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    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


      Bert dropped Zara off after breakfast at the start of the Yeperenye trail.  He suggested that she phone him when she wanted him to pick her up, and asked if she was sure she had enough water and reminded her, not for the first time, not to wander off the trail.   Of course not, she replied blithely, as if she’d never wandered off before.

      “It’s a beautiful gorge, you’ll like it,” he called through the open window, “You’ll need the bug spray when you get to the water holes.”  Zara smiled and waved as the car roared off in a cloud of dust.

      On the short drive to the start of the trail, Bert had told her that the trail was named after the Yeperenye dreamtime, also known as ‘Caterpillar Dreaming’  and that it was a significant dreamtime story in Aboriginal mythology. Be sure to look at the aboriginal rock art, he’d said.   He mentioned several varieties of birds but Zara quickly forgot the names of them.

      It felt good to be outside, completely alone in the vast landscape with the bone warming sun. To her surprise, she hadn’t seen the parrot again after the encounter at the bedroom window, although she had heard a squalky laugh coming from a room upstairs as she passed the staircase on her way to the dining room.

      But it was nice to be on her own. She walked slowly, appreciating the silence and the scenery. Acacia and eucalyptus trees were dotted about and long grasses whispered in the occasional gentle breezes.  Birds twittered and screeched and she heard a few rustlings in the undergrowth from time to time as she strolled along.

      After a while the rocky outcrops towered above her on each side of the path and the gorge narrowed, the trail winding through stands of trees and open grassland. Zara was glad of the shade as the sun rose higher.

      Zara water hole


      The first water hole she came to took Zara by surprise. She expected it to be pretty and scenic, like the photos she’d seen, but the spectacular beauty of the setting and shimmering light somehow seemed timeless and otherwordly.  It was a moment or two before she realized she wasn’t alone.

      It was time to stop for a drink and the sandwich that one of the twins had made for her, and this was the perfect spot, but she wondered if the man would find it intrusive of her to plonk herself down and picnic at the same place as him.  Had he come here for the solitude and would he resent her appearance?

      It is a public trail, she reminded herself not to be silly, but still, she felt uneasy.  The man hadn’t even glanced up as far as Zara could tell. Had he noticed her?

      She found a smooth rock to sit on under a tree and unwrapped her lunch, glancing up from time to time ready to give a cheery wave and shout hi, if he looked up from what he was doing.  But he didn’t look up, and what exactly was he doing? It was hard to say, he was pacing around on the opposite side of the pool, looking intently at the ground.

      When Zara finished her drink, she went behind a bush for a pee, making sure she would not be seen if the man glanced up. When she emerged, the man was gone.  Zara walked slowly around the water hole, taking photos, and keeping an eye out for the man, but he was nowhere to be seen.  When she reached the place where he’d been pacing looking at the ground, she paused and retraced his steps.  Something small and shiny glinted in the sun catching her eye. It was a compass, a gold compass, and quite an unusual one.

      Zara didn’t know what to do, had the man been looking for it?  Should she return it to him?  But who was he and where did he go?  She decided there was no point in leaving it here, so she put it in her pocket. Perhaps she could ask at the inn if there was a lost and found place or something.

      Refreshed from the break, Zara continued her walk. She took the compass out and looked at it, wondering not for the first time how on earth anyone used one to find their way.  She fiddled with it, and the needle kept pointing in the same direction.   What good is it knowing which way north is, if you don’t know where you are anyway? she wondered.

      With a squalk and a beating of wings, Pretty Girl appeared, seemingly out of nowhere.  “It’s not that kind of compass. You’re supposed to follow the pointer.”

      “Am I?  But it’s pointing off the trail, and Bert said don’t go off the trail.”

      “That’s because Bert doesn’t want you to find it,” replied the parrot.

      Intrigued, Zara set off in the direction the compass was pointing towards.


      In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


        With a determined glint in his eye, Xavier set his sights on the slot machines. He scanned the rows of blinking lights and flashing screens until one caught his attention. He approached the machine and inserted a coin, feeling a rush of excitement as he pulled the lever.

        With a satisfying whir, the reels began to spin, and before he knew it, the golden banana appeared on the screen, lining up perfectly. The machine erupted in flashing lights and loud noises, and a ticket spilled out onto the floor.

        🎰 · 💰

        Xavier picked it up, reading aloud the inscriptions on the ticket, “Congratulations on completing your quest. You may enjoy your trip until the next stage of your journey. Look for the cook on the pirate boat, she will give you directions to regroup with your friends. And don’t forget to confirm your bookings.”

        Glimmer let out a whoop of trepidation, “Let’s go find that cook, Xav! I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for us!”

        But Xavier, feeling a bit worn out, replied with a smile, “Hold on a minute, love. All I need at the moment is just some R&R after all that brouhaha.”

        Glimmer nodded in understanding and they both made their way to the deck, taking in the fresh air and the breathtaking scenery as the boat sailed towards its next destination.

        As the boat continued its journey, sailing and gliding on the river in the air filled with moist, they could start to see across the mist opening like a heavy curtain a colourful floating market in the distance, and the sounds of haggling and laughter filled the air.

        They couldn’t wait to explore and see what treasures and surprises awaited them. The journey was far from over, but for now, they were content to simply enjoy the ride.


        Xavier closed his laptop while his friends were still sending messages on the chatroom. He’d had long days of work before leaving to take his flights to Australia, during which he hoped he could rest enough during the flights.

        Most of the flights he’d checked had a minimum of 3 layovers, and a unbelievably long durations (not to count the astronomic amount of carbon emissions). Against all common sense, he’d taken one of the longest flight duration. It was 57h, but only 3 layovers. From Berlin, to Stockholm, then Dubai and Sydney. He could probably catch up with Youssef there as apparently he sent a message before boarding. They could go to Alice Spring and the Frying Mush Inn together. He’d try to find the reviews, but they were only listed on and didn’t have the rave reviews of the prestigious Kookynie Grand Hotel franchise. God knows what Zara had in mind while booking this place, it’d better be good. Reminded him of the time they all went to that improbably ghastly hotel in Spain (at the time Yasmin was still volunteering in a mission and couldn’t join) for a seminar with other game loonies and cosplayers. Those were the early days of the game, and the technology frankly left a lot to be desired at the time. They’d ended up eating raspberry jam with disposable toothbrushes, and get drunk on laughter.

        When Brytta had seen the time it took to go there, she’d reconsidered coming. She couldn’t afford taking that much time off, and spending the equivalent of 4 full days of her hard-won vacation as a nurse into a plane simply for the round-trip —there was simply no way.
        Xavier had proposed to shorten his stay, but she’d laughed and said, “you go there, I’ll enjoy some girl time with my friends, and I’ll work on my painting” —it was more convenient when he was gone for business trips, she would be able to put all the materials out, and not care to keep the apartment neat and tidy.

        The backpack was ready with the essentials; Xavier liked to travel light.


        In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


          It was a pleasant 25 degrees as Zara stepped off the plane. The flat red land stretched as far as the eye could see, and although she prefered a more undulating terrain there was something awe inspiring about this vast landscape. It was quite a contrast from the past few hours spent inside mine tunnels.

          Bert, a weatherbeaten man of indeterminate advanced age, was there to meet her as arranged and led her to the car, a battered old four wheel drive.  Although clearly getting on in years, he was tall and spry and dressed in practical working clothes.

          “Welcome to Alice,” he said, taking her bag and putting in on the back seat.  “I expect you’ll be wanting to know a bit about the place.”

          “How long have you lived here?” Zara asked, as Bert settled into the creaky drivers seat and started the car.

          Bert gave her a funny look and replied “Longer than a ducks ass.”  Zara had never heard that expression before; she assumed it meant a long time but didn’t like to pursue the question.

          “All this land belongs to the Arrernte,” he said, pronouncing it Arrunda.  “The local aboriginals.  1862 when we got here. Well,” Bert turned to give Zara a lopsided smile, “Not me personally, I aint quite that old.”

          Zara chuckled politely as Bert continued, “It got kinda busy around these parts round 1887 with the gold.”

          “Oh, are there mines near here?”  Zara asked with some excitement.

          Bert gave her a sharp look. “Oh there’s mines alright. Abandoned now though, and dangerous. Dangerous places, old mines.  You’ll be more interested in the hiking trails than those old mines, some real nice hiking and rock gorges, and it’s a nice temperature this time of year.”

          Bert lapsed into silence for a few minutes, frowning.

          “If you’da been arriving back then, you’da been on a camel train, that’s how they did it back then. Camel trains.   They do camel tours for tourists nowadays.”

          “Do you get many tourists?”

          “Too dang many tourists if you ask me, Alice is full of them, and Ayers Rock’s crawling with ’em these days. We don’t get many out our way though.” Bert snorted, reminding Zara of Yasmin. “Our visitors like an off the beaten track kind of holiday, know what I mean?” Bert gave Zara another sideways lopsided smile.  “I reckon you’ll like it at The Flying Fish Inn.  Down to earth, know what I mean? Down to earth and off the wall.”  He laughed heartily at that and Zara wasn’t quite sure what to say, so she laughed too.

          “Sounds great.”

          “Family run, see, makes a difference.  No fancy airs and graces, no traffic ~ well, not much of anything really, just beautiful scenery and peace and quiet.  Aunt Idle thinks she’s in charge but me and old Mater do most of it, well Finly does most of it to be honest, and you dropped lucky coming now, the twins have just decorated the bedrooms. Real nice they look now, they fancied doing some dreamtime murials on the walls.  The twins are Idle’s neices, Clove and Corrie, turned out nice girls, despite everything.”

          “Despite ….?”

          “What? Oh, living in the outback. Youngsters usually leave and head for the cities.  Prune’s the youngest gal, she’s a real imp, that one, a real character.  And Devan calls by regular to see Mater, he works at the gas station.”

          “Are they all Idle’s neices and nephews? Where are their parents?”  Perhaps she shouldn’t have asked, Zara thought when she saw Bert’s face.

          “Long gone, mate, long since gone from round here.  We’ve taken good care of ’em.”  Bert turned off the road onto a dirt road.  “Only another five minutes now.  We’re outside the town a bit, but there aint much in town anyway. Population 79, our town. About right for a decent sized town if you ask me.”

          Bert rounded a bend in a eucalyptus grove and announced, “Here we are, then, the Flying Fish Inn.”  He parked the car and retrieved Zara’s bag from the back seat.  “Take a seat on the verandah and I’ll find Idle to show you to your room and get you a drink.  Oh, and don’t be put off by Idle’s appearance, she’s a sweetheart really.”

          Flying Fish Inn


          Aunt Idle was nowhere to be found though, having decided to go for a walk on impulse, quite forgetting the arrival of the first guest.    She saw Bert’s car approaching the hotel from her vantage point on a low hill, which reminded her she should be getting back.  It was a lovely evening and she didn’t rush.

          Aunt Idle walk


          Bert found Mater in the dining room gazing out of the window.  “Where the bloody hell is Idle? The guest’s outside on the verandah.”

          “She’s taken herself off for a walk, can you believe it?” sighed Mater.

          “Yep” Bert replied, “I can.  Which room’s she in? Can you show her to her room?”

          “Yes of course, Bert. Perhaps you’d see to getting a drink for her.”

          Mater dining room


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


            The two figures disappeared from view and Zara continued towards the light. An alcove to her right revealed a grotesque frog like creature with a pile of bones and gruesome looking objects. Zara hurried past.

            Osnas 1


            Bugger, I bet that was Osnas, Zara realized. But she wasn’t going to go back now.  It seemed there was only one way to go, towards the light.   Although in real life she was sitting on a brightly lit aeroplane with the stewards bustling about with the drinks and snacks cart, she could feel the chill of the tunnels and the uneasy thrill of secrets and danger.

            “Tea? Coffee? Soft drink?” smiled the hostess with the blue uniform, leaning over her cart towards Zara.

            “Coffee please,” she replied, glancing up with a smile, and then her smile froze as she noticed the frog like features of the woman.  “And a packet of secret tiles please,” she added with a giggle.

            “Sorry, did you say nuts?”

            “Yeah, nuts.  Thank you, peanuts will be fine, cheers.”

            Sipping coffee in between handfulls of peanuts, Zara returned to the game.

            As Zara continued along the tunnels following the light, she noticed the drawings on the floor. She stopped to take a photo, as the two figures continued ahead of her.

            I don’t know how I’m supposed to work out what any of this means, though. Just keep going I guess. Zara wished that Pretty Girl was with her. This was the first time she’d played without her.

            Zara tunnels floor drawings


            The walls and floors had many drawings, symbols and diagrams, and Zara stopped to take photos of all of them as she slowly made her way along the tunnel.  

            Zara meanwhile make screenshots of them all as well.   The frisson of fear had given way to curiosity, now that the tunnel was more brightly lit, and there were intriguing things to notice.  She was no closer to working out what they meant, but she was enjoying it now and happy to just explore.

            But who had etched all these pictures into the rock? You’d expect to see cave paintings in a cave, but in an old mine?  How old was the mine? she wondered. The game had been scanty with any kind of factual information about the mine, and it could have been a bronze age mine, a Roman mine, or just a gold rush mine from not so very long ago.  She assumed it wasn’t a coal mine, which she deduced from the absence of any coal, and mentally heard her friend Yasmin snort with laughter at her train of thought.  She reminded herself that it was just a game and not an archaeology dig, after all, and to just keep exploring.  And that Yasmin wasn’t reading her mind and snorting at her thoughts.


            In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


              “One of them’s arriving early!” Aunt Idle told Mater who had just come swanning into the kitchen with her long grey hair neatly plaited and tied with a red velvet bow.   Ridiculous being so particular about her hair at her age, Idle thought, whose own hair was an untidy and non too clean looking tangle of long dreadlocks with faded multicolour dyes growing out from her grey scalp.  “Bert’s going to pick her up at seven.”

              “You better get a move on then, the verandah needs sweeping and the dining room needs dusting. Are the bedrooms ready yet?” Mater replied, patting her hair and pulling her cardigan down neatly.

              “Plenty of time, no need to worry!” Idle said, looking worried.  “What on earth was that?”  Something bright caught her eye through the kitchen window.

              “Never mind that, make a start on the cleaning!” Mater said with a loud tut and an eye roll. Always getting distracted, that one, never finishes a job before she’s off sidetracking.  Mater gave her hair another satisfied pat, and put two slices of bread in the toaster.

              But Aunt Idle had gone outside to investigate.  A minute or two later she returned, saying “You’ll never guess what, there’s a tame red parrot sitting on the porch table. And it talks!”

              “So you’re planning to spend the day talking to a parrot, and leave me to do all the dusting, is that it?” Mater said, spreading honey on her toast.

              Pretty Girl at Flying Fish Inn


              In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                Bertie dropped Zara off at the bus station in Camden early the next morning. She let him think she was catching a plane from Sydney, given her impulsive lie about having to meet her friends sooner, but she was going by train. The reviews she’d read online were tantalizing:

                “The Ghan journey tells the story of the land. The train is the canvas, and the changing landscape paints the picture.”

                A two day train ride would give her time to relax and play the game, and she assumed two days of desert scenery would not be too distracting.  Luckily before she paid for her ticket she had the presence of mind to ask if there was internet on the train. There was not.  Zara sighed, and booked a flight instead, but decided she would catch the train back home after the holiday at the Flying Fish Inn.  By then perhaps the novelty of the game would have worn off, and she would appreciate the time spent in quiet contemplation, and perhaps do some writing.

                Zara hated flying, especially airports. The best that could be said of flying was that it was a quick way to get from A to B.

                “You’ll have to go in a cage for the flight, Pretty Girl,” she told the parrot.

                “I think not,” replied Pretty Girl.  “I’ll meet you there.  See you!” and off she flew into the low morning sun, momentarily blinding Zara as she watched her go.

                Her flight left Sydney at 14:35. Three and a half hours later she would arrive at Alice Springs and from there it was a half hour road trip to the Flying Fish.  Zara sent an email to the inn asking if anyone could pick her up, otherwise she would get a bus or a taxi.  She received a reply saying that they’d send Bert to pick her up around seven o’clock.  Another Bert!


                In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                  Xavier couldn’t help but give Glimmer a quizzical look as she’d suddenly transformed before his eyes — her accent and mannerisms shifting in an instant. She swayed lightly on her feet, in an airy manner, as if not fully aware of her surroundings, but she quickly laughed it off. “You’ve got me curious about this golden banana business, I tell ya,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.

                  Xavier’s suspicious expression softened as she spoke. “I’m not the one you’re looking for if you’re after information, but it sounds like a right thrilling adventure.” Glimmer grinned, “Mind if I tag along for a bit and show you around the casino boat? I know all the best games and I’ve met all sorts of pirate-talking characters here.”

                  With a cheeky grin, Xavier replied, “I’ll take your word for it, love.”

                  Glimmer’s enthusiasm for the game and eagerness to show him around the casino boat was contagious. Xavier followed her as she bounced through the crowd, pointing out different games and introducing him to the various pirate-talking characters that populated the boat.

                  “Watch yer back ’round ‘im,” Glimmer warned, nodding towards a tall, scruffy-looking man with a patch over one eye. ” ‘E’s a bit of a card shark, and ‘e’s known to cheat.”

                  As they walked, Glimmer regaled Xavier with tales of her adventures in the land and the colourful characters she had encountered. Xavier couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of her level of immersion and her enjoyment of the game.

                  Suddenly, the boat began to move, and Xavier realised that it was no longer anchored to the dock. Glimmer’s face lit up with excitement, “Oooh, it looks like we’re on a journey now! I’ve heard rumours of secret locations along the river that the boat takes players to. I can’t wait to see where we’re headed!”

                  Xavier couldn’t help but feel a sense of adventure and wonder and he followed Glimmer to the deck, watching as the boat sailed away from the dock along the river and into the unknown. He was terribly curious and looking forward to seeing where the boat would take him and what other surprises this adventure had in store.


                  In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                    “I’m going to have to jump in this pool, Pretty Girl, look at this one! It reminds me of something…”

                    Zara came to a green pool that was different from the others, and walked into it.

                    Zara Game 7She emerged into a new scene, with what appeared  to be a floating portal, but a square one this time.

                    “May as well step onto it and see where it goes!” Zara told the parrot, who was taking a keen interest in the screen, somewhat strangely for a bird.  “I like having you here, Pretty Girl, it’s nice to have someone to talk to.”

                    Zara stepped onto the floating tile portal.

                    Zara Game 9


                    “Hey, wasn’t my quest to find a wooden tile?” Zara suddenly remembered. She’d forgotten her quest while she was wandering around the enchanting castle.

                    “Yes, but that doesn’t look like the tile you were supposed to find though,”  replied the parrot.

                    “It might lead me to it,” snapped Zara who didn’t really want to leave the pretty castle scenes anyway.  It felt magical and somehow familiar, like she’d been there before, a long long time ago.

                    After stepping onto the floating tile portal, Zara encountered another tile portal. This time it was upright, with a circular portal in the centre. By now it seemed clear that the thing to do was to walk through it.  She wandered around the scene first as if she was a tourist simply taking in the new sights before taking the plunge.

                    Zara Game 9

                    “Oh my god, look! It’s my tile!” Zara said excitedly to the parrot, just as the words flashed up on her screen:

                    Congratulations!  You have reached the first goal of your first quest!

                    Zara Game 10


                    “Oh bugger!  Look at the time, it’s already starting to get light outside. I completely forgot about going to that church to see Isaac’s ghost, and now I haven’t had a wink of sleep all night.”

                    “Time well spent,” said the parrot sagely, “You can go and see Isaac tomorrow night, and he may be all the more willing to talk since you kept him waiting.”


                    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                      Zara decided she may as well spend the hour wandering around the game before going back to the church to see the ghost of Isaac when she was sure her host Bertie was asleep.  It was a warm night but a gentle breeze wafted through the open window and Zara was comfortable and content. Not just one but three new adventures had her tingling with delicious anticipation, even if she was a little anxious about not getting confused with the game.  Talking to ghosts in old churches wasn’t unfamiliar, nor was a holiday in a strange hotel off the beaten track, but the game was still a bit of a mystery to her.  Yeah, I know it’s just a game, she whispered to the parrot who made a soft clicking noise by way of response.

                      Zara found her game character, also (somewhat confusingly) named Zara, standing in the woods.  Not entirely sure how it had happened, she was rather pleased to see that the cargo pants and tank top in red had changed to a more pleasing hippyish red skirt ensemble.   A bit less Tomb Looter, and a bit more fairy tale looking which was more to her taste.

                      The woods were strangely silent and still.  Zara made a 360 degree turn on the spot to see in all directions. The scene looked the same whichever way she turned, and Zara didn’t know which way to go. Then a faint path appeared to the left, and she set off in that direction.  Before long she came to a round green pool.

                      Zara Game 1She stopped to look but carried on walking past it, not sure what it signified.  She came upon another glowing green pool before long, which looked like an entrance to a tunnel.


                      Zara game 2

                      I bet those are portals or something, Zara realized. I wonder if I’m supposed to step into it?

                      “Go for it”, said Pretty Girl, “It’s only a game.”

                      “Ok, well here goes!” replied Zara, mentally bracing herself for a plunge into the unknown.

                      Zara stepped into the circle of glowing green.

                      “Like when Alice went down the rabbit hole!” Zara whispered to the parrot.  “I’m falling, falling…oh!”

                      Zara emerged from the green pool onto a wide walled path.  She was now in some kind of inhabited area, or at least not in the deep woods with no sign of human occupation. 

                      Zara Game 3

                      “I guess that green pool is the portal back to the woods.”

                      “By George, she’s getting it,” replied Pretty Girl.


                      Zara walked along the path which led to an old deserted ancient looking village with alleyways and steps.

                      “This is heaps more interesting than those woods, look how pretty it all is! I love this place.”

                      “Weren’t you supposed to be looking for a hermit in the woods though,” said Pretty Girl.

                      “Or a lost traveler, and the lost traveler may be here, after falling in one of those green pools in the woods,”  replied Zara tartly, not wanting to leave the enchanting scene she found her avatar in.

                      Zara Game 4


                      In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                        Have you booked your flight yet?  Zara sent a message to Yasmin. I’m spending a few more days in Camden, probably be at the Flying Fish Inn by the end of the week.

                          :yahoo_rolling_eyes: :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    I told you already when my flight is, Air Fiji, remeber?  bloody Sister Finnlie on my case all the time, haven’t had a minute. Zara had to wait over an hour for Yamsin’s reply.

                        Took you long enough to reply. Zara replied promptly. Heard nothing from Youssef for ages either, have you heard from him? I’ll be arriving there on my own at this rate.

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   Not a word, I expect Xavier’s booked his but he hasn’t said.  Probably doing his secret monkey thing.

                        Have you tried the free roaming thing on the game yet?

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    I just told you Sister Finnlie hasn’t given me a minute to myself, she’s a right tart! Why, have you?

                        Yeah it’s amazing, been checking out the Flying Fish Inn. Looks a bit of a dump. Not much to do around there, well not from what I can see anyway.  But you know what?

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   What?

                        You’ll lose your eyes in the back of your head one day and look like that AI avatart with the wall eye.  Get this though: we haven’t started the game yet, that quest for quirks thing, I was just having a roman around ha ha typo having a roam around see what’s there and stuff I don’t know anything about online games like you lot and I ended up here.  Zara sent a screenshot of the image she’d seen and added:   Did I already start the game or what, I don’t even know how we actually start the game, I was just wandering around….oh…and happened to chance upon this…


                        Zaras Game

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:   How rude to start playing before us

                        I didn’t start playing the game before you, I just told you, I was wandering around playing about waiting for you lot!   Zara thought Yasmin sounded like she needed a holiday.

                        :yahoo_rolling_eyes:    Yeah well that was your quest, wasn’t it? To wander around or something?  What’s that silver chest on her back?

                        I dunno but looks intriguing eh maybe she’s hidden all her devices and techy gadgets in an antiquey looking box so she doesn’t blow her cover

                        Gotta go Sister Finnlie’s coming

                        Zara muttered how rude under her breath and put her phone down.  She’d retired to her bedroom early, telling Bertie that she needed an early night but really had wanted some time alone to explore the new game world.  She didn’t want to make mistakes and look daft to her friends when the game started.

                        “Too late for that”, Pretty Girl said.

                        “SSHHH!” Zara hissed at the parrot. “And stop reading my mind, it’s disconcerting, not to mention rude.”

                        She heard the sound of the lavatory flush and Berties bedroom door closing and looked at the time. 23:36.

                        Zara decided to give him an hour to make sure he was asleep and then sneak out and go back to that church.


                          Miss Bossy sat at her desk, scanning through the stack of papers on her desk. She was searching for the perfect reporter to send on a mission to investigate a mysterious story that had been brought to her attention. Suddenly, her eyes landed on the name of Samuel Sproink. He was new to the Rim of the Realm Newspaper and had a reputation for being a tenacious and resourceful reporter.

                          She picked up the phone and dialed his number. “Sproink, I have a job for you,” she said in her gruff voice.

                          “Yes, Miss Bossy, what can I do for you?” Samuel replied, his voice full of excitement.

                          “I want you to go down to Cartagena, Spain, in the Golden Banana off the Mediterranean coast. There have been sightings of Barbary macaques happening there and tourists being assaulted and stolen only their shoes, which is odd of course, and also obviously unusual for the apes to be seen so far off the Strait of Gibraltar. I want you to get to the bottom of it. I need you to find out what’s really going on and report back to me with your findings.”

                          “Consider it done, Miss Bossy,” Samuel said confidently. He had always been interested in wildlife and the idea of investigating a mystery involving monkeys was too good to pass up.

                          He hang up the phone to go and pack his bags and head to the airport, apparently eager to start his investigation.

                          “Apes again?” Ricardo who’s been eavesdropping what surprised at the sudden interest. After that whole story about the orangutan man, he thought they’d be done with the menagerie, but apparently, Miss Bossy had something in mind. He would have to quiz Sweet Sophie to remote view on that and anticipate possible links and knots in the plot.


                          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                            “I’d advise you not to take the parrot, Zara,” Harry the vet said, “There are restrictions on bringing dogs and other animals into state parks, and you can bet some jobsworth official will insist she stays in a cage at the very least.”

                            “Yeah, you’re right, I guess I’ll leave her here. I want to call in and see my cousin in Camden on the way to the airport in Sydney anyway.   He has dozens of cats, I’d hate for anything to happen to Pretty Girl,” Zara replied.

                            “Is that the distant cousin you met when you were doing your family tree?” Harry asked, glancing up from the stitches he was removing from a wounded wombat.  “There, he’s good to go.  Give him a couple more days, then he can be released back where he came from.”

                            Zara smiled at Harry as she picked up the animal. “Yes!  We haven’t met in person yet, and he’s going to show me the church my ancestor built. He says people have been spotting ghosts there lately, and there are rumours that it’s the ghost of the old convict Isaac who built it.  If I can’t find photos of the ancestors, maybe I can get photos of their ghosts instead,” Zara said with a laugh.

                            “Good luck with that,” Harry replied raising an eyebrow. He liked Zara, she was quirkier than the others.

                            Zara hadn’t found it easy to research her mothers family from Bangalore in India, but her fathers English family had been easy enough.  Although Zara had been born in England and emigrated to Australia in her late 20s, many of her ancestors siblings had emigrated over several generations, and Zara had managed to trace several down and made contact with a few of them.   Isaac Stokes wasn’t a direct ancestor, he was the brother of her fourth great grandfather but his story had intrigued her.  Sentenced to transportation for stealing tools for his work as a stonemason seemed to have worked in his favour.  He built beautiful stone buildings in a tiny new town in the 1800s in the charming style of his home town in England.

                            Zara planned to stay in Camden for a couple of days before meeting the others at the Flying Fish Inn, anticipating a pleasant visit before the crazy adventure started.




                            Zara stepped down from the bus, squinting in the bright sunlight and looking around for her newfound cousin  Bertie.   A lanky middle aged man in dungarees and a red baseball cap came forward with his hand extended.

                            “Welcome to Camden, Zara I presume! Great to meet you!” he said shaking her hand and taking her rucksack.  Zara was taken aback to see the family resemblance to her grandfather.  So many scattered generations and yet there was still a thread of familiarity.  “I bet you’re hungry, let’s go and get some tucker at Belle’s Cafe, and then I bet you want to see the church first, hey?  Whoa, where’d that dang parrot come from?” Bertie said, ducking quickly as the bird swooped right in between them.

                            “Oh no, it’s Pretty Girl!” exclaimed Zara. “She wasn’t supposed to come with me, I didn’t bring her! How on earth did you fly all this way to get here the same time as me?” she asked the parrot.

                            “Pretty Girl has her ways, don’t forget to feed the parrot,” the bird replied with a squalk that resembled a mirthful guffaw.

                            “That’s one strange parrot you got here, girl!” Bertie said in astonishment.

                            “Well, seeing as you’re here now, Pretty Girl, you better come with us,” Zara said.

                            “Obviously,” replied Pretty Girl.  It was hard to say for sure, but Zara was sure she detected an avian eye roll.




                            They sat outside under a sunshade to eat rather than cause any upset inside the cafe.  Zara fancied an omelette but Pretty Girl objected, so she ordered hash browns instead and a fruit salad for the parrot.  Bertie was a good sport about the strange talking bird after his initial surprise.

                            Bertie told her a bit about the ghost sightings, which had only started quite recently.  They started when I started researching him, Zara thought to herself, almost as if he was reaching out. Her imagination was running riot already.


                            ghost of Isaac Stokes


                            Bertie showed Zara around the church, a small building made of sandstone, but no ghost appeared in the bright heat of the afternoon.  He took her on a little tour of Camden, once a tiny outpost but now a suburb of the city, pointing out all the original buildings, in particular the ones that Isaac had built.  The church was walking distance of Bertie’s house and Zara decided to slip out and stroll over there after everyone had gone to bed.

                            Bertie had kindly allowed Pretty Girl to stay in the guest bedroom with her, safe from the cats, and Zara intended that the parrot stay in the room, but Pretty Girl was having none of it and insisted on joining her.

                            “Alright then, but no talking!  I  don’t want you scaring any ghost away so just keep a low profile!”

                            The moon was nearly full and it was a pleasant walk to the church.   Pretty Girl fluttered from tree to tree along the sidewalk quietly.  Enchanting aromas of exotic scented flowers wafted into her nostrils and Zara felt warmly relaxed and optimistic.

                            Zara was disappointed to find that the church was locked for the night, and realized with a sigh that she should have expected this to be the case.  She wandered around the outside, trying to peer in the windows but there was nothing to be seen as the glass reflected the street lights.   These things are not done in a hurry, she reminded herself, be patient.

                            Sitting under a tree on the grassy lawn attempting to open her mind to receiving ghostly communications (she wasn’t quite sure how to do that on purpose, any ghosts she’d seen previously had always been accidental and unexpected)  Pretty Girl landed on her shoulder rather clumsily, pressing something hard and chill against her cheek.

                            “I told you to keep a low profile!” Zara hissed, as the parrot dropped the key into her lap.  “Oh! is this the key to the church door?”

                            It was hard to see in the dim light but Zara was sure the parrot nodded, and was that another avian eye roll?

                            Zara walked slowly over the grass to the church door, tingling with anticipation.   Pretty Girl hopped along the ground behind her.  She turned the key in the lock and slowly pushed open the heavy door and walked inside and  up the central aisle, looking around.  And then she saw him.

                            Zara gasped. For a breif moment as the spectral wisps cleared, he looked almost solid.  And she could see his tattoos.

                            “Oh my god,” she whispered, “It is really you. I recognize those tattoos from the description in the criminal registers. Some of them anyway, it seems you have a few more tats since you were transported.”

                            “Aye, I did that, wench. I were allays fond o’ me tats, does tha like ’em?”

                            He actually spoke to me!  This was beyond Zara’s wildest hopes. Quick, ask him some questions!

                            “If you don’t mind me asking, Isaac, why did you lie about who your father was on your marriage register?  I almost thought it wasn’t you, you know, that I had the wrong Isaac Stokes.”

                            A deafening rumbling laugh filled the building with echoes and the apparition dispersed in a labyrinthine swirl of tattood wisps.

                            “A story for another day,” whispered Zara,  “Time to go back to Berties. Come on Pretty Girl. And put that key back where you found it.”


                            Ghost of Isaac Stokes


                            In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                              Zara was long overdue for some holiday time off from her job at the Bungwalley Valley animal rescue centre in New South Wales and the suggestion to meet her online friends at the intriguing sounding Flying Fish Inn to look for clues for their online game couldn’t have come at a better time.  Lucky for her it wasn’t all that far, relatively speaking, although everything is far in Australia, it was closer than coming from Europe.  Xavier would have a much longer trip.  Zara wasn’t quite sure where exactly Yasmin was, but she knew it was somewhere in Asia. It depended on which refugee camp she was assigned to, and Zara had forgotten to ask her recently. All they had talked about was the new online game, and how confusing it all was.

                              The biggest mystery to Zara was why she was the leader in the game.  She was always the one who was wandering off on side trips and forgetting what everyone else was up to. If the other game followers followed her lead there was no telling where they’d all end up!

                              “But it is just a game,” Pretty Girl, the rescue parrot interjected. Zara had known some talking parrots over the years, but never one quite like this one. Usually they repeated any nonsense that they’d heard but this one was different.  She would miss it while she was away on holiday, and for a moment considered taking the talking parrot with her on the trip.  If she did, she’d have to think about changing her name though, Pretty Girl wasn’t a great name but it was hard to keep thinking of names for all the rescue creatures.

                              After Zara had done the routine morning chores of feeding the various animals, changing the water bowls, and cleaning up the less pleasant aspects of the job,  she sat down in the office room of the rescue centre with a cup of coffee and a sandwich.  She was in good physical shape for 57, wiry and energetic, but her back ached at times and a sit down was welcome before the vet arrived to check on all the sick and wounded animals.

                              Pretty Girl flew over from the kennels, and perched outside the office room window.  When the parrot had first been dropped off at the centre, they’d put her in a big cage, but in no uncertain terms Pretty Girl had told them she’d done nothing wrong and was wrongfully imprisoned and to release her at once. It was rather a shock to be addresssed by a parrot in such a way, and it was agreed between the staff and the vet to set her free and see what happened. And Pretty Girl had not flown away.

                              “Hey Pretty Girl, why don’t you give me some advice on this confusing new game I’m playing with my online friends?” Zara asked.

                              “Pretty Girl wants some of your tuna sandwich first,” replied the parrot.  After Zara had obliged, the parrot continued at some surprising length.

                              “My advice would be to not worry too much about getting the small details right. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the creative process.  Just give me a bit more tuna,”  Pretty Girl said, before continuing.

                              “Remember that as a writer, you have the power to shape the story and the characters as you see fit. It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to not know everything. Allow yourself to be inspired by the world around you and let the story unfold naturally. Trust in your own creativity and don’t be afraid to take risks. And remember, it’s not the small details that make a story great, it’s the emotions and experiences that the characters go through that make it truly memorable.  And always remember to feed the parrot.”

                              “Maybe I should take you on holiday with me after all,” Zara replied. “You really are an amazing bird, aren’t you?”


                              Zara and Pretty Girl Parrot


                              In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


                                The four adventurers, Zara, Xavier, Yasmin, and Youssef, stood in awe in front of the giant orb that seemed to open up to another realm. The light emanating from the orb was so bright, it was as if the sun was just inches away. The stalactites that hung from the cave’s ceiling sparkled like diamonds in the light, adding to the otherworldly beauty of the scene.

                                “Look around,” Yasmin said, her voice filled with wonder. “Beauty is everywhere. You only have to look to see it.”

                                The group was ready for an adventure and they knew that the orb in front of them was the key to their mad journey. Xavier stepped forward and reached out to touch the orb. As soon as his fingers made contact with the surface, the orb lit up and a pathway formed, leading into the brightly lit realm.

                                The group stepped through the pathway and found themselves in a world unlike anything they had ever seen before. The sky was a vibrant shade of purple and the ground was covered in a lush, green grass. The orb they had just passed through was now behind them, but in front of them were smaller orbs, each one leading to a different path.

                                Zara, Xavier, Yasmin, and Youssef looked at each other with excitement in their eyes. They knew that this was just the beginning of their mad journey.

                                Xavier stepped forward and reached out to touch the orb. As soon as his fingers made contact with the surface, the orb lit up and a pathway formed, leading into the brightly lit realm.


                                They walked into a small village, where they were greeted by a group of people wearing clothes that looked like they were from the 1920s. The people told them that they were in the land of the “Quirks”, a place where everything and everyone was a little bit different, and that they had to find the “Key of Quirks” in order to leave the land.

                                The four friends, Zara, Xavier, Yasmin, and Youssef, soon found themselves on a mission to find the “Key of Quirks” that would allow them to leave the land of the Quirks. As they walked through a forest, they came across a fork in the road.

                                Zara, the leader of the group, turned to the others and said, “Alright, we need to decide which way to go. Yasmin, what’s the plan?”

                                Yasmin, the brains of the group, replied, “I suggest we take the left path. According to the map I found, it leads to the Quirky Quests area, where we might find the key.”

                                Xavier, the joker of the group, chimed in, “I vote for the right path. It’s the road less traveled, and you know what they say, ‘the road less traveled is the road to adventure’ ”

                                Youssef, the muscle of the group, added, “I don’t care which way we go, I just want to find some food. I’m starving!”

                                Zara rolled her eyes, “Xavier, your jokes are getting old. And Youssef, we’re on a mission, we can’t just focus on food.”

                                Xavier grinned, “But Zaraloon, where’s the fun in that?”

                                Yasmin interjected, “Can we please focus? We need to make a decision. I propose we split up, Zara and I will take the left path, and Xavier and Youssef can take the right path.”

                                Youssef nodded, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. That way, if we don’t find the key, at least we’ll have found some food.”

                                Xavier grinned, “Sounds like a plan, Xavimunk is ready for adventure!”

                                Zara shook her head with a smile, “Alright, let’s do this.”

                                The group split up, and as they walked away, they could be heard playfully bantering and joking with each other. Each one exemplifying their unique and distinct characters.



                                  Isaac Stokes 1804-1877


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

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

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

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

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

                                  via digitalpanopticon:

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

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

                                  The Justitia via rmg collections:

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


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

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

                                  via freesettlerorfelon website:

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

                                  SURGEON OLIVER SPROULE

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

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

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

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

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

                                  The Lady Nugent:

                                  Lady Nugent


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

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

                                  Another includes more detail about Isaac’s tattoos:

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


                                  Lady Nugent record book


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

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

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

                                  From the Australian government website regarding “convict indulgences”:

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


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

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

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

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


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

                                  Glenmore Church


                                  From the Wollondilly museum April 2020 newsletter:

                                  Glenmore Church Stokes


                                  From the Camden History website:

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


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


                                  Isaac and Catherine’s children:

                                  William Stokes 1857-1928

                                  Catherine Stokes 1859-1846

                                  Sarah Josephine Stokes 1861-1931

                                  Ellen Stokes 1863-1932

                                  Rosanna Stokes 1865-1919

                                  Louisa Stokes 1868-1844.


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


                                    Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum

                                    William James Stokes


                                    William James Stokes was the first son of Thomas Stokes and Eliza Browning. Oddly, his birth was registered in Witham in Essex, on the 6th September 1841.

                                    Birth certificate of William James Stokes:

                                    birth William Stokes


                                    His father Thomas Stokes has not yet been found on the 1841 census, and his mother Eliza was staying with her uncle Thomas Lock in Cirencester in 1841. Eliza’s mother Mary Browning (nee Lock) was staying there too. Thomas and Eliza were married in September 1840 in Hempstead in Gloucestershire.

                                    It’s a mystery why William was born in Essex but one possibility is that his father Thomas, who later worked with the Chipperfields making circus wagons, was staying with the Chipperfields who were wheelwrights in Witham in 1841. Or perhaps even away with a traveling circus at the time of the census, learning the circus waggon wheelwright trade. But this is a guess and it’s far from clear why Eliza would make the journey to Witham to have the baby when she was staying in Cirencester a few months prior.

                                    In 1851 Thomas and Eliza, William and four younger siblings were living in Bledington in Oxfordshire.

                                    William was a 19 year old wheelwright living with his parents in Evesham in 1861. He married Elizabeth Meldrum in December 1867 in Hackney, London. He and his father are both wheelwrights on the marriage register.

                                    Marriage of William James Stokes and Elizabeth Meldrum in 1867:

                                    1867 William Stokes


                                    William and Elizabeth had a daughter, Elizabeth Emily Stokes, in 1868 in Shoreditch, London.

                                    On the 3rd of December 1870, William James Stokes was admitted to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum. One week later on the 10th of December, he was dead.

                                    On his death certificate the cause of death was “general paralysis and exhaustion, certified. MD Edgar Sheppard in attendance.” William was just 29 years old.

                                    Death certificate William James Stokes:

                                    death William Stokes


                                    I asked on a genealogy forum what could possibly have caused this death at such a young age. A retired pathology professor replied that “in medicine the term General Paralysis is only used in one context – that of Tertiary Syphilis.”
                                    “Tertiary syphilis is the third and final stage of syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease that unfolds in stages when the individual affected doesn’t receive appropriate treatment.”

                                    From the article “Looking back: This fascinating and fatal disease” by Jennifer Wallis:

                                    “……in asylums across Britain in the late 19th century, with hundreds of people receiving the diagnosis of general paralysis of the insane (GPI). The majority of these were men in their 30s and 40s, all exhibiting one or more of the disease’s telltale signs: grandiose delusions, a staggering gait, disturbed reflexes, asymmetrical pupils, tremulous voice, and muscular weakness. Their prognosis was bleak, most dying within months, weeks, or sometimes days of admission.

                                    The fatal nature of GPI made it of particular concern to asylum superintendents, who became worried that their institutions were full of incurable cases requiring constant care. The social effects of the disease were also significant, attacking men in the prime of life whose admission to the asylum frequently left a wife and children at home. Compounding the problem was the erratic behaviour of the general paralytic, who might get themselves into financial or legal difficulties. Delusions about their vast wealth led some to squander scarce family resources on extravagant purchases – one man’s wife reported he had bought ‘a quantity of hats’ despite their meagre income – and doctors pointed to the frequency of thefts by general paralytics who imagined that everything belonged to them.”


                                    The London Archives hold the records for Colney Hatch, but they informed me that the particular records for the dates that William was admitted and died were in too poor a condition to be accessed without causing further damage.

                                    Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum gained such notoriety that the name “Colney Hatch” appeared in various terms of abuse associated with the concept of madness. Infamous inmates that were institutionalized at Colney Hatch (later called Friern Hospital) include Jack the Ripper suspect Aaron Kosminski from 1891, and from 1911 the wife of occultist Aleister Crowley. In 1993 the hospital grounds were sold and the exclusive apartment complex called Princess Park Manor was built.

                                    Colney Hatch:

                                    Colney Hatch


                                    In 1873 Williams widow married William Hallam in Limehouse in London. Elizabeth died in 1930, apparently unaffected by her first husbands ailment.


                                    In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


                                      Egbert Gofindlevsky rapped on the door of room number 22.  The letter flapped against his pin striped trouser leg as his hand shook uncontrollably, his habitual tremor exacerbated with the shock.  Remembering that Obadiah Sproutwinklov was deaf, he banged loudly on the door with the flat of his hand.  Eventually the door creaked open.

                                      Egbert flapped the letter in from of Obadiah’s face.  “Have you had one of these?” he asked.

                                      “If you’d stop flapping it about I might be able to see what it is,” Obadiah replied.  “Oh that!  As a matter of fact I’ve had one just like it. The devils work, I tell you!  A practical joke, and in very poor taste!”

                                      Egbert was starting to wish he’d gone to see Olga Herringbonevsky first.  “Can I come in?” he hissed, “So we can discuss it in private?”

                                      Reluctantly Obadiah pulled the door open and ushered him inside the room.  Egbert looked around for a place to sit, but upon noticing a distinct odour of urine decided to remain standing.

                                      “Ursula is booting us out, where are we to go?”

                                      “Eh?” replied Obadiah, cupping his ear. “Speak up, man!”

                                      Egbert repeated his question.

                                      “No need to shout!”

                                      The two old men endeavoured to conduct a conversation on this unexepected turn of events, the upshot being that Obadiah had no intention of leaving his room at all henceforth, come what may, and would happily starve to death in his room rather than take to the streets.

                                      Egbert considered this form of action unhelpful, as he himself had no wish to starve to death in his room, so he removed himself from room 22 with a disgruntled sigh and made his way to Olga’s room on the third floor.


                                        Harriet Compton

                                        Harriet Comptom is not directly related to us, but her portrait is in our family collection.

                                        Alfred Julius Eugene Compton painted this portrait of his daughter, Harriet Compton, when she was six.  Harriet Compton was Charles Tooby’s mothers mother, and Charles married my mothers aunt Dorothy Marshall. They lived on High Park Ave in Wollaston, and his parents lived on Park Road, Wollaston, opposite my grandparents, George and Nora Marshall. Harriet married Thomas Thornburgh, they had a daughter Florence who married Sydney Tooby. Florence and Sydney were Charles Tooby’s parents.

                                        Charles and Dorothy Tooby didn’t have any children. Charles died before his wife, and this is how the picture ended up in my mothers possession.

                                        I attempted to find a direct descendant of Harriet Compton, but have not been successful so far, although I did find a relative on a Stourbridge facebook group.  Bryan Thornburgh replied: “Francis George was my grandfather.He had two sons George & my father Thomas and two daughters Cissie & Edith.  I can remember visiting my fathers Uncle Charles and Aunt Dorothy in Wollaston.”

                                        Francis George Thornburgh was Florence Tooby’s brother.

                                        The watercolour portrait was framed by Hughes of Enville St, Stourbridge.

                                        Alfred Julius Eugene Compton was born in 1826 Paris, France, and died on 6 February 1917 in Chelsea, London.
                                        Harriet Compton his daughter was born in 1853 in Islington, London, and died in December 1926 in Stourbridge.

                                        Without going too far down an unrelated rabbit hole, a member of the facebook group Family Treasures Reinstated  shared this:

                                        “Will reported in numerous papers in Dec 1886.
                                        Harriet’s father Alfred appears to be beneficiary but Harriet’s brother, Percy is specifically excluded . 
                                        “The will (dated March 6, 1876) of the Hon. Mrs. Fanny Stanhope, late of No. 24, Carlyle-square, Chelsea, who died on August 9 last, was proved on the 1st ult. by Alfred Julius Eugene Compton, the value of the personal estate amounting to over £8000.
                                        The testatrix, after giving & few legacies, leaves one moiety of the residue of her personal estate, upon trust, for John Auguste Alexandre Compton, for life, and then, subject to an annuity to his wife, for the children (except Percy) of Alfred Julius Eugene Compton, and the other moiety, upon trust, for the said Alfred Julius Eugene Compton, for life, and at his death for his children, except Percy.”
                                        -Illustrated London News.

                                        Harriet Compton:  Harriet Compton


                                          From Tanganyika with Love

                                          continued part 8

                                          With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                                          Morogoro 20th January 1941

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                          Morogoro 30th July 1941

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                                          Morogoro 26th August 1941

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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


                                          Morogoro 25th December 1941

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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


                                          Morogoro Hospital 30th September 1943

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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


                                          Morogoro 26th January 1944

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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


                                          Lyamungu 20th March 1944

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                                          Lyamungu 15th May 1944

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                          Lyamungu 18th July 1944

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                          Lyamungu 16th August 1944

                                          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


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

                                          Dearest Mummy,

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

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

                                          Very much love,

                                          Safari in Masailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                          Lyamungu 10th November. 1944

                                          Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                          Much love,



                                            From Tanganyika with Love

                                            continued  ~ part 6

                                            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                                            Mchewe 6th June 1937

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                                            With much love,

                                            Mchewe 25th June 1937

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                                            Lots of love,

                                            Mchewe 9th July 1937

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                            Mchewe 8th October 1937

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                                            Mchewe 17th October 1937

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                            Mchewe 18th November 1937

                                            My darling Ann,

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

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

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

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

                                            Mchewe 18th November 1937

                                            Hello George Darling,

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

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

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

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

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

                                            Mchewe 12th February, 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                            Mbulu 18th March, 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                            Mbulu 24th March, 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                            Mbulu 20th June 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                            Karatu 3rd July 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                                            Karatu 12th July 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                            Oldeani. 19th July 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                            Oldeani. 10th August 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                            Oldeani. 20th August 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


                                            Oldeani Hospital. 9th September 1938

                                            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


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