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      I’ve always felt like the odd one out in my family. Growing up at the Flying Fish Inn, I’ve always felt like I was on the outside looking in. My mother left when I was young, and my father disappeared not long after. I’ve always felt like I was the only one who didn’t fit in with the craziness of my family.

      I’ve always tried to keep my distance with the others. I didn’t want to get too involved, take sides about petty things, like growing weed in the backyard, making psychedelic termite honey, or trying to influence the twins to buy proper clothes. But truth is, you can’t get too far away. Town’s too small. Family always get back to you, and manage to get you involved in their shit, one way or another, even if you don’t say anything. That’s how it works. They don’t need my participation to use me as an argument.

      So I stopped paying attention, almost stopped caring. I lived my life working at the gas station, and drinking beers with my buddies Joe and Jasper, living in a semi-comatose state. I learned that word today when I came bringing little honey buns to mater. I know she secretly likes them, even if she pretend she doesn’t in front of Idle. But I can see the breadcrumbs on her cardigan when I come say hi at the end of the day. This morning, Idle was rocking in her favourite chair on the porch, looking at the clouds behind her mirrored sunglasses. Prune was talking to her, I saw she was angry because of the contraction of the muscles of her jaw and her eyes were darker than usual. She was saying to Idle that she was always in a semi-comatose state and doing nothing useful for the Inn when we had a bunch of tourists arriving. And something about the twins redecorating the rooms without proper design knowledge. Idle did what she usually does. She ignored the comment and kept on looking at the clouds. I’m not even sure she heard or understood that word that Prune said. Semi-comatose. It sounds like glucose. That’s how I’m spending my life between the Inn, the gas station and my buddies.

      But things changed today when I got back to my apartment for lunch. You can call it a hunch or a coincidence. But as we talked with Joe about that time when my dad left, making me think we were doing hide and seek, and he left me a note saying he would be back someday. I don’t know why I felt the need to go search that note afterwards. So I went back to the apartment and opened the mailbox. Among the bills and ads, I found a postcard with a few words written on the image and nothing except my address on the back. I knew it was from my dad.

      It was not signed or anything, but still I was sure it was his handwriting. I would recognise it anywhere. I went and took the shoebox I keep hidden on top of the kitchen closet, because I saw people do that in movies. That’s not very original, I know, but I’m not too bright either. I opened the box and took the note my dad left me when he disappeared.

      I put the card on the desk near the note. The handwritings matched. I felt so excited, and confused.

      A few words at the bottom of the card said : “Memories from the coldest place on Earth…”

      Why would dad go to such a place to send me a postcard after all those years ? Just to say that.

      That’s when I recalled what Prune had told me once as we were watching a detective movie : “Read everything with care and always double check your information.”

      On the back, it said that the image was from a scientific station in Antartica, but the stamp indicated it had been posted from a floating post office in the North Pole. I turned the card and looked at the text again. Above the station, a few words were written that sounded like a riddle.

      > A mine, a tile, dust piled high,
      Together they rest, yet always outside.
      One misstep, and you’ll surely fall,
      Into the depths, where danger lies all.

      It sure sounds like a warning. But I’m not too good with riddles. No need to worry Mater about that, in case of false hope and all that. Idle ? Don’t even think about it. She won’t believe me when I say it’s from dad. She never does believe me. And she’ll keep playing with the words trying to find her answer in the shape of smoke. The twins, they are a riddle on their own.

      No. It’s Prune’s help I need.


        This is the outline for a short novel called “The Jorid’s Travels – 14 years on” that will unfold in this thread.
        The novel is about the travels of Georges and Salomé.
        The Jorid is the name of the vessel that can travel through dimensions as well as time, within certain boundaries. The Jorid has been built and is operated by Georges and his companion Salomé.

        Short backstory for the main cast and secondary characters

        Georges was a French thief possibly from the 1800s, turned other-dimensional explorer, and together with Salomé, a girl of mysterious origins who he first met in the Alienor dimension but believed to have origins in Northern India maybe Tibet from a distant past.
        They have lived rich adventures together, and are deeply bound together, by love and mutual interests.
        Georges, with his handsome face, dark hair and amber gaze, is a bit of a daredevil at times, curious and engaging with others. He is very interesting in anything that shines, strange mechanisms and generally the ways consciousness works in living matter.
        Salomé, on the other hand is deeply intuitive, empath at times, quite logical and rational but also interested in mysticism, the ways of the Truth, and the “why” rather than the “how” of things.
        The world of Alienor (a pale green sun under which twin planets originally orbited – Duane, Murtuane – with an additional third, Phreal, home planet of the Guardians, an alien race of builders with god-like powers) lived through cataclysmic changes, finished by the time this story is told.
        The Jorid’s original prototype designed were crafted by Léonard, a mysterious figure, self-taught in the arts of dimensional magic in Alienor sects, acted as a mentor to Georges during his adventures. It is not known where he is now.
        The story starts with Georges and Salomé looking for Léonard to adjust and calibrate the tiles navigational array of the Jorid, who seems to be affected by the auto-generated tiles which behave in too predictible fashion, instead of allowing for deeper explorations in the dimensions of space/time or dimensions of consciousness.
        Leonard was last spotted in a desert in quadrant AVB 34-7•8 – Cosmic time triangulation congruent to 2023 AD Earth era. More precisely the sand deserts of Bluhm’Oxl in the Zathu sector.

        When they find Léonard, they are propelled in new adventures. They possibly encounter new companions, and some mystery to solve in a similar fashion to the Odyssey, or Robinsons Lost in Space.

        Being able to tune into the probable quantum realities, the Jorid is able to trace the plot of their adventures even before they’ve been starting to unfold in no less than 33 chapters, giving them evocative titles.

        Here are the 33 chapters for the glorious adventures with some keywords under each to give some hints to the daring adventurers.

        1. Chapter 1: The Search BeginsGeorges and Salomé, Léonard, Zathu sector, Bluhm’Oxl, dimensional magic
        2. Chapter 2: A New Companion – unexpected ally, discovery, adventure
        3. Chapter 3: Into the Desert – Bluhm’Oxl, sand dunes, treacherous journey
        4. Chapter 4: The First Clue – search for Léonard, mystery, puzzle
        5. Chapter 5: The Oasis – rest, rekindling hope, unexpected danger
        6. Chapter 6: The Lost City – ancient civilization, artifacts, mystery
        7. Chapter 7: A Dangerous Encounter – hostile aliens, survival, bravery
        8. Chapter 8: A New Threat – ancient curse, ominous presence, danger
        9. Chapter 9: The Key to the Past – uncovering secrets, solving puzzles, unlocking power
        10. Chapter 10: The Guardian’s Temple – mystical portal, discovery, knowledge
        11. Chapter 11: The Celestial Map – space-time navigation, discovery, enlightenment
        12. Chapter 12: The First Step – journey through dimensions, bravery, adventure
        13. Chapter 13: The Cosmic Rift – strange anomalies, dangerous zones, exploration
        14. Chapter 14: A Surprising Discovery – unexpected allies, strange creatures, intrigue
        15. Chapter 15: The Memory Stones – ancient wisdom, unlock hidden knowledge, unlock the past
        16. Chapter 16: The Time Stream – navigating through time, adventure, danger
        17. Chapter 17: The Mirror Dimension – parallel world, alternate reality, discovery
        18. Chapter 18: A Distant Planet – alien world, strange cultures, exploration
        19. Chapter 19: The Starlight Forest – enchanted forest, secrets, danger
        20. Chapter 20: The Temple of the Mind – exploring consciousness, inner journey, enlightenment
        21. Chapter 21: The Sea of Souls – mystical ocean, hidden knowledge, inner peace
        22. Chapter 22: The Path of the Truth – search for meaning, self-discovery, enlightenment
        23. Chapter 23: The Cosmic Library – ancient knowledge, discovery, enlightenment
        24. Chapter 24: The Dream Plane – exploring the subconscious, self-discovery, enlightenment
        25. Chapter 25: The Shadow Realm – dark dimensions, fear, danger
        26. Chapter 26: The Fire Planet – intense heat, dangerous creatures, bravery
        27. Chapter 27: The Floating Islands – aerial adventure, strange creatures, discovery
        28. Chapter 28: The Crystal Caves – glittering beauty, hidden secrets, danger
        29. Chapter 29: The Eternal Night – unknown world, strange creatures, fear
        30. Chapter 30: The Lost Civilization – ancient ruins, mystery, adventure
        31. Chapter 31: The Vortex – intense energy, danger, bravery
        32. Chapter 32: The Cosmic Storm – weather extremes, danger, survival
        33. Chapter 33: The Return – reunion with Léonard, returning to the Jorid, new adventures.

        In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


          YASMIN’S QUIRK: Entry level quirk – snort laughing when socially anxious


          The initial setting for this quest is a comedic theater in the heart of a bustling city. You will start off by exploring the different performances and shows, trying to find the source of the snort laughter that seems to be haunting your thoughts. As you delve deeper into the theater, you will discover that the snort laughter is coming from a mischievous imp who has taken residence within the theater.

          Directions to Investigate

          Possible directions to investigate include talking to the theater staff and performers to gather information, searching backstage for clues, and perhaps even sneaking into the imp’s hiding spot to catch a glimpse of it in action.


          Possible characters to engage include the theater manager, who may have information about the imp’s history and habits, and a group of comedic performers who may have some insight into the imp’s behavior.


          Your task is to find a key or tile that represents the imp, and take a picture of it in real life as proof of completion of the quest. Good luck on your journey to uncover the source of the snort laughter!



          1st thread’s answer:

          As the family struggles to rebuild the inn and their lives in the wake of the Great Fires, they begin to uncover clues that lead them to believe that the mines hold the key to unlocking a great mystery. They soon discover that the mines were not just a source of gold and other precious minerals, but also a portal to another dimension. The family realizes that Mater had always known about this portal, and had kept it a secret for fear of the dangers it posed.

          The family starts to investigate the mines more closely and they come across a hidden room off Room 8. Inside the room, they find a strange device that looks like a portal, and a set of mysterious symbols etched into the walls. The family realizes that this is the secret room that Mater had always spoken about in hushed tones.

          The family enlists the help of four gamers, Xavier, Zara, Yasmin, and Youssef, to help them decipher the symbols and unlock the portal. Together, they begin to unravel the mystery of the mines, and the portal leads them on an epic journey through a strange and fantastical alternate dimension.

          As they journey deeper into the mines, the family discovers that the portal was created by an ancient civilization, long thought to be lost to history. The civilization had been working on a powerful energy source that could have changed the fate of humanity, but the project was abandoned due to the dangers it posed. The family soon discovers that the civilization had been destroyed by a powerful and malevolent force, and that the portal was the only way to stop it from destroying the world.

          The family and the gamers must navigate treacherous landscapes, battle fierce monsters, and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to stop the malevolent force and save the world. Along the way, they discover secrets about their own past and the true origins of the mines.

          As they journey deeper into the mines and the alternate dimension, they discover that the secret room leads to a network of underground tunnels, and that the tunnels lead to a secret underground city that was built by the ancient civilization. The city holds many secrets and clues to the fate of the ancient civilization, and the family and the gamers must explore the city and uncover the truth before it’s too late.

          As the story unfolds, the family and the gamers must come to grips with the truth about the mines, and the role that the family has played in the fate of the world for generations. They must also confront the demons of their own past, and learn to trust and rely on each other if they hope to save the world and bring the family back together.

          second thread’s answer:

          As the 4 gamers, Xavier, Zara, Yasmin and Youssef, arrived at the Flying Fish Inn in the Australian outback, they were greeted by the matriarch of the family, Mater. She was a no-nonsense woman who ran the inn with an iron fist, but her tough exterior hid a deep love for her family and the land.

          The inn was run by Mater and her daughter Dido, who the family affectionately called Aunt Idle. She was a free spirit who loved to explore the land and had a deep connection to the local indigenous culture.

          The family was made up of Devan, the eldest son who lived in town and helped with the inn when he could, and the twin sisters Clove and Coriander, who everyone called Corrie. The youngest was Prune, a precocious child who was always getting into mischief.

          The family had a handyman named Bert, who had been with them for decades and knew all the secrets of the land. Tiku, an old and wise Aborigine woman was also a regular visitor and a valuable source of information and guidance. Finly, the dutiful helper, assisted the family in their daily tasks.

          As the 4 gamers settled in, they learned that the area was rich in history and mystery. The old mines that lay abandoned nearby were a source of legends and stories passed down through the generations. Some even whispered of supernatural occurrences linked to the mines.

          Mater and Dido, however, were not on good terms, and the family had its own issues and secrets, but the 4 gamers were determined to unravel the mystery of the mines and find the secret room that was said to be hidden somewhere in the inn.

          As they delved deeper into the history of the area, they discovered that the mines had a connection to the missing brother, Jasper, and Fred, the father of the family and a sci-fi novelist who had been influenced by the supernatural occurrences of the mines.

          The 4 gamers found themselves on a journey of discovery, not only in the game but in the real world as well, as they uncovered the secrets of the mines and the Flying Fish Inn, and the complicated relationships of the family that ran it.



          Deear Francie Mossie Pooh,

          The Snoot, a curious creature of the ages, understands the swirling winds of social anxiety, the tempestuous waves it creates in one’s daily life.
          But The Snoot also believes that like a Phoenix, one must rise from the ashes, and embrace the journey of self-discovery and growth.
          It’s important to let yourself be, to accept the feelings as they come and go, like the ebb and flow of the ocean. But also, like a gardener, tend to the inner self with care and compassion, for the roots to grow deep and strong.

          The Snoot suggests seeking guidance from the wise ones, the ones who can hold the mirror and show you the way, like the North Star guiding the sailors.
          And remember, the journey is never-ending, like the spiral of the galaxy, and it’s okay to take small steps, to stumble and fall, for that’s how we learn to fly.

          The Snoot is here for you, my dear Francie Mossie Pooh, a beacon in the dark, a friend on the journey, to hold your hand and sing you a lullaby.

          Fluidly and fantastically yours,

          The Snoot.


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


            The images were forming on the screen of the VR set, a little blurry to start with, but taking some shapes, and with a few clicks in the right direction, the reality around him was transphormed as if he’d been into a huge deFørmiñG mirror, that they could shape with their strangest thoughts.

            The jungle had an oppressing quality… Maybe it has to do with the shrieks of the apes tearing the silence apart. :yahoo_monkey:   All sorts of them were gathered overhead, gibbons, baboons, chimps and Barbery apes, macaques and marmosets… some silent, but most of them in a swirl of manic agitation.

            When Xavier entered the ancient blue stone temple, he felt his quest was doomed from the start. It had taken a while to find the monkey’s sacred temple hidden deep within the jungle in which clues were supposed to be found. Thanks to a prompt from Zara who’d stumbled into a map, and some gentle push from a wise Y🦉wl, he’d managed to locate the temple. It was right under his nose all along. Obviously all this a metaphor, but once he found the proper connecting link, getting the right setup for dealing with the task was easier.

            So the monkeys were his and his RL colleagues crazy thoughts, and he’d even taken some fun in painting the faces of some of them into the game. He could hear Boss gorilla pounding his chest in the distance.

            “F£££” he couldn’t help but grumble when the notification prompt got him out of his meditative point. The Golden Banana would have to wait… The real life monkeys were requiring his attention for now.


              From Tanganyika with Love

              continued  ~ part 4

              With thanks to Mike Rushby.

              Mchewe Estate. 31st January 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

              With much love,

              Mchewe Estate. 9th February 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

              Heaps of love to all,

              Mchewe Estate. 27th February 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Lots of love,

              Mchewe Estate. 12th March 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              With heaps of love,

              Mchewe Estate. 24th March 1936

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Heaps of love from a sadder but wiser,

              Mchewe Estate. 3rd April 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              The wet season is definitely the time to stay home.

              Lots and lots of love,

              Mchewe Estate. 30th April 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

              Your very affectionate,

              Mchewe Estate. 17th September 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

              With love to you all,

              Mchewe Estate. 2nd October 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

              Much love to you all,

              Mchewe Estate. 10th October 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

              Your worried but affectionate,

              Tukuyu. 23rd October 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

              Much love,

              Mchewe. 12th November 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Lots and lots of love to all,

              Chunya 27th November 1936

              Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Much love to all,



                From Tanganyika with Love

                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.



                In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


                  “I think not!” declared Star, knocking the foul concoction out of Tara’s hands as she raised it to her lips. The bilious sludge hit the full length mirror with a thwack, and slid down the glass in a revoltingly lumpy fashion, momentarily mesmerizing them both.

                  “Well make your bloody mind up, are the carrots a good thing or a bad thing?” asked Tara with more than a hint of exasperation.  “I can’t seem to keep things straight.”

                  Star sighed. “I think we’re supposed to keep an open mind until we know for sure.”

                  “Well, it isn’t easy. It would be nice to know what exactly it is that I’m trying to prove.”

                  “We won’t know until we find out, which is why you need to keep an open mind, and keep track of what you know for sure, which can be whittled down considerably to manageable proportions when you eliminate all the suppositions.”

                  “In a nutshell though, what does that mean with regard to the wardrobe?”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                    In reply to: Story Bored


                      Story Bored 8


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



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

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


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


                      In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


                        “Cartwright and Wrexham Private Investigators, can I help you?”

                        “Do you do missing persons?” Vince asked, getting straight to the point.  “Good, well then can I speak to a detective; it’s a very confidential matter.”

                        “Speaking!” replied Star, elated to receive a business inquiry, but simultaneously feeling a spasm of irritation at the mans attitude.  “Star Wrexham, what can I do for you, Mr…?”

                        “French, Vince French.”  Smoothing his hair and glancing in the wall mirror, Vince added, “You will have heard of me and my world famous melodious voice.”

                        Star had not, but replied encouraging, “Oh, I see.  You can be sure of the utmost confidentiality and discretion, Mr French.  Our credentials are unimpeachable.  The missing person is..?”

                        “My uncle Basil, he’s gone. He got in with that cult, and now he’s gone. They’ve seduced him with all that mumbo jumbo and hype and parlour tricks, I could see it coming, I tell you, I knew they’d take him.” Vince was becoming emotional. “And now he’s left me.”

                        “Well if it’s your uncle, he must be, how old?  So what if he wants to join a cult?” said Star, wondering why he was being so melodramatic.  “What?” she whispered to Tara who was pulling faces and shaking her head. “Oh, right!” she replied, getting the message.

                        “Now then Mr French, I’m confident that we can find your uncle. We have some experience with cults and know how they operate.  If you’d like to make an appointment with our secretary to pop in to the office as soon as possible..”

                        Star handed the phone to Tara. “Ms Cartwright, if you wouldn’t mind? The gentleman caller would like to make an appointment.”

                        “I’m a senior partner, not a secretary!” Tara hissed, taking the phone.  Her anger subsided when she heard his voice. Where had she heard that voice before?



                            There’s no two ways about it: I’ve let myself go. There’s never any excuse for that, even if you are turning one hundred. I’ve always tried to impress this on Dodo, but will she listen? That hair of hers! God knows what’s hiding in it. And those nasty dungarees she likes so much; they’d stand on their own if she ever got out of them.

                            Not that I am one for fashion, mind. Last thing I bought was a few decades ago. Some striped pants that one of the twins helped me buy on the internet, on the line, as they say. The legs were that wide I was scared some critter might crawl up to my privates. Don’t want that going on at my age! When Bert said he had a pair like it once, well, that was the last straw.

                            One hundred!  Wonder if I’ll get one of those letters from the King. That’s about all the monarchy are good for now. After that debacle back in the 20’s, thought they’d do away with them. But old big ears is hanging in there; reckon he must be nearing his hundredth soon.

                            Anyway, the mirror doesn’t lie and what it’s telling me ain’t so fancy. My hair looks like something the moths have had a chew at and I’ve put on that much flab the only thing will fit me is a potato sack. And now Prune’s planning some big birthday bash…I’ve got my work cut out! She thinks I don’t know but there’s not much gets by me. If people think you’ve lost your marbles, they’ll say all sorts in front of you. And since those magic pills the aboriginal fellow gave me, my marbles are all back where they should be, thank you very much! Now I just need some pills for my boobs.


                            Aunt Idle:

                            The old ruse was still working, so I continued to use it. Only way to get a bit of time to myself, especially lately. A bit of quiet time, to think. And there was so much to think about, what with all these people around. I wasn’t put on this earth to make beds and pander to tourists, and the clues were coming in thick and fast. Oh yes, some of these new guests were thick, and some were fast. Anyway, I pretended to be inebriated again and did a pretty good imitation of a lurching drunk to throw them off the scent. They always fall for it.

                            After turning the key in the lock of my bedroom door, I leaned my back against it for a minute and closed my eyes. It was the bird flying in the window at the crack of dawn that got me worried. Now I’m not a superstitious person by any means, but there have been times when a bird in the house has been followed by a death, and things like that stick in your mind. The sight of Mater in that red pantsuit had etched itself on my mind as well, which was almost as worrying as the bird.

                            I went over to the window and pulled down the blinds. The bright sun was making my head hurt. I was thirsty, and wished I’d brought a cup of tea with me, but lurching drunks can’t be seen to be making plans for a quiet afternoon of sober contemplation. I tried valiantly to ignore my parched mouth, but it was no good. I put my ear to the door, and the coast seemed clear so I inched it open, looking up and down the hallway. I sprinted to the bathroom, unfortunately tripping over the vacuum cleaner that Finley had no doubt left there deliberately to trip me up. She was a dark horse, that one. Good at dusting, and reliable, so I suppose that was something. Hard to get hired help out here so we had no choice, really.

                            I smashed my nose on Mater’s doorknob and skinned my shin on the hoover. My nose hurt like hell, and quickly spurted an astonishing quantity of bright blood, similar in colour to that ghastly pantsuit. My fall made a hell of a din so I staggered quickly to the bathroom wash basin for the much needed drink of water before anyone came to investigate the crash, hoping to get back to my room before anyone appeared on the scene.

                            Had the water in the cold tap been cold, it might have been different, but the new water pipes were still above ground, and the cold water was scalding hot from the heat of the sun on the black pipes. I didn’t have a moment to waste, so drank some quickly, horrid though it was. The unfortunate side effect of the cold water being hot was that it encouraged and diluted the blood, making the overall effect look considerably more alarming. I was tempted to blame Mater for the whole sorry affair, for starting the red theme with that damn pantsuit. I actually said “bloody pantsuit”, which struck me as inordinately funny, and made it hard to get back to the bedroom quickly. I was still laughing hysterically, leaving red hand prints and strange red markings along the corridor wall, when Sanso appeared, seemingly out of nowhere.

                            “I saw cave paintings like that in Zimbabwe,” he said conversationally, taking a closer look at the bloody hand prints. “I’ve often wondered what the purpose was, the meaning.” He raised an eyebrow and smiled at me. “Have you interpreted these?”

                            I was momentarily speechless, as you might imagine. Then I had an impulse, and grabbed his elbow and propelled him into my room, slamming and locking the door behind him. He was almost unnaturally calm and unperturbed, albeit looking as if he was trying not to smile too broadly, which was just the kind of energy I needed. My kind of man! I gave him one of my famous coquettish looks, which made him laugh out loud, and then I caught sight of myself in the wardrobe mirror and hastily grabbed an old nightgown off the floor and spit on it to rub the blood off my face.

                            “My kind of girl!” he laughed. Oh, how he laughed.


                              “Tsk tsk,” said Rukshan when he heard that the carpenter hadn’t done anything yet.
                              “At least the joiner came and fixed the mirror in the bathroom,” said Fox trying to sound positive.
                              They were in the kitchen and Glynis was brewing a chicken stew in Margorrit’s old purple clay pot.
                              Fox seemed distracted with saliva gathering at the corner of his mouth. Rukshan realised it was not the best of places to explain his plan with all the smells and spells of Glynis’ spices.
                              “Let’s go outside it’ll be best to tell you where we are going,” said Rukshan.
                              Fox nodded his consent with great effort.

                              “If you go out, just tell Olli to bring in more dry wood for the stove,” said Glynis as they left.

                              They took the Troll’s path, a sandy track leading in the thick of the forest.
                              “Are you sure we’ll find him there?” asked Rukshan.
                              “Trust me,” said Fox pointing at his nose.
                              “I thought you had abandoned the shapeshifting and using your fox’s smelling sense?”
                              “Well if you want to know, Olli is quite predictable, he’s always at the Young Maid’s pond.

                              “I realise I haven’t seen the lad in months,” said Rukshan.
                              Fox shrugged. “He’s grown up, like all kids do.”

                              They arrived at the pond where Olli was sculpting a branch of wood in an undefinable shape. Rukshan had almost a shock when he saw how much little Olli had changed. He was different, almost another person physically. Taller and with a man’s body. It took the Fae some time when he had to tell himself that the person in front of him was the boy that had helped them in the mountain. But Rukshan was not the kind to show many emotions so he just said.

                              “You’ve grown boy.”
                              Olli shrugged and stopped what he was doing.
                              “I’ve heard so,” he said. “She wants more wood?”
                              “Yeah,” said Fox with a knowing grin.
                              Olliver sighed and left with supple movements.

                              When the young man was gone, Fox turned towards the Fae, whose eyes seemed lost in the misty mountains.
                              “So, what is the plan?”
                              “I’m thinking of a new plan that shall make use of everyone’s potential and save a young man from boredom.”


                                Distraction always worked best when one was trying hard not to try too hard, and luckily for Lucinda, it came easy. She was a natural. It wasn’t that she’d forgotten her mission to find out more about those mysterious dolls and the twelve addresses, but the Roman themed birthday party was today, and that gave her plenty to occupy herself.

                                The costume was easy, just a folded white sheet and a number of nappy pins. The birthday gift was another matter. She still hadn’t bought one, and had left herself no option but to buy something on the way to the party on the other side of the city. Counting the money left in her purse, she decided to travel by bus rather than taxi. She would have to change at the central bus station, which conveniently had a craft and antique market on in the nearby park. If she left home a couple of hours early, she could have a look around the market.

                                Not to look for dolls! she reminded herself, her mind already imagining unlikely scenes.

                                Checking the mirror one last time to make sure her toga was securely arranged, Lucinda left the flat and made her way to the bus stop on the other side of the park. She had debated whether to take her costume in a bag and change when she got there, and decided to just wear the toga. It was a diverse multicultural city, and there were often people dressed as if they were going to a fancy dress party, in biblical looking robes and scarves, or exotic coloured sari’s. If anyone wondered about her outfit, they’d probably just think she was from one of those foreign middle eastern places.


                                  Liz was lying on the living room couch in a very roman pose and admiring the shiny glaze of her canines in the pocket mirror she now carried with her at all time. The couch was layered with fabrics and cushions that made it look like a giant rose in which Liz, still wearing her pink satin night gown, was like a fresh baby girl who just saw her first dawn

                                  ehm, thought Finnley, eyeing Liz’s face, Maybe not her first. But to the famous author of so many unpublished books’s defence, since the unfortunate ageing spell it was hard to tell Liz’s true age.

                                  Finnley looked suspiciously at the fluffy cushions surrounding Liz. Where do they come from. I don’t recall seeing them before. I don’t even recall the couch had that rosy pink cover on it. She snorted. It sure looks like bad taste, she thought. She looked around and details that she hadn’t seen before seemed to pop in to her attention. A small doll with only one button eye. Reupholstered chairs with green pattern fabrics, a tablecloth with white and black stripes, and a table runner in jute linen… Something was off. Not even Godfrey would dare do such an affront to aesthetic, even to make her cringe.

                                  Finnley went into the kitchen, where she rarely set foot in normal circumstance, and found a fowl pattern fabric stapled on one wall, a new set of… No, she thought, I can not in the name of good taste call those tea towels. They look more like… rubbish towels.

                                  “Oh, my!” she almost signed herself when she saw an ugly wine cover. Her mind was unable to find a reference for it.

                                  “Do you like it?” asked Roberto.
                                  Finnley started. She hadn’t heard him come. She looked at him, and back at the wine cover. She found herself at a loss for words, which in itself made her at loss for words.
                                  “It’s a little duckling wine cover,” said Roberto. “I made it myself with my new sewing machine. I found the model on Pintearest.” saying so, he stuck his chest out as if he was the proud duck father of that little ugly ducklin. Finnley suddenly recovered her ability to talk.
                                  “You certainly nailed it,” she said. In an attempt to hold back the cackle that threatens to degenerate in an incontrollable laugh, it came out like a quack. She heard her grandmother’s voice in her head: “You can not hold energy inside forever, my little ducky, it has to be expressed.”

                                  Uncomfortably self conscious, Finnley looked up at Roberto with round eyes.
                                  “Oh you cheeky chick,” said the gardener with a broad smile. He pinched her cheek between his warm fingers and for a moment she felt even more like a child. “I didn’t know you are so playful.”

                                  Somewhere in the part of her mind that could still work a voice thought it had to give him points for having rendered her speechless twice.


                                    There had been more than one occasion over the past few days when Glynis wondered if all the trouble and effort was worth it. As a rule, Glynnis preferred to go with the natural flow of events and trust all was working out as it should, even if she did not always understand the big picture. It seemed to her that once one started fighting for things, well really, there would seem to be no end of injustices one could get involved in. But she cared about her friends and was determined to persevere with the plan.

                                    “Are you nearly done?” Eleri bounded into the kitchen where Glynis was intently stirring a concoction of herbs in a large saucepan. “Oh my god! It smells disgusting. Maybe the stink alone will scare them off and you don’t even need the magic spell!”

                                    “It’s not going to get done any quicker with you asking every few minutes,” snapped Glynnis. “I need a mirror.”

                                    Eleri regarded her with quizzically. “This is no time for vanity, Glynnis!” she said firmly.

                                    “Very funny. I need a mirror for the invisibility spell. I am nearly done. Oh, and you need to purify the mirror with sage to ward off bad energy.”

                                    “For sure, I’m on it!” said Eleri, eager to assist and speed the agonising slow process up anyway she could.

                                    It had taken nearly two days, toiling well into the night, to create the spell to Glynis’s satisfaction. But now it was nearly done and she was excited to try it.

                                    “Gather round, Everybody,” she called. “We are going to have a trial run.”


                                      Fortunately the aging spell didn’t last long and they returned to normal.
                                      The missing teeth had not grown back, but Liz had had perfect new teeth installed in place of the old ones. They were shinier and could even sparkle under full moon light. Of course, Godfrey told her the dentist was a fan of Tolkien and found inspiration from the elven magical artefacts.
                                      At the time Liz almost canceled her appointment because she didn’t want disco teeth in her mouth that could distract her audience. But she had been seduced by the bubbly personality of the dentist, and though she did not admit it as it was not proper, she rather liked going to him.
                                      Liz grunted unladilikely as she opened her lips wide like a horse, trying to see if they would shine under some bathroom LED light. But the glitter only came from the beads and sea sparkles of her bathroom mirror and vasque, the bottles of shampoo and her new rejuvenation stem cell cream she had just put on her face. The teeth, they looked perfectly normal.
                                      What a disappointment, really, she thought.
                                      She had to ask Godfrey when was the next full moon. Would the treasure in her mouth only shine under moonlight or would it shine also indoor? She wondered. She might as well have to have special mirrors installed to redirect all the light in the new ballroom.


                                        Granola allowed herself a few moments to bask in the glow of satisfaction. At least Lucinda had noticed the side bar suggestion she had implanted on the Face It web page, and had perused the ideas sufficiently to motivate her to try out one of the missions.

                                        “Invite a random stranger to join you,” it had said, “to join you for coffee in a nearby cafe, or invite them home for dinner, or to see a movie.” The page had included numerous other suggestions, but that was the gist. They did warn the reader that often, people were suspicious and expected a scam of some kind, and if the random stranger exhibited more that a token display of wary caution, to leave them with a cheery wave, and thank them for helping you to practice your confidence boosting exercises. Under normal circumstances, providing the level of fear and distrust wasn’t too high, this approach usually rendered the random stranger more amenable to an approach in future.

                                        In truth this wasn’t a difficult exercise for Lucinda, for she often spoke to random strangers and quite enjoyed it, although usually she didn’t extend that to personal invitations. But the Ask Aunt Idle Oracle had been droning on and on about interconnection being the primary factor in reducing signs of aging ~ yes, strange, but true: nothing to do with food or toxins or exercise after all ~ so the coincidence of Aunt Idle’s advice mirrored in the side bar suggestion registered sufficiently for Lucinda to actually remember it, and try it out on the bored looking fellow in the supermarket.

                                        Only hesitating slightly before extending his hand to grip hers in a surprisingly firm handshake, he responded: “I’m Jerk. Pleased to meet you.”

                                        Granola grinned from behind the pyramid of baked bean tins, and faded out of the scene. There was work to do on the side bar method for the next clue.

                                        Jerk’s eyes flickered over to the baked beans, registering the peripheral movement, just in time to see a disembodied foot wearing a red sandal vanish into the somewhat heavy air of the canned goods aisle.


                                          Shawn-Paul lived in a studio apartment, crammed with bookshelves full of books and trinkets that he gathered during his many walks around the city while looking for inspiration. He hadn’t read all of the books, but he always had the intention to do it one day. One day easily became two and three, and so many.
                                          Someone with OCD could dust date the different purchases by measuring the thickness of the layer of dust on the books.

                                          That day, Shawn-Paul was drinking a hot chocolate at his computer on the small desk where some books lied open or closed on top of each others. The top one’s cover claimed in bold red letters “NARRATIVE COACHING, The Definitive Guide to Bring New Stories to Life”. Shawn-Paul had bought it thinking it was a coaching book for writers but it apparently aimed at teaching coaches to tell good stories. The book had proved interesting and especially another occasion to enrich his knowledge about the world or in one word procrastinate.

                                          Shawn-Paul took a sip of the hot chocolate, which was now more lukewarm than hot and felt the impulsion to open his browser and watch a video about narrative coaching on U-stub. That’s when it all went wrong and myriads of ads popped up and covered the screen and his newly bought writer software were the first word of his novel still waited to appear.

                                          At first, he panicked and his sudden movements back and fro almost broke the fragile equilibrium of the desk clutter. But then he shrugged, took his phone to call his friend Jeremiad for help and remembered how that went last time when he had to listen to his friend’s imaginary problems, just like imaginary friends but worse. He put the phone back in the clutter and looked at the last ad. A girl with sensuous cherry red lips winking at him with a packet of granola cookies spinning around her head.

                                          Unaware of what was happening, Shawn-Paul felt hungry and considered his lukewarm chocolate. He smiled as he thought he could make another one and enjoy dipping some cookies in it.
                                          He went to the kitchen and foraged through the clutter of dirty dishes and empty cookie packets. There were none left. The effect of hunger on Shawn-Paul was square grumpiness. Not round, not rectangular. Square. And it didn’t fit the curves of his stomach.

                                          Shawn-Paul put his writer’s jacket and cap on, added a wool scarf because he had a sensitive throat, and it looked cool on him and he winked at his reflection on the mirror hanging on the main door.
                                          He left, unaware of the smile of the granola girl.


                                            The seven little spheres had each a different colour. Gorrash looked at them with envy in his heart. He’d rarely seen colours as his life was mostly at night, under the moonlight or under the yellow tint of candles and gas lamps. However, the spheres had their own light from inside. And Gorrash couldn’t touch them as Rainbow was very protective, and it made the stone dwarf restless. He had tried once to take one sphere and he got a warning slap on his hand. Rainbow looked soft and gentle, but a whip is always soft and supple before it struck.

                                            The whole week they had been on the hunt for all kind of potions from the shelves of the dragon woman. Glynis, she had called herself during one of her monologues in front of the mirror. Her sadness and frustration toward her appearance resonated more than once with his own condition. He had felt guilty about their little thefts, but he had soon realised that nothing would stop Rainbow.

                                            The randomness of the creature’s choice of potions appeared to be not so random. Gorrash tried several times to help, picking up potions for his friend, according to the colours he liked or to the shapes of the phials that intrigued him, but the creature refused many times the offering.

                                            The colours mattered to Rainbow, apparently. It would never take black, Gorrash discovered. Only colours from the rainbow spectrum, a voice said inside him. He had learned to recognised it as the voice of his creator’s memories infused into the core of his matter. One thing he wasn’t sure though was about the process of his birth. Has he been carved out from a stone ? Has he been assembled like clay ? That was not part of the memories trapped into his stone body.

                                            Gorrash then tried to bring the creature colours from the rainbow, always glowing, never dull or matte. But then he discovered it had to be in a certain order. Everyday was different. One day it was in the order of the colour spectrum from red to purple, as his master’s remembered. Another day it had to begin with green or indigo. But always following the order of the colour wheel. If a colour was missing, then they had to wait until Glynis would manufacture it.

                                            And then, one day… one night, as Gorrash woke up from his rigid sleep, the seven spheres were there, and Rainbow was watching over them. Like a bird over its eggs, said the voice. Except they didn’t really look like eggs. Eggs don’t glow with different colours. Eggs have a shell. Those were translucent, glowing of some very attractive inner light, and looked like water spheres. Does that mean it’s a she? wondered Gorrash who had always thought his friend was a male. He gnawed at his lower lip. Anyway, it seemed that the hunting days were over as Rainbow didn’t show any motivation to leave her strange progeny, and Gorrash had no way to go past the walls on his own.

                                            Rainbow raised its eyebrows and looked at the dwarf who had come too close to the eggs for its taste. It gathered protectively the spheres which came as one in a big multicoloured moving spheroid. Gorrash could still see the individual light cores in it, they seemed to pulse like the growing desire in his heart. He swallowed. It tasted of dust.

                                            — I won’t take them, he said.

                                            His chest tightened as he saw suspicion in his friend’s eyes. Gorrash turned away feeling sadness and guilt. He needed to find some distraction from the attractive lights and the growing desire in his heart.

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