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  • #6315

    In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg

    AvatarJib
    Participant

    It was not yet 9am and Eusebius Kazandis was already sweating. The morning sun was hitting hard on the tarp of his booth. He put the last cauldron among lines of cauldrons on a sagging table at the summer fair of Innsbruck, Austria. It was a tiny three-legged black cauldron with a simple Celtic knot on one side and a tree on the other side, like all the others. His father’s father’s father used to make cauldrons for a living, the kind you used to distil ouzo or cook meals for an Inn. But as time went by and industrialisation made it easier for cooks, the trade slowly evolved toward smaller cauldrons for modern Wiccans. A modern witch wanted it portable and light, ready to use in everyday life situations, and Eusebius was there to provide it for them.

    Eusebius sat on his chair and sighed. He couldn’t help but notice the woman in colourful dress who had spread a shawl on the grass under the tall sequoia tree. Nobody liked this spot under the branches oozing sticky resin. She didn’t seem to mind. She was arranging small colourful bottles of oil on her shawl. A sign near her said : Massage oils, Fragrant oils, Polishing oils, all with different names evocative of different properties. He hadn’t noticed her yesterday when everybody was installing their stalls. He wondered if she had paid her fee.

    Rosa was smiling as she spread in front of her the meadow flowers she’d picked on her way to the market. It was another beautiful day, under the shade and protection of the big sequoia tree watching over her. She assembled small bouquets and put them in between the vials containing her precious handmade oils. She had noticed people, and especially women, would naturally gather around well dressed stalls and engage conversation. Since she left her hometown of Torino, seven years ago, she’d followed the wind on her journey across Europe. It had led her to Innsbruck and had suddenly stopped blowing. That usually meant she had something to do there, but it also meant that she would have to figure out what she was meant to do before she could go on with her life.

    The stout man waiting behind his dark cauldrons, was watching her again. He looked quite sad, and she couldn’t help but thinking he was not where he needed to be. When she looked at him, she saw Hephaestus whose inner fire had been tamed. His banner was a mishmash of religious stuff, aimed at pagans and budding witches. Although his grim booth would most certainly benefit from a feminine touch, but she didn’t want to offend him by a misplaced suggestion. It was not her place to find his place.

    Rosa, who knew to cultivate any available friendship when she arrived somewhere, waved at the man. Startled, he looked away as if caught doing something inappropriate. Rosa sighed. Maybe she should have bring him some coffee.

    As her first clients arrived, she prayed for a gush of wind to tell her where to go next. But the branches of the old tree remained perfectly still under the scorching sun.

    #6268
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued part 9

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Lyamungu 3rd January 1945

    Dearest Family.

    We had a novel Christmas this year. We decided to avoid the expense of
    entertaining and being entertained at Lyamungu, and went off to spend Christmas
    camping in a forest on the Western slopes of Kilimanjaro. George decided to combine
    business with pleasure and in this way we were able to use Government transport.
    We set out the day before Christmas day and drove along the road which skirts
    the slopes of Kilimanjaro and first visited a beautiful farm where Philip Teare, the ex
    Game Warden, and his wife Mary are staying. We had afternoon tea with them and then
    drove on in to the natural forest above the estate and pitched our tent beside a small
    clear mountain stream. We decorated the tent with paper streamers and a few small
    balloons and John found a small tree of the traditional shape which we decorated where
    it stood with tinsel and small ornaments.

    We put our beer, cool drinks for the children and bottles of fresh milk from Simba
    Estate, in the stream and on Christmas morning they were as cold as if they had been in
    the refrigerator all night. There were not many presents for the children, there never are,
    but they do not seem to mind and are well satisfied with a couple of balloons apiece,
    sweets, tin whistles and a book each.

    George entertain the children before breakfast. He can make a magical thing out
    of the most ordinary balloon. The children watched entranced as he drew on his pipe
    and then blew the smoke into the balloon. He then pinched the neck of the balloon
    between thumb and forefinger and released the smoke in little puffs. Occasionally the
    balloon ejected a perfect smoke ring and the forest rang with shouts of “Do it again
    Daddy.” Another trick was to blow up the balloon to maximum size and then twist the
    neck tightly before releasing. Before subsiding the balloon darted about in a crazy
    fashion causing great hilarity. Such fun, at the cost of a few pence.

    After breakfast George went off to fish for trout. John and Jim decided that they
    also wished to fish so we made rods out of sticks and string and bent pins and they
    fished happily, but of course quite unsuccessfully, for hours. Both of course fell into the
    stream and got soaked, but I was prepared for this, and the little stream was so shallow
    that they could not come to any harm. Henry played happily in the sand and I had a
    most peaceful morning.

    Hamisi roasted a chicken in a pot over the camp fire and the jelly set beautifully in the
    stream. So we had grilled trout and chicken for our Christmas dinner. I had of course
    taken an iced cake for the occasion and, all in all, it was a very successful Christmas day.
    On Boxing day we drove down to the plains where George was to investigate a
    report of game poaching near the Ngassari Furrow. This is a very long ditch which has
    been dug by the Government for watering the Masai stock in the area. It is also used by
    game and we saw herds of zebra and wildebeest, and some Grant’s Gazelle and
    giraffe, all comparatively tame. At one point a small herd of zebra raced beside the lorry
    apparently enjoying the fun of a gallop. They were all sleek and fat and looked wild and
    beautiful in action.

    We camped a considerable distance from the water but this precaution did not
    save us from the mosquitoes which launched a vicious attack on us after sunset, so that
    we took to our beds unusually early. They were on the job again when we got up at
    sunrise so I was very glad when we were once more on our way home.

    “I like Christmas safari. Much nicer that silly old party,” said John. I agree but I think
    it is time that our children learned to play happily with others. There are no other young
    children at Lyamungu though there are two older boys and a girl who go to boarding
    school in Nairobi.

    On New Years Day two Army Officers from the military camp at Moshi, came for
    tea and to talk game hunting with George. I think they rather enjoy visiting a home and
    seeing children and pets around.

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 14 May 1945

    Dearest Family.

    So the war in Europe is over at last. It is such marvellous news that I can hardly
    believe it. To think that as soon as George can get leave we will go to England and
    bring Ann and George home with us to Tanganyika. When we know when this leave can
    be arranged we will want Kate to join us here as of course she must go with us to
    England to meet George’s family. She has become so much a part of your lives that I
    know it will be a wrench for you to give her up but I know that you will all be happy to
    think that soon our family will be reunited.

    The V.E. celebrations passed off quietly here. We all went to Moshi to see the
    Victory Parade of the King’s African Rifles and in the evening we went to a celebration
    dinner at the Game Warden’s house. Besides ourselves the Moores had invited the
    Commanding Officer from Moshi and a junior officer. We had a very good dinner and
    many toasts including one to Mrs Moore’s brother, Oliver Milton who is fighting in Burma
    and has recently been awarded the Military Cross.

    There was also a celebration party for the children in the grounds of the Moshi
    Club. Such a spread! I think John and Jim sampled everything. We mothers were
    having our tea separately and a friend laughingly told me to turn around and have a look.
    I did, and saw the long tea tables now deserted by all the children but my two sons who
    were still eating steadily, and finding the party more exciting than the game of Musical
    Bumps into which all the other children had entered with enthusiasm.

    There was also an extremely good puppet show put on by the Italian prisoners
    of war from the camp at Moshi. They had made all the puppets which included well
    loved characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Babes in the Wood as
    well as more sophisticated ones like an irritable pianist and a would be prima donna. The
    most popular puppets with the children were a native askari and his family – a very
    happy little scene. I have never before seen a puppet show and was as entranced as
    the children. It is amazing what clever manipulation and lighting can do. I believe that the
    Italians mean to take their puppets to Nairobi and am glad to think that there, they will
    have larger audiences to appreciate their art.

    George has just come in, and I paused in my writing to ask him for the hundredth
    time when he thinks we will get leave. He says I must be patient because it may be a
    year before our turn comes. Shipping will be disorganised for months to come and we
    cannot expect priority simply because we have been separated so long from our
    children. The same situation applies to scores of other Government Officials.
    I have decided to write the story of my childhood in South Africa and about our
    life together in Tanganyika up to the time Ann and George left the country. I know you
    will have told Kate these stories, but Ann and George were so very little when they left
    home that I fear that they cannot remember much.

    My Mother-in-law will have told them about their father but she can tell them little
    about me. I shall send them one chapter of my story each month in the hope that they
    may be interested and not feel that I am a stranger when at last we meet again.

    Eleanor.

    Lyamungu 19th September 1945

    Dearest Family.

    In a months time we will be saying good-bye to Lyamungu. George is to be
    transferred to Mbeya and I am delighted, not only as I look upon Mbeya as home, but
    because there is now a primary school there which John can attend. I feel he will make
    much better progress in his lessons when he realises that all children of his age attend
    school. At present he is putting up a strong resistance to learning to read and spell, but
    he writes very neatly, does his sums accurately and shows a real talent for drawing. If
    only he had the will to learn I feel he would do very well.

    Jim now just four, is too young for lessons but too intelligent to be interested in
    the ayah’s attempts at entertainment. Yes I’ve had to engage a native girl to look after
    Henry from 9 am to 12.30 when I supervise John’s Correspondence Course. She is
    clean and amiable, but like most African women she has no initiative at all when it comes
    to entertaining children. Most African men and youths are good at this.

    I don’t regret our stay at Lyamungu. It is a beautiful spot and the change to the
    cooler climate after the heat of Morogoro has been good for all the children. John is still
    tall for his age but not so thin as he was and much less pale. He is a handsome little lad
    with his large brown eyes in striking contrast to his fair hair. He is wary of strangers but
    very observant and quite uncanny in the way he sums up people. He seldom gets up
    to mischief but I have a feeling he eggs Jim on. Not that Jim needs egging.

    Jim has an absolute flair for mischief but it is all done in such an artless manner that
    it is not easy to punish him. He is a very sturdy child with a cap of almost black silky hair,
    eyes brown, like mine, and a large mouth which is quick to smile and show most beautiful
    white and even teeth. He is most popular with all the native servants and the Game
    Scouts. The servants call Jim, ‘Bwana Tembo’ (Mr Elephant) because of his sturdy
    build.

    Henry, now nearly two years old, is quite different from the other two in
    appearance. He is fair complexioned and fair haired like Ann and Kate, with large, black
    lashed, light grey eyes. He is a good child, not so merry as Jim was at his age, nor as
    shy as John was. He seldom cries, does not care to be cuddled and is independent and
    strong willed. The servants call Henry, ‘Bwana Ndizi’ (Mr Banana) because he has an
    inexhaustible appetite for this fruit. Fortunately they are very inexpensive here. We buy
    an entire bunch which hangs from a beam on the back verandah, and pluck off the
    bananas as they ripen. This way there is no waste and the fruit never gets bruised as it
    does in greengrocers shops in South Africa. Our three boys make a delightful and
    interesting trio and I do wish you could see them for yourselves.

    We are delighted with the really beautiful photograph of Kate. She is an
    extraordinarily pretty child and looks so happy and healthy and a great credit to you.
    Now that we will be living in Mbeya with a school on the doorstep I hope that we will
    soon be able to arrange for her return home.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 30th October 1945

    Dearest Family.

    How nice to be able to write c/o Game Dept. Mbeya at the head of my letters.
    We arrived here safely after a rather tiresome journey and are installed in a tiny house on
    the edge of the township.

    We left Lyamungu early on the morning of the 22nd. Most of our goods had
    been packed on the big Ford lorry the previous evening, but there were the usual
    delays and farewells. Of our servants, only the cook, Hamisi, accompanied us to
    Mbeya. Japhet, Tovelo and the ayah had to be paid off and largesse handed out.
    Tovelo’s granny had come, bringing a gift of bananas, and she also brought her little
    granddaughter to present a bunch of flowers. The child’s little scolded behind is now
    completely healed. Gifts had to be found for them too.

    At last we were all aboard and what a squash it was! Our few pieces of furniture
    and packing cases and trunks, the cook, his wife, the driver and the turney boy, who
    were to take the truck back to Lyamungu, and all their bits and pieces, bunches of
    bananas and Fanny the dog were all crammed into the body of the lorry. George, the
    children and I were jammed together in the cab. Before we left George looked
    dubiously at the tyres which were very worn and said gloomily that he thought it most
    unlikely that we would make our destination, Dodoma.

    Too true! Shortly after midday, near Kwakachinja, we blew a back tyre and there
    was a tedious delay in the heat whilst the wheel was changed. We were now without a
    spare tyre and George said that he would not risk taking the Ford further than Babati,
    which is less than half way to Dodoma. He drove very slowly and cautiously to Babati
    where he arranged with Sher Mohammed, an Indian trader, for a lorry to take us to
    Dodoma the next morning.

    It had been our intention to spend the night at the furnished Government
    Resthouse at Babati but when we got there we found that it was already occupied by
    several District Officers who had assembled for a conference. So, feeling rather
    disgruntled, we all piled back into the lorry and drove on to a place called Bereku where
    we spent an uncomfortable night in a tumbledown hut.

    Before dawn next morning Sher Mohammed’s lorry drove up, and there was a
    scramble to dress by the light of a storm lamp. The lorry was a very dilapidated one and
    there was already a native woman passenger in the cab. I felt so tired after an almost
    sleepless night that I decided to sit between the driver and this woman with the sleeping
    Henry on my knee. It was as well I did, because I soon found myself dosing off and
    drooping over towards the woman. Had she not been there I might easily have fallen
    out as the battered cab had no door. However I was alert enough when daylight came
    and changed places with the woman to our mutual relief. She was now able to converse
    with the African driver and I was able to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air!
    George, John and Jim were less comfortable. They sat in the lorry behind the
    cab hemmed in by packing cases. As the lorry was an open one the sun beat down
    unmercifully upon them until George, ever resourceful, moved a table to the front of the
    truck. The two boys crouched under this and so got shelter from the sun but they still had
    to endure the dust. Fanny complicated things by getting car sick and with one thing and
    another we were all jolly glad to get to Dodoma.

    We spent the night at the Dodoma Hotel and after hot baths, a good meal and a
    good nights rest we cheerfully boarded a bus of the Tanganyika Bus Service next
    morning to continue our journey to Mbeya. The rest of the journey was uneventful. We slept two nights on the road, the first at Iringa Hotel and the second at Chimala. We
    reached Mbeya on the 27th.

    I was rather taken aback when I first saw the little house which has been allocated
    to us. I had become accustomed to the spacious houses we had in Morogoro and
    Lyamungu. However though the house is tiny it is secluded and has a long garden
    sloping down to the road in front and another long strip sloping up behind. The front
    garden is shaded by several large cypress and eucalyptus trees but the garden behind
    the house has no shade and consists mainly of humpy beds planted with hundreds of
    carnations sadly in need of debudding. I believe that the previous Game Ranger’s wife
    cultivated the carnations and, by selling them, raised money for War Funds.
    Like our own first home, this little house is built of sun dried brick. Its original
    owners were Germans. It is now rented to the Government by the Custodian of Enemy
    Property, and George has his office in another ex German house.

    This afternoon we drove to the school to arrange about enrolling John there. The
    school is about four miles out of town. It was built by the German settlers in the late
    1930’s and they were justifiably proud of it. It consists of a great assembly hall and
    classrooms in one block and there are several attractive single storied dormitories. This
    school was taken over by the Government when the Germans were interned on the
    outbreak of war and many improvements have been made to the original buildings. The
    school certainly looks very attractive now with its grassed playing fields and its lawns and
    bright flower beds.

    The Union Jack flies from a tall flagpole in front of the Hall and all traces of the
    schools German origin have been firmly erased. We met the Headmaster, Mr
    Wallington, and his wife and some members of the staff. The school is co-educational
    and caters for children from the age of seven to standard six. The leaving age is elastic
    owing to the fact that many Tanganyika children started school very late because of lack
    of educational facilities in this country.

    The married members of the staff have their own cottages in the grounds. The
    Matrons have quarters attached to the dormitories for which they are responsible. I felt
    most enthusiastic about the school until I discovered that the Headmaster is adamant
    upon one subject. He utterly refuses to take any day pupils at the school. So now our
    poor reserved Johnny will have to adjust himself to boarding school life.
    We have arranged that he will start school on November 5th and I shall be very
    busy trying to assemble his school uniform at short notice. The clothing list is sensible.
    Boys wear khaki shirts and shorts on weekdays with knitted scarlet jerseys when the
    weather is cold. On Sundays they wear grey flannel shorts and blazers with the silver
    and scarlet school tie.

    Mbeya looks dusty, brown and dry after the lush evergreen vegetation of
    Lyamungu, but I prefer this drier climate and there are still mountains to please the eye.
    In fact the lower slopes of Lolesa Mountain rise at the upper end of our garden.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 21st November 1945

    Dearest Family.

    We’re quite settled in now and I have got the little house fixed up to my
    satisfaction. I have engaged a rather uncouth looking houseboy but he is strong and
    capable and now that I am not tied down in the mornings by John’s lessons I am able to
    go out occasionally in the mornings and take Jim and Henry to play with other children.
    They do not show any great enthusiasm but are not shy by nature as John is.
    I have had a good deal of heartache over putting John to boarding school. It
    would have been different had he been used to the company of children outside his
    own family, or if he had even known one child there. However he seems to be adjusting
    himself to the life, though slowly. At least he looks well and tidy and I am quite sure that
    he is well looked after.

    I must confess that when the time came for John to go to school I simply did not
    have the courage to take him and he went alone with George, looking so smart in his
    new uniform – but his little face so bleak. The next day, Sunday, was visiting day but the
    Headmaster suggested that we should give John time to settle down and not visit him
    until Wednesday.

    When we drove up to the school I spied John on the far side of the field walking
    all alone. Instead of running up with glad greetings, as I had expected, he came almost
    reluctently and had little to say. I asked him to show me his dormitory and classroom and
    he did so politely as though I were a stranger. At last he volunteered some information.
    “Mummy,” he said in an awed voice, Do you know on the night I came here they burnt a
    man! They had a big fire and they burnt him.” After a blank moment the penny dropped.
    Of course John had started school and November the fifth but it had never entered my
    head to tell him about that infamous character, Guy Fawkes!

    I asked John’s Matron how he had settled down. “Well”, she said thoughtfully,
    John is very good and has not cried as many of the juniors do when they first come
    here, but he seems to keep to himself all the time.” I went home very discouraged but
    on the Sunday John came running up with another lad of about his own age.” This is my
    friend Marks,” he announced proudly. I could have hugged Marks.

    Mbeya is very different from the small settlement we knew in the early 1930’s.
    Gone are all the colourful characters from the Lupa diggings for the alluvial claims are all
    worked out now, gone also are our old friends the Menzies from the Pub and also most
    of the Government Officials we used to know. Mbeya has lost its character of a frontier
    township and has become almost suburban.

    The social life revolves around two places, the Club and the school. The Club
    which started out as a little two roomed building, has been expanded and the golf
    course improved. There are also tennis courts and a good library considering the size of
    the community. There are frequent parties and dances, though most of the club revenue
    comes from Bar profits. The parties are relatively sober affairs compared with the parties
    of the 1930’s.

    The school provides entertainment of another kind. Both Mr and Mrs Wallington
    are good amateur actors and I am told that they run an Amateur Dramatic Society. Every
    Wednesday afternoon there is a hockey match at the school. Mbeya town versus a
    mixed team of staff and scholars. The match attracts almost the whole European
    population of Mbeya. Some go to play hockey, others to watch, and others to snatch
    the opportunity to visit their children. I shall have to try to arrange a lift to school when
    George is away on safari.

    I have now met most of the local women and gladly renewed an old friendship
    with Sheilagh Waring whom I knew two years ago at Morogoro. Sheilagh and I have
    much in common, the same disregard for the trappings of civilisation, the same sense of
    the ludicrous, and children. She has eight to our six and she has also been cut off by the
    war from two of her children. Sheilagh looks too young and pretty to be the mother of so
    large a family and is, in fact, several years younger than I am. her husband, Donald, is a
    large quiet man who, as far as I can judge takes life seriously.

    Our next door neighbours are the Bank Manager and his wife, a very pleasant
    couple though we seldom meet. I have however had correspondence with the Bank
    Manager. Early on Saturday afternoon their houseboy brought a note. It informed me
    that my son was disturbing his rest by precipitating a heart attack. Was I aware that my
    son was about 30 feet up in a tree and balanced on a twig? I ran out and,sure enough,
    there was Jim, right at the top of the tallest eucalyptus tree. It would be the one with the
    mound of stones at the bottom! You should have heard me fluting in my most
    wheedling voice. “Sweets, Jimmy, come down slowly dear, I’ve some nice sweets for
    you.”

    I’ll bet that little story makes you smile. I remember how often you have told me
    how, as a child, I used to make your hearts turn over because I had no fear of heights
    and how I used to say, “But that is silly, I won’t fall.” I know now only too well, how you
    must have felt.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 14th January 1946

    Dearest Family.

    I hope that by now you have my telegram to say that Kate got home safely
    yesterday. It was wonderful to have her back and what a beautiful child she is! Kate
    seems to have enjoyed the train journey with Miss Craig, in spite of the tears she tells
    me she shed when she said good-bye to you. She also seems to have felt quite at
    home with the Hopleys at Salisbury. She flew from Salisbury in a small Dove aircraft
    and they had a smooth passage though Kate was a little airsick.

    I was so excited about her home coming! This house is so tiny that I had to turn
    out the little store room to make a bedroom for her. With a fresh coat of whitewash and
    pretty sprigged curtains and matching bedspread, borrowed from Sheilagh Waring, the
    tiny room looks most attractive. I had also iced a cake, made ice-cream and jelly and
    bought crackers for the table so that Kate’s home coming tea could be a proper little
    celebration.

    I was pleased with my preparations and then, a few hours before the plane was
    due, my crowned front tooth dropped out, peg and all! When my houseboy wants to
    describe something very tatty, he calls it “Second-hand Kabisa.” Kabisa meaning
    absolutely. That is an apt description of how I looked and felt. I decided to try some
    emergency dentistry. I think you know our nearest dentist is at Dar es Salaam five
    hundred miles away.

    First I carefully dried the tooth and with a match stick covered the peg and base
    with Durofix. I then took the infants rubber bulb enema, sucked up some heat from a
    candle flame and pumped it into the cavity before filling that with Durofix. Then hopefully
    I stuck the tooth in its former position and held it in place for several minutes. No good. I
    sent the houseboy to a shop for Scotine and tried the whole process again. No good
    either.

    When George came home for lunch I appealed to him for advice. He jokingly
    suggested that a maize seed jammed into the space would probably work, but when
    he saw that I really was upset he produced some chewing gum and suggested that I
    should try that . I did and that worked long enough for my first smile anyway.
    George and the three boys went to meet Kate but I remained at home to
    welcome her there. I was afraid that after all this time away Kate might be reluctant to
    rejoin the family but she threw her arms around me and said “Oh Mummy,” We both
    shed a few tears and then we both felt fine.

    How gay Kate is, and what an infectious laugh she has! The boys follow her
    around in admiration. John in fact asked me, “Is Kate a Princess?” When I said
    “Goodness no, Johnny, she’s your sister,” he explained himself by saying, “Well, she
    has such golden hair.” Kate was less complementary. When I tucked her in bed last night
    she said, “Mummy, I didn’t expect my little brothers to be so yellow!” All three boys
    have been taking a course of Atebrin, an anti-malarial drug which tinges skin and eyeballs
    yellow.

    So now our tiny house is bursting at its seams and how good it feels to have one
    more child under our roof. We are booked to sail for England in May and when we return
    we will have Ann and George home too. Then I shall feel really content.

    Eleanor.

    c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 2nd March 1946

    Dearest Family.

    My life just now is uneventful but very busy. I am sewing hard and knitting fast to
    try to get together some warm clothes for our leave in England. This is not a simple
    matter because woollen materials are in short supply and very expensive, and now that
    we have boarding school fees to pay for both Kate and John we have to budget very
    carefully indeed.

    Kate seems happy at school. She makes friends easily and seems to enjoy
    communal life. John also seems reconciled to school now that Kate is there. He no
    longer feels that he is the only exile in the family. He seems to rub along with the other
    boys of his age and has a couple of close friends. Although Mbeya School is coeducational
    the smaller boys and girls keep strictly apart. It is considered extremely
    cissy to play with girls.

    The local children are allowed to go home on Sundays after church and may bring
    friends home with them for the day. Both John and Kate do this and Sunday is a very
    busy day for me. The children come home in their Sunday best but bring play clothes to
    change into. There is always a scramble to get them to bath and change again in time to
    deliver them to the school by 6 o’clock.

    When George is home we go out to the school for the morning service. This is
    taken by the Headmaster Mr Wallington, and is very enjoyable. There is an excellent
    school choir to lead the singing. The service is the Church of England one, but is
    attended by children of all denominations, except the Roman Catholics. I don’t think that
    more than half the children are British. A large proportion are Greeks, some as old as
    sixteen, and about the same number are Afrikaners. There are Poles and non-Nazi
    Germans, Swiss and a few American children.

    All instruction is through the medium of English and it is amazing how soon all the
    foreign children learn to chatter in English. George has been told that we will return to
    Mbeya after our leave and for that I am very thankful as it means that we will still be living
    near at hand when Jim and Henry start school. Because many of these children have to
    travel many hundreds of miles to come to school, – Mbeya is a two day journey from the
    railhead, – the school year is divided into two instead of the usual three terms. This
    means that many of these children do not see their parents for months at a time. I think
    this is a very sad state of affairs especially for the seven and eight year olds but the
    Matrons assure me , that many children who live on isolated farms and stations are quite
    reluctant to go home because they miss the companionship and the games and
    entertainment that the school offers.

    My only complaint about the life here is that I see far too little of George. He is
    kept extremely busy on this range and is hardly at home except for a few days at the
    months end when he has to be at his office to check up on the pay vouchers and the
    issue of ammunition to the Scouts. George’s Range takes in the whole of the Southern
    Province and the Southern half of the Western Province and extends to the border with
    Northern Rhodesia and right across to Lake Tanganyika. This vast area is patrolled by
    only 40 Game Scouts because the Department is at present badly under staffed, due
    partly to the still acute shortage of rifles, but even more so to the extraordinary reluctance
    which the Government shows to allocate adequate funds for the efficient running of the
    Department.

    The Game Scouts must see that the Game Laws are enforced, protect native
    crops from raiding elephant, hippo and other game animals. Report disease amongst game and deal with stock raiding lions. By constantly going on safari and checking on
    their work, George makes sure the range is run to his satisfaction. Most of the Game
    Scouts are fine fellows but, considering they receive only meagre pay for dangerous
    and exacting work, it is not surprising that occasionally a Scout is tempted into accepting
    a bribe not to report a serious infringement of the Game Laws and there is, of course,
    always the temptation to sell ivory illicitly to unscrupulous Indian and Arab traders.
    Apart from supervising the running of the Range, George has two major jobs.
    One is to supervise the running of the Game Free Area along the Rhodesia –
    Tanganyika border, and the other to hunt down the man-eating lions which for years have
    terrorised the Njombe District killing hundreds of Africans. Yes I know ‘hundreds’ sounds
    fantastic, but this is perfectly true and one day, when the job is done and the official
    report published I shall send it to you to prove it!

    I hate to think of the Game Free Area and so does George. All the game from
    buffalo to tiny duiker has been shot out in a wide belt extending nearly two hundred
    miles along the Northern Rhodesia -Tanganyika border. There are three Europeans in
    widely spaced camps who supervise this slaughter by African Game Guards. This
    horrible measure is considered necessary by the Veterinary Departments of
    Tanganyika, Rhodesia and South Africa, to prevent the cattle disease of Rinderpest
    from spreading South.

    When George is home however, we do relax and have fun. On the Saturday
    before the school term started we took Kate and the boys up to the top fishing camp in
    the Mporoto Mountains for her first attempt at trout fishing. There are three of these
    camps built by the Mbeya Trout Association on the rivers which were first stocked with
    the trout hatched on our farm at Mchewe. Of the three, the top camp is our favourite. The
    scenery there is most glorious and reminds me strongly of the rivers of the Western
    Cape which I so loved in my childhood.

    The river, the Kawira, flows from the Rungwe Mountain through a narrow valley
    with hills rising steeply on either side. The water runs swiftly over smooth stones and
    sometimes only a foot or two below the level of the banks. It is sparkling and shallow,
    but in places the water is deep and dark and the banks high. I had a busy day keeping
    an eye on the boys, especially Jim, who twice climbed out on branches which overhung
    deep water. “Mummy, I was only looking for trout!”

    How those kids enjoyed the freedom of the camp after the comparative
    restrictions of town. So did Fanny, she raced about on the hills like a mad dog chasing
    imaginary rabbits and having the time of her life. To escape the noise and commotion
    George had gone far upstream to fish and returned in the late afternoon with three good
    sized trout and four smaller ones. Kate proudly showed George the two she had caught
    with the assistance or our cook Hamisi. I fear they were caught in a rather unorthodox
    manner but this I kept a secret from George who is a stickler for the orthodox in trout
    fishing.

    Eleanor.

    Jacksdale England 24th June 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Here we are all together at last in England. You cannot imagine how wonderful it
    feels to have the whole Rushby family reunited. I find myself counting heads. Ann,
    George, Kate, John, Jim, and Henry. All present and well. We had a very pleasant trip
    on the old British India Ship Mantola. She was crowded with East Africans going home
    for the first time since the war, many like us, eagerly looking forward to a reunion with their
    children whom they had not seen for years. There was a great air of anticipation and
    good humour but a little anxiety too.

    “I do hope our children will be glad to see us,” said one, and went on to tell me
    about a Doctor from Dar es Salaam who, after years of separation from his son had
    recently gone to visit him at his school. The Doctor had alighted at the railway station
    where he had arranged to meet his son. A tall youth approached him and said, very
    politely, “Excuse me sir. Are you my Father?” Others told me of children who had
    become so attached to their relatives in England that they gave their parents a very cool
    reception. I began to feel apprehensive about Ann and George but fortunately had no
    time to mope.

    Oh, that washing and ironing for six! I shall remember for ever that steamy little
    laundry in the heat of the Red Sea and queuing up for the ironing and the feeling of guilt
    at the size of my bundle. We met many old friends amongst the passengers, and made
    some new ones, so the voyage was a pleasant one, We did however have our
    anxious moments.

    John was the first to disappear and we had an anxious search for him. He was
    quite surprised that we had been concerned. “I was just talking to my friend Chinky
    Chinaman in his workshop.” Could John have called him that? Then, when I returned to
    the cabin from dinner one night I found Henry swigging Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. He had
    drunk half the bottle neat and the label said ‘five drops in water’. Luckily it did not harm
    him.

    Jim of course was forever risking his neck. George had forbidden him to climb on
    the railings but he was forever doing things which no one had thought of forbidding him
    to do, like hanging from the overhead pipes on the deck or standing on the sill of a
    window and looking down at the well deck far below. An Officer found him doing this and
    gave me the scolding.

    Another day he climbed up on a derrick used for hoisting cargo. George,
    oblivious to this was sitting on the hatch cover with other passengers reading a book. I
    was in the wash house aft on the same deck when Kate rushed in and said, “Mummy
    come and see Jim.” Before I had time to more than gape, the butcher noticed Jim and
    rushed out knife in hand. “Get down from there”, he bellowed. Jim got, and with such
    speed that he caught the leg or his shorts on a projecting piece of metal. The cotton
    ripped across the seam from leg to leg and Jim stood there for a humiliating moment in a
    sort of revealing little kilt enduring the smiles of the passengers who had looked up from
    their books at the butcher’s shout.

    That incident cured Jim of his urge to climb on the ship but he managed to give
    us one more fright. He was lost off Dover. People from whom we enquired said, “Yes
    we saw your little boy. He was by the railings watching that big aircraft carrier.” Now Jim,
    though mischievous , is very obedient. It was not until George and I had conducted an
    exhaustive search above and below decks that I really became anxious. Could he have
    fallen overboard? Jim was returned to us by an unamused Officer. He had been found
    in one of the lifeboats on the deck forbidden to children.

    Our ship passed Dover after dark and it was an unforgettable sight. Dover Castle
    and the cliffs were floodlit for the Victory Celebrations. One of the men passengers sat
    down at the piano and played ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, and people sang and a few
    wept. The Mantola docked at Tilbury early next morning in a steady drizzle.
    There was a dockers strike on and it took literally hours for all the luggage to be
    put ashore. The ships stewards simply locked the public rooms and went off leaving the
    passengers shivering on the docks. Eventually damp and bedraggled, we arrived at St
    Pancras Station and were given a warm welcome by George’s sister Cath and her
    husband Reg Pears, who had come all the way from Nottingham to meet us.
    As we had to spend an hour in London before our train left for Nottingham,
    George suggested that Cath and I should take the children somewhere for a meal. So
    off we set in the cold drizzle, the boys and I without coats and laden with sundry
    packages, including a hand woven native basket full of shoes. We must have looked like
    a bunch of refugees as we stood in the hall of The Kings Cross Station Hotel because a
    supercilious waiter in tails looked us up and down and said, “I’m afraid not Madam”, in
    answer to my enquiry whether the hotel could provide lunch for six.
    Anyway who cares! We had lunch instead at an ABC tea room — horrible
    sausage and a mound or rather sloppy mashed potatoes, but very good ice-cream.
    After the train journey in a very grimy third class coach, through an incredibly green and
    beautiful countryside, we eventually reached Nottingham and took a bus to Jacksdale,
    where George’s mother and sisters live in large detached houses side by side.
    Ann and George were at the bus stop waiting for us, and thank God, submitted
    to my kiss as though we had been parted for weeks instead of eight years. Even now
    that we are together again my heart aches to think of all those missed years. They have
    not changed much and I would have picked them out of a crowd, but Ann, once thin and
    pale, is now very rosy and blooming. She still has her pretty soft plaits and her eyes are
    still a clear calm blue. Young George is very striking looking with sparkling brown eyes, a
    ready, slightly lopsided smile, and charming manners.

    Mother, and George’s elder sister, Lottie Giles, welcomed us at the door with the
    cheering news that our tea was ready. Ann showed us the way to mother’s lovely lilac
    tiled bathroom for a wash before tea. Before I had even turned the tap, Jim had hung
    form the glass towel rail and it lay in three pieces on the floor. There have since been
    similar tragedies. I can see that life in civilisation is not without snags.

    I am most grateful that Ann and George have accepted us so naturally and
    affectionately. Ann said candidly, “Mummy, it’s a good thing that you had Aunt Cath with
    you when you arrived because, honestly, I wouldn’t have known you.”

    Eleanor.

    Jacksdale England 28th August 1946

    Dearest Family.

    I am sorry that I have not written for some time but honestly, I don’t know whether
    I’m coming or going. Mother handed the top floor of her house to us and the
    arrangement was that I should tidy our rooms and do our laundry and Mother would
    prepare the meals except for breakfast. It looked easy at first. All the rooms have wall to
    wall carpeting and there was a large vacuum cleaner in the box room. I was told a
    window cleaner would do the windows.

    Well the first time I used the Hoover I nearly died of fright. I pressed the switch
    and immediately there was a roar and the bag filled with air to bursting point, or so I
    thought. I screamed for Ann and she came at the run. I pointed to the bag and shouted
    above the din, “What must I do? It’s going to burst!” Ann looked at me in astonishment
    and said, “But Mummy that’s the way it works.” I couldn’t have her thinking me a
    complete fool so I switched the current off and explained to Ann how it was that I had
    never seen this type of equipment in action. How, in Tanganyika , I had never had a
    house with electricity and that, anyway, electric equipment would be superfluous
    because floors are of cement which the houseboy polishes by hand, one only has a
    few rugs or grass mats on the floor. “But what about Granny’s house in South Africa?’”
    she asked, so I explained about your Josephine who threatened to leave if you
    bought a Hoover because that would mean that you did not think she kept the house
    clean. The sad fact remains that, at fourteen, Ann knows far more about housework than I
    do, or rather did! I’m learning fast.

    The older children all go to school at different times in the morning. Ann leaves first
    by bus to go to her Grammar School at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Shortly afterwards George
    catches a bus for Nottingham where he attends the High School. So they have
    breakfast in relays, usually scrambled egg made from a revolting dried egg mixture.
    Then there are beds to make and washing and ironing to do, so I have little time for
    sightseeing, though on a few afternoons George has looked after the younger children
    and I have gone on bus tours in Derbyshire. Life is difficult here with all the restrictions on
    foodstuffs. We all have ration books so get our fair share but meat, fats and eggs are
    scarce and expensive. The weather is very wet. At first I used to hang out the washing
    and then rush to bring it in when a shower came. Now I just let it hang.

    We have left our imprint upon my Mother-in-law’s house for ever. Henry upset a
    bottle of Milk of Magnesia in the middle of the pale fawn bedroom carpet. John, trying to
    be helpful and doing some dusting, broke one of the delicate Dresden china candlesticks
    which adorn our bedroom mantelpiece.Jim and Henry have wrecked the once
    professionally landscaped garden and all the boys together bored a large hole through
    Mother’s prized cherry tree. So now Mother has given up and gone off to Bournemouth
    for a much needed holiday. Once a week I have the capable help of a cleaning woman,
    called for some reason, ‘Mrs Two’, but I have now got all the cooking to do for eight. Mrs
    Two is a godsend. She wears, of all things, a print mob cap with a hole in it. Says it
    belonged to her Grandmother. Her price is far beyond Rubies to me, not so much
    because she does, in a couple of hours, what it takes me all day to do, but because she
    sells me boxes of fifty cigarettes. Some non-smoking relative, who works in Players
    tobacco factory, passes on his ration to her. Until Mrs Two came to my rescue I had
    been starved of cigarettes. Each time I asked for them at the shop the grocer would say,
    “Are you registered with us?” Only very rarely would some kindly soul sell me a little
    packet of five Woodbines.

    England is very beautiful but the sooner we go home to Tanganyika, the better.
    On this, George and I and the children agree.

    Eleanor.

    Jacksdale England 20th September 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Our return passages have now been booked on the Winchester Castle and we
    sail from Southampton on October the sixth. I look forward to returning to Tanganyika but
    hope to visit England again in a few years time when our children are older and when
    rationing is a thing of the past.

    I have grown fond of my Sisters-in-law and admire my Mother-in-law very much.
    She has a great sense of humour and has entertained me with stories of her very
    eventful life, and told me lots of little stories of the children which did not figure in her
    letters. One which amused me was about young George. During one of the air raids
    early in the war when the sirens were screaming and bombers roaring overhead Mother
    made the two children get into the cloak cupboard under the stairs. Young George
    seemed quite unconcerned about the planes and the bombs but soon an anxious voice
    asked in the dark, “Gran, what will I do if a spider falls on me?” I am afraid that Mother is
    going to miss Ann and George very much.

    I had a holiday last weekend when Lottie and I went up to London on a spree. It
    was a most enjoyable weekend, though very rushed. We placed ourselves in the
    hands of Thos. Cook and Sons and saw most of the sights of London and were run off
    our feet in the process. As you all know London I shall not describe what I saw but just
    to say that, best of all, I enjoyed walking along the Thames embankment in the evening
    and the changing of the Guard at Whitehall. On Sunday morning Lottie and I went to
    Kew Gardens and in the afternoon walked in Kensington Gardens.

    We went to only one show, ‘The Skin of our Teeth’ starring Vivienne Leigh.
    Neither of us enjoyed the performance at all and regretted having spent so much on
    circle seats. The show was far too highbrow for my taste, a sort of satire on the survival
    of the human race. Miss Leigh was unrecognisable in a blond wig and her voice strident.
    However the night was not a dead loss as far as entertainment was concerned as we
    were later caught up in a tragicomedy at our hotel.

    We had booked communicating rooms at the enormous Imperial Hotel in Russell
    Square. These rooms were comfortably furnished but very high up, and we had a rather
    terrifying and dreary view from the windows of the enclosed courtyard far below. We
    had some snacks and a chat in Lottie’s room and then I moved to mine and went to bed.
    I had noted earlier that there was a special lock on the outer door of my room so that
    when the door was closed from the inside it automatically locked itself.
    I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard a hammering which seemed to
    come from my wardrobe. I got up, rather fearfully, and opened the wardrobe door and
    noted for the first time that the wardrobe was set in an opening in the wall and that the
    back of the wardrobe also served as the back of the wardrobe in the room next door. I
    quickly shut it again and went to confer with Lottie.

    Suddenly a male voice was raised next door in supplication, “Mary Mother of
    God, Help me! They’ve locked me in!” and the hammering resumed again, sometimes
    on the door, and then again on the back of the wardrobe of the room next door. Lottie
    had by this time joined me and together we listened to the prayers and to the
    hammering. Then the voice began to threaten, “If you don’t let me out I’ll jump out of the
    window.” Great consternation on our side of the wall. I went out into the passage and
    called through the door, “You’re not locked in. Come to your door and I’ll tell you how to
    open it.” Silence for a moment and then again the prayers followed by a threat. All the
    other doors in the corridor remained shut.

    Luckily just then a young man and a woman came walking down the corridor and I
    explained the situation. The young man hurried off for the night porter who went into the
    next door room. In a matter of minutes there was peace next door. When the night
    porter came out into the corridor again I asked for an explanation. He said quite casually,
    “It’s all right Madam. He’s an Irish Gentleman in Show Business. He gets like this on a
    Saturday night when he has had a drop too much. He won’t give any more trouble
    now.” And he didn’t. Next morning at breakfast Lottie and I tried to spot the gentleman in
    the Show Business, but saw no one who looked like the owner of that charming Irish
    voice.

    George had to go to London on business last Monday and took the older
    children with him for a few hours of sight seeing. They returned quite unimpressed.
    Everything was too old and dirty and there were far too many people about, but they
    had enjoyed riding on the escalators at the tube stations, and all agreed that the highlight
    of the trip was, “Dad took us to lunch at the Chicken Inn.”

    Now that it is almost time to leave England I am finding the housework less of a
    drudgery, Also, as it is school holiday time, Jim and Henry are able to go on walks with
    the older children and so use up some of their surplus energy. Cath and I took the
    children (except young George who went rabbit shooting with his uncle Reg, and
    Henry, who stayed at home with his dad) to the Wakes at Selston, the neighbouring
    village. There were the roundabouts and similar contraptions but the side shows had
    more appeal for the children. Ann and Kate found a stall where assorted prizes were
    spread out on a sloping table. Anyone who could land a penny squarely on one of
    these objects was given a similar one as a prize.

    I was touched to see that both girls ignored all the targets except a box of fifty
    cigarettes which they were determined to win for me. After numerous attempts, Kate
    landed her penny successfully and you would have loved to have seen her radiant little
    face.

    Eleanor.

    Dar es Salaam 22nd October 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Back in Tanganyika at last, but not together. We have to stay in Dar es Salaam
    until tomorrow when the train leaves for Dodoma. We arrived yesterday morning to find
    all the hotels filled with people waiting to board ships for England. Fortunately some
    friends came to the rescue and Ann, Kate and John have gone to stay with them. Jim,
    Henry and I are sleeping in a screened corner of the lounge of the New Africa Hotel, and
    George and young George have beds in the Palm Court of the same hotel.

    We travelled out from England in the Winchester Castle under troopship
    conditions. We joined her at Southampton after a rather slow train journey from
    Nottingham. We arrived after dark and from the station we could see a large ship in the
    docks with a floodlit red funnel. “Our ship,” yelled the children in delight, but it was not the
    Winchester Castle but the Queen Elizabeth, newly reconditioned.

    We had hoped to board our ship that evening but George made enquiries and
    found that we would not be allowed on board until noon next day. Without much hope,
    we went off to try to get accommodation for eight at a small hotel recommended by the
    taxi driver. Luckily for us there was a very motherly woman at the reception desk. She
    looked in amusement at the six children and said to me, “Goodness are all these yours,
    ducks? Then she called over her shoulder, “Wilf, come and see this lady with lots of
    children. We must try to help.” They settled the problem most satisfactorily by turning
    two rooms into a dormitory.

    In the morning we had time to inspect bomb damage in the dock area of
    Southampton. Most of the rubble had been cleared away but there are still numbers of
    damaged buildings awaiting demolition. A depressing sight. We saw the Queen Mary
    at anchor, still in her drab war time paint, but magnificent nevertheless.
    The Winchester Castle was crammed with passengers and many travelled in
    acute discomfort. We were luckier than most because the two girls, the three small boys
    and I had a stateroom to ourselves and though it was stripped of peacetime comforts,
    we had a private bathroom and toilet. The two Georges had bunks in a huge men-only
    dormitory somewhere in the bowls of the ship where they had to share communal troop
    ship facilities. The food was plentiful but unexciting and one had to queue for afternoon
    tea. During the day the decks were crowded and there was squatting room only. The
    many children on board got bored.

    Port Said provided a break and we were all entertained by the ‘Gully Gully’ man
    and his conjuring tricks, and though we had no money to spend at Simon Artz, we did at
    least have a chance to stretch our legs. Next day scores of passengers took ill with
    sever stomach upsets, whether from food poisoning, or as was rumoured, from bad
    water taken on at the Egyptian port, I don’t know. Only the two Georges in our family
    were affected and their attacks were comparatively mild.

    As we neared the Kenya port of Mombassa, the passengers for Dar es Salaam
    were told that they would have to disembark at Mombassa and continue their journey in
    a small coaster, the Al Said. The Winchester Castle is too big for the narrow channel
    which leads to Dar es Salaam harbour.

    From the wharf the Al Said looked beautiful. She was once the private yacht of
    the Sultan of Zanzibar and has lovely lines. Our admiration lasted only until we were
    shown our cabins. With one voice our children exclaimed, “Gosh they stink!” They did, of
    a mixture of rancid oil and sweat and stale urine. The beds were not yet made and the
    thin mattresses had ominous stains on them. John, ever fastidious, lifted his mattress and two enormous cockroaches scuttled for cover.

    We had a good homely lunch served by two smiling African stewards and
    afterwards we sat on deck and that was fine too, though behind ones enjoyment there
    was the thought of those stuffy and dirty cabins. That first night nearly everyone,
    including George and our older children, slept on deck. Women occupied deck chairs
    and men and children slept on the bare decks. Horrifying though the idea was, I decided
    that, as Jim had a bad cough, he, Henry and I would sleep in our cabin.

    When I announced my intention of sleeping in the cabin one of the passengers
    gave me some insecticide spray which I used lavishly, but without avail. The children
    slept but I sat up all night with the light on, determined to keep at least their pillows clear
    of the cockroaches which scurried about boldly regardless of the light. All the next day
    and night we avoided the cabins. The Al Said stopped for some hours at Zanzibar to
    offload her deck cargo of live cattle and packing cases from the hold. George and the
    elder children went ashore for a walk but I felt too lazy and there was plenty to watch
    from deck.

    That night I too occupied a deck chair and slept quite comfortably, and next
    morning we entered the palm fringed harbour of Dar es Salaam and were home.

    Eleanor.

    Mbeya 1st November 1946

    Dearest Family.

    Home at last! We are all most happily installed in a real family house about three
    miles out of Mbeya and near the school. This house belongs to an elderly German and
    has been taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property and leased to the
    Government.

    The owner, whose name is Shenkel, was not interned but is allowed to occupy a
    smaller house on the Estate. I found him in the garden this morning lecturing the children
    on what they may do and may not do. I tried to make it quite clear to him that he was not
    our landlord, though he clearly thinks otherwise. After he had gone I had to take two
    aspirin and lie down to recover my composure! I had been warned that he has this effect
    on people.

    Mr Shenkel is a short and ugly man, his clothes are stained with food and he
    wears steel rimmed glasses tied round his head with a piece of dirty elastic because
    one earpiece is missing. He speaks with a thick German accent but his English is fluent
    and I believe he is a cultured and clever man. But he is maddening. The children were
    more amused than impressed by his exhortations and have happily Christened our
    home, ‘Old Shenks’.

    The house has very large grounds as the place is really a derelict farm. It suits us
    down to the ground. We had no sooner unpacked than George went off on safari after
    those maneating lions in the Njombe District. he accounted for one, and a further two
    jointly with a Game Scout, before we left for England. But none was shot during the five
    months we were away as George’s relief is quite inexperienced in such work. George
    thinks that there are still about a dozen maneaters at large. His theory is that a female
    maneater moved into the area in 1938 when maneating first started, and brought up her
    cubs to be maneaters, and those cubs in turn did the same. The three maneating lions
    that have been shot were all in very good condition and not old and maimed as
    maneaters usually are.

    George anticipates that it will be months before all these lions are accounted for
    because they are constantly on the move and cover a very large area. The lions have to
    be hunted on foot because they range over broken country covered by bush and fairly
    dense thicket.

    I did a bit of shooting myself yesterday and impressed our African servants and
    the children and myself. What a fluke! Our houseboy came to say that there was a snake
    in the garden, the biggest he had ever seen. He said it was too big to kill with a stick and
    would I shoot it. I had no gun but a heavy .450 Webley revolver and I took this and
    hurried out with the children at my heels.

    The snake turned out to be an unusually large puff adder which had just shed its
    skin. It looked beautiful in a repulsive way. So flanked by servants and children I took
    aim and shot, not hitting the head as I had planned, but breaking the snake’s back with
    the heavy bullet. The two native boys then rushed up with sticks and flattened the head.
    “Ma you’re a crack shot,” cried the kids in delighted surprise. I hope to rest on my laurels
    for a long, long while.

    Although there are only a few weeks of school term left the four older children will
    start school on Monday. Not only am I pleased with our new home here but also with
    the staff I have engaged. Our new houseboy, Reuben, (but renamed Robin by our
    children) is not only cheerful and willing but intelligent too, and Jumbe, the wood and
    garden boy, is a born clown and a source of great entertainment to the children.

    I feel sure that we are all going to be very happy here at ‘Old Shenks!.

    Eleanor.

    #6265
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued  ~ part 6

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Mchewe 6th June 1937

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    With much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 25th June 1937

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 9th July 1937

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor

    Mchewe 8th October 1937

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 17th October 1937

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe 18th November 1937

    My darling Ann,

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

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

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

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

    Mchewe 18th November 1937

    Hello George Darling,

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

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

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

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

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

    Mchewe 12th February, 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu 18th March, 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu 24th March, 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu 20th June 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Karatu 3rd July 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Karatu 12th July 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani. 19th July 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani. 10th August 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani. 20th August 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    Oldeani Hospital. 9th September 1938

    Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

    Eleanor.

    #6261
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

    Dearest Family,

    You say that you would like to know more about our neighbours. Well there is
    not much to tell. Kath Wood is very good about coming over to see me. I admire her
    very much because she is so capable as well as being attractive. She speaks very
    fluent Ki-Swahili and I envy her the way she can carry on a long conversation with the
    natives. I am very slow in learning the language possibly because Lamek and the
    houseboy both speak basic English.

    I have very little to do with the Africans apart from the house servants, but I do
    run a sort of clinic for the wives and children of our employees. The children suffer chiefly
    from sore eyes and worms, and the older ones often have bad ulcers on their legs. All
    farmers keep a stock of drugs and bandages.

    George also does a bit of surgery and last month sewed up the sole of the foot
    of a boy who had trodden on the blade of a panga, a sort of sword the Africans use for
    hacking down bush. He made an excellent job of it. George tells me that the Africans
    have wonderful powers of recuperation. Once in his bachelor days, one of his men was
    disembowelled by an elephant. George washed his “guts” in a weak solution of
    pot.permang, put them back in the cavity and sewed up the torn flesh and he
    recovered.

    But to get back to the neighbours. We see less of Hicky Wood than of Kath.
    Hicky can be charming but is often moody as I believe Irishmen often are.
    Major Jones is now at home on his shamba, which he leaves from time to time
    for temporary jobs on the district roads. He walks across fairly regularly and we are
    always glad to see him for he is a great bearer of news. In this part of Africa there is no
    knocking or ringing of doorbells. Front doors are always left open and visitors always
    welcome. When a visitor approaches a house he shouts “Hodi”, and the owner of the
    house yells “Karibu”, which I believe means “Come near” or approach, and tea is
    produced in a matter of minutes no matter what hour of the day it is.
    The road that passes all our farms is the only road to the Gold Diggings and
    diggers often drop in on the Woods and Major Jones and bring news of the Goldfields.
    This news is sometimes about gold but quite often about whose wife is living with
    whom. This is a great country for gossip.

    Major Jones now has his brother Llewyllen living with him. I drove across with
    George to be introduced to him. Llewyllen’s health is poor and he looks much older than
    his years and very like the portrait of Trader Horn. He has the same emaciated features,
    burning eyes and long beard. He is proud of his Welsh tenor voice and often bursts into
    song.

    Both brothers are excellent conversationalists and George enjoys walking over
    sometimes on a Sunday for a bit of masculine company. The other day when George
    walked across to visit the Joneses, he found both brothers in the shamba and Llew in a
    great rage. They had been stooping to inspect a water furrow when Llew backed into a
    hornets nest. One furious hornet stung him on the seat and another on the back of his
    neck. Llew leapt forward and somehow his false teeth shot out into the furrow and were
    carried along by the water. When George arrived Llew had retrieved his teeth but
    George swears that, in the commotion, the heavy leather leggings, which Llew always
    wears, had swivelled around on his thin legs and were calves to the front.
    George has heard that Major Jones is to sell pert of his land to his Swedish brother-in-law, Max Coster, so we will soon have another couple in the neighbourhood.

    I’ve had a bit of a pantomime here on the farm. On the day we went to Tukuyu,
    all our washing was stolen from the clothes line and also our new charcoal iron. George
    reported the matter to the police and they sent out a plain clothes policeman. He wears
    the long white Arab gown called a Kanzu much in vogue here amongst the African elite
    but, alas for secrecy, huge black police boots protrude from beneath the Kanzu and, to
    add to this revealing clue, the askari springs to attention and salutes each time I pass by.
    Not much hope of finding out the identity of the thief I fear.

    George’s furrow was entirely successful and we now have water running behind
    the kitchen. Our drinking water we get from a lovely little spring on the farm. We boil and
    filter it for safety’s sake. I don’t think that is necessary. The furrow water is used for
    washing pots and pans and for bath water.

    Lots of love,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

    Dearest Family,

    I think it is about time I told you that we are going to have a baby. We are both
    thrilled about it. I have not seen a Doctor but feel very well and you are not to worry. I
    looked it up in my handbook for wives and reckon that the baby is due about February
    8th. next year.

    The announcement came from George, not me! I had been feeling queasy for
    days and was waiting for the right moment to tell George. You know. Soft lights and
    music etc. However when I was listlessly poking my food around one lunch time
    George enquired calmly, “When are you going to tell me about the baby?” Not at all
    according to the book! The problem is where to have the baby. February is a very wet
    month and the nearest Doctor is over 50 miles away at Tukuyu. I cannot go to stay at
    Tukuyu because there is no European accommodation at the hospital, no hotel and no
    friend with whom I could stay.

    George thinks I should go South to you but Capetown is so very far away and I
    love my little home here. Also George says he could not come all the way down with
    me as he simply must stay here and get the farm on its feet. He would drive me as far
    as the railway in Northern Rhodesia. It is a difficult decision to take. Write and tell me what
    you think.

    The days tick by quietly here. The servants are very willing but have to be
    supervised and even then a crisis can occur. Last Saturday I was feeling squeamish and
    decided not to have lunch. I lay reading on the couch whilst George sat down to a
    solitary curry lunch. Suddenly he gave an exclamation and pushed back his chair. I
    jumped up to see what was wrong and there, on his plate, gleaming in the curry gravy
    were small bits of broken glass. I hurried to the kitchen to confront Lamek with the plate.
    He explained that he had dropped the new and expensive bottle of curry powder on
    the brick floor of the kitchen. He did not tell me as he thought I would make a “shauri” so
    he simply scooped up the curry powder, removed the larger pieces of glass and used
    part of the powder for seasoning the lunch.

    The weather is getting warmer now. It was very cold in June and July and we had
    fires in the daytime as well as at night. Now that much of the land has been cleared we
    are able to go for pleasant walks in the weekends. My favourite spot is a waterfall on the
    Mchewe River just on the boundary of our land. There is a delightful little pool below the
    waterfall and one day George intends to stock it with trout.

    Now that there are more Europeans around to buy meat the natives find it worth
    their while to kill an occasional beast. Every now and again a native arrives with a large
    bowl of freshly killed beef for sale. One has no way of knowing whether the animal was
    healthy and the meat is often still warm and very bloody. I hated handling it at first but am
    becoming accustomed to it now and have even started a brine tub. There is no other
    way of keeping meat here and it can only be kept in its raw state for a few hours before
    going bad. One of the delicacies is the hump which all African cattle have. When corned
    it is like the best brisket.

    See what a housewife I am becoming.
    With much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

    Dearest Family,

    I have grown to love the life here and am sad to think I shall be leaving
    Tanganyika soon for several months. Yes I am coming down to have the baby in the
    bosom of the family. George thinks it best and so does the doctor. I didn’t mention it
    before but I have never recovered fully from the effects of that bad bout of malaria and
    so I have been persuaded to leave George and our home and go to the Cape, in the
    hope that I shall come back here as fit as when I first arrived in the country plus a really
    healthy and bouncing baby. I am torn two ways, I long to see you all – but how I would
    love to stay on here.

    George will drive me down to Northern Rhodesia in early October to catch a
    South bound train. I’ll telegraph the date of departure when I know it myself. The road is
    very, very bad and the car has been giving a good deal of trouble so, though the baby
    is not due until early February, George thinks it best to get the journey over soon as
    possible, for the rains break in November and the the roads will then be impassable. It
    may take us five or six days to reach Broken Hill as we will take it slowly. I am looking
    forward to the drive through new country and to camping out at night.
    Our days pass quietly by. George is out on the shamba most of the day. He
    goes out before breakfast on weekdays and spends most of the day working with the
    men – not only supervising but actually working with his hands and beating the labourers
    at their own jobs. He comes to the house for meals and tea breaks. I potter around the
    house and garden, sew, mend and read. Lamek continues to be a treasure. he turns out
    some surprising dishes. One of his specialities is stuffed chicken. He carefully skins the
    chicken removing all bones. He then minces all the chicken meat and adds minced onion
    and potatoes. He then stuffs the chicken skin with the minced meat and carefully sews it
    together again. The resulting dish is very filling because the boned chicken is twice the
    size of a normal one. It lies on its back as round as a football with bloated legs in the air.
    Rather repulsive to look at but Lamek is most proud of his accomplishment.
    The other day he produced another of his masterpieces – a cooked tortoise. It
    was served on a dish covered with parsley and crouched there sans shell but, only too
    obviously, a tortoise. I took one look and fled with heaving diaphragm, but George said
    it tasted quite good. He tells me that he has had queerer dishes produced by former
    cooks. He says that once in his hunting days his cook served up a skinned baby
    monkey with its hands folded on its breast. He says it would take a cannibal to eat that
    dish.

    And now for something sad. Poor old Llew died quite suddenly and it was a sad
    shock to this tiny community. We went across to the funeral and it was a very simple and
    dignified affair. Llew was buried on Joni’s farm in a grave dug by the farm boys. The
    body was wrapped in a blanket and bound to some boards and lowered into the
    ground. There was no service. The men just said “Good-bye Llew.” and “Sleep well
    Llew”, and things like that. Then Joni and his brother-in-law Max, and George shovelled
    soil over the body after which the grave was filled in by Joni’s shamba boys. It was a
    lovely bright afternoon and I thought how simple and sensible a funeral it was.
    I hope you will be glad to have me home. I bet Dad will be holding thumbs that
    the baby will be a girl.

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Note
    “There are no letters to my family during the period of Sept. 1931 to June 1932
    because during these months I was living with my parents and sister in a suburb of
    Cape Town. I had hoped to return to Tanganyika by air with my baby soon after her
    birth in Feb.1932 but the doctor would not permit this.

    A month before my baby was born, a company called Imperial Airways, had
    started the first passenger service between South Africa and England. One of the night
    stops was at Mbeya near my husband’s coffee farm, and it was my intention to take the
    train to Broken Hill in Northern Rhodesia and to fly from there to Mbeya with my month
    old baby. In those days however, commercial flying was still a novelty and the doctor
    was not sure that flying at a high altitude might not have an adverse effect upon a young
    baby.

    He strongly advised me to wait until the baby was four months old and I did this
    though the long wait was very trying to my husband alone on our farm in Tanganyika,
    and to me, cherished though I was in my old home.

    My story, covering those nine long months is soon told. My husband drove me
    down from Mbeya to Broken Hill in NorthernRhodesia. The journey was tedious as the
    weather was very hot and dry and the road sandy and rutted, very different from the
    Great North road as it is today. The wooden wheel spokes of the car became so dry
    that they rattled and George had to bind wet rags around them. We had several
    punctures and with one thing and another I was lucky to catch the train.
    My parents were at Cape Town station to welcome me and I stayed
    comfortably with them, living very quietly, until my baby was born. She arrived exactly
    on the appointed day, Feb.8th.

    I wrote to my husband “Our Charmian Ann is a darling baby. She is very fair and
    rather pale and has the most exquisite hands, with long tapering fingers. Daddy
    absolutely dotes on her and so would you, if you were here. I can’t bear to think that you
    are so terribly far away. Although Ann was born exactly on the day, I was taken quite by
    surprise. It was awfully hot on the night before, and before going to bed I had a fancy for
    some water melon. The result was that when I woke in the early morning with labour
    pains and vomiting I thought it was just an attack of indigestion due to eating too much
    melon. The result was that I did not wake Marjorie until the pains were pretty frequent.
    She called our next door neighbour who, in his pyjamas, drove me to the nursing home
    at breakneck speed. The Matron was very peeved that I had left things so late but all
    went well and by nine o’clock, Mother, positively twittering with delight, was allowed to
    see me and her first granddaughter . She told me that poor Dad was in such a state of
    nerves that he was sick amongst the grapevines. He says that he could not bear to go
    through such an anxious time again, — so we will have to have our next eleven in
    Tanganyika!”

    The next four months passed rapidly as my time was taken up by the demands
    of my new baby. Dr. Trudy King’s method of rearing babies was then the vogue and I
    stuck fanatically to all the rules he laid down, to the intense exasperation of my parents
    who longed to cuddle the child.

    As the time of departure drew near my parents became more and more reluctant
    to allow me to face the journey alone with their adored grandchild, so my brother,
    Graham, very generously offered to escort us on the train to Broken Hill where he could
    put us on the plane for Mbeya.

    Eleanor Rushby

     

    Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

    Dearest Family,

    You’ll be glad to know that we arrived quite safe and sound and very, very
    happy to be home.The train Journey was uneventful. Ann slept nearly all the way.
    Graham was very kind and saw to everything. He even sat with the baby whilst I went
    to meals in the dining car.

    We were met at Broken Hill by the Thoms who had arranged accommodation for
    us at the hotel for the night. They also drove us to the aerodrome in the morning where
    the Airways agent told us that Ann is the first baby to travel by air on this section of the
    Cape to England route. The plane trip was very bumpy indeed especially between
    Broken Hill and Mpika. Everyone was ill including poor little Ann who sicked up her milk
    all over the front of my new coat. I arrived at Mbeya looking a sorry caricature of Radiant
    Motherhood. I must have been pale green and the baby was snow white. Under the
    circumstances it was a good thing that George did not meet us. We were met instead
    by Ken Menzies, the owner of the Mbeya Hotel where we spent the night. Ken was
    most fatherly and kind and a good nights rest restored Ann and me to our usual robust
    health.

    Mbeya has greatly changed. The hotel is now finished and can accommodate
    fifty guests. It consists of a large main building housing a large bar and dining room and
    offices and a number of small cottage bedrooms. It even has electric light. There are
    several buildings out at the aerodrome and private houses going up in Mbeya.
    After breakfast Ken Menzies drove us out to the farm where we had a warm
    welcome from George, who looks well but rather thin. The house was spotless and the
    new cook, Abel, had made light scones for tea. George had prepared all sorts of lovely
    surprises. There is a new reed ceiling in the living room and a new dresser gay with
    willow pattern plates which he had ordered from England. There is also a writing table
    and a square table by the door for visitors hats. More personal is a lovely model ship
    which George assembled from one of those Hobbie’s kits. It puts the finishing touch to
    the rather old world air of our living room.

    In the bedroom there is a large double bed which George made himself. It has
    strips of old car tyres nailed to a frame which makes a fine springy mattress and on top
    of this is a thick mattress of kapok.In the kitchen there is a good wood stove which
    George salvaged from a Mission dump. It looks a bit battered but works very well. The
    new cook is excellent. The only blight is that he will wear rubber soled tennis shoes and
    they smell awful. I daren’t hurt his feelings by pointing this out though. Opposite the
    kitchen is a new laundry building containing a forty gallon hot water drum and a sink for
    washing up. Lovely!

    George has been working very hard. He now has forty acres of coffee seedlings
    planted out and has also found time to plant a rose garden and fruit trees. There are
    orange and peach trees, tree tomatoes, paw paws, guavas and berries. He absolutely
    adores Ann who has been very good and does not seem at all unsettled by the long
    journey.

    It is absolutely heavenly to be back and I shall be happier than ever now that I
    have a baby to play with during the long hours when George is busy on the farm,
    Thank you for all your love and care during the many months I was with you. Ann
    sends a special bubble for granddad.

    Your very loving,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

    Dearest Family,

    Ann at five months is enchanting. She is a very good baby, smiles readily and is
    gaining weight steadily. She doesn’t sleep much during the day but that does not
    matter, because, apart from washing her little things, I have nothing to do but attend to
    her. She sleeps very well at night which is a blessing as George has to get up very
    early to start work on the shamba and needs a good nights rest.
    My nights are not so good, because we are having a plague of rats which frisk
    around in the bedroom at night. Great big ones that come up out of the long grass in the
    gorge beside the house and make cosy homes on our reed ceiling and in the thatch of
    the roof.

    We always have a night light burning so that, if necessary, I can attend to Ann
    with a minimum of fuss, and the things I see in that dim light! There are gaps between
    the reeds and one night I heard, plop! and there, before my horrified gaze, lay a newly
    born hairless baby rat on the floor by the bed, plop, plop! and there lay two more.
    Quite dead, poor things – but what a careless mother.

    I have also seen rats scampering around on the tops of the mosquito nets and
    sometimes we have them on our bed. They have a lovely game. They swarm down
    the cord from which the mosquito net is suspended, leap onto the bed and onto the
    floor. We do not have our net down now the cold season is here and there are few
    mosquitoes.

    Last week a rat crept under Ann’s net which hung to the floor and bit her little
    finger, so now I tuck the net in under the mattress though it makes it difficult for me to
    attend to her at night. We shall have to get a cat somewhere. Ann’s pram has not yet
    arrived so George carries her when we go walking – to her great content.
    The native women around here are most interested in Ann. They come to see
    her, bearing small gifts, and usually bring a child or two with them. They admire my child
    and I admire theirs and there is an exchange of gifts. They produce a couple of eggs or
    a few bananas or perhaps a skinny fowl and I hand over sugar, salt or soap as they
    value these commodities. The most lavish gift went to the wife of Thomas our headman,
    who produced twin daughters in the same week as I had Ann.

    Our neighbours have all been across to welcome me back and to admire the
    baby. These include Marion Coster who came out to join her husband whilst I was in
    South Africa. The two Hickson-Wood children came over on a fat old white donkey.
    They made a pretty picture sitting astride, one behind the other – Maureen with her arms
    around small Michael’s waist. A native toto led the donkey and the children’ s ayah
    walked beside it.

    It is quite cold here now but the sun is bright and the air dry. The whole
    countryside is beautifully green and we are a very happy little family.

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

    Dearest Family,

    George has been very unwell for the past week. He had a nasty gash on his
    knee which went septic. He had a swelling in the groin and a high temperature and could
    not sleep at night for the pain in his leg. Ann was very wakeful too during the same
    period, I think she is teething. I luckily have kept fit though rather harassed. Yesterday the
    leg looked so inflamed that George decided to open up the wound himself. he made
    quite a big cut in exactly the right place. You should have seen the blackish puss
    pouring out.

    After he had thoroughly cleaned the wound George sewed it up himself. he has
    the proper surgical needles and gut. He held the cut together with his left hand and
    pushed the needle through the flesh with his right. I pulled the needle out and passed it
    to George for the next stitch. I doubt whether a surgeon could have made a neater job
    of it. He is still confined to the couch but today his temperature is normal. Some
    husband!

    The previous week was hectic in another way. We had a visit from lions! George
    and I were having supper about 8.30 on Tuesday night when the back verandah was
    suddenly invaded by women and children from the servants quarters behind the kitchen.
    They were all yelling “Simba, Simba.” – simba means lions. The door opened suddenly
    and the houseboy rushed in to say that there were lions at the huts. George got up
    swiftly, fetched gun and ammunition from the bedroom and with the houseboy carrying
    the lamp, went off to investigate. I remained at the table, carrying on with my supper as I
    felt a pioneer’s wife should! Suddenly something big leapt through the open window
    behind me. You can imagine what I thought! I know now that it is quite true to say one’s
    hair rises when one is scared. However it was only Kelly, our huge Irish wolfhound,
    taking cover.

    George returned quite soon to say that apparently the commotion made by the
    women and children had frightened the lions off. He found their tracks in the soft earth
    round the huts and a bag of maize that had been playfully torn open but the lions had
    moved on.

    Next day we heard that they had moved to Hickson-Wood’s shamba. Hicky
    came across to say that the lions had jumped over the wall of his cattle boma and killed
    both his white Muskat riding donkeys.
    He and a friend sat up all next night over the remains but the lions did not return to
    the kill.

    Apart from the little set back last week, Ann is blooming. She has a cap of very
    fine fair hair and clear blue eyes under straight brow. She also has lovely dimples in both
    cheeks. We are very proud of her.

    Our neighbours are picking coffee but the crops are small and the price is low. I
    am amazed that they are so optimistic about the future. No one in these parts ever
    seems to grouse though all are living on capital. They all say “Well if the worst happens
    we can always go up to the Lupa Diggings.”

    Don’t worry about us, we have enough to tide us over for some time yet.

    Much love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

    Dearest Family,

    News! News! I’m going to have another baby. George and I are delighted and I
    hope it will be a boy this time. I shall be able to have him at Mbeya because things are
    rapidly changing here. Several German families have moved to Mbeya including a
    German doctor who means to build a hospital there. I expect he will make a very good
    living because there must now be some hundreds of Europeans within a hundred miles
    radius of Mbeya. The Europeans are mostly British or German but there are also
    Greeks and, I believe, several other nationalities are represented on the Lupa Diggings.
    Ann is blooming and developing according to the Book except that she has no
    teeth yet! Kath Hickson-Wood has given her a very nice high chair and now she has
    breakfast and lunch at the table with us. Everything within reach goes on the floor to her
    amusement and my exasperation!

    You ask whether we have any Church of England missionaries in our part. No we
    haven’t though there are Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions. I have never even
    heard of a visiting Church of England Clergyman to these parts though there are babies
    in plenty who have not been baptised. Jolly good thing I had Ann Christened down
    there.

    The R.C. priests in this area are called White Fathers. They all have beards and
    wear white cassocks and sun helmets. One, called Father Keiling, calls around frequently.
    Though none of us in this area is Catholic we take it in turn to put him up for the night. The
    Catholic Fathers in their turn are most hospitable to travellers regardless of their beliefs.
    Rather a sad thing has happened. Lucas our old chicken-boy is dead. I shall miss
    his toothy smile. George went to the funeral and fired two farewell shots from his rifle
    over the grave – a gesture much appreciated by the locals. Lucas in his day was a good
    hunter.

    Several of the locals own muzzle loading guns but the majority hunt with dogs
    and spears. The dogs wear bells which make an attractive jingle but I cannot bear the
    idea of small antelope being run down until they are exhausted before being clubbed of
    stabbed to death. We seldom eat venison as George does not care to shoot buck.
    Recently though, he shot an eland and Abel rendered down the fat which is excellent for
    cooking and very like beef fat.

    Much love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. P.O.Mbeya 21st November 1932

    Dearest Family,

    George has gone off to the Lupa for a week with John Molteno. John came up
    here with the idea of buying a coffee farm but he has changed his mind and now thinks of
    staking some claims on the diggings and also setting up as a gold buyer.

    Did I tell you about his arrival here? John and George did some elephant hunting
    together in French Equatorial Africa and when John heard that George had married and
    settled in Tanganyika, he also decided to come up here. He drove up from Cape Town
    in a Baby Austin and arrived just as our labourers were going home for the day. The little
    car stopped half way up our hill and John got out to investigate. You should have heard
    the astonished exclamations when John got out – all 6 ft 5 ins. of him! He towered over
    the little car and even to me it seemed impossible for him to have made the long
    journey in so tiny a car.

    Kath Wood has been over several times lately. She is slim and looks so right in
    the shirt and corduroy slacks she almost always wears. She was here yesterday when
    the shamba boy, digging in the front garden, unearthed a large earthenware cooking pot,
    sealed at the top. I was greatly excited and had an instant mental image of fabulous
    wealth. We made the boy bring the pot carefully on to the verandah and opened it in
    happy anticipation. What do you think was inside? Nothing but a grinning skull! Such a
    treat for a pregnant female.

    We have a tree growing here that had lovely straight branches covered by a
    smooth bark. I got the garden boy to cut several of these branches of a uniform size,
    peeled off the bark and have made Ann a playpen with the poles which are much like
    broom sticks. Now I can leave her unattended when I do my chores. The other morning
    after breakfast I put Ann in her playpen on the verandah and gave her a piece of toast
    and honey to keep her quiet whilst I laundered a few of her things. When I looked out a
    little later I was horrified to see a number of bees buzzing around her head whilst she
    placidly concentrated on her toast. I made a rapid foray and rescued her but I still don’t
    know whether that was the thing to do.

    We all send our love,
    Eleanor.

    Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

    Dearest Family,

    Here I am, installed at the very new hospital, built by Dr Eckhardt, awaiting the
    arrival of the new baby. George has gone back to the farm on foot but will walk in again
    to spend the weekend with us. Ann is with me and enjoys the novelty of playing with
    other children. The Eckhardts have two, a pretty little girl of two and a half and a very fair
    roly poly boy of Ann’s age. Ann at fourteen months is very active. She is quite a little girl
    now with lovely dimples. She walks well but is backward in teething.

    George, Ann and I had a couple of days together at the hotel before I moved in
    here and several of the local women visited me and have promised to visit me in
    hospital. The trip from farm to town was very entertaining if not very comfortable. There
    is ten miles of very rough road between our farm and Utengule Mission and beyond the
    Mission there is a fair thirteen or fourteen mile road to Mbeya.

    As we have no car now the doctor’s wife offered to drive us from the Mission to
    Mbeya but she would not risk her car on the road between the Mission and our farm.
    The upshot was that I rode in the Hickson-Woods machila for that ten mile stretch. The
    machila is a canopied hammock, slung from a bamboo pole, in which I reclined, not too
    comfortably in my unwieldy state, with Ann beside me or sometime straddling me. Four
    of our farm boys carried the machila on their shoulders, two fore and two aft. The relief
    bearers walked on either side. There must have been a dozen in all and they sang a sort
    of sea shanty song as they walked. One man would sing a verse and the others took up
    the chorus. They often improvise as they go. They moaned about my weight (at least
    George said so! I don’t follow Ki-Swahili well yet) and expressed the hope that I would
    have a son and that George would reward them handsomely.

    George and Kelly, the dog, followed close behind the machila and behind
    George came Abel our cook and his wife and small daughter Annalie, all in their best
    attire. The cook wore a palm beach suit, large Terai hat and sunglasses and two colour
    shoes and quite lent a tone to the proceedings! Right at the back came the rag tag and
    bobtail who joined the procession just for fun.

    Mrs Eckhardt was already awaiting us at the Mission when we arrived and we had
    an uneventful trip to the Mbeya Hotel.

    During my last week at the farm I felt very tired and engaged the cook’s small
    daughter, Annalie, to amuse Ann for an hour after lunch so that I could have a rest. They
    played in the small verandah room which adjoins our bedroom and where I keep all my
    sewing materials. One afternoon I was startled by a scream from Ann. I rushed to the
    room and found Ann with blood steaming from her cheek. Annalie knelt beside her,
    looking startled and frightened, with my embroidery scissors in her hand. She had cut off
    half of the long curling golden lashes on one of Ann’s eyelids and, in trying to finish the
    job, had cut off a triangular flap of skin off Ann’s cheek bone.

    I called Abel, the cook, and demanded that he should chastise his daughter there and
    then and I soon heard loud shrieks from behind the kitchen. He spanked her with a
    bamboo switch but I am sure not as well as she deserved. Africans are very tolerant
    towards their children though I have seen husbands and wives fighting furiously.
    I feel very well but long to have the confinement over.

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

    Dearest Family,

    Little George arrived at 7.30 pm on Saturday evening 29 th. April. George was
    with me at the time as he had walked in from the farm for news, and what a wonderful bit
    of luck that was. The doctor was away on a case on the Diggings and I was bathing Ann
    with George looking on, when the pains started. George dried Ann and gave her
    supper and put her to bed. Afterwards he sat on the steps outside my room and a
    great comfort it was to know that he was there.

    The confinement was short but pretty hectic. The Doctor returned to the Hospital
    just in time to deliver the baby. He is a grand little boy, beautifully proportioned. The
    doctor says he has never seen a better formed baby. He is however rather funny
    looking just now as his head is, very temporarily, egg shaped. He has a shock of black
    silky hair like a gollywog and believe it or not, he has a slight black moustache.
    George came in, looked at the baby, looked at me, and we both burst out
    laughing. The doctor was shocked and said so. He has no sense of humour and couldn’t
    understand that we, though bursting with pride in our son, could never the less laugh at
    him.

    Friends in Mbeya have sent me the most gorgeous flowers and my room is
    transformed with delphiniums, roses and carnations. The room would be very austere
    without the flowers. Curtains, bedspread and enamelware, walls and ceiling are all
    snowy white.

    George hired a car and took Ann home next day. I have little George for
    company during the day but he is removed at night. I am longing to get him home and
    away from the German nurse who feeds him on black tea when he cries. She insists that
    tea is a medicine and good for him.

    Much love from a proud mother of two.
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

    Dearest Family,

    We are all together at home again and how lovely it feels. Even the house
    servants seem pleased. The boy had decorated the lounge with sprays of
    bougainvillaea and Abel had backed one of his good sponge cakes.

    Ann looked fat and rosy but at first was only moderately interested in me and the
    new baby but she soon thawed. George is good with her and will continue to dress Ann
    in the mornings and put her to bed until I am satisfied with Georgie.

    He, poor mite, has a nasty rash on face and neck. I am sure it is just due to that
    tea the nurse used to give him at night. He has lost his moustache and is fast loosing his
    wild black hair and emerging as quite a handsome babe. He is a very masculine looking
    infant with much more strongly marked eyebrows and a larger nose that Ann had. He is
    very good and lies quietly in his basket even when awake.

    George has been making a hatching box for brown trout ova and has set it up in
    a small clear stream fed by a spring in readiness for the ova which is expected from
    South Africa by next weeks plane. Some keen fishermen from Mbeya and the District
    have clubbed together to buy the ova. The fingerlings are later to be transferred to
    streams in Mbeya and Tukuyu Districts.

    I shall now have my hands full with the two babies and will not have much time for the
    garden, or I fear, for writing very long letters. Remember though, that no matter how
    large my family becomes, I shall always love you as much as ever.

    Your affectionate,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

    Dearest Family,

    The four of us are all well but alas we have lost our dear Kelly. He was rather a
    silly dog really, although he grew so big he retained all his puppy ways but we were all
    very fond of him, especially George because Kelly attached himself to George whilst I
    was away having Ann and from that time on he was George’s shadow. I think he had
    some form of biliary fever. He died stretched out on the living room couch late last night,
    with George sitting beside him so that he would not feel alone.

    The children are growing fast. Georgie is a darling. He now has a fluff of pale
    brown hair and his eyes are large and dark brown. Ann is very plump and fair.
    We have had several visitors lately. Apart from neighbours, a car load of diggers
    arrived one night and John Molteno and his bride were here. She is a very attractive girl
    but, I should say, more suited to life in civilisation than in this back of beyond. She has
    gone out to the diggings with her husband and will have to walk a good stretch of the fifty
    or so miles.

    The diggers had to sleep in the living room on the couch and on hastily erected
    camp beds. They arrived late at night and left after breakfast next day. One had half a
    beard, the other side of his face had been forcibly shaved in the bar the night before.

    your affectionate,
    Eleanor

    Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

    Dearest Family,

    George is away on safari with two Indian Army officers. The money he will get for
    his services will be very welcome because this coffee growing is a slow business, and
    our capitol is rapidly melting away. The job of acting as White Hunter was unexpected
    or George would not have taken on the job of hatching the ova which duly arrived from
    South Africa.

    George and the District Commissioner, David Pollock, went to meet the plane
    by which the ova had been consigned but the pilot knew nothing about the package. It
    came to light in the mail bag with the parcels! However the ova came to no harm. David
    Pollock and George brought the parcel to the farm and carefully transferred the ova to
    the hatching box. It was interesting to watch the tiny fry hatch out – a process which took
    several days. Many died in the process and George removed the dead by sucking
    them up in a glass tube.

    When hatched, the tiny fry were fed on ant eggs collected by the boys. I had to
    take over the job of feeding and removing the dead when George left on safari. The fry
    have to be fed every four hours, like the baby, so each time I have fed Georgie. I hurry
    down to feed the trout.

    The children are very good but keep me busy. Ann can now say several words
    and understands more. She adores Georgie. I long to show them off to you.

    Very much love
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

    Dear Family,

    All just over flu. George and Ann were very poorly. I did not fare so badly and
    Georgie came off best. He is on a bottle now.

    There was some excitement here last Wednesday morning. At 6.30 am. I called
    for boiling water to make Georgie’s food. No water arrived but muffled shouting and the
    sound of blows came from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found a fierce fight in
    progress between the house boy and the kitchen boy. In my efforts to make them stop
    fighting I went too close and got a sharp bang on the mouth with the edge of an
    enamelled plate the kitchen boy was using as a weapon. My teeth cut my lip inside and
    the plate cut it outside and blood flowed from mouth to chin. The boys were petrified.
    By the time I had fed Georgie the lip was stiff and swollen. George went in wrath
    to the kitchen and by breakfast time both house boy and kitchen boy had swollen faces
    too. Since then I have a kettle of boiling water to hand almost before the words are out
    of my mouth. I must say that the fight was because the house boy had clouted the
    kitchen boy for keeping me waiting! In this land of piece work it is the job of the kitchen
    boy to light the fire and boil the kettle but the houseboy’s job to carry the kettle to me.
    I have seen little of Kath Wood or Marion Coster for the past two months. Major
    Jones is the neighbour who calls most regularly. He has a wireless set and calls on all of
    us to keep us up to date with world as well as local news. He often brings oranges for
    Ann who adores him. He is a very nice person but no oil painting and makes no effort to
    entertain Ann but she thinks he is fine. Perhaps his monocle appeals to her.

    George has bought a six foot long galvanised bath which is a great improvement
    on the smaller oval one we have used until now. The smaller one had grown battered
    from much use and leaks like a sieve. Fortunately our bathroom has a cement floor,
    because one had to fill the bath to the brim and then bath extremely quickly to avoid
    being left high and dry.

    Lots and lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 1st December 1933

    Dearest Family,

    Ann has not been well. We think she has had malaria. She has grown a good
    deal lately and looks much thinner and rather pale. Georgie is thriving and has such
    sparkling brown eyes and a ready smile. He and Ann make a charming pair, one so fair
    and the other dark.

    The Moltenos’ spent a few days here and took Georgie and me to Mbeya so
    that Georgie could be vaccinated. However it was an unsatisfactory trip because the
    doctor had no vaccine.

    George went to the Lupa with the Moltenos and returned to the farm in their Baby
    Austin which they have lent to us for a week. This was to enable me to go to Mbeya to
    have a couple of teeth filled by a visiting dentist.

    We went to Mbeya in the car on Saturday. It was quite a squash with the four of
    us on the front seat of the tiny car. Once George grabbed the babies foot instead of the
    gear knob! We had Georgie vaccinated at the hospital and then went to the hotel where
    the dentist was installed. Mr Dare, the dentist, had few instruments and they were very
    tarnished. I sat uncomfortably on a kitchen chair whilst he tinkered with my teeth. He filled
    three but two of the fillings came out that night. This meant another trip to Mbeya in the
    Baby Austin but this time they seem all right.

    The weather is very hot and dry and the garden a mess. We are having trouble
    with the young coffee trees too. Cut worms are killing off seedlings in the nursery and
    there is a borer beetle in the planted out coffee.

    George bought a large grey donkey from some wandering Masai and we hope
    the children will enjoy riding it later on.

    Very much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

    Dearest Family,

    You will be sorry to hear that little Ann has been very ill, indeed we were terribly
    afraid that we were going to lose her. She enjoyed her birthday on the 8th. All the toys
    you, and her English granny, sent were unwrapped with such delight. However next
    day she seemed listless and a bit feverish so I tucked her up in bed after lunch. I dosed
    her with quinine and aspirin and she slept fitfully. At about eleven o’clock I was
    awakened by a strange little cry. I turned up the night light and was horrified to see that
    Ann was in a convulsion. I awakened George who, as always in an emergency, was
    perfectly calm and practical. He filled the small bath with very warm water and emersed
    Ann in it, placing a cold wet cloth on her head. We then wrapped her in blankets and
    gave her an enema and she settled down to sleep. A few hours later we had the same
    thing over again.

    At first light we sent a runner to Mbeya to fetch the doctor but waited all day in
    vain and in the evening the runner returned to say that the doctor had gone to a case on
    the diggings. Ann had been feverish all day with two or three convulsions. Neither
    George or I wished to leave the bedroom, but there was Georgie to consider, and in
    the afternoon I took him out in the garden for a while whilst George sat with Ann.
    That night we both sat up all night and again Ann had those wretched attacks of
    convulsions. George and I were worn out with anxiety by the time the doctor arrived the
    next afternoon. Ann had not been able to keep down any quinine and had had only
    small sips of water since the onset of the attack.

    The doctor at once diagnosed the trouble as malaria aggravated by teething.
    George held Ann whilst the Doctor gave her an injection. At the first attempt the needle
    bent into a bow, George was furious! The second attempt worked and after a few hours
    Ann’s temperature dropped and though she was ill for two days afterwards she is now
    up and about. She has also cut the last of her baby teeth, thank God. She looks thin and
    white, but should soon pick up. It has all been a great strain to both of us. Georgie
    behaved like an angel throughout. He played happily in his cot and did not seem to
    sense any tension as people say, babies do. Our baby was cheerful and not at all
    subdued.

    This is the rainy season and it is a good thing that some work has been done on
    our road or the doctor might not have got through.

    Much love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

    Dearest Family,

    We are all well now, thank goodness, but last week Georgie gave us such a
    fright. I was sitting on the verandah, busy with some sewing and not watching Ann and
    Georgie, who were trying to reach a bunch of bananas which hung on a rope from a
    beam of the verandah. Suddenly I heard a crash, Georgie had fallen backward over the
    edge of the verandah and hit the back of his head on the edge of the brick furrow which
    carries away the rainwater. He lay flat on his back with his arms spread out and did not
    move or cry. When I picked him up he gave a little whimper, I carried him to his cot and
    bathed his face and soon he began sitting up and appeared quite normal. The trouble
    began after he had vomited up his lunch. He began to whimper and bang his head
    against the cot.

    George and I were very worried because we have no transport so we could not
    take Georgie to the doctor and we could not bear to go through again what we had gone
    through with Ann earlier in the year. Then, in the late afternoon, a miracle happened. Two
    men George hardly knew, and complete strangers to me, called in on their way from the
    diggings to Mbeya and they kindly drove Georgie and me to the hospital. The Doctor
    allowed me to stay with Georgie and we spent five days there. Luckily he responded to
    treatment and is now as alive as ever. Children do put years on one!

    There is nothing much else to report. We have a new vegetable garden which is
    doing well but the earth here is strange. Gardens seem to do well for two years but by
    that time the soil is exhausted and one must move the garden somewhere else. The
    coffee looks well but it will be another year before we can expect even a few bags of
    coffee and prices are still low. Anyway by next year George should have some good
    return for all his hard work.

    Lots of love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

    Dearest Family,

    George is home from his White Hunting safari looking very sunburnt and well.
    The elderly American, who was his client this time, called in here at the farm to meet me
    and the children. It is amazing what spirit these old lads have! This one looked as though
    he should be thinking in terms of slippers and an armchair but no, he thinks in terms of
    high powered rifles with telescopic sights.

    It is lovely being together again and the children are delighted to have their Dad
    home. Things are always exciting when George is around. The day after his return
    George said at breakfast, “We can’t go on like this. You and the kids never get off the
    shamba. We’ll simply have to get a car.” You should have heard the excitement. “Get a
    car Daddy?’” cried Ann jumping in her chair so that her plaits bounced. “Get a car
    Daddy?” echoed Georgie his brown eyes sparkling. “A car,” said I startled, “However
    can we afford one?”

    “Well,” said George, “on my way back from Safari I heard that a car is to be sold
    this week at the Tukuyu Court, diseased estate or bankruptcy or something, I might get it
    cheap and it is an A.C.” The name meant nothing to me, but George explained that an
    A.C. is first cousin to a Rolls Royce.

    So off he went to the sale and next day the children and I listened all afternoon for
    the sound of an approaching car. We had many false alarms but, towards evening we
    heard what appeared to be the roar of an aeroplane engine. It was the A.C. roaring her
    way up our steep hill with a long plume of steam waving gaily above her radiator.
    Out jumped my beaming husband and in no time at all, he was showing off her
    points to an admiring family. Her lines are faultless and seats though worn are most
    comfortable. She has a most elegant air so what does it matter that the radiator leaks like
    a sieve, her exhaust pipe has broken off, her tyres are worn almost to the canvas and
    she has no windscreen. She goes, and she cost only five pounds.

    Next afternoon George, the kids and I piled into the car and drove along the road
    on lookout for guinea fowl. All went well on the outward journey but on the homeward
    one the poor A.C. simply gasped and died. So I carried the shot gun and George
    carried both children and we trailed sadly home. This morning George went with a bunch
    of farmhands and brought her home. Truly temperamental, she came home literally
    under her own steam.

    George now plans to get a second hand engine and radiator for her but it won’t
    be an A.C. engine. I think she is the only one of her kind in the country.
    I am delighted to hear, dad, that you are sending a bridle for Joseph for
    Christmas. I am busy making a saddle out of an old piece of tent canvas stuffed with
    kapok, some webbing and some old rug straps. A car and a riding donkey! We’re
    definitely carriage folk now.

    Lots of love to all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

    Dearest Family,

    Thank you for the wonderful Christmas parcel. My frock is a splendid fit. George
    declares that no one can knit socks like Mummy and the children love their toys and new
    clothes.

    Joseph, the donkey, took his bit with an air of bored resignation and Ann now
    rides proudly on his back. Joseph is a big strong animal with the looks and disposition of
    a mule. he will not go at all unless a native ‘toto’ walks before him and when he does go
    he wears a pained expression as though he were carrying fourteen stone instead of
    Ann’s fly weight. I walk beside the donkey carrying Georgie and our cat, ‘Skinny Winnie’,
    follows behind. Quite a cavalcade. The other day I got so exasperated with Joseph that
    I took Ann off and I got on. Joseph tottered a few paces and sat down! to the huge
    delight of our farm labourers who were going home from work. Anyway, one good thing,
    the donkey is so lazy that there is little chance of him bolting with Ann.

    The Moltenos spent Christmas with us and left for the Lupa Diggings yesterday.
    They arrived on the 22nd. with gifts for the children and chocolates and beer. That very
    afternoon George and John Molteno left for Ivuna, near Lake Ruckwa, to shoot some
    guinea fowl and perhaps a goose for our Christmas dinner. We expected the menfolk
    back on Christmas Eve and Anne and I spent a busy day making mince pies and
    sausage rolls. Why I don’t know, because I am sure Abel could have made them better.
    We decorated the Christmas tree and sat up very late but no husbands turned up.
    Christmas day passed but still no husbands came. Anne, like me, is expecting a baby
    and we both felt pretty forlorn and cross. Anne was certain that they had been caught up
    in a party somewhere and had forgotten all about us and I must say when Boxing Day
    went by and still George and John did not show up I felt ready to agree with her.
    They turned up towards evening and explained that on the homeward trip the car
    had bogged down in the mud and that they had spent a miserable Christmas. Anne
    refused to believe their story so George, to prove their case, got the game bag and
    tipped the contents on to the dining room table. Out fell several guinea fowl, long past
    being edible, followed by a large goose so high that it was green and blue where all the
    feathers had rotted off.

    The stench was too much for two pregnant girls. I shot out of the front door
    closely followed by Anne and we were both sick in the garden.

    I could not face food that evening but Anne is made of stronger stuff and ate her
    belated Christmas dinner with relish.

    I am looking forward enormously to having Marjorie here with us. She will be able
    to carry back to you an eyewitness account of our home and way of life.

    Much love to you all,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

    Dearest Family,

    You cannot imagine how lovely it is to have Marjorie here. She came just in time
    because I have had pernicious vomiting and have lost a great deal of weight and she
    took charge of the children and made me spend three days in hospital having treatment.
    George took me to the hospital on the afternoon of New Years Eve and decided
    to spend the night at the hotel and join in the New Years Eve celebrations. I had several
    visitors at the hospital that evening and George actually managed to get some imported
    grapes for me. He returned to the farm next morning and fetched me from the hospital
    four days later. Of course the old A.C. just had to play up. About half way home the
    back axle gave in and we had to send a passing native some miles back to a place
    called Mbalizi to hire a lorry from a Greek trader to tow us home to the farm.
    The children looked well and were full of beans. I think Marjorie was thankful to
    hand them over to me. She is delighted with Ann’s motherly little ways but Georgie she
    calls “a really wild child”. He isn’t, just has such an astonishing amount of energy and is
    always up to mischief. Marjorie brought us all lovely presents. I am so thrilled with my
    sewing machine. It may be an old model but it sews marvellously. We now have an
    Alsatian pup as well as Joseph the donkey and the two cats.

    Marjorie had a midnight encounter with Joseph which gave her quite a shock but
    we had a good laugh about it next day. Some months ago George replaced our wattle
    and daub outside pit lavatory by a substantial brick one, so large that Joseph is being
    temporarily stabled in it at night. We neglected to warn Marj about this and one night,
    storm lamp in hand, she opened the door and Joseph walked out braying his thanks.
    I am afraid Marjorie is having a quiet time, a shame when the journey from Cape
    Town is so expensive. The doctor has told me to rest as much as I can, so it is
    impossible for us to take Marj on sight seeing trips.

    I hate to think that she will be leaving in ten days time.

    Much love,
    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

    Dearest Family,

    You must be able to visualise our life here quite well now that Marj is back and
    has no doubt filled in all the details I forget to mention in my letters. What a journey we
    had in the A.C. when we took her to the plane. George, the children and I sat in front and
    Marj sat behind with numerous four gallon tins of water for the insatiable radiator. It was
    raining and the canvas hood was up but part of the side flaps are missing and as there is
    no glass in the windscreen the rain blew in on us. George got fed up with constantly
    removing the hot radiator cap so simply stuffed a bit of rag in instead. When enough
    steam had built up in the radiator behind the rag it blew out and we started all over again.
    The car still roars like an aeroplane engine and yet has little power so that George sent
    gangs of boys to the steep hills between the farm and the Mission to give us a push if
    necessary. Fortunately this time it was not, and the boys cheered us on our way. We
    needed their help on the homeward journey however.

    George has now bought an old Chev engine which he means to install before I
    have to go to hospital to have my new baby. It will be quite an engineering feet as
    George has few tools.

    I am sorry to say that I am still not well, something to do with kidneys or bladder.
    George bought me some pills from one of the several small shops which have opened
    in Mbeya and Ann is most interested in the result. She said seriously to Kath Wood,
    “Oh my Mummy is a very clever Mummy. She can do blue wee and green wee as well
    as yellow wee.” I simply can no longer manage the children without help and have
    engaged the cook’s wife, Janey, to help. The children are by no means thrilled. I plead in
    vain that I am not well enough to go for walks. Ann says firmly, “Ann doesn’t want to go
    for a walk. Ann will look after you.” Funny, though she speaks well for a three year old,
    she never uses the first person. Georgie say he would much rather walk with
    Keshokutwa, the kitchen boy. His name by the way, means day-after-tomorrow and it
    suits him down to the ground, Kath Wood walks over sometimes with offers of help and Ann will gladly go walking with her but Georgie won’t. He on the other hand will walk with Anne Molteno
    and Ann won’t. They are obstinate kids. Ann has developed a very fertile imagination.
    She has probably been looking at too many of those nice women’s magazines you
    sent. A few days ago she said, “You are sick Mummy, but Ann’s got another Mummy.
    She’s not sick, and my other mummy (very smugly) has lovely golden hair”. This
    morning’ not ten minutes after I had dressed her, she came in with her frock wet and
    muddy. I said in exasperation, “Oh Ann, you are naughty.” To which she instantly
    returned, “My other Mummy doesn’t think I am naughty. She thinks I am very nice.” It
    strikes me I shall have to get better soon so that I can be gay once more and compete
    with that phantom golden haired paragon.

    We had a very heavy storm over the farm last week. There was heavy rain with
    hail which stripped some of the coffee trees and the Mchewe River flooded and the
    water swept through the lower part of the shamba. After the water had receded George
    picked up a fine young trout which had been stranded. This was one of some he had
    put into the river when Georgie was a few months old.

    The trials of a coffee farmer are legion. We now have a plague of snails. They
    ring bark the young trees and leave trails of slime on the glossy leaves. All the ring
    barked trees will have to be cut right back and this is heartbreaking as they are bearing
    berries for the first time. The snails are collected by native children, piled upon the
    ground and bashed to a pulp which gives off a sickening stench. I am sorry for the local
    Africans. Locusts ate up their maize and now they are losing their bean crop to the snails.

    Lots of love, Eleanor

    #6255
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    My Grandparents

    George Samuel Marshall 1903-1995

    Florence Noreen Warren (Nora) 1906-1988

    I always called my grandfather Mop, apparently because I couldn’t say the name Grandpa, but whatever the reason, the name stuck. My younger brother also called him Mop, but our two cousins did not.

    My earliest memories of my grandparents are the picnics.  Grandma and Mop loved going out in the car for a picnic. Favourite spots were the Clee Hills in Shropshire, North Wales, especially Llanbedr, Malvern, and Derbyshire, and closer to home, the caves and silver birch woods at Kinver Edge, Arley by the river Severn, or Bridgnorth, where Grandma’s sister Hildreds family lived.  Stourbridge was on the western edge of the Black Country in the Midlands, so one was quickly in the countryside heading west.  They went north to Derbyshire less, simply because the first part of the trip entailed driving through Wolverhampton and other built up and not particularly pleasant urban areas.  I’m sure they’d have gone there more often, as they were both born in Derbyshire, if not for that initial stage of the journey.

    There was predominantly grey tartan car rug in the car for picnics, and a couple of folding chairs.  There were always a couple of cushions on the back seat, and I fell asleep in the back more times than I can remember, despite intending to look at the scenery.  On the way home Grandma would always sing,  “Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed, I had a little drink about an hour ago, And it’s gone right to my head.”  I’ve looked online for that song, and have not found it anywhere!

    Grandma didn’t just make sandwiches for picnics, there were extra containers of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and so on.  I used to love to wash up the picnic plates in the little brook on the Clee Hills, near Cleeton St Mary.  The close cropped grass was ideal for picnics, and Mop and the sheep would Baaa at each other.

    Mop would base the days outting on the weather forcast, but Grandma often used to say he always chose the opposite of what was suggested. She said if you want to go to Derbyshire, tell him you want to go to Wales.  I recall him often saying, on a gloomy day, Look, there’s a bit of clear sky over there.  Mop always did the driving as Grandma never learned to drive. Often she’d dust the dashboard with a tissue as we drove along.

    My brother and I often spent the weekend at our grandparents house, so that our parents could go out on a Saturday night.  They gave us 5 shillings pocket money, which I used to spend on two Ladybird books at 2 shillings and sixpence each.  We had far too many sweets while watching telly in the evening ~ in the dark, as they always turned the lights off to watch television.  The lemonade and pop was Corona, and came in returnable glass bottles.  We had Woodpecker cider too, even though it had a bit of an alcohol content.

    Mop smoked Kensitas and Grandma smoked Sovereign cigarettes, or No6, and the packets came with coupons.  They often let me choose something for myself out of the catalogue when there were enough coupons saved up.

    When I had my first garden, in a rented house a short walk from theirs, they took me to garden nurseries and taught me all about gardening.  In their garden they had berberis across the front of the house under the window, and cotoneaster all along the side of the garage wall. The silver birth tree on the lawn had been purloined as a sapling from Kinver edge, when they first moved into the house.  (they lived in that house on Park Road for more than 60 years).  There were perennials and flowering shrubs along the sides of the back garden, and behind the silver birch, and behind that was the vegeatable garden.  Right at the back was an Anderson shelter turned into a shed, the rhubarb, and the washing line, and the canes for the runner beans in front of those.  There was a little rose covered arch on the path on the left, and privet hedges all around the perimeter.

    My grandfather was a dental technician. He worked for various dentists on their premises over the years, but he always had a little workshop of his own at the back of his garage. His garage was full to the brim of anything that might potentially useful, but it was not chaotic. He knew exactly where to find anything, from the tiniest screw for spectacles to a useful bit of wire. He was “mechanicaly minded” and could always fix things like sewing machines and cars and so on.

    Mop used to let me sit with him in his workshop, and make things out of the pink wax he used for gums to embed the false teeth into prior to making the plaster casts. The porcelain teeth came on cards, and were strung in place by means of little holes on the back end of the teeth. I still have a necklace I made by threading teeth onto a string. There was a foot pedal operated drill in there as well, possibly it was a dentists drill previously, that he used with miniature grinding or polishing attachments. Sometimes I made things out of the pink acrylic used for the final denture, which had a strong smell and used to harden quickly, so you had to work fast. Initially, the workshop was to do the work for Uncle Ralph, Grandmas’s sisters husband, who was a dentist. In later years after Ralph retired, I recall a nice man called Claude used to come in the evening to collect the dentures for another dental laboratory. Mop always called his place of work the laboratory.

    Grandma loved books and was always reading, in her armchair next to the gas fire. I don’t recall seeing Mop reading a book, but he was amazingly well informed about countless topics.
    At family gatherings, Mops favourite topic of conversation after dinner was the atrocities committed over the centuries by organized religion.

    My grandfather played snooker in his younger years at the Conservative club. I recall my father assuming he voted Conservative, and Mop told him in no uncertain terms that he’s always voted Labour. When asked why he played snooker at the Conservative club and not the Labour club, he said with a grin that “it was a better class of people”, but that he’d never vote Conservative because it was of no benefit to the likes of us working people.

    Grandma and her sister in law Marie had a little grocers shop on Brettel Lane in Amblecote for a few years but I have no personal recollection of that as it was during the years we lived in USA. I don’t recall her working other than that. She had a pastry making day once a week, and made Bakewell tart, apple pie, a meat pie, and her own style of pizza. She had an old black hand operated sewing machine, and made curtains and loose covers for the chairs and sofa, but I don’t think she made her own clothes, at least not in later years. I have her sewing machine here in Spain.
    At regular intervals she’d move all the furniture around and change the front room into the living room and the back into the dining room and vice versa. In later years Mop always had the back bedroom (although when I lived with them aged 14, I had the back bedroom, and painted the entire room including the ceiling purple). He had a very lumpy mattress but he said it fit his bad hip perfectly.

    Grandma used to alternate between the tiny bedroom and the big bedroom at the front. (this is in later years, obviously) The wardrobes and chests of drawers never changed, they were oak and substantial, but rather dated in appearance. They had a grandfather clock with a brass face and a grandmother clock. Over the fireplace in the living room was a Utrillo print. The bathroom and lavatory were separate rooms, and the old claw foot bath had wood panels around it to make it look more modern. There was a big hot water geyser above it. Grandma was fond of using stick on Fablon tile effects to try to improve and update the appearance of the bathroom and kitchen. Mop was a generous man, but would not replace household items that continued to function perfectly well. There were electric heaters in all the rooms, of varying designs, and gas fires in living room and dining room. The coal house on the outside wall was later turned into a downstairs shower room, when Mop moved his bedroom downstairs into the front dining room, after Grandma had died and he was getting on.

    Utrillo

    Mop was 91 when he told me he wouldn’t be growing any vegetables that year. He said the sad thing was that he knew he’d never grow vegetables again. He worked part time until he was in his early 80s.

    #6203
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Pssst”

    Glor startled. She’d been watching Mavis and Shar through the day-room window. Against her advice, they had joined the outdoor CryoChi class and it really was a hoot watching them gyrating around. All of a sudden though, like a bloody sign, there was a butterfly! Landed on the window ledge and then bumped against the glass like it were trying to get in. Most peculiar. Anyway it had got her thinking about how she was a bit like a butterfly herself. And how she was going to flit around showing off her fine new face. Soon as she got out of here anyway.

    “Wot are you pissting about? Gave me a fright you did!” Glor frowned. “I was doing me meditations.”

    “Sorry,” said Sophie.

    Sophie, ain’t it? You’re new here?”

    Sophie nodded and looked so downcast that Glor softened.

    “Well don’t you worry. A few beauty treatments and you’ll scrub up alright.” She paused, wondering if there was a kindly way of mentioning the latex. “And maybe a brand new outfit to go with the new face!” It didn’t seem to cheer Sophie up any and Glor sighed. “What were you pissting about anyway, Sophie?”

    Sophie looked nervously over her shoulder. “I’m here against my will. In fact, I don’t even know where I am.”

    Glor cocked her head. “Speak up, Sophie.”

    “I said I’m here against my will!”

    Glor nodded. “Hubby book you in did he? My first were always threatening to do that if I didn’t tidy myself up. Bastard. He’ll be sorry now though.” She smiled, thinking of the butterfly.

    #6185
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “I’ll be right back!” Nora told Will, who was stirring a big bubbling pot on the stove. “Need to wash my hands.”

    She had a quick look around the bedroom she’d slept in for her missing phone. Nowhere to be found!  Maybe she could find Will’s phone when he went out to feed the donkey, and call her phone to try and locate it. Damn, that wouldn’t work either. Will had said there was no network here. That would explain why her phone stopped working when she was alone in the dark woods.

    “Smells delicious!” she said brightly, scraping a chair back across the brick floor and seating herself at the kitchen table.

    The home made soup was chock full of vegetables and looked and smelled wonderful, but it had a peculiar acrid aftertaste.  Nora tried to ignore it, taking gulps of wine in between each mouthful to eliminate the bitterness.  She wished it wasn’t soup in a way, so that she’d be able to surreptitiously palm some of it off onto the dogs that were waiting hopefully under the table.  If only Will would leave the room for a minute, but he seemed to be watching her every move.

    “Very tasty, but I can’t manage another mouthful, it’s so filling,” she said, but Will looked so offended that she sighed and carried on eating. He topped up her wine glass.

    By the time Nora had finished the soup, she felt quite nauseous and stood up quickly to head for the bathroom. The room started to spin and she held on to the edge of the table, but it was no good. The spinning didn’t stop and she crashed to the floor, unconscious.

    Smiling with satisfaction, Will stood up and walked around the table to where she lay. Shame he’d had to put her to sleep, really she was quite a nice woman and cute, too, in a funny elfin way.  He’d started to like her.  Plenty of time to get to know her now, anyway. She wouldn’t be going anywhere for awhile.

    He picked her up and carried her to the secret room behind his workshop on the other side of the patio.  The walls and floor were thick stone, and there were no windows.  He laid her on the bench, locked the door, and went back in the house to fetch blankets and bedding and a pile of books for her to read when she came round.  Probably not for a good 24 hours he reckoned, somehow she’d managed to eat all the soup.  He would put much less in the next batch, just enough to keep her docile and sleepy.

    It would only be for a few days, just long enough for him to find that box and move it to a safer location. He’d been entrusted to make sure the contents of the box were preserved for the people in the future, and he was a man of his word.

    If they had listened to him in the first place this would never have happened.  Burying a box was a risk: all kinds of possibilities existed for a buried box to be accidentally unearthed.   He had suggested encasing the contents inside a concrete statue, but they’d ignored him. Well, now was his chance.  He was looking forward to making a new statue.

    #6065
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Those last few days have been hectic. But we finally arrived. I can’t believe we survived all those police controls and those christian mobs, and I didn’t know Kady was a adept at car borrowing.

    I forgot my journal because it was on the computer and I didn’t take the computer. So I don’t know how to contact you, Whale, other than using the old method: with a pen and a sheet of paper. Max gave me this piece of wrapping in which Kady had put the chocolate. He said he can still reuse it later with the writing. He’s nice, although he doesn’t look like it. I think I like him.

    However, the whole thing is not like I expected. Oh sure, the pistil itself is quite impressive: that lone and long stem coming out of that canyon and surrounded by those mountains in the distance. I’m talking about the camp. It’s like a refugee camp, and all of them avid to be able to go in somehow. I’m not sure what they expect. Kady hasn’t been in a sharing mood lately, and I haven’t asked that many questions. But she told Max we had to discuss before we go in tomorrow. So I’m feeling nervous about what I’ll learn tonight.

    I’ve been told once: ask and you will receive. What am I supposed to know now? What am I supposed to do? Maybe that’s not the right question because I just got my voice telling me that I’m not supposed to know or do anything. Maybe supposed is not the right word. I’m too tired and excited at the same time to figure it out, but you get the gist I’m sure.

    I didn’t have any more dreams. I’ve been watching the drawings in that book religiously every night of that trip before I go to sleep. Although I’m not truly sincere when I say that I didn’t have any more dreams. I had at least one that I recall. It was like some news about a parallel self, one that got the virus. I dreamt about that other me before, he couldn’t breath and it hurt. I had wondered if he had died because I didn’t have any more dreams about him, until last night. He seemed ok, he had recovered quite well considering the difficulties. He was at a gathering with other people at some kind of Lebanese buffet. I’m not too fond of the spicy merguez sausages, I prefer the hummus.

    Max is calling, diner is ready. He’s made lasagna, apparently he makes the the best lasagna in the whole camp. I’m not sure when will be the next time I contact you so far Whale.

    #6064
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    I’ve been up since god knows what time. Got up for the loo and couldn’t face going back to the awful nightmares.  That girl that came yesterday said she’d been having nightmares, she said it was common now, people having nightmares, what with the quarantine. I think I might have just snorted at the silly girl, but when I woke up last night I wondered if it was true. Or maybe I’m just a suggestible old fool.

    Anyway, I stayed up because lord knows I don’t want to be in a city in America at night, not waking and not dreaming either. I’ve had a feeling for a long time, and much longer than this virus, that it was like a horror movie and it would behoove me not to watch it anymore or I’d be having nightmares.  I didn’t stop watching though, sort of a horrified fascination, like I’d watched this far so why stop now.

    In the dream I was on a dark city street at a bus stop, it was night time and the lights were bright in a shop window on the other side of the sidewalk.  I had a bunch of tickets in my hand all stapled together, but they were indecipherable. I had no idea where I was going or how to get there.  Then I noticed the man that was by my side,  a stranger that seemed to have latched on to me, had stolen all my tickets and replaced them with the rolled up used ticket stubs.  I made him give me back my tickets but then I knew I couldn’t trust him.

    Then I realized I hadn’t finished packing properly and only had a ragged orange towel with bloodstains on it.  So I go back home (I say home but I don’t know what house it was) to pack my bags properly, and find a stack of nice new black towels, and replace the bloody orange one.

    I’m walking around the house, wondering what else I should pack, and one room leads into another, and then another, and then another, in a sort of spiral direction (highly improbable because you’d have ended up back in the same room, in real life) and then I found a lovely room and thought to myself, What a nice room! You’d never have known it was there because it wasn’t on the way to anywhere and didn’t seem to have a function as a room.

    It was familiar and I remembered I’d been there before, in another dream, years ago.  It had lovely furniture in it, big old polished wooden pieces, but not cluttered, the room was white and bright and spacious. Lovely big old bureau on one wall, I remember that piece quite clearly. Not a speck of dust on it and the lovely dark sheen of ancient polished oak.

    Anyway in the dream I didn’t take anything from the room, and probably should have just stayed there but the next thing I know, I’m in a car with my mother and she races off down the fast lane of an empty motorway. I’m thinking, surely she doesn’t know how to take me where I have to go? She seemed so confident, so out of character the way she was driving.

    I got up for the loo and all I kept thinking about was that awful scene in the  city street, which admittedly doesn’t sound that bad. I won’t bother telling the girl about it when she comes to do my breakfast, it loses a little in the telling, I think.

    But the more I think about that lovely room at the end of the spiral of rooms, the more I’m trying to wrack my brains to remember where I’ve seen that room before.  I’ve half a mind to go back there and open that dark oak bureau and see what’s inside.

    #5836
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    It was funny watching the toilet paper surge sweep through one place after another, I could follow that much on this contraption my helpers had me wired up to, this social media thing. I suppose I notice different things since I stopped trying to make sense of anything. Things start to catch my eye, but not the usual things.

    There’s one thing I’ve learned and that’s if you don’t give a toss about how demented you are, there is a lot on the plus side to consider with dementia.

    Not sure why but I keep seeing all this rambling, from that gal they call my niece,  on this device as they call it (sounds a bit medieval to me), and she’s doing this lockdown diary thing.  Sometimes I feel like saying, do you realize how many of us have been on lockdown already for ages, for month, and for years, relying on pea brained opinionated ever changing drifters to see to our needs. But f course I don’t say that, because I don’t know how to work this blasted device properly.  If I did, I’d let them have it!

    I find myself momentarily cheered, energized by this thought. And then I feel deflated, and can’t remember what it was about.

    Macaroni tonight. The evening woman doesn’t seem to stay long anymore.

    #5645
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    I grabbed the baby when nobody was watching. That’s most of the time. I nestled him comfortably on the dusting cloths in my cleaning cart and told him not to cry .

    I popped my head into the lounge on the way past. The Aunties were both snoozing with their feet up and their mouths open. “Good afternoon, Miss June, Miss April!” I added a smile that would melt butter, maybe even stone. I don’t know. I’m new to this smiling carry-on. They ignored me, as usual, but maybe they were just asleep.

    I didn’t really have a plan. I just had a feeling about this baby.

    And, I was right. Barron turns out to be a girl. I don’t know who else know … that maid has to know. She’s the one changes his .. her … nappies.

    I am going to get to the bottom of this. Haha. Excuse the joke.

    In the meantime, the baby is safe with me.

    #4955
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    I had a long conversation (in my head, where all the best conversations are these days) with Corrie while I sat on the porch.  I think it’s easier to communicate with her because she’s trying to communicate with me too.  The others don’t come through so clear, I get images but not much in the way of conversation.  Anyway, she said Clove is with her on the raftboat, and that Clove has a little boy now, seven years old or so, named Pan. I don’t know if that’s short for a longer name or if that’s his name. Anyway, he’s a great little diver, she said, can hold his breath for longer than anyone, although lots of the kiddies are good divers now, so she tells me.  They send them out scouting in the underwater ruins. Pan finds all sorts of useful things, especially in the air pockets. They call those kiddies the waterlarks, if I heard that right.  Pan the Waterlark.

    Corrie said they’re in England, or what used to be called England, before it became a state of the American United States.  Scotland didn’t though, they rebuilt Hadrian’s wall to keep the Ameringlanders out (which is what they called them after America took over), and Wales rebuilt Offa’s Dyke to keep them out too.  When America fell into chaos (not sure what happened there, she didn’t say) it was dire there for years, Corrie said. Food shortages and floods mainly, and hardly any hospitals still functioning.   Corrie delivered Cloves baby herself she said, but I didn’t want all the details, just pleased to hear there were no complications.  Clove was back on her feet in no time in the rice paddies.

    A great many people left on boats, Corrie said. She didn’t know where they’d gone to.  Most of the Midlands had been flooded for a good few years now. At first the water went up and down and people stayed and kept drying out their homes, but in the end people either left, or built floating homes.  Corrie said it was great living on the water ~ it wasn’t all that deep and they could maneouver around in various ways. It was great sitting on the deck watching all the little waterlarks popping up, proudly showing their finds.

    I was thoroughly enjoying this chat with Corrie, sitting in the morning sun with my eyes closed, when the sky darkened and the red behind my eyelids turned black.  There was a hot air balloon contraption coming down,  and looked like it was heading for the old Bundy place.   Maybe Finly was back with supplies.  Maybe it was a stranger with news.  Maybe it was Devan.

    #4869

    In reply to: Coma Cameleon

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Tibu preferred selling second hand books to selling watches, for he could read them while waiting for customers instead of watching the minutes and hours tick by. Maybe that’s why they called them “watches”, he thought, because if you have one, you watch it. Too much, it would seem.

    He was reading “The Perilous Treks of Lord Gustard Willoughby Ferguson” while sheltering from the pounding rain, huddled in the corner of an office building porch with a few dozen books piled onto an old blue blanket. He rarely sold any books, but passing strangers kindly brought him a coffee in a take away cup from time to time, or a sandwich or burger. The more thoughtful ones dropped some money into the upturned bowler hat that he’d found in the bin, so that he could choose tea, which he preferred, or some fruit, which he preferred to burgers. One of the regular office girls, a fresh faced young looking redhead, brought him a brand new lighter one day, after noticing him asking for a light the day before. She was a good listener, and often stood beside him silently listening to him read aloud from one of his books.

    #4850
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “This is mine,” said the *Man In Black (MIB) as he wrestled the waterbottle from the grip of a small boy. “You are welcome to the mangled bike though,” he said as the boy started to whimper. “Maybe you can fix it up.”

    After a quick glance to make sure nobody was watching, MIB yanked off his waxed moustache and put it in the top pocket of his Louis Vuitton tux with black satin trimmings. He opened his briefcase and carefully deposited the waterbottle inside. Finally, he pulled out a wooden top beanie and placed it on his head.

    He raised his arm to his mouth. “Good to go,” he said into his writstwatch.

    [* (for Tracy) Maeve thought she saw a man in black following them at the airport. He supposedly went back to his headquarters, however turns out that was a ruse and now he is in possession of the waterbottle containing the doll. don’t ask me which doll. Maybe Eric knows.]

    #4696
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Ricardo!” Miss Bossy shouted from her office she was rearranging into an office cum interrogation room.

    “Yes, M’am!”

    “Any news from our two insubordinate scouts?”
    “I’m afraid not M’am. Phone coverage isn’t that good in the bush I hear.”
    “Stop that nonsense! What tells you they’re aren’t just squandering my newspaper’s money over unearned mojitos doing precious nothing like gator’s watching on a beach, hmmm?”
    “I think they’d call that gathering clues M’am.”

    If Ricardo hadn’t be so earnest, she would have slapped him in the face for his attempt at humour, but he was blissfully unaware of the unwanted irony and impertinence of his retort.

    You’re going soft… she mused to herself, while snapping electrical wires together making a splash of sparkles in the air. The makeshift interrogation room was ready.

    Ric’! Bring Sweet Sophie!”

    #4664
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Liz was watching Roberto through the French windows. Such a handsome chap, but always in the garden. He never seemed to go out on the town, never any indication of a date or a love interest. Such a waste!

    I must write a partner for him into the story, she decided.

    #4589
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The old woman picked up the box of giraffe shaped cookies from the supermarket shelf. She looked at the box wonderingly, bemused at why she’d chosen it. She almost put it back on the shelf, but a couple of tears had rolled off her nose and onto the package. She put it in her basket, sighing. She couldn’t very well put it back on the shelf now, not with her snot all over the box. What did it matter anyway, she thought, sniffing. Now that the Ministry of Transport building had burned down, what did it matter.

    “Is everything ok, love?” The old woman looked at the kind expression on the woman’s face, and started to sob. “Oh dear, whatever is the matter?” Maeve asked, noticing the giraffe shaped cookies illustrated on the damp packet.

    “It’s the terrible news!” the old woman replied. “The Ministry of Transport! That beautiful old building! Such a testament to man’s ingenuity! Gone, all gone!”

    “But it’s not the only one though is it?” replied Maeve, wondering if the old dear was a pew short of a cathedral. “I mean, there are others.”

    The old woman pulled her arm sharply away from Maeve’s gentle hand on her shoulder and glared at her.

    “How dare you say that! There’s nothing like it, anywhere!” and she strode off up the aisle, angry steps making a rat tat tat on the polished floor. Her outrage was such that she forgot to pay for the giraffe shaped cookies, and marched right out of the store.

    Jerk, who was watching from a security spying monitor, sighed, and heaved himself out of his seat. The one thing he hated the most about his job was apprehending decrepit old shoplifters. I bet she smells of cat wee and rancid cooking fat, he mumbled under his breath.

    “Oh hello, Jerk!” Maeve intercepted him on his route to the main doors in pursuit of the aged thief, noticing his disgruntled expression. “What’s up, you’re not upset about the Ministry of Transport building too, are you?”

    Nonplussed, Jerk stopped for a moment to consider the unexpected question, giving the elderly shoplifter time to hop on a bus (that symbol of man’s ingenuity) and make her escape.

    #4543
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    In the white silence of the mountains, Rukshan was on his knees on a yakult wool rug pouring blue sand from a small pouch on a tricky part of the mandala that looked like a small person lifting his arms upwards. Rukshan was just in the right state of mind, peaceful and intensely focused, in the moment.
    It was more instinct than intellect that guided his hands, and when he felt inside him something click, he stopped pouring the sand. He didn’t take the time to check if it was right, he trusted his guts.
    He held the pouch to his right and said: “White”. Olliver took the pouch of blue and replaced it with another. Rukshan resumed pouring and white sand flew in a thin stream on the next part of the mandala.

    After a few hours of the same routine, only broken by the occasional refreshments and drinks that Olliver brought him, the mandala was finished and Rukshan stood up to look at the result. He moved his shoulders to help relieve the tensions accumulated during the hard day of labor. He felt like an old man. His throat was dry with thirst but his eyes gleamed with joy at the result of hours of hard concentration.

    “It’s beautiful,” said Olliver with awe in his voice.
    “It is, isn’t it?” said Rukshan. He accepted a cup of warm and steaming yakult tea that Olliver handed him and looked at the boy. It was the first time that Olliver had spoken during the whole process.
    “Thanks, Olli,” said Rukshan, “you’ve been very helpful the whole time. I’m a little bit ashamed to have taken your whole time like that and make you stand in the cold without rest.”
    “Oh! Don’t worry,” said the boy, “I enjoyed watching you. Maybe one day you can teach me how to do this.”
    Rukshan looked thoughtfully at the boy. The mandala drew its power from the fae’s nature. There could certainly be no danger in showing the technique to the boy. It could be a nice piece of art.
    “Sure!” he said. “Once we are back. I promise to show you.”
    A smile bloomed on Olliver’s face.

    :fleuron:

    In the white silence of the mountain, Lhamom sat on a thick rug of yakult wool in front of a makeshift fireplace. She had finished packing their belongings, which were now securely loaded on the hellishcarpet, and decided it was cooking time. For that she had enrolled the young lad, Olliver, to keep her company instead of running around and disturbing Rukshan. The poor man… the poor manfae, Lhamom corrected, had such a difficult task that he needed all his concentration and peace of mind.

    Lhamom stirred the content of the cauldron in a slow and regular motion. She smiled because she was also proud of her idea of a screen made of yakult wool and bamboo poles, cut from the haunted bamboo forest. It was as much to protect from the wind as it was for the fae’s privacy and peace of mind.

    “It smells good,” said Olliver, looking with hungry eyes at what Lhamom was doing.
    “I know,” she said with pride. “It’s a specialty I learned during the ice trek.”
    “Can you teach me?” ask Olliver.
    “Yes, sure.” She winked. “You need a special blend of spiced roots, and use pootatoes and crabbage. The secret is to make them melt in yakult salted butter for ten minutes before adding the meat and a bucket of fresh snow.”

    They continued to cook and talk far all the afternoon, and when dusk came Lhamom heard Rukshan talk behind his screen. He must have finished the mandala, she thought. She smiled at Olliver, and she felt very pleased that she had kept the boy out of the manfae’s way.

    :fleuron:

    Fox listened to the white silence of the mountain during that brief moment, just after the dogs had made it clear, despite all the promises of food, that they would not help the two-leggeds with their plan.

    Fox sighed. For an instant, all felt still and quiet, all was perfectly where it ought to be.

    The instant was brief, quickly interrupted by a first growl, joined by a second and a third, and soon the entire pack of mountain dogs walked, all teeth out, towards a surrounded Fox. He looked around. There was no escape route. He had no escape plan. His stomach reminded him that instant that he was still sick. He looked at the mad eyes of the dogs. They hadn’t even left the bones from the meat he gave them earlier. He gulped in an attempt to remove the lump of anguish stuck in his throat. There would be no trace of him left either. Just maybe some red on the snow.

    He suddenly felt full of resolve and camped himself on his four legs; he would not go without a fight. His only regret was that he couldn’t help his friends go home.
    We’ll meet in another life, he thought. Feeling wolfish he howled in defiance to the dogs.
    They had stopped and were looking uncertain of what to do next. Fox couldn’t believe he had impressed them.

    “Come,” said a voice behind him. Fox turned surprised. On the pile of his clothes stood Olliver.
    How did you,” he yelped before remembering the boy could not understand him.
    “Hurry! I can teleport us back to the camp,” said the boy with his arms opened.

    Without a second thought Fox jumped in Olliver’s arms and the next thing he knew was that they were back at the camp. But something was off. Fox could see Rukshan busy making his mandala and Olliver was helping him with the sand. Then he could see Lhamom cooking with the help of another Olliver.
    Fox thought it might be some case of post teleportation confusion. He looked at the Olliver who helped him escape an imminent death, the fox head slightly tilted on the side, the question obvious in its eyes.
    “Please don’t tell them,” said Olliver, his eyes pleading. “It just happened. I felt a little forgotten and wanted so much to be useful.”

    Fox turned back into a human, too surprised to feel the bite of the cold air.
    “Oh! Your clothes,” said Olliver before he disappeared. Fox didn’t have time to clear his mind before the boy was back with the clothes.

    #4540
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Talking with the dogs. That’s what Fox had to do. Easier said than done, he thought scratching his head. His previous encounters with dogs were rather tumultuous and limited to being hunted down in the forest during a hunting party or being chased at the market because he had caught a hen. He had never really talked to dogs before, unless taunting counted of course.

    Rukshan had said it was urgent, but Fox found there were so many little things to do before, like tidying up the cave, putting some suncream on his sensitive red head skin, or trying to see if Lhamom needed help.

    But after some time, Fox realised he had to go eventually. Everyone else was busy with their own part of the plan. Rukshan was building the sand mandala on a flat surface that he and Olliver had cleared, and Lhamom was finishing a makeshift screen to protect the mandala from the wind with a few bamboo poles and rolls of fabrics she had found on her journey here. It was very colourful fabric with Bootanese patterns that Fox wouldn’t have used to cover a chair. It felt too busy for him.

    So, he went to see Lhamom as she was struggling to plant the last stick in the rocky ground.

    “Have you talked to the dogs? she asked.
    “Ehr, not yet,” mumbled Fox who felt a bit ashamed when Lhamom frowned. “I think I need to give some kind of present to the dogs and I was wondering if you had something suitable in your many bags.”
    “Oh! Sure. Can you finish that for me then?” she asked.
    “Sure,” said Fox. He replaced her with the bamboo stick and, as she was walking away, he shouted: “I don’t think chocolate will do this time.”
    “Oh! I know,” she said with a smile and a wink. It cheered Fox up a little bit, but a gush of wind called him back to his task of holding the pole. Once he secured it he put on an awkward smile, but noticed that Rukshan and Olliver were too busy to have noticed.

    Lhamom came back with a big ham which Fox thought was more than suitable. He thanked her and made a joke about leaving her with her pole that he thought afterword he should not have done and walked away from the camp in the crunchy snow.

    Fox had been aware that the dogs were observing him, and especially the big ham he was carrying. A few of them had begun to gather at a distance and they were beginning to whine, which attracted more of them. When he estimated he was far enough from the camp he put the ham down. He couldn’t transform into that many layers of clothes so he started to undress, watching wearily the dogs that were now growling.

    It was freezing outside and Fox was shocked by how skinny his body had become. He shivered badly and focused to change into his natural red fox. It took him a little bit longer than usual but when the fur grew and started to keep the warmth close to his body, he growled with pleasure. The world around him changed as his senses transformed. Colours were different and slightly less varied, sounds were more crisp and a profusion of noises he couldn’t hear as a human suddenly vied for his attention: the sound of the wind on the rocks, the harmonics of the dogs’ voices, and the scents… simply incomparable. He wished he had kept the ham for himself.

    “It’s a fox!” barked a voice.
    “Let’s kill it!” said another.
    “Where’s the two-legged gone?” asked a young dog.
    “Who cares? It brought us meat. It’s gone. Let’s eat!”

    Fox suddenly regretted he had made a full change.

    #4411
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Anna tapped on Godfrey’s door, pushed it open a crack, and informed him that she’d locked Elizabeth in the downstairs lavatory but was unsure if she’d be able to cajole her back to her bedroom.

    “Drat!” exclaimed Godfrey, “What on earth was she doing downstairs? You know I can’t bear seeing her when she’s sick! And why weren’t you watching her as I instructed?”

    “Well, I was, sir, but I heard a commotion outside by the pool. I was on my way to investigate, when I heard a loud knock on the front door. By the time I got there, Liz had answered it, so I slammed the door shut, and locked Liz in the lavatory, and came straight here for further instructions.”

    “Who was at the door?”

    Anna hadn’t noticed, but didn’t like to say. “Oh it was someone selling toasters only.”

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