THROUGH THE GATES OF THE EAST
S.S. Scotia, Oct. 19, 19—.
... This is a line to send off with the pilot. There is nothing to say except “Good-bye” again.
We have had luncheon, and I have been poking things out of my cabin trunk, and furtively surveying one—there are two, but the other seems to be lost at present—of my cabin companions. She has fair hair and a blue motor-veil, and looks quiet and subdued, but then, I dare say, so do I.
I hope you are thinking of your friend going down to the sea in a ship.
I feel, somehow, very small and lonely.
S.S. Scotia, Oct. 21. (In pencil.)
... Whatever you do, whatever folly you commit, never, never be tempted to take a sea voyage. It is quite the nastiest thing you can take—I have had three days of it now, so I know.
When I wrote to you on Saturday I had an uneasy feeling that in the near future all would not be well with me, but I went in to dinner and afterwards walked up and down the deck trying to feel brave. Sunday morning dawned rain-washed and tempestuous, and the way the ship heaved was not encouraging, but I rose, or rather I descended from my perch—did I tell you I had an upper berth?—and walked with an undulating motion towards my bath. Some people would have remained in bed, or at least gone unbathed, but, as I say, I rose—mark, please, the rugged grandeur of the Scots character—and such is the force of example the fair-haired girl rose also. Before I go any further I must tell you about this girl. Her name is Hilton, Geraldine Hilton, but as that is too long a name and already we are great friends, I call her G. She is very pretty, with the kind of prettiness that becomes more so the more you look—and if you don’t know what I mean I can’t stop to explain—with masses of yellow hair, such blue eyes and pink cheeks and white teeth that I am convinced I am sharing a cabin with the original Hans Andersen’s Snow Queen. She is very big and most healthy, and delightful to look at; even sea-sickness does not make her look plain, and that, you will admit, is a severe test; and what is more, her nature is as healthy and sweet as her face. You will laugh and say it is like me to know all about anyone in three days, but two sea-sick and home-sick people shut up in a tiny cabin can exhibit quite a lot of traits, pleasant and otherwise, in three days.
Well, we dressed, and reaching the saloon, sank into our seats only to leave again hurriedly when a steward approached to know if we would have porridge or kippered herring! I know you are never sea-sick, unlovable creature that you are, so you won’t sympathize with us as we lay limp and wretched in our deck-chairs on the damp and draughty deck. Even the fact that our deck-chairs were brand-new, and had our names boldly painted in handsome black letters across the back, failed to give us a thrill of pleasure. At last it became too utterly miserable to be borne. The sight of the deck-steward bringing round cups of half-cold beef-tea with grease spots floating on the top proved the last straw, so, with a graceful, wavering flight like a woodcock, we zigzagged to our bunks, where we have remained ever since.