May 21st 1900
It rained hard and thundered on Saturday night and we thought the monsoon was on us but it cleared up again and has been fine and warm ever since. It must burst pretty soon, now that’s one comfort. George has had prickly heat so badly on his chest, back and arms. It is a very common thing to have out here, but annoying all the same. He got so frantically hot on our voyages to and from Negombo having to drive the engine himself. I say I shall never let him go out again without a proper man to do the work. He has been able to take things quietly this week though, and not get overheated as the mill has been shut down owing to there being no boxes for packing tea and there has been a dearth in the market for some reason or other. However a boat load is on its way from Colombo and will arrive tomorrow or the next day, so they will begin work again tomorrow. I shall be very glad to see the boat as it is bringing our library books and I have had nothing to read for the last three or four days and it was rather a nuisance yesterday. However, I shan’t let it occur again. I have kept some back this time which I shall send off as soon as I get this lot so shall always have some in stock while the others are being changed.
Kate sent me a Harmsworth’s last mail and the Lady and Maggie a Lady’s Pictorial so I ought not to grumble. I wish I did not read so fast but I get through a good deal being so much alone. I have not done much work lately beyond mending etc but directly it is cooler I am going to start off on some fancywork but somehow working by oneself gets rather lonesome after a time and I generally have a book handy and dip into it between whiles.
I have been most virtuous this week and have written five letters, to Miss Smith, Frank, Mrs G, Florence G. and yourself. Miss Smith has sent me her photograph. It is rather good but a little theatrical, evening dress and a large black hat with feathers.
I can’t write to Kate this week but I had a letter from her last mail telling me all about Mrs Barnes. I am most dreadfully sorry to hear it and I can’t get her out of my thoughts. Poor little woman, it does seem so sad, and all those children too. I should think Durell is very cut up, he is so devoted to his mother.
The boat arrived last night, sooner than expected and brought the books so I am happy. I have begun Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I have never read it. They are mostly ancient things, all the new ones are snapped up by the Colombo people.
I had such a jolly letter from Jo this week. She talked about Mary and Jack Coulthard having had the measles but being otherwise flourishing.
I never knew anything like the utter cheek of that little chit of a Mrs Harry Buckland. Why did she ask us to the wedding and send us an ‘At Home’ card if she did not want to know us. I should certainly be very haughty both to her and Harry. He might to have made her call. I can’t get over it, what an utter little snob she is. By the way, I suppose you have heard that the ‘noble knight’, Sir F. Saunders is going to enter the bonds of holy matrimony again. I’m sure I pity the victim. Dreadful old man. I wonder he has got the face to propose to anybody. I wonder if she has got money? There are a good many people lamenting his absence from Ceylon who would be very glad to see him back again but I expect he will be too wily ever to put his foot in here again. I wonder what the girls think of it? Perhaps she will be strict and keep them in order.
I have just had breakfast, fishcake, stewed beef, fricassee of chicken, toast and jam, and a mango to finish up with. And now I am happy and must sit quiet for a little while but it is 7 and a half hours to dinner time with my feeble tea in between so there is plenty of time for it to digest.
It is dark by 6.30 and we very often play cards before dinner. We are keen on Bezique at present but it would be rather nice to have something fresh. George is going to teach me chess sometime. We don’t know many games for two. There is Cribbage, of course, but we neither of us know Picquet or Ecarte.
I am so glad Mother looked better after her change. I thought she would although she stayed such a little while.
Love and kisses to everybody from Mab.