sophieduffy

writing, reading, family, life, politics

Letter to Mother, 24.01.00

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Veyangoda
Ceylon
21.1.00

My dearest Mother

I was so glad to hear from Amy that you were just a tiny, scrap better but it does not sound much all the same. You are a wicked old woman to go and get ill, and I only hope you are better by now. And the Aunts too, I hope they have got over their manifold afflictions.

I also most sincerely hope you have got a servant, it must be awful for you with the weather so cold. It makes me feel piggish to be luxuriating here.

We are going to move next week if all goes well. Monday and Tuesday we shall pack up, and on Wednesday the things will go off in bullock wagons under charge of the ‘boy’ and his satellites. They ought to arrive at Horekelly on Friday morning and I expect we shall get there that same evening. We shall go to Colombo on Wednesday and come on by coach on Friday, leaving at 7 am and arriving at Horekelly at 5 o’clock. I expect I shall be pretty well tired out as the coaches are not very comfortable. We stop halfway for breakfast, so that will make a little rest. George is very anxious and keeps on saying ‘I know you will be dreadfully tired’ in a doleful voice. He treats me as a very frail reed, and spoils me almost as much as you and Amy do, waiting on me hand and foot. In those ways, he has improved tremendously since he came out, he is much better in doing little things than he used to be.

I had to leave off then as first George came home and then the little black clergyman arrived to call. He is a very nice little man and can talk English quite well. He is only a deacon and the Vicar, who also has a living in Colombo, comes over once a month for communion. He came to see me on Saturday and I liked him very much. He is a native but white, what they call a burgher, a mixture of black and white.

Interval for dinner

There is a tremendous thunder storm going on. We had one tremendous crash while we were at dinner and then I thought it had left off and just now I wandered into the verandah to look at the rain and there came an enormous flash of lightning and the thunder exactly with it right over head. I have never heard a clap quite so loud before. I was quite paralysed for a second, and then simply flung myself onto George for protection. He says he does not remember ever hearing such a loud clap before. It is still thundering but only ordinary so to speak and I don’t mind it, but I hope it does not go on all night.

I don’t believe I have ever told you what wedding presents George has had. Of course, Maggie’s and Percy’s you know about, it is awfully nice but I only just had one peep the night we arrived and somehow could not take it in much, but there are knives in it, large and small I think. Then the boy who was going to be his best man and then got ill, Walter, gave him a picture, a very pretty girl’s head, but I have forgotten what it is called. Mr and Mrs Waldrock (the manager at Colombo) gave him a lamp, and Mr Masefield (the man here) a butter dish, oak and silver, a fern pot, and a photo of himself and bungalow. Another man, Mr Bolton gave him a set of silver afternoon tea spoons and tongs, such jolly ones. We are well off for teaspoons as that makes eighteen silver ones, besides a dozen in Maggie’s chest. Then the day before we were married, there came a little silver pepper pot from Vi and Reggie Saunders, and a few days afterward, a dozen Indian sort of d’oyleys from Colonel and Mrs Fanshawe, the married Miss Saunders.

My two boys on the ‘Rome’ have also sent me presents. Mr Wren some Maltese lace d’oyleys and Mr Renny a lovely table centre, white satin all worked in silver wire sort of stuff and an Indian tea cosy, worked in thick gold. Wasn’t it nice of them? I am going to send them my photograph as soon as I get it. The proofs came today and also our wedding ones. The big group is very good, but the one of George and I alone is too awful for words. We are going to have the negative and everything destroyed. I simply tower over George in that beastly hat. The ones of me are not at all bad, one is rather good, better than usual. We shall send you some of both as soon as we get them, but they are very slow here and we can’t see about them until we go in the shop next Thursday.

I am so glad our ‘boy’ will come with us to Horekelly. George was rather afraid he wouldn’t and I was dreading having to cope with a new one. This one looks after everything so well and is strictly honest. He takes great interest in me and likes giving me new things to eat. George was afraid he might not like him getting married but he seems rather proud of it and told George he was used to looking after ladies. They all call George ‘Master’ and me ‘Lady’. It sounded so funny at first. The boy has got a nice little ‘House coolie’ who can talk English and will come to Horekelly but I don’t think he has got any others yet, but I expect he will manage it all right. A ‘House coolie’ helps wait at table and cleans silver etc and is like a parlour maid, and is supposed to be ready to come whenever I call him. The ‘kitchen coolie’ washes up, and sweeps the rooms, does washstands and baths.

Thursday 8.30 am.

The ‘boy’ is gong to Colombo for a holiday today and coming back tomorrow morning. His wife and family live there but I don’t think he sees them very often. He is quite a middle-aged man and has grown up children. This evening we are going to dine with Mr Masefield. He has his sister staying with him. They are not bad sort of people in their way, although I should not exactly care to get intimate with them. I am hoping I shall like the manager at Horekelly. He is a burgher too, his name is Van Dort, of Dutch extraction as so many are here. He is quite young and George likes him very well, so I expect I shall too. It would be awkward if I didn’t, as he lives quite close so we are bound to see a certain amount of him and if we play games or anything it would be so mean not to ask him in. I expect he is very glad to have us as Mr Harbro is the sort of person who never does anything at all, but just sits in a long chair in the verandah and won’t take any kind of exercise. They all hate him and Mr Masefield is awfully sad at the prospect of having him here.

I wonder how Eddie Goddard will get on at the war? It is nice and plucky of him to go but aren’t Mr and Mrs Goddard dreadfully cut up abut it? Why doesn’t that cowardly little Ronald go and try to be of some use in the world? I think all loafers ought to be compelled to go. It would be a case of kill or cure and would prove if they have any pluck at all. Our Ceylon contingent leaves next Thursday and as we are in Colombo that day we hope we may see them off. They are sending 120 and they had no end of applications, ever so many more than they wanted. They are cavalry, so were obliged to ride well.

We had cocoa for ‘early tea’ this morning and used Walter Lovett’s silver jug. It looks awfully nice on the table. The ‘boy’ likes to have everything nice, and is very pleased when I give him out new things, but I have not got out much at present. He always makes the table look very pretty for breakfast and dinner, with lots of flowers. We’re using Miss Willis’ table centre for breakfast and Lucy Greenwood’s for dinner at present. Well, I must finish this up as the ‘boy’ is going to take it when he goes. Will you ask Amy to tell Florence that her photo came on Monday and thank her very much for it and the frame. I have not time to write to her this week, if she won’t mind only having a message.

Lots of love and kisses to everybody from Mab.

Mabel Gillespy!! It sounds so funny, doesn’t it?

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4 thoughts on “Letter to Mother, 24.01.00

  1. Great fun to eaves drop on a conversation.(Oh my, it’s pouring buckets of rain here at the moment.) Interesting to hear Mabs describe her daily life as a newly wed.Thanks Sophie for sharing these letters.Love them!

  2. Lovely to hear Mab again – I had missed her! These letters are fun but also what an amazing insight to her daily life. Very precious indeed.

  3. Glad you missed her. About to do the next one…

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