We had a farewell dinner last night, the Ormondes and one or two others. We came into this dismantled room afterwards and talked till midnight, and amused ourselves vastly. I happened to say that I was rather scared at the thought of the wild beasts I might encounter, probably under my camp-bed, in the jungle; so a man, Captain Rawson, drew out a table for me to take with me into camp. One heave and a wriggle means a boa-constrictor, two heaves and a growl a tiger—and so on. So you can imagine me in a tent, in the dead of night, sitting up, anxiously striking matches and consulting my table as to what is attacking me.
Mrs. Ormonde, who is so nervous that if a cracker goes off in her hearing she thinks it is another Mutiny, is anxious that we should take guns with us into the Mofussil in case we are attacked. Picture to yourself Boggley and me setting out “with a little hoard of Maxims.” Armed, I should be a menace alike to friend and foe!
My first stopping-place is Takai. Boggley is going to some very far-away place where it wouldn’t be convenient to take a female, so when Dr. and Mrs. Russel asked me to come to them while he is there I very gladly accepted the invitation. Dr. Russel is a medical missionary. I don’t know him, but his wife, a very clever, interesting woman, I met when she was last home, and she told me about her home in the jungle until I longed to see it. Boggley will come for me in about ten days. Bella I shall leave in Calcutta. It would be a nuisance carting her about from place to place, and I am not so helpless that I can’t manage for myself.
Expect next mail to receive a budget of prodigious size.
THE SUNBURNED EARTH
Takai, Jan. 19.
There is no doubt this is the ideal place for letter-writing. I sit here, in the verandah, with long, quiet hours stretching out before me and nothing to do but write and write, and I suppose that is why for the last thirty minutes I have sat nibbling the end of my pen and dreaming—without putting pen to paper.
Where did I leave off? The Monday we left Calcutta, wasn’t it? To continue. The said Monday was a strenuous day. Boggley absented himself till late afternoon, while I wrestled with wild beasts at Ephesus in the shape of bearers and coolies, my Hindustani deserting me utterly, as it always does at a crisis. G., desolated at the thought of the coming separation, hovered round all day and did her best to help.
About tea-time Boggley walked in, serenely regardless of the fact that we were still devoid of bed and table linen, crockery and cooking utensils. In the end the bearer was dispatched to the Stores with a list, but the result of his shopping I haven’t yet seen. G. stayed till nearly dinner-time, and sang to us for a last time. It was horrid parting from her, my dear old G. Do I write too much about her? I thought from something you said in a letter that perhaps I rather bored you talking of her. You see, I like her so much, and you can hardly understand how much she has meant to me since we left England together that showery October day.