteered for the Parachute
                  Regiment and the army sent me to Egypt where the
                  Suez Canal was under threat. I carried out parachute
                  operations in the Sinai Desert and in Cyprus and
                  Jordan. I was then selected for officer training and was
                  sent to England to the Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School
                  in Cheshire. Whilst in Cheshire, I met my future wife
                  Jeanette. I graduated as a Second Lieutenant in the
                  Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and was posted to West
                  Berlin, which was then one hundred miles behind the
                  Iron Curtain. My duties included patrolling the
                  demarcation line that separated the allies from the
                  Russian forces. The Berlin Wall was yet to be built. I
                  also did occasional duty as guard commander of the
                  guard at Spandau Prison where Adolf Hitler’s deputy
                  Rudolf Hess was the only prisoner.

                  From Berlin, my Regiment was sent to Malaya to
                  undertake deep jungle operations against communist
                  terrorists that were attempting to overthrow the
                  Malayan Government. I was then a Lieutenant in
                  command of a platoon of about 40 men which would go
                  into the jungle for three weeks to a month with only air
                  re-supply to keep us going. On completion of my jungle
                  service, I returned to England and married Jeanette. I
                  had to stand up throughout the church wedding
                  ceremony because I had damaged my right knee in a
                  competitive cross-country motorcycle race and wore a
                  splint and restrictive bandage for the occasion!
                  At this point I took a career change and transferred
                  from the infantry to the Royal Military Police. I was in
                  charge of the security of British, French and American
                  troops using the autobahn link from West Germany to
                  the isolated Berlin. Whilst in Germany and Austria I
                  took up snow skiing as a sport.

                  Jeanette and I seemed to attract unusual little
                  adventures along the way — each adventure trivial in
                  itself but adding up to give us a ‘different’ path through
                  life. Having climbed Mount Snowdon up the ‘easy way’
                  we were witness to a serious climbing accident where a
                  member of the staff of a Cunard Shipping Line
                  expedition fell and suffered serious injury. It was
                  Sunday a long time ago. The funicular railway was
                  closed. There was no telephone. So I ran all the way
                  down Mount Snowdon to raise the alarm.

                  On a road trip from Verden in Germany to Berlin with
                  our old Opel Kapitan motor car stacked to the roof with
                  all our worldly possessions, we broke down on the ice and snow covered autobahn. We still had a hundred kilometres to go.

                  A motorcycle patrolman flagged down a B-Double
                  tanker. He hooked us to the tanker with a very short tow
                  cable and off we went. The truck driver couldn’t see us
                  because we were too close and his truck threw up a
                  constant deluge of ice and snow so we couldn’t see
                  anyway. We survived the hundred kilometre ‘sleigh

                  I then went back to the other side of the world where I
                  carried out military police duties in Singapore and
                  Malaya for three years. I took up scuba diving and
                  loved the ocean. Jeanette and I, with our two little
                  daughters, took a holiday to South Africa to see my
                  parents. We sailed on a ship of the Holland-Afrika Line.
                  It broke down for four days and drifted uncontrollably
                  in dangerous waters off the Skeleton Coast of Namibia
                  until the crew could get the ship’s motor running again.
                  Then, in Cape Town, we were walking the beach near
                  Hermanus with my youngest brother and my parents,
                  when we found the dead body of a man who had thrown
                  himself off a cliff. The police came and secured the site.
                  Back with the army, I was promoted to Major and
                  appointed Provost Marshal of the ACE Mobile Force
                  (Allied Command Europe) with dual headquarters in
                  Salisbury, England and Heidelberg, Germany. The cold
                  war was at its height and I was on operations in Greece,
                  Denmark and Norway including the Arctic. I had
                  Norwegian, Danish, Italian and American troops in my
                  unit and I was then also the Winter Warfare Instructor
                  for the British contingent to the Allied Command
                  Europe Mobile Force that operated north of the Arctic

                  The reason for being in the Arctic Circle? From there
                  our special forces could look down into northern

                  I was not seeing much of my two young daughters. A
                  desk job was looming my way and I decided to leave
                  the army and migrate to Australia. Why Australia?
                  Well, I didn’t want to go back to Africa, which
                  seemed politically unstable and the people I most
                  liked working with in the army, were the Australian
                  troops I had met in Malaya.

                  I migrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1970 and started
                  working for Woolworths. After management training,
                  I worked at Garden City and Brookside then became
                  the manager in turn of Woolworths stores at
                  Paddington, George Street and Redcliff. I was also the
                  first Director of FAUI Queensland (The Federation of
                  Underwater Diving Instructors) and spent my spare
                  time on the Great Barrier Reef. After 8 years with
                  Woollies, I opted for a sea change.

                  I moved with my family to Evans Head where I
                  converted a convenience store into a mini
                  supermarket. When IGA moved into town, I decided
                  to take up beef cattle farming and bought a cattle
                  property at Collins Creek Kyogle in 1990. I loved
                  everything about the farm — the Charolais cattle, my
                  horses, my kelpie dogs, the open air, fresh water
                  creek, the freedom, the lifestyle. I also became a
                  volunteer fire fighter with the Green Pigeon Brigade.
                  In 2004 I sold our farm and moved to Wardell.
                  My wife Jeanette and I have been married for 60 years
                  and are now retired. We have two lovely married
                  daughters and three fine grandchildren. We live in the
                  greatest part of the world where we have been warmly
                  welcomed by the Wardell community and by the
                  Wardell Brigade of the Rural Fire Service. We are
                  very happy here.

                  Mike Rushby

                  A short article sent to Jacksdale in England from Mike Rushby in Australia:

                  Rushby Family


                    Since the sudden disappearance of the two au pair maids, a lot had happened. But for August Finest it has been a lot of the same routine going on.

                    He wakes up in the early, early morning, his eyelids rubs on his eyeballs as if they are made of sandpaper. He seizes his belly with his hands, feels a little guilty about the nice meals prepared by Noor Mary especially for him since the start of the confinement. His six packs have started to fade away under a layer of fatty insulation and he tries to compensate by a daily routine in white T-shirt and underwear.

                    The coffee machine has detected his movements and starts to make what it does. It’s always cleaned and replenished by the discrete Mary. The noise and the smell creates an ambiance and when it rings he eats breakfast before taking his shower.

                    When he’s dressed up, his real work starts. It had not been easy for a man of his origins to appear as the best choice for the job under the Lump administration. President Lump was known to make bad jokes about his tan and him having spent too much time at the beach, and other worse things. But his worth was in the network he could connect the president with, his high discretion, which Lump was in dire need to compensate his innate tendency to boasting, and a strong adaptability to fix the president’s frequent messing around.

                    If August Finest had once admired the man and accepted the job for him, it soon changed when he realised there was nothing more underneath the boasting than more boasting and unpredictability. At the moment the only thing that make him continue was his ability to go stealth when the president had a fit of nerves, and the imposed confinement that made it impossible to leave the Beige House.

                    After the morning meeting during which the president asked him to fire a few members of the staff, August had to prepare a press conference. President Lump said he had thought about a few remarks about China and making a connection with the Mexican immigrants threatening the country by stealing the masks of the American People. After which, he had to plan a charity with first Lady Mellie Noma and redefine what a Masquerade meant. He had been asked to invite nurses and medical personnel, meaning republican and good looking in a blouse with a medical mask to make the promotion of the new mask industry Made in America. One of Mr Lump’s friend had just started a brand and was in need of some media promotion.

                    August reread the memo to be addressed to the director of the FBI, a good friend of his. A special cell at the FBI had been created especially since Lump came to power. For this particular occasion, agents posing as patients victims of the virus would be sent in the best ranked hospitals in the country with the task to look for the best nurse and doctor candidates and send them an invitation printed by Lump’s nephew’s printing company.

                    As Lump always said: “America Fist! And don’t forget people, I am America.”

                    August hit the enter button and closed the window of his professional mail account, leaving the draft of a personal mail on screen. He wasn’t sure if he could send this one. It was addressed to Noor Mary and he feared she would misunderstand the meaning of it.


                    In reply to: Story Bored


                      Board 6, Story 1

                      When Lizette came round from her lapse into unconsciousness in the medical bay, she found herself in a strangely alien earthly setting. Prune was looking for her hamsters and Finnley-8 was at a loss as to how to proceed in the unfamiliar environment.

                      Aubrey Stripling Bryson was beginning to wish he’d never unblocked the entrance to the tunnels. Two long years and he still hadn’t found Evelyn. Or the book.

                      Vincentius, in a deeply melodious voice,  reminds Arona that Yikesy is still wearing an invisibility cloak and will be difficult to find. Unperturbed, Mandrake cleans the glukenitch poo from his paws.


                      “I can’t wait to hear all about this exciting story.” interrupted Eleri, rubbing her ankle. Disappointingly it still felt of rock hard and cold.  It had been easy enough to turn to stone to support the damage and enable her to continue her journey, in the absence of any medical assistance deep in the woods, but was proving difficult to get it to revert to normal flesh and blood upon her safe return to the others.

                      “The magic binding the stones was strong he’s said, although some additional magic would help speed up the recovery process which otherwise would take probably centuries if not millennia.”

                      “Centuries if not millennia?” Eleri was aghast. “I can’t wait that long, the rest of my flesh and bones will perish long before that!”


                      Gibbon was peeling a red apple at the end of their impromptu lunch. He handed a thin slice to Fox who took it and chewed it carefully. It was sweet and juicy, prompting him to want more.

                      They had returned to Fox’s hut outside the city wall. It had not the comfort that plumbing and central heating could bring, but its four walls were enough to protect them from the chilly air outside and give them a sense of proximity. Humans like to be in human sized boxes, thought Fox. They lived in boxes they called houses; they went to work in other boxes they called bank, or smithery, or medical centre —even their outdoor markets were full of virtual boxes called booth or stand; then they had fun in another kind of boxes they called Inn, or Night Club, or brothel (depending on the persona).

                      “You’re thinking again,” said Gibbon without raising his eyes from his apple. He handed another slice to Fox who was impressed and annoyed by how his master could read him so easily. Maybe it was luck or real power. Gibbon never told about how he did all that he did. He only said: “I’m not sure that would help you quiet your thoughts.” And that was the end of the subject.

                      Fox took the slice and came back to his conscientious mastication. It was the rule, he had learned, with Gibbon. You don’t talk when you eat. You don’t think when you eat. You just eat, and breath when you are not swallowing. Fox felt like he was back into the Southern forest where Gibbon had found him, the lone survivor of a litter of five. His mother had been killed, and already four of his siblings were dead. Gibbon, who was already old at that time, took him in and taught him the wisdom of breathing innate among his kind. Fox then did as he was taught, focus his attention on his actions, and particularly on his breathing at all time. It helped him focus and calm down his heart.

                      After they finished the apple and cleaned the place a bit, Gibbon took a deep breath. Fox knew it was the time he would Talk.

                      “You’ve been looking for a reason,” said the old master in a breath. Fox was all ears, he almost began to feel them becoming pointy again. He moved his attention back to his breathing and peace filled in his heart again. It was mingled with the excitement of listening to his old master’s voice again, but Fox sticked to the peace and the excitement subsided naturally.

                      “I’m going to give you an assignment,” continued Gibbon in between his long breaths. His eyes were shiny and seemed to glow in the dim light of the hut. He wasn’t blinking. He never blinked when he Talked. “I see you’ve mastered the power of breathing. You need to learn the wisdom of the Heart now.”

                      Fox was ready. He had been for many years. Even when Fox left the Southern forest to find his destiny he was ready. He now realised he left because Gibbon would not teach him. And now, he came to teach me! Fox let the thought and the excitement subside again. His master would not Talk again until it was quiet.

                      IIIIIIII’m not going to teach you,” said the master. “You are going to find your own master for this one.”

                      “But you are my master,” said Fox, not understanding why it was happening again. “You have the power of the Heart. You can teach me.”

                      IIIIII’m not your master on this one, Fox. I taught you all I was supposed to teach you. No less, no more.”

                      “Where will I find my master then?”

                      “You will find him in time. But first your assignment,” said Gibbon. He paused to breath deeply, his eyes intense as the full Moon. “You’ll find a lost soul in the enchanted forest. Bring it back to its rightful owner. Then you shall find your master.”

                      Fox had opened his mouth to ask him how he could find a lost piece of soul, or what a piece of soul looked like, but Gibbon had already closed his eyes and entered in a deep meditation from where there were no outside interruption possible. He stood up and stretched his body. There was no need to wait aimlessly around, hoping Gibbon would come out of his meditation state soon. It could last days, even weeks.

                      While packing a few things he would need on the road, like food, a knife, some clothes, Fox pondered his options. Going in the enchanted forest looking randomly for something he didn’t even know about seemed to much like his old self. He needed some more information and he had an idea about who could give them to him. The witch from the market. She would know. And she lived in the enchanted forest.

                      Before closing the hut’s door, Fox looked at his master one last time. His body was very still, if you didn’t know him, you’d think he was not breathing. He had a serene smile on his face. Fox smiled and felt the love of his master and his master’s way fill his heart. He had given him a purpose, and for that Fox was grateful. He shut the door quietly and began to walk toward the enchanted forest. He heard ducks in the distance, it was as if they were singing. He laughed. It was mid afternoon. If he walked at a good pace, he would arrive at the old mansion before nightfall.


                      In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


                        Godfrey had started to sweat when Lizette had called him Gordon, fearing she might have blown his cover. Just as he made a move to clamp his hand over her mouth, the medical bay had lurched sideways, throwing Lizette with force in the direction of his approaching hand. The result of the two forces colliding on her face had knocked her out cold.

                        But nobody was paying any attention to them in the confusion. Godfrey slung Lizette over his shoulder like a sack of rice, and hastily retreated from the medical bay. The stupid woman had made everything that much more complicated. He toyed with the idea of just leaving her on the waiting room floor, but it was too dangerous. What might she blurt out when she came round?


                        In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


                          Lizette patiently waited her turn in the medical bay. Her injury wasn’t serious ~ indeed there was not much need for medical assistance, after all it was just a minor lesion on her heel, but it did make it painful to walk, let alone run, and the increasingly heated babble of conversation in the waiting room was interesting.

                          Although initially everyone had been calm and obedient, trusting the management and the system implicitly, before long the mood had changed to confusion and suspicion. Seeds of doubt crept in and were quickly fertilized by the submerged energy of fear at the unexpected disorder. Up until now, everything on MARS had been Controlled with a capital C ~ there were rules and protocol for everything, rigid regimes and timetables, a place for everything, and everything in its place. It had been stifling, to be honest, with very little in the way of spontaneity or surprises, nothing unexpected to expect but the dry tedium of calm control.

                          In a way, the meteor impact (if indeed it had been a meteor impact ~ there was much speculation in the waiting room that they had been attacked by aliens, that the management was hiding this detail from their explanations) had been a welcome diversion from routine. But a welcome diversion that was rapidly spiraling out of control. When people were confused and frightened, there was no telling how they might behave, brainwashed or not. When they were physically injured as well, panic and suspicion swiftly set in, fears and wild theories echoing around the waiting room. Add to that the trapped feeling, with nowhere to flee, and the threat of a hostile outer environment, and strange unknown beings breaking through their protection boundaries, well, it was a recipe for chaos.

                          Lizette felt herself getting caught up in the general mood, feeling roused by heated calls for a mob handed demand for answers in one moment, and chilled to the bone by the terrified screeches of the most fearful in the next; thankfully noticing in time to reactivate her personal space buffer before descending into the energy quagmire herself. The dense fog of the previous brainwashing had distorted their power of rational reasoning; Liz felt she was the only one in the waiting room with the mental capacity to weigh up the various perspectives being aired, to try and make some sense of it.

                          When Gordon popped his head into the waiting room, Lizette hobbled over to him, wincing at the pain in her Achilles heel.

                          “Gordy, a word in your ear, old man,” she started to say, and then found herself catapulted into his arms as another tremor rocked the room. “Good God, Gordon! What’s going on?” she managed to say before slipping into unconsciousness.


                          In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


                            If anything special about being in the vacuum of space, was that anywhere else than in the pressurized and breathable areas, the silence was deafening, and explosions silent.

                            With the main galleries under tons of rubble, Godfrey was glad to have followed his instincts with the evacuation. It was an unbelievable miracle that there were so few people down with him at that time.
                            He could hardly prove whether there actually was a controlled explosion triggered down there, but even without dramatic fires, the effect had been felt all throughout the colony. A few of the most fragile structures had collapsed, but at least most of the security protocols were active, and had allowed people to evacuate without too much damage while sucking the air out to avoid dangerous explosive oxygen leaks.

                            The medical bay was quite busy now treating the wounded, while everyone remained mostly calm despite the unusualness of the situation. Amazing how the survival training (more like brainwashing) they had before coming here was kicking in, with almost minute and automatic precision.

                            As the only member of the board of operations in duty, he had to report to the central area, where they would likely debrief about it. When he arrived at the pod, there was already quite a commotion, and quarrelling voices could be heard in the airlock.

                            “… decently leave like this!”
                            “ We should listen to…”
                            “stayed for too long to stop now!”
                            “plan? no strategy at all!”
                            “was all written over,…” “failure since the beginning…”

                            When the airlock finally opened, people continued to speak out of turn without paying much attention to him. Good he thought, that was time people release the pressure and start being honest. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end in a bloodbath.”

                            He was already stuffed with kale fritters and almost drunk with free kale ale from the buffet when the monitors started displaying the broadcast everyone was apparently waiting for.

                            As usual, Earthlings are a bit late for the battle. he thought when the familiar face of the broadcaster appeared in the middle of interferences.

                            “… A wave of Greta rays has been delaying the communication, in conjunction with the super moon retrograde in Spices. We apologize for the inconvenience, as we were not able to warn you of the meteor impact that hit Mars surface a few hours ago.”

                            Godfrey wasn’t sure this was real, or his kalecohol level hitting his brain, but the science seemed sketchy at best. He struggled to pay more attention.

                            “Not only the actively increased meteoric warming, but also given the Manta ray pulses from Juice pitcher, we fear all electronic equipment on which the Mars ant colony depends may be fried and lead you very soon to eternal damnation without hope for safe return. Our commercial spacecrafts cannot be risked to save you, so we advise you to pray. This broadcast was brought to you by Dismay Channel.”

                            Even if Godfrey wasn’t sure everything he heard was completely right, he could tell from the confused face of his colleagues that there would be a hell of a run for your lives to follow.
                            If only they had anywhere to run to…


                              Aunt Idle:

                              Trying to get a conversation out of Bert was like trying to prise a can of beans open with a nappy pin. If he’d been a bit more willing to discuss it with me I might have told him about the note, but I didn’t. I suppose he was disgruntled because I was more interested in that medical team buying up ghost towns than his bridge, so we sat in silence for the rest of the trip. Not that I wasn’t interested in the place on the other side of the river, but there was something very odd going on, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. That note, made from old maps at the Brundy place, then Flora’s card with the same name on ~ what the dickens was going on? Should I ask Flora point blank, or would that alert her that I was on to her? Might be better to be more subtle, see what I could find out before confronting her. I even thought of getting the remote view team to see if they could find anything out ~ although the results were so sketchy that might just be a wild goose chase, lead me off in the wrong direction.

                              “Take the next left, Idle, down this here track,” Bert said.

                              Miles away I was, so I didn’t hear him at first and had to slam the brakes on a bit sharpish. I caught Bert rolling his eyes at me and glared at him.

                              The track hadn’t been driven on for months, if not years ~ that much was obvious. We bumped along kicking up a cloud of dust for a few miles before the river came into sight, then the track followed the river for another half a mile or so, eventually petering out.

                              “We’ll have to walk from here,” said Bert, getting out of the car. I passed Bert the rucksack with the bottled water and locked the car. “You don’t need to lock the car here” Bert snorted.

                              “Habit,” I snapped, “Lead the way.”


                                The medical team was easily identifiable with their tomato suits. Since the smell was gone, and certainly the toxic gas which was responsible for the loss of consciousness of the work teams, people were gradually regaining consciousness. Nobody had been harmed, which was quite a relief, it would be easier that way as there was no need to contact the families. Still all those involved would have to submit to regular check-ups in the following weeks.

                                Linda Paul was overseeing the operation. The silver stripes of her suit were sparkling in the sunset. She had put on her Darco Barbane meringue wig as soon as she had gotten rid of Boba Fett’s mask, positioned at the right place to have a silver lining appear around her sculptural silhouette. Much better, she thought as the cleaning team was gone.

                                Still, something was bothering him, they spent millions on supposedly hight tech solutions and backups to make the time sewer secure and have a robust way to time travel; they had haute-couture exosuits and gas masks to be able to intervene in dire situations, but all it really required was an old sucker truck —who could come up with such a design ? — to unclog the sewer in less than five minutes. The next board meeting would be stormy. She would request a thorough investigation. First the Russians, then the network cancellation and now this clogging. Something was not straight, and not in the good way.


                                  While stroking his mustache fondly, Ed Steam had the clearest realization that although he’d done that quite a few times in the past mostly to his advantage, it was a lot of work to rewrite timelines and figure out the hows and whens of everyone in his team.
                                  Maybe it was actually time for him to restore the original timeline while disappearing — by faking his own death to be certain nobody would thwart his carefully thought retirement plan. Then, he could also stop dyeing his mustache he figured… So many things to take care of, retirement would be so sweet.
                                  Although the Egyptian timeturner gave him all the time in the world, he actually felt like he’d lost already a great deal too much of it, and started to enact his plan without further ado.

                                  Procuring a body double was actually not so hard. The last surge had brought a few of them in Thrifteen’s Alley in their Moreguest Facility. A switch and a twist of the pocket portal and a zap and a blink of the miniaturizer was enough to get there and come back in seconds with a frozen pocket-size life-suspended body from the testing stock, with convincing enough miniaturized slim lips, safely put in a test tube in his waistcoat pocket.
                                  A six-shot cudgel from his artefact war trove was all he needed to make sure the amateur assassin in red robes they’d hired would be taken care of easily.
                                  Then, an enscombulator bedazzler ray spray would be enough to convince Mari Fe she’d managed to hit him, buying him time enough to then deminiaturize the thawed slim-lipped body double, to slip in his stead.
                                  Last, but not least, he would then have a few seconds to discombobulize Mari Fe while disappearing with a backup transportable portal. The plan was perfect. The original timeline restored in pristine conditions.
                                  Only for a few minor details of course. He’d almost forgotten to reprogram the mini-man in his pocket with enough memories for him to be a convincing Ed-himself sans la moustache of course. At least, for the short time he would survive (surge victims discovered still alive were placed in life suspension by the team, but this was mostly for medical analysis as they usually wouldn’t survive their conditions).
                                  Oh, and the bloody mustache of course… A squeeze of foolicle solventilator would be enough to make it temporarily invisible.

                                  Simple enough… Well, sandbagging Mari Fe would have probably conveyed similar results with minimal efforts, although the elegance of his plan, as well as the fact that he was loath to hit ladies did unmistakably weight in favour of it.

                                  And with that, he would be back in time for dinner.
                                  In fact, he already was.


                                  ‘No problem for that’, retorted mac Assar, ‘we bought one of these brand new head-fastener, “they help you keep you head on” the ad says!’ she continued merrily.

                                  Pee hold his breath and his first thoughts about this kind of accessory; some customers associations were pitting against these head-fasteners as they were said to make you loose your head more quickly with age. The Alsa Meyer syndrome was wreaking havoc on the pea-ceful peaple of New Peasland these days and the medical corpse didn’t know how to stop it. But Pee would be there when she’d loose her head!

                                  Silly broke the cone of silence by telling her aunt that her new head-fastener looked like a horse, which made Auntie mac Assar and Dolores laugh heartily, and made Pee blush forcefully.

                                  ‘Never say that to a lady’, said her aunt.


                                  In reply to: Strings of Nines


                                    Zhaana was 18 years old and outwardly beautiful as well as inwardly lovely. Nine years had passed since she’d last seen Sanso on that extraordinary excursion into The Elsepace Arrangement, or so it would appear. That is to say, Zhaana had no recollection of what might have occured during those nine years, and the general accepted medical opinion was that Zhaana had suffered amnesia. She was found wandering the streets of Amsterdam in the spring of 2009, wearing about her outwardly beautiful body a few outgrown shreds of dusty indigo fabric. Fortunately the weather was mild, and when passersby did a double take, it was due to her looks and not her unsuitable garments.

                                    When Taatje van Snoot saw the girl wandering aimlessly along the canal her left ear popped, indicating that she should pay attention. Taatje had been reading Lisp, the popular new magazine for new energy people with word issues, while sitting on a bench beneath the burgeoning green foliage, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. As the strange girl with the bemused and curious expression wandered past, Taatje rolled Lisp up and shoved it in her capacious carpet bag, and followed.


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