Letter from Mab, 26/3/1900

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Madampe
N.W.P.
March 26th/00

Dearest Tommie

Oh, it’s ‘ot, very ‘ot, the thermometer runs up and down between 84° and 94° with a fondness for the latter. We are longing for the ‘little monsoon’ to break, it ought to in about a fortnight and then we shall have some heavy rain for a week or so which will be a great relief. Then it will be hot again for another month, and then the big S.W. Monsoon will break and we shall have a rainy spell. But they say that it does not rain incessantly here as in some places, but there are always plenty of bright days. It clouds up now and then and we think it is going to rain, but they all clear off and the sky gets cloudless again.

George is most delighted with my keeping so well, he thought I should have felt the heat much more. He is also very pleased that so far my complexion has not suffered but is still in its pristine beauty. I believe he thought I should be a mask of spots before I had been out a month, but he does not understand a ‘Gibson complexion’, does he? I think the iron in the water is keeping up my colour, there is so much in it, the water is quite brown and smells rather like sulphur. But it is very wholesome, although what we drink is always boiled and then flitered. I generally have it for breakfast with lime juice, it is so refreshing, and I can’t always drink ‘fizzy’ things like soda water and lemonade. I generally have one of them with orange wine or claret for dinner. Mr Van Dorts’ father (a doctor) considers lime a preventive against fever, especially with little or no sugar.

It must be awful in Colombo now. They say the place is quite deserted, every one who can has gone away. It has been an exceptionally dry season, and the country is beginning to suffer. This place is more healthy than most because it is such a dry heat, a moist one is much more unpleasant.

Our ‘boy’ is going to stay on after all. George thought he would give him a chance of saying if he would like to stay, and he snapped at it. It seemed rather mean not to after his having been with George for so long and he really is a very good servant. Very likely we should go farther and fare worse. He has been trying very hard this last month. I think with a slight hope that we might forgive him. He is going to have R2/50 a month more, as he says rice is dearer here. Of course you have to take into consideration that out here servants feed themselves which makes a decided difference.

Last Saturday George and I started off in the launch to call in on Mr Tarver, a young man in charge of a cocoa-nut mill about 10 miles away. He reckoned it would take us about 2 1/2 hours to get there as the water is so shallow in the canal now, we can’t go more than 3 or 4 miles an hour, and it is nearly all canal down to there. So we started off at 1.30, in the perfect boiling heat. I nearly melted while I was getting ready, and we had not gone more than about 4 miles when something went wrong with the beastly engine and we had to come creeping and puffing home again. I was sick after getting so hot all for nothing. We hope to go another day as he is our nearest English neighbour and he seems rather a nice fellow. When we were coming back from Colombo the other day, we had to put in there for fire wood and he was very sad because we could not spare the time to go to his house for some tea.

I had a letter from Florence J. last mail, but it went all over the place before it came here as she has only put Horekelly, Ceylon. They have annoyed me very much by addressing their letters to Mrs G.T. Gillespy ℅ G.T. Gillespy, why, I can’t think. I have put it to them gently but firmly that Mrs G.T.G. is known to be the wife of Mr G.T.G. so it is rather superfluous.

I had a letter from Mr Haines last week, in which he said that when he comes to Colombo in about July, he hopes to be able to come and see me. I should like to see him again.

We are sending you two photos this week that were taken with several more of the mill, inside and out. We thought you would like them as one shows the house, and the other a bit of the mill, with George and Mr Van Dort on the bridge, only they ought to have been nearer the camera so as to have come out bigger. You can see our bedroom window at the side of the house, and the door through the window of the verandah. The other door is our sitting room, the staircase is in between, next to where you can just see some stag antlers and a rack with George’s hockey sticks.The tennis court is exactly in front of the house down to the bank, although the photo does not give the effect of being wide enough. In the other photo is a Padda boat well to the fore, also the men in it, very pleased at being in the photograph. The roof of our house is covered in cocoa-nut leaves. The trees and the banks are very Englishy, aren’t they. You can only just see a cocoa-nut here and there. If George sends these photos rolled, have them unrolled and mounted nicely, won’t you, or they will never keep flat.

I hope the new maid still progresses satisfactorily. It is such a nuisance the mail boat was not due in till 6 pm yesterday, so we shall be lucky if we get our letters this evening. The Orient are such slow, old tubs. Last week the P&O boat got in on Saturday.

By the way, George is following in Lottie’s footsteps. The other day he called me a ‘whited sepicle’ with great vigour and now of course declares he never said it.

Lots of love and kisses to you all

From Mab

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