“Orontes”, Indian Ocean
Monday Nov 6th/05
My dear Father
I expect you will get letters from Fremantle a little before these from Adelaide anyway I will post home from there – the Adelaide letters will be my Xmas ones, it does seem strange. I don’t feel ready to write Xmas letters yet. Time is going so quickly now this last week seems to have flown – they say we shall get into Freemantle next Wed. instead of Thurs. to avoid the King’s birthday which is of course a holiday – that will make us a day early at every port. Auntie is looking forward now to the end of the voyage, she has not been quite the thing since Colombo, she may have eaten something there which didn’t agree, or it may have been merely the heat, a good many people have been feeling it just at the end more than at the beginning when it was really much worse. The Red Sea was by far the most trying part, now it quite pleasant, cool again & I think Auntie will soon be quite herself again. I have not really suffered from the heat at all & am very well & enjoying myself extremely. The fancy dress dance on Friday was great fun, my dress was a good deal of trouble to do but I was quite repaid by getting the prize which I never dreamt of when I started it, I think they give many prizes for all these things & one can get what one likes. I expect it will be 5/-. Two men who got on at Colombo are very good dancers so they were a great acquisition. Auntie sat & watched the dancing till nearly the end but was not feeling very good so went to bed before I did – she always does that though & I sometimes find her asleep when I come down about 10.30. She generally has a nap after lunch too. I am glad she can sleep so much, it rests her & helps pass the time. I expect she will feel the good effects of this voyage after landing. Auntie is making a blanket for Percy’s boy & wants to get it finished before we arrive. I do very little in the way of needlework. Aunt Lizzie said there were some people on board absolutely industrious & others abnormally lazy. I am quite sure I don’t belong to the first set! If you settle down to do anything someone is sure to come & rout you out for something or other & needlework or letter writing under these conditions is difficult. I have written a pretty full account of our day in Colombo in my diary, we enjoyed it very much indeed, Auntie all the more I think because we didn’t attempt to do too much, we had a very nice afternoon seeing the last of our missionary friends they were so jolly, quite the nicest Wesleyans I have ever met. The Buddhist temple was so very interesting especially after having read The Light of Asia. I should very much like a fortnight in Ceylon on our way back, but I don’t think Auntie quite sees it, I would far rather miss a N.Z. trip & see something of Ceylon life- one of the men who got on at Colombo did that & told me it was well worth it & trips there are no more expensive than many in N.Z. We are anticipating a not very smooth passage from Sydney to Wellington – everyone says it is rarely calm there. There are a great many New Zealanders on this boat – a good few Australians but comparatively few English & most of these are Scotch or Irish.
Nov 8th. The ink ran out in my pen so I stopped here the other day & now I haven’t the least idea of what I was going to say. We have had our first experience of roughish weather yesterday & today & both seem to stand it all right. A fortnight today we ought to reach Wellington Auntie is rather counting the days, I shall be glad to land for some things but sorry when the voyage is over in many ways. We shall miss the Broadhursts very much they are both so nice, they are coming to N.Z.in a month or two however & we rather hope to meet again. A Mr Hutchinson who got on at Colombo is very interesting to talk to, he thinks a great deal of Ceylon & I rather hope he may persuade Auntie to go there.
I hope you are all well. I am so looking forward to letters in about a fortnight’s time.
Much love from your loving daughter
May E Sladden
I think you can read this paper written on both sides so I have written my diary on both sides to save extra postage.