My dear Ethel
It is your turn for a few lines so while Auntie is packing this morning I will write to you, then I shall have to do mine this afternoon as quickly as I can for I don’t want to spend the whole time in the cabin. This being our last day on the Orontes there are lots of people I want to have a chat with. They tell of having another small dance tonight, but I rather doubt whether it will come off, for one thing it is not our band night and the two best players of dance music got off at Melbourne, besides there are very few dancers left and if any of these dreadful new passengers turned up at it I think we should all fly. They are a terrible crew from the Melbourne races but of course none of us need have anything to do with them these last two days. I think I told you about Miss Rutherford in one of my first letters, Miss Laird and I are both so amused at her, she is such a funny old thing, we both started very, very high in her estimation and she seemed to think she would look after both of us the whole way, we very soon found that too much of a good thing and broke loose putting ourselves more and more under Mrs Leach’s chaperonage – now Miss R. disapproves strongly of Mrs Leach, she is besides jealous of her because she looks after Miss Laird when she is not well and Miss R. thinks that her business though she has no more idea of nursing than a cat. The consequence is nothing we do now is right according to her and though she still thinks a great deal of Miss Laird by virtue of her former voyage with her still they have rows sometimes and as for me I have sunk fathoms in her estimation. Luckily I don’t care a bit what she thinks. Auntie is quite willing for me to have a good time and doesn’t fuss about that the only thing she ever says is sometimes when she has gone to bed extra early and I come down to the cabin and find her in bed even though it may not be 10.30 (and I am very rarely later than that) she says “you are very late tonight.” It is a little too bad when it is only she who is extra early, however I take it quite cheerfully and say “Oh no it’s not at all late.” The evenings on deck are so nice one doesn’t want to miss part of the nicest part of the day. I shall be very sorry to leave Miss Laird we have got quite fond of each other. I make her laugh when I tell her how I made up my mind at first to hate her. We quite hope to see her again in Auckland when we are there and one or two other people have said they hoped we should let them know if we were any where near where they lived. Colonial people are certainly very hospitable.
How is Alice getting on? I hope she is settling down and means to stay if she is doing well. I shall be thinking of the birthdays next week – fancy little Bunny being eight years old! Give her my love and lots of kisses. You and K. will have jolly talks together in the holidays, I shall wish I could just fly home to sit on your bed some evenings after one of our long talks. I hope you will have nice holidays. I wonder if there would be any dances.
Very much love to you all from your loving sister
May E Sladden