Dry Hill Park
Oct 5th 1902
My dear Father,
I am so glad you had such a pleasant time at Folkestone, it was nice for you all five to be together again, I hope the photo will be successful. There is so much to say I hardly know where to begin, I had better take the week straight through as far as possible.
On Monday & Tuesday Miss Du Pré seemed to be following me about most of the time, so you can imagine how I enjoyed giving my classes! She is quite as difficult to please as I expected & I can’t tell you how many “rows” I have had already with her, still she does try & encourage instead of find fault she can be very nice, I went to see her yesterday evening & I gathered from the interview that she hopes I may do but she is not sure.
On Monday I went to tea at the Hilarys (Mr Gepp’s friends) I liked what I saw of them, they are a large family, the youngest girl left the school last term as pupil, & is now a junior mistress there, so I often see her – another sister is music teacher there, both are very pretty girls. Mrs Hilary looks very nice & motherly.
On Friday Mrs Beeching called on me when I was out, Mrs Cotton says they are a very large family, I must return the call one day this week if possible. I expect I shall see most of the Hilarys, they live quite close & I am sure are nice.
We breakfast now at Elmhurst, that is Miss Chabêt & a Miss Pratt who lives here & helps Mrs Cotton & who, tell Ethel, is a “Miss Barker” sort of person only not quite all there I imagine, however she is very harmless.
It is very nice not to have to go to breakfast with all the children at the other house, I go straight to school from here so really I am only with Mrs Cotton’s children at dinner & 6 o’clock tea & occasionally other odd times & giving them half an hour’s lesson twice a week. I get back from afternoon school about 5, have a cup of tea & three times a week go to give Elspeth Barens half an hour’s lesson, she is a nice bright little thing of eight & seems to have taken a violent fancy to me & Mrs Barens seems very nice, so that I rather like going there, I found out yesterday however that Miss Du Prê is not quite pleased about my going there, Mrs Cotton told me of the post & I arranged to go without dreaming of the necessity of consulting Miss Du Prê about it, when I happened to mention that I was going there to her, she said she did not think I could manage so much & that if she thought it was too much for me & interfering with my school work, I must give it up at half term. Mrs Cotton thinks that if I may not have what outside pupils I can get they ought to give me more salary at school, though I am sure at the present moment Miss Du Prê thinks I am dear at £30 per annum. Mrs Cotton is very kind and considerate, I like her better the more I see of her, she says she does not expect me to be so much with her children as Mlle Sutton was because she knows I have more to do at the school than she had. The numbers have increased considerably this term & besides of course I am younger & less experienced & need more time to prepare my lessons than Mlle Sutton did.
My other outside pupils, the Bosanquets at Hildenborough I have with Miss Du Pré’s full sanction, I am to go Sat mornings & Wed afternoons, so that afternoon I shall not go to school at all. I gave them their first lesson yesterday, I have two pupils Cecily 10 & Raymond 7. The salary there is pretty good £5 a term. I really like having these sort of pupils better than school teaching, it is so nice to feel there is no head-mistress at one’s elbow, or likely to turn up any minute.
Please thank Mother for sending the things I asked for & will you ask her if she can remember some little nursery rhyme or very easy piece of poetry in French, there is nothing easy enough for the Preparatory children in the books she sent though they do nicely for the others. The simplest little things of 4 lines or so would do nicely.
Mrs Cotton has just changed nearly all her servants & has now four French ones, the nurse, two maids & a man, so if the children do not talk French they ought to. Both Mrs Cotton & Mrs Chabât speak it.
I had a long letter from Kathleen today, I am glad her teeth are successful.
So Uncle Dilnot has seen two of us now, I hope to see him at Folkestone – I should think very likely our half-term holiday will be Monday Nov 3rd or the following week – I don’t know whether I should be able to miss the Bosanquets' Sat lesson at the half term if so I could get away Friday evening I think, otherwise not till after their lesson which is from 10-11. I have to be in school every morning at 8.40 so that would mean coming back on Sunday evening if it were not half-term. I hear the boy’s school breaks up Dec 17th, so if we break up the same time, as they usually do, the term will not be very long.
With much love to you all & kisses to Baba.
your loving daughter
May E Sladden