“ORONTES", The Indian Ocean
29th Oct /05
My dear Mother
I was going to begin your letter the other day, then thought I would leave it till last to give you the latest news, there will be a big budget of diary this time for Father. This is Sunday morning & we have just come back from service on the First deck, it is not quite so hot as last Sunday in the Red sea though last night the heat was trying in the cabin. Auntie manages to stand it better on the top berth, but she will not open the ventilators beside her for fear of a draught from the passage, however I can always sleep up on deck if the lower berth is too hot, though I prefer the cabin as long as I can put up with it, one gets a better night.
I had quite a fright yesterday when Miss Laird was taken suddenly ill, she had been so well & jolly for some time, but she is evidently one of those people who will do too much when she feels all right. She suddenly left the table just after lunch, Mr Tucker sitting opposite her noticed she had turned very pale so I went after her & found her gasping for breath in the cabin. I ran for brandy and sent for the stewardess & she revived after a bit & we managed to bring her up on deck, but she had several more attacks during the afternoon & evening. The doctor said there was no danger but she would be liable to these attacks & will have to be carefully looked after. Mrs Leach is a very nice little woman & looks after her splendidly, she has a very delicate little boy Frankie of seven with her, he has taken a great fancy to me so I can help most by looking after him. Yesterday evening I was changing his blouse & he said to me “Please will you excuse my braces?” Miss Laird is better this morning but very weak & she has had one more slight attack. Mr Tucker has been most awfully good, he thinks a lot of her & wont at all like leaving tomorrow, he is such a nice fellow, full of fun, & we have had very good times together. I found out yesterday that he used to live in Swansea & knew something of the Schenks.
Sunday afternoon Mrs Leach has gone to be down & I have left Mr Tucker in charge of our patient while I finish my letters. I have been having my lunch up on deck with her, & she is looking decidedly better. We shall take good care she does not dance any more! Next Friday is the fancy dress ball, I shall have to be busy cutting out silver paper stars & sew them on my black dress. I have decided to go as “Night” I hope it will not be too hot that evening, the doctor says we shall not probably have it any hotter, & thinks it is partly it is partly the heat that is affecting Miss Laird. A good many people are suffering from it but I seem to stand it very well, yesterday I was told I never looked better. We are forming a party for the Colombo trip & intend driving out to Mount Lavinia (about 3 miles) & perhaps a rickshaw ride afterwards, we ought to have some time too for looking round the town & doing some shopping. Miss Laird was to have been out of the party but now Mrs Leach is going to take her to a hotel & let her have a good rest there in the open air. Another lady has offered to go with them & look after Frankie so I shall be quite comfortable about her. I hope Auntie will enjoy her day she feels it rather a long time since we last landed at a port, & though I think she enjoys the voyage in some ways still she will be quite ready for land life again by the time we arrive. She finds plenty of people to talk to & gets on quite well with many, but I don’t think she finds such real pleasure in Mr & Mrs Broadhurst a young married couple who are extremely nice. I had a very interesting talk with him yesterday evening. It is strange how many more nice people there are than one thinks at first. Miss Laird & I are quite friends by now & we talk most things over together. Someone told her that she was considered by some the nicest girl on board, & I was told that someone considered me the handsomest!!! You see all subjects of conversation are getting exhausted so topics are becoming personal. After Colombo we shall have a fresh supply of talk again for a bit.
I haven’t asked anything about you all, but I know you will tell me all the little bits of news I like to have I begin to feel letters will be very nice, though it is too soon to begin to long for them yet. I do hope you are all well. Very much love to you all
Your loving daughter
May E Sladden