Letter from Mab to her sister, Tommie

Madampe
N.W.P.
Ceylon
Monday march 5th, 1900

Dearest Tommie

Of course our letters have to go this afternoon just because we shan’t get yours till this evening, we always just miss them. While I think of it, always put Madampe, N.W.P. on your letters. Horekelly doesn’t matter as it is only the name of the estate. The N. W. P. is necessary because there is another Madampe somewhere else.

I have got what I call a suppressed cold and feel stooped in consequence. I have got just the sort of feeling that you have in your head and nose and eyes when you have a bad cold, but that is all, it is only feelings and nothing else. I suppose that’s how they take you in the tropics. George is very delicious. I found him this morning solemnly looking in a little medical book he has got to see if they said anything about a suppressed cold, and every morning, the instant he wakes up he says ‘Does your head feel better?’ It is pretty well all right this morning. George quite thought he told you about the doctor being close when he wrote to you.

We went out in the launch twice yesterday, morning and evening, and it was very jolly, but it is a quaint little boat. We went quite a nice long way in the morning, right out of the canal into the open lagoon and the scenery was quite Englishy, no cocoa-nut trees, but ones not unlike oaks and elms. I steered nearly all the way home and George says I can do it quite all right. The great thing is to keep in the middle of the stream as it is so shallow at the sides. We got aground once yesterday over a tree stump. The water was quite deep, but the beastly thing was right up in the water. The stoker and engine man and George managed to shove us off again. In the evening Mr Van Dort came too and we went in the other direction, but it is not so interesting that way as the canal is much straighter. That is one good thing about this canal, that it winds about so, it is very rarely in a straight line for any distance. Tell Mother that in the very deepest place the water is only about four ft deep, but nearly always not more than three ft so she need not think I am likely to be drowned. That is why we have to be so careful as the launch draws 2 1/2 foot.

Thank you ever so much for the Chambers. We were delighted to have it and also for the Living Waters, also for the paper with John Ferguson’s lecture. It wasn’t bad, was it? John Ferguson Esq. looks on himself as the mainstay of Ceylon and is a person to be avoided in many ways. If you look at him even, he puts something about you in the Observer. I was warned about him on board so laid low. I did not care for his family extra much either. The girls were very insipid and the very spottiest boy I have ever seen. I really saw hardly anything of them on board as I was always with the other boys and girls.

I had a letter from Mr. Renny this week. He is a very cheerful person. I sent off my photographs to them on Friday. They have really all come at last. I will send off the ones for you this afternoon, also those that are left of George. I want you to send one of each to Gwen and also to Dollie, I think perhaps she may like to have them. I will write to her next mail and send the letter for you to direct, and then you can send them off together. The other one of George perhaps Arthur would like. He has only got a midget of him. I don’t know what you will do with those terrible silver plates of mine. They are put too low down in the card and such a black background. I shan’t go to them again.

The ‘Boy’ and his satellites are all going at the end of the month. He asked for his wages to be raised when he was paid this month and George told him he would think it over. But he has been getting very slack lately and that evening when I was going to have a bath, George went in first and found the room very dirty. He had had his hair cut there in the morning and they had not swept it up or anything. So George told him if he could not look after things better than that he had better go altogether. He is having R 20 a month and that is very good wages, especially for around here where R 12.50 or R 15 is the usual amount. We were not going to keep the house boy anyhow as he is inclined to fibbing and is also extremely dull. He never seems to understand what you mean. If you say anything to him and he doesn’t understand, he goes away and it makes you feel most enraged. It is so much better to have a fresh lot in altogether, so the kitchen cooly is going too. I am rather glad the boy is going for some things, as now I understand more, there are several things I want better and it is rather difficult to do it with this one. He has had charge of all the stores, so it is difficult to know how we get through things, but I shall keep the key of the cupboard in future and deal them out.

I did not know that I had not told you about my tips on board. I quite thought I had. I asked one or two people and decided to give 10 /- each to the stewardess, steward and table boy, 5 /- to the deck steward, and 2/6 to the bath man. I did hate giving them and was very glad when it was over. I enclose the only three photos I took on board that have come out decently. I had them developed in Colombo. Mr Renny looked so sweet in that big hat, I wish it had come out more distinctly.

There is to be communion service at 8 am tomorrow morning at Marawila, a village about a mile or so off and George and I hope to go if we can get a cart. I think the clergyman comes over once a month.

I do hope your letter will come tonight. The mail was due yesterday.

with much love to all

From Mab

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