Lizards, Centipedes and Rain

Sunday, April 22nd. 1900

My dearest Mother

George has gone for a bike ride with Mr Van Dort, something about cocoa-nuts. He doesn’t usually go out without me on a Sunday, but I persuaded him to go today, as he gets so little exercise and as it is cooler I don’t think it will hurt him.

We had such a lovely rain last night. It began about 6 o’clock and kept us well into the night. It thundered a good deal, but it was not too close so I didn’t mind. It is wonderful what a difference even a few minutes heavy rain makes. The thermometer soon drops from 89 or 90 degrees to 82 or 83 degrees and you feel a different creature. The last two nights it has been 81 when we went to bed and we quite appreciated a sheet over us; lately we have not had anything at all. It does not feel so bare as it would at home, as of course the mosquito curtains are all around and over the top so nothing can get at you. The bed has a top and posts rather like an old-fashioned four-poster, and the net is stretched right over and you tuck it in with the sheet. The top is made of thick calico, so you see if anything does fall off the roof, it can’t fall on the bed. The curtains are pulled aside in the day-time. The boy tucks them in in the evening, so that grasshopper must have hopped in sometime.

I am so glad of that thin dressing gown I made. The one Mrs Gillespy gave me has washed so thick I simply can’t wear it; it makes me drip. Directly after breakfast I always take off everything except my combies and put on my blue dressing gown. When that goes to the wash, I wear a petticoat and a dressing jacket. Since it has been so hot I have not changed for tea, but have waited until about 5 o’clock. It simply makes me drip to do my hair or put on clothes any earlier. It is so horrid to have water running down one’s chest and back. But the worst of the heat is over now. It will be fairly hot for another month till the real S. W. Monsoon bursts, but it won’t be so bad. It gets very hot again in August and September just before the N.E. Monsoon breaks, but now is always reckoned the hottest part of the year.

I don’t believe I have told you about Mr Meinhold’s present which came the other day. We are so disappointed with it. I can’t think why he chose it. It is a big cruet stand with four bottles, very common moulded glass, just the sort of thing you see in a lodging house. I expect he gave a lot for it out there and I could cry when I think of what jolly silver or brass things he could have got at Rangoon. He might have got a silver salver for the money.

Thank Amy ever so much for the book. I have enjoyed it so much, have just finished it. It came just in the nick of time when I had not got a single thing to read. We have found the library at Colombo and get 12 books at a time, but they take such a fearful age coming and going in the wretched boats that it means being stranded with none for some time. Since it has been so hot, I’m afraid I’ve read more than I’ve worked; the needle does get so sticky.

The other night there was either a centipede or a millipede on the dining room wall. George was not sure which it was and the boy was vague so he killed it to be safe. Centipedes sting but millipedes are harmless. It was like a big black caterpillar with reddish legs. In fact I drew George’s attention to it by saying ‘What a big caterpillar!’.

I am glad you like my photos. I suppose they are about as good as I could expect. My face certainly is fatter and so is my body. It is the collar of that blouse that gives the effect of thinness. I don’t mind a bit who you give the other copy of the group to. First I thought of the Justicans but really I don’t care a scrap. Give it to whoever you think would like it the best. Perhaps Aunt Amelia?

Monday morning
It began to rain this morning at about 4 o’clock, came down in torrents and thundered a little. George thought it was going to be a bad storm but it passed over. It kept on raining till about 8 o’clock and is still very cloudy and heavy. I expect it will begin again this afternoon. This is really the ‘Little Monsoon;’ and I expect we shall have it showery for several days. It is cooler but rather steamy this morning as the sun is sort of half-shining.

I’ve just been watching such a fat lizard out of the window. He is living on the sloping tiled roof of the kitchen which joins the house just below this window. His body is like a fat frog’s and he has a very long tail. He is on the watch for flies but has one eye on me all the time. It is wonderful how quickly they spot you.

The thing we thought was a centipede was quite harmless Mr Van Dort told me at dinner last night. George and he got back from their ride about 6 o’clock.

Please thank Carrie for her letter and also the Chicks. I was delighted with their epistle and will answer them soon.

Lots of love and kisses from Mab.

Mabel and George's wedding, Colombo, Ceylon, 1899
Mabel and George’s wedding, Colombo, Ceylon, 1899

3 thoughts on “Lizards, Centipedes and Rain

  1. What wonderful detail in here – these type of letters must be like gold-dust for anyone writing historical fiction! (or fact). Loved the big fat watching lizard at the end.

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