The one with Mab in her combies.

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Horekelly

Madampe

Ceylon

18.IX.00

Dearest Tommie

Your parcel really went off yesterday morning so I do hope it will go by this mail. We put in some sample packets of coconut to make up the weight, but the box was heavy so we could not put very much. We had to put it in the small packets as all the lead paper is cut at that size. They take samples of the stuff that is made everyday and then open them after a certain time to see how it has kept.

I have put in some more seeds of various sorts. I don’t know whether any will grow. The things with the curious brown leaves attached are the seeds of the ‘Hora’ tree from which this place gets its name. This is really Hora-Kelle (forest) and before it was cleared to plant coconuts there was a big hora forest here. There are still a good many trees about and they are very fine. They have perfectly straight, thick trunks, quite bare for about 20 or 30 feet and then they branch out. The seeds like shrivelled berries are Teaks. They are awfully pretty trees with dark leaves and big bunches of pale green flowers like the shape of Spanish chestnut blooms. The long bean is a plant that has a rather pretty white flower a little like a very big jasmine only with no scent. Aren’t the red berries pretty? But they are poisonous. I planted some in a box and some on a sponge and I found that only the brownie coloured ones came up so I suppose they are the ripest. I think if you were to plant some of the various seeds and keep them in the kitchen they might come up. I generally soak mine in tepid water before planting. They say it makes them germinate quicker.

I am going to send you a paper with an account of the earthquake. I thought you would like to see it although it did not really amount to much.

The new Boy is going on very well so far and he is certainly keeping the house very much cleaner than it was before. He had the sitting room carpet up the other day without being told and I noticed this morning he had got everything out of the little sideboard arrangement. We have not got a proper sideboard you know, only a sort of little chiffonier thing with two cupboards and two drawers and then in the top one glasses, finger bowls etc have to be kept. You are obliged to keep your things in evidence in the dining room here, you know, because there is never any proper place in the kitchen. We have a dinner wagon too and on that we have the tea and breakfast sets, cruets, and all the silver things we have in use. There are some shelves in the kitchen verandah and our dinner things are kept there. There are two safes there too where our eatables are kept and we have a big cupboard in the dining room under the stairs where we keep groceries and drinks and spare china etc, rather like our cupboard in the breakfast room.

One thing, this Boy is a very good cook, gives us awfully dainty little meals and serves up everything so nicely. The other Boy had got so lazy and he always served us up the same things, so often fish cakes and rissoles till we got sick of the sight of anything round. He makes very good bread too, both white and brown. You can’t think what a treat it is to have nice bread and butter again. George has gained a bit lately and I am sure it is the nourishing brown bread. What he had been eating was always made of the very cheapest flour and must have been very bad for him. I weigh 9 stone 9 lbs so I am not quite an elephant yet.

I like the Hospital stamp very much and have stuck it on the calendar on my writing table. I do hope you felt better after you got home and you ought to go on with the Chemical food for some time. One bottle is no good. I cannot understand you taking, or Kate allowing you to take, any sort of medicine that had been kept years. Of course it would have made you ill. The properties would have changed tremendously. I wonder it didn’t poison you. I think you were perfectly idiotic. It has simply undone all the good work going to Fairbank would have done you. What a fool Fanny is and what a lot of good a spanking would do her. How jolly of Kate to give you a tan waterproof. I am so glad. Is it at all like mine? I should like to think we are ‘little twins’.

I had a letter from Mrs Gillespy this mail. She seems perfectly happy at Billingshurst and very pleased with everything. She said she hoped you would come and stay and was disappointed you could only come for a day.

Talking about Christmas presents makes me feel quite excited although I know it won’t feel a bit like Xmas here, but still having presents will make it a bit better. At any rate it will be a more peaceful one than last. With regard to our presents, of course there are heaps of things we want both, small and large, so I’ll give you a long list, but mind, I’m only putting down big things just to show you what we haven’t got but you are not to allow Mother to insist on getting something which costs pounds just because it is down on the list. We shall be very cross if you spend much. You have all spent so much on us already, and tell Kate that too. We shall only be able to send very feeble little offerings home, there are so many to send to, but people won’t expect much from a newly married pair, will they? There are such jolly things I should like to buy you, but they are all so dear. We are going to manufacture things though. We have got some in our minds eye.

We are rather wondering about George’s books. He wrote and asked his mother to send them out to him and just mentioned a few he could think of. The other day he had a letter from her and she said she had asked Jack to go and look out the books George had mentioned. Of course he meant her to send them all, note books and everything as they are coming out for nothing with the company things. It doesn’t matter how many come and there are a lot of things in note books that he has written at different times that he sometimes wants. She is really rather foolish sometimes in understanding things and of course he can’t ask to have a box sent out again too soon.

I am looking forward to the cricket photos. Please give my love to Dor and thank her very much for her letter. Her evening frock does sound pretty and I want to see it badly. It is hateful to think of her doing her hair up and I shan’t be there to see. She will seem so different when I come home.

I must tell you such a comic thing which happened the other day, though annoying. I was just going to dress before tea when George came up to say a sort of pedlar man had come and did I want anything? We did want one or two things so he went down to see what he had got while I dressed. I went on calmly dressing and had nearly finished when my door suddenly opened and in walked the office boy, followed by the pedlar man and another man with the pack. I gasped and tore past them down to the office to fetch George. I found that he had been sent for to go into the mill and the office boy (who was new and cheeky) had taken it upon himself to bring the man upstairs. The cheek of walking into my bedroom without even knocking did for me. If they had been five minutes sooner I should have been attired only in my combies. I always lock my door now!

George was furious. He smacked the office boy’s face and sent off the man without buying anything. The boy is not supposed to come into the house and to come upstairs was great impertinence. George smacking his face evidently offended his dignity as he has never appeared since. I laughed afterwards although it made me very hot at the time, especially as none of them could speak English.

I do hope Mother had a good time at Fairbank and came back rested.

lots of love and kisses to everybody

from Mab

 

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