Letter to Mother, 27th February 1900



My dearest Mother

I think it is your turn for a letter this week. I don’t seem to have written to you for some time. I have just been writing to Katie, and I have also got through a very lengthy epistle to Gwen. She wrote to me for my birthday so I thought I would send her an account of everything as I have not written to her before. When my photos come I will send you off some at once and I want you to send off one to Gwen for me. I know she will like it and I don’t think I have ever given her anything except a midget.

I wish you could see my sitting room. It really does not look at all bad now we have got the curtains up to hide the bedroom part of it. The curtain is cretonne, a soft blue with little bunches of cornflowers, poppies and daisies all over it. Then we have a square carpet in shades of brown rather like the sort we used to have in Dad’s little room, only without the fringe.

I am thankful to say we have got our Tats at last. Tats are sort of sun blinds made of thin strips of bamboo threaded together. You always have them on verandahs to keep the sun out and also people seeing in. It has been rather horrid here because of the mill people passing. Of course they are a good way off and being upstairs they can’t see very much, but you sort of feel you are being watched, which would not suit you at all, would it? To have a row of nearly naked savages gaping at you having early tea would make my mother unhappy, I’m quite sure. I often pine to make a long nose at them but I think the sarcasm would be wasted.

George is inclined to be anxious about Lottie. He says if they don’t look out, she will get into a bad way. Tell Amy I showed him her letter and he quite agrees with all her remarks. He wrote to his mother last week what he calls a ‘stinker’. I only hope she will show it to Ethel and Jessie. He is tremendously down on both of them, says Ethel ought to be ashamed of herself to sponge on her mater as she does. He says she has refused one or two good offers of places simply because she did not care for them, did not like the neighbourhood or some rot like that. And he is very down on Jessie’s missionary idea too. He says the Salter’s money is given with the chief idea of helping the Mother. Jessie has had a good education given her so that she can earn her own living and in that way helping her mother by making herself independent of her.

As for Lottie, George says she has been shoved on too fast, her bodily strength is not equal to her brain. He says they ought not to think of letting her go in for that exam for another two if not three years. She can earn quite sufficient with her present certificates and even if she did pass, she is not fit to take a responsible post. It would only mean her breaking down after a little while. He says that being in that place in Scotland is what has made Lottie so delicate. She went when she was 17 first, when she wanted feeding up, and instead of that had to work very hard and did not get enough to eat. He wanted her to come away long before she did and considers his mother very much to blame for not making her. Now the effect of it is coming out and she ought to take things very easily for some time. I think it is a shame; there is Ethel as strong as a horse doing nothing while Lottie has been slaving.

It is a little cooler here today. It was dreadfully hot on Sunday. It rained a little in the night but not enough and all day it was a sort of damp heat which was not nice. However, it rained hard and thundered in the evening and that made it much cooler. My bites are not much better. I have started putting carbonate of soda on instead of ammonia. I think it is a little better. I think the little ants bite as well as I get bitten in the day and the mosquitos only come out at night.

Last night I did have a fright as I was going to bed. George had just gone downstairs as he was going to the mill. I happened to look on the bed and I saw a big thing with legs in the middle of the sheet. I could not see very well because of the curtains but it was about two inches long and I thought it looked just like a scorpion. I yelled to George and he came tearing back and we called the boy. But it was only a very large grasshopper, a dark brown colour. It made me feel quite creepy. And then when I was drying myself after my bath, a frog fell down from the top of the wall onto my sponge and I do hate frogs. I seemed doomed to be frightened last night. It is not all beer and skittles having a space in between the top of the wall and the roof. It lets in many things besides air.

Well, I must shut up as it is post time and I must send my letters down to the office.

Shrove Tuesday! How quickly Lent has come round. The ‘boy’ makes most delicious pancakes.

Lots of love and kisses

From Mab.


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