Search Results for 'straw'

Forums Search Search Results for 'straw'

Viewing 20 results - 1 through 20 (of 35 total)
  • Author
    Search Results
  • #6281
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The Measham Thatchers

    Orgills, Finches and Wards

    Measham is a large village in north west Leicestershire, England, near the Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire boundaries. Our family has a penchant for border straddling, and the Orgill’s of Measham take this a step further living on the boundaries of four counties.  Historically it was in an exclave of Derbyshire absorbed into Leicestershire in 1897, so once again we have two sets of county records to search.

    ORGILL

    Richard Gretton, the baker of Swadlincote and my great grandmother Florence Nightingale Grettons’ father, married Sarah Orgill (1840-1910) in 1861.

    (Incidentally, Florence Nightingale Warren nee Gretton’s first child Hildred born in 1900 had the middle name Orgill. Florence’s brother John Orgill Gretton emigrated to USA.)

    When they first married, they lived with Sarah’s widowed mother Elizabeth in Measham.  Elizabeth Orgill is listed on the 1861 census as a farmer of two acres.

    Sarah Orgill’s father Matthew Orgill (1798-1859) was a thatcher, as was his father Matthew Orgill (1771-1852).

    Matthew Orgill the elder left his property to his son Henry:

    Matthew Orgills will

     

    Sarah’s mother Elizabeth (1803-1876) was also an Orgill before her marriage to Matthew.

    According to Pigot & Co’s Commercial Directory for Derbyshire, in Measham in 1835 Elizabeth Orgill was a straw bonnet maker, an ideal occupation for a thatchers wife.

    Matthew Orgill, thatcher, is listed in White’s directory in 1857, and other Orgill’s are mentioned in Measham:

    Mary Orgill, straw hat maker; Henry Orgill, grocer; Daniel Orgill, painter; another Matthew Orgill is a coal merchant and wheelwright. Likewise a number of Orgill’s are listed in the directories for Measham in the subsequent years, as farmers, plumbers, painters, grocers, thatchers, wheelwrights, coal merchants and straw bonnet makers.

     

    Matthew and Elizabeth Orgill, Measham Baptist church:

    Orgill grave

     

    According to a history of thatching, for every six or seven thatchers appearing in the 1851 census there are now less than one.  Another interesting fact in the history of thatched roofs (via thatchinginfo dot com):

    The Watling Street Divide…
    The biggest dividing line of all, that between the angular thatching of the Northern and Eastern traditions and the rounded Southern style, still roughly follows a very ancient line; the northern section of the old Roman road of Watling Street, the modern A5. Seemingly of little significance today; this was once the border between two peoples. Agreed in the peace treaty, between the Saxon King Alfred and Guthrum, the Danish Viking leader; over eleven centuries ago.
    After making their peace, various Viking armies settled down, to the north and east of the old road; firstly, in what was known as The Danelaw and later in Norse kingdoms, based in York. They quickly formed a class of farmers and peasants. Although the Saxon kings soon regained this area; these people stayed put. Their influence is still seen, for example, in the widespread use of boarded gable ends, so common in Danish thatching.
    Over time, the Southern and Northern traditions have slipped across the old road, by a few miles either way. But even today, travelling across the old highway will often bring the differing thatching traditions quickly into view.

    Pear Tree Cottage, Bosworth Road, Measham. 1900.  Matthew Orgill was a thatcher living on Bosworth road.

    Bosworth road

     

    FINCH

    Matthew the elder married Frances Finch 1771-1848, also of Measham.  On the 1851 census Matthew is an 80 year old thatcher living with his daughter Mary and her husband Samuel Piner, a coal miner.

    Henry Finch 1743- and Mary Dennis 1749- , both of Measham, were Frances parents.  Henry’s father was also Henry Finch, born in 1707 in Measham, and he married Frances Ward, also born in 1707, and also from Measham.

    WARD

     

    The ancient boundary between the kingdom of Mercia and the Danelaw

    I didn’t find much information on the history of Measham, but I did find a great deal of ancient history on the nearby village of Appleby Magna, two miles away.  The parish records indicate that the Ward and Finch branches of our family date back to the 1500’s in the village, and we can assume that the ancient history of the neighbouring village would be relevant to our history.

    There is evidence of human settlement in Appleby from the early Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago, and there are also Iron Age and Bronze Age sites in the vicinity.  There is evidence of further activity within the village during the Roman period, including evidence of a villa or farm and a temple.  Appleby is near three known Roman roads: Watling Street, 10 miles south of the village; Bath Lane, 5 miles north of the village; and Salt Street, which forms the parish’s south boundary.

    But it is the Scandinavian invasions that are particularly intriguing, with regard to my 58% Scandinavian DNA (and virtually 100% Midlands England ancestry). Repton is 13 miles from Measham. In the early 10th century Chilcote, Measham and Willesley were part of the royal Derbyshire estate of Repton.

    The arrival of Scandinavian invaders in the second half of the ninth century caused widespread havoc throughout northern England. By the AD 870s the Danish army was occupying Mercia and it spent the winter of 873-74 at Repton, the headquarters of the Mercian kings. The events are recorded in detail in the Peterborough manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles…

    Although the Danes held power for only 40 years, a strong, even subversive, Danish element remained in the population for many years to come. 

    A Scandinavian influence may also be detected among the field names of the parish. Although many fields have relatively modern names, some clearly have elements which reach back to the time of Danish incursion and control.

    The Borders:

    The name ‘aeppel byg’ is given in the will of Wulfic Spot of AD 1004……………..The decision at Domesday to include this land in Derbyshire, as one of Burton Abbey’s Derbyshire manors, resulted in the division of the village of Appleby Magna between the counties of Leicester and Derby for the next 800 years

    Richard Dunmore’s Appleby Magma website.

    This division of Appleby between Leicestershire and Derbyshire persisted from Domesday until 1897, when the recently created county councils (1889) simplified the administration of many villages in this area by a radical realignment of the boundary:

    Appleby

     

    I would appear that our family not only straddle county borders, but straddle ancient kingdom borders as well.  This particular branch of the family (we assume, given the absence of written records that far back) were living on the edge of the Danelaw and a strong element of the Danes survives to this day in my DNA.

     

    #6266
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued part 7

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Oldeani Hospital. 19th September 1938

    Dearest Family,

    George arrived today to take us home to Mbulu but Sister Marianne will not allow
    me to travel for another week as I had a bit of a set back after baby’s birth. At first I was
    very fit and on the third day Sister stripped the bed and, dictionary in hand, started me
    off on ante natal exercises. “Now make a bridge Mrs Rushby. So. Up down, up down,’
    whilst I obediently hoisted myself aloft on heels and head. By the sixth day she
    considered it was time for me to be up and about but alas, I soon had to return to bed
    with a temperature and a haemorrhage. I got up and walked outside for the first time this
    morning.

    I have had lots of visitors because the local German settlers seem keen to see
    the first British baby born in the hospital. They have been most kind, sending flowers
    and little German cards of congratulations festooned with cherubs and rather sweet. Most
    of the women, besides being pleasant, are very smart indeed, shattering my illusion that
    German matrons are invariably fat and dowdy. They are all much concerned about the
    Czecko-Slovakian situation, especially Sister Marianne whose home is right on the
    border and has several relations who are Sudentan Germans. She is ant-Nazi and
    keeps on asking me whether I think England will declare war if Hitler invades Czecko-
    Slovakia, as though I had inside information.

    George tells me that he has had a grass ‘banda’ put up for us at Mbulu as we are
    both determined not to return to those prison-like quarters in the Fort. Sister Marianne is
    horrified at the idea of taking a new baby to live in a grass hut. She told George,
    “No,No,Mr Rushby. I find that is not to be allowed!” She is an excellent Sister but rather
    prim and George enjoys teasing her. This morning he asked with mock seriousness,
    “Sister, why has my wife not received her medal?” Sister fluttered her dictionary before
    asking. “What medal Mr Rushby”. “Why,” said George, “The medal that Hitler gives to
    women who have borne four children.” Sister started a long and involved explanation
    about the medal being only for German mothers whilst George looked at me and
    grinned.

    Later. Great Jubilation here. By the noise in Sister Marianne’s sitting room last night it
    sounded as though the whole German population had gathered to listen to the wireless
    news. I heard loud exclamations of joy and then my bedroom door burst open and
    several women rushed in. “Thank God “, they cried, “for Neville Chamberlain. Now there
    will be no war.” They pumped me by the hand as though I were personally responsible
    for the whole thing.

    George on the other hand is disgusted by Chamberlain’s lack of guts. Doesn’t
    know what England is coming to these days. I feel too content to concern myself with
    world affairs. I have a fine husband and four wonderful children and am happy, happy,
    happy.

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu. 30th September 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Here we are, comfortably installed in our little green house made of poles and
    rushes from a nearby swamp. The house has of course, no doors or windows, but
    there are rush blinds which roll up in the day time. There are two rooms and a little porch
    and out at the back there is a small grass kitchen.

    Here we have the privacy which we prize so highly as we are screened on one
    side by a Forest Department plantation and on the other three sides there is nothing but
    the rolling countryside cropped bare by the far too large herds of cattle and goats of the
    Wambulu. I have a lovely lazy time. I still have Kesho-Kutwa and the cook we brought
    with us from the farm. They are both faithful and willing souls though not very good at
    their respective jobs. As one of these Mbeya boys goes on safari with George whose
    job takes him from home for three weeks out of four, I have taken on a local boy to cut
    firewood and heat my bath water and generally make himself useful. His name is Saa,
    which means ‘Clock’

    We had an uneventful but very dusty trip from Oldeani. Johnny Jo travelled in his
    pram in the back of the boxbody and got covered in dust but seems none the worst for
    it. As the baby now takes up much of my time and Kate was showing signs of
    boredom, I have engaged a little African girl to come and play with Kate every morning.
    She is the daughter of the head police Askari and a very attractive and dignified little
    person she is. Her name is Kajyah. She is scrupulously clean, as all Mohammedan
    Africans seem to be. Alas, Kajyah, though beautiful, is a bore. She simply does not
    know how to play, so they just wander around hand in hand.

    There are only two drawbacks to this little house. Mbulu is a very windy spot so
    our little reed house is very draughty. I have made a little tent of sheets in one corner of
    the ‘bedroom’ into which I can retire with Johnny when I wish to bathe or sponge him.
    The other drawback is that many insects are attracted at night by the lamp and make it
    almost impossible to read or sew and they have a revolting habit of falling into the soup.
    There are no dangerous wild animals in this area so I am not at all nervous in this
    flimsy little house when George is on safari. Most nights hyaenas come around looking
    for scraps but our dogs, Fanny and Paddy, soon see them off.

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu. 25th October 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Great news! a vacancy has occurred in the Game Department. George is to
    transfer to it next month. There will be an increase in salary and a brighter prospect for
    the future. It will mean a change of scene and I shall be glad of that. We like Mbulu and
    the people here but the rains have started and our little reed hut is anything but water
    tight.

    Before the rain came we had very unpleasant dust storms. I think I told you that
    this is a treeless area and the grass which normally covers the veldt has been cropped
    to the roots by the hungry native cattle and goats. When the wind blows the dust
    collects in tall black columns which sweep across the country in a most spectacular
    fashion. One such dust devil struck our hut one day whilst we were at lunch. George
    swept Kate up in a second and held her face against his chest whilst I rushed to Johnny
    Jo who was asleep in his pram, and stooped over the pram to protect him. The hut
    groaned and creaked and clouds of dust blew in through the windows and walls covering
    our persons, food, and belongings in a black pall. The dogs food bowls and an empty
    petrol tin outside the hut were whirled up and away. It was all over in a moment but you
    should have seen what a family of sweeps we looked. George looked at our blackened
    Johnny and mimicked in Sister Marianne’s primmest tones, “I find that this is not to be
    allowed.”

    The first rain storm caught me unprepared when George was away on safari. It
    was a terrific thunderstorm. The quite violent thunder and lightening were followed by a
    real tropical downpour. As the hut is on a slight slope, the storm water poured through
    the hut like a river, covering the entire floor, and the roof leaked like a lawn sprinkler.
    Johnny Jo was snug enough in the pram with the hood raised, but Kate and I had a
    damp miserable night. Next morning I had deep drains dug around the hut and when
    George returned from safari he managed to borrow an enormous tarpaulin which is now
    lashed down over the roof.

    It did not rain during the next few days George was home but the very next night
    we were in trouble again. I was awakened by screams from Kate and hurriedly turned up
    the lamp to see that we were in the midst of an invasion of siafu ants. Kate’s bed was
    covered in them. Others appeared to be raining down from the thatch. I quickly stripped
    Kate and carried her across to my bed, whilst I rushed to the pram to see whether
    Johnny Jo was all right. He was fast asleep, bless him, and slept on through all the
    commotion, whilst I struggled to pick all the ants out of Kate’s hair, stopping now and
    again to attend to my own discomfort. These ants have a painful bite and seem to
    choose all the most tender spots. Kate fell asleep eventually but I sat up for the rest of
    the night to make sure that the siafu kept clear of the children. Next morning the servants
    dispersed them by laying hot ash.

    In spite of the dampness of the hut both children are blooming. Kate has rosy
    cheeks and Johnny Jo now has a fuzz of fair hair and has lost his ‘old man’ look. He
    reminds me of Ann at his age.

    Eleanor.

    Iringa. 30th November 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Here we are back in the Southern Highlands and installed on the second floor of
    another German Fort. This one has been modernised however and though not so
    romantic as the Mbulu Fort from the outside, it is much more comfortable.We are all well
    and I am really proud of our two safari babies who stood up splendidly to a most trying
    journey North from Mbulu to Arusha and then South down the Great North Road to
    Iringa where we expect to stay for a month.

    At Arusha George reported to the headquarters of the Game Department and
    was instructed to come on down here on Rinderpest Control. There is a great flap on in
    case the rinderpest spread to Northern Rhodesia and possibly onwards to Southern
    Rhodesia and South Africa. Extra veterinary officers have been sent to this area to
    inoculate all the cattle against the disease whilst George and his African game Scouts will
    comb the bush looking for and destroying diseased game. If the rinderpest spreads,
    George says it may be necessary to shoot out all the game in a wide belt along the
    border between the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika and Northern Rhodesia, to
    prevent the disease spreading South. The very idea of all this destruction sickens us
    both.

    George left on a foot safari the day after our arrival and I expect I shall be lucky if I
    see him occasionally at weekends until this job is over. When rinderpest is under control
    George is to be stationed at a place called Nzassa in the Eastern Province about 18
    miles from Dar es Salaam. George’s orderly, who is a tall, cheerful Game Scout called
    Juma, tells me that he has been stationed at Nzassa and it is a frightful place! However I
    refuse to be depressed. I now have the cheering prospect of leave to England in thirty
    months time when we will be able to fetch Ann and George and be a proper family
    again. Both Ann and George look happy in the snapshots which mother-in-law sends
    frequently. Ann is doing very well at school and loves it.

    To get back to our journey from Mbulu. It really was quite an experience. It
    poured with rain most of the way and the road was very slippery and treacherous the
    120 miles between Mbulu and Arusha. This is a little used earth road and the drains are
    so blocked with silt as to be practically non existent. As usual we started our move with
    the V8 loaded to capacity. I held Johnny on my knee and Kate squeezed in between
    George and me. All our goods and chattels were in wooden boxes stowed in the back
    and the two houseboys and the two dogs had to adjust themselves to the space that
    remained. We soon ran into trouble and it took us all day to travel 47 miles. We stuck
    several times in deep mud and had some most nasty skids. I simply clutched Kate in
    one hand and Johnny Jo in the other and put my trust in George who never, under any
    circumstances, loses his head. Poor Johnny only got his meals when circumstances
    permitted. Unfortunately I had put him on a bottle only a few days before we left Mbulu
    and, as I was unable to buy either a primus stove or Thermos flask there we had to
    make a fire and boil water for each meal. Twice George sat out in the drizzle with a rain
    coat rapped over his head to protect a miserable little fire of wet sticks drenched with
    paraffin. Whilst we waited for the water to boil I pacified John by letting him suck a cube
    of Tate and Lyles sugar held between my rather grubby fingers. Not at all according to
    the book.

    That night George, the children and I slept in the car having dumped our boxes
    and the two servants in a deserted native hut. The rain poured down relentlessly all night
    and by morning the road was more of a morass than ever. We swerved and skidded
    alarmingly till eventually one of the wheel chains broke and had to be tied together with
    string which constantly needed replacing. George was so patient though he was wet
    and muddy and tired and both children were very good. Shortly before reaching the Great North Road we came upon Jack Gowan, the Stock Inspector from Mbulu. His car
    was bogged down to its axles in black mud. He refused George’s offer of help saying
    that he had sent his messenger to a nearby village for help.

    I hoped that conditions would be better on the Great North Road but how over
    optimistic I was. For miles the road runs through a belt of ‘black cotton soil’. which was
    churned up into the consistency of chocolate blancmange by the heavy lorry traffic which
    runs between Dodoma and Arusha. Soon the car was skidding more fantastically than
    ever. Once it skidded around in a complete semi circle so George decided that it would
    be safer for us all to walk whilst he negotiated the very bad patches. You should have
    seen me plodding along in the mud and drizzle with the baby in one arm and Kate
    clinging to the other. I was terrified of slipping with Johnny. Each time George reached
    firm ground he would return on foot to carry Kate and in this way we covered many bad
    patches.We were more fortunate than many other travellers. We passed several lorries
    ditched on the side of the road and one car load of German men, all elegantly dressed in
    lounge suits. One was busy with his camera so will have a record of their plight to laugh
    over in the years to come. We spent another night camping on the road and next day
    set out on the last lap of the journey. That also was tiresome but much better than the
    previous day and we made the haven of the Arusha Hotel before dark. What a picture
    we made as we walked through the hall in our mud splattered clothes! Even Johnny was
    well splashed with mud but no harm was done and both he and Kate are blooming.
    We rested for two days at Arusha and then came South to Iringa. Luckily the sun
    came out and though for the first day the road was muddy it was no longer so slippery
    and the second day found us driving through parched country and along badly
    corrugated roads. The further South we came, the warmer the sun which at times blazed
    through the windscreen and made us all uncomfortably hot. I have described the country
    between Arusha and Dodoma before so I shan’t do it again. We reached Iringa without
    mishap and after a good nights rest all felt full of beans.

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate, Mbeya. 7th January 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    You will be surprised to note that we are back on the farm! At least the children
    and I are here. George is away near the Rhodesian border somewhere, still on
    Rinderpest control.

    I had a pleasant time at Iringa, lots of invitations to morning tea and Kate had a
    wonderful time enjoying the novelty of playing with children of her own age. She is not
    shy but nevertheless likes me to be within call if not within sight. It was all very suburban
    but pleasant enough. A few days before Christmas George turned up at Iringa and
    suggested that, as he would be working in the Mbeya area, it might be a good idea for
    the children and me to move to the farm. I agreed enthusiastically, completely forgetting
    that after my previous trouble with the leopard I had vowed to myself that I would never
    again live alone on the farm.

    Alas no sooner had we arrived when Thomas, our farm headman, brought the
    news that there were now two leopards terrorising the neighbourhood, and taking dogs,
    goats and sheep and chickens. Traps and poisoned bait had been tried in vain and he
    was sure that the female was the same leopard which had besieged our home before.
    Other leopards said Thomas, came by stealth but this one advertised her whereabouts
    in the most brazen manner.

    George stayed with us on the farm over Christmas and all was quiet at night so I
    cheered up and took the children for walks along the overgrown farm paths. However on
    New Years Eve that darned leopard advertised her presence again with the most blood
    chilling grunts and snarls. Horrible! Fanny and Paddy barked and growled and woke up
    both children. Kate wept and kept saying, “Send it away mummy. I don’t like it.” Johnny
    Jo howled in sympathy. What a picnic. So now the whole performance of bodyguards
    has started again and ‘till George returns we confine our exercise to the garden.
    Our little house is still cosy and sweet but the coffee plantation looks very
    neglected. I wish to goodness we could sell it.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 14th February 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    After three months of moving around with two small children it is heavenly to be
    settled in our own home, even though Nzassa is an isolated spot and has the reputation
    of being unhealthy.

    We travelled by car from Mbeya to Dodoma by now a very familiar stretch of
    country, but from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam by train which made a nice change. We
    spent two nights and a day in the Splendid Hotel in Dar es Salaam, George had some
    official visits to make and I did some shopping and we took the children to the beach.
    The bay is so sheltered that the sea is as calm as a pond and the water warm. It is
    wonderful to see the sea once more and to hear tugs hooting and to watch the Arab
    dhows putting out to sea with their oddly shaped sails billowing. I do love the bush, but
    I love the sea best of all, as you know.

    We made an early start for Nzassa on the 3rd. For about four miles we bowled
    along a good road. This brought us to a place called Temeke where George called on
    the District Officer. His house appears to be the only European type house there. The
    road between Temeke and the turn off to Nzassa is quite good, but the six mile stretch
    from the turn off to Nzassa is a very neglected bush road. There is nothing to be seen
    but the impenetrable bush on both sides with here and there a patch of swampy
    ground where rice is planted in the wet season.

    After about six miles of bumpy road we reached Nzassa which is nothing more
    than a sandy clearing in the bush. Our house however is a fine one. It was originally built
    for the District Officer and there is a small court house which is now George’s office. The
    District Officer died of blackwater fever so Nzassa was abandoned as an administrative
    station being considered too unhealthy for Administrative Officers but suitable as
    Headquarters for a Game Ranger. Later a bachelor Game Ranger was stationed here
    but his health also broke down and he has been invalided to England. So now the
    healthy Rushbys are here and we don’t mean to let the place get us down. So don’t
    worry.

    The house consists of three very large and airy rooms with their doors opening
    on to a wide front verandah which we shall use as a living room. There is also a wide
    back verandah with a store room at one end and a bathroom at the other. Both
    verandahs and the end windows of the house are screened my mosquito gauze wire
    and further protected by a trellis work of heavy expanded metal. Hasmani, the Game
    Scout, who has been acting as caretaker, tells me that the expanded metal is very
    necessary because lions often come out of the bush at night and roam around the
    house. Such a comforting thought!

    On our very first evening we discovered how necessary the mosquito gauze is.
    After sunset the air outside is thick with mosquitos from the swamps. About an acre of
    land has been cleared around the house. This is a sandy waste because there is no
    water laid on here and absolutely nothing grows here except a rather revolting milky
    desert bush called ‘Manyara’, and a few acacia trees. A little way from the house there is
    a patch of citrus trees, grape fruit, I think, but whether they ever bear fruit I don’t know.
    The clearing is bordered on three sides by dense dusty thorn bush which is
    ‘lousy with buffalo’ according to George. The open side is the road which leads down to
    George’s office and the huts for the Game Scouts. Only Hasmani and George’s orderly
    Juma and their wives and families live there, and the other huts provide shelter for the
    Game Scouts from the bush who come to Nzassa to collect their pay and for a short
    rest. I can see that my daily walk will always be the same, down the road to the huts and
    back! However I don’t mind because it is far too hot to take much exercise.

    The climate here is really tropical and worse than on the coast because the thick
    bush cuts us off from any sea breeze. George says it will be cooler when the rains start
    but just now we literally drip all day. Kate wears nothing but a cotton sun suit, and Johnny
    a napkin only, but still their little bodies are always moist. I have shorn off all Kate’s lovely
    shoulder length curls and got George to cut my hair very short too.

    We simply must buy a refrigerator. The butter, and even the cheese we bought
    in Dar. simply melted into pools of oil overnight, and all our meat went bad, so we are
    living out of tins. However once we get organised I shall be quite happy here. I like this
    spacious house and I have good servants. The cook, Hamisi Issa, is a Swahili from Lindi
    whom we engaged in Dar es Salaam. He is a very dignified person, and like most
    devout Mohammedan Cooks, keeps both his person and the kitchen spotless. I
    engaged the house boy here. He is rather a timid little body but is very willing and quite
    capable. He has an excessively plain but cheerful wife whom I have taken on as ayah. I
    do not really need help with the children but feel I must have a woman around just in
    case I go down with malaria when George is away on safari.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 28th February 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    George’s birthday and we had a special tea party this afternoon which the
    children much enjoyed. We have our frig now so I am able to make jellies and provide
    them with really cool drinks.

    Our very first visitor left this morning after spending only one night here. He is Mr
    Ionides, the Game Ranger from the Southern Province. He acted as stand in here for a
    short while after George’s predecessor left for England on sick leave, and where he has
    since died. Mr Ionides returned here to hand over the range and office formally to
    George. He seems a strange man and is from all accounts a bit of a hermit. He was at
    one time an Officer in the Regular Army but does not look like a soldier, he wears the
    most extraordinary clothes but nevertheless contrives to look top-drawer. He was
    educated at Rugby and Sandhurst and is, I should say, well read. Ionides told us that he
    hated Nzassa, particularly the house which he thinks sinister and says he always slept
    down in the office.

    The house, or at least one bedroom, seems to have the same effect on Kate.
    She has been very nervous at night ever since we arrived. At first the children occupied
    the bedroom which is now George’s. One night, soon after our arrival, Kate woke up
    screaming to say that ‘something’ had looked at her through the mosquito net. She was
    in such a hysterical state that inspite of the heat and discomfort I was obliged to crawl into
    her little bed with her and remained there for the rest of the night.

    Next night I left a night lamp burning but even so I had to sit by her bed until she
    dropped off to sleep. Again I was awakened by ear-splitting screams and this time
    found Kate standing rigid on her bed. I lifted her out and carried her to a chair meaning to
    comfort her but she screeched louder than ever, “Look Mummy it’s under the bed. It’s
    looking at us.” In vain I pointed out that there was nothing at all there. By this time
    George had joined us and he carried Kate off to his bed in the other room whilst I got into
    Kate’s bed thinking she might have been frightened by a rat which might also disturb
    Johnny.

    Next morning our houseboy remarked that he had heard Kate screaming in the
    night from his room behind the kitchen. I explained what had happened and he must
    have told the old Scout Hasmani who waylaid me that afternoon and informed me quite
    seriously that that particular room was haunted by a ‘sheitani’ (devil) who hates children.
    He told me that whilst he was acting as caretaker before our arrival he one night had his
    wife and small daughter in the room to keep him company. He said that his small
    daughter woke up and screamed exactly as Kate had done! Silly coincidence I
    suppose, but such strange things happen in Africa that I decided to move the children
    into our room and George sleeps in solitary state in the haunted room! Kate now sleeps
    peacefully once she goes to sleep but I have to stay with her until she does.

    I like this house and it does not seem at all sinister to me. As I mentioned before,
    the rooms are high ceilinged and airy, and have cool cement floors. We have made one
    end of the enclosed verandah into the living room and the other end is the playroom for
    the children. The space in between is a sort of no-mans land taken over by the dogs as
    their special territory.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 25th March 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    George is on safari down in the Rufigi River area. He is away for about three
    weeks in the month on this job. I do hate to see him go and just manage to tick over until
    he comes back. But what fun and excitement when he does come home.
    Usually he returns after dark by which time the children are in bed and I have
    settled down on the verandah with a book. The first warning is usually given by the
    dogs, Fanny and her son Paddy. They stir, sit up, look at each other and then go and sit
    side by side by the door with their noses practically pressed to the mosquito gauze and
    ears pricked. Soon I can hear the hum of the car, and so can Hasmani, the old Game
    Scout who sleeps on the back verandah with rifle and ammunition by his side when
    George is away. When he hears the car he turns up his lamp and hurries out to rouse
    Juma, the houseboy. Juma pokes up the fire and prepares tea which George always
    drinks whist a hot meal is being prepared. In the meantime I hurriedly comb my hair and
    powder my nose so that when the car stops I am ready to rush out and welcome
    George home. The boy and Hasmani and the garden boy appear to help with the
    luggage and to greet George and the cook, who always accompanies George on
    Safari. The home coming is always a lively time with much shouting of greetings.
    ‘Jambo’, and ‘Habari ya safari’, whilst the dogs, beside themselves with excitement,
    rush around like lunatics.

    As though his return were not happiness enough, George usually collects the
    mail on his way home so there is news of Ann and young George and letters from you
    and bundles of newspapers and magazines. On the day following his return home,
    George has to deal with official mail in the office but if the following day is a weekday we
    all, the house servants as well as ourselves, pile into the boxbody and go to Dar es
    Salaam. To us this means a mornings shopping followed by an afternoon on the beach.
    It is a bit cooler now that the rains are on but still very humid. Kate keeps chubby
    and rosy in spite of the climate but Johnny is too pale though sturdy enough. He is such
    a good baby which is just as well because Kate is a very demanding little girl though
    sunny tempered and sweet. I appreciate her company very much when George is
    away because we are so far off the beaten track that no one ever calls.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 28th April 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    You all seem to wonder how I can stand the loneliness and monotony of living at
    Nzassa when George is on safari, but really and truly I do not mind. Hamisi the cook
    always goes on safari with George and then the houseboy Juma takes over the cooking
    and I do the lighter housework. the children are great company during the day, and when
    they are settled for the night I sit on the verandah and read or write letters or I just dream.
    The verandah is entirely enclosed with both wire mosquito gauze and a trellis
    work of heavy expanded metal, so I am safe from all intruders be they human, animal, or
    insect. Outside the air is alive with mosquitos and the cicadas keep up their monotonous
    singing all night long. My only companions on the verandah are the pale ghecco lizards
    on the wall and the two dogs. Fanny the white bull terrier, lies always near my feet
    dozing happily, but her son Paddy, who is half Airedale has a less phlegmatic
    disposition. He sits alert and on guard by the metal trellis work door. Often a lion grunts
    from the surrounding bush and then his hackles rise and he stands up stiffly with his nose
    pressed to the door. Old Hasmani from his bedroll on the back verandah, gives a little
    cough just to show he is awake. Sometimes the lions are very close and then I hear the
    click of a rifle bolt as Hasmani loads his rifle – but this is usually much later at night when
    the lights are out. One morning I saw large pug marks between the wall of my bedroom
    and the garage but I do not fear lions like I did that beastly leopard on the farm.
    A great deal of witchcraft is still practiced in the bush villages in the
    neighbourhood. I must tell you about old Hasmani’s baby in connection with this. Last
    week Hasmani came to me in great distress to say that his baby was ‘Ngongwa sana ‘
    (very ill) and he thought it would die. I hurried down to the Game Scouts quarters to see
    whether I could do anything for the child and found the mother squatting in the sun
    outside her hut with the baby on her lap. The mother was a young woman but not an
    attractive one. She appeared sullen and indifferent compared with old Hasmani who
    was very distressed. The child was very feverish and breathing with difficulty and
    seemed to me to be suffering from bronchitis if not pneumonia. I rubbed his back and
    chest with camphorated oil and dosed him with aspirin and liquid quinine. I repeated the
    treatment every four hours, but next day there was no apparent improvement.
    In the afternoon Hasmani begged me to give him that night off duty and asked for
    a loan of ten shillings. He explained to me that it seemed to him that the white man’s
    medicine had failed to cure his child and now he wished to take the child to the local witch
    doctor. “For ten shillings” said Hasmani, “the Maganga will drive the devil out of my
    child.” “How?” asked I. “With drums”, said Hasmani confidently. I did not know what to
    do. I thought the child was too ill to be exposed to the night air, yet I knew that if I
    refused his request and the child were to die, Hasmani and all the other locals would hold
    me responsible. I very reluctantly granted his request. I was so troubled by the matter
    that I sent for George’s office clerk. Daniel, and asked him to accompany Hasmani to the
    ceremony and to report to me the next morning. It started to rain after dark and all night
    long I lay awake in bed listening to the drums and the light rain. Next morning when I
    went out to the kitchen to order breakfast I found a beaming Hasmani awaiting me.
    “Memsahib”, he said. “My child is well, the fever is now quite gone, the Maganga drove
    out the devil just as I told you.” Believe it or not, when I hurried to his quarters after
    breakfast I found the mother suckling a perfectly healthy child! It may be my imagination
    but I thought the mother looked pretty smug.The clerk Daniel told me that after Hasmani
    had presented gifts of money and food to the ‘Maganga’, the naked baby was placed
    on a goat skin near the drums. Most of the time he just lay there but sometimes the witch
    doctor picked him up and danced with the child in his arms. Daniel seemed reluctant to
    talk about it. Whatever mumbo jumbo was used all this happened a week ago and the
    baby has never looked back.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 3rd July 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    Did I tell you that one of George’s Game Scouts was murdered last month in the
    Maneromango area towards the Rufigi border. He was on routine patrol, with a porter
    carrying his bedding and food, when they suddenly came across a group of African
    hunters who were busy cutting up a giraffe which they had just killed. These hunters were
    all armed with muzzle loaders, spears and pangas, but as it is illegal to kill giraffe without
    a permit, the Scout went up to the group to take their names. Some argument ensued
    and the Scout was stabbed.

    The District Officer went to the area to investigate and decided to call in the Police
    from Dar es Salaam. A party of police went out to search for the murderers but after
    some days returned without making any arrests. George was on an elephant control
    safari in the Bagamoyo District and on his return through Dar es Salaam he heard of the
    murder. George was furious and distressed to hear the news and called in here for an
    hour on his way to Maneromango to search for the murderers himself.

    After a great deal of strenuous investigation he arrested three poachers, put them
    in jail for the night at Maneromango and then brought them to Dar es Salaam where they
    are all now behind bars. George will now have to prosecute in the Magistrate’s Court
    and try and ‘make a case’ so that the prisoners may be committed to the High Court to
    be tried for murder. George is convinced of their guilt and justifiably proud to have
    succeeded where the police failed.

    George had to borrow handcuffs for the prisoners from the Chief at
    Maneromango and these he brought back to Nzassa after delivering the prisoners to
    Dar es Salaam so that he may return them to the Chief when he revisits the area next
    week.

    I had not seen handcuffs before and picked up a pair to examine them. I said to
    George, engrossed in ‘The Times’, “I bet if you were arrested they’d never get
    handcuffs on your wrist. Not these anyway, they look too small.” “Standard pattern,”
    said George still concentrating on the newspaper, but extending an enormous relaxed
    left wrist. So, my dears, I put a bracelet round his wrist and as there was a wide gap I
    gave a hard squeeze with both hands. There was a sharp click as the handcuff engaged
    in the first notch. George dropped the paper and said, “Now you’ve done it, my love,
    one set of keys are in the Dar es Salaam Police Station, and the others with the Chief at
    Maneromango.” You can imagine how utterly silly I felt but George was an angel about it
    and said as he would have to go to Dar es Salaam we might as well all go.

    So we all piled into the car, George, the children and I in the front, and the cook
    and houseboy, immaculate in snowy khanzus and embroidered white caps, a Game
    Scout and the ayah in the back. George never once complain of the discomfort of the
    handcuff but I was uncomfortably aware that it was much too tight because his arm
    above the cuff looked red and swollen and the hand unnaturally pale. As the road is so
    bad George had to use both hands on the wheel and all the time the dangling handcuff
    clanked against the dashboard in an accusing way.

    We drove straight to the Police Station and I could hear the roars of laughter as
    George explained his predicament. Later I had to put up with a good deal of chaffing
    and congratulations upon putting the handcuffs on George.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 5th August 1939

    Dearest Family,

    George made a point of being here for Kate’s fourth birthday last week. Just
    because our children have no playmates George and I always do all we can to make
    birthdays very special occasions. We went to Dar es Salaam the day before the
    birthday and bought Kate a very sturdy tricycle with which she is absolutely delighted.
    You will be glad to know that your parcels arrived just in time and Kate loved all your
    gifts especially the little shop from Dad with all the miniature tins and packets of
    groceries. The tea set was also a great success and is much in use.

    We had a lively party which ended with George and me singing ‘Happy
    Birthday to you’, and ended with a wild game with balloons. Kate wore her frilly white net
    party frock and looked so pretty that it seemed a shame that there was no one but us to
    see her. Anyway it was a good party. I wish so much that you could see the children.
    Kate keeps rosy and has not yet had malaria. Johnny Jo is sturdy but pale. He
    runs a temperature now and again but I am not sure whether this is due to teething or
    malaria. Both children of course take quinine every day as George and I do. George
    quite frequently has malaria in spite of prophylactic quinine but this is not surprising as he
    got the germ thoroughly established in his system in his early elephant hunting days. I
    get it too occasionally but have not been really ill since that first time a month after my
    arrival in the country.

    Johnny is such a good baby. His chief claim to beauty is his head of soft golden
    curls but these are due to come off on his first birthday as George considers them too
    girlish. George left on safari the day after the party and the very next morning our wood
    boy had a most unfortunate accident. He was chopping a rather tough log when a chip
    flew up and split his upper lip clean through from mouth to nostril exposing teeth and
    gums. A truly horrible sight and very bloody. I cleaned up the wound as best I could
    and sent him off to the hospital at Dar es Salaam on the office bicycle. He wobbled
    away wretchedly down the road with a white cloth tied over his mouth to keep off the
    dust. He returned next day with his lip stitched and very swollen and bearing a
    resemblance to my lip that time I used the hair remover.

    Eleanor.

    Splendid Hotel. Dar es Salaam 7th September 1939

    Dearest Family,

    So now another war has started and it has disrupted even our lives. We have left
    Nzassa for good. George is now a Lieutenant in the King’s African Rifles and the children
    and I are to go to a place called Morogoro to await further developments.
    I was glad to read in today’s paper that South Africa has declared war on
    Germany. I would have felt pretty small otherwise in this hotel which is crammed full of
    men who have been called up for service in the Army. George seems exhilarated by
    the prospect of active service. He is bursting out of his uniform ( at the shoulders only!)
    and all too ready for the fray.

    The war came as a complete surprise to me stuck out in the bush as I was without
    wireless or mail. George had been away for a fortnight so you can imagine how
    surprised I was when a messenger arrived on a bicycle with a note from George. The
    note informed me that war had been declared and that George, as a Reserve Officer in
    the KAR had been called up. I was to start packing immediately and be ready by noon
    next day when George would arrive with a lorry for our goods and chattels. I started to
    pack immediately with the help of the houseboy and by the time George arrived with
    the lorry only the frig remained to be packed and this was soon done.

    Throughout the morning Game Scouts had been arriving from outlying parts of
    the District. I don’t think they had the least idea where they were supposed to go or
    whom they were to fight but were ready to fight anybody, anywhere, with George.
    They all looked very smart in well pressed uniforms hung about with water bottles and
    ammunition pouches. The large buffalo badge on their round pill box hats absolutely
    glittered with polish. All of course carried rifles and when George arrived they all lined up
    and they looked most impressive. I took some snaps but unfortunately it was drizzling
    and they may not come out well.

    We left Nzassa without a backward glance. We were pretty fed up with it by
    then. The children and I are spending a few days here with George but our luggage, the
    dogs, and the houseboys have already left by train for Morogoro where a small house
    has been found for the children and me.

    George tells me that all the German males in this Territory were interned without a
    hitch. The whole affair must have been very well organised. In every town and
    settlement special constables were sworn in to do the job. It must have been a rather
    unpleasant one but seems to have gone without incident. There is a big transit camp
    here at Dar for the German men. Later they are to be sent out of the country, possibly to
    Rhodesia.

    The Indian tailors in the town are all terribly busy making Army uniforms, shorts
    and tunics in khaki drill. George swears that they have muddled their orders and he has
    been given the wrong things. Certainly the tunic is far too tight. His hat, a khaki slouch hat
    like you saw the Australians wearing in the last war, is also too small though it is the
    largest they have in stock. We had a laugh over his other equipment which includes a
    small canvas haversack and a whistle on a black cord. George says he feels like he is
    back in his Boy Scouting boyhood.

    George has just come in to say the we will be leaving for Morogoro tomorrow
    afternoon.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 14th September 1939

    Dearest Family,

    Morogoro is a complete change from Nzassa. This is a large and sprawling
    township. The native town and all the shops are down on the flat land by the railway but
    all the European houses are away up the slope of the high Uluguru Mountains.
    Morogoro was a flourishing town in the German days and all the streets are lined with
    trees for coolness as is the case in other German towns. These trees are the flamboyant
    acacia which has an umbrella top and throws a wide but light shade.

    Most of the houses have large gardens so they cover a considerable area and it
    is quite a safari for me to visit friends on foot as our house is on the edge of this area and
    the furthest away from the town. Here ones house is in accordance with ones seniority in
    Government service. Ours is a simple affair, just three lofty square rooms opening on to
    a wide enclosed verandah. Mosquitoes are bad here so all doors and windows are
    screened and we will have to carry on with our daily doses of quinine.

    George came up to Morogoro with us on the train. This was fortunate because I
    went down with a sharp attack of malaria at the hotel on the afternoon of our departure
    from Dar es Salaam. George’s drastic cure of vast doses of quinine, a pillow over my
    head, and the bed heaped with blankets soon brought down the temperature so I was
    fit enough to board the train but felt pretty poorly on the trip. However next day I felt
    much better which was a good thing as George had to return to Dar es Salaam after two
    days. His train left late at night so I did not see him off but said good-bye at home
    feeling dreadful but trying to keep the traditional stiff upper lip of the wife seeing her
    husband off to the wars. He hopes to go off to Abyssinia but wrote from Dar es Salaam
    to say that he is being sent down to Rhodesia by road via Mbeya to escort the first
    detachment of Rhodesian white troops.

    First he will have to select suitable camping sites for night stops and arrange for
    supplies of food. I am very pleased as it means he will be safe for a while anyway. We
    are both worried about Ann and George in England and wonder if it would be safer to
    have them sent out.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 4th November 1939

    Dearest Family,

    My big news is that George has been released from the Army. He is very
    indignant and disappointed because he hoped to go to Abyssinia but I am terribly,
    terribly glad. The Chief Secretary wrote a very nice letter to George pointing out that he
    would be doing a greater service to his country by his work of elephant control, giving
    crop protection during the war years when foodstuffs are such a vital necessity, than by
    doing a soldiers job. The Government plan to start a huge rice scheme in the Rufiji area,
    and want George to control the elephant and hippo there. First of all though. he must go
    to the Southern Highlands Province where there is another outbreak of Rinderpest, to
    shoot out diseased game especially buffalo, which might spread the disease.

    So off we go again on our travels but this time we are leaving the two dogs
    behind in the care of Daniel, the Game Clerk. Fanny is very pregnant and I hate leaving
    her behind but the clerk has promised to look after her well. We are taking Hamisi, our
    dignified Swahili cook and the houseboy Juma and his wife whom we brought with us
    from Nzassa. The boy is not very good but his wife makes a cheerful and placid ayah
    and adores Johnny.

    Eleanor.

    Iringa 8th December 1939

    Dearest Family,

    The children and I are staying in a small German house leased from the
    Custodian of Enemy Property. I can’t help feeling sorry for the owners who must be in
    concentration camps somewhere.George is away in the bush dealing with the
    Rinderpest emergency and the cook has gone with him. Now I have sent the houseboy
    and the ayah away too. Two days ago my houseboy came and told me that he felt
    very ill and asked me to write a ‘chit’ to the Indian Doctor. In the note I asked the Doctor
    to let me know the nature of his complaint and to my horror I got a note from him to say
    that the houseboy had a bad case of Venereal Disease. Was I horrified! I took it for
    granted that his wife must be infected too and told them both that they would have to
    return to their home in Nzassa. The boy shouted and the ayah wept but I paid them in
    lieu of notice and gave them money for the journey home. So there I was left servant
    less with firewood to chop, a smokey wood burning stove to control, and of course, the
    two children.

    To add to my troubles Johnny had a temperature so I sent for the European
    Doctor. He diagnosed malaria and was astonished at the size of Johnny’s spleen. He
    said that he must have had suppressed malaria over a long period and the poor child
    must now be fed maximum doses of quinine for a long time. The Doctor is a fatherly
    soul, he has been recalled from retirement to do this job as so many of the young
    doctors have been called up for service with the army.

    I told him about my houseboy’s complaint and the way I had sent him off
    immediately, and he was very amused at my haste, saying that it is most unlikely that
    they would have passed the disease onto their employers. Anyway I hated the idea. I
    mean to engage a houseboy locally, but will do without an ayah until we return to
    Morogoro in February.

    Something happened today to cheer me up. A telegram came from Daniel which
    read, “FLANNEL HAS FIVE CUBS.”

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 10th March 1940

    Dearest Family,

    We are having very heavy rain and the countryside is a most beautiful green. In
    spite of the weather George is away on safari though it must be very wet and
    unpleasant. He does work so hard at his elephant hunting job and has got very thin. I
    suppose this is partly due to those stomach pains he gets and the doctors don’t seem
    to diagnose the trouble.

    Living in Morogoro is much like living in a country town in South Africa, particularly
    as there are several South African women here. I go out quite often to morning teas. We
    all take our war effort knitting, and natter, and are completely suburban.
    I sometimes go and see an elderly couple who have been interred here. They
    are cold shouldered by almost everyone else but I cannot help feeling sorry for them.
    Usually I go by invitation because I know Mrs Ruppel prefers to be prepared and
    always has sandwiches and cake. They both speak English but not fluently and
    conversation is confined to talking about my children and theirs. Their two sons were
    students in Germany when war broke out but are now of course in the German Army.
    Such nice looking chaps from their photographs but I suppose thorough Nazis. As our
    conversation is limited I usually ask to hear a gramophone record or two. They have a
    large collection.

    Janet, the ayah whom I engaged at Mbeya, is proving a great treasure. She is a
    trained hospital ayah and is most dependable and capable. She is, perhaps, a little strict
    but the great thing is that I can trust her with the children out of my sight.
    Last week I went out at night for the first time without George. The occasion was
    a farewell sundowner given by the Commissioner of Prisoners and his wife. I was driven
    home by the District Officer and he stopped his car by the back door in a large puddle.
    Ayah came to the back door, storm lamp in hand, to greet me. My escort prepared to
    drive off but the car stuck. I thought a push from me might help, so without informing the
    driver, I pushed as hard as I could on the back of the car. Unfortunately the driver
    decided on other tactics. He put the engine in reverse and I was knocked flat on my back
    in the puddle. The car drove forward and away without the driver having the least idea of
    what happened. The ayah was in quite a state, lifting me up and scolding me for my
    stupidity as though I were Kate. I was a bit shaken but non the worse and will know
    better next time.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 14th July 1940

    Dearest Family,

    How good it was of Dad to send that cable to Mother offering to have Ann and
    George to live with you if they are accepted for inclusion in the list of children to be
    evacuated to South Africa. It would be wonderful to know that they are safely out of the
    war zone and so much nearer to us but I do dread the thought of the long sea voyage
    particularly since we heard the news of the sinking of that liner carrying child evacuees to
    Canada. I worry about them so much particularly as George is so often away on safari.
    He is so comforting and calm and I feel brave and confident when he is home.
    We have had no news from England for five weeks but, when she last wrote,
    mother said the children were very well and that she was sure they would be safe in the
    country with her.

    Kate and John are growing fast. Kate is such a pretty little girl, rosy in spite of the
    rather trying climate. I have allowed her hair to grow again and it hangs on her shoulders
    in shiny waves. John is a more slightly built little boy than young George was, and quite
    different in looks. He has Dad’s high forehead and cleft chin, widely spaced brown eyes
    that are not so dark as mine and hair that is still fair and curly though ayah likes to smooth it
    down with water every time she dresses him. He is a shy child, and although he plays
    happily with Kate, he does not care to play with other children who go in the late
    afternoons to a lawn by the old German ‘boma’.

    Kate has playmates of her own age but still rather clings to me. Whilst she loves
    to have friends here to play with her, she will not go to play at their houses unless I go
    too and stay. She always insists on accompanying me when I go out to morning tea
    and always calls JanetJohn’s ayah”. One morning I went to a knitting session at a
    neighbours house. We are all knitting madly for the troops. As there were several other
    women in the lounge and no other children, I installed Kate in the dining room with a
    colouring book and crayons. My hostess’ black dog was chained to the dining room
    table leg, but as he and Kate are on friendly terms I was not bothered by this.
    Some time afterwards, during a lull in conversation, I heard a strange drumming
    noise coming from the dining room. I went quickly to investigate and, to my horror, found
    Kate lying on her back with the dog chain looped around her neck. The frightened dog
    was straining away from her as far as he could get and the chain was pulled so tightly
    around her throat that she could not scream. The drumming noise came from her heels
    kicking in a panic on the carpet.

    Even now I do not know how Kate got herself into this predicament. Luckily no
    great harm was done but I think I shall do my knitting at home in future.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 16th November 1940

    Dearest Family,

    I much prefer our little house on the hillside to the larger one we had down below.
    The only disadvantage is that the garden is on three levels and both children have had
    some tumbles down the steps on the tricycle. John is an extremely stoical child. He
    never cries when he hurts himself.

    I think I have mentioned ‘Morningside’ before. It is a kind of Resthouse high up in
    the Uluguru Mountains above Morogoro. Jess Howe-Browne, who runs the large
    house as a Guest House, is a wonderful woman. Besides running the boarding house
    she also grows vegetables, flowers and fruit for sale in Morogoro and Dar es Salaam.
    Her guests are usually women and children from Dar es Salaam who come in the hot
    season to escape the humidity on the coast. Often the mothers leave their children for
    long periods in Jess Howe-Browne’s care. There is a road of sorts up the mountain side
    to Morningside, but this is so bad that cars do not attempt it and guests are carried up
    the mountain in wicker chairs lashed to poles. Four men carry an adult, and two a child,
    and there are of course always spare bearers and they work in shifts.

    Last week the children and I went to Morningside for the day as guests. John
    rode on my lap in one chair and Kate in a small chair on her own. This did not please
    Kate at all. The poles are carried on the bearers shoulders and one is perched quite high.
    The motion is a peculiar rocking one. The bearers chant as they go and do not seem
    worried by shortness of breath! They are all hillmen of course and are, I suppose, used
    to trotting up and down to the town.

    Morningside is well worth visiting and we spent a delightful day there. The fresh
    cool air is a great change from the heavy air of the valley. A river rushes down the
    mountain in a series of cascades, and the gardens are shady and beautiful. Behind the
    property is a thick indigenous forest which stretches from Morningside to the top of the
    mountain. The house is an old German one, rather in need of repair, but Jess has made
    it comfortable and attractive, with some of her old family treasures including a fine old
    Grandfather clock. We had a wonderful lunch which included large fresh strawberries and
    cream. We made the return journey again in the basket chairs and got home before dark.
    George returned home at the weekend with a baby elephant whom we have
    called Winnie. She was rescued from a mud hole by some African villagers and, as her
    mother had abandoned her, they took her home and George was informed. He went in
    the truck to fetch her having first made arrangements to have her housed in a shed on the
    Agriculture Department Experimental Farm here. He has written to the Game Dept
    Headquarters to inform the Game Warden and I do not know what her future will be, but
    in the meantime she is our pet. George is afraid she will not survive because she has
    had a very trying time. She stands about waist high and is a delightful creature and quite
    docile. Asian and African children as well as Europeans gather to watch her and George
    encourages them to bring fruit for her – especially pawpaws which she loves.
    Whilst we were there yesterday one of the local ladies came, very smartly
    dressed in a linen frock, silk stockings, and high heeled shoes. She watched fascinated
    whilst Winnie neatly split a pawpaw and removed the seeds with her trunk, before
    scooping out the pulp and putting it in her mouth. It was a particularly nice ripe pawpaw
    and Winnie enjoyed it so much that she stretched out her trunk for more. The lady took
    fright and started to run with Winnie after her, sticky trunk outstretched. Quite an
    entertaining sight. George managed to stop Winnie but not before she had left a gooey
    smear down the back of the immaculate frock.

    Eleanor.

     

    #6263
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued  ~ part 4

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Mchewe Estate. 31st January 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    With much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 9th February 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Heaps of love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 27th February 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots of love,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 12th March 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    With heaps of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 24th March 1936

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Heaps of love from a sadder but wiser,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 3rd April 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The wet season is definitely the time to stay home.

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 30th April 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Your very affectionate,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 17th September 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

    With love to you all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 2nd October 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love to you all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 10th October 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

    Your worried but affectionate,
    Eleanor.

    Tukuyu. 23rd October 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

    Much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe. 12th November 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Chunya 27th November 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love to all,
    Eleanor.

     

    #6262
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued  ~ part 3

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

    your loving but anxious,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Who would be a mother!
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    With love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

    With love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    Your very loving,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

    With love to all,
    Eleanor.

    #6260
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love my dear,
    your jubilant
    Eleanor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Bless you all,
    Eleanor.

    S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor Leslie.

    Eleanor and George Rushby:

    Eleanor and George Rushby

    Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your cave woman
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love to you all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your loving
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mbeya 23rd December 1930

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    26th December 1930

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

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

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

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your loving,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

    Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    #6236
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The Liverpool Fires

    Catherine Housley had two older sisters, Elizabeth 1845-1883 and Mary Anne 1846-1935.  Both Elizabeth and Mary Anne grew up in the Belper workhouse after their mother died, and their father was jailed for failing to maintain his three children.  Mary Anne married Samuel Gilman and they had a grocers shop in Buxton.  Elizabeth married in Liverpool in 1873.

    What was she doing in Liverpool? How did she meet William George Stafford?

    According to the census, Elizabeth Housley was in Belper workhouse in 1851. In 1861, aged 16,  she was a servant in the household of Peter Lyon, a baker in Derby St Peters.  We noticed that the Lyon’s were friends of the family and were mentioned in the letters to George in Pennsylvania.

    No record of Elizabeth can be found on the 1871 census, but in 1872 the birth and death was registered of Elizabeth and William’s child, Elizabeth Jane Stafford. The parents are registered as William and Elizabeth Stafford, although they were not yet married. William’s occupation is a “refiner”.

    In April, 1873, a Fatal Fire is reported in the Liverpool Mercury. Fearful Termination of a Saturday Night Debauch. Seven Persons Burnt To Death.  Interesting to note in the article that “the middle room being let off to a coloured man named William Stafford and his wife”.

    Fatal Fire Liverpool

     

    We had noted on the census that William Stafford place of birth was “Africa, British subject” but it had not occurred to us that he was “coloured”.  A register of birth has not yet been found for William and it is not known where in Africa he was born.

    Liverpool fire

     

    Elizabeth and William survived the fire on Gay Street, and were still living on Gay Street in October 1873 when they got married.

    William’s occupation on the marriage register is sugar refiner, and his father is Peter Stafford, farmer. Elizabeth’s father is Samuel Housley, plumber. It does not say Samuel Housley deceased, so perhaps we can assume that Samuel is still alive in 1873.

    Eliza Florence Stafford, their second daughter, was born in 1876.

    William’s occupation on the 1881 census is “fireman”, in his case, a fire stoker at the sugar refinery, an unpleasant and dangerous job for which they were paid slightly more. William, Elizabeth and Eliza were living in Byrom Terrace.

    Byrom Terrace, Liverpool, in 1933

    Byrom Terrace

     

    Elizabeth died of heart problems in 1883, when Eliza was six years old, and in 1891 her father died, scalded to death in a tragic accident at the sugar refinery.

    Scalded to Death

     

    Eliza, aged 15, was living as an inmate at the Walton on the Hill Institution in 1891. It’s not clear when she was admitted to the workhouse, perhaps after her mother died in 1883.

    In 1901 Eliza Florence Stafford is a 24 year old live in laundrymaid, according to the census, living in West Derby  (a part of Liverpool, and not actually in Derby).  On the 1911 census there is a Florence Stafford listed  as an unnmarried laundress, with a daughter called Florence.  In 1901 census she was a laundrymaid in West Derby, Liverpool, and the daughter Florence Stafford was born in 1904 West Derby.  It’s likely that this is Eliza Florence, but nothing further has been found so far.

     

    The questions remaining are the location of William’s birth, the name of his mother and his family background, what happened to Eliza and her daughter after 1911, and how did Elizabeth meet William in the first place.

    William Stafford was a seaman prior to working in the sugar refinery, and he appears on several ship’s crew lists.  Nothing so far has indicated where he might have been born, or where his father came from.

    Some months after finding the newspaper article about the fire on Gay Street, I saw an unusual request for information on the Liverpool genealogy group. Someone asked if anyone knew of a fire in Liverpool in the 1870’s.  She had watched a programme about children recalling past lives, in this case a memory of a fire. The child recalled pushing her sister into a burning straw mattress by accident, as she attempted to save her from a falling beam.  I watched the episode in question hoping for more information to confirm if this was the same fire, but details were scant and it’s impossible to say for sure.

    #6142
    TracyTracy
    Participant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #6139

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “I’m not paying for everyone’s bill!” shouted Vince, stamping his foot.

    “If you don’t pay the bill, I’ll call the police,” said the waitress, closing the door and turning the open sign to closed. She turned the key and put it in her apron pocket.  “Either you pay the bill or you wash the dishes.”

    Vince was just about the stamp his foot again and a look of anguish came over his face. Finton, the waitress, looked quizzically at him and reached out to touch his arm.  “Are you alright?”

    Then the floodgates opened and Vince collapsed in a chair, tears rolling down his face.  Finton sat down next to him and put her arm across his shoulders, patting him gently until the sobbing had subsided.

    “Now then, sir, why don’t you tell me all about it while you’re doing the dishes,” she said kindly, “I’d be happy to listen, and I can interrogate you too, if that’s what you’d like.”

    Vince wiped his eyes and blew his nose with a crumpled napkin, smearing strawberry jam across his cheeks.  Finton didn’t have the heart to tell him, and tried hard not to snigger.

    “Call me Vince,” he smiled weakly, and followed Finton into the kitchen.

    #5607
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Mater

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

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

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

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

    #4857
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    WIB (workman in blue) opened his lunch box and unwrapped a sandwich. He sighed when he saw it was cheese and pickle again. It had been cheese and pickle all week, a sure sign that WAH (woman at home) wasn’t giving him the attention he deserved, throwing the easiest thing together day after day instead of planning a nice roast chicken dinner, with the prospect of a couple of days of savoury chicken sandwiches to take to work. She hadn’t even bothered to boil up a few hard boiled eggs for a bit of variety. He loved egg sandwiches. He wasn’t a hard man to please, he ruminated dolefully, chewing the cheese and pickle.

    He reached for his flask to wash it down with a gulp of tea, and noticed with some surprise that she’d bought him a new flask. His old one had a few dents in the screw on cup, and this one looked all shiny and new. Anxious to wash down the cheesy lump in his throat, he unscrewed the cap and poured the flask over the cup.

    But there was no tea in the flask, nothing poured out of it. He peered inside and shook it.

    “That woman’s lost her marbles!”

    It was the last straw. He stood up, shook the flask above his head, and roared incoherently.

    “Everything alright, mate?” asked his work colleague mildly. WIB2 was contentedly munching a juicy pink ham sandwich. He even had a packet of crisps to go with it, WIB1 noticed.

    “No tea? Fancy some of my coffee? Pass yer cup. What’s in the flask then, what’s rattling?”

    WAB1 sat back down on the low wall and upended the flask, pulling at a bit of black stuff that was protruding from the top.

    ““Maybe it’s full of banknotes!” WIB2 suggested.

    “It’s a fucking doll! What the..?”

    “Why did your old lady put a doll in your flask instead of tea, mate? Private joke or something, bit of a lark?” WIB2 elbowed WIB1 in the ribs playfully. “No?” he responded to WIB1’s scowl. “Maybe there’s something stitched inside it, then.”

    ~~~

    Lucinda, where is this going?”

    “I don’t fucking know, Helper Effy.”

    “I thought as much. Perhaps we’d better go back to the beginning.”

    #4687
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Ric was confused as to why he found himself flushed and vaguely excited by Bossy Mam’s sudden and attractive outburst.
    He was so glad the two harpies were off to goat knows where, or they would have tortured him with no end of gossiping.

    Still troubled by the stirring of emotions, he looked around, and almost spilled the cup of over-infused lapsang souchong tea he had prepared. Miss Bossy was the only one to fancy the strong flavour in a way only a former chain smoker could.

    Thankfully, she was still glaring at the window, and while he had no doubt he couldn’t hope to give her the slip for that sort of things, she probably had decided to just let it go.

    He took the chance to run to the archives, and started to dig up all he could on the Doctor.
    Sadly, the documents were few and sparse. Hilda and Connie were not known for their order in keeping records. Their notes looked more like herbariums from a botanist plagued with ADHD. But that probably meant there were lots of overlooked clues.

    He flipped through the dusty pages for a good hour, eyes wet with allergies, and he was about to bring Miss Bossy the sorry pile he had collected when a light bulb lit in his mind.

    How could I miss it!

    He’d never thought about it, but now, a lot of it started to make sense.

    Thinking about how Miss Bossy would probably be pleased by the news, he started to become red again, and hyperventilate.

    Calm down amigo, think about your abuela, and her awful tapas,… thaaat’s it. Crème d’anchovies with pickled strawberries… Jellyfish soufflés with poached snail eggs on rocket salad.

    His mind was rapidly quite sober again.

    Taking the pile of notes, he landed it messily on the desk, almost startling Miss Bossy.

    “Sorry for the interruption, M’am, but I may have found something…”
    “Fine, there’s no need for theatrics, spill it!” Miss Bossy was ever the no-nonsense straight-to-business personality. Some would have called her rude, but they were ignorants, and possibly all dead now.

    “There was a clue, hidden in the trail of Hilda’s collection. I’m not sure how we have missed it.”

    “Ricardooo…” Miss Bossy’s voice was showing a soupçon of annoyance.

    “Yes, pardon me, I’m digressing. Look! Right here!”

    “What? How is it possible? Is that who I think it is?”

    “I think so.”

    They turned around to look across the hall at Sweet Sophie blissfully snoring.

    “I think she was one of her first patient-slash-assistant.”

    “How quaint. But, that explains a lot. Wait a minute. I thought none of his patients were ever found… alive?”

    “Maybe she outsmarted him…”

    They both weren’t too convinced about that. But they knew now old Sweet Sophie was probably unwittingly holding the key to the elusive Doctor.

    #4554
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The wind was playing with the fine grained ash that had been the enchanted forest and Margorrit’s cottage. Fox felt empty, he sat prostrated like an old jute bag abandoned on the ground. He was unable to shake off the inertia that had befallen on him since his arrival.
    He was caught in an endless cycle of guilt that rolled over him, crushing his self esteem and motivation until it disappeared in the ashes like his friend and the whole world.

    After a moment, his stomach growled, reminding him that he was still alive and that he hadn’t eaten that well during the last few days. His nose wriggled as beyond the decay it had caught the smell of a living creature that was passing by. He heard a crow caw.
    Fox wailed, he didn’t want to be taken out of his lamentations and self pity. He thought he didn’t deserve it. But this time, like all the others before, hunger won the battle without that much of a fight and Fox was soon on his feet.

    He looked around, there was cold ash everywhere. It smell bad, but he couldn’t really tell where it came from. It seemed to be everywhere.
    The crow landed in front of him and cawed again. It looked at him intently.
    It cawed. As if it wanted to tell him something. The black of its feathers reminded him of Glynis’s burka. Glynis. She had told him something. They count on you, as if there was still time. The last potion, cawed the crow. And it took off, only to land in what would have been the cottage kitchen. It rummaged through the ashes.
    “The kitchen!” shouted Fox, suddenly recalling what she had said. The crow looked up at Fox and cawed as if encouraging him to join it in the search.
    “The last potion that can turn back time!?”
    “Caw”

    Fox ran and foraged the ashes with the crow. He found broken china, and melted silverware. He coughed as his foraging dispersed the ashes into the air. Suddenly he shivered. He had found a bone under a piece of china. He shook his head. What a fool, it’s only chicken bone.

    “Caw”
    The raven, which Fox wondered if it was Glynis, showed Fox a place with its beak. There was a small dark bottle. He wondered why they were always dark like that. He felt a rush of excitement run through his body and he was about to open it and drink it when he saw the skull and crossbones on the label. In fact it was the only thing that was on the label. Fill with a sudden repulsion, Fox almost let go of the bottle.

    “Caw”
    “I’m not drinking that,” said Fox.
    “Caw!”
    The bird jumped on his arm and attempted to uncork the bottle.
    “Caw”
    Glynis?”
    “Caw Caw”
    She picked at the cork.
    Fox looked at the dreaded sign on the bottle. He hesitated but opened it. When the smell reached his nose he was surprised that it was sweet and reminded him of strawberry. Maybe it was by contrast to the ambient decay.
    At least, he thought, if I die, the last thing I taste would be strawberry.
    He gulped the potion down and disappeared.
    The bottle fell on the floor, a drop hanging on the edge of its opening. Certainly attracted by the sweet smell, the crow took it with his black beak. It just had time for a last satisfied caw before it also disappeared.

    #4258
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Tak holds the bamboo flute carefully against his chest. The clothes are two sizes too large for his natural appearance, but he did not dare change to human form.

    He is looking through the window at the snow falling gently. He isn’t used to not smell the forest nearby, and seeing it through the window without its smell is utterly fascinating.

    The old woman is always busy, writing on paper, weaving goat’s hair, cleaning vigorously and when she isn’t, she is busy talking to herself. He doesn’t mind the chatter, oftentimes gibbons are chatty too.

    “Are you hungry? He’s going to be fine you know” the kind woman talks to him again. The goat nearby seems used to it, and is busy eating straws. “Let me see your flute, I will teach you how to play.”

    He looks at her with an air of surprise.

    “But for that you’ll have to take your human form.” She smiles warmly to him. He doesn’t know how she knows, but he knows she knows.

    “I’ve seen many strange things at the edge of the Enchanted Forest’s heart, you see. That’s what I like here, you have to expect the unexpected.”

    By breathing slowly, he’s able to regain his human child appearance and asks with a voice full of hesitation, handing over the precious instrument “Music?”

    #3965
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Did you have to come out here and interrupt my quiet reverie on gardeners nether regions, Godfrey?” Liz said crossly. “And what is that on your head? Your bald spot is covered in dried spaghetti.”

    Guiltily, Godfrey tried to remove the debris from his pate.

    “Why, you old rascal! You’ve been a peeping tom again, skulking around in someone elses thread!” Liz shook her head and tut tutted. The head shaking dislodged a crumpled ball of paper from her straw hat, which flew across the lawn in the breeze and landed at Roberto’s feet. The handsome gardener bent down further to pick it up, revealing more buttock.

    #3836
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Cheers!” said Bea, batting her eyelashes at Gustave while trying to suppress a grimace at another round of cackling coming from the contest in the function room. The combined effect was an alarming expression sensation saturation, and Gustave took an involuntary step backwards. He bumped into Linda Pol, who was wrapping her luscious lips around an authentic straw and sucking up voraciously the glowing rainbow cocktail.

    Linda! Fancy seeing you here!” Gustave exclaimed, trying to suppress a cackle at the sight of the rainbow cocktail running from Linda’s nostrils as she tried not to choke.

    Gustave! What on earth are you doing here with that old slapper!” she replied in between coughs and splutters, with a dismissive glance at Bea.

    Fortunately Bea was cackling so loudly at the sight of Linda choking that she failed to hear the remark.

    Not for the first time, Consuela, dolled up to the nines behind the bar in a purple wig and elaborate make up, wondered what it was about humans that they found it so amusing when people choked.

    #3776

    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “I must say all this bending is jolly awkward.” grumbled Tinia-Tiffany Bloo. “The sooner we get these aliens escorted back to earth and we are able to return to Thereon the better.

    “Stop whining will you!” snapped Betty Bloo, her antagonism in large part due to intense jealousy at Tinia’s gorgeous pale robin egg blue colouring. “It is totally unprofessional.”

    Tinia smiled sweetly as she ducked her head under her arm. That poor Betty, she really drew the short straw with that awful pigmentation.

    #3704
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    I think I might have over~egged the brûlée again, thought Elizabeth, but was immediately distracted by the rock hard knob end of stollen shoved into a truffle box on the caravan shelf.
    This really is the last straw, she exclaimed self righteously.

    #3492
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “They said seventeen seconds, but I never would have believed it! Did you see that?”
    “Seventeen seconds to barbecue a fish that size? Take a bit longer than that, Sha” replied Gloria.
    Sharon rolled her eyes and turned to Mavis. “See that, our Mavis? See how that fish landed right on our barbecue?”
    “Another trick out of that book you’ve been reading, was it?” Mavis replied. “Not bad really, but why were you asking for a fish? None of us like fish.”
    “Ah, well….I wasn’t asking for a fish exactly, no. But the way it landed seventeen seconds from when I changed my energy, well…”
    Gloria rolled her eyes and yawned. “When you work it out, I’m sure you’ll let us know. What did you ask for, anyway?”
    Sharon blushed. “Remember that hot Russian guy I had a dream about the other night?”
    Mavis and Gloria looked at the fish, looked at each other, and burst out laughing. They were still laughing when Igor landed in the strawberry pool just a few feet away from where they were sitting, soaking them to the skin. The barbecue took a direct hit from the pink deluge, and hissed.
    Igor took a deep breath and dived under the water as Sharon staggered into the pool, while Mavis and Gloria hooted from the shore.

    #3299
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    It hadn’t been easy to obtain Sadie a pay raise. The management always seemed to look for new ways to cut the costs wanted to give her an extra for the good job. Although this time, LP could put the golden balls and the rebirth of the network in the balance. They could have had enough to give the whole team a decent salary. Indeed, it wasn’t really fair that the young queens were not paid at all. Unless of course you counted props, wigs and fake eyelashes. Eventually, Linda got Sadie the extra and the raise she had asked for, and new contracts for the three young queens. She shall not forget the tears of joy in their eyes when she announced them they were part of the big Queer Network family. It had made her feel good and generous even if it was not her money she was giving.

    Linda Pol wrapped her luscious lips around an authentic straw and sucked up voraciously the glowing rainbow cocktail. Mmmmm, this new Peas’cocktail is divine, she thought. After the buzz created by their last network and that mysterious quest of Saint Germain for Peasland, peas-thingies were everywhere. She put the glass back on the edge of the Jacuzzi and looked at the little magenta umbrella for a moment. She didn’t know what was the most pleasing, the bubbles gently massaging her back in the water, or the gorgeous scenery of the Merry Otter resort in Maui. Linda Pol hadn’t had good vacation in a long long time, and if she had been in vacation this place could totally be one of her first choices destinations.

    Unfortunately, she wasn’t there for vacations or relaxation. She wasn’t there for exercise either. She had been asked to attend a conference and meet with one of those new Random Science scientists specialized in the ambergris tiles. As if it was a joke from the Universe, her name was Amber Graystone. But Linda Pol had long learned that there were no such thing as unusualness, you just hadn’t seen enough of the world.

    A boy came to refill her cocktail. Girl, you spend too much time looking at young bums, she thought, ageing beliefs were everywhere. She was feeling drowsy with the bubbles and the alcohol, almost dreaming of whales and ambergris.

    “… Graystone is taking her job too seriously”, said a man’s voice.

    Linda Pol opened her eye, just enough so that her fake eyelashes could still hide she was awake. When she was young, her curiosity had put her in trouble more times than the number of her pair of shoes. She had developed strategies and an incredible butt recognition skill. It had helped her win many contests in her youth and avoid boring conversations later on.

    The two men wore bath suits. Linda could clearly see that one of the butts was slack and lifeless. Almost avoiding the contact with the fabric. An American butt fed with hamburgers and soda. The rest of the silhouette seemed to naturally spread out from its central component.

    The other one moved like a mustang, the shiny red lycra was only here to help you see more clearly the outline of the flesh, not hide it. The curve of the bottom of the spine indicated a Russian ancestry. She felt a rush of adrenaline. She loved how Russians rolled their Rs. They could do many things with a rolling tongue.

    “You want me to take carrre of herrr ?” asked a voice carrying ice.

    “No, just remind her to whom she owes her subsidies. And her results.”

    #3246
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Jonbert’s robot had easily found the location, but it was in standby in a cafe near the techromancer’s hut, posing as a tourist in a flower shirt with a straw hat and a glass of coconut oil.

    Jonbert had received additional information about the whale network which seemed to change slightly his plans. The Ghost Whale who was supposed to preside over the rituals was apparently delayed in Time, making the retrieval of the second key problematic.
    He would have loved to rudely prompt Linda Paul to get her Queens in alignment, but for now, there was no point to that yet. He’d better leave them at their little escapade, under close surveillance from his robot.
    In all cases, they would all have to wait more in the nexus of times.
    Using his ivory carved forking long shoehorn, he scratched his itchy back. It was for him rather infuriating to be stuck, he sighed “Stuck in 2222!”. The robot bearing those news had learnt it the hard way.

    He stroked distractedly his luscious mane of red hair. At 153, thanks to regular nano-implants, Jonbert was incredibly healthy, in a very healthy and hairy manner, unlike many others he wouldn’t name.

Viewing 20 results - 1 through 20 (of 35 total)