Oct 10th /06
My dear old Kathleen
Isn’t it jolly to think how close we are together again! I was so glad to get your long letter at Suez and your p.c. at Port Said.
40 Amersham Road sounds to me so attractive that I feel I must come and stay with you! Seriously though could you manage to put me up in your room for two or three nights? I really can’t wait till Xmas for a good talk with you, there is also a second reason why I want to be in London for a few days which I will unfold to you.
Ka dear, there has been a badly shocking flirtation going on on board the “Oroya” ever since Colombo and there seems every likelihood of it continuing as far as London. As an outcome of this Mr Gavegan the 3rd officer is very anxious to take me to the theatre one evening and I have promised to go with him if I can. Of course Monday would be the first possible evening and he might not be able to get off till Tuesday. So if you could have me till Tuesday or Wednesday it would be simply lovely for me. I have been writing to Mother, to post of course at Naples, I said I hoped she wouldn’t think me very horrid for wanting to stay in London. I told her just this that the 3rd officer and I are very good friends and he wants to take me to the theatre. I hoped she wouldn’t be shocked, and said to reassure her that I was sure if she saw him she would trust him to take care of me. Now please don’t spread this about too much, nor take silly ideas into your heads, you know you can have a very good time and enjoy oneself without there being any likelihood or even possibility of serious results. The fact is I am the only girl on board and Mr Gavegan being Irish and a sailor must have someone in petticoats to talk to, and it may be that I have learnt to have a similar predilection for a thing in trousers. Anyway we get on uncommonly well together and Aunt Lottie is a most amiable chaperone. It is wonderful how quickly a certain two hours of the day passes, between tea and dinner. You shall hear lots when I get back. Remember a bed on the floor in your room will do for me, only do put me up somehow!
Mr Gavegan seems to think it might be late Saturday or even Sunday before we reach Tilbury. I do hope you and the boys will all be able to come down and meet us there. Aunt Lottie has quite decided to go on to Tilbury, Mr Gavegan I think helped her to decide by speaking of possible railway accidents between Plymouth and London. You would be able I think to come on board in the tender and I might be able to introduce Mr Gavegan to you if I could get hold of him then.
The days are passing very quickly although we have so few passengers there is absolutely nothing going on, and each day, to me, seems rather long till after tea. I will finish this tomorrow it is getting late now for writing. Good night.
Friday morning. We are due at Naples this evening but I do not expect to have more than two or three hours there, so I don’t suppose it will be possible to go ashore.
I think after all we are quite likely to get to Tilbury by about noon on Saturday, I do so hope you will be able to meet us. Mind you make yourself look as nice as possible in view of a possible introduction. I should like you to see him, it would make our talks more interesting if you have an idea of what he is like, say yes. I hope to have his photo to show you and I think I must try and get mine taken if I have time in London, so many people have asked me for one. I can’t really afford it but I feel reckless at present, time enough to screw when I get home. You will get this I suppose about Monday so you can picture me to yourself between then and Saturday having a good time, at least I hope nothing will occur to spoil our last few days together. I am not worrying at present about what I shall be doing after Xmas but directly I get home I shall have to think seriously about it, I can talk it over too with you. It would be jolly to be all together in London, at present I feel no more like settling down in some private family as a humble humdrum little governess than I do of flying, however I suppose I shall manage it if I have to, but if I could get some work in London, life there with you all has far more attractions for me. We must talk it all over when we meet, the thing is will the days (and nights) be long enough for all we shall have to say?
I hope your work goes on well and that you will get to really like it. I have asked Mother to send me my Savings Bank book to your address, if I am to stay in London I must have some more money, at present I am simply “broke.”
I might go on writing indefinitely but I think talking will be best, I mean to write to Jack from Marseilles and may enclose you a line if there is anything further to say.
Much love from your loving sister
May E Sladden
I have been thinking I will write to Mary Robinson and ask if she could meet me in town Monday or Tuesday morning. It would be nice if she would go with me to have my photo taken and do any shopping I may have and I should like to see her too. You would not be able to assist at the photograph business I am afraid it would be too late when you get back from school but I should like someone, so I will write to Mary from Marseilles on the chance. I shall tell her I expect to stay with you and that you will write and let her know for certain if you can have me. So will you write so that she may have a few days’ notice and be more likely to be able to come.