June 18th 1900
My dearest Mother
I said I would write to you this week, but I don’t think I have much in the way of news to tell you. Life is very uneventful in this benighted region. We seem quite out of the world.
We were so disappointed this week although it was impossible to help it. I had a letter a few days ago from Mr. Haines, the nice Irishman on board the ‘Rome’ who gave me the feathers. He wrote to say he was just leaving Australia and would arrive at Colombo on the 21st, leaving again for Japan on the 24th. He thought of coming to see us in the time if it was convenient, as I had asked him to come. Of course we should have been delighted to have him, but it really was not worth it. He would have to spend two whole days in travelling in that beastly coach, and would have just the day with us. He will spend about a day in Colombo, later on, when he is going to India so we are going to try to go to Colombo then and see him there. He was so nice. I should like to see him again. I think it was so jolly of him to want to come to see me, because he could very well have not said anything about his being in Colombo.
George and I are very busy collecting butterflies but it is difficult to get perfect specimens, so many have their wings a little torn. Some of them are very big. George caught one yesterday which is just six inches across. It is black and blue. He has had a box made for them in the mill, with a glass lid, like the ones Eric has. The thing will be how to get them to England. We shall have to get someone to bring them as it would not do to risk them by post. Perhaps by the time Mr Haines comes back we shall have collected enough. Isn’t it funny, he is coming here on the ‘Himalaya’, the boat Capt. Leigh is commanding now.
Don’t imagine we are going to be chewed up by crocodiles. The launch is much too big and they are much too frightened of it. Besides, they stay in backwaters and weedy places where we can’t go. We have never seen one and I don’t think we are likely to.
I am so excited at the thought of my parcel. I do hope it will come this week. Thank you ever so much for the stuff. It sounds lovely and I am longing to see it but why did you spend the money.
George and I do so wish we could have been at home for the festivities over the Relief of Mafeking. Aren’t those jolly pictures of B.P*. and his family in the Illustrated. I must tell Kate that I think he is infinitely preferable to her beloved ‘Horatio Herbert’**, not so much of the Sphinx about him.
My tummy has been rather tiresome lately, not my usual complaint but the other way round. I suppose it is taking so little exercise. I have taken pills galore but I don’t think that pays so now I have sent for some Cascara Saglada and shall try that. It might come tonight. You can get pretty well every possible drug in Colombo. Our bathroom is in rather a tiresome place and I sometimes have to wait about if Solomon is going up and down the stairs doing our bedroom but I am getting more brazen than I used to be. However I am perfectly well otherwise so I suppose one must expect something in this vale of tears.
Our little cat is flourishing and most cheeky. She gets into the office and goes to sleep in the middle of their papers on the writing table or else curls herself up in the waste paper basket. The dog has a box with some straw in it which she has promptly taken possession of. Gretchen puts on a most resigned expression but she really rather likes it and licks the cat’s face very affectionately. It is so sweet to see them snuggled up together.
I must leave off now as the whistle has gone which means George will be coming in. Tell Amy to ‘luck up’ and win the mixed doubles. She might do with Frank Newcombe and he will be on his best behaviour with her. Is his engagement given out yet?
Love and kisses to everybody
From your very loving daughter Mabel Gillespy