Letter from Mab


Orient Company Limited
April 14th 1900

Dearest Tommie

We are going into Chilan this afternoon by the coach and coming back by it on Monday morning, so as to be able to go to church tomorrow. It was so horrid to think of having Easter without any Church at all. We are going to Madampe (2 miles) in the launch and will join the coach there as it does not pass near here. We are on the old Colombo road which is not used much for general traffic, the new road is about 1 1/2 miles away across the cocoa-nut estate. We are going to stay at the Rest house and as George is rather doubtful about the cooking we are taking the Boy with us to be on the safe side. The last time George was there, they had fried the fish in cocoa-nut oil and the result is not pleasing to a European palate.

The coach leaves here at 6 o’clock on Monday morning so we shall have to be up with the lark. I have warned George that my temper is not to be depended on at that hour of the morning, so he is prepared for the worst. Chilan is on the coast, and the Rest house is quite close to the sea, so we shall get a little freshening up.

George rode over to Chilan on Wednesday morning, as he thought the exercise would be good for him, but it proved rather too much. I suppose he is out of training as he has hardly biked at all since he has been here. It is about 24 miles altogether. It was all right going as he left here soon after 7 so it was not very hot, but he did not start to come back till quarter to eleven, and got here in less than an hour. Of course it was the hottest part of the day, and he arrived home in the most awful state of heat. His flannel shirt was simply saturated. I could have wrung it. After he had been in a little while, he nearly collapsed and had to retire to his bed while I bathed his head etc. He didn’t faint but he was not far off it, so I made him have some breakfast in bed and kept him there till tea time, and after a sleep he was quite all right again. I shall be very glad for him when we get some rain and it is cooler, as although he is all right, still I don’t think it would take much to bowl him over and he is bound to be out in the heat a good deal.

While I think of it, thank you very much for the description of Ida’s wedding. I was very pleased to have it. Kate sent me the Lady so I am quite up in the fashions.

I am cross, cross, cross, no joking, I really have been awfully savage and I made poor George quite unhappy yesterday.

When we got to Madampe on Sat afternoon, if that beastly coach had not gone by earlier than usual and we just missed it. We tried hard to get a cart but there was none to be had, so we had to come ignominiously back again, after carefully shutting up the house and putting it in charge of the watchman. When the postboy came he told us the coach was full up, but somehow that did not comfort us a bit, as we might have chucked some of the natives out. That is the worst of it travelling by public conveyances in Ceylon. You are likely to be cooped up with some beastly betel-chewing man. The Company ought to provide us with a bullock cart. We ought not to be stranded here with no means of getting about.

This morning just as we were about to have early tea, a man ran into the compound crying out that there was a big snake in some bushes by the towpath. So we sallied forth with some of the mill men who happened to be loitering about. One had a big gun to shoot it as the men said it was a very poisonous one and a very big one. They said it was in some bushes by the bridge so I took up a safe position on the bridge as I was not keen on going too close although I wanted to see. They set fire to the bushes with a great deal of fuss and gesticulation. They were in an awful state of fright. The wretched thing would not come out and the heat was awful from the blazing bushes. At last one of the men who was peeping about saw something move and said ‘copragoya’ (?) and then they all burst out laughing. It turned out not to be a snake at all but a big water lizard which dashed into the water in a great state of fright. I was really rather disappointed as I should like to see a really big snake so long as I was safely out of its way. But George says it is extremely unlikely there are any about here as there is too much traffic and not enough cover, as they keep the canal banks cut close because of the towing.

Now about the ring. I am sorry it has been such a bother. George says he would like to have it made to fit his little finger, that is, the size of your moonstone ring, not any smaller. It is because it is so thick all round that makes it so uncomfortable. My wedding ring is just the same. It is just about the same thickness and I can’t say I am fond of it, even now it seems so heavy. An all round ring is not nearly so comfortable as one only thick in the front.

Thank you ever so much for the book when it comes. I shall be delighted with it as I am often in a state of nothing to read. I should like any of those you mention, but I am not very keen on Edna Lyall’s. I liked the one Arthur gave me immensely, ‘The Forest Lovers’ by Maurice Hewlett. But you are not to go spending money in waste like that.

Please thank Mother ever so much for her letter.

Lots of love to everybody

From Mab

It is still ‘ot and clothes are a nuisance.



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