Mabel and B.P.

Baden_Powell

Madampe
Monday, June 4th

Dearest Tommie

Whit Monday and I am so wondering if you have got it fine. I do hope you will have a jolly tournament and that you will win, or if not you, Maude King. I thought of you a lot on Saturday and wondered if Kate was doing the tea. It was a jolly match, Whitgift Wanderers, nicer than next Saturday. How I would love to have just one Sat in the field.

Thank you very much for the paper. We thoroughly appreciate the Standard with the account of the ‘Powerful’ men. It is so nice to see a paper with real news and not just tiny telegrams. George pored over the war news although it was stale. Mind you, send us papers when Bob and B.P. etc come home with all the accounts of their reception because it will be all condensed into one paragraph here and there is sure to be such shoals of it really. Isn’t B.P.* sweet? Kate sent us such a jolly photo of him in a big hat. We have got four of them framed together. B.P., Buller, French and MacDonald.

By the way what does Columbine do for a living? Because Mr Van Dort told me last night that when she came over here a little while ago she quarrelled with her pater and now she is entirely on her own account; he does not allow her anything. Fancy, Mr Van Dort was at school in England for ten years, from 7 to 17, and his mother never saw him once all the time. He said he had to be introduced to her when he came back; he had entirely forgotten her. Doesn’t it seem awful?

So you want to know how we get our provisions? We have to look well forward. All our groceries and drinks we get from Cargills, a big shop in Colombo. They come up by boat so we have to order them quite a week before we want them, more if possible. Meat comes from Chilaw which is ten miles off. It comes over in the coach in the morning to Madampe and a cooly has to go and fetch it. We have 4 lbs twice a week. I wish I could tell you what the joints are, but I can’t. The boy always says it is sirloin and I take his word for it. It is as much like that as anything else. It is a lump of meat and bone rather like the joints you see down Surrey Street which the customers feel well before they buy. It doesn’t taste bad when it is hot but I never touch it cold. There is very little fat but that is yellow and it is sort of wobbly and I think of cold beef at home. I do sometimes long for lovely cold beef and cucumber or lettuce, that is a thing you never get here, at least not in the low country.

Chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit, the boy gets in Madampe. Fresh milk he gets from there too now; at one time we only had tinned. He is so clever, he skims the cream off and makes butter by shaking it about in a bottle. Quite nice and firm it is too. I like it but George does not care for it because it has a sort of cream cheesy flavour, so he has tinned from Colombo. We don’t get nice bread at all. It is made from very inferior flour and has sometimes a very sour taste and a sort of grubby tinge which is not inviting. I don’t think it would do to see it made. Oh, one can’t be dainty in the country!

George and I were sitting in the lower verandah yesterday morning when suddenly the dog began barking tremendously at something through the railings down the bank. When we went to look we found it was an enormous lizard called an ‘iguana’. It was about 3 foot long. The little dog went for it and it climbed up a tree to the very top, but presently came down and went along the bank, the dog in pursuit, barking tremendously but keeping a safe distance. If it got too close the thing tried to lash at him with its tail. Finally it went in the canal and swam across to the other side. It is quite harmless and lives on ants. It had a curious long tongue just like an anteater.

Tuesday
I have just been getting out all my garments and hanging them on a horse to air in the sun. They are quite all right, I am thankful to say and not at all crumply, only the chiffon frills on the satin bodice have rather a sat upon look but I could easily put something fresh on it if i wanted to wear it much. We are pinning our hopes on being able to go into Colombo in August for the race week. There are lots of things going on then, football, hockey and cricket matches, a water fete, I believe, and all sorts of jinks. I should be able to sport my finery then with great éclat. I only hope things will be right at the mill so that we shall be able to go, but there seems to have been such a lot of worries recently, nothing but grumbles from headquarters, everything that is done seems to be wrong, and of course George gets most blame as he is most responsible. It is as bad as hops. The stuff is over dried or under dried, or not washed properly or something. But don’t say anything about it in your letters as George will never own that he is worried much and I always try to distract his thoughts while he is with me as he is inclined to dwell on things rather. He has just brought up a pineapple “out of our own garden”. We have got some along the bank. You just stick in the head with the bit you don’t eat, that throws out shoots at the side which come to pineapples.

It is still very hot and fine, heavy clouds at times but they don’t come to anything. I am beginning to think monsoons are frauds. We are both very well though.

Love and kisses to everybody
Mab

*Baden-Powell

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