Dearest Tom

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Madampe
May 8th 1900

Dearest Tom

I have written to the three children, Kate and Maggie, so I don’t think I’ve done badly. I’m afraid Barbara’s letter will be rather late for her birthday but I thought last week would be too early.

We are very likely going down to Colombo on Friday for money and will stay till Monday, so will be able to go to church on Sunday. George wanted a man from the office to come up here this time as there are several things that he wants them to see for themselves at the mill but with Mr Maldock away it is difficult to spare anyone. I hope our engine driver Jeremiah will be able to come all right but at present he’s down with fever and looks a miserable object wrapped up in a big shawl. A good many natives have fever now it’s the rain coming after the heat and a good deal of mud gets washed into the canal. Makes it smell rather funny.

George and I are taking quinine every morning as a safeguard but sleeping upstairs is a sure preventive and if George had been going to have fever he would have had it before now, so should I. Chilan is a very feverish district but the Horekelly estate is the healthiest spot on it and as our house is on the highest point, we are really very fortunate.

George has got a new toy which pleases him very much. We have invested in a ‘Sparklet’ bottle to make our own sodas, lemonade, etc. It is a very simple affair and is a decided save to us as there are always several bottles broken on the way up on the boats. Now we only have to have the small boxes of charges for the bottle and the various powders. We have lemonade and ginger ale at present and they are both very good. You just put the powder in the bottle and fill it up with water, then you put the charge which looks like a tiny boat into the screw top, give it a twist round and the thing is done. The charge has carbonic acid in it which aerates the liquid. To make soda water you only want to fill the bottle with plain water, that makes the same as ordinary bought soda water that never has any real soda water in it. It is really a very useful thing as you can aerate anything you like. It would make milk much more digestible. Last night we did a bottle of claret. George has been pining to do it and it really made it very nice.

I had such an accident the other day, I nearly howled. I broke the top off my shamrock pin. Luckily there is a native jeweller in the village and he soon mended it. I was so glad to get it back again.

There are a disgusting number of frogs down by the canal and they come out when it rains. The other evening the tennis court was alive with them, great Bull frogs. There was one that was quite as big as a small rabbit. I made George chase it away and the height it leapt was quite awful, it made my flesh creep. The other night after it had been raining we went for a walk along the tow path but never again. I did not mind the many water snakes, although they are rather unpleasant but they tear away from you. But I did object to the frogs. There were hundreds and one great thing in trying to get away from George, leapt right at me and knocked me on the knee. I howled with fright and made for home like lightening.

Your Colombine bodice sounds very pretty and I expect that the silk will make a sweet blouse. I do hope your rheumatism has quite gone now, it seems to have regularly laid hold of you. I suppose you will be thinking of tennis soon.

I had a jolly letter from Frank the other day, he seems very happy. George has grown a moustache. It is quite big but I don’t like it and he looks much older. He longed to try so I had to give in. He wouldn’t let me tell until it had grown properly.

Loves and kisses to everybody

From Mab.

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