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    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


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

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

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

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

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

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

      Zara water hole


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        From Tanganyika with Love

        continued part 8

        With thanks to Mike Rushby.

        Morogoro 20th January 1941

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


        Morogoro 30th July 1941

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


        Morogoro 26th August 1941

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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


        Morogoro 25th December 1941

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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


        Morogoro Hospital 30th September 1943

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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


        Morogoro 26th January 1944

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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


        Lyamungu 20th March 1944

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


        Lyamungu 15th May 1944

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


        Lyamungu 18th July 1944

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


        Lyamungu 16th August 1944

        Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


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

        Dearest Mummy,

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

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

        Very much love,

        Safari in Masailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Lyamungu 10th November. 1944

        Dearest Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Much love,



          From Tanganyika with Love

          continued  ~ part 6

          With thanks to Mike Rushby.

          Mchewe 6th June 1937

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

          With much love,

          Mchewe 25th June 1937

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

          Lots of love,

          Mchewe 9th July 1937

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


          Mchewe 8th October 1937

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


          Mchewe 17th October 1937

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


          Mchewe 18th November 1937

          My darling Ann,

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

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

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

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

          Mchewe 18th November 1937

          Hello George Darling,

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

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

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

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

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

          Mchewe 12th February, 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


          Mbulu 18th March, 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


          Mbulu 24th March, 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


          Mbulu 20th June 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


          Karatu 3rd July 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


          Karatu 12th July 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


          Oldeani. 19th July 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


          Oldeani. 10th August 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


          Oldeani. 20th August 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


          Oldeani Hospital. 9th September 1938

          Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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



            From Tanganyika with Love

            continued  ~ part 3

            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

            Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

            Very much love,

            Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

            Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

            your loving but anxious,

            Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

            Very much love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

            Lots and lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

            Who would be a mother!

            Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

            Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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


            Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Lots and lots of love,

            Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

            Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

            With love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

            With love to all,

            Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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


            Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

            Your very loving,

            Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

            Dearest Family,

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

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

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

            With love to all,


              From Tanganyika with Love


              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

              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

              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,

              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,

              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

              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,

              “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

              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

              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

              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

              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,

              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

              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,

              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

              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,

              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

              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

              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,

              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,

              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,

              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

              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.

              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,

              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,

              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

              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,

              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,

              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

              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,

              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,

              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,

              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

              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,

              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,

              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


                From Tanganyika with Love

                With thanks to Mike Rushby.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Much love my dear,
                your jubilant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Bless you all,

                S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Eleanor Leslie.

                Eleanor and George Rushby:

                Eleanor and George Rushby

                Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Your cave woman

                Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Much love to you all,

                Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Your loving

                Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Very much love,

                Mbeya 23rd December 1930

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

                26th December 1930

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

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

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

                Lots and lots of love,

                Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Your loving,

                Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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

                Very much love,

                Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

                Dearest Family,

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

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

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

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

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


                Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

                Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



                  Bakewell Not Eyam

                  The Elton Marshalls

                  Some years ago I read a book about Eyam, the Derbyshire village devastated by the plague in 1665, and about how the villagers quarantined themselves to prevent further spread. It was quite a story. Each year on ‘Plague Sunday’, at the end of August, residents of Eyam mark the bubonic plague epidemic that devastated their small rural community in the years 1665–6. They wear the traditional costume of the day and attend a memorial service to remember how half the village sacrificed themselves to avoid spreading the disease further.

                  My 4X great grandfather James Marshall married Ann Newton in 1792 in Elton. On a number of other people’s trees on an online ancestry site, Ann Newton was from Eyam.  Wouldn’t that have been interesting, to find ancestors from Eyam, perhaps going back to the days of the plague. Perhaps that is what the people who put Ann Newton’s birthplace as Eyam thought, without a proper look at the records.

                  But I didn’t think Ann Newton was from Eyam. I found she was from Over Haddon, near Bakewell ~ much closer to Elton than Eyam. On the marriage register, it says that James was from Elton parish, and she was from Darley parish. Her birth in 1770 says Bakewell, which was the registration district for the villages of Over Haddon and Darley. Her parents were George Newton and Dorothy Wipperley of Over Haddon,which is incidentally very near to Nether Haddon, and Haddon Hall. I visited Haddon Hall many years ago, as well as Chatsworth (and much preferred Haddon Hall).

                  I looked in the Eyam registers for Ann Newton, and found a couple of them around the time frame, but the men they married were not James Marshall.

                  Ann died in 1806 in Elton (a small village just outside Matlock) at the age of 36 within days of her newborn twins, Ann and James.  James and Ann had two sets of twins.  John and Mary were twins as well, but Mary died in 1799 at the age of three.

                  1796 baptism of twins John and Mary of James and Ann Marshall

                  Marshall baptism


                  Ann’s husband James died 42 years later at the age of eighty,  in Elton in 1848. It was noted in the parish register that he was for years parish clerk.

                  James Marshall


                  On the 1851 census John Marshall born in 1796, the son of James Marshall the parish clerk, was a lead miner occupying six acres in Elton, Derbyshire.

                  His son, also John, was registered on the census as a lead miner at just eight years old.


                  The mining of lead was the most important industry in the Peak district of Derbyshire from Roman times until the 19th century – with only agriculture being more important for the livelihood of local people. The height of lead mining in Derbyshire came in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the evidence is still visible today – most obviously in the form of lines of hillocks from the more than 25,000 mineshafts which once existed.

                  Peak District Mines Historical Society

                  Smelting, or extracting the lead from the ore by melting it, was carried out in a small open hearth. Lead was cast in layers as each batch of ore was smelted; the blocks of lead thus produced were referred to as “pigs”. Examples of early smelting-hearths found within the county were stone lined, with one side open facing the prevailing wind to create the draught needed. The hilltops of the Matlocks would have provided very suitable conditions.

                  The miner used a tool called a mattock or a pick, and hammers and iron wedges in harder veins, to loosen the ore. They threw the ore onto ridges on each side of the vein, going deeper where the ore proved richer.

                  Many mines were very shallow and, once opened, proved too poor to develop. Benjamin Bryan cited the example of “Ember Hill, on the shoulder of Masson, above Matlock Bath” where there are hollows in the surface showing where there had been fruitless searches for lead.

                  There were small buildings, called “coes”, near each mine shaft which were used for tool storage, to provide shelter and as places for changing into working clothes. It was here that the lead was smelted and stored until ready for sale.

                  Lead is, of course, very poisonous. As miners washed lead-bearing material, great care was taken with the washing vats, which had to be covered. If cattle accidentally drank the poisoned water they would die from something called “belland”.

                  Cornish and Welsh miners introduced the practice of buddling for ore into Derbyshire about 1747.  Buddling involved washing the heaps of rubbish in the slag heaps,  the process of separating the very small particles from the dirt and spar with which they are mixed, by means of a small stream of water. This method of extraction was a major pollutant, affecting farmers and their animals (poisoned by Belland from drinking the waste water), the brooks and streams and even the River Derwent.

                  Women also worked in the mines. An unattributed account from 1829, says: “The head is much enwrapped, and the features nearly hidden in a muffling of handkerchiefs, over which is put a man’s hat, in the manner of the paysannes of Wales”. He also describes their gowns, usually red, as being “tucked up round the waist in a sort of bag, and set off by a bright green petticoat”. They also wore a man’s grey or dark blue coat and shoes with 3″ thick soles that were tied round with cords. The 1829 writer called them “complete harridans!”

                  Lead Mining in Matlock & Matlock Bath, The Andrews Pages

                  John’s wife Margaret died at the age of 42 in 1847.  I don’t know the cause of death, but perhaps it was lead poisoning.  John’s son John, despite a very early start in the lead mine, became a carter and lived to the ripe old age of 88.

                  The Pig of Lead pub, 1904:

                  The Pig of Lead 1904


                  The earliest Marshall I’ve found so far is Charles, born in 1742. Charles married Rebecca Knowles, 1775-1823.  I don’t know what his occupation was but when he died in 1819 he left a not inconsiderable sum to his wife.

                  1819 Charles Marshall probate:

                  Charles Marshall Probate



                  There are still Marshall’s living in Elton and Matlock, not our immediate known family, but probably distantly related.  I asked a Matlock group on facebook:

                  “…there are Marshall’s still in the village. There are certainly families who live here who have done generation after generation & have many memories & stories to tell. Visit The Duke on a Friday night…”

                  The Duke, Elton:

                  Duke Elton


                    “Let’s begin,” said the teacher. She was short and seemed around sixty seven. She walked around the room like a tamer surrounded by wild beasts in a circus. Her dark hair was tied into a long braid falling on her straight back like an I. She wore a sari wrapped around her neatly. “I’m Ms Anika Koskinen, your cryogurt teacher today. You’ve got the recipe in front of you on the benches right with the glass and a bottle of water. The ingredients will be in the cabinets on your left and everything is referenced and written big enough for everyone to see.”

                    “Those benches look like the ones in chemistry class when I was in college,” said Glo. “I have bad memories of thoses.”

                    “You have bad memories, that’s all,” said Sha making them both laugh.

                    “But where’s Mavis?” whispered Glo after looking around the room at the other participants. A majority of women,  wrapped in colourful sarongs and a few older men.

                    “How do you want me to know? I was with you since we left the bungalow,” said Sharon who was trying to decipher the blurry letters on the recipe. “Their printer must be malfunctioning, it’s unreadable.”

                    “You should try putting on your glasses.”

                    “I didn’t bring’em, didn’t think we’d need to see anything.”

                    “Oh! There she is,” said Glo as Mavis just entered the room with her beach bag. “Mav! Weehoo! We’re here!”

                    “I saw you! no need to shout,” whispered Mavis loudly. She muttered some excuse to the teacher who had been giving them a stern look.

                    “I’m afraid you’ll have to go with your friends,” said Ms Koskinen, “We don’t have enough material for everyone.”

                    “Oh! That’ll be perfect,” said Mavis with a broad smile. “Hi girls,” she said while installing herself near Sha and Glo.

                    The teacher resumed her explanations of the procedure of making frozen yogurt, checking regularly if everyone had understood. She took everyone bobbing their head as a yes.

                    “Is he good looking?” asked Sha, showing one of the men who had been looking at them since Mavis arrival.

                    “You shouldn’t ask us,” said Glo, “our eyes are like wrinkles remover apps.”

                    “I think he looks better without glasses,” said Mavis.

                    After Ms Koskinen had finished giving them instructions, she told everyone to go take the ingredients and bring them back to their benches.

                    “I’m going,” said Sha who wanted to have a better look at the man.

                    “Don’t forget the recipe with the list of ingredients,” said Mavis waving the paper at her.

                    “Oh! Yes.”

                    She came back with the man helping her carry the tray of ingredients.

                    “Thank you Andrew,” said Sha when he put the tray on their bench.

                    “Oh you’re welcome. And those are your friend you told me about?”

                    “Yes! This is Gloria and this is Mavis.”

                    “Pleased to meet you,” said Andrew. “I’m Andrew Anderson. I suggested Sharon we could have lunch together after the workshop. I’d like you to meet my friends.”

                    “Of course!” said Sha. She winked at her friends who were too flabbergasted to speak.

                    “That’s settled then. We’ll meet at 1pm at my bungalow.”

                    “See you later,” said Sharon with a dulcet voice.

                    “What the butt was that all about?” asked Glo.

                    “Oh! You’ll thank me. I pretexted not to be able to find everything on the list and Andrew was very helpful. The man is charming, and his yacht makes you forget about his Australian accent. We’re going to have lunch on a yacht girls! That means we’re not stuck on the beach and can have some fun exploring around.”

                    Sha looked quite pleased with herself. She put a bottle of orange powder among the ingredients and said :”Now! Let’s make some wrinkle flattener ice cream, ladies. I took some extra tightener.”


                      Aunt Idle:

                      Oddly enough, I was optimistic about the new year. First of all, it was novel to even realize it was a new year.  And what a tonic it was to have Finly back!   And not just because of the dusting, although it was a pleasure to see a bit of sparkle about the place where she’d spruced things up.  Even Mater had a new spring in her step. She said it was the chocolates, one a day she said was better than any vitamins. I’d eaten all mine the day Sanso and Finly and the others had arrived (and regretted it) but Mater had hidden her box to savour them slowly and secretly.  I remarked to her more than once that she should have the decency to wipe the chocolate off her lips before coming downstairs, gloating because all mine were gone.  But it was nice to see her happy.

                      It was a funny thing with chocolate, I’d forgotten all about it. It wasn’t like I’d spent years craving it, and yet when I unwrapped (gift wrapped! oh, the memories!) the box Sanso gave me, it all came flooding back. I popped one in my mouth and closed my eyes, savouring the slow melt, ecstatic at the way it enveloped me in it’s particular sweet charm.

                      I felt so sick afterwards though that I was left with the thought that there was something to be said for a simple life with few opportunities for indulgence.  I hadn’t felt that sick since the plague.

                      I was glad I’d worn that old red dress when Sanso arrived, and just a little disappointed when he left before my seduction plans reached fruition.  I did try, but he had a knack of dematerializing whenever I got close enough to make a move. Disconcerting it was, but it kept me on my toes. Literally, in those high heeled red shoes.  I twisted my ankle on the damn things and been limping ever since. Oh but it was worth it.

                      And the champagne! I asked Sanso where he found it and he said that was Finly’s work, she’s got it from the water larks.

                      Finly! What water larks, where? Did you see…? I was almost afraid to ask. Had she seen the twins?

                      Yes, she said, with a smug and enigmatic smile. But that’s a story for later, she said.  Maddening creature that she is, she still hasn’t told me about it. She will when she’s finished cleaning, she said.


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

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

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

                        “That woman’s lost her marbles!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                        Lucinda, where is this going?”

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

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


                          Once he’d finished to tell the story, and let the kids go back to the cottage for the night, Rukshan’s likeness started to vanish from the place, and his consciousness slowly returned to the place where his actual body was before projecting.

                          Being closer to the Sacred Forest enhanced his capacities, and where before he could just do sneak peeks through minutes of remote viewing, he could now somehow project a full body illusion to his friends. He’d been surprised that Fox didn’t seem to notice at all that he wasn’t truly there. His senses were probably too distracted by the smells of food and chickens.

                          He’d wanted to check on his friends, and make sure they were alright, but it seemed his path ahead was his own. He realized that the finishing of the loo was not his own path, and there was no point for him to wait for the return of the carpenter. That work was in more capable hands with Glynis and her magic.

                          His stomach made an indiscreet rumbling noise. It was not like him to be worried about food, but he’d gone for hours without much to eat. He looked at his sheepskin, and the milk in it had finally curdled. He took a sip of the whey, and found it refreshing. There wouldn’t be goats to milk in this part of the Forest, as they favored the sharp cliffs of the opposite site. This and a collection of dried roots would have to do until… the other side.

                          To find the entrance wasn’t too difficult, once you understood the directions offered by the old map he’d recovered.

                          He was on the inner side of the ringed protective enclosures, so now, all he needed was to get into the inner sanctum of the Heartwood Forest, who would surely resist and block his path in different ways.

                          “The Forest is a mandala of your true nature…”

                          He turned around. Surprised to see Kumihimo there.

                          “Don’t look surprised Fae, you’re not the only one who knows these parlor tricks.” She giggled like a young girl.

                          “of my nature?” Rukshan asked.

                          “Oh well, of yours, and anybody’s for that matter. It’s all One you, see. The way you see it, it represents yourself. But it would be true for anybody, there aren’t any differences really, only in the one who sees.”

                          She reappeared behind his back, making him turn around. “So tell me,” she said “what do you see here?”

                          “It’s where the oldest and strongest trees have hardened, it’s like a fence, and a… a memory?”

                          “Interesting.” She said “What you say is true, it’s memory, but it’s not dead like you seem to imply. It’s hardened, but very much alive. Like stone is alive. The Giants understood that. And what are you looking for?”

                          “An entrance, I guess. A weak spot, a crack, a wedge?”

                          “And why would you need that? What if the heart was the staircase itself? What if in was out and down was up?”

                          Rukshan had barely time to mouth “thank you” while the likeness of the Braid Seer floated away. She’d helped him figure out the entrance. He touched one of the ring of the hard charred trees. They were pressed together, all clomped in a dense and large enclosure virtually impossible to penetrate. His other memories told him the way was inside, but his old memories were misleading.
                          Branches were extending from the trunks, some high and inaccessible, hiding the vision of the starry sky, some low, nearly indistinguishable from old gnarled roots. If you looked closely, you could see the branches whirring around like… Archimedes Screw. A staircase?

                          He jumped on a branch at his level, which barely registered his weight. The branch was dense and very slick, polished by the weathering of the elements, with the feel of an old leather. He almost lost his balance and scrapped his hands between the thumb and the index.

                          “Down is up?”

                          He spun around the branch, his legs wrapped around the branch. He expected his backpack to drag him towards the floor, but strangely, even if from his upside-down perspective, it was floating above him, it was as if it was weightless.

                          He decided to take a chance. Slowly, he hoisted himself towards his floating bag, and instead of falling, it was as though the branch was his ground. Now instead of a spiral staircase around the trees leading to heavens, it was the other side of the staircase that spiraled downwards to the starry night.

                          With his sheepskin and back still hovering, he started to climb down the branches towards the Giants’ land.


                            Tak didn’t like school at first. It was only at the insistance of Glynis that he had to socialize that he tried to put some effort in it. He didn’t know what socializing meant, one of these strange concepts humans invented to explain the world, but if Glynis thought highly of this socializing, he had to give it a try, whatever it was.

                            Rather quickly, he’d managed to make friends. He didn’t realize it at first, but his new friends were all a bit desperate, and more or less called freeks or something. He wasn’t sure he deserved to be called a freek, but he was going to try hard at this too.
                            “You don’t have to try hard”, his new friend Nesy told him “I think you’re a natural at this.” Nesy’s name was really Nesingwarys which is really hard to pronounce, so she told him to call her Nesy. She had dark and white hair, shining like a magpie’s feather coat, and dark blue eyes that were both kind and ferocious at the same time.

                            “Don’t mind the others, they’re all ignorant peasants, or worse, ignorant spawns of the bourgeois elite.” She’d told him. Tak had opined silently, not wanting to show that he wasn’t sure about the meaning of all the shiny new words. He suspected Nesy to like shiny words like magpies were attracted to precious shiny stuff.
                            When she was staying at the cottage, Margoritt also liked to teach him shiny new words, but he would only taste them and forget — to him they were more like sweet food for his tongue than shiny stuff to keep.
                            When it came to stuff, Nesy had rather simple tastes. She showed him some little clay statues she’d made, and kept carefully wrapped in a small felt satchel. They had all sorts of funny faces, she was really talented. They reminded him of Gorrash, so it almost made him cry.
                            Tears were a magnet for nasty kids, so he knew better than to let them out, but Nesy had noticed, and squeezed his hand for comfort.

                            He liked the other freeks too. They seemed to understand him, and he didn’t have to use his hypnotic powers for that. Glynis had told him not to use his powers at school, otherwise he wouldn’t learn anything. Aunt Eleri had disagreed with that, but she disagreed with everyone.

                            “You should come visit at my home” he said to her spontaneously “I want to show you the baby snoots, now they’re almost grown up, but they look funny and pretty, especially when they eat Glynis’ potions.”


                              It’s been only a day since I arrived, and I’m already over it. Nothing seems to have changed. What a drag this place is.

                              Only Mater keeps surprising. She was a bit more emotional and hermitical than usual. Didn’t think those two cursors could move with her, but I guess she’s still has it in her.
                              Aunt Dido said she’ll croak one day, and we’ll find her having spent her last breath lying in a fresh dug hole in the ground. I don’t know if that was her idea of a bad joke or a veiled menace, there’s no telling when she’s been smoking.

                              Bert was all busy with things to repair and prepare, we barely had time to talk since I arrived. What a crowd-pleaser he’s become, don’t know what he gets out of this one-sided deal, with Dido having him wrapped around her fingers like this.

                              That funny Dido is all over the place, and nowhere to be found, as usual. She said we’ll be expecting guests. She probably was high as a kite. Would be a first since ages.
                              I wonder what would drag people here, it’s not like the place is on any maps, or on the way to a tourist spot. But who knows what instant instapound fame can do to lure people in the oddest spots… Been reading articles about those nincompoops going to severely polluted place to take selfies in front of azure acidic water pretending to be on Bora Bora. Wouldn’t be surprising if Clove or Corrie had started a trend on flabber just to prank us. Like using ///digger.unusually.playfully to send people in the middle of nowhere in search for gold…

                              There were some leftovers in the fridge. I was ravenous, and almost ate all of the funky shredded chicken. Smokey taste, but okay. Finly had an horrified look on her face when she came back with the supplies, probably the shock of seeing me all grown up now.


                                She needn’t have worried about being distracted by dolls at the market, as there were no dolls there anyway. Lucinda chose a statue for her friends birthday present, a squat grey character with gargoyle features. She heartily regretted her choice, for the weight of it was not inconsiderable, and she had a further two bus journeys to make, and then a walk of some distance.

                                What she hadn’t expected was to find another doll at the party. Lucinda nearly choked when the birthday girl opened the long soft present wrapped in shiny silver foil.


                                  The City of the Seven Hills wasn’t a pleasant city by many aspects, but at any time of the year, it was a sight to behold.

                                  Margoritt was walking with force into the streets, a warm shawl wrapped around her head like she’d seen the nomads do in the deserts, equipped with odd dark specs she’d made herself ages ago with twisted copper wires and cut bottle bottoms blackened over the smoke of dead branches from the Ancient Forest when she’d started to stay there for her escapades over the years. She liked how the narrowed down vision from the dark specs made the reflection of the sun over the tall white buildings less blinding.

                                  It was the time of year where the first colds started to take the land by surprise, and it was more enjoyable to stay in the City rather than in her lodge. She was glad to let her little company of friends remain there, so she had the blacksmith make a few duplicates of the key. It was merely a symbolic gesture, after all, the front door’s lock had never worked.

                                  “It’s going to be the Sprites’ Summer, what a shame…” she liked to talk, but in the City, people didn’t pay much attention to each others, so she could speak to herself, and nobody would care. Sprites’ Summer was that blessed time when the Forest started to change colours and pare itself in gold before the biting colds would strip the trees down to their bare branches and bark. She loved the Forest this time of the year, but she had to come back with Mr Minn when he’d come to check on her. Her knees were painful, and she needed some needle work done on them. Only in the City could you find the best needlepractors.


                                    “Good lord, is that little dog still coughing?” Eleri asked, disentangling herself from Alexandria’s dreadlocks which had wrapped themselves around her bowler hat as they embraced and kissed a greeting. “After all this time?”

                                    “He’s been waiting for you to come home,” Alexandria said reproachfully, making Eleri feel guilty and defensive.

                                    “I had a terrible bout of memory flu, and forgot all about him,” she replied with a pang in the region of her heart. How on earth did I completely forget I left that little dog here? she wondered.

                                    “Well, never mind,” Alexandria said, softening. “He’s been well looked after, and I’ve enjoyed staying here while you’ve been away. I’ve been wondering if you’d mind if I stayed on here, what with all the trouble with Leroway. Makes me feel ill, all that division and fighting; I just don’t want to go back.”

                                    Eleri beamed at her old friend. “I think that would work out perfectly! That little dogs cough isn’t driving you mad, though?”

                                    “Oh he does a bit, sure, but there are worse things in life, eh,” she said with a rueful grin. “But come, you must be hungry and thirsty after your journey home, come inside, come inside.”


                                      The next morning Fox woke up exhausted. He was surprised he could even sleep at all. The sound of someone walking in the snow filled in his ears and he looked around him. There was nobody in the cave with him, except for one little rat looking at him from the top of a bag of food. Fox shooed it away with wide movements of his arms and he regretted immediately when all the warmth kept under the blankets dissolved in the cold morning air. But he noticed there was improvement in his health as he felt hungry.

                                      He decided it was no good being lazy in a bed and put on a few more layers of clothes. He took some dry oatcakes from the bag where the rat had looked at him earlier, and made sure they were securely wrapped before he left the cave.

                                      The air was clear and crisp, and the ground had been covered in a thick layer of blinding white snow. The brightness hurt Fox’s eyes and he had to cover then with his hands. He walked towards Rukshan’s voice and his heart leaped in his chest when he recognised their friend Lhamom. She had come at last. She looked at Fox.

                                      “You look dreadful,” she said. “It is time I got to you.”
                                      “Yes,” said Fox, and he was surprised that this simple word could carry such great relief.

                                      That’s when Fox noticed the big old spoon Lhamom had in her hands.

                                      “This is the magical artefact we were looking for. I found it on my way to see you and fortunately I had chocolate bars with me that I could trade for it with the monks.”

                                      Fox’s stomach growled. Maybe he would have preferred she kept the chocolate.

                                      “Does that mean that we can go home?” asked Fox, a tear in his eyes.

                                      Rukshan gave his friend a strange look before answering.

                                      “Yes. We are going… home.”


                                        Shawn-Paul exited Finn’s Bakery on the crowded Cobble street with his precious cargo of granola cookies. They were wrapped in a cute purple box pommeled with pink hearts. He put on a disdainful attitude, adjusting his scarf for better effect, while already salivating in anticipation of the granola melting in his hot chocolate at home. He was sure that would revive his fleeting inspiration for his novel.
                                        It was hard not to swallow as saliva accumulated in his mouth, but he had had years of practices since he was eight. His aunt Begonia had just given him a snicker bar that he had swallowed in one gulp, spreading some chocolate on his face in the process. She had accused him of being a dirty little piglet and he was so upset of being compared to the animal, that he had vowed to never show his love for food again. Instead he developed a public dislike of food and a slender frame quite fitting his bohemian lifestyle, while always having some cookies in store.

                                        Shawn-Paul turned right on Quagmire street. It was bordered with Plane trees that kept it cool and bearable in summer. He was thinking about the suggestion of his writing coach to spend some time with his artist self, thinking that he had not done it for quite some time, but immediately felt guilty about not writing and firmed his resolution to go back home and write. He walked past a group of two elder woman and a man arguing in front of Liz’s Antique. One of the woman had a caved in mouth and used her hands profusely to make her point to the man. She was wearing pink slippers with pompon.

                                        Italian tourists, Shawn-Paul thought rolling his eyes.

                                        He swallowed and almost choked on his saliva when he glimpsed an improbable reflection on the Antique’s window. A woman, smiling and waving at him from a branch of a plane tree behind him, balancing her legs. He particularly noticed her feet and the red sandals, the rest of the body was a blur.

                                        As Shawn-Paul turned, the toothless Italian tourist whirled her arms about like an inflated tubewoman, frightening a nearby sparrow. The bird took off and followed a curve around Shawn-Paul. Caught together in a twirl worthy of the best dervishes, the man and the bird connected in one of those perfect moment that Shawn-Paul would long but fail to transcribe into words afterwards.

                                        There was no woman in the tree. A male dog stopped to mark his territory. A bit disappointed and confused, Shawn-Paul felt the need to talk.

                                        “Did you see her?” he asked the Italian tourists. They stopped arguing and looked at him suspiciously for a moment. “She was right there with her red sandals,” he said showing the branch where he was sure she had sat. “I saw her in the window,” he felt compelled to add, not sure if they understood him.

                                        The other tourist woman, who had all her teeth, rolled her eyes and pointed behind him.

                                        “There’s a woman in red right over there!” she said with a chanting accent.

                                        Shawn-Paul turned and just had the time to glimpse a woman dressed all in red, skirt, vest, hat and sandals before she disappeared at the corner of Fortune street.

                                        Moved by a sudden impulse and forgetting all about his writing, he thanked the tourist and ran after the red woman.


                                          Jerk Munkinn closed his laptop and sighed. It had been a while he’d looked into the Group. So long actually, he’d felt a pinch in his chest when he’d realized so many of his friends had departed.
                                          “Must have to do with the gettin’ old, eh”.

                                          Truly, that was a bit of a let down, when you thought of how so many of them tried hard to be chirpy and funny all the time. Exhausting really, like living with kaleidoscopic glasses shooting rainbows in your optic nerve all the time. No wonder some got depressed and left, virtually or for real. Even he could feel the withdrawal effects at times.
                                          The new joiners were active too, but that didn’t feel the same, he couldn’t bother to get involved any longer.

                                          A few days ago, there had been a renewed noisy agitation on the Woowoo group. Nothing unusual, he’d first thought, these things tend to go in stress cycles, losing a little more steam at each turn.

                                          It was not obvious in the beginning, but as he was almost done rolling more and more of the same tiring feelgood stuff, he caught a vaporous idea. Something lying behind. The slow revelation of the loops everyone was caught in. The tearing of the veil of disguise everyone was so wrapped up in. What was he, without that veil?

                                          For a moment, the door of understanding was there, at hand’s reach, and it went out of focus and moved away.

                                          A red flash caught his attention in his periphery. Seemed just the lights in the street, but of course he would know better. “Tonttu” his crazy aunt would have said.
                                          Trickster, or distraction at best. He chose to ignore it, focusing instead on the white noise of the rain falling on the awning, while he got to sleep. Tomorrow was Monday. Only one week of work and he could go back home.


                                            “I brought you a present Liz,” said Finnley, looking relaxed and sun kissed. “From my holidays. I hope you like it!” she added, proffering a small gaudily wrapped gift.

                                            “Where have you been?” asked Liz, with a beady glare of suspicion. “Why am I the last to know?”

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