February 6th 1888
My dear Eugénie
We were very pleased to receive your letter with the photo of Ethel and Arthur. Thank you very much for sending it – they are sweet children, the little fellow must be very like Julius I should think. We were so glad to hear so good an account of May and trust she will be eventually quite cured of the weakness in her back. I am thankful to say all our children are healthy and strong – little Dolly is not quite so robust as the others, but she is growing fast and is quite past babyhood. Ours is a very busy household, but we are fortunate in having a tolerably good Abigail and one of the good points is early rising – a bell rings at ¼ to 7 in the morning when there is a general tumbling out of warm and comfortable beds, breakfast at ½ past, then Arthur and Percy go off to Wellington College by 8 o’clock train. The next departure is of Dilnot and Frank by ¼ to 9 train, then Mabel, Birdie, Bernie and Hubert trot off to their respective schools, and I am left alone with Bob and Dolly until 12, when the 4 middle children return to dinner. Then off again at 1 until 3. Dil and the 3 older boys do not get home until nearly 6, in good time for a good substantial dinner.
Arthur and Percy are doing very well at College and were both moved up a form this term. Mabel and Birdie are taught by a lady who has a school in Petone and Bernie and Hubert have just begun to go to the Government school. Hitherto I have taught the two latter but we thought the discipline of school would be good for them, as they are getting big boys, 7 and 8 respectively – we are quite close to the school so they are able to come home directly lessons are over and there is no messing with the other children. We heard from George yesterday, he is getting on splendidly. We forwarded a beautiful book from Uncle George to him yesterday. Our ?-boy George is at present on a farm, he seems to take [?] more than anything else – he is a very good lad but not so quick as Lewie. Frank is in his father’s office and is becoming a great help to Dilnot.
Now you have a history of all our belongings and I hope you will not think me very egotistical for writing so much about our family. I often think of you all although my letters are so few and far between, and I hope those who are so kind as to write to me will forgive me for being so tardy in answering their letters. I don’t know what Charlotte can think of me, but I must try and write to her next time.
We were very glad to get a good account of Mrs Sladden and we hope Aunt Susan is continuing as well as usual. Julius seems to be very busy always. He must miss not even having time for the garden. Dilnot sometimes gets up early and does a little work on ours, but I think it is almost too much for him – he is so much better and jollier since he came to Wellington. We have a nice comfortable house, but our poor garden has suffered from the continental hot wind we have had this summer. Rain is very much needed. We are dependent for rain water – our tanks are nearly empty and if rain does not come soon, we shall have to buy water for next washing day. But the sky looks cloudy tonight and I trust a downpour will come before morning.
It is bed-time and I think I must close this. Dil is already curled away and fast asleep on the sofa.
With kind love from us all to you all, especially to our little god-child.
Bessie L Sladden