My dear May,
I must begin a letter to you this week although it need not be posted till the end of the month. I hope you will have received all our letters posted to Colombo.
You and Auntie have been very much in our thoughts of late and sometimes I seem hardly to realise the sad truth of all that has happened to plunge us all into mourning, giving you two such a sorrowful experience at Sydney and causing, I know, the deepest grief to that household at Petone, poor Aunt Bessie – one’s heart aches for her. Well, it is the way of all flesh but I had hoped that uncle Dilnot would have been spared for some years to watch with pleasure the development of his family brought up with many anxieties and much strenuous execution on his part. I shall miss him very much although we were separated by such a distance for we two brothers had a great deal in common and the visit of four years ago had materially strengthened the already existing tie.
We received your letter and diary yesterday, via Vancouver bringing us up to Aug 6th the Frisco mail is due to-day but may not be in for a day or two, it is very irregular.
Tell Auntie I am charmed with her photo just to hand, she looks so well and bonny and quite the youngest of the family, as indeed she is.
Cyril has received as a special prize for doing so well in the Lower Certificate exam “The Story of the Heavens” by Sir Robert Ball, it is quite a standard work and most interesting and as you know “Boo” is quite an astronomer, while he was at home he got out the telescope two or three times and got a good view of Saturn’s ring among other things.
Jack was to move yesterday into their new diggings 40 Amersham Road, New Cross, S.E. and to-morrow morning (Monday) George starts by the first train so as to resume work at once and Kath goes by the 9.30 taking her luggage straight for the lodgings and then going up to meet other mistresses at the school to arrange a few matters for commencing term next day.
You will be interested to hear that the new window in the drawing room will be an accomplished fact by the time you get home, I do not know that I should have had it put in for another year or two only the room must really be re-papered next year, it is getting so shabby and it seemed a pity to have it done before the alteration.
After a long spell of drought the weather broke up a few days ago and the heavy rain has already done much good, our lawn which was very brown is recovering its colour.
We are expecting Auntie Polly to-morrow by the 4.17 train I must meet her with a fly, Anna will see her off from Paddington.
The boys managed to find a little over a pot of Damascenes in both orchards we got 18/- for the pot and made the rest into jam &c we had a similar quantity of Pershores for disposal which fetched half that money so you see how scarce plums are. We have picked and marketed most of the early apples but the later sorts, including a heavy crop of Blenheims, remain to be gathered, this rain will make them grow out bigger, I hope they will fetch a fair price later on.
It is Wickhamford Sunday and a wet afternoon, Judy has gone to the children’s service by herself carrying an umbrella and altogether looking very big, by the way talking about size you will find Cyril grown into such a big boy you will hardly know him!
The old soldier Harris is dead, I am afraid he suffered a good deal from his frightfully rheumatic condition.
I hear uncle George manages to ride his tricycle pretty well now and went the other day as far as Ash.
Arthur’s friends the Schenks are staying at the Lygon Arms, Broadway they came to lunch last week, they seemed nice friendly sort of people and I think Ethel and Arthur will go over and have tea with them on Tuesday.
We have some beautiful cactus dahlias out just now and although there is an autumnal look about it the garden still looks gay, it certainly has been “a thing of beauty” this year.
I took out a fourteen day licence last week and have been out shooting with Bert Idiens twice, we propose to go again on Tuesday, we had fair sport but birds are not plentiful hereabouts this season.
We shall think of you as leaving Freemantle to-morrow, I hope you received our letters posted to the various Australian ports, I have tried to arrange that you shall hear at as many places of call as possible, home letters I know are very welcome to you as yours are to us.
Wednesday Sep 19. I see by the Times that the Oroya left Freemantle yesterday, I do hope you will have a nice passage. The Frisco mail came in on Monday, there was a letter for me from your dear uncle Dilnot, he said he had already posted to aunt Susan and uncle George but had not thought of writing to me that time for want of news however on hearing later in the day of Arthur’s brilliant success at Oxford he wrote to congratulate us and Arthur specially on the event, curiously enough on the same day I had letters from your uncles Frank and George, it is sad to think that such a coincidence can never occur again, Auntie Polly arrived on Monday she seems very well, she said Mary, who is staying in France, was so distressed at the news of uncle Dilnot’s sudden death, to whom she felt a strong attachment, that she felt she must write to his eldest daughter to express her sympathy with them all.
Arthur received your letter and also Auntie’s by the Frisco mail and Kathleen also had yours but I expect she hardly managed to read it all before she got into the train, the 9.37 that same morning, we have had a post card to tell us of her safe arrival in London and I expect we shall have a letter of her first impressions shortly.
The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are moving their offices from Whitehall to their fine new site on Millbank, close to the Houses of Parliament and George says they will have a holiday on Friday and Saturday next while the actual move is accomplished, I expect they will find the new premises much more commodious and comfortable.
Sunday, Sep 23. I think it is exactly four years ago since you and I met Uncle Dilnot at Paddington and at the time I am writing we must have reached the house 26 Radnor Park Road, it seems sometimes almost like a dream, albeit a very happy one, that memorable family meeting, so many changes have taken place since then and now of those who met under that hospitable roof, under such joyous circumstances, three have gone to “that bourne from which no traveller returns” and he, the chief figure then of our gathering called, as it seems to us, too soon to rest. Well – I must not make you gloomy but these reminiscences sadden one just now, by and bye, the sorrow will tone down the sweeter memories will remain always.
I propose to post this letter to Suez (c/o ship’s agents there) and Mother will send one to Auntie Lottie, then Mother will write to you at Port Said while I shall do ditto to Auntie. We shall of course write again to Naples and you will from there be able to post the letters we so long to have. You will hear no doubt from Kent about Miss Harvey’s very serious illness I feel so sorry for poor Aunt Susan who will be greatly worried.
We have had a cheerful letter from George sending a sketch and plan of their sitting room, they seem pleased so far with their lodgings, we hope to hear from Kathleen to-morrow and receive a full account of her first experiences.
The Orchards are going up to London to-morrow they hope to meet Kath and the boys on Saturday and probably go to some entertainment with them.
To-day we have no evening service as it is Wickhamford harvest festival, next Sunday is fixed for our own, I think Auntie Polly will just stay over that and return next day, so far she has kept very well. Ethel has an old school friend, Edith Young, staying here she seems a sensible pleasant sort of girl. I met little Judy this afternoon coming in from the yard with a great armful of books and elicited that she had been giving the dolls a Sunday school lesson in the room over the stables, I was also informed that as they had behaved well she had finished up by giving them a fairy tale, she said “Whiley and Barbara learned lessons quickest but Geraldine answered back when I catechised her”!
Sep 24. We have another glorious autumn day, the year 1906 will certainly be marked for it’s generally beautiful weather, indeed it has been a most perfect summer and so far autumn is following suit.
Ethel and her friend, with Arthur have just come in from a long cycle ride to Broadway, Stanton, Stanway and home by Toddington and Evesham, in all 25 miles, they were quite ready for tea. By the way talking of cycles Cyril rode yours frequently in the holidays and it gave him quite a good time, I don’t think it hurt the machine indeed it is better for the tyres not to lie idle for too long a time.
There are some wood carving classes commencing Oct 9 the afternoon ones I see cost 12/6 the series of 24 that seems rather a lot if you were only able to avail yourself of a few of them, otherwise I should almost have felt inclined to put you down for them, I see they only charge 5/- for the evening series that seems a lot of difference.
Sep 25. Arthur and Brailsford have been getting off the few Strawberry pears and the large crop of Golden pippins, I think next week they may commence the Blenheims, I only hope we may not get high winds until these are secured.
Mrs Ashwin has just been in to tea she seems rather stronger again than she was some time back, Marion Watson is returning to India on Oct 11 so you will just miss her.
Now I think I must close this long letter which has been written at various times and in varying moods.
Much love to you dear girl and to Auntie
Your affectionate Father